Three upcoming releases I’ll be watching

TED LASSO

The first four episodes are available now on Apple TV+. Future episodes are being released each Friday. The first episode was silly. From then on, each episode got better than the one before. I now don’t want the series to ever end.

This is the story of the coach who led last year’s (fictional) Wichita State Shockers football team through an undefeated season, and trip to the Rose Bowl; and then agreed to coach the Richmond, UK football (soccer) team. It’s London, Kansas, sports, and a bit of baking, all in one delightful package. In real life, there is no Wichita State football team. The university hasn’t had a football team since 1986, which makes this series even more awesome. They use the actual WSU mascot and logos.

IMDB page: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10986410

FARGO, Season 4

The next season of Fargo will be released on September 27 on FX. It is set in Kansas City in the 1950s, and stars Chris Rock. I cannot wait. “Girl, you’ve got a panty on your head.”

IMDB page: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2802850/

REBECCA

The latest remake of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca will be released October 21, on Netflix. How much am I looking forward to it? I’ve written a whole post on it, that’s how much. Read it here.

IMDB page: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2235695

(This is an entertainment report on the movie; not a trailer)



And now for some music: We are now in Round 5 of the Slice The Life 2020 Album Draft. For the latest ‘desert island album’ picks, click here.

For the latest Run-Sew-Read pick, click here. Or sample a song from the album:

I went to a baseball game this week.

Only in 2020 is it a blog-worthy announcement to say, “I went to a baseball game this week.” This past week I proudly wore one of the masks I’ve made, and attended the championship game of the long-running annual National Baseball Congress World Series tournament. I’ve written about the NBC World Series in prior years, here in 2016, and here in 2018. This month they managed to plan and carry out a 2020 pandemic version of the tournament, in a borrowed stadium.

The COVID-19 rules for attendees: Masks were required to be worn by every person in the stadium. Every other row of seats was roped off, so attendees sat at least a row apart. We were also instructed to sit several seats away from other fans.

The championship game was between the Cheney (KS) Diamond Dawgs and the Santa Barbara Foresters.

My only 7th inning stretch of 2020.

The Foresters led from the start and continued to build on their lead as the game progressed. A rain and lightning delay was looming.

The Diamond Dawgs signaled with a 3-run homer in the bottom of the 9th, that they weren’t going to be rushed out of the stadium. But then came the 3rd out, and congrats to the champions, the Santa Barbara Foresters.

The first gust from the storm hit as I left the seats. The first drops of rain fell as I was getting into my car.

More sports to come?

The last live sports event I’d attended before this was a Big XII basketball game on March 5. On the day of this baseball game, it was rumored that two of the Power-5 collegiate conferences were going to cancel football for the year. The Big 10 did in fact cancel 2020 football, and the Pac-12 postponed their football season to Spring 2021. At the time, I thought this NBC baseball game might be the last live sports event I’d be attending in 2020.

But maybe not. The Big XII has announced that it does not plan to cancel or postpone its 2020 football season. Teams want fans there, too. Wishful thinking on my part? We’ll see what surprises are out there for the final four months of 2020. Wear those masks and be distant and considerate of each other. It’s our only hope of having more chances to head to the stadiums to cheer our teams on this year.

Making Cornhole Game Bean Bags

Yay, the season of outdoor get-togethers and yard games is upon us!  (Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and more.)  For my family, it started with Mother’s Day, when all of us sibs converged on Mom’s house for the weekend.  One of my jobs was to bring bean bags for the Cornhole game.  My brother made nice wood Cornhole boards, and I made a new set of bean bags.

Cornhole is a totally awesome game for tailgaters, festival goers, and family get-togethers.  It is a bean bag toss where you try to toss the bag through the hole in a board 20+ feet away.

The boards can be purchased or custom made.  Boards can have really lovely designs.  Here is a monogrammed set available on Amazon.

Cornhole boards on Amazon

The popularity of the game is evident from the range of products available on Amazon.

The bags can be purchased or easily homemade.

