Friday, March 30, 2012

Spring is Definitely Here

I just love Japanese maples.  My husband collects them.  He has all sizes.  The one below is in front of our bathroom on the front of the house.

This one is in the corner of our backyard.

Here's another little one, and I love the dark red leaves on it - also in our backyard.

I just love the red ones, but we we also have a beautiful green one in the backyard, too.

Last year this tree was so beautiful - also a red one - that is right outside my kitchen window.  This year it seems to have bit the dust.  Really hate that because I so loved looking at it several times a day.

Perhaps one of these will eventually take its place.  This is my husband's little Japanese maple nursery.

The ivy in these little pots is doing really well.  It is actually the same ones that grew here last year.  They suffered greatly during the winter, but they didn't die. I just cut off all the old dead stuff, and they took off again.  I love this little wallhanging we bought several years ago at a local nursery.

This is one of three rose bushes we have of this type.  I can see this one from my kitchen window.  It is just popping wtih buds.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Took a class from Sharon Schamber on piece-lique. It was a fun technique to learn.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Rainy Day in Alabama

Yay! We are getting a good soaking rain. I hope that means some of these record-setting levels of pollen will be washed away!!! I don't need a chart to tell me how high the pollen is this spring, but, WOW, I've never seen a 11.7 count before!! 12 is the max.

It has been in the 80s during the day all week. That is hot early even for Alabama. Today I had to break out my cropped pants, short-sleeved shirts, and sandals. Oh, dear, my "fish-belly" legs are whiter than my white cropped pants! I need to find a beach!!

On this rainy afternoon I put roast, potatoes, carrots, and onions in the crockpot. Also have yeast rolls rising. These are just a cinch to make when the electric bread maker does the mixing and rising. Gonna have some fine eats tonight!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A First Rose!

A week or so ago my husband cut the rose bush outside my kitchen window back quite severely. But it is loaded with buds and produced the 1st bloom today. It may not look like the most perfect rose, but any rose is beautiful to me.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Day Lilies

Here are some of my day lilies coming up. The ground surrounding them looks awful right now. We have a landscaping company hired to clean out all this old bark and replace it with new. They are also going to build a cement block border around our flower beds and a tree in the front yard. Can't wait to see it completed. Stay tuned for updated pictures.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pollen!!!! Allergies!!! ARGH!!!

My allergies hit full blast this week.  Living in the south has a lot of advantages - beautiful foliage in the spring and the fall, but the one BIG disavantage is when all those trees pop out in their beautiful flowers, so does the pollen.  And I happened to be severely allergic.  I went through all the testing and took allergy shots for over 6 years.  My first allergist told me that if I would stick with it for at least 3 years, I had an 85-95% chance of being cured with the new medications, and the pollen here would never bother me again.  That sounded like a deal to me, so I pain-stakingly got my shots - one in one arm, and 2 in the other twice a week to start with, then once a week, year round.  I was so allergic, that I would have large welts on my arms each time, which required them to have to go at a slower pace with me.  Then my doctor died about halfway into this, and the new doctor ramped up the dosages in spite of my reactions.  So I got larger, itchy, welts to which I would apply ice and take an antihistamine.  In the middle of all this, I developed occular (eye) rosacea (had never heard of that until then).  The allergy season would exacerbate it most years.  Then my eyes would be terribly swollen, constantly tearing, and cause MUCH misery for the next 6 months.  I would have about 2-3 months by the time it ended until the next spring allergy season would start.  Two years ago, after I received my allergy shots I went to the car and started sneezing violently.  It immediately started up the rosacea.  The next spring, I told my doctor that I was not going to take the chance of that happening again.  I wanted to stop.  I apparently was in that 5-15% that there was no cure for.  She simply said that it works for some and doesn't work of others.  She said we would just treat the symptoms as they came.  That is what I did last year - took two oral antihistimines, an antihistamine nose spray and antihistimine eye drops.  I had the best year last spring that I ever had.

So when the symptoms hit last week, I started all the meds.  This week I developed a terrible cough - didn't feel bad - just coughed.  Plus my eyes teared a lot, but it didn't seem to be turning into the dreaded rosacea.  I prayed hard and stayed inside all I could, which is just dreadful when the weather is so nice and the sunshine so inviting.  You just feel like a prisoner on your own home.  :(  Yesterday, I went to the doc-in-the-box hoping to get a shot of Betamethazone.  I usually have to get at least one to get me through the season.  (Yeeeeowie, do those hurt!!!!) I think it has given me the boost I need.  My eyes feel soooo much better today.  Praise the Lord!!  Thank you, God!!!  If I make it through this season without the rosacea, I'll be so eternally grateful!!

Now to enjoy a little basketball for the rest of the day.....

Latest Quilts

The first quilt is made from a jelly roll with me adding the light background.  You can't see it in this distant picture, but the dark areas are all different fabrics.  I finished the pieced part at a recent quilt retreat and added the borders yesterday.  Now just need to get it quilted.

