Monthly Archives: January 2009

Underground railroad quilt

A couple of years a go I made an Underground Railroad quilt.  I used old fabric and made sure it was done by the book.  A lot of it was hand-stitched so it took almost a year to finish.  I even put some of my hand-dyed fabric in a few of the blocks.  Recently I was asked if Quincy Notre Dame (the local Catholic high school) could hang it in their school for a week so the kids can see it.  They’ll also be letting the public in to view it.  I feel like I’m top dog right now but it’s really not that big of a deal.  I would make more quilts but it’s hard to do with smaller kids.  They tend to run off with the blocks and things just disappear.  The next thing you know the baby has the scissors and is cutting holes in her shirt.  I think that’s why I’m so proud of this one – it took forever with all the kids around.  I did most of it late at night after everyone was in bed and I know that I won’t get a chance to do another one until they are all in school.

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Dog biscuits and lard

I spent most of the weekend making liver biscuits for the puppy and rendering lard..

Jason’s parents raise pigs and cows so our meat comes straight from the farm to the butcher.  Kabric Beef in Plainville, IL does ours and then delivers it to the house. They not only do a great job but we get all the extras, like liver, tongue, hocks and of course FAT.

Jason’s mom taught me how to render our own lard.  If you’ve ever made home-made pie crust it turns out the best using lard.  Its not very hard to do.  The fat generally comes in big bags.  Cut it up into small chunks – maybe 1-2″ cubes.  Dump it into a BIG pot and let cook at a low heat.  The fat will start to melt and eventually there will be enough liquid to boil.  You will need to stir it occasionally. The fat chunks will melt and get smaller and then float to the top. This will take several hours.  Eventually all the water that was in the fat will boil away.  Once that happens, the leftover chunks will sink to the bottom of the pot.  These chunks are called “cracklin’s” and are pieces of meat and tissue that were trimmed along with the fat.  When the cracklin’s have sunk to the bottom of the pot, the lard is ready.  Strain it through cheesecloth and a metal collender  to get all the cracklin’ out.  Put the lard away in a cool place and it will stiffen up nice and white and creamy.  If your lard doesn’t stiffen up completely when cool, or it seems kinda runny, you probably just didn’t let it render long enough, and some water was left over.  You’ll know next time to wait longer.

The stores have to add other things to their lard.  When you make your own it just tastes and looks so much better than store-bought.

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Now for the rest of the extras I do mix a little liver in with the supper now and then but its ground up or I try to hide it so the kids don’t know its there. You know – ground up in the meatloaf and stuff like that. but the kids really don’t like it so the tongue, heart, and liver usually get ground up for the dog, He loves it, so I throw in an egg, some liver, peanut butter, and some flour then bake 20 minutes. This makes the best dog treats ever.

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Monkey cast covers!!

That’s right, this week I’ve been making cast covers for the baby…

On Monday the 4 year old pushed the 2 year old off the table.  Of course, it was 9 at night and the clinic was closed.  She was crying but it was more of a whine than cry, and she didn’t seem to be in too much pain. The biggest thing was that she wouldn’t move her fingers.  There wasn’t any bruising or swelling and with 5 kids I don’t run to the hospital for just any bump or bruise.  After about an hour she was still upset so Jason stayed home with the rest of the kids while I took her to the hospital.  As I was putting her in the van she seemed to calm down and by the time we got to the hospital – a whole 10 minute drive – she’d completely stopped crying.  At this point I started second-guessing myself – was she really hurt?  I asked her one more time if she would wiggle her fingers and she wouldn’t so in to the emergency room we went.  As I was getting her signed in she was smiling at the nurse. All I could think of was all the money I was wasting by overreacting to the Boo Boo.

