December 2004

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The Ami Simms Newsletter
Copyright December 2004

I hope your Thanksgiving dinner was delicious and you ate as much, if not more, than I did. Why should I be the only one walking around with my pants partially unzipped?!

In past years I have been relegated to brining the veggies and dip for Thanksgiving and every other family get-together. Everybody knows that I don't cook and after so many years they assumed I didn’t because I couldn't. My repertoire may not be that expansive, but I know which knob goes to which burner, thank you very much. I just detest planning meals, shopping for the parts, standing in the checkout line, hauling the groceries to the car, hauling them out of the car, putting them away, and then remembering what I bought and where I put it when I get hungry. I suppose the actual cooking isn't that awful, as long as I don't have to do the dishes afterwards.

Steve's mom passed away this summer. Thanksgiving and Christmas, Easter, Mother's Day, Fourth of July and all the rest were always at her house. We all brought parts of the meal with Mom doing the lion's share. This holiday, for whatever reason, all us kids had Thanksgiving with our immediate families, and I was missing Mom more than usual. I decided to cook a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. So, I took the batting out of the oven and got directions to the supermarket.

The Monday before Thanksgiving is not the ideal time to be reintroduced to a grocery cart. There were way too many people, nothing was where I thought it should be, and were it not for some quick thinking on my part ("Look everyone! It's SNOWING!!") I would not have been able to crawl under all the carts double-parked in front of the freezer bin and snag the very last pumpkin pie.

My luck ran out in the checkout line. As I hefted my bird onto the conveyer belt I saw the small notice the manufacturer had slapped on the breast telling me that my turkey would be tasty indeed because they had taken it upon themselves, without asking me, to INJECT my turkey with a whole mess of chemicals, broth, and some extra salt. Major ick. The adolescent, gum-cracking, techno-wizard standing in front of the electronic scanning equipment, shiny mirrors, and a revolving grocery bag contraption said they were all like that. Like she knew what I was even talking about. She's probably bringing veggies and dip.

I asked very kindly if there were any unadulterated turkeys that I might have missed while painstakingly searching for the right gender (hen), weight (under 12 pounds) and (why do they hide these things?) the pop-up timer. She conferred with someone on the phone, giving me sideways glances as if anyone could possibly NOT want additives and more salt in their diet. WhatEVER! Another employee came to fetch me another turkey and reappeared a short time later with a guinea hen, one wing hanging out of the package, cradled in a rumpled paper sack, probably left behind in the parking lot. No thanks. The clerk put my order on "hold." (Did you know they could do that?) and I was allowed to race to the back acre of the store to pick out another turkey that was, well, JUST turkey.

Reactions to my announcement that I was to going to be cooking Thanksgiving Dinner was hardly what I expected. Both of my kind and supportive employees laughed at me. Out loud. And if Judy had been drinking that Coke when I told her, most of it would have come out of her nose. My own daughter pointed a finger at me and was immediately overcome with convulsive laughter. Madison brought me his dish. (See who really loves me?)

Judy did convince me to try one of those "plastic-but-doesn't-melt" cooking bags for the first time. I was leery at first, especially when I forgot to slice the air vents in the top. I had a small panic attack with the vision of opening the oven door, cooking bag filled to bursting with hot air, and then watching helplessly as the little plastic twist tie flew off. I could just see my turkey shooting out of the roasting pan and onto the kitchen floor spinning and whirling like a fourth of July firecracker making that THPPPPTH that balloons make when you get your finger stuck in the knot and then accidentally let go. In real life that didn't happen, but I WAS worried.

In spite of expectations, everything went off without a hitch, most of the leftovers were eaten, and my first attempt at cooking Thanksgiving Dinner in about 15 years was successful. I might even try cooking again next year.

