Saturday
Dec162017

Food, Glorious Food

Making an attempt to show something other than endless sewing projects on the blog...

This was part of our breakfast this morning: 

Our processor was offering Canadian bacon this year, so of course we added some to our order.

Wikipedia defines Canadian bacon thusly:

"Canadian bacon" or "Canadian-style bacon" is the American name for a form of back bacon that is cured, smoked and fully cooked, trimmed into cylindrical medallions, and thickly sliced.[3][4] "Canadian" bacon is made only from the lean eye of the loin and is ready to eat. Its flavor is described as more ham-like than other types because of its lean cut.

And because Americans are just weird, it is important to note that

The term "Canadian bacon" is not actually used in Canada, where the product is generally known simply as "back bacon" while "bacon" alone refers to the same streaky pork belly bacon as in the United States.

Whatever you call it, this stuff is really good. There is not a lot of it, so I am doling it out only occasionally. 

My friend Anna, the caterer, stopped by today to drop off these leftovers from a recent holiday party:

They are figs stuffed with Gorgonzola and wrapped in prosciutto. This is basically my dinner tonight. The husband is not a fan of smelly cheeses (nor, I suspect, of figs), so I feel absolutely no remorse over hoovering these down all by myself. 

I gave Anna her Christmas present while she was here. She and her husband are big fans of Alaskan Brewing Company beers and she asked me a few months ago to see what was available in Spokane. As is the case with many things, we here in Montana do not have the selection available in other parts of the country. The only Alaskan beer we can get here is Alaskan Amber, which is a favorite of the husband's. The grocery stores in Spokane, however, carry almost all of the Alaskan Brewing Company offerings, so while I was there after Thanksgiving, I picked up a Boundary Range pack for Anna. It included Hopothermia, Ridge Hop IPA, Icy Bay IPA, and Freeride Pale Ale. She was very appreciative. I might pick up another one for the husband to try the next time I am in Spokane, although he likes the darker beers. (I did get him some Winter Ale, a seasonal offering). 

After Anna and Billy built their house, I gave Anna some starts from my (very prolific) hop plants. They are growing up a trellis made of old bed springs bolted to the front of their house. She would like to make her own beer one of these days. Between the two of us, we should have plenty of hops. 

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Ali and the little guy came over for dinner Tuesday night and brought me a wonderful birthday present:

They bought this at a store called Montana Marie's, on Main Street in Kalispell. Ali told me that these are created by a young lady who sells them there to help pay for her dance lessons. How could you not love that? I hope the birds will enjoy the bird seed. I have it hanging on the porch at the moment but I may have to move it out to a tree in the yard. I don't know that the birds will find it so close to the house. 

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The Christmas presents are just about done. I was on a mission to get the second one done today and I did, despite a few speed bumps along the way. That project will likely end up as a blog post at some point. 

The husband and I spent our date night last night watching the AvE YouTube channel. This guy who does these videos is a Canadian (see bacon, above). He buys various tools—household and industrial—and deconstructs them and basically does everything he can to make them fail. It is not for under-18 viewers; he tends to swear an awful lot, but the videos are hysterically funny. They are also surprisingly educational (and not just for the language). The guy who does the Essential Craftsman videos (we watched one of those, too) is familiar with the guy who does the AvE videos, which just tends to reinforce my belief that most men* are 14 year-olds in adult bodies. 

[*I have always maintained the the husband was born an adult and had to wait 20 years or so for his body to catch up to the rest of him, but even he has his moments.]

I am about to go watch the AvE video entitled Manly-Man Skils: Sewing and How to Avoid It. This should be good.

Friday
Dec152017

Clean Up, Clean Up

Sometime this weekend I need to deal with this:

This is DD#2's bedroom, also known as my cutting room. She gets back from Europe on Thursday and I need to have this cleaned out and put back in order. It's not just the cutting table, either. What you can't see, for example, is the stack of half a dozen pieces of vinyl laid out on the bed that are destined to become bags in the next couple of months. You also can't see the bolts of interfacing and other containers of various sewing-related items. I have a few things for which I need the cutting table, so it's going to be the last thing that gets put away. Once I store it, I may not have access to it again until the middle of January, depending on how things play out. 

