Wednesday, December 31, 2008

We had a Howling Good New Years Eve...

Seriously... we've had high wind gusts all day.  Seems when the wind is out of the Northwest and is blowing rather hard... it filters through the Plexiglas in the front storm door and sounds very much like the pitch pipe the music teacher use to use in class.

Since I've listened to it all day I figure I may as well share.

For your listening pleasure... I bring you the wind...

Here's Wishing Y'all a Very Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Knock it off...

Have you ever been sitting someplace while a couple kids proceeded to be loud and annoying to each other and everyone else?

That just drives me nuts... especially those kids (mostly boys) who seem to take great delight in annoying a sister while the parent is blind to the activities or absent all together.

Such was the case last week when I went to pick up my glasses...

I sat down amongst several other adults and 2 kids who had taken up residence in two small kids size chairs parked in front of the TV showing something about the Great Apes on Animal Planet.  Now I would have been happy to sit and watch had it not been for the constant poking and slapping occurring between the boy and girl.  A few minutes later in twirled the Mom chasing after a toddler who's hands and face were covered in green goooooo - I kid you not - Green Goooo.

The forth child was the one there for an appointment and was apparently changing from one little exam room to another... so Mom and green gooey baby (thankfully) disappeared.  The older two continued to jump up and down, pick up and whack each other with the 'free calendar cards' on the counter and other such nonsense.

I don't know about you but several years ago (I think about the time I hit 50) I stopped sitting by and watching stuff like this.

So I leaned forward and I said in a firm voice...

"Knock it Off, Sit Quietly or Go Sit With Your Mother"

Those two kids never even turned around to see who it was that had just issued that edict.  They immediately stopped their noise - sat up straight facing the TV.  They didn't even look at each other...

A little while later the Mom came back in and called them into the next waiting area... you know the place with all the toys to play with eye glass samples to try on.  I resisted the temptation to wave when they turned to look at me as they followed Mom out.

Does stuff like that drive you nuts too?

Monday, December 29, 2008

My Favorite Quilt... or Two... or...

Judy from Patchwork Times has asked about our favorite quilts... and I thought I'd jump in and tell ya about mine.  I posted about this quilt back in May.  It's what I call my Mothers Day Quilt because I made it from a quilt book my daughter gave me for Mothers Day back in 2001 when I began my quilting journey.

Mothers Day Quilt

I love it for a lot of reasons.  It's the first real quilt I started working on (not the first one I finished though).  I learned sooo much in working on it.... let me tell you - I was a newbie and probably shouldn't have been given a rotary cutter to use.

  • I learned that it's fun, fun, fun to shop for fat quarters!  By the time I had started I had more fabric in the don't use pile than in the use pile... yes it was the beginning of the stash!
  • I learned that you don't have to cut all your fabric into 2 inch squares to make a scrappy 4 patch block... if I made it today I would have cut strips and put those together.
  • I learned by cutting all the fabric into 2 inch blocks to make those 4 patch blocks to just slap pieces together... because it was way toooooo many pieces to worry about what did or didn't go together... just pick it up and put it together.
  • I learned that no matter how hard you try - the same fabric is going to be next to itself someplace in the quilt... and you won't see it until you are finished.Mothers Day Quilt Close
  • I learned that there is a difference between quilt shop quality fabric and craft store fabric.  Some of both were used in this quilt but I learned to be very selective.  Some craft shop fabric didn't hold up well after the pre-washing and wasn't used.
  • I learned all about bias edges... and how to be careful with them... and what happens when your aren't.
  • I learned the difference between PRESSING and IRONING.  Especially when handling those bias edges...
  • I learned that quilting along the diagonal makes a very, very long line to quilt... knowing what I know now I'd zig zag up and down to get the same effect.
  • My only regret is that I didn't make it longer to fit the bed better... but I got tired of slapping tiny little squares together - my bad! Baby Honu Turtles

Here is my favorite quilt that I made for a gift.  It's the quilt I gave my granddaughter after her birth.  A few weeks ago she brought it out for the Visiting Nurse to lay her new baby brother on.  My daughter said she announced to the Nurse that "this is my Turtle Quilt my Granny made for me... she's a very good quilter!"  OH My... I do love that little girl. 


 Heart Quilt

Another quilt I love - it was the first real quilt