I bought Bake At Home Artisan Breads French Dinner Rolls for Thanksgiving from La Brea Bakery Breads. I found them in the frozen food section. Never heard of them before, but I bought them because of the intentionally humorous directions:

1. Pre-heat your oven (conventional) to 400 degrees (not Celsius please).
2. Take the bread out of the freezer and place on a rack in the middle of the oven (no need to thaw, but for Pete's sake, take it out of the bag first.)
3. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes, or until golden brown (you can't go wrong here, so relax.).
4. Remove from the oven and allow the bread to cool for about 15 minutes (or eat it hot, it's you’re your bread after all.)

And they were delicious.

I'm still without a new keyboard. Apparently my SHIFT key has temporarily cured itself, giving me time to actually research its replacement. Nanette shared the idea of Keyboard Seels, which will protect my new keyboard from spilled food and crumbs. More info? See:

Patrice wrote that her son's orthopedist is named Dr. Payne. His acne man is Dr. Gross. She also shares that in Houston the most famous "strange name" is Ima Hogg. She writes: "Yes, she was real. She was a very wealthy woman and her home is now a museum. Thank God they didn't call it the Ima Hogg Museum!"

Jane liked the Oak Park Park story and was reminded of a now defunct bank in Red Bank, NJ. Sure enough it was called the Red Bank Bank. Then they opened another office in the town of Long Branch and it was called the Long Branch Branch of the Red Bank Bank. Unless she's pulling my leg and that's OK 'cause it was good for a laugh.

Donna writes, "We have two streets in Mason that intersect and the city has trouble keeping the sign on that corner of GRINN and BARRETT.

I took Mom to the opthamologist and while we were hanging around in the eyeglass department I saw these narrow little clear plastic sort of things that looked like "granny" glasses but had no stem pieces to hook over your ears. You actually slip them BEHIND your glasses and rest on the ear pieces of your regular glasses. They're meant for people who wear bifocals and have trouble seeing the computer monitor. Join the club, right?

I did some research and, long story short, I got to talk to one of the inventors, Dr. Don Ledbetter from Oklahoma. Mind you, this was the day before Thanksgiving and we chatted for about 45 minutes. Turns out he's a retired optometrist and had this great idea to save people from having to buy two pair of glasses, one for "normal" and one for computer work. Such a nice guy.

Long story short, it took me about 30 minutes to get totally used to my PC Peekers. What's to get use to? Not cranking my head back to get the monitor in focus. I just keep my head pointing straight ahead. How amazing is THAT? Good-bye neck strain!

OK, that's cool enough, but get this…ever go to a quilt show and just about break your neck tilting your head back so you can focus the bottom of your lenses at the stitching? I'm good for about 6 quilts before I get cranky. I just walked over to a quilt on the wall, stood ARMS LENGTH away, and it was like magic. I could see the quilt better with the PC Peekers than ever before. Check these out at:

We had a great time at International Quilt Market seeing what's new in the quilting world. My top four picks are:

Free-Motion Slider. This is a Teflon® sheet that rests on your sewing machine bed to help move your quilt when you drop your dogs and free-motion quilt. Really slick. See:

Cutting Edge. Repositionable "stops" for your rotary rulers. Slap them on the underside of your ruler where you want the edge of the fabric to stop for whatever width strip you're cutting. Then cut like crazy. Very cool. See:

Professional Tote. Here's a great pattern by Laura Martell to collect and carry all your who-ha's. Pockets galore. Use it as a diaper bag, a briefcase, or the perfect organizer for all your sewing paraphernalia. See:

The X Bag. Beautiful design, functional, and versatile too. This shoulder bag has it all. See:

I just got a hold of Susan Cleveland's Piping Hot Binding Kit. Have you tried this yet? It shows you exactly how to make binding with piping and comes with her handy Groovin' Piping Trimming Tool and some cording to sample. I can't wait to try it. Susan's quilts look so cool! For more information, see

Terry White has a very interesting CD called Designing by Thread. It's a video you watch on your computer. Just insert it in the "cup holder." Terry is a very talented gal and you'll learn how to do free-motion embroidery, step-by-step. See this and other video classes, plus more at:

The Professional Quilter is looking for nominations for Teacher of the Year. The deadline if December 4, so hurry on over for more details:

Georgina Fries did a Trunk Show & Lecture for the Penn Oaks Quilt Guild in Malvern, Pennsylvania in November. She showed antique quilts and her newly made quilts using antique fabrics. During the evening, one of her newly made quilts disappeared. Please see this website to familiarize yourself with the quilt so that if you ever see it you'll be able to return it to its rightful owner:

"Homefront," is 50" x 60" and uses 1930s fabric. It is valued at $980. If you have seen this quilt, please contact Georgina Fries at (410) 867-0665.

