Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Still 2011

Christmas Day is over but the sentiments, visiting and good eating are still going on.  Sad how ordinary life crops up in the middle of the fun by requiring cleaning and laundry.  All the ads seem to be pushing us into 2012 while I am still savoring (read getting used to) 2011.  Early this year we were saddened by the death of one of Ron's cousins, Glenn Reece, then at the end of the year lost Ron's mother, Thelma Reece.  Two large losses yet the Lord has carried us through and we are having a great time sharing about these people and old times with some of Ron's cousins & family.

Mother asked me what I would really like for Christmas and I requested a hanging needle holder like she made me last year.  This is the one she made for my longer, 36-40 inch circular needles.  The hanger broke so this year she reworked the top a little.
Lots of room in each pocket so I can put several needles of the same size in each one.

This year I wanted one for 16 -24 inch lengths.  Mother pulled out fabric and zipped out this one for me.

Perfect!  Here is a little closer view of the pockets.
No more having to dig through packages of needles to find the right size then straighten the cables!

By the way, I have learned a trick to straighten the longer cables.  I use a microwavable heating pad, get it hot, clothespin each end of the needle to a sturdy rug and lay the hot pad on top for a few minutes.  Take off the hot pad and let the needle cable cool while pinned straight.  It has worked every time for me.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Sweets

I inherited my dad's sweet tooth.  He loved candy, cakes and pies year round but most especially at Christmas.  For some reason we seldom make fudge and other candies except at Christmas.  I was about 8 when our family tried making taffy.  Dad always bought saltwater taffy at the Texas State Fair in Dallas but this time Mother cooked it up and Dad had my brother & me helping him pull it.  I remember how sticky and messy it was but it tasted yummy.  Don't remember ever trying that again.

Another of Dad's favorites and one of mine was fruitcake.  My friend Knitrageous wrote about the famous Collin Street Bakery fruitcakes.  They are really good but Dad's favorite was one his mother always made and Mother, then I, followed suit.  My grandmother would not tolerate wine or liquor in the house except for the bit of wine to season her fruitcakes.  She would wrap the cake in cheesecloth and saturate the cheesecloth with wine.  Then it was wrapped in foil and set aside for several days.  If she thought it was needed, a little more wine would be added.  I have used wine but also used apple cider for a teetotalers version.  Any fruit juice with a little "tang" would work.

I'll share the recipe for Dad's favorite, a dark fruitcake.  I like it very much but my favorite is actually a white fruitcake.

Fruit Cake  
Oven - 275 degrees 
Mix together:
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups brown sugar - packed in cup
4 eggs 
Beat vigorously for 2 minutes. 
Sift together:
2 cups sifted flour
1 tst baking powder
2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp allspice
1 tsp cloves 
Stir into oil mixture alternately with 1 cup fruit juice (pineapple or orange). 
Mix 1 cup more sifted flour into
1 cup shaved citron (Mother & I leave out & substitutes green cherries)
1 cup chopped candied pineapple
1 1/2 cup whole candied cherries
1 cup raisins (light are better)
1 cup chopped figs
3 cups coarsley chopped nuts
Pour batter over fruit, mixing thoroughly. 
Line 2 loaf pans with brown paper.  Pour batter in pans.  Place pan of water on lower oven rack.  Bake cakes 2 1/2 - 3 hours in slow oven - 275 deg.   
After baking let cakes stand 15 minutes & remove from pans & cool on rack without removing paper.  Cover & store to ripen.  If cakes are to be kept a long time remove paper & wrap in wine soaked cloth & store in cool dry place.

