Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Looks like the end of the year is upon us

First, a shout out to my grandson, Markie, who was on the Christmas parade float with his team members.  They won the Superbowl and we are very proud of them!
Here's Uncle Chad with Taylor at the Superbowl.  Taunton Tigers won after a nerve-wracking game, and one of their players even got taken away in an ambulance!  But he was fine later on. Congrats to all.
Here's our little group near their Christmas tree.  They all got wonderful gifts and had a blast during Christmas.  Christmas Eve, we all went to the Cape to Auntie Rachel's home, where she had a great buffet and cousins ran around and it was all fun!

I like this picture of the Jewish Menorah.  Actually, I borrowed it from Facebook.  The lighting of the 5th candle is exciting; because it is at that time that the light overcomes the darkness!
Here's Ty Ty having some fun with me while I'm sitting at my computer.  He's about 10 1/2, or so we believe, and once the doctor got him all fixed up, he has become a happy and playful senior cat.  We LOVE him!

 Here are some hats I have sent out recently. 
The adult hats pictured on the left went to the Emergency Youth Shelter at the Pine Ridge Reservation in   South Dakota.  I just recently heard about how our first Americans are living out there. Please look them up online and see how desperately they are living.  Anything you can donate will be appreciated!
My neighbor knew that I was knitting and alerted me to another shelter need, in town where we live.  I made up some toddler hats for her to take over for them. (above)  Right now I'm working on warm scarves to share with the Pine Ridge Reservation.  Gently used clothing is also needed for all ages and sizes, and their school is needing books.  The situation on the reservation is difficult as far as people being able to take care of themselves or find employment.  Most are suffering from the cold weather.

At left is our little sweetie, all ready to go participate in the Christmas sing-along at her elementary school.

And last, but certainly not least, congratulations to the new Rhode Island graduates from the State Police Academy in R.I.
Pictured with the grads in the center, are MA State Police officers who attended the ceremony.
That's my son on the far right!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Coffee Talk

Well, since this blog is called Needles & a Cup of Coffee, it's time to talk about java.
I have been using my beloved Cuisinart 12-cup coffeemaker for years now.  It's starting to sound "strange" like it's laboring to pump that water up and over the coffee grounds.
I went shopping and looked for Cuisinart, seeing that I really liked that brand.
This time, I chose a 10-cup because I thought would be sufficient for us.  Also, this one had the stainless steel carafe, which is a thermal carafe.
Well, the first thing I realized is that I couldn't see the brewed coffee dripping into the carafe, so when I removed it to pour into cups, the filter was still full of water, waiting to drip down.  So there's a no-see issue there.(No, I didn't think I would see it drip through the stainless carafe....but when it signaled that it was done brewing, I thought it really would be "done" brewing.)
I DID like that the side of the coffee maker had the little clear tube which indicated how much water you had poured into the machine. I didn't have that feature on my other one, and I do like that.
In any case, the coffee, using my same measurements of coffee per cup of water, came out quite WEAK.  I did not like it at all.
Overall, it was just not comparing to my old coffee maker, even though it was the same brand.
I am returning it tomorrow and getting a refund.  I already went online and ordered one just like my old fave, from the Home Depot site, which offers free shipping, too.
So, in several days, I should be enjoying my new machine, with my old, great, dependable coffee taste!  Can't wait!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Gert's Flowers