Bean bag specs:

  • A set of Cornhole bags is eight (8) bags–4 in one color, and 4 in a different, contrasting color.
  • The bean bags are square, made of cotton duck, or similar heavy duty fabric, and filled with feed corn or a synthetic material that resembles corn in weight and consistency.
  • Each finished bag should be 6 inches x 6 inches, and weigh 16 ounces when filled.

The internet has numerous tutorials on making Cornhole bean bags.   Do a search on Google and YouTube, and you’ll find some excellent instructions.

So, this post is less a tutorial, and more a compilation of tips I’ve picked up from making the bags.

Constructing the bags:

Start with 7″-7.5″ fabric squares.  You’ll need 16 squares for 8 bean bags.  Err on the side of cutting the squares larger, not smaller:

Squares pattern 2

Stack two squares, right-sides together and sew all sides with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, leaving a minimum 3-inch opening on one side, for adding the corn.

[Stitching lines and opening:]

Squares pattern with stitching lines 3

Reinforce the seams!  Reinforce by adding a second row of stitching in the seam allowance.  Then zig-zag or overlock the edges for even more reinforcement.

Squares pattern with stitching lines reinforced 3

[Alternatively, reinforce by sewing the edges with French Seams.  Tutorial here. ]

Then turn the bags right side out and get ready to fill them.

Filling the bags…

  • Whole corn for the filler can be purchased at a farm store or feed store.  The price is usually less than $10 for a 40-50 lb bag of corn.  I buy it at this regional store. https://www.atwoods.com/atwoods-whole-corn-40-lbs.html
  • Freeze the corn for 24-48 hours, to kill any little bugs and things that might be waiting to come out.
  • Before weighing, sift the corn through a colander to eliminate as much of the corn dust and other ‘stuff’ as you can.  Then measure out 15 – 15.5 ounces of corn for each bag.  The other .5 oz or so will come from the weight of the fabric.
  • With a funnel, load the measured corn into the bag.

A funnel made from a plastic gallon container works well because it has a big enough opening for the corn to pass through.  A standard kitchen funnel doesn’t have a big enough opening.

Funnel

To close off the bag, push the corn down in the bag as far as it will go, and then secure it there with pins or a long needle.  For this, I prefer to use a long ‘doll needle’.  The 5″ needle is easy to insert, and the one long needle holds everything in place.  (Actually, a doll needle comes in handy for so many things, that I recommend keeping one in the sewing kit.)

Doll Needle

Run-Sew-Read 2019

The picture below shows how the doll needle holds the corn back from the stitching area, to give you room to maneuver the open end of the bag under the presser foot.

Sewing the bag shut

That little bit of extra room in the top of the bag is important not just for room to sew, but also for the finished bag.  Bags stuffed too tight with corn can potentially burst on impact.

Remember to reinforce the closure with a second row of stitching, and maybe even a third row.

Run-Sew-Read 2019

Get creative with the bags!  Try patterns and fabric paints.

Finished bags 2 a RSR

Then, you are ready to play!

The bags (and extra corn) should be stored in a rodent-proof container.

Additional tips on bags and peace brought to you by John Lennon of Bag.

Bagism a

You say Shrove Tuesday; I say Pancake Day!

They say it started more than 500 years ago, when on Shrove Tuesday (the day before the start of Lent), a housewife in England was cooking at her stove, heard the bell for church, and dashed from her house to the church still wearing her apron and carrying her skillet.

Today it is an annual international women’s race, in which the participants wear a housedress, headscarf and apron, and must carry a skillet with a pancake in it, and flip the pancake.

The event takes place in Olney, England and Liberal, Kansas USA.  Each town holds a race, and the fastest finish time wins the international contest.

(Picture from Olney’s website)

A multi-day festival has grown up around the event.  Each town maintains a Pancake Day website; and each maintains a Facebook page, which is great for enthusiasts like me who want real-time updates on race day.

This totally awesome Olney poster was designed by one of its middle school students:
(Click the poster to go to the Olney page for more info on the poster.)



