Wednesday, February 29, 2012



Project Woolly Part 2 Wool Sweater Mittens
Back to Project Woolly. Here’s a breakdown of the steps, sweaters to mittens. First, felt “shrink” sweaters in hot water, rinse in cold and dry on high heat. Reminder to wash like colors together.

Cut the mitten pattern out, I use 3 sweaters at time, working off the colors in the patterned sweater. Then sew the pieces together, ironing as you go along. Remember now, this is pure wool and my sewing machine is working better that I thought.

Last step is to put the fleece lining on and put on the wool mitten on top, work out the edges and then put the cuff on. Now this is the hard and tedious part. After the cuff is on, trim, iron and then get ready for sewing the button on.

Did I mention where I’m getting the sweaters from? The Goodwill and Salvation Army for $2 per sweater. I would say I’ve purchased about 50 sweaters. Button shopping is also done at the Goodwill and Salvation Army. Each week, I pass by the stores and the Goodwill on Sunday for $1.29 day, looking for anything with large colorful buttons. So far, I’ve purchased about $75 plus for buttons. In two months, I’ve sewn 50 plus mittens, gifted 15 mittens and have moved on to customizing a few for my niece at Va Tech. Go Hokies!
At about #50, my singer 9050 began running slow. Genius me, I took it apart and got it working only to figure out, the screws wasn’t fitting just right. I broke down and took the Singer to the shop on Saturday. Not to get behind, I bought a back-up Singer 5050 on Craigslist on my way home from Davenport. For $60 I got a pretty sweet machine.

And where do I sew these beauties? Why of course in the “sweatshop”. I have a table for sweaters and one working table for sorting/cutting and my buttons. This project will take me into June and I hope to have about 100 done for the fall. I’ll be selling them somewhere at a craft show near you.

PS: March 1, shout out to Greg Beachy, happy birthday friend. I’ll have a piece of cake for you here in the Quad Cities.
Chat Later
That Girl, Ann Marie

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

ANN'S Winter Project: GUEST BLOG


Project Woolly Part 1 Wool Sweater Mittens

This story began last fall at the Westminster’s Craft Show. Next to Judy’s table was a lady selling these beautiful wool mittens for $30. I was amazed to find out they were made out of wool sweaters with a fleece lining. They were absolutely beautiful but thrifty me could not part with $30. The following day, I Googled “wool sweater mittens” and this video came up with a pattern. As I watched the video, the lady said “you can whip out a pair in 30 minutes”. That was enough for me to get excited about a winter project, make a few for my friends and try to sell a few.
The directions looked simple: use wool sweaters (at least 60%), felt the sweaters, cut and sew then make the lining, sew the cuff and add a button. Like I said, sounds simple. So I got my friend Donna interested and planned a Saturday evening sew-athon. My goal was to whip out 6 or so by the weekend. Well, the 30 minutes turned into 3 hours for 1 pair.  Here’s a pic of my first pair.

After cutting 20 sets of mittens, I began sewing only to figure out, this pattern was a bit small.  And here I thought I was ahead of the game.

Scratch that and I found another pattern with a better video. So how many mittens can you make out of a sweater? Well that depends on the sweater, if it felted/shrunk well, you may only get 2 from each sweater. Tomorrow I’ll break down the steps of how I transform a sweater to mittens.

Chat Later
That Girl, Ann Marie

Monday, February 27, 2012

2-27-12 amazed brain

Greg and I had our 3 nights at the Big Cedar Cabin planned and I was happy with that and looked forward to doing little if anything except being together. But then Greg came up with more..... he wanted to take me to an art museum in Arkansas, and said it was very close to the state line.

Well, I was kind of interested, but when he said it was build by the Walmart family, I had mixed emotions.
I won't get into my negative views on Walmart here... but show you many pictures of what we saw. It was worth the side trip we took the day before we headed to the cabin. It's worth Ann putting this on her "bucket list". It's about a 3 hour drive from KC.

This is the model of the Art Museum designed by Moshe Safdie of Israel..... and seeing this architectural wonder was worth the trip- Build in a ravine in the hills of NW Arkansas.

