Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving and cold bugs

Sorry - I have been a bit under the weather since turkey day and have been laying mighty low. Wander around with my "best friend" - the tissue box, under my arm. I usually manage to avoid these but somehow this one caught up with me. Turkey day was very nice. My poor SIL had to work as he is a cook short. He is the food services manager at a rehab. facility. Poor guy. Hopefully this does mean that he will be able to be free and clear for Christmas. Brother, wife, his oldest son, friends, us-n's and of course, the world's cutest grandkids who were just as cute as could be. A swell time was had by all. Oldest GD made little appetizer/decorations for the table:
Cute little penguins. Not sure where she got this recipe, but of course Nana thought they were terrific. Black olives, stuffed with cream cheese on top of carrot slices. Faces are made from carrot shreds and tiny pieces of cream cheese. Cute, huh?

Brother Henry (for whom I made the muffins)
was deposited at the airport this afternoon and on the way home we made a number of stops, including a local fabric store, with post Thanksgiving sales. I needed some dark Christmas green and some 'interesting' black. Managed to find both of those and added a yard of each to my collection - didn't I show great restraint? I have completed a return gift for my crazy exchange partner. She might look here so I cannot show you all of it, but eventually you'll see it. So that is in the envelope ready to go to the post office and on its way to Finland. And then, this afternoon, I received a return exchange for one I had sent a while ago to Simone in the Netherlands.

Oh my gosh, so cute:

I got Max. I have loved a sheep that Simone had made and shown on her blog, so now I have the latest family addition. Lucky me. She also sent me some very cute Debbie Mumm 12 Days of Christmas fabric, as well as the fabrics and bits to make a little Welcome hanging.

I have to produce some Christmas ornaments. I'll show you when I have something worth showing. Blow..... blow.....blow.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Autumn has arrived with avengence

Oh, it is blowy and stormy and wet. A true northwest fall day - just in time for Thanksgiving. Henry arrives from Dallas on Monday - I hope he brings his warm raincoat. I have been vacuuming and dusting and trying to generally tidy up my messes. Sewing machines and fabric and bits and pieces seem to have migrated all over the house - do they do that while we sleep? Actually the big machine (Pfaff 7550) has gone in for a sewing machine "lube, oil and filter". It hasn't been done in a while and it was time as my tension seemed to be all off. I have been working on finishing up the handwork part of the binding on Christian's Hawaiian quilt. Today is his 50th birthday - poor dear and the quilt won't be totally complete but enough that I can mention it in the card. (he knows about it, but doesn't think it's done).

In preparation for our houseguest, I'm making my favorite Bran Muffin recipe which I thought I'd share. You can tell its age by it's official title: Ice Box Bran Muffins. [Who has an ice box any more?]

2 cups boiling water
2 cups Nabisco 100% Bran cereal
4 cups Kellogs All-Bran cereal
Pour water over the cereals and set aside.

1 cup Crisco
3 cups white sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 quart butermilk
5 cups flour
5 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Cream crisco and sugar. Add eggs and buttermilk and bran cereal mixture. Sift the dry ingredients and mix with moist until well moistened. Store in the refrigerator for up to nine (9) weeks.

Just before baking, you can add raisins, nuts, dates, etc. Bake at 400`, for 10-12 minutes for muffins.

I got this recipe in the early 1960's from my friend Terry Horrigan - so thanks to her.

Luckily my brother is hosting Thanksgiving, so I simply have to come up with my two contributions: winter squash and a dessert - don't know what yet. And Henry is a great wine purchaser, so our pieces of the event will be fairly simple.

Stay warm. Stay dry.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The wanderers have returned

[Photos at the end]
Hello! We returned from New Orleans late on Saturday night, after a busy, fun, frustrating, challenging 10 days in N.O. The first four days we were tourists, with 4 others of our group. What a time. We had chosen to rent a car, so we got to visit two plantations, with very thorough and interesting tours. We spent a day on foot, walking through the French Quarter, along the waterfront, along Bourbon Street, until our little legs could move us no further. We had ridden into town on the marvelous street cars that are now up and running, and then after coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde (apologies now for all spelling errors) REQUIRED, walked and walked. The French market captured our interests and some of our money, a visit to the beautiful cathedral, an al fresco lunch with some enjoying boiled crawfish. It was an adventure. Sunday morning we were really moved to worship at Beecher Memorial United Church of Christ. Beecher was almost totally destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. They are making some progress, but still are not returned fully to their sanctuary. Folding chairs on concrete floors, lights but no ceilings and a simply astonishing zeal to keep on.

Sunday evening we joined the rest of our laboring troops at the church where we would stay for the work week - after St. Paul's UCC made the needed repairs post Katrina, they built some dormitories above the "hall" for the use of groups like ours. We used their kitchen to do our cooking (a couple of meals out) and ate in the hall. Our group of 21 was divided amongst three homes and we worked in those homes for the week. I worked in Mr. and Mrs. Washington's home. They were evacuated for 9 months and then returned to live in a FEMA trailer, where they have lived ever since. Their house is still several months away from habitation. We learned that there are still 4000 FEMA trailers in N.O. Amazing to consider.

In fact, there is so much to consider and ponder in this city of contrasts - many, many poor people, much fewer middle to upper income residents, a school system that is struggling to improve, a police force roundly criticized. Some people told us that the city cannot "come back", others hope it will but are doubtful - and new disasters continue to occur (Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, for example) which stretch resources even thinner. (for example, in NO, the Red Cross and Salvation Army have stopped funding for Katrina housing rebuilds. Now what?) Disaster relief? Urban renewal? The desperate need continues, but the "will" and the resources?

I don't mean this to sound like a depressing lecture, but it surely is sobering to consider. And it certainly says - Love your friends and your families, enjoy them, appreciate them, tell them how much they mean. We are truly the lucky ones.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Time marches on

We grandma's are a silly bunch, but we sure do love to show off our special little ones. Having more time in our lives, allows us to just enjoy them so much. So having said that, here are my three with some "Nana-made" gifts

We had a delightful visit on Saturday. They also were able to finally receive the gifts that Caroline had brought them from the Netherlands. They were all sick with bad colds when she was here and we didn't want to infect everyone.

M got a delightful "Miffy/Nijnja" plate. She immediately walked it over to her highchair and put it on the tray. O got an Oranje soccer shirt - perfect fit and E got a delightful pony purse. They also all got new books. Boy oh boy, almost like Christmas.

I have actually been doing some sewing, but cannot show yet because both things are for crazy exchange and you know how those girls are. ;-> They lurk around blogs looking for clues so I cannot give a peek. Soon, though.

Off to New Orleans for another post-Katrina build through the church. It was an incredible experience before and I expect nothing less this time. We are so lucky - keep these poor folks in your heart. Life is good (for some of us).