Archive for October, 2008

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Weight Watchers


I am a lifetime member but seem to have fallen off the wagon this past year. The last time I weighed in and didn’t have to pay was August 2007, just before my daughter’s wedding. I put on 5 pounds during the week that followed and was never able to get rid of it. You’re saying, “how hard is it to take off 5 pounds?” Hard, apparently. I don’t understand it either, but I know that mine and John’s workouts at the Y became less and less frequent and I finally cancelled our family membership because we weren’t using it. I put on another 5 pounds this summer when Sue and Ken and Brian were here. So now I have to lose 10 pounds. 10 pounds is one pants size for me and I’m really struggling to fit into the ones I’ve got. I tried on some new ones the other day and I refuse to go up a size because then I’ll lose ALL motivation.  I wish I could blame this on some medical condition or hormone imbalance rather than a character flaw, lack of willpower, etc. But I’m quite healthy, thank you very much. I’m sure the word “laziness” is the one to use here because I’m not writing things down in my weekly diaries (John wants to know why I keep bringing new ones home from my weigh-ins). I just need some encouragement. I really looked good at the wedding LOL.

I’m going to re-join the Y when our next health fair comes up at work (they underwrite a small portion of the monthly fee) and force myself to go. I actually did enjoy it when we hit it 3x a week. American Family is closer to home and has an awesome array of equipment but quite a bit more expensive. They have only 1- and 3-year contracts. They do offer month-to-month but holy cow, the cost. Even with the longer contract, the amount we’d spend over the life of it would buy us a machine of our own.

I weighed in yesterday and was exactly the same as the month before. So at least it wasn’t a gain.


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If you’re updating your Christmas card list and we’re on it, make sure you change our address from “Richmond” to “Henrico.” Same zipcode.

The powers-that-be in Henrico county have determined that because there are a number of county residents that have been using “Richmond” all these years (because that’s what it was, not because we were doing it wrong) it costs the county an estimated $5 mil in sales tax dollars every year that are incorrectly being sent to the city of Richmond by out-of-state retailers and a host of other no-goodniks and apparently people without brains. So they got with the postal service and convinced them that if we change our mailing addresses to Henrico, there will be no more confusion and the county will get what’s rightly owed to them. (I think the fact that they couldn’t work it out with the city to figure out whose money is whose says a lot.) They put it to a vote of the residents affected (in mulitple zipcodes) and it passed. I voted for it, hey it’s no big deal to me, but not before I had a laughable email exchange with someone at the county:

“If the Postal Service (USPS) survey is successful the County of Henrico will be responsible for encouraging residents and businesses in the County to begin using Henrico, VA as their primary addresses as soon as possible.  For residents who are shopping online or by mail order, no one will enforce that they use Henrico, VA.  Conversion to Henrico, VA is voluntary.  However, if the USPS survey is successful we believe that will indicate that a large number of residents and businesses in the County are willing to change to Henrico, VA and will do so.  A positive of the voluntary nature of the change is that residents and businesses in the County will be able to change to Henrico, VA at their convenience.  This should minimize or eliminate any additional cost and inconvenience of making the change to Henrico, VA.
Again, no one will force retailers to submit the tax dollars correctly.  The primary cause of the leakage of tax dollars out of the County is from out of state retail headquarters who have no way of knowing that even though a residential or retail address is Richmond, VA, it may be located in the County of Henrico.  When residents and businesses begin using Henrico, VA it will make it easy for out of state businesses to complete the Virginia Department of Taxation form correctly that is sent in with their check and indicates to which localities the sales tax dollars being transmitted should go.”

Ok, no enforcement, strictly voluntary. Yeah, get back to me in 5 years and tell me how this approach is working for you.

So I’m not quite sure why this change required Post Office approval to initiate the vote because (I believe) the mail gets delivered based on zipcode anyway. This seems to be more of an issue between consumers and the retailers they patronize, but what do I know? This wasn’t supposed to be “official” before October, but I was already using it in my online transactions. I didn’t get any error messages, so I don’t know what the retailer did with that info when processing my purchase.

But look at the mailing address on this brochure:

I’m getting mixed signals from the county LOL.


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I promised my daughter I’d give her this recipe. It comes from our church cookbook, submitted by the late Charlene Fritz so I can’t ask her any questions about it. My guess is that she named it herself, she said that it was served by a voice teacher in Chicago for her students and it was apparently better than the lessons themselves.

Read everything thoroughly first:

1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

1 8-oz package Pepperidge Farm stuffing (see note 1 below)

2 cans cream of mushroom soup (note 2)

4 or 5 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and either cut into pieces (as per the recipe) or shredded (as John would have preferred)

1 14.5-oz can French-style green beans, drained

4 tbsp butter or margarine, melted

1/2 cup hot water

1 cup milk

1 “large” can sliced mushrooms, drained (note 3)

1 “large” can sliced water chestnuts, drained (note 4)

Preheat oven to 400F. In 9×13 buttered/sprayed baking dish, place 1-1/2 cups stuffing, then top with beans, almonds, chicken, chestnuts and mushrooms. Blend soup and milk and pour over top. Top with remaining stuffing which has been mixed well with butter and hot water (note 5). Bake for 20 minutes (note 6) or until lightly browned and bubbly. Serve immediately or can be made in advance and frozen.


1) I bought a 16-oz package of stuffing because that’s all they had. I ended up using it all. Buy two 8-oz packages to be safe.

2) I bought Healthy Request soup and thought the dish was a little blah, I had to add salt. Probably better to use regular soup.

3) Don’t you just hate it when recipes don’t give you specific sizes for cans and things? Can sizes do change over time and I don’t know how old this recipe is. I bought two 7-oz cans of mushrooms and used both.