Anyone who walks by my house might notice these yellow flowers which bloom each fall, usually while the other blooms of most plants are dying off.
I've had many people mention that in the past.
What I think of each year when I see them budding is Gert.  Well, I think of Gert and the fact that winter will be here soon.
Gert and her husband Charlie lived next door to us when I was growing up.  I was about 10 when they moved in. I was very busy with my hula hoop.
They were the old people; you know, probably in their 50s.
Our dog, Smokey, made a point of traipsing back and forth between our house and theirs and getting in all the extra attention from Charlie, who would sit on a seat near their side door and pet Smokey for hours. Of course, they added doggie treats to their grocery list because of Smokey. Charlie had health problems and had trouble with breathing, so he'd sit and talk to Smokey and watch us play.
After working in the yard lots of summer nights, my parents would be invited over to Gert's house, where she would offer coffee or cold drinks and some snack, such as cheese and crackers, or some other treat.
I remember that Gert had lost a daughter who came down with an illness and passed on.  I think she said the girl was about 12.  Gert was always proper and kind and I always remember her using the phrase "Oh, you don't want to do that....because"  Being a kid, I began to think that she was being bossy, stepping over the line, telling me what I "didn't want to do".  Other than that, I thought she was very pleasant and caring. I realized later that it was just a phrase that was a part of her speech.
There was an incline on her land, which led up to our yard. My parents tried to get me to head down our steep driveway, down to the street, then up Gert's driveway, just to walk about 50 feet.  I thought that was ridiculous; but my parents didn't like me or anyone walking on their grass.  And that would be considered impolite to walk on Gert and Charlie's grass, also.
Speaking of Charlie, he always told me his stories of when he was in World War I.  He's the only person I ever knew who had been in the service such a long time ago. He'd get out this clear paperweight and show me the metal bullet encased in the middle.  He never even knew that he had it lodged in his back for years.  As he got older and complained about pain, some doctor found that he had a bullet in his back, and removed it.
We had no fence at all, then a split rail fence that separated our property lines for years.  Then my father came up with the idea.  He was going to have a fence company come down and fence in the entire back yard in stockade fencing. (privacy fencing) I know that we didn't need to fence in any animals, or fence anyone out; but that was his new idea of how the yard should look.  The plan was to use the tall privacy fence across the back yard, then coming down to the side yards, the fence would be lower, slanting down; but it was still stockade fencing.
I can still remember Gert's pleas: "Oh, Jim, please don't do that.  How will I get up to the back yard to sit at night?  Could you have them put a gate there, please?  Please don't fence that area in."
A poor, older lady, clearly disturbed because she had made a series of steps from her back yard, up to our back yard, with flowers on each side.  Now she would have steps in her back yard leading to nowhere but the blank wall of a stockade fence.  But my father wouldn't give in.  He wanted that style of fencing in the back yard.  I guess it didn't occur to my parents that it would be more difficult to go out and sit on summer evenings if the steps from Gert's yard to ours were closed off.  That, and how ridiculous it would look in Gert's yard to have steps made from railroad ties securely put into place and surrounded by beautiful flowers...leading to nowhere. I guess it just didn't matter to them, because the fence was installed as planned.
They still visited on summer evenings and had their snacks, but the convenience of a quick walk to the other yard was diminished.
After I grew up and got married, I only saw Gert a couple of times.  She was always pleasant and encouraging, as she had been when I was young.
When she heard that I had my own home, she uprooted these yellow flowers which bloomed ferociously at her house, and sent them, via my mother, over to my house.  I gladly planted them under my front window. That was in 1976.
They bloom every fall, and every fall I look at them and say "Gert's flowers are blooming, before we know it, it will be winter."
Then I heard that in the winter of Gert's life she lost her other two children.  First her husband, Charlie passed on with his breathing problems worsening, and he is now petting my Smokey in Heaven, I like to think. Gert's son died of cancer.   In her 90s, Gert was residing with her daughter and one day her daughter died.  I think she had a stroke.  I remember that she told my mother that she called to her daughter and when she didn't answer, she went up to her daughter's bedroom and found her slumped against a wall.  I remember that she said to my mother, "Oh, it was awful!"
Gert lived a few more years after that, having reached close to 100, as her father had done before her.
I don't know how many people remember Gert, or think of her anymore.  I always think of her politeness, caring and kindness....and how that fence, that damn fence just shut her off from our back yard so cruelly.
I've passed by those flowers each fall, growing under my front window, and they are a reminder.  A clock ticking, in a way.
Now I am one of the "older" ladies in our neighborhood, just like Gert was when I was a child.
I think of her each and every time that those flowers she sent me begin to bloom.
I planted the few uprooted clumps that she sent to me and they have spread in a line, under my front window.  The house has been painted, stained, shutters added and the front window has been replaced, with workers stomping in that area with work boots.
But it's fall again, and Gert's flowers are still blooming , reminding me of a lot of things--mostly of her kindness.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dear Blog....I've missed you.

I used to take the time to check my blog almost daily and try to keep up with the latest on here.
Now, it seems that I am taking that time and relaying the information on Facebook to people there.
Sorry, little blog.  I will try to make amends.

