Monday, November 30, 2009

White Friday

Everybody can have "Black Friday."
I got to experience "White Friday" with my niece, Amy.

Five women went wedding dress shopping.

Amy tried on some gorgeous dresses.

As long as they didn't have any sequins.  (She's kind of a sequin snob.)  I suppose sequins are the trashy little plastic sisters to real crystal beads.

Sequin snob or not, Amy was a good sport about trying on so many dresses... even some she wasn't interested in - just because her mom, sister, grandma or aunt wanted to see them on her.

The dresses were stunning.

The price tags were astounding.

The bride-to-be was beautiful.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Christmas Dresses!

What could be more festive than red glittery satin for a Christmas dress?  I've been working on a couple of costumes for MacKenzie and Ava who are a part of the Main Street Song and Dance Troupe here in Menomonee Falls.

They'll be wearing these lovely red dresses for their Christmas performances this year including their main event of the season in Shattuck Hall at Carroll University in Waukesha on December 18th and 19th.

I played Christmas songs on the computer while I sewed these dresses.  The red, the sparkles, the music -- really got me in the Christmas spirit.  Break a leg Mackenzie and Ava!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

In the Spirit of Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving  

As you read this, I am making pie and baking potato casserole while the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade goes by on the little kitchen television.  Maybe I'll get a chance to watch "It's a Wonderful Life," too.  Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  I believe gratitude is the main ingredient to happiness and showing enough thanks is something I am always working on.  Being thankful helps us see all the good in our lives - the full part of the glass and not the empty part.

Click HERE if you want to watch a short, faith promoting video about gratitude.  (I like the skateboarder guy - he has a Napoleon Dynamite quality about him.)

What are you thankful for?

I'm thankful for an all-knowing Father in Heaven that blesses each one of us with exactly what we need to become better people and fulfill our purpose here on earth.

I'm thankful for an outstanding family:  my kind husband, amazing children, wonderful parents, sister, brothers and fantastic in-laws.

I'm thankful every day for my health.  Since we've had so many unexpected ups and downs in this category lately, I definitely no longer take it for granted.

I'm also thankful for so many other things:  great friends, freedom, a warm home, good food and CREATIVITY!

It IS a wonderful life.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cookie of the Month - Pumpkin Chocolate Chip

I've not yet learned who won the highest bid for my 2010 Cookie of the Month services at the scholarship auction, but I still have the last two deliveries of 2009 to make for this year's winners.  November's choice is a recipe that I found in a magazine years ago in a Libby's canned pumpkin ad... I think.  Anyway, the recipe has been made a hundred times and is a particular favorite of my oldest son, Lars.  Great Pumpkin Cookies - a fitting choice for November.  (Sorry about all the artificial light and shadow in these photos - it's been rather dreary weather here in Wisconsin for the last few days - nice temps, but no sun.)

Here are your ingredients:

4 cups flour
2 cups rolled oats
2 t. baking soda
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. salt
1 1/2 cups butter
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1 (16 oz.) can pumpkin
1 bag (12 oz.) semi sweet chocolate chips

Soften up three sticks (1 1/2 cups) butter.

Add the two cups of brown sugar.

and one cup white sugar.

Beat until light and fluffy.

Add egg and vanilla.  Mix well.

In a separate bowl,
measure out the flour, oats,
baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

Combine those dry ingredients into a crumbly mixture.

Open up the can of pumpkin.
Some people prefer to bake pumpkin wedges
and make their own puree.  Each to his own.

Alternate additions of the dry mixture and the pumpkin
- mixing well after each.

Sometimes I add a little yellow and red food coloring
to amp up the orange factor.

Add the bag of chocolate chips.

These are drop cookies and although they taste wonderful, they aren't very attractive -- but since Beth and her family paid big money for cookie of the month, I do my best to make them uniform and pretty.  This time I'll try piping them from a large pastry bag with a big round open tip.  (The pastry tip only got clogged with chocolate chips once.)

