Friday, November 21, 2008

and the wind blows

It's often windy here on the prairie, and right now, it's a COLD wind blowing through Billings. Lots of kids at school are sick, including my student, so I don't have to go to school today. I have a sore throat as well, so I'm happy to stay home.

Today while I listen to the wind rattle my windows, I'm crocheting dishcloths and I might also be able to get after that 30's table topper I'm hand quilting. Later, when it warms up a bit, I'll walk to the grocery (a mile and a half each way) for a few necessary provisions.

Yesterday I distributed 16 sign language books to kids in my Sign Language Club. They were so excited! And I was excited to see their enthusiasm. I expect some questions and lots of "Mrs. Fischer, look at this!" next week. Kids are so fun!

Our whole middle school (600 kids, grades 5-8) walked 3 blocks to the high school yesterday afternoon for a musical performance. It was a play about high school kids based on music from the 80s. It was so cute and the kids did such a great job that I invited Michelle to go with me for last night's performance. We were not disappointed; we laughed and laughed. And there were all kinds of kids in the play - high and low academic achievers, special ed; some looked more comfortable on stage than others. It was not a Hollywood production, but it was VERY well done!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Snow in Billings

Well, it's snowing here - just lightly. We're supposed to get about an inch, which means it will stick. Yesterday, the high was 71 degrees. Today, snow. I love the change of seasons, even if it's from day to day!

Recommended reading for girls with strong values: An Old Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

First Day of School

Wow! I'm beat! The middle school I'm in is new, and the floors are cement. I stood or walked all day, only sitting for a few minutes at lunch, and my legs are killing me! Besides that, I didn't sleep well last night. I'm looking forward to establishing a routine. Whew!

Other than that, everybody had a very good day. Most of the teachers were very reassuring to the new 5th graders, and Kyle's home room teacher is a wonderful man. We're going to like being in his room! We haven't met with the reading and English specialists yet. Today was spent getting acclimated and getting everyone put in the right classroom.

I'm off to get an aspirin and some dinner.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back to Work

Today was my first day back to work. No kids yet (they start on Wed). Just a full day of meetings. Because I'm at a new school, I met lots of new co-workers and got "the lay of the land." The middle school has 5th through 8th graders, and each grade has their own hallway. They aren't usually together, except maybe assemblies. So now I know: where to clock in, where to eat, secretaries, principal and vice principal, insurance info, etc.

And surprise ---- I don't have to go to school tomorrow because I don't have a room or area to set up! So I'll be sewing again! And Monday is Labor Day, another day off. And the Monday after that is a teacher-only day! Whoo-hoo! I like this easing-back into work mode. :-)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Farm Girls' Meeting

Today was the first official Farm Girls meeting for the Yellowstone Prairie Flowers. We met in Pioneer Park and hung quilts and wore aprons. Lunch was: egg salad sandwiches, chips, fruit, and cookies. We had a new prospective member. I wore my new apron, which I stitched on till 3:00 this AM. It is cute - red with white pokey-dots, pleats at the waist and looooonnnng ties. I'm gonna enjoy wearing this one! And now I'm on a quest for more vintage apron patterns. There are some really adorable ones out there! Have to wait for a 99 cent sale at Joann's.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A new job - sewing related

Recently, I applied for a position at Patchwork Interactive as one of their 12 experts - and I was accepted! Whoo-hoo! I don't have all the details on my new duties yet, but I expect to be writing articles and answering questions. The site is for quilters and needleworkers; it's Australian-based, and is very user-friendly, with clean, bright images. Go check it out!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

There I Go Dreaming Again...

My dream farm will have:

dogs (maybe Australian Shephards, definitely Labradors)
chickens for eggs and meat
goats for milk and meat
bees for honey
barn cats
a big garden
lots of room for storing my home-grown foods and for making beautiful and useful things
snow in the winter
a clothes line
a basement
wood floors
bedrooms upstairs
Blue Willow dishes
a treadle sewing machine

If I don't dream about it, how will I know when my dreams come true?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My New Kitchen

Denny went out for a couple of hours recently, and he came home to a very different kitchen! I wanted it to be a surprise, so the paint and supplies were stored in Debbie and John's garage (and nobody let it slip!).