How the International Pancake Day Race came about:

Each of the two cities’ websites gives a brief history of the Pancake Day Race.  Since each site provides a fact or two that the other one doesn’t, I’ve included both.  But hey, the best thing to do is visit both websites for more history and photos of past events.

From the Liberal, KS site: 

“In Olney, England, the Pancake Race tradition dates back more than 500 years to 1445. A woman engrossed in using up cooking fats (forbidden during Lent) was making pancakes. Hearing the church bells ring calling everyone to the shriving service, she grabbed her head scarf (required in church) and ran to the church, skillet and pancake in hand and still apron-clad. In following years, neighbors got into the act and it became a race to see who could reach the church first and collect a “Kiss of Peace” from the verger (bell-ringer.)

“HOW DID PANCAKE DAY GET STARTED IN THE UNITED STATES?​

“It all started in 1950 from a magazine picture of the Olney women racing each other to the church. Liberal Jaycee President R.J. Leete contacted the Rev. Ronald Collins, Vicar of St. Peter and St. Paul’s church in Olney, challenging their women to race against women of Liberal.  Like in Olney, the traditional prize of the race is the “Kiss of Peace” from the verger (bellringer).”

From the Olney, UK site:

“No one is quite certain how the world famous Pancake Race at Olney originated. One story tells of a harassed housewife, hearing the shriving bell, dashing to the Church still clutching her frying pan containing a pancake. Another tells that the gift of pancakes may have been a bribe to the Ringer, or Sexton that he might ring the bell sooner; for ringing the bell signalled the beginning of the day’s holiday and enjoyment, no less than to summon the people to the service at which they would be shriven of their sins before the long Lenten feast.

“Tradition declares that the race was first run in the year 1445, pancakes at the time being a popular dish, receiving royal favour. It was run on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent, and the whole day was given over to a festival of celebration, pranks and pastimes. It is not known where the original start line was but the finish line was at the Church door.

“The race continued through the centuries, and whilst many other local customs died, and the race itself may have lapsed many times, such lapses never caused the race to be entirely forgotten by the womenfolk of Olney. It is known to have taken place during the troublesome times of The War of the Roses (1445 to 1487).

“THE CUSTOM REVIVED

“After a lapse during the Second World War, it was revived again in 1948 by the Vicar of Olney the Reverend Canon Ronald Collins. In clearing out a cupboard he came across some old photographs, which had obviously been taken in the Nineteen Twenties and Thirties of women running with frying pans. Filled with enthusiasm to revive the ancient custom, he called for volunteers, and in response thirteen runners appeared on Shrove Tuesday that year. The race immediately caught the popular imagination and people of Olney set out to enjoy this simple and colourful link with their rich past, a day of festivities.

“THE LINK WITH LIBERAL

“In 1950 the race became an International event. A challenge was received from the town of Liberal in Kansas, USA, where they had, after seeing the press photographs of the race at Olney, conceived the idea of setting up a similar custom. Olney readily accepted the challenge and, in a spirit of international goodwill and friendship, the two towns now compete annually and prizes are exchanged. The race is run on a timed basis.”



THE RACE!

  • At 11:55 am Olney time (5:55am Central US time), the Olney Race begins.
  • At 11:55 am Liberal time (5:55pm Olney UK time), the Liberal race begins.

The weather forecast for this year’s race:

  • Olney:  Partly cloudy and 50°F with a SW wind of 17 mph, causing a feels-like temp of 45°F.
  • Liberal:  Sunny and 29°F with a N wind of 8 mph, causing a feels-like temp of 22°F

Don’t be fooled by the dresses, aprons and skillets; these races are legit athletic contests.  So, what is the actual race like?  Here is a recent video from each side of the pond:

The Olney, UK race (2012)

The Liberal, KS USA race (2014)

Attending these two Pancake Day races is a bucket list item for me.  It’s only a 3.5 hour drive for me to Liberal, KS, but Tuesdays pose a problem.  Once again this year, work has intervened to keep me from going.  Next year, Pancake Day is on Tuesday, February 25.  I shall try again.