I also stuck a chocolate chip on top of each one so they wouldn't just look like plain blobs after baking.  I used parchment, but they are fine on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes if you make them the size of a heaping tablespoon - longer if bigger.  

These turn out to be soft, cake-like cookies and very moist.

Very tasty.
This recipe makes about 80 two inch cookies.

Happy Thanksgiving prep.  May all your baking come out scrumptious, your pies perfect and your dinner dishes delicious.  I know I still have two French Silk pies and two large pans of cheesy potatoes to make for the big feast at my sister's house tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Milk Glass

Milk glass, milk glass - why do I love thee?
Let me count the ways:

1.  You are white... and milky.

2.  You are plain... yet fancy.

3.  You tempt me to doll you up.

Proud of All Our Boys

The weekend seems like forever ago to me now.  (It's been a busy couple of days.)  But I don't want to neglect a shout out for some of my boyz who performed well over the weekend.  First, nobody can do a "pompous, whiny, ninny" like Frank Burns as well as my son did in the high school's version of M*A*S*H.  Lots of fun to see Keaton lose his marbles on stage... "Quack?  QUACK???  I'm a CAPTAIN, not a quack!"  Here he is with his Uncle Tooky and Aunt Rosebud who came to see the show.  Congratulations to the whole cast for a fun adventure.

Another group of boys who performed well this weekend were the members of the Menomonee Falls High School Football team who left it all on the field at Saturday's Wisconsin State Championship Division One game at UW-Madision's Camp Randall Stadium.  They were amazing, but [sniff] lost to another amazing team - Marquette University High School. 7-0.  A tough game played by two tough contenders.  Congratulations to Coach Baker and all the team members for a wonderful year - no regrets.  True champions.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Over the Moon for New Moon

OK, I admit it.  I just got home from the midnight showing of New Moon with friends, Brenda and Debbie.  The movie was fantastic.  Very well done and so true to the book.  Stunning turnout.  Our little suburb filled at least nine theaters with midnight viewers.  It was weird to look up at the marquees above each auditorium entrance and every single one said, "New Moon." All those movies letting out at the same time - the theater parking lot was gridlock.  Gotta get a few hours of sleep.  Who should I dream about?  Jacob or Edward?  Nah - neither.  I've got my own eternal companion.  Goodnight.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Into Each Life a Little Rain Must Fall

Life can be very hard.  I've been making "Comfort" cuff bracelets.  Remember that box of scraps I found (click here if you don't remember)?  I'm using them -- and some of my billions of mother-of-pearl buttons, vintage embroidery floss, and old tiny flower beads from the 70s.  Oh yeah, I'm also using these old 1940s wood alphabet stamps for the letters.
It's been a rough couple of years at our house.  First, I inflicted myself with 35+ fractures to my lower left leg bone when I got on the trampoline with Chelsea and Keaton two years ago.  Yeah, I know - put the big "S" for "stupid" on my forehead.  Thankfully, it wasn't life or death, but it was a very long road of rehabilitation... still is. 
Life changing as that event was, our family's real trauma came at the end of January 2009.  We looked death square in the eye when my husband shocked us with the news that his MRI (for some numbness in his arm) showed a large tumor had eaten away part of his spine and he was ordered into our regional medical center for immediate neurosurgery.  I remember driving to the hospital and watching people as we drove by them.  They were happy.  They were smiling.  Life was going on as usual for them.  I wondered if I would ever be happy again.  I felt so isolated from the rest of the world.
Our story has a happy ending.  Although we dreaded the worst, his tumor turned out to be the best case scenario - considering it had eaten away one whole vertebrae and half of two others.  It was an aneurismal bone cyst and would not return once removed.  And so, it was removed and his spine was stabilized with a lot of hardware and synthetic vertebrae during eight hours of surgery.  We are lucky.  We only had to live the nightmare for a couple of days until we found out this thing was not going to take his life.  We were able to escape the unbearable agony.