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Loving Mother-In-Law

Thelma Lee Britton Reece

Born, June 19, 1915 in Franklin Co, AL, died December 2, 2011 in Garland, Dallas Co, TX.
Random bits about the woman I knew for more than 47 years as my loving mother-in-law and friend.
Thelma was the youngest child of William Clifton Britton and Mary Amanda Louvon Upton Britton.  Her mother died in the flu epidemic of 1918 when Thelma was 3 and her father and oldest sister died in the measles epidemic of 1920.  Their grandmother and aunt placed the surviving four daughters and one son in the Buckner’s Orphanage in Dallas soon after their father’s death. 
About age 19 when Thelma left the orphanage she joined her sisters in West Texas, working as a waitress in small town cafes in the oil field.  There she met and married Forest William Reece June 18, 1939.  They had Forest William Reece, Jr, Ronald Edward Reece and Angela Kay Reece-Wilson.
Thelma loved music and was in a girl’s singing group while in the orphanage.  She also learned to embroider and decorated some beautiful pillowcases and tablecloths.
She learned a lot of cooking skills from her mother-in-law and enjoyed trying out new recipes.  I enjoyed working with her in the kitchen when we were making some ordinary family meals and when we put on a big spread for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Most of all she loved her family and was so proud of her children’s and grandchildren’s accomplishments.
Thelma was also proud of me and my crafting skills.  She bought fabric and asked me to sew clothing and comforters.  She appreciated butterflies and when I sewed a lapghan using a fabric with butterflies it became a daily-use object. 
She loved both her family of brother and sisters and her extended Reece family.  She was happiest when she was giving and doing for others.  She had many friends in the oil field camps where they lived and in Andrews where she lived from 1966 to 2001.
There was so much more to Thelma than wife and mother.  I am so glad to have known her and had her in my life for so many years.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Colorado Yarn Shop Tour

Some of our favorite sightseeing can be done in local yarn shops so our shopping visits in CO were not unusual.  We had to window shop the two stores in Pueblo since they were closed on the day we were there. 

We went to three shops in the Denver area and were impressed with all three's layout, displays and quantities of yarn.  I did my souvenier yarn buying in these stores.

Ever since reading many of the Maggie Sefton I have dreamed of visiting Lambspun in Fort Collins.  My dream came true.  Although the setting is a tiny bit different from the books (there is a big apartment complex across from the shop and golf course) there was the old farmhouse converted into the shop and Backporch Cafe on a tree shaded corner.

There were room-after-room of yarn displayed, some in little nooks and crannies.  In the front of the house was a big room like a glass-fronted porch with a big table for classes & meetings.  I was totally charmed when I spotted in one corner a man was spinning!  How like the books is that?  Turns out he was just learning to spin and visited with us about RV life.

We were told that Meggie Sefton dropped in to knit and sign books when she was in town!  Sounded like she made regular visits.

Lambspun from the parking lot

Front door of Lambspun

Entryway is a feast of color & texture

Ron was impressed with the silky softness of this tube scarf within a tube scarf


Friday, August 12, 2011

Tapetes de Lana Weaving Center

This afternoon we visited this non-profit weaving and spinning center in Mora, NM.  We had a beautiful drive there from Las Vegas, NM.  Traveled along the bases of the mountains and edge of the Santa Fe National Forest.  There has been just enough rain that there was light green grass and the dark green of the pines and cedars glowed like jewels.  The weaving center has a large spinning mill that was not in use today, wish I could have seen it in operation.  There was only one loom actually being used.  It had a beautifully textured fabric that my little camera could not photograph.  Alpaca yarn that was soft and fine to touch.

Lots of weaving and knitting yarn in various weights and colors were for sale although worsted weight was the most prevalent.  Products woven on the looms at the center were also for sale, along with other weaving from local artisans.  Even had some locally made pottery for sale.  No items followed me home but I sure petted lots of yarn.












Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Socks Finally

While sitting outside enjoying the cool mountain air this morning, I finished the ribbing and bindoff on the purplish socks.  To recap:  these are the Pacific Coast Toe-Up Socks knit with custom dyed Trekking yarn on size 1 needles.  I knit them two-at-a-time Magic Loop style, knitting both socks on one long needle.

I didn't want to experience the typical toe-up problem with the bind off so tight you can't get them on your foot so I used the Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bindoff .  It is a bit fiddly but it sure does work.  I'll use it again.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Another Finished Object!

Had this one ready to show yesterday but the lightning and thunder had me shutting off the computer.  Got some rain, though, so it was worth it.  Lots cooler now, too.

I had some light lilac linen yarn in the stash that seemed perfect for hot-weather summer knitting.  Diagonal Lace Linen Scarf was the perfect match for the yarn.  Very easy pattern with just enough stitch involvement to hold my  interest.

 A couple of years ago I had knit a skinny scarf with a dark lilac shade of this yarn.  When I washed the light one to block it, I also washed the dark one to freshen it up.  They were laid out together on some rust-colored towels.  Makes an interesting color combo!  LOL

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ready for Christmas!

