Another Week

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It’s been a rather busy week on and off; most of my family have been going through the current ‘bug’- aches, slight fever, sore throat, big coughs, headache. My youngest has been out of school for 4 out of 5 days this past week; took him to the doctors Thurs. and she said it’s not strep; it sure mimics strep! So far, I’ve been fortunate to only have a slightly sore throat…nothing else (Yay!) The previous week my husband had another sort of bug and was pretty miserable. Let’s just say a big vat of homemade chicken noodle soup has kept them feeling a little warmer.

On the activities end of it, I’ve been doing a lot of running around. Some of knit group ladies have decided that they wanted to knit weekly, instead of the original bi-weekly that I’d set up. They’ve been chatting about it for awhile now but a new lady to the group said she’d been trying to start up a group at a little cafe really near my house and so they decided to visit it this past Tues and I went along.  There were only five of us (compared to the usual 12-14 on the regular bi-weekly sessions) and we only stayed about 1  1/2 hours; it was OK (the cafe); can’t say as I’d really enthused to keep going there (I won’t name names); it’s rather expensive and kind of sterile inside…not the warm and welcoming atmosphere of Panera Bread.  Wednesday was my special needs group, Thursday the trip to the doctors with son and last night was my special needs group’s once a month Gym Night. To say I’m a ready for an ‘in house’ relaxing day is putting it mildly!

Got another afghan done and a rather special one will be finished later today (see above photo). One of my knit group ladies gave me 7 knit cream-colored squares about a year ago and asked if I could use them. She had knit them up with the idea of trying to decide which knit pattern she would use in a very large knitted blanket, then didn’t use them.  Each square is done in a different stitch and they are all beautiful.  The squares are large, so that presented a challenge to me as to how to use them. The first one I’ve done gave me the opportunity to finally use up the over-abundance of red squares I have. Red seems to be the number one favorite of people donating squares.  The rest of the special afghans will be done with varied colors and the main cream colored squares. (I’m only calling them ‘special’ because they are different than the regular afghans I’ve been making. Because of their design they will not have a pocket in them; I’m thinking they would be better for an older child or adult.)  I received an email this week from Bettye Wright ( the nurse in Ghana who started this project) which thrilled my heart:

“I can tell you, the patients love them.

I was recently in Sierra Leone and the post-op patients are kept in the Holy Spirit hospital for 6 weeks when they return. I went there to visit them. I asked the nurse how do I find which ward they are in. The nurse’s response was” the room with the beautiful bed covers on each bed”. Every patient had their afghan on their bed. Yesterday one of the Ghanaian patient came into our clinic, an adult, he had neurological weakness post-operative and was on admission to the hospital for a long time. He is now home, he arrived yesterday in a wheelchair with his FOCOS afghan on the back of his chair.”

(FOCOS is the orthopedic group which does the surgeries-see  http://orthofocos.org )

That’s about it for what’s going on around here; our weather has been tolerable: temperatures in the teens, some fluffy snowfalls but nothing heavy. It’s the kind of weather you can walk and drive in but have to be bundled up; I don’t mind that too much.

Stay warm, enjoy your day as best you can!

Hugs;

Pammie

Yummy in the Tummy!

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During these cold winter days it’s always nice to have a great recipe on hand that you know will not only fill your tummy but also tastes great the next day as leftovers.  To that end, I offer you a really great recipe:

Cheese and Pasta in a Pot

2 lb. lean ground beef

2 medium onions, chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 (14 oz.) jar spaghetti sauce

1 (1 lb.) can stewed tomatoes

1 (3 oz.) can sliced mushrooms

16 oz. shell macaroni

1 1/2 pints sour cream (2 containers)

1 (6 oz.) pkg. sliced provolone cheese

1 (6 0z.) pkg. mozzarella cheese, sliced thin

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In a large pot, cook ground beef until brown, drain grease. Add onions, garlic, spaghetti sauce, stewed tomatoes and undrained mushrooms; mix well. Simmer 20 minutes or until onions are soft. Meanwhile, cook macaroni shells according to package directions; drain and rinse with cold water. Pour half of the shells into a deep casserole dish. Cover with half of the tomato-meat sauce. Spread half the sour cream over the sauce and top with slices of provolone cheese. Repeat, ending with slices of mozzarella cheese. Cover casserole and bake at 350 degrees F. for 35 -40 minutes. Remove cover and continue baking until mozzarella melts and browns slightly.  Serves 8.

