my exCellent adveNture

It has bugged me for a long time that Scott refuses to buy a snowblower. We have a pretty big, wide driveway and lots of sidewalk out front, but he insists on being "macho man" claiming he likes to shovel. "It's a good workout." Maybe so, but it takes a lot of time - time he could be using to do things he enjoys.

So. I took matters into my own hands yesterday after surveying the six inches of new snow in the driveway. I did some research on ConsumerReports.com and printed the "top ten snowblowers" survey. With my info in hand, I headed for Cal Ranch to check out the Honda brand. Nothing. Next stop was Sears to look at the Craftsmans. There I met a GOOD SALESMAN.

I have actually been wanting a snowblower for a long time - one that I could use myself early in the morning on snow that has fallen over night. I pictured myself going up and down the street cleaning all my neighbors' sidewalks. I'd like to return the favor just once to our next-door neighbors, the Pooles, who have pushed snow off our front sidewalk with their little plow hundreds of times over the twenty years we've lived here. With that goal in mind I looked at four different machines. I chose the smallest one - the one I thought I could handle. It had an electric starter which was my top priority since I've never been able to pull those pull things.

I could see the salesman wincing at my choice. He told me about how much his dad likes the bigger model and tried to impress upon me the need for a bigger auger and more horsepower. Then he talked me into going for a test run out in front of the store with that very model that they had for demos. I felt so stupid there in the parking lot of Sears and Smiths running a snowblower past the front of the store. But it did convince me that I could handle the larger machine...needed the larger machine.  

Now is where the awesome customer service comes in. The salesman told me that I could buy a snowblower they had in the back - newly assembled - it even has gas in it, he said. You can take it home and use it right now. I'm kind of an instant gratification girl so I said OK, let's do it. We tried to load it into my car, but they decided (because of the gas) that they should deliver it. Mr. Salesman followed me home and unloaded the snowblower. (Oh, first he saw my neighbor next door on her little snowplow. She was actually stuck in a snowbank, so he went over and pushed her out. Customer service plus.) 

He started the snowblower for me and I grabbed onto those big old handles with those big levers that make my small hands hurt, and I started blowing. My first time ever in my life running a snowblower. I was determined to get the driveway cleared off before Scott got home from work. It's tricky getting that chute to go in the right direction while trying to control the self-propelled snowblower (it kept propelling me) and going in a straight line. But I got the job done and felt downright proud of myself. I was so happy that I perched my camera on the garbage can and took a self-timer picture of myself. Then I headed to clear the front sidewalk and that went well. Wow, it was fast! I saw that my neighbor had missed a section on her driveway, so I decided to help out. About that time, I  noticed that the snowblower smelled like gas and oil. Suddenly the motor sputtered and stopped. I had no idea how to start it up again. Rolling it back to the garage was the only thing I could do. It was a long walk. And I was worried that I'd ruined something.

I parked the snowblower in front of the garage and put a big red bow on it. I wrote Merry Belated Christmas on a post-it note (for lack of a better idea). 

Scott got home from work and asked me who I got to clean the driveway and whose snowblower it was. He was satisfactorily surprised when I told him my story. 

We had to go to the gym, so it was after our workout that we opened the instruction book and started the snowblower. It revved up, then stopped. Scott checked the gas and, I'll be darned, it was out of gas. Whew. I guess Mr. Salesman just put a cupful of gas in - enough to get me going. I was so relieved and so anxious to have Scott run the snowblower that I convinced him to add some lawnmower gas and check it out right then - in his shorts and gym shoes. I think he likes it! 
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- rockin' the birthdays -

These are our twin birthday girls! We were super excited when we realized that new d-i-l Sierra's birthday is on the same day as Bailee's. You could hear the music all through the house at our little pizza and dance party/celebration. Everyone participated and the winner was...Uncle Pitt!
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outside: frozen

When it’s this cold outside, everything is motionless. I stand at my front window with my forehead on the cold glass and look out. I listen for sound. None. The stillness is startling. I observe more closely the lack of motion. It’s freezing – the temperature was minus eleven this morning when we got up – now it’s eleven above. No people are out…even cars are minimal. No kids playing, no one even walking their dog. Where are the animals? I see no birds about and no neighbors’ cats. The deer that have spent the winter in our neighborhood have been missing for a week.