The art collection was all American Artists. (Sounds familiar.... kind of like Walmart in the early days... "buy American made") Greg joked that he was expecting someday that these would be switched to Chinese Artists. :)

Here is Iowa Artist Grant Wood, for example.

After all was said and done, even with mixed emotions- I did enjoy this side trip and I really was amazed at this spectacular building and exhibit.....Yes, Art is important..... yet  I still can't help but wonder if spending Walmart money on something a like this, rather than paying for employee health benefits- might have done better good for our country? Well, life is not black and white.....  no one or no thing is pure good or pure evil..... so my hats off the the "good" Walmart has done here.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mini Break

2-24-12 floating brain

Greg and I took a mini spring break last weekend which spilled over into Monday and Tuesday.
The main trip was to our favorite  retreat place, Big Cedar Lodge which is south of Branson MO, on Table Rock Lake, almost to the Arkansas line. We arrived there Sunday.

The weather was sunny and about 50:  perfect for hiking and enjoying nature!

Monday these were the words floating in my brain:

Watching the day unfold.
Relaxed without hurry or worry. 
The sights and sounds of nature, along with the sunshine-
Are melting away the cares and commitments of civilization.

Today I am absorbed in, and merging with nature-
Not the wild, raw nature but the grounding, solid and wise part of nature    which converses with the soul.

The conversation goes like this-
Slow down, look, listen, breath. Rejoice! - It’s time for your spirit to remember the dance. The dance of life itself.
Don't miss the beauty and love as when the whirlpool of business tries to pull you down under the surface.
Lay on you back, looking skyward, relaxed, grateful - floating upward-
Above the chaos of the day.

Wrapped in warmth.

Part of our time was spent relaxing on the deck overlooking a babbling creek.... and we were feeding the birds. Chickadee, cardinal, and here is tit mouse.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Point, Counter-Point

2-17-12 this and that brain

There is excitement here in Des Moines, Iowa…. More than most people would expect from this “small rural state”.

As you can see in the picture from the DM Newspaper yesterday, it’s February... and that means the State Wrestling Tournaments are in town! !…… AND.... oh yea, some guy from China is visiting.

What was even more exciting than the VP from China in Des Moines on Wednesday night was the 400 up to 600 Tibbetian protesters which came in on buses and walked the streets of downtown Des Moines.

Other exciting news- I discovered on my walk at lunch yesterday that the daffodils are pushing up in my south front garden. 

Side BAR: 
Now I probably should keep my mouth shut, because I haven’t paid much attention last week to the whole contraceptive debate….. why not? Well here in Iowa this issue was taken care of in 2000, when the *“Iowa Legislature required employers that cover benefits for outpatient drugs, to also cover contraception”  (*info from DM Register) … and the Iowa law did not exempt religious institutions from the requirement. The vote at that time in 2000 was 85-12 in the Iowa House: and 44-4 in the Iowa Senate. Governor Vilsack signed it into law.

So who is making this a big deal now?.... well of course it IS an election year. The question on NPR asked: Is Obama the master chess player or is his the pawn? Of course Rush Limbaugh this week said this controversy was brought up by Obama to make the GOP look negative. Personally, I thought it was Rick Santorum who talks about these types of topics.

Who knows, who cares….. ?  But it does illustrate how pathetic the whole Health Insurance Industry is delivered here in the US. Why is it that our employers are even providing this insurance, since they don’t have their fingers in our home-owners’ insurance or car insurance, now do they?….

Maybe it is time employers shouldn’t pick the health insurance which we purchase.  Of course people don’t want the government telling us what to do, and others don’t want churches telling us want to do. So that just leaves us on our own to decide what health insurance we want. And I’d be OK with that, as long as everyone picks something…. Or they choose to never go to the doctor or hospital, or if they do, they have to pay it out of their own pocket. After all, currently we ARE paying for everyone who doesn’t have health insurance… either with our taxes, or with our higher insurance premiums.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wednesday GUEST blog

2-15-12 vacant brain
Watch out, my friend Ann, in the blue hair, is on a bit of a rant this week. I think I will just keep my mouth shut this time. ~Judy

Headline News: The Beat Goes On n’ Yes, The War Continues

What a week in music and another date to remember “where I was”.
Another pop icon died way too early. The queen of pop music, the diva of all divas died on Saturday, February 11, 2012 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Oh how I loved Ms. Whitney, her music n’ movies and I remember going to see her at Hilton in Ames, April 24, 1991. Her show was awesome. Rest in peace Whitney, and I’ll pray that the world remembers her gift of music and forget her demons.  (Sunday) while watching the Grammy’s, the artists will do their best to carry on, celebrate their accomplishments and send Ms. Whitney off to the Angels in style.