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There you have it…a great dinner and leftovers for the next night, too! OR…you could make this up and serve it for the Super Bowl event!

Hope you’re having a great day; the temperature here today is a balmy 29 degrees F. and some sunshine!  It isn’t Spring yet, but having a day where you can go outside without really bundling up is great.

Hugs;

Pammie

Published in: on January 27, 2009 at 3:23 pm  Comments (2)  
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Baking a Cake!

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(this one looks close to my cake)

Tomorrow is the 57th birthday for my husband so I will be baking him his favorite cake:  Banana w/ cream cheese frosting. Today I made the attempt to try to figure out just what to purchase for his birthday present but only came up with an idea. My husband, you see, is one of those rare people who is content with what he has.  I have racked my brain trying to think of SOMETHING he might like or need.  Buy him a book? He reads voraciously but, no; he likes to buy his own books.  Buy him a video game? He’s a very avid WOW (“World of Warcraft”) gamer as well as several WWII games on line but, alas, games go in that same category: only HE buys his games.  Clothes? Cologne? Ties?….sorry, all are kind of in the ‘No’ category.  I took myself to our local Kohl’s store today as they are going out of business soon; thought I might spot something that he would like. Found out they don’t care 3X sizes for men, so that put the clothes/ties, etc. in the ‘No’ category HOWEVER…I DID come up with an idea! He is in desperate need of new tennis shoes! When I was perusing the shoe section I found not one, but TWO pairs of mens size 13 tennis shoes! My idea for tomorrow (providing he’s willing) is:

(a) take him out to breakfast at a local cafe near here; he’s been wanting to try them (he took the day off work tomorrow)

(b) take him to Kohl’s to purchase (I hope) one of those pairs of tennis shoes

(c) convince him he wants to go out to eat for his Birthday dinner, to bd’s Mongolian Barbecue (he loves their food) ….then

(d) home for homemade banana cake with cream cheese frosting!

Sometimes it’s all a girl can do to try to please her hubby!

Speaking of that banana cake, here’s the recipe (it’s really moist and the frosting is the kind you just want to eat the whole bowl of BEFORE putting it on the cake!)

BANANA CAKE

1 C. sugar

2 C. flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 C. water

2 mashed (ripe) bananas

pinch of salt

1 C. mayonnaise (I use Miracle Whip)

——

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Lightly grease two 9 inch round cake pans or one 9 X 13 inch. Combine sugar, flour, baking soda, water, mashed bananas, salt and mayo; mix together well and pour into pans. Bake about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Let cake cool. While it’s cooling, prepare the

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/2 of one mashed banana

1/2 C. butter, softened

2 C. powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

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Beat cream cheese, butter and banana until smooth; gradually add sugar and vanilla and mix well. Spread on cooled cake and ENJOY!

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Our weather has been cooperating lately and today is mild (29 degrees F.) and clear, no snow or winds or really cold temperatures…YAY! As I keep saying: “It might be cold but you can walk and drive in cold…you can’t do that too easily when it’s really cold or knee-deep in snow!” I find that I’m pushing myself to get out on days like this instead of putting off trips until tomorrow or next week. Hey, I’ve lived in Michigan all my life and I KNOW-the weather might be nice right now, but WHO KNOWS what tomorrow or next week will bring? Around here, that usually means the “s” word (snow) or sleet or freezing rain, or below zero temperatures, or……and the list just goes on.

Enjoy your day!