Nothing is melting; nothing is dripping. The icicles look like glass embellishments on my house – permanent fixtures outside my kitchen window. The road is quieted by frost – there’s no slush and no rivulets of melting snow. Even the sky is still. I look across my backyard to the field beyond and realize that not even a breeze bends the leafless branches of my lilac bushes and no clouds move lazily across the horizon. The sun is shrouded in a foggy haze and its movement, though present, is imperceptible. 
My corner of the world is frozen. 
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= winter scent =

Simply oranges and cloves. Boil and breathe.

This is my favorite scent. It calms me and makes it OK to be in the kitchen, even if I have a big old sink full of endless dishes from Sunday dinner. 

Sometimes I sprinkle in a generous teaspoon of ground cloves too - just to make it even better. This is the best aroma therapy for me. (Careful not to let the pan boil dry. Burnt cloves...not so much.)

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:: QuiLt pRoject ::

I follow a blog called Occasional Piece-Quilt that's written by a wonderful writer, teacher, grandma, and quilter. I get quite a kick out of opening my email and seeing her name in my inbox indicating that she has a new blog post, because I know I'm about to be treated with excellent writing and, often, pictures of her quilt projects. The writer of this blog inspires me with the extraordinary amount of quilting she does, in spite of having much to do including teaching college classes (English) and grading papers. 

Today, I am intrigued by the quilting "Finish-A-Long" that she tells about. I've heard of quilt-alongs and have followed and pinned on Pinterest the blocks made by many quilters on the Farmer's Wife Quilt-Along. The Finish Along intrigues me enough that I'm going to join it. I do have quilts to finish. I do need a little kick in the seat to get them done. Maybe some social networking and public accountability will do the trick. 

The Finish-A-Long is divided into four quarters. For this quarter (joining it ends at midnight tonight), I'm going to work on finishing four quilts. Two are easy finishes - just bindings - and two are lots of work...but need to be done! You know how it is with quilts - if you don't hurry, you quit liking the fabric and want to start over with new fabrics that you see in online and in shops. So, I've got to finish these so I can get on with all the other quilts waiting to be made (many of them by Kimberbell - the company I work and write for).

she can quilt

Here are the four quilts I want to finish for the Finish-A-Long in the first quarter of 2013. It's an ambitious list (for me) lol. If I get these done, I have four more waiting in plastic bins in my sewing room. Can't wait!

"Tis the Season
Speaking of Kimberbell, this is the Christmas quilt that Kim designed and I made (mostly last year as a mystery quilt). It just needs a bit of embellishment, quilting, and binding. If you love this quilt, here's the link to Kim's downloadable PDF pattern on her pattern website YouCanMakeThis.com. Download today, sew tomorrow, and finish by Christmas...just like me! 

Hip to be Square
This is the quilt I designed and made for Adornit. The finished quilt is at the shop, and belongs to the company. When I made this version, I also cut out many of the squares for my own quilt. It will be easy to finish, and it contains some of my favorite Adornit fabric. 

More Squares

I started this about three years ago. I remember seeing this fabric in the quilt shop and absolutely falling in love with it. It's a Sanae fabric by Moda. The designs and colors are bright and happy. I'm so close on this one...so close.

Sierra's Quilt

I can't take complete credit for this quilt - it was a group effort by me and my daughters for our new daughter/sister-in-law Sierra. It is almost bound - just two and a third sides to go. I can't seem to get it done...maybe I subconsciously don't want to let it go! I do love it. Sierra saw the original quilt on Pinterest and when we told her we wanted to make her a quilt for her wedding to our son/brother Mike, she showed us this quilt. Becky, my SLC daughter, got the ball rolling by drawing up the pattern with sizes and dimensions. Suzie, my Las Vegas daughter, shopped for and coordinated the fabrics and the cut all the blockss. I helped piece the strips and had it quilted. (Thanks Carol Armstrong...Sierra loves the quilting!) I almost finished the binding. You know, one hour...that's all it'll take. So it's my first Finish-Long project.