He was quite alarmed when he saw what I had done, but when I reassured him it was ok with Debbie (it was actually her idea!), he suggested we paint a wall in the living/dining room, and a wall in our bedroom, and the whole bathroom! "We" is actually me because Denny's not allowed NEAR anything as messy as paint, and he knows it!

It's hard to tell from the pictures, but the color is Sage Green, so very soothing... I am tremendously happy with the results!!

Light off

Light on.

Light and fish plate over my sink. The sharp glare from this light was so intense when the wall was white that I never turned the light on. Now it's perfect!

I love the soft color behind the white cabinets and appliances.

My tea pot collection looks good with a sage green background, too!

I've painted a wall in the dining/living room, but no pictures just yet; soon, I promise. The color is... A SURPRISE!

Coffee Cuff

Here are my two original versions of the Coffee Cuff (also called Latte Cozies).

This one fits any size to-go cup. Talk about a win-win-win situation... It keeps your hand cool while drinking hot liquids, and it absorbs the condensation on cold drinks. And it's a fashion statement, too!

Pink pokey-dots with a bright pink fleur button! Just right for a modern girl.

I sell Coffee Cuffs, my original pattern, and kits. There are three fabrics to choose from: the pink fabric above, a blue and brown fabric, and the coffee-theme fabric on the jar below.
Coffee Cuff: $6. Pattern: $5. Kits: $7.

Farm girls drink from mason jars. Ask me how I know!

Here's my recipe for my favorite summer-time drink. It takes just a minute or two to blend and clean up, and the taste is soooo smooth!

6 large ice cubes
2-3 Tbsp instant coffee
2-3 Tbsp hot water
2-3 Tbsp chocolate syrup
2 cups cold milk

Place ice cubes and milk in blender. In a mug, mix together instant coffee and hot water; add chocolate syrup to coffee and stir. Pour coffee-chocolate mixture into blender and whir 20-30 seconds. Pour frappe into mason jar and sip with a straw. Enjoy! Makes about 2-1/2 cups.

Other Projects

Here are some other projects that I haven't posted yet.

Quilt for Allyson Robertus (the 4th grade teacher whose class I interpreted in last year). It's about 70" x 70". This is also a picture of my "design wall" - 2 hangers on a closet! Necessity really IS the mother of invention! I can hang my white flannel and "audition" blocks here. The center block is a Little Red School House (blue for Allyson!) with star points around it. Flying Geese blocks in the corners.

I traced all the kids' hands (and the adult aids) with their names in the yellow border, and I'll include all their first and last names on the label on the back.

I liked this design so much, I decided to do one for me, too. My Little Red School House is RED, of course.

My favorite pin cushion. About 6 inches across. Mandi arranged the pins for me - more fleurs!

Detail of the embroidered fleurs.

I read an article about these yo-yo pin cushions, and had to try it!

Pot holders / handle mitts for my cast iron skillets - I LOVE these!

Stitchin' in the Park

I went to a local park a couple of weeks ago with Michelle, Terry, Mia and Tabby for a free performance of Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well put on by MSU Billings. Naturally, I brought a handwork project to work on (my Bible verses quilt), and before I knew it, all four of the little kids from the blanket next to me were in my lap!

The little girl in the dark pink dress (I’m guessing she’s about 3 or 4 years old) kept trying to touch the sharp, pointy end of my needle as I stitched and she finally told me, "I know how to do that. Wanna see?" They were really sweet, curious kids. I wished I'd had small samples they could stitch on!

Preparations for Montana State Fair

The Montana State Fair ( begins this Friday, and I'm busy getting ready to demonstrate embroidery, crazy quilting, and hand quilting in the Heritage Arts building. I have 6 items entered.

This is my first time ever to enter the fair, and I'm excited that I'm going to demo my favorite heritage arts! I can't wait to see ALL the items entered in the Heritage Arts category.

Here are 3 of the 6 items I've entered in the fair.

crazy quilt pillow (all "fancy" fabrics - silks and velvet)

Autumn pillow in cottons (the pattern was a gift from Julie and Mandi; pattern by Crab Apple Hill)

my Mandi doll (my own design; completely hand stitched; tea dyed muslin)

She doesn't really look like Mandi, but she's still cute!