Hugs;

Pammie

ps: I totally forgot that I DID buy him a book (actually, it’s coming in the mail):  “The Princess Bride”; he loves the DVD movie and this is supposed to be the book that the movie was made from.

Published in: on January 22, 2009 at 1:42 pm  Comments (1)  
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My Knitting Buddies

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The knit group is slowly growing (see above photos); now we’re averaging about 14-16 people per meeting (with 42 on the list of members). I tried to get better photos of the ladies last night, but wasn’t very successful, as I still managed to leave out a few people’s faces (including mine). I’m so happy to have started this group, as we’ve become more than just ‘knitting/crochet buddies’; now it’s more like close friends.  We’ve gone through several losses, of family members and now jobs (one of our ladies got the nasty job of laying HERSELF off yesterday!). Who knew-a year and a half ago, that we’d all find such fun in getting together to knit/crochet/eat, chat, knit more, eat more, chat a whole lot more! Now the ladies are trying to organize another meeting (on the ‘off weeks’) at a different location! Currently we meet at Panera Bread and they have been more than gracious to all of us, allowing me to re-arrange a lot of their tables to our liking and, at times, coming around with free ‘samples’ of their wonderful foods…what could be better!? Last night we got to sample their new sandwich: Barbecue Brisket…very yummy, I must say! During this time, also, we’ve seen one of our ladies go from: “I’ve never knit before!” to “Look at me! I’m changing colors, increasing and decreasing AND I’ve knit a lot of scarves!”  It’s a lot of fun seeing the growth of both the ladies AND the group.  I’ve asked the ladies to keep their eyes peeled for another possible meeting location if we get much bigger as a group. So far, we are adding at least one new person every two weeks (and we meet every other week!); I’m excited.

Personally, I’ve grown from being a part of the group: I’ve learned several new knit stitches, learned how to knit more than one color at a time and learned to rely on new patterns for new ideas.  Most of us are currently members of a wonderful website called:  “Ravelry”

http://www.ravelry.com

which is a site that’s kind of hard to describe. If you are a knitter or crocheter, it’s THE place to go for ideas and patterns. The folks that thought up this site took the idea of gathering knitters & crocheters together (on line) and giving them the free opportunity to have a place to share ideas/patterns, etc., a place to upload all your photos of your projects/patterns, AND upload photos of your yarn ‘stash’, thereby keeping a running collection of all the yarns you have/need/like, etc.  The site is also frequented by many designers and you can write asking questions, advice, etc.  It’s a very fast-growing site.  When I first went there to sign up, it was a good 3 month wait to get accepted (they are still in the Beta testing stages); now, I think it’s something like 1-2 days wait, but it is definitely worth the wait…the site is amazing.

What else is new around here? Not much-the weather is staying in the single digits and I have frost on the inside of my car windows when starting it up but it’s all part of this time of year in Michigan.

Hope you’re staying warm and cosy…I’m trying!

Hugs;

Pammie

Published in: on January 21, 2009 at 9:50 am  Comments (1)  
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Kinda Buried!

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As you can see, my car is ‘buried’ under last night’s 3-5 inches of snow. Because our weather predictions were saying 25-30 BELOW wind chill, my husband decided that we wouldn’t be going to church today. Normally I would protest, but after looking outside during the evening hours and seeing just how nasty our driveway was and  slowness of the traffic on the major highway we live on, I agreed.

What do you do on a nasty winter’s morning? Why, you make Belgian waffles, of course! It’s been quite some time since I’ve made them, so the boys were very glad to see what Mom was cooking. (this time I cheated…I used Bisquick instead of looking up the recipe, but they still tasted great).  My alterior motive for the hot ‘n hearty breakfast was: to fuel the tummies of the shovelers!