On Feb. 11th at 6 pm, here I was in the sweatshop, sewing mittens when the news came on, CNN breaking the news then I went to my twitter feed. Shocking!

On Thursday, June 25, 2009, I was walking into the Stoney Creek Inn in Sioux City when I heard the news of Michael Jackson’s death in Ca. Geraldo Rivera was breaking the news.

On Saturday, August 31, 1997 at about 10 pm CST, the news broke on the TV that Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris, France. I was more than shocked, I watched the news all night and I may have saved the USA paper. She was a beautiful lady who left a great legacy for the world and her boys.

Before Diana, there was Elvis Presley, August 16th 1977. There we were, camping in Ocean City, eating breakfast about 10 am’ish and the news broke on the radio. We were all shocked! ….. 1977 was the year I graduated high school, started community college, left home and joined the Air Force …… so much in six months.

Last but not least, the law on contraceptives. From what I’ve read and heard, a requirement of Obamacare going into effect next year – all employers must provide contraceptive care and medications at no cost to women. On paper, I have a hard time understanding that the government can mandate types of coverage paid by employers, with a few exceptions to religious affiliations. Then last week, Dept of HHS announced that there will be no exceptions for religious affiliations (churches/schools/hospitals). Immediately after the announcement by HHS, the backlash came immediately, from not just the right but some on the left. Then a week later, the President came out and said something like this “we will not require religious employers to provide contraceptive care, the insurance companies will be covering it at no charge.”

Several questions comes to mind, where are they getting coverage today? I’m sure they figured out that if it’s not covered, they pay for it or go the local health clinic or county health clinic or that place called Planned Parenthood. Or perhaps, the President could of forced the pharmacies to provide it free of charge. Lastly, coverage is coverage, at the end of the day, employers are paying for the services through premiums.
Ladies, please tell me you weren’t waiting for the government to mandate a law for contraceptive coverage? Tell me you are smarter than they are? Tell me you can make your own decisions on where to get services?
Geez …  first the toilet, then the light bulb, then how much salt and sugar to eat and now, telling religious affiliates that their moral beliefs are not important and they .. big government … knows best. What happened to “separation of church and sate?”

Chat Later
That Girl, Ann Marie

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Who are these two?

2-14-12 loving brain

It's Valentines Day, how can I not post and wish my sweetheart a happy day.... 
 I was staring at this picture last night and I found myself asking- who are these two people? I barely recognize them!

......also want to wish all my family and friends a happy day too! I did manage to get a few Valentines sent out this year, but then stalled mid-stream when I got busy this last weekend..... so sorry not all of you received one.

A special VD to Vivian and Clyde AND Lori and Tim who have wedding anniversaries to celebrate.
Also Vivian and Annika have birthdays tomorrow.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Musical Weekend

2-12-12 singing brain

One morning last week, maybe Friday, I found a surprise on my door step. Along with the morning paper, there were at least half dozen old Olivia Newton John albums. Of course I knew right away, someone is remembering my need of old record albums to create my large Peace Art. I’m suspecting Carolyn, since she goes to work early and I think she had told me sometime back that her sister had some old records which were going to be cleaned out.

This music on my door step was a good way to kick off a “musical” weekend.

Friday night Greg and I ventured out into to the cold Iowa night and met up with our friends Ann and Roy downtown. An old bar, “Blues on Grand” had recently been re-done and now called the “Gas Lamp”…. And there was a band playing this weekend which covered Beatles music. Roy, who strums a guitar from time to time, was particularly interested, so the rest of us went along with the idea.

It actually was fun stepping out of my 50 something box…. And going someplace new to listen to old music….. and stayed up past my usual reasonable bedtime….. and I had fun. AND happy to report I wasn't the oldest person there. 