Well, sorta.  I knit a tree to decorate for Christmas.  Before you worry about me slaving away knitting a tree, it is only 5 inches tall.
The pattern was Little Christmas Tree and was a fast and easy knit.  Only problem, I hate to sew knitting seams so if I make it again, I will knit the tree and base in the round, leaving open just the bottom of the tree for stuffing it.

Now, I will hunt up little ornaments like buttons, sequins, ribbons and bells to decorate it.  Plenty of time for that before December.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Finally A FO!

One of the many projects is off the needles, sewn up, ends woven in and can now be called a Finished Object.  Yay!  This is the Windmill Bag knit in cotton worsted weight yarn on size 8 needles.  I cast on 24 stitches.  When I look at the small size I wish I had cast on 30 to make a bigger-size tote.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pineapple Upside-Down Yummy

In the cool this morning I made a quick and easy Pineapple Upside-Down Cake in my old-faithful 9 inch cast iron skillet.  The taste test after lunch said it was great as usual.  Here is the recipe.  I use pineapple chunks and omit the nuts & cherries.  Today I used the high-altitude directions since we are located over 6,000 feet.  By the way, I don't have a mixer in the RV with me so use a spoon and beat it the old-fashioned way.


PINEAPPLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 can (8 oz) pineapple slices, drained, cut in half or pineapple chunks
2 tablespoons chopped pecans, if desired
Maraschino cherries, if desired

1 1/2 cups all-in-one baking mix like Pioneer, Bisquick or Jiffy
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk or water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

In 9-inch round pan or 8-inch square pan, melt butter in oven. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over melted butter. Arrange pineapple slices in single layer over sugar mixture. Sprinkle with pecans. Place cherry in center of each pineapple slice (cherries with stems can be added after baking).

In large bowl, beat remaining ingredients with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on medium speed 4 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour batter over pineapple and cherries.

Bake 30 to 35 (21 – 25 convection) minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Immediately place heatproof serving plate upside down over pan; turn plate and pan over. Leave pan over cake a few minutes so brown sugar mixture can drizzle over cake; remove pan. Cool at least 10 minutes before serving. Store loosely covered.

High Altitude (3500-6500 ft):
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Use 1 1/3 cups baking mix and stir 1/3 cup all-purpose flour into mix. Increase milk or water to 2/3 cup. Bake 25 to 30 (convection 18-21) minutes.

Now for an update on my sock knitting.  Turned the heel and knitting up the leg.  Since I've been showing the instep (front) of the socks, this time thought I would show the heels and soles.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Dreaming

Yes, I am dreaming of a short, petite body and wee size 6 feet.  The never-ending blue sweater finally has a body off the needles.  Didn't think I would ever get it long enough.  Now, the sleeves are very slowly growing.

The latest socks are about 1/2" from starting the heel gussets.  These size 10 feet are just too long.  Oh well, I have a good understanding!

I can't just have 2 projects on the needles.  Startitis hit and so I cast on the Diagonal Lace Scarf using linen yarn.  It is rather stiff to knit with but is so soft after washing it.  This photo shows the color the best.

I won't even begin to count the other unfinished projects hiding among the stash yarn.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday America

The following was written by Dean Rippetoe of Midland, TX.  He has given permission to share it.  I agree with his sentiments of the condition of our nation in 2011.  For our July 4th birthday, let us all commit to work to return to the values of our forefathers.  Let us truly stand One Nation Under God.
       