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Denny called me from work yesterday afternoon and told me to sit down. What he said next is NOT what I was expecting... They fired him; he hadn't sold enough cars. (Next week his insurance would have begun AND they would have to pay him the "signing bonus" they promised.)

Well, the bad comes with the good, so we're not complaining. We'll just wait in hope and see what God has in store for us. (All things work together for good to those who love Him. Ro 8:28) Denny's already started checking the Classifieds.

In the meantime, it's a gorgeous summer day here in Billings, MT, and I hear country music through my open windows. Yesterday evening we had another 10-minute thunder storm.

Life is good.

And it sure is interesting, isn't it!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What Are You Reading?

Summer vacation is true luxury! I've been reading my Bible for hours each morning, while sipping my favorite drink (a very good imitation of those expensive coffee house blended frappes).

I usually get up about 5 or 6 AM to pray, then I take out my King James Bible, which is less than a year old (a lovely gift from Julie and Mandi!), so it's not marked up yet, and I'm doing my best to color and underline where needed. I fell behind when I got sick, so had to catch up, and I can't read for long at night, so my best studying is in the morning, and I love being able to do it for HOURS! What a great foundation to begin each day.

My night reading happens after I lay down and before I fall asleep, so very often it's only 5 minutes! Right now, I'm reading between two fictional series that are a lot of fun and very sweet.

The first series was recommended by my mom. The author is Alexander McCall Smith, who wrote The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and subsequent books about Mrs. Precious Ramotswe who lives in Botswana, Africa and becomes... you guessed it... a detective! It's an addicting series full of hope and sweetness and a lovely view of Africa. Here's the official web site in case you're interested:

The second series is a quilting-murder-mystery series by Earlene Fowler ( Each book in the Benni Harper mystery series is named for a quilt pattern, and the heroine is a quilter, of course, and she's always doing fun and interesting things besides solving murder mysteries. Ms. Fowler is a Christian, so you don't have to wade through the disgusting, grisly, ugly details that other authors feel they have to include in their stories. The books are quick and easy to read, and good values are presented in a fun way throughout each book.

What are YOU reading?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Important Life Questions

Some days I'm very introspective. I did a lot of cleaning today, and I'm always introspective while I'm cleaning.

The same three questions keep popping up for me, as a recurring theme in my life. I'll throw them out here with my answers. Maybe you've thought about them, too.

1. What is your greatest fear in life?
My greatest fear is that people won't like me, or will disapprove of me, or will be disappointed in me. One one level, that impacts every human interaction I have. It makes me shy. It makes me wish I was smarter, or had a better education, or a better sense of humor. On another level, it impacts my relationship with God every single moment. Obviously, I'm not perfect because I'm human, so I already fall far short of His goal, and there's no way to achieve that goal.

2. What would you do if you were told you only had a few months to live?
I would be more bold in the way I live my life. I would give my honest opinion regardless of how other people's impression of me might change. I wouldn't be a wall flower; I'd KNOW others would want a relationship with me. I would study, fast, and pray more often to build my relationship with God; He's the most important thing in my life, but I'm not sure He knows that because I let other things interfere too often.

3. We're all dying, from the moment we're born. Our time here on earth is limited. Knowing THAT, what are you going to do about questions 1 and 2?
That's the big question for me. Time goes so quickly, and we must make the best use of it. I was always a good student, but life is not like school; am I failing Life 101? I have a plan, but sometimes I have to remind myself of it. As much as I'd like it to be, life is not all about sewing or reading. Here's what I've come up with.
- Take a deep breath and be real, every moment of my life, even if taking that chance hurts.
- Re-evaluate my day before I sleep every night.
- Start my days with prayer and Bible study.
- Set aside time to fast and study.
- Be thankful for the time I have.
- Try to make progress on all my goals.
- Realize that each day is a chance for a fresh start - and sometimes you have to start fresh several times in the day.
- Take a deep breath and keep going.

One of my favorite quotes is by Ralph Waldo Emerson and it goes like this:
"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it well and serenely."

Good advice. Enough said.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bliss and More Bliss

BOO HOO! My camera is sick right now. I'm not sure, but it may need a **complete hysterectomy** so I'll send it in to Kodak and see what they say. When it gets out of the hospital, I'll take pictures of my "finished" studio, which is very messy right now, even though I finally have a place to put everything... I'm creating!