Also this weekend our friend Mike who works one afternoon being a DJ at the locally owned alternative radio station was telling Greg and I about a class which was allowed to listen to his show on Friday afternoons during their reading time. Mike plays all types of cool music from blues, jazz, …. I can’t even begin to describe the mix of sounds he is into. Anyway, Mike had been contacted by this teacher of this class who told him the class has an autistic boy who doesn’t talk and sits with his head down all day…. BUT now on Friday afternoons, during reading time which includes Mike’s radio music…. This autistic boy comes to life and starts smiling and dancing and at the end of the hour the whole class gets up to join him dancing.

This story moved me, and shows the power of music in our live, touching deep into our soul, which we can easily take for granted.  I think about this from time to time…. Remembering how my life use to have a sound track that went along with it…. and now, when I hear those certain songs from the past, I can be transported back, usually with a smile on my face.

I was feeling sad that I didn’t have a current sound track to my life. I’m either not taking the time to listen to music since I tend to be in an NPR talk radio phase of life and/or I am not keeping up with new music enough to have any music punctuate my daily life, able to create future memories.

However, there is one exception. Molly, a month or so ago, when I was riding in her car, was playing a CD by Adele called “21”. I liked it- (now LOVE IT)… so I bought it…. and I have been playing this A LOT.  

Tonight, the Peace Sisters will be gathering to watch the Grammys together. Ann keeps up with all the current music and I rely on her to keep me partially in the music loop. Her favorite is Maroon 5. At least I will know and appreciate who Adele is now while we watch the Grammys….. and I also am looking forward to see my old very favorite Bruce Springsteen who is suppose to perform tonight.

Then came the sad news this weekend of the death of Whitney Houston….one less beautiful voice on earth, one more singing in heaven.

Music is a GIFT.... and I must remember to keep it in my life daily!

Friday, February 10, 2012



I am enjoyed by mini blog sabbatical this month. It’s been nice not having to force myself to write something everyday, especially when nothing out of the ordinary has been happening.

This week, Iowa has returned to winter, but still who can really complain about temperatures in the 30’s. I’m really starting to notice the longer daylight hours, since it is still light out now past 5:30PM. To me, that is a sign of spring!

Last week in KC when I was being spoiled with mild temperature in the 50’s and 60’s, I started walking during my lunch break. I found this to be very therapeutic and a brisk walked helped lower my stress and I was able to have very productive afternoons after taking this mid day break.

I’ve tried to continue this and make this my new habit this week….. and I’m happy to say I did bundle up with hat, scarf and winter coat…. And I did walk most days this week.

AND..... I have been eating pretty healthy. Here is example- I've been using my mini crock-pot. This might look like soup, but once you drain off the liquid, there is a cooked chicken breast with a yam, wild rice with cranberries and pumpkin seeds.

Greg is coming to DM this weekend, so I am happy about that. We’ll see what fun we can scrape up here in the small city, compared to our times spent in KC (4 times bigger that DM).

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Sunday

2-5-12 split brain

I just finished watching Madonna on the half time show, so I have the song “Like a Prayer” singing in my brain.
I now switched over to watch a late 60 Minutes show (I believe a rerun) with Meryl Streep talking about acting and getting into someone else’s head. I always wondered how actors do that…. Becoming a new character without loosing themselves.

I was thinking about “acting” while I drove back to Des Moines this afternoon from my week in KC with Greg. As soon as I hit I-435, I feel like I have to “flip a switch” in my head. DM-Judy has to be self-supporting, strong and independent. DM-Judy reminds me of the Judy in her single days…. She can be a bit more self-absorbed, bewildered and moody.

I’ve discovered on this last trip to to see Greg that both KC-Judy and DM-Judy are equally happy, but different things about each split life makes me happy. I am usually grateful that I get to experience both, because most of the time, I feel life would be boring just being in one place. Yet last week in KC, I found myself realizing that Greg makes me a better person…. And really miss him when we are apart.

Today when I left KC it was about 46 degrees. My drive was sunny for the first two hours, then as I hit the Iowa boarder the clouds appeared and somewhere south of Osceola the snow appeared on the ground. I thought this would depress me, but actually the scenery was so pretty. When I hit Warren County the trees were lined in snow. I love that look when each dark branch of a tree is outlined with white. I was too focused on getting home to stop the car to take a picture, but think of a typical Ansil Adams black and white photo of winter in Yosemite.

