Sunday, November 30, 2008

First Sunday in Advent

I am religiously undergoing rack therapy and sewing therapy for my back. Here are the results of the sewing therapy: 5 placemats and 6 corresponding napkins. There are more to do of course, but I can complete those at my leisure (and do the hand sewing in front of a football game). These were done in time for the first Sunday in Advent. The advent wreath for this year is the top picture. Kind of a modern wreath with country style npakins and placemats, but that is Ok by me.
That thin black strip around the middle of the placemat is on 1/4 inch wide. I found a really neat way to do this, courtesy of a class I took from Ruth Blanchett at For the second seam, have your quarter inch foot follow the stitching line of the first seam, not the edge of the fabric. Works almost perfectly!
I can now do all sorts of things without thinking or planning the moves: Sit and get up from less than ideal chairs, including the toilet, go up and down stairs (still carefully), turning around, even some bending over. I still avoid picking up things from the floor. I can stand for long periods of time. I can sleep with my husband in the bed. I can roll over in bed. I do not have to prop myself up to wash counters, but I do for unloading the bottom shelf of the dishwasher. Reaching to top shelves is interesting, even with a stool. I used to back into the car, now I can get in normally. Last Wednesday I was able to walk the length of the mall and back without my back complaining; a week before I only made it half of one length.
I haven't taken ibuprofen since Thursday, when we ate Thanksgiving Dinner at a friends house. Their chairs are different, and my back definitely complained.
So, I think the sewing therapy is working!
OK, OK, The Rack is working also!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Back Update

After the doctor saw my back x-rays, he said that it appeared that two of my discs were, if not ruptured, at least leaking. The sharp stabby pains down my left leg seemed to confirm the diagnosis. So now I appear in a clinic and get put on the scientific version of The Rack, in which my spine is stretched out for 25 minutes at a time. During this time the discs are in their proper shape and are allowed to heal.

I think it is working.

Ibuprofen is great also.

Today I only took two, 12 hours apart, as preventatives. I'm only twinging a little.

I also am not: cleaning tubs, cleaning floors, dusting, vacuuming and tidying up.

But just in case none of these are the reason I am better, I am continuing the sewing therapy. I finished two baby quilts, (one is pictured above, it is based on a Mary Ellen Hopkins pattern) 9 of one item, am working on 6 of another, (these are presents, so I will post pictures after Christmas) and then 12 placemats (with corresponding napkins.) I have been wanting new placemats for years now, but when you start your Christmas present sewing on December 1 (and one time ended it on December 25 about 12:30 am), it doesn't leave a lot of time or ambition for anything as trivial as something new for yourself.

Hopefully my back will be better in January ("The Rack" ends the day before Christmas) so I can clean up my sewing corner. I am missing my all purpose sewing machine foot, a roll of freezer paper, at least one book, maybe two, a bobbin of off-white thread and several fabrics that I want to use for quilts.

Of course, then my family will figure that I can once again tidy, dust, wash floors, clean bathtubs and vacuum. I will have to be sneaky.


I just made a great pot of chili (as defined by my husband), and I need to write it down.

1 pound mild Italian Sausage
1 pound ground beef
start browning. while cooking, add:
2 cloves garlic, cut in about 6 pieces
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
after the meat is browned, add:
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 28 oz can of chopped tomatoes
1 14 oz can black beans
1 14 oz can corn (not cream style)
3 14 oz cans kidney beans
enough water to dislodge the last kidney beans without dirtying another utensil because there has been so much activity in the kitchen that I ran out of room everywhere, including inside the dishwasher
simmer for two hours

serve with the usual: cheese, sour cream, corn bread/butter/honey, sliced apples

I discovered, with a recipe for stuffed zucchini, that a combination of sausage and ground beef was much better than just using ground beef. This is another good place to mix it.

The black beans and corn were an experiment that actually worked
The chopped tomatoes, being a store brand, came out as a thick sauce. I'm not a tomato fan, so no visible tomatoes is a plus as far as I'm concerned.

The two hour cook time was a result of not realizing just how long the corn bread was going to bake...if I hadn't wasted so much time on the internet, it would have been only 1 1/2 hours and we would have eaten at a decent hour. But the longer the better with chili.

This is not exceptionally hot. I usually add an anaheim pepper, but it was sort of...liquid.

The picky eater (who usually picks the hamburger out and eats that and the cheese and most of the apple slices and no corn bread; the family line is "more for us!!") actually ate two more spoon fulls this time. Her official comment is "weird," which is actually an improvement on her usual.

I used an 8 qt dutch oven. It just barely held everything. A larger pot is recommended.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

You are officially old when... complain about your illnesses.

Last week, while squatting to dry off unmentionable parts after a shower, I spread my legs a little too far and did something to my right hip. Painful, but I can still walk, if not completely upright. Sitting down while driving was not a problem, so I spent the day hobbling errands. (I certainly couldn't run them.) After ingesting the maximum amount of tylenol (which only helped a little) and a muscle relaxant (a glass of white wine) just before bedtime, I went to sleep.

The next morning I woke up and the hip was fine. The other hip and my lower back were complaining, so I started the tylenol right away. It was absolute torture going downstairs to get two suitcases to loan to a friend who is now in South Korea. When I delivered them to her house, I collapsed at the top of the outside stairs and totally freaked out her husband. I managed to hobble through the rest of the errands and get home OK. But, after the last tylenol and wine, I was lying in bed when the muscles started spasming and I could not move at all without pain. So I yelled for my daughter, who gave me the phone and I called 911 and went to the hospital at midnight. Came home via taxi at 2:00 am, dosed with narcotics and a real muscle relaxant and a prescription for even more.

That was election day. The only thing that went right that day was one referendum, one congressman, a few local issues, and my sister got a clearance for work, and now has health insurance.

I have been on the mend since then. I can now get out of bed normally, although I spend the first couple hours of the day creaking.

Now the good news: the best chair to sit in while the muscles warm up and get un-creaky is: (fanfare) the one in front of the sewing machine! Sewing as therapy!! I'm getting my Christmas sewing done early!!! No guilt about not cleaning up either!!!!

In the meantime, both kids got sick. But I'm sewing!!!!!

The song that will not get itself out of my head is Carly Simon's "Haven't Got Time For the Pain"