The producers of Simply Quilts are looking for quilters, beginning and experienced, to submit questions for the popular "Ask Alex" segment. Any quilting-related topic is fair game. If your question is selected and you will be in LA during the time the show is taped (January 17-28) you will be invited to be a part of the show. If you're not in the area, your question will be part of the show without you. Email your question, your name, and daytime phone to: Or snail mail your question to: Ask Alex/Simply Quilts/ C/O: Weller Grossman Productions/5200 Lankershim Blvd./ Suite 500/North Hollywood, CA 91601.

I gave away all my scrap fabric to charity this weekend. Who am I kidding? I was never going to use up all those inch and a half strips! I'd have had to iron them all first. Like THAT was gonna happen. NOT! Next week I'm boxing up any UFOs I haven't looked at (let alone worked on) in a year, and I'm mailing them to my friends. Anonymously. Let them finish off those dogs. I've got better things to do.

Having survived the half-century mark I've decided to enjoy the downhill slide by doing more fun things. I'm tired of doing all the things I ought to do, postponing the fun things until…well, I didn't really have a date in mind. But now the time has come.

Fun stuff like what, you ask? Well, I keep hearing "Use It Or Lose It." Experts say if you don't exercise your muscles they just get all soggy on you. And, if you don't exercise your brain that turns to mush too. What's the perfect activity to stimulate mind and body? TAP-DANCING, of course!

About a month ago I created the Flint Area Recreational Tap-Dancing Society. Yes, it spells F.A.R.T.S. and that was quite intentional. And, since we're all over 50, we're the OLD F.A.R.T.S. It's not that I've had this burning desire to tap-dance, but it sounded fun and there was always the hope that we could get T-shirts made. Plus it's a great activity for my mom. I sewed taps to the bottom of her bedroom slippers and she taps from the comfort of a chair. Not bad for an 81-year old!

So, if you want to have some good yucks (the room has mirrors!) come join us. We won't make fun of you if you don't make fun of us. And we always go out to lunch afterwards. Tap-dancing is on Tuesdays at 11am. Honorary members who just want T-shirts are welcome too. Email me for details.

The winning bid at this year's Lead in the Holidays for the Puppus Doggus quilt made by members of the Bulloch Hall Quilt Guild in Roswell, GA was $1250. This quilt was machine-quilted by Sue Smucker, and it's awesome from top to bottom. I happen to know the new owner and can tell you that this quilt will truly be cherished. You couldn't ask for a better home. They are puppy raisers for Leader Dogs for the Blind and are wonderful people. Other quilts were auctioned, but I'm waiting for the amounts. I'll report those in the next newsletter. See:

Rita, Dee and Marguirite share their respective stashes: Rita: Dee: Marguirite:

Jean Olsen made a Rag Fur Jacket:

Betsy Cobbs made one too:

Have a great holiday season and I'll see you in January! As always, if you liked this month's issue, please forward it to all your friends and tell them how to sign up for their very own. If you'd like to preprint parts of the newsletter, contact me in writing.

Ami Simms

PC Peekers
Free-Motion Sliders
Cutting Edge
Prefessional Tote
The X Bag
Piping Hot Binding Kit
Terry White's CD
Teacher of the Year
Missing Quilt
Winning Quilt
Rita's Stash
Dee's Stash
Marguerite's Stash
Jean Olsen's Rag Fur Jacket
Betsy Cobbs' Rag Fur Jacket
Ami's Web page

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