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Belgian Waffles

2 eggs

1 C. milk

2 1/2 C. Bisquick mix

2 T. sugar

1/4 C. vegetable oil

(spray cooking oil for grill)

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Heat waffle maker until hot. Mix above ingredients in large bowl, using mixer, until smooth. (check manufacturer’s directions for amount of batter in each ‘waffle well’). Pour batter into wells, close lid and bake approximately 5 minutes (or according to your waffle makers directions). Makes about 12 waffles.

recipe courtesy:

http://www.bettycrocker.com

(my Belgian waffle maker company)

(side note: Yes, the above photo has syrup, and ‘could’ have had a dollop of Cool Whip, but son who ate this plate didn’t want that)

Later on I’ll be stitching afghans together again (what ELSE do I do? hehehe). I’m envisioning making salisbury steak for dinner with mashed potatoes and some sort of vegetable. I don’t think I’ll be planning on going to choir practice and church this evening, either. Sometimes ya just gotta ‘stay inside’ rather than brave the elements.

Hope you’re keeping warm and safe;

Hugs;

Pammie

Keeping Cosy

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Today begins another week end; this one is a ‘stay inside and keep warm’ day, as it’s a really COLD one outside (10 degrees F./wind chill -25 to -30 degrees F).  I’m staying in! Got started on stitching another afghan; that makes #7 of the new batch which will be divided between the two ministries.

Got to watch a (new to me) movie last night and can honestly say that it was delightful:  “Ratatouille”.  This movie mostly takes place in a French restaurant kitchen; since my oldest son is an Executive Chef, I’ve spent a good amount of time in various fine dining kitchens and have learned a bit about that whole realm. The details from that perspective make it all the more interesting; the action scenes are very well done-they keep you riveted to the plot. If you get the chance, rent it…I think you’ll find yourself, like me, enchanted.

I enjoy reading a well-written murder mystery and have recently discovered a (new to me) author: William Bernhardt. I love it when I discover an author and then find that they have already written lots of books I haven’t read.  I just picked up (in the used books for sale section of our library) his book: “Capitol Threat” and then found that he’s already written quite a few books, all starting with “Capitol….”. These books take place in (what else?) Washington, D.C. and the author was once a trial attorney, so his angle of writing makes you feel you are right there in the case.

As to keeping warm and cosy, reading a good book, knitting…what else comes to mind? Why, something to EAT while reading, etc., of course! Yes, I give you ANOTHER recipe.  This one is for some really good, buttery cookies which use a rather unusual ingredient: potato chips. I find this recipe is great for using up that little pile of chip crumbs which seem to linger around; no one wants to finish off that last little bit – now you can make cookies with them!

Potato Chip Cookies

1 C. butter or margarine

1/2 C. sugar

2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 C. crushed potato chips

1/2 C. chopped nuts

2 1/4 C. flour

(*see option below)

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.

Cream together butter and sugar; add vanilla, chips, nuts and flour and mix well.  Roll dough, in your hands, into balls and place on greased cookie sheets. Press cookies flat using either your fingers or a fork.   Bake 15 to 20 minutes. Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

Option: cut some (maybe about 6-8) maraschino cherries into fourths and place one piece in the center of each cookie before baking.

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That’s about it for today; once again, stay warm, comfy and cosy! Enjoy your weekend.

Hugs;

Pammie

Something to Keep You Warm

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Not sure about the rest of you, but here in the upper mid-West, it’s really getting cold outside. Last night’s temperature (just on the thermometer) was -8 degrees F. Getting up at 8 a.m. found it to have warmed to a balmy -4; now it’s 12:50 p.m., the sun’s shining brightly and the thermometer is reading 14 degrees!  I’ve been keeping myself busy doing (what else?) sewing afghans together. Just finished 1 out of 2 and will crochet the border on #2 a little later today. The neat thing about working on them during this cold front is that they keep my legs warm as I’m stitching/crocheting!