All I can do is stack up as many projects as I can that require only a sewing machine. In a pinch, I can use the kitchen table for cutting, but that's not ideal. People like to eat there. (The nerve!) 

Tomorrow will be devoted to doing as much cutting and organizing as I possibly can manage. I am waiting until some afternoon next week to make a trip to town. You couldn't pay me to go to Costco this weekend. 

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We are thrilled that DD#1 has been offered a job in Seattle. She will be working as an occupational therapist at a pediatric clinic, which is precisely where she wants to be. She'll be in Bellevue three days a week and Bothell two days a week. Her start date is the third or fourth week of January, depending on how quickly her license gets processed after she takes the board exam on January 2. She still needs to sort out living arrangements, but having a job—a good-paying job, with benefits—is huge. 

I am excited to have a reason to go back to Seattle periodically. (The husband noted that I can start perusing the Seattle Craigslist again for sewing machines.) My cousin Lucy is a buyer for Nordstrom and lives there, too, so I should be able to meet up with her (and maybe my aunt and uncle when they come to visit). DD#1 went to Pacific Lutheran for her undergrad degree, and while she'll be in Seattle and not Tacoma, I am not wholly unfamiliar with the area. 

Have I mentioned lately how much I love road trips? 

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The husband has been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century and now has a smart phone. He ended up with an Android one instead of an iPhone like the rest of us because there are diagnostic programs for the trucks and the BMW that only work on Android phones. He is going up the learning curve like the rest of us had to. I don't think his phone is quite as intuitive as my iPhone, but I have been an Apple user since I got my first Mac back in 1985. I only use a PC because I have to for transcription. 

We prefer low tech around here. 

Tuesday
Dec122017

Do I Need an Industrial Serger?

The husband brought me this the other day and asked me if I could fix it:

This is his favorite neon orange hoodie. This hoodie has an interesting backstory. He got it for free from the company that provides all the concrete for his jobs. They pass out lots of free swag to the contractors and he is more than happy to wear advertising for them. He wore this hoodie to our friend Bill's memorial service back in June—the memorial service where we and a bunch of our friends were involved in a traumatic deck collapse. He had been working on a job earlier in the day and came to the memorial service straight from the jobsite. When I saw him walking in to a memorial service wearing a neon orange hoodie, I groaned inwardly, but I have made it a point never to comment on how he is dressed for anything. He wears what he wears (and so do a lot of other people in Montana). As it turns out, the fact that he was wearing a neon orange hoodie allowed me to keep track of him in the chaos after the deck collapse, when I was sidelined with a leg injury and he was running around as an EMT. Except for this rip, the hoodie has held up relatively well and I feel like I should try to fix it. 

Technically, I think I should use a coverstitch machine to sew this. I actually have a coverstitch machine—have had one for several months, but it is still in the box and I don't have time to go up the learning curve right now. (Nor have I had time to write a blog post about it, either.) I attempted to fix this with the serger last night and got about halfway around the cuff before the serger started complaining and I stopped. I don't like to make my machines complain. I need to rethread the serger—something got messed up—and then I might try once more. It may be that this material is just too thick for the serger.

This is the converstion that ensued:

Me: I am trying to fix your hoodie. 

The husband: Trying?

Me: The serger doesn't like it. I probably ought to have an industrial serger for this job.

Husband: Really?

Me: Then again, it might be cheaper if you just went back to the concrete supplier and asked them for another free hoodie. 

The husband: Probably, because it seems silly to spend thousands of dollars on industrial sewing equipment to fix a free hoodie. 

Me: Yes, but industrial sergers come up for sale on Craigslist occasionally. 

Such a slippery slope. 

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The quilting on the Christmas present quilt is done. I finished it yesterday afternoon and made the binding after dinner and sewed it on. I just need to sew it down by hand. I'll do that this weekend while watching YouTube videos with the husband. Now I need to get started on the other Christmas present that I am making. I had to farm part of it out to have something done before I could put it together. I got a call yesterday that that was done, so I'll pick up the pieces today and start working on that project. I've got a week before I have to have DD#2's room cleaned out and all my stuff put away. 

My day job really gets in the way of all the other stuff I need to do. 