I love to eat pancakes, so pancakes must be included in this story:

American pancakes are typically thicker than English pancakes.  I love both.

An American style pancakes recipe:  https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/21014/good-old-fashioned-pancakes/

(photo from allrecipes.com)

An English style pancakes recipe:  https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2907669/easy-pancakes

(photo from Epicurious.com)

I love pancakes so much that on my first ever trip to England (in 2010), I took a picture of my first-ever English pancake, and the lovely, skilled vendor cook who made it for me.

Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrove_Tuesday

We interrupt this blog for a football game…

Go Kansas City Chiefs!  I’ve enjoyed the week of memes building up to this game.  “Pat > Pats”, etc.  While I watch tonight’s AFC playoff game, I’ll be wearing my vintage Chief’s jersey, kc chiefs jersey rsr

To keep my nervous hands busy, I’ll be knitting this fun scarf.  The pattern is a free download from the Lionbrand website.  I’ve made this pattern once before.  It makes a handy, warm scarf that stays in place.

Click on the picture to go to the Lionbrand pattern download page.

Here’s the SIP (‘scarf in progress’), in Lionbrand Hometown USA yarn.  The color is ‘Tampa Spice’.  I wanted it to be something red.

scarf in progress

The weather forecast for the game is absurdly cold.  It will be single digit windchill at game time, in the outdoor stadium.  In the stadium, that will feel like sub-zero temps.  Hopefully everybody there will have a way to stay somewhat warm.

I’ll have a cozy fire going in my room with the TV, and will make Honey-Sriracha Chicken legs in the Instant Pot and Air Fryer (stay tuned for future recipe post).

Go Chiefs!  (I know, I said that once already.)  Enjoy the game, fellow football fans.

Six Updates on Things I Wrote About in 2018

Just for fun, here is what has happened with some of the things I wrote about over the last year.

1.

Our historic ballpark is gone.

The entrance to our 84-year old ballpark looked like this in September, when they announced it would be torn down.

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They first tore the grandstand down.  Here is the site in November, when only the box office and entry gate remained.  Now those are gone too, and it’s a big flat dirt field.

stadiumtorndown2 RSR

stadiumtorndown b RSR

In 2020, we are supposed to have a new ballpark in its place.

2.

I finished reading “Sticky Fingers”.

Sticky fingers cover

After my blog post about the book, it took a couple of renewals from the public library, but eventually I finished the book.  It is a well written book about a repulsive character.  It was a repulsive read to the end.  It made me want all of those hours back that I’d spent over the years reading Rolling Stone magazine.

The soiling of Page 393.

As I was pushing on to finish the book, a bad thing happened.  I took the book with me to the movie theater to read while waiting for the movie to start.  I bought a little bag of popcorn.  Too late, I realized the bag was leaking butter.  I soiled the library book on possibly the most important page, and maybe the only important page of the entire book.

Page 393 a w RSR

When I returned it to the library, I confessed and showed them the page.  I’m waiting to find out if they are going to bill me for the book.  They certainly are within their rights to ask me to pay for it.  Because I was up front with them, and the stain was confined to a couple of pages (it bled through to the next page), they will not ask me to pay for a replacement book.  Lesson learned!  Have I mentioned how much I ❤ our library?  Well, this is just the latest reason.

3.

The electric blanket needs another repair already.

Thanks to the foster pup, aka “Jaws”.

Chewed plug aw RSR

4.

The pepper plant is still growing.  

The Poblano pepper plant that I’d planted and tended outdoors all summer, is now in a pot on the enclosed porch in the south sun.  It gets cold on the porch but has stayed above freezing.  When the sun is shining, the room can get above 70°.  Three peppers are growing on the plant, albeit very slowly.  I may be waiting all winter for a harvest of three peppers.

Outdoors vs Indoors:

 

Indoors

5.

Another Coco dress is in the works.

Here are numbers 1 and 2.

 

Sneak preview of #3:

Yellow Coco aw RSR

6.

I’ve made a shell from the 1937 pattern making instructions

 

and it fits.