So, recently I spent the week at my daughter and son-in-law's house while they were away.  I took care of their dog and cat and brought in the mail.
I got to spend more time with their elderly cat, who is going on 16 years old, and their American Mastiff who is 5.

I found that she dislikes the TruGreen Lawn truck and man who drives it, and that had I opened the front door, she would most definitely have taken him down in a heartbeat.
She is a good watchdog! (and BIG)

I had a quiet week while my family was walking around Disney World in Florida.
I decided to have a nice lunch ready for them when they arrived back home.  They were very hungry when they returned, so that worked out perfectly.  I went to the store ahead of time and made a favorite recipe in my daughter's crock pot, when I finally found it.

That chicken recipe is to put boneless chicken in the crockpot (I always boil mine a little first).  Then mix up a bowl of one envelope of onion soup mix, a bottle of Russian salad dressing, which is sometimes hard to find.  It is sort of a peachy color and I keep that in mind when scanning the grocery shelves for that dressing.  There's Italian, French, Honey Mustard, Oil and Vinegar, Spicy Italian, Vinaigrette, Ranch -- and so on.
There are regular dressings and fat-free.  I have given up reading the labels when looking for the Russian dressing.  I just scan row after row, looking for the color of the bottle.
Finally, at Hannaford, I reached behind a Ranch dressing bottle, and there it was!  The last one.

OK, so back to the preparation:  In a bowl, you mix the onion soup mix, the Russian dressing and a small jar of apricot preserves.  Pour this mixture over the pieces of chicken in the crock pot and cook on low for several hours. You could do 6 hours or so; but like I said, I do boil the chicken a short while before I start, so I didn't need that much time.

I like to serve this with rice, although Pennsylvania Dutch noodles would be great, too.  And I made some fresh green beans, which I love -- for a vegetable.  When you scoop the chicken out of the crock pot, do make a point of scooping out some of the sauce to put over the chicken on each plate, and it is especially yummy to put a little over the rice, too.

Our two year old asked for seconds, and our 7 year old was caught licking her plate!  I was happy to see this, because sometimes children are a little standoffish about eating a new flavor, or trying a new recipe.  Most children just eat white rice, either plain or with a little butter on it.

We had them at a Chinese restaurant one time and the kids ordered the white rice.  The waitress said to them "Just like in China -- the kids only want the white rice!"

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene, Southern New England 2011

My son-in-law was trying to return home and found the street leading to his house looking like this!
A pic of the sky from my daughter's living room
We parked our vehicles out in front of my daughter's house. This is how it looked out the window.
I borrowed this pic.  It was posted by channel 10.
This is what we were watching (see time line on screen) until the power went out.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Getting addicted to sewing

 OK, so now Taylor & I have the sewing bug.  What happened was that I got a new machine a few years back; and unfortunately only used it a handful of times.  It's hard to explain, but maybe other sewers will understand.
I was so used to my previous machine that this one didn't have that "old shoe" fit.
Recently, with granddaughter Taylor getting interested in sewing, I put my mind to getting familiar with the new gadgets on this machine.
I picked out a pattern for a skirt which I thought she would like.
The fabric was from Tutti Fruiti, and coordinates, so I bought three colors in that brand.  What I didn't realize was how extensive the cutting, sewing and gathering would be.  It was all worth it, however.
The layers of ruffles would have been easier if I had just used one strip of fabric to make a ruffle.  Unfortunately, in this pattern, the fabric was cut into strips 40" long and 2.5 inches wide.  After sewing the strips for each ruffle together on the long edge, the pattern called for then cutting the long strip into 5 inch blocks, then laying them end-to-end and stitching.  After that came the gathering.
I wanted Taylor to share in a lot of this skirt-making, knowing that she would be so proud to put it together.  I did the cutting and gathering, and I had her do a lot of the straight stitching.  Her brother, Markie saw us and wanted to try my machine, also.
They both worked on straight stitches and did a lot of the work.
Taylor loves the finished product and I showed her how the elastic is fed through at the waist.  She said "Oh, so THAT's how they get elastic in there!"
After that, I had her close the opening in the waist band, so she would be completing the project.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

She's a quick learner

Oh, the joys of being 7 and being allowed to learn on Nana's sewing machine!  Taylor tried her very first project, making beanbags.  One for herself, out of the "monkey" material, and one for each brother, using the "sports" material.  
She was ELATED!  (And so was I.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