Here I did take a picture of the back yard when I arrived home. The bushes appeared to be made out of cotton-candy.

When I pulled in the drive way, I was expecting I’d have to shovel the snow which fell on Saturday, but some fairy-godmother…. Or fairy-godfather had already cleared it all away. The nice thing about this surprise is that I can’t just point my finger at one person who was so nice to me….. I’m blessed with many people who are helping me navigate my crazy split life- otherwise I know I couldn’t keep this up.

So I head to bed now, not focusing on what I don’t have….. but I’m feeling blessed and grateful for what I have…. a crazy life with wonderful loving people I treasure.

Now I am humming the song “I get by with a little help from my friends”….

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Happy Ground Hogs Day

2-2-12 surprised brain
Ann wanted to write another blog this week ~Judy

Global Warming and Ground Hog’s Day

Oh my, what a winter we are having in Iowa. Mostly mild days, but this week, cant’ beat 65 degrees on Monday and 55 on Tuesday. All I can say, thank you Al Gore for pointing out the benefits of global warming.

 As I’m watching the Newt Romney showdown in the Sunshine State, I remembered February 2nd is around the corner, Groundhog’s Day! I’m so glad I took that exit off I80 last summer.

Here’s a recap:

 As I was motoring along, I noticed the sign for Punxsutawney, PA  and that alone got me to exit as Dad always chuckled when we saw the sign and when Groundhog’s Day came around.

So when I watch the coverage today, I can say … dang, I’ve been there. When they show the infamous hotel, Pantal Hotel, I can say I’ve been there and slept in Bill Murray’s room,  Room 304.

And yes, I met the Ice Man, one of the officiates at the ceremony. He told me that people come at the wee early hours of the morning. Seems foolish, but I did get up at 4 am to see Morning Joe.

Happy Groundhog’s day to all and regardless of Phil’s shadow, 6 more weeks of winter.

Chat Later
That Girl, Ann Marie

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wednesday GUEST Blog from Ann

2-1-12 resting brain
Grateful that Ann is still posting her guest blogs on Wednesday! I am in a better frame of mind and may actually blog once next week ~Judy

Year of The Dragon ~ Happy Chinese New Year

With a name like Chee You, one would think Chinese New Year would be an annual event. Sad to say, NOT. Well as the President said “no sense crying over spilled milk”. Haha, hehe, haha.

I did some checking on the web to find out what The Year of the Dragon means:
“Chinese holiday traditions include forgiving past conflicts, hosting elaborate feasts, setting off fireworks and giving children money in red envelopes. The Year of the Dragon is believed to bring success and happiness, while other animals bring other blessings during their years. The celebrations last 15 days after New Year’s, and on the final day a lantern festival takes place in which red lanterns are hung outside houses all over China.” Interesting, very interesting and if someone wants to pass some money in a red envelope to me, I’ll gladly accept it.
I found this video of what the Year of the Dragon means to the Chinese people. (sorry John and Jean).

No fireworks here, but the Peace Sisters celebrated the Year of The Dragon last week. I had a certificate to cash in and what better timing. Here are a few pics of the dinner: sushi rolls, Sue, Carolyn, Judy and me. The food was yummy, company great as usual and the wasabi …. Dangerous, just sayin’.

Speaking of Chinese, I love going to Chinatown in big cities. I took Dad to Chinatowns in Toronto, Chicago, DC and Los Angeles. I’ve been to Chinatown in San Francisco and I must say, that is the best Chinatown in the country.

So what year were you born in? I looked it up and I was born in the Year of the Rat. Really a Rat? Well, here’s what in store for the Rat in 2012. |
Rat (born 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008) 
“Romance is expected to blossom and careers will peak for the Rat, who is a risk taker,” says Chung. Chung believes that the Rat must take risks but not aim to defeat everyone. “It is in the rat’s nature to hide indoors, but the rat should head out into the world this year,” explains Chung, “and the Rat is the sign most likely to profit financially in 2012.

Well, I have a lot of work for this GOP girl to hit it big time in 2012. The lottery may be my ticket in 2012.

Chat Later,

That Girl, Ann Marie