IMG_20190101_160201865a w RSR

 


Aaand another holiday season is in the books.  One of my favorite holiday songs goes from reflective to angry to a call for hopefulness.  It sums up the end of the holiday season the way I feel it–looking back on the joyous gatherings of family and friends, and looking forward to the new year.

“And so I skate, across the Thames, hand in hand, with all my friends.  And all the things that we planned…

“Goddamn this government, will they ever tell me where the money went?  Protesters march out on the street, as young men sleep amongst the feet.”

“The end of Christmas day, when there is nothing left to say, the years go by so fast, let’s hope the next beats the last.”

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a lovely Thanksgiving Day tomorrow!  Yes, it is a US holiday, but this is me ignoring countries and borders, and inviting you wherever you are, to share in the gathering of hearts.  And heck, have some people over for a big, delicious meal, too.  🙂

I’ve made pumpkin bread to take to our little gathering…the details of which are still being worked out.  Little details such as at whose house, and who will be attending.  Nothing like last minute planning.  Again.  This is how my family does things.  And I’m deeply thankful for them.

My pumpkin bread recipe:


PUMPKIN BREAD

Bowl #1

  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 t. salt

Bowl #2

  • 2 c. white sugar
  • 1 c. vegetable oil (or half unsweetened applesauce)
  • 4 eggs
  • 15 oz. pumpkin puree (homemade or canned)
  • 1/2 c. water
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease or line with parchment paper three medium loaf pans, or two 9×5 inch loaf pans, (the smaller pans work better for me).  Stir together the Bowl #1 ingredients.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl (Bowl #2), beat together sugar, oil, eggs, and pumpkin.  Stir in contents of Bowl #1, adding alternately with water.  (‘Add alternately’ means to add the remaining ingredients in portions a little of each at a time.  For example, add about 1 c. dry with 1 Tbsp water, several times, until there’s nothing left to add.)
  3. Divide batter evenly between the prepared loaf pans.
  4. Bake for about 40 minutes (up to 60 or 70 minutes for larger pans).  Use toothpick test for doneness.  For best flavor and slicing, store wrapped overnight before serving.

Does anyone besides me have to wipe away tears at the last scene in Raising Arizona, with the Thanksgiving dinner?

 

Black Friday is for Football!

The morning after Thanksgiving, you’ll find me at the football stadium, shivering in the grey, chilly weather, and cheering the Kansas Jayhawks vs. Texas.  It will be a sort of rematch of the game with the awesome finish two years ago.  Texas has a different coach this time around.  For Kansas, this will be the last game for a beloved, talented, competitive group of seniors, and the farewell game for our hard-working coach of the past four years.  Lots riding on the line for both teams.

There is no cold like stadium cold.  When it is 50 degrees and cloudy, it feels like 20 in the stadium.  We froze at this game two years ago.  That’s why my video was shaky at the start.  I couldn’t stop shivering.  This year, I’m prepared, with a totally awesome ‘Aldi Find’, a wearable sleeping bag!

Sleeping bag onsie RSR

Unfortunately, my family has strongly hinted that they won’t sit with me at the game if I wear this, so … other options are being considered.

After the game I’ll shop some of the best-ever small businesses, that just happen to be less than a mile from the stadium:

Update:  Looks like I’ll do a little online small business shopping, too.  Tilly and the Buttons is having a Black Friday sale on her sewing patterns. ❤  Link: https://shop.tillyandthebuttons.com/collections/all 

They decided to tear down the baseball stadium

This was the last game ever for the Wichita Wingnuts professional baseball team.  After eleven years as a team, they have called it quits, because they are losing their stadium.  This was also the last game to ever be played in the historic Lawrence-Dumont baseball stadium.  The city plans to tear down the 84-year-old stadium and put up a new structure.

The view from the tailgating-picnic lawn outside:

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This towering light scaffold is one of the originals installed in the ballpark.

L-D light tower

The old scoreboard was really fun.  When the opposing team failed to score in an inning, a goose would travel across the board and drop a goose egg for that inning.