Now I find myself thinking about the many, many people who can't escape the worst case scenario and must face uncertainty and sadness for a much longer period of time and for so many different reasons.

That's why I'm making these Comfort Cuffs for my Etsy shop.  I was ever so humbled and grateful as people who loved us offered to help with anything and everything.  There was such an outpouring of love it was overwhelming.  It was obvious people felt helpless and would do anything to support us during such a difficult time.  People made food - casseroles, cookies, breads.  Friends gave gift cards and money.  Flowers, gift baskets, and cards were delivered by the dozens.  At a time like this, people feel at a loss.  So I made these cuffs to be a physical reminder of love and encouragement.  Sewn from lovingly saved 30-70 year old scraps of fabric from feedsacks, quilts, aprons, dresses and more - they are like wrapping the person you love in a quilt straight from your heart.
I've made a few in a variety of colors.  Into every stitch I'm putting good wishes and prayers for every person who might wear one.  Life is a learning experience and part of that experience can be very painful.  Let's show our love for each other.

Be still sad heart and cease repining;
Behind the clouds the sun is shining,
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life a little rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Saturday night was a very important night for our Menomonee Falls High School Football team.  They won their division I semifinal game against Appleton North High School at Titan Stadium in Oshkosh 10-0.

Next stop?
Camp Randall Stadium in Madison
Friday at 4 p.m. for the state championship.

Good luck to Coach Baker and our amazing team!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tear Down This Fashion! 1980s - yikes!

OK, maybe it was the Berlin Wall that Reagan requested to have torn down, but he really should have declared war on the fashion trends of the 80s.  I was stripping some old Victoria magazines recently and I found the fashion ads so humorous, I had to save some of them.  (This is one of my problems: saving things like old magazines that I once ADORED and can't part with until I look through them one last time and strip out any pictures that might still possibly inspire me...)

I'm inspired by this outfit.
Inspired to laugh until my sides hurt!
Could these shoulder pads be any bigger?
Maybe she's in football training.

OK, the cute guy who is actually not even looking at the lady in red (ooh, wait - that song was from the 80s, too - Chris DeBurgh, where are you?) is the mover (piano mover) and the girl with the Walkman striking a very natural looking pose is... the shaker!  Remember all the colored nylons of the 80s?

Consoling each other:  "I'm so embarrassed to wear these mom jeans, aren't you?"  Pants to your waist.  What a novel idea.   Everybody wore them - not just the moms.

My daughter doesn't even know where her waist is.

Three words:  chaste, lace, waist (just cinch it).  Believe it or not, women could actually dress modestly in the 80s and still be in fashion.  Big permed hair was all the rage, too.  Wait, weren't these the three vampire nymphs in Bram Stoker's Dracula that I saw for Halloween?

These girls look a bit apprehensive.  What are they looking at?  The arrival of the fashion police?  Or is Sally Jesse Raphael coming to get her glasses back?

Here's a young couple reminiscing over the old diary they found in her childhood hope chest.  "Dear Diary:  Someday I'll meet the man of my dreams and he'll be wearing acid wash jeans, a pastel sweater and permed hair."

Can't touch this!  It's Hammer time!

Romance was big in the Victoria magazine of the late 80s - flowered dresses, straw hats, french braided hair (never could do that).  Grown, adult women even wore dresses like this back then.

Oh yeah, I found tons of ads promoting these dresses.  I think we all wore them.  We may not want to admit it, but we did.  Oh, the pain... the pain of those dad-blasted drop waisted dresses.  Who could wear them?  Certainly not we pears!

Yes, indeed - this gal is thinking, "Sure, you may be laughing at me with my shoulder pads, cinched waist and overly cuffed cuffs - but give it 20 years and take a look back at what you're wearing now.  Then we'll see who's laughing."
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