A few nights ago I was able to enjoy the company of some of my fellow knit group friends; during this time (our Knit-Movie night) we all bring a dish to pass, eat, knit/crochet, and watch a good movie. (this time it was “Mama Mia!”…I’m definitely NOT a ‘musicals’ person, but it was amusing watching Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, and Pierce Brosnan act together. Love seeing “James Bond” attempt to sing…gack! but he’s very ‘easy on the eyes’ as the knit ladies kept saying, so that kept my attention for the most part.  My reason for mentioning this? I found a recipe on one of my recipe groups that sounded good, so I made it up and brought it…turns out it was really good! Tasty with a little zip-I give you:

Chili Dip

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 (15 oz.) can chili without beans

1 (14.5 oz.) can Di Frateli Mexican tomatoes (like stewed tomatoes with jalapeno peppers)

Mix above ingredients together, microwave on HIGH for 1 minute, stir and continue until mixture is smooth and hot. Serve with corn chips.

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NOTE:  I also sprinkled the top of the mixture with shredded Extra Sharp Cheddar cheese and then popped it under the broiler until it was melted and brown on top. Also added a few dashes of Tabasco sauce, as I like it a little zippier.  The batch I made, I doubled-but only doubled the chili & cream cheese, so it really did need a little more Tabasco sauce. I would say that if you’re going to make a single ‘batch’ of this, it shouldn’t need the Tabasco sauce, as the Mexican tomatoes are plenty spicy.  I served it with Tostitos “Scoops” for chips.

Yummy stuff!

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Hoping you are all warm and cosy wherever you are! Stay healthy, warm and treat yourself to something hot, like cocoa (don’t forget the mini marshmallows!)

Hugs;

Pammie

Published in: on January 15, 2009 at 1:05 pm  Comments (2)  
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Saving Things

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Each of us, in our lifetime, save things; those “things” vary according to the personality of the individual AND their own backgrounds. I grew up ‘poor’, not starving, but just barely making it – a child raised by those who grew up in the Depression; that changes you. Myself, I find that I’m much more apt to try to ‘use up’ that last little bit of catsup, gravy, whatever you might find leftover in the fridge but this penchant for using things up is not exclusive to just food leftovers; oh no.  In my own little ‘realm’ I find that I just can’t seem to excuse throwing away something that has a perfectly good use, if saved.  Case in point:  last night our Knit Group got together and I decided to bring along the things that I use to construct the afghans – squares, needle, scissors, and my ‘bag of ends’ (see photo above). It seems this ‘bag of ends’ caused quite a stir (more like a cause for laughter).  I will explain my reasons for keeping said bag – the bag contains all those little ‘tails/ends’ of yarn that I ask people to include when knitting or crocheting squares for the afghan project. These ‘ends/tails’ I use to sew together the squares. My reasoning is: it’s much better to use the same colored yarn to sew those squares than just any old color – it tends to make the sewing ‘invisible’, hence you don’t see the joining stitches.  (Grant me this little idiosyncrasy here…) People send me all colors and sorts of squares, using all manor of colors and yarns. I can’t keep on hand all the various yarns they use, so…if I don’t need that  particular ‘tail/end’, I snip it off and deposit in my little ‘bag of ends’ and when I find myself with a donated square that has no ‘tail/end’, I dig through the bag and find a similar yarn ‘tail’ and use it! Makes sense to me!  I don’t mind being the brunt of jokes; I rather find it amusing (at times). My knit ladies seemed to find my idiosyncracy a bit ‘unusual’; I’ve learned that the older I get, the more my OCD (Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder) seems to be more noticible. (I used to think that OCD was only those people who do things over & over, like washing their hands. I’m learning that I’m much more OCD than even I knew! If you’ve ever seen the TV show “Monk”, you have some idea what I’m talking about. I’m that person who just HAS to straighten that slightly crooked picture on the wall, arrange your papers so that they all are facing the same direction, make sure everything is ‘straight’.  I guess that also falls into saving things. One of my knit friends mentioned hearing about a lady’s family who, after she died, was cleaning out her closets and found a box there marked: “String Too Short to Use”. That, my friends, is the epitomy of “saving things”.