                                 
NEIGHBOR - HOW STANDS THE UNION
Daniel Webster, born in Salisbury, New Hampshire in 1782 was a statesman, lawyer and orator and a strong advocate of American Nationalism.  He became well know as a lawyer and a Federalist Party leader.  He was elected in 1812 to the House of Representatives because of his opposition to the war of 1812.  Webster was heavily involved in National politics serving in various positions with Presidents Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler and Millard Fillmore helping to organize the government and preserve the Union.  
The story is told that every time there is a thunderstorm around Marshfield, Massachusetts, the place of Webster's grave, you can hear his rolling voice in the hollows of the sky.  And they say if you go to his grave and speak loud and clear, " Dan'l Webster!!!", the ground will begin to shiver and the trees will begin to shake and you will hear a deep voice saying, " Neighbor, How stands the Union"? 
If we listen closely, we can hear Mr. Webster's voice today as it rumbles through America.  From the hills of Tennessee to the desert of Nevada, from the skyline of New York to the shores of Florida, from deep in the heart of Texas to the Mountains of Washington - we hear that freighting question  - "Neighbor, How stands the Union"? 
The Home is in shambles.  Divorce rate exceeds 50%, Child abuse and spousal abuse is rampant, the absence of parental control over children and children more and more are disrespectful of their parents, teachers and authority.    Teenage pregnancy is higher than ever before.  Same sex marriage is applauded, involvement in homosexual activity is accepted by many and gaining popularity daily.  And Daniel Webster asks, "Neighbor, How stands the Union"? 
Drug trafficking is increasing daily, poisoning both children and adults with drugs that destroy the mind, character and moral fiber of our nation.  The drug lords and drug dealers thumb their nose at authorities and continue distributing illegal drugs with little resistance from authorities.  Alcohol consumption is out of control.  Persons arrested and convicted multiple times for driving while intoxicated are returned to the streets repeatedly without confinement or even driving restrictions. And Daniel Webster asks, "Neighbor, How stands the Union"? 
Pornography is a multi-billion dollar business; lewd sexual activity is an accepted way of life.  Promiscuity and infidelity are common.  Sexual transmitted diseases are at an epidemic stage.  Sexual immorality is displayed on every movie and television screen in America.  Our young people are exposed to violent video games condoned by the Supreme Court.  And Daniel Webster asks, "Neighbor, How stands the Union"? 
Our public schools have deteriorated to the point of issuing diplomas from High School and College to students who cannot read, write, or do simple math.  Athletics reign supreme over academics.  Police patrol the halls of our educational institutions.  Good teachers are discouraged by overwhelming requirements from governmental mandates.  Our educational system is in shambles and Daniel Webster asks, "Neighbor, How stands the Union"? 
Our Justice System was to establish truth and administer justice. Truth is not permitted in our court system because of the technicalities of the law.  The criminal is protected, the innocent punished.  Crime is higher than ever before and increasing daily.  Our jails are full, violent criminals are returned to the general population to repeat their criminal activity.  And Daniel Webster asks, "Neighbor, How stands the Union"? 
Abortion, the willful killing of millions of babies, is not only condoned but supported by tax money. Child abuse is rampant.  Parents are killing their children at an alarming rate.  And Daniel Webster asks, "Neighbor, How stands the Union"? 
Our political system and our politicians are an embarrassment to the masses.  Its occupants performing disgusting illegal and immoral acts have degraded the White House.  We fill the chairs of Congress and the Senate with politicians who perform criminal, lewd sexual acts and engage in immoral activities around the globe. We continue to have elected state and federal officials violate their oath of office and    perform acts unbecoming an elected official- and be returned to office by popular vote.  The sloughful are subsidized, the producer is punished, and taxation is unbelievable. Our politicians, for fear of public retaliation, ignore major issues of public concern such as energy, immigration, the economy, jobs, health care, education and crime. And Daniel Webster asks, "Neighbor, How stands the Union"?
Our nation, The United States of America, was established on the belief in God, the laws of the land were based on the principals set forth in the Ten Commandments  Our forefathers established a government of the people, for the people and by the people with the motto of, "In God We Trust".  Our politicians were designated as "servants" for the people, not "managers" of the people.  

These things we know.  God created the Universe and all that is in it.  He created man, He gave Canaan to the Israelites and they failed to uphold their end of the contract. He gave the USA to you and me.  He gave us religious freedom so that we might honor and glorify His name.  Today, we have the protection of free speech, but we cannot pray in public because some might be offended!!  In some of our Military Cemeteries, the word God is not permitted.  Biblical quotations are not permitted on government buildings.  There are forces at work to remove all mention of God from radio and television.  God is under attack in America and the Christian masses seem to stand idly by without offering resistance.

As we take a close and honest look at our country today, we, along with Daniel Webster must ask and respond to the question - "Neighbor, How stands the Union"? 

I think Mr. Webster would be very disappointed in our answer…….

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Socks Have Toes!

Last year I won some custom-dyed Trekking sock yarn and have finally found what I feel is the right pattern for it.  Here is the yarn.