You can follow along here at the She Can Quilt blog.
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~ January moRning ~

Such a cold morning. I got up early and looked out to see if the driveway was still clear from my two (that's not one, but two) shoveling efforts yesterday. Why was I surprised to see four more inches of snow? It's January in northern Utah - we SHOULD have snow. I just keep reminding myself that we're so lucky to have this warm home and to be inside looking out.
There's about a foot of snow on our deck. Under the snow, in the northeast corner is a sheet of ice that formed last week when it was so extra extra cold. It's going to take months to thaw all of that. 
After Christmas, I put away everything red except my little berry garland. I left it up over the dining room door because it reminds me of the crabapples outside the window...the crabapples that seem to feed flocks of birds and many deer through the winter. 

It occurs to me as I look out my side door that these are my colors - white, gray, blue, taupe, brown, black. 

There are birds in this crabapple tree. I can barely see them, but I know they're there because of the movement of the branches. If I watch long enough, I see them come and go. 

And there's a deer relaxing under the pine tree. Again, he blends in with the tree trunk, but look closely and there's a dot of a brown nose on a gray face. I just couldn't get the right camera angle to see him.
Yes, that deer seems to be part of the family now. He spends a lot of time in our yard and seems to have claimed that corner as his own. 
I made Scott get up and use the telephoto lens to capture a photo of this dignified-looking buck before he left to join his many friends in the fields behind us. 
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* for tHis year *

It's called "One Little Word."

It's a class by scrapbooker Ali Edwards; it's a concept that, for some, takes the place of New Year's resolutions; it's a thought-provoking exercise...especially if you're drawn to words (and goals); it's pretty fun for me to do every year. I noticed that Studio 5 did a segment on it last week, so it's getting somewhat "mainstream." Still, I like it.

I'm always inspired by Ali's New Year's practice of choosing one word to guide her through the year ahead. I've thought and thought about word possibilities that describe my hopes for 2013. Last night at the Aggie basketball game, I got a little distracted as I used my phone to find Ali's website and read through this year's list of words that have been chosen by other people. So many good words - I love most of them. But I'm pretty picky and had a hard time finding the perfect word for me. For one thing, it has to be a verb. To me, this is about action. I thought and thought - trying to NOT let the fact that I would be making it public determine my word. (I mean public on this blog...meaning twelve people, most of them family, would read it lol.) After much thought and "word play" I came up with the following list of words that appeal to me:


After a bit of back and forth with myself, I narrowed my list down to two words: rise and breathe. Both have particular meaning for me right now and express what I feel I need to do this year. But I have chosen rise for my word. It's admittedly a weird word choice - I don't even see it in the illustration below. But it perfectly expresses my focus for the next twelve months. I have to say: rise is not about getting up early, because I already do that because of insomnia. It is about making those early morning hours more productive and worthwhile. And, there's so so much more: rise could include things like sit ups and also things like cinnamon rolls. Yes, it's a good word.

* Rise *

Here are some words that other people have picked. Maybe you can find one here that you like.
This is a Wordle Word Cloud that Ali Edwards created using people's words from 2011. Love it. 


< 2013 >

Happy New Year! What a lovely sight - the ice and white - around our house and neighborhood. Most lovely to me from the inside looking out actually. It's cold out...and I don't like being cold. Yesterday, New Year's Eve day, I warmed myself by cleaning up every bit of Christmas in the house. I became obsessed with getting anything red or green into a box and Scott meticulously arranged the boxes in the under-stairway closet where we keep the Christmas decorations and some in the attic. I turned the music up loud and pushed to get it all done in one day. Even the tree. Even the quilts. Even the...oh shoot, as I type I remember that the Christmas wreath is still hanging next to the door on the front porch. Well, nearly everything. It felt good to put it all away. As I cleaned I contemplated my "One Little Word" for 2013. Here's a link to the blog of the originator of One Little Word, Ali Edwards (from the scrapbooking world). At the end of her post, you'll see a list of the words that people have chosen. There are three words that I like best and need to choose between. 

I love these photos that Scott took on Christmas Day. He's an excellent photographer. 

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