Hope this brought a smile to your lips and a bit of lightness to your day; stay WARM and enjoy your day!

Hugs;

Pammie

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Amid the toils of winter blooms my new Amarylis! Last year I bought one (bulb) just before Christmas and it didn’t bloom until a good 3 weeks later (same with this one). As you can see, it has 4 huge blooms and another stalk promising even more gorgeous flowers! That, my friends, is something to brighten the spirits on a cold winter’s day. We were supposed to get 5-7 inches of snow last night but, hooray, we didn’t! I would say a dusting of, perhaps, close to 1 inch now covers my car. Hey, I don’t mind that little bit! You can drive, walk and even shovel an inch…but 5-7? That’s another story.

Today is another ‘ketchup/ catch-up’ day here; getting laundry straightened away, dishes, and even the photographing of yet another batch of knit afghan squares (66) from a friend in Maryland.  It IS nice, on a cold winter’s day, to sit all wrapped up snug in an afghan (crocheted by my dear friend “Momma”) and sew afghan squares together while listening to favorite CD’s (Dr John, Bread, Mark Knoffler, Dire Straits, Chicago…can you tell I’m a child of the 60’s?).

Our weather is also supposed to dip very close to (or past) zero in the next few days. I have the lovely anticipation of my Knit group’s “Knit/Movie” night tonight and I’m really hoping the weather holds for travel. We’re going to be watching “Mama Mia!” and dining on chili, chili dip & chips, shrimp & dip, fresh veggies, homemade bread and cookies! Sound tasty? You bet! Once a month my ‘ladies’ decided it would be fun to have a Movie/Knit night – no exactly a ‘official’ knit group, but just a fun night of enjoying each others company as well as good food, a movie, and maybe some knitting or crochet; all together, a really fun night out.

Not much else on the scene today; youngest has mid-terms the next three days (he just got his bottom braces yesterday and is in a little pain from that). Middle son just started a new semester at college; he opted to take more classes this semester and is now a little worried that he bit off more than he can digest…we’ll see (it’s only Day 2, for crying out loud!)….that last statement from a Mom who’s ‘been there/done that’…several times over.

Hope you’re staying warm, enjoying something that brings you joy and looking forward to Spring! (Hey, a girl can hope, can’t she?)

Hugs;

Pammie

Snowy, Snowy Day

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It’s not unusual, living in good old Michigan, to get snow at this time of year. We’ve been rather fortunate lately in that the past 10+ inches we got several weeks ago had melted down, leaving room for . . . what else? more snow. Today is one of those “sandwich” days – snow in the morning, then a break, then more snow in the afternoon/evening. Oh joy…I just went to our weather report: “9 Special Weather statements, 6 winter storm warnings, and 3 winter weather advisaries in your area” – does THAT give you any idea of what we’re ‘in for’? The report also says 4-7 inches expected with: snowfall rates across the area will approach an inch per hour with additional snowfall accumulations of 2-3 inches possible through 7 p.m.” Why am I getting this : “I don’t think we’ll be going to church in the morning” feeling?

SO…what did I do today to keep off the impending gloom feeling from the coming “S” word? Let’s see: got all the dishes caught up, did laundry, began 3 chapters in a new book, did my nails, designed a new knit dishcloth, created 2 new pairs of earrings (would show you, except I know that they will not photograph well…too tiny), re-designed a very pretty silver scarf that was donated to me (owner didn’t like it)-it’s a Liz Claiborn silver ‘loop’ scarf-I cut it free! and made it a long scarf, then designed the above earrings to go with it;  am planning on making salmon patties, baked potatoes (with sour cream),  broccoli & cheese sauce for dinner. After all that, think I’ll just lounge around for awhile…sounds like a good idea to me! I am definitely NOT a snow bunny, so keeping my mind OFF of the stuff helps greatly.

Hope you’re having a good day (inside!);

Hugs;

Pammie

Published in: on January 10, 2009 at 4:50 pm  Comments (1)  
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