MONDAY WAS BLISS -- Michelle called early to see if I wanted to go do some errands with her and the girls. We started at Michael's Crafts, but since my wallet was empty, I didn't find anything I needed. (The girls each got a CUTE pink foam cowgirl hat, and they've been galloping ever since. Giddyap!!)

Then I asked Michelle to drop me at Borders across the street while she did her shopping. She called me a few hours later to see if I was ready to go home. I hadn't read all the sewing / quilting books and magazines yet, so I told her I'd catch the bus home. Once all the books and magazines were read, I walked around the corner (stopping for lunch at McDonald's) to Barnes and Noble and read all of their sewing / quilting books and magazines.

Denny finally called me about 5:30 to see where I was (he got off work early), and since I was ready for dinner, he came and picked me up. I thoroughly enjoyed my day visiting the books; I think I'll do it again very soon!

Time + books = total bliss

MORE BLISS -- Yesterday, Nadara picked me up and we went shopping for a new sewing machine for her. Hancock's was hosting a sale on Singer student models. These machines sew AND serge -- for $99. They're left-over stock from high school orders, so should be good machines.

After Hancock's we went to Hobby Lobby, which I had never been in before. What a gi-normous store! We checked out the sewing department, of course, and not much else.

Then we hit Joann's where Nadara found the perfect fabric for a sewing hussif. It's got all manner of sewing tools on a happy yellow background. She'll add solids (blue, green and/or red) for the insides of the hussif.

Speaking of hussifs, I finally finished writing up directions for my hussif, and will make them available for sale.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Saying Good-bye at Billings International Airport

The sun was bright! We're all squinting!
Den and DJ

Annie, Den, and Mom

When we drove away, we both agreed that we missed Mom and DJ already (and still do)!!!


Thursday, May 1 was our 25th wedding anniversary. That and our recent illnesses prompted a SURPRISE visit from my mom and our son DJ. Here's how it happened...

It was my last week at home before returning to work. My doorbell rang, but when I opened the door, nobody was there - but there were flowers, fruit and chocolate on the doorstep. A moment later, Debbie, Michelle, and Mia popped out from around the corner! They came in and we had a brief but lovely visit.

As they were leaving, we stopped to talk with the door open, and I saw DJ come around the corner - and I screamed!!! Then my mom came around the corner!!! I was busy hugging them and crying, thinking what a wonderful, amazing surprise this was. It's on the short list of the best days of my life.

They planned the surprise for two weeks and successfully kept it a secret! Mom had been asking me if I would be home that day in case she sent flowers, and sure enough, she brought flowers, wine and chocolate.

We visited for a while, then went to Denny's job to surprise him. Here we are outside his office.

We had our special anniversary meal at The Granery (a 5-star restaurant).
Here's Mom.

DJ taking a picture of me taking a picture of him.

Everyone say "cheese!"

They stayed for 5 days. I went back to work the day after they went home. What amazing timing! They didn't know when I was going back to work; I didn't know they were coming. I'm so happy it turned out the way it did! It will be one of my best memories ever.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Proverbs 31 Gathering - March 2008

Our last Proverbs 31 gathering was at Nadara's home. The next one is Sunday!

Jasmine's beautiful smile

Debbie and Jacob

Jazzy with Nadara's kid-sized tea set



Tasha with her precious babes

Tasha sharing fabrics

Deb and Nadara

La belle Michelle

Back to "Normal" - WHEW!

I forgot to post pictures of me AFTER my recovery in the previous post -- well, I'm really still recovering, but I'm very close to "normal" again. See for yourself...

Our Cute Apartment

I want to show you our cute apartment... I LOVE living here! Michelle, Debbie, and Marjorie are so close by, and I cherish being able to see these friends and their families throughout the week. They took such good care of me during my illness, too, and I knew I could count on them if I needed anything!


More apartment pics below...

Here are some pics of me during my recovery. I was tired and in pain all the time (and it shows). This was a GOOD DAY...

Sorry if the picture of my incision (previous post) was TMI!!

Back to the apartment...

BEDROOM (doubles as our office, too)



I'll take pictures of the living room and my studio very soon and post them. These rooms are FINALLY FINISHED!!