A few days ago I cast on the Pacific Coast Toe-Up Socks by Wilma Becker.  After a delay to have the designer answer a question, I am off & knitting on these socks.
Sorry for the bad photo.  I rushed since the camera battery light was flashing.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Candid Camera

Last Friday Ron and I met my sister, Cathy, and her daughter, Kim, in Alamogordo for lunch and visiting.  Ron started the photo-taking by using his iPad to snap one to email to Mother.  Pretty good picture for a photographer who is still learning which buttons to push.
Then, since Cathy was chilly in the restaurant, it was birthday present time.  I didn't get out my camera and didn't realize that Kim had her trusty phone camera at hand and was snapping away.
I have been trying to think of a good caption for this photo.  I was not thinking any negative thoughts or had any bad vibes from Cathy so have no idea of the "why" of my expression.
.


Kim's camera kept snapping.






Finally before we had our final hugs, Ron used our camera to snap one.

Oh, and Kim will soon be celebrating her birthday and she got a present, too.  I didn't get a photo of her with her market bag but Kim snapped one when she got home.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sewing, Part of My Past

Sewing machines are part of some of my earliest memories.  In Beaumont TX, I was 3-4 years old, sitting on the floor by Mother's sewing machine, playing with spools of thread while Mother sewed.  We were listening to Arthur Godfrey on the radio.  Mother made my play clothes, school clothes and church clothes until I was well-trained enough to sew for myself.

Mother's mother, Grandma Capron, had a sewing machine in the dining room of her house in Lincoln NE.  It was a treadle machine that Grandpa had motorized long before I was born.  I only remember a couple of times when we visited that she used the machine.

Dad's mother, Mom Jones, in Lufkin TX had a treadle machine that, from my earliest memories, sat on her big screened-in porch.  I don't remember her sewing much when I was around but she did some mending and made some quilt tops.  My first sewing experience was on that machine.  I cut squares of fabric, sewed them together and put a long border strip around them for a doll blanket.  I was probably 7 years old.  That treadle machine is now tucked away in a corner of our storage in the workshop in Midland.  One of these days I'll dig it out & see if it will still run.

My parents gave me a Singer Featherweight machine as my high school graduation gift.  Even if it just did straight stitch, I was thrilled with it and used it for many years.

Fast forward many years to the early 70's.  We lived in KS then and were coming to TX to visit.  My mother-in-law had found a magazine article with a pattern for some cute kids cuddly comforters she wanted me to make.  When we arrived in Andrews we bought the fabric and some butcher paper to make the pattern.  All the magazine had was a gridded box with the pattern pieces drawn on it.  I made big grids on the butcher paper and drew off the actual pattern.  Then I sewed the cute comforters up.  My MIL did all the hand tufting with embroidery thread to make each comforter like the photos.



These are photos of ones I made many years later.  The applique was zig-zag stitched on and tufting was done by machine.  There is only a little hand embroidery on these later ones. 

The butcher paper patterns were copied onto brown wrapping paper, then onto poster board and eventually onto foam core board.  Don't remember how many of these blankets I've made but nieces & nephews along with some of their children have Elephant blankies or Lion blankies.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

New Totes

Just can't have enough knitting totes, so when I saw the ad for these cute bags with lots of room and pockets, I couldn't resist getting a couple.  They came from Knitters Brewing Company and can be ordered here

They are so roomy they really can hold a lot.  The green one has my 2 at a time sock project and the blue has a full skein of Super Saver size.
I immediately knit up some Luggage Blossoms to decorate them.  There has been a bunch of them knit since Beverly of the Lonestar State Knitters Group introduced them to us. 

Also on the fast knit front, I knit a cable headband to try to control the growing mop of hair.  The wind likes to blow it in my face no matter what I do.  I don't really like to wear hairbands and don't like the way this one feels.  Wore it all day yesterday just to try to get used to it.  Still strong negative vibes.  Think I'll find another use for the yarn.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Knitting and Sightseeing

That is what I've been doing.  Seems we've also been on the road around Texas a lot since I last blogged.  We are now in Ruidoso Downs, NM and enjoying the cool temperatures.  In fact, we ran the furnace at night a very few weeks ago. 

Have you seen any flying pigs lately?  I knit one for my daughter then actually saw a statue of one.  Keep your eyes open, you just never know when you might run across some unusual animals.