This little number is made from 5" charm squares.  Since I don't have any more fabric to make borders in that line of fabric, I think I'll just quilt and bind as is.  I much prefer the finished look of borders, but don't really want to order more fabric just for that.  Plus, I'm not sure where I even got these charm squares.  I just kind of collect them from here and there.  :)

I seem to be stuck on quilts from pre-cut fabrics.  I'm just a sucker when I see them.  They are so easy to use with minimal cutting, and I'm all for all the shortcuts one can get.  So many quilts, so little time!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Hard Crusted Bread

I found the recipe on Pinterest. It sounded so simple I thought I could surely do it. I certainly had never made any bread this way. You put 3 cups flour, 1 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp yeast in a large bowl and stir to mix. Add 1 1/2 cups of water and stir together. It will be quite sticky at this point. Cover with plastic wrap and let set for 12-16 hours. After this amount of time, pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. You are supposed to use an enamel covered cast iron pan but I didn't have one of those pricey things so I used my Corning dish that has a lid. Place baking dish in oven to pre-heat. While waiting for the pre-heating, dump the dough onto a VERY well floured counter and cover with plastic wrap. After oven and baking dish are heated, CAREFULLY take dish out and using well floured hands place ball of dough in hot dish. Place lid on dish, place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, remove lid and bake another 15 minutes. Do NOT grease baking dish. The bread will not stick. Enjoy!! It really comes out crusty!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Residents Return

Here are some of our geese that return each year. Such beautiful birds.


Found this pattern by Carlene Westberg Designs on the Internet. I thought it might help to make a tiny dent in my charm square collection. One picture is of my design wall and one of my little work station by my machine (a wooden TV tray).

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Verrrrry Long Project Is Nearing Its End

I've had this project in the works actually for years!! I've been hand quilting it for a friend of mine. Her mother hand-pieced it many years ago. You can see the scalloped edges around this very long edge. I think it is at least king size. I finished the edges by turning under the back and the front edges and slip-stitching with very tiny stitches. I feel like this quilt had become a part of me, and I'm going to hate to see it go. *sniff*
Well, what a crazy day this was!  Yesterday, I drove clear across town to the farthest southeast corner for some lab work in a Quest Diagnostic lab.  No other lab would do.  However, when I got there a sign on the door informed me that Quest Diagnostics was no longer at this location.  It didn't tell me where else I could go - just that this place was closed.  It was to be a fasting blood draw, so as my stomach very loudly was already protesting, I got online with my iPhone to see where another Quest lab might be. Of course, you cannot just talk to a live being, so I made an appointment at another lab that was nearest my house.  That just happened to be on the far northwest part of this very major city.  I realized that I didn't have time to get there for that appointment (or I just didn't want to put up with the hassle of all the traffic between the two places), so I called them back and rescheduled for today - 9:00 a.m.

I got up in plenty of time to get there, printed out the directions from the address via Google maps which directed me to this northwest part of town.  I arrived way early since I didn't really know where I was going.  I asked the young girl in the parking deck ticket booth where the ACC building was.  She said, "I don't have a clue - sorry."  I walked down long halls, turning many corners to get from the parking deck to the information booth.  I asked these two very nice elderly ladies where the ACC building was.  They had never heard of it but directed me to the out-patient lab.  The lab lady didn't know where suite 507 of the ACC building was either, but she directed me to the building across the street that did have a 5th floor.  I got off the elevator, looking for 507.  There was only a room #500 kidney-treatment-office.  I walked down the hall, trying every closed door.  Found one open, but it was obviously an equipment storage room.  I went back down the elevator, across the street, and decided I would try to find the main hospital lab.  One young very sweet nurse determined that she was going to find where I needed to go or bust!  (The main hospital lab was only for inpatient use.)  She made some calls, but didn't get any answers to my questions.  She personally escorted me to the office of the Director of Nursing.  There the most gracious Assistant Director of Nursing made some calls.  Then he escorted me along with the Director of Nursing to the out-patient lab - where I started in the first place!  He talked with the desk person, and she said they did lab work that Quest picked up.  That wasn't good enough, plus they had no record of my appointment.  He got on the phone, and as he was talking, I pulled up the Quest lab site from which I made my appointment and noticed it said Brookwood Hospital.  But the address was not Brookwood Medical Center Drive - just Medical Center Drive.  Now had it been Brookwood Medical Center Drive, I would have know instantly where to go.  By the time he got off the phone, we had both figured out it was at Brookwood Hospital.  After he escorted me back to the elevators that would lead to my car, I thanked him profusely for his help, and I took off to drive across the heart of downtown Birmingham - not a fun thing to do for any reason - especially when your stomach is growling loudly.  I did take my blood pressure pill before leaving the parking deck.  The rest of my pills would have to wait until after the blood had been drawn.  After parking in yet another hospital parking deck, I finally found room 507 of the ACC building (ambulatory care center).  I was over an hour late to my appointment, and told her (with a smile on my face and a chuckle in my voice) I had been from the southeast to the northwest part of town and now here.  I said, "And I'm not leaving here until you draw my blood!"  She chuckled, too, and happily drew my blood.  Whew!  Finally!  Now to get some food!!!  I knew there was a Starbucks inside the main hospital (after all, I had been bringing my students here for their clinicals for over 20 years!), so that is where I headed.  I got a decaf and a blueberry scone.  I relaxed, taking the rest of my pills (vitamin supplements), sipping my coffee (with an envelop of Nestles cocoa mix that I always carry, because I can't drink coffee without it), nibbling on my scone and reading my latest Karen Kingbury book from my Kindle app on my iPhone.  I just wasn't going to hurry anymore for the day.

Next time I have to have blood drawn from a Quest lab, you can be sure I'll know exactly where to go!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

I came home from our quilt guild meeting this morning all motivated to update and keep this blog current.  The program was on "technology," but mostly it was about quilt blogs and a little bit on Pinterest.  Now I just have to go back through pictures from last year and get going.  I've done a lot of quilting since I last posted, so there are lots of pictures.  So stay tuned for the updates.