Sunday
Dec102017

More Christmas Prezzies!

Another box arrived at my house the other day, this one full of gifts from my friend, Doreen. Doreen is not that much older than me. She was my physics teacher in high school the year I was a senior. (That was a long time ago!) We have had some adventures together and hopefully, in the next couple of years, she will move out to Montana and we will have more adventures. 

These are just some of the goodies that were inside:

Some animal and sewing-themed Christmas ornaments and two fat-quarter bundles of Tim Holtz fabric (whee!). Also in the box were a tote bag and socks (already pressed into service), a gift card, and some chocolate-covered espresso beans for the husband. Such fun! Thank you, Doreen! 

[The husband is so funny. When stuff started showing up at the house unannounced this week, he thought that perhaps I had gotten on some company's list and was receiving things for free so that I would review them on the blog. He said if that were the case, he had a list of things he would like to try out. He was hoping that maybe I could arrange to get companies to send those for him to review. Perhaps he needs to start his own blog.]

It's been a busy couple of days. Our denominational board had a meeting Friday afternoon and yesterday morning. Our board is spread out over several states. Getting together in person is logistically challenging, especially in the winter. It's not ideal, but we do have meetings via video conference every so often. Our pastor, Jeryl, and I are both on this board, so we met at the church and checked in for the meeting via my laptop. Yesterday's meeting was over at 1 p.m., so DD#1 met me at the church and we went into town for lunch and some shopping. I've given up buying any clothing—it's just astonishing to me how much the level of quality and fit have dropped even in just the past year. I don't see a lot of stuff flying off the racks, so other people must be as frustrated as I am. (No one is buying or wearing blouses or sweaters with the shoulders cut out, which is such a shock given that it's winter in Montana. /sarcasm.)

One of the places we went was to Verizon, to see about getting a new phone for the husband. He is still using a flip phone that is at least five or six years old. The screen is cracked and he can't read text messages any more. He needs a phone with a camera for taking pics on the jobsite, and he also needs one that he can check the weather on instead of having to ask his employees. I've been waiting for him to decide he needs a smart phone. Yesterday morning, he asked me to look into getting one for him. Verizon has a good, durable model that will do what he needs it to do, so upgrading his phone is on the schedule for this week. 

DD#1 and I ended up on downtown Main Street, Kalispell, at 5 p.m. to watch the Christmas parade. We met Ali and her little guy and our other neighbor, Elysian, and her little guy, and watched the parade with them. When my kids were little, the parade was usually held on the Friday after Thanksgiving. My mother often went with us and she got such a kick out of the fact that the UPS truck was in the Thanksgiving parade. The parade hasn't changed much in 20 years, although I didn't see a UPS truck this year. It did include several fire trucks, some National Park Service vehicles with three people dressed up in mountain goat costumes (Ali knew the head Glacier Park ranger and he was in the parade, too, herding the goats), a couple of trucks with dead animal heads mounted on the front (oh, Montana, how I love you), and a few semis, excavators, Bobcats, and tractors all decked out with blazing Christmas lights. I was holding Ali's little guy and he was just mesmerized. 

It ended up being a late night—especially for the husband—because our fire department got paged out to a chimney fire at about 9:30 p.m. The husband left to get the engine. Our firefighters did knock the fire down and keep it from destroying the entire house, but they were there long enough that I bundled up and drove into town to get some sandwiches and fruit to feed them. I got back about 11:00 p.m. The husband didn't roll in until well after midnight. He's still sleeping. 

We have a relatively quiet week this week and then the Christmas rush starts in earnest. I am still on track with presents and I hope to keep it that way. 

Friday
Dec082017

Secret Santa

The UPS driver dropped off a large brown Amazon box on my porch yesterday afternoon. The husband has been ordering a bunch of tools and tool parts lately, so I assumed that it was another delivery for him. When I looked at the label, though, I discovered the box was addressed to me. Inside was this:

It was not wrapped. There was no note. I have no idea who sent it. I mentioned it on Facebook and now several of my friends have (jokingly, I assume) claimed they sent it. I have no idea what to think, although I would like to be able to thank the person that sent it. It is a lovely gift and one that will get a lot of use, I am sure.