The school play

It was all about kindness and having concern for others.
friend Lauryn introduced the show
That's our tall boy on the end
That's our girl in green
Being friendly to new people was stressed and everyone sang about this.  One of the songs was about how beautiful everyone is, with dark or light skin, blue, brown or green eyes.  All these kids putting on the show were beautiful!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Spotlight Dancing School

Congratulations to our little girl who did a great job tonight at her recital!
She did ballet, Irish Step and Hip Hop numbers.   She was great in each number, but it was obvious that she was a leader in her Hip Hop group!  Good job, Sweetie.

Friday, June 17, 2011

John Deere, you're a dear!

We get so much enjoyment out of the tractor.  It's worth whatever Grampa paid for it, as it not only cuts the grass; it is an exciting mini hay ride for the kids.  Markie and Taylor both tried their hand at driving this year!  They took it slowly and did a great job.

Growing up!

Her are the grandkids who were visiting the grave of their great grandparents recently.  Look how big they are getting...and can you tell who is the spunky one?

Poor Markie cut his knee on a broken piece of glass this past week.  Here he is upon returning from the emergency room with 9 sutures in his knee.  Playing Wii helps to take away the pain.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ten years have gone by?

Happy birthday to my first grandchild, who recently turned TEN.

He had a great luau birthday party, including school friends and relatives in his celebration!

My teddy bear

This is my dear Ty, whom I rescued.   I took him to the animal hospital where he was neutered, had bad teeth removed and he was dewormed, along with having an ingrown claw cut out of his foot pad.
Now, Ty says "Life is good" and he is a thankful, devoted little guy.
He has taken quite a liking to my computer table.

Areas of color here and there

Impatiens I just planted

I added some marigolds to my veggie garden.
I recycled last year's basket at my front door.
A pretty hanging plant, but I'm not sure of the name.
A hanging petunia plant at my front light post
Some of the flowers here and there around my yard.     
Well, it's that time of year again, people -- I'm   attempting to grow a great garden that will supply us with fresh  vegetables.
Last year I really loaded up around the plants with good doses of Miracle Gro, which I love.
I did have five-foot tomato plants with giant, hardy leaves and waited forever for them to bear fruit!
I'm taking it a little easier with fertilizer this time.
I solved two problems this year.  You know how you're always saying that you'll do such-and-such next time? One thing I wanted to do was prevent my yard-work sneakers from getting covered in dirt and mud every time that I tended to my garden.  I didn't have a place to step into the midst of the garden.  I also had quite a few leftover bricks hanging around, which I wanted to incorporate into something.  Being stacked next to the shed really wasn't too attractive.
So I decided to make a little stepping-stone path to stand on this year, so that I wouldn't be stepping in mud while tying up plants or pulling up some radishes and picking vegetables.
I laid out the whole bricks that I rounded up, and placed them where I thought they would serve me well.  Next, I took my trowel and outlined the area.  After lifting the bricks up and placing them to the side, I dug out the proposed home of the bricks, then kept placing them back, trying to gauge the correct depth for them, so that they would more or less end up at ground level.
It sounds easy enough, but while following these steps, I was bombarded by mosquitoes and little black flies while sweating!  I did use Off; but they were still annoying me, especially around my face.
Why do I pick the hottest days to do these chores?  I guess you have to get the garden in by a certain time, because the growing season in New England is short; so you take every clear day that you can to get your work done.
After putting the bricks in the best I could, I stepped on them to try to make them level out at approximately the same height.  They're not perfect, but it's the best I could do under the circumstances.
I placed my window-started plants in the soil and watered them.  They are now starting to perk up, after spreading out their roots in real soil.
At the time that this picture was taken, I had sprinkled those radish seeds 5 days earlier.  I was surprised at how quickly they popped up.
The garden looks skimpy now, but I know that it's only a matter of time before the plants will all be towering.
We are getting somewhat short on full sun now, as our trees have grown and are slowly shading so much of the yard.  Before planting the garden this year, my husband and I trimmed quite a few branches from a nearby maple tree to allow for more sunlight to our future veggies.
I will be taking more pics as the garden progresses!

Monday, May 2, 2011