They put us in a room and the doctor came in to take a look at things.  The baby started telling him how mean her sister is.  The whole time he was poking and twisting her arm she acted like she was fine!!!  He finally asked, “Does your arm hurt?”  She said, “Yep!”  Apparently she wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of crying.   Then he said what every mother wants to hear, “She seems fine but we’ll get a X-ray just to make sure.”  By this time I knew I was overreacting and that the doctor had to think I was nuts.  Off to spend more money on X-rays.  She got a little upset with all the lights and didn’t like being held down but within minutes we were done and she was fine.  At this point all I wanted to do was leave before I could make a bigger butt of myself.  After a few minutes the doctor came back and wanted me to come see the X-rays.  I was thinking, “Why, just tell me she’s fine so we can go home.”  As I rounded the corner I saw the break on the X-ray.  There is was, right above her wrist she had what’s called a buckle break.  It didn’t break in half, it was bent like an L. Within seconds I went from feeling like a idiot to super-mom!  I knew it was broken!. They put a splint on and on Thursday she got the hard cast.  She’s been a little spoiled the last couple of days.  I made a monkey sock to go over the cast so she can’t get food on it.  Bath time was also a bunch of fun.  Jason held her arm up while I was washing as much as I could as fast as I could.

As for the monkey cast cover its one of my best ideas.  All you need is a sock with a monkey on it.  The ones I used came from Walmart.  Cut 5 small holes for the fingers to poke through.  If you need one, just let me know and I’ll make you one.

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Back to work

That’s right, the holidays are over and even the self-employed have to go back to work.

I started by restocking my thread rack. To most people this doesn’t sound like much but you have your top thread, bobbin thread, embroidery thread, blindables / variegated and the heavy duty upholstery thread. Thank goodness JoAnn’s had 50% off on all the thread and I have a 10% preferred customer card too. So with a detailed list I was off to shop. Now, my goal is, “thread – no fabric!” Why? Because I can and will lose control. I will buy it, all of it. I have to have fabric – not a few yards but the whole bolt. Not just one bolt but as many as I can fit into the cart. The last time I lost it it cost me about $300. Yep, almost better than chocolate. While I have my basket and am getting my thread there are a few people staring at me. I doubt they’ve ever seen anyone buy as many spools as I have. As I come to the end of the list I’ve emptied most of the spool slots. I’m getting 10 white, 10 black, 6 blue and so on. They only had 2 reds left so I had to back order 6 more. Off to the check out lane. Spools of thread are small so it didn’t look like much but even with my 60% off my total was $84 dollars. I’m so getting grounded when Jason finds out.

Oh well without the thread I can’t work.

Thread collection

Thread collection

My New Year’s Promise

The Holidays are over and its time to go back to work. If you have a real job you have to show up or you don’t get paid. I work out of my home, so I’m the boss. It’s up to me to get motivated. Yeah, I could sit and watch soaps, take a nap or go shopping. But I wouldn’t get paid either. I also don’t have paid sick days or a paid vacation.

Since I’m home all day, my house should also be spotless right? Jason knows with 5 kids and my store that’s not possible, but I still feel bad when its not perfect. That’s going to be my goal for this year, to try and get organized. We’ve already started – last week we threw out 15 trash bags of broken toys, puzzles with missing pieces, and just junk that’s accumulated over the years. If that doesn’t help keep things clean I’ll be throwing out more next week.

Also the kids will be doing more chores this year. The sooner they fine out that I’m not the maid the better. As for Jason, he works all day with his job so he will doing less when he gets home.

If I get half of all of this accomplished, I won’t need to diet. That’s right, I will work my butt off, since that’s where most of the fat settled to. By this time next year I will be back down to 110lb.

As you all sit there and laugh I’m off to make supper.

Getting big

The kids are getting bigger every day. You don’t really notice much until something big happens then there you are, wondering what happened. You can’t go back in time and make them little again, and after 5 kids there’s no way I’m starting over with a new one. So here I am not sure if I should be happy or sad.

It all started with the oldest, she got a new bed for Christmas, so her old mattress went to the 4 year old. She got new princess sheets and is now on the top bunk in a big girl’s bed. Boy she thinks she’s hot stuff and I’m doing great so far, then we took the 2 year old and moved her from the crib that’s been in my room for 7 years straight now… to the toddler bed that the 4 year old was in. That’s right no more babies sleeping next to my bed any more. To put the final nail in the coffin the baby couldn’t care less. She grabbed her pillow and towel blankie and headed for her new bed as if she were off to college.

This is why men think us women are half-loony.. oh well.