The stadium is also home to the National Baseball Congress World Series, which has been held annually for 84 years–the oldest baseball tournament in the country.  Many, many famous MLB players played in the NBC World Series in the early days of their careers.  I wrote about the tournament in 2016.  It’s not every day that Roger Clemens, Adam LaRoche, Jeremy Guthrie, and more ex-MLB stars form a team and show up to play in your tournament.  They brought their families and spent the week with us at the ballpark.  They did it again in 2017, and brought Chipper Jones, Roy Halladay, Heath Bell, Joe Nathan, and some more memorable players with them.  That’s over now too.

National Anthem

Coming back to 2018 and this last game ever.  There was a good crowd in attendance.  Rain threatened all day, but stayed away during the game.

WP_20180903_015 c

The first few innings progressed like any game.

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In the 7th inning, the crowd’s singing of ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ was particularly spirited.  “And it’s root, root, root for the Wingnuts!”

The ‘Garbage Gremlin’ made his last pass through the stadium.

garbage gremlin priv

Kids who have collected a bag of trash in the stadium get to walk in a procession behind the Garbage Gremlin near the end of the game.

WP_20180903_011 a

Too soon, it was the top of the 9th inning.  The ‘Nuts were ahead 4-1.  Their opponent, the Sioux City Explorers, had 2 outs, so this was likely the stadium’s last batter ever.

WP_20180903_019 b

The crowd stood.

WP_20180903_018 a

Spinner2

Then it was all over but the handshakes and hugs.

WP_20180903_030 aWP_20180903_035 a

In 2019, there will be no stopping at the ballpark to watch some baseball before heading home from the office.  There will be no more yelling, “Go ‘Nuts!”  The NBC World Series will have a temp home at the university.

After 2019, we don’t know for sure what the new stadium/venue will look like, but we have now been given an idea.  It may be designed to accommodate other uses too, such as soccer and outdoor concerts.

New Lawrence Dumont Stadium rendering 9-2018

It’s also been confirmed that a new baseball team will move in and take up residence in our new stadium.  Wichita will be the new home of the New Orleans Baby Cakes, the AAA affiliate of the Marlins.  Not too shabby.  Stay tuned….

A conference win! And why I’m a home town college athletics fan.

I’m a fan because this was the view from my front yard as a kid.  That wall at the end of our block is the university’s football stadium.  If I didn’t attend the game, I could still hear the roar of the crowd when a touchdown was scored.  My parents turned our yard into a pay parking lot for extra income on game days.  Growing up here, I always knew I’d be athletic.  The inspiration to be athletic has led to a lifetime of fitness; all a gift from living on this street.  Every year, the autumn colors and the rustle of leaves on the sidewalk take me back to this street.

img_20161119_1424467_rewind-w-rsr-mark

Back then, a kid’s season football ticket was $6, which worked out to $1 per game.  I’ve been to a lot of games there.

Still, this week’s game was special.  It was the second win this season, after a winless season last year, under the new coach.  He’s the right guy, as is shown by the methodical way he is developing a talented, respectable team of future stars.  This was his first conference win, which he and the team accomplished with a most exciting overtime ‘walk off’ field goal.  (Do they say ‘walk off’ in football?  They need to for this game.)

At the winning moment, the fans rushed the field and swarmed the players and coach; an emotional ESPN interview with the coach took place among the ecstatic crowd; and then a goalpost came down and was carried up the hill to the university’s lake.

The crowd for the game was pitiful in size.  True it was a chilly day.  But not that chilly.  This picture is just plain embarrassing.

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Our defense was a force the entire game.  The offense came through to keep us in the game, and when we most needed it at the end of the game.  img_20161119_1739194_rewind-rsr-mark

Our kicker hit a field goal to tie the game with seconds to go.  img_20161119_1809279_rewind-rsr-mark

In overtime, an interception right away set us up to win the game with another field goal.  The winning field goal triggered the roar of the crowd, and an emotional rush onto the field to embrace the team and coaches.  All captured here, thanks to the phone in my shivering, excited, mitten-covered hands.

Next year I predict even more wins.