4) I bought two 8-oz cans but only used one of them. That was enough chestnuts for me.

5) An 8-oz bag of stuffing is only 2 cups and you’ve already used 1-1/2 of them for the bottom layer. I put a 1/2 cup of stuffing in the water/butter mixture and it was VERY watery. So I just kept adding stuffing until most of the liquid was absorbed. It also made a more complete topping.

5) Charlene’s recipe says to cook for 40 minutes, but thank goodness I checked it at 20, it was done. Your mileage may vary.

John says he’d have this again, so that says something about this recipe. Please give me your comments if you try it so that we can compare notes.


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This seems terribly late this year. I’ve been running all around town this week looking for that great “autumn” shot without success. Saturday was rainy and not conducive to photography which was okay because I didn’t have time to chase after it anyway. I kept my camera bag in my car yesterday and drove through a couple of neighborhoods with expanses of woods on my way home from the quilt show and got a couple of mediocre pictures. I had to stop at Food Lion on my way to work this morning and the light was almost perfect on the trees in the parking lot. Horrible composition, but I wanted to have a record that we did have some color this year. It rained again today so no photos after work, maybe tomorrow. The leaves will probably be off the trees by Saturday.



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Amazing gas prices

This is what I paid today:

It wasn’t all that long ago I paid $3.99  (the most I’ve ever paid). This tank of gas cost almost $20 less. Woohoo, more money for quilting or photography.


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This tip is courtesy of Cook’s Illustrated:

Using a custard cup, make a basket with aluminum foil, like this:

Carefully pour the hot grease into the basket and let cool. Put it in the refrigerator to harden, wrap up the foil and either save it for one of those times when you need a little extra, or discard.

This batch will be discarded, but I did use some from a previous batch in the dish I was making as the drippings wanted to cook away before I was finished frying the meat in it.

Easy peasy!


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This is why I keep my point-and-shoot camera in my purse. My husband spotted these birds in the dead tree as we were coming home from church this morning. He made a U-turn and went back to show me, because I hadn’t noticed them. Have you ever seen anything like this? They were just sitting there like that, as if they were sunning themselves. There are four of them, can you see them all? I think they were vultures. I never saw one in person before moving to Virginia. They’re pretty ugly. After we got home, I grabbed my DSLR with zoom lens and went back, but they were gone, naturally.


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Richmond Guild Quilt Show


I fired up the quiltmobile, programmed the Garmin and headed off to Chester, Virginia, to the bi-annual Richmond  Guild Quilt Show. I am not a member, but I enjoy seeing the local talent and this year’s show did not disappoint!

2008 Show

This is not an exhaustive collection of photos of course, but these are some of the ones that spoke to me.
Have you ever seen a double wedding ring like this? Is there a pattern?

This quilt was up on the stage and I could see it from the floor area and wondered how it was constructed. I was amazed to find out it is painted. Another lady and I were discussing whether it was painted first, then stitched, or the other way around. Closeup shots: one, two, three.

Props to all the winners and those on display. Great job!


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Speaking of sewing


My Grandma Young was “the” sewer in my family, closely followed by her daughter, my Aunt Robbie. My mother never sewed to my knowledge, nor did her other sister, my Aunt Ginny. Grandma Young was self-taught, I’m sure. I don’t remember what-all kinds of things she made but I always got a flannel nightgown every Christmas and she didn’t backstitch her seams. In her defense, the machine she used, which was handed down to me as my first machine, was an industrial Morse, straight-stitch only, no reverse. I never thought to ask her where she got it.

As with most girls of my vintage, I learned to sew in 8th grade home ec. I took to it like a duck to water and made a lot of my own clothes throughout high school. I dug out this picture of Christmas morning of my senior year. Santa brought me a brand-new Kenmore with zig zag and reverse. In a cabinet, no less. Woohoo!

Unboxing the new Kenmore

After I was married and the kids came along there wasn’t much time for sewing except for the occasional Halloween costume:

I discovered Sewing with Nancy and Nancy Zieman became my hero. She was sponsored by Pfaff in those days and oh how I wanted a machine that had fancy stitches. Aunt Robbie had a Viking with the drop-in cams, it was wonderful. I found a used Viking 6690 that had stitches on cassettes and bought it. I gave the Kenmore to the sewing circle at church. I sewed on that Viking for many years, it was a good machine.

Fast forward several years. I saw Simply Quilts on HGTV but was just put off by the geometrical patterns shown on most of the quilts and so I passed right on by and kept channel surfing. I don’t know why those quilts had that affect on me, but I really wasn’t interested. (sorry Alex) But then I discovered Eleanor Burns on PBS. It was her “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” series and I was hooked. The applique and her unique methods of construction really grabbed me. I bought the book and in typical Robin fashion, have yet to make even one design out of it (in 9 years LOL).

But that was the beginning of my quilting journey and what cracks me up when I think about it is that while I don’t love ALL quilt patterns, I have made several non-applique, pieced, geometric quilts. And I have probably watched every episode of Simply Quilts (some of them more than once, I’m sure).

But the Viking didn’t have features that make quilting so much more enjoyable: needle-down and movable needle position. So I traded it in for a new Husqvarna Viking Lily 545. It’s a wonderful machine, I would recommend one to anyone (you’d have to find one used now of course, this one is probably 8-9 years old). Sometimes while watching The Quilt Show with Alex and Ricky, I experience some Bernina lust, but another machine in that price range is not on my wish list right now and I just close my eyes until the feeling passes. If the day ever comes that I can get one, I won’t let go of the Viking, I’ll just have to be a 2-machine woman. (But wait, I have considered getting a Janome Jem too, so maybe I’ll have to be a 3-machine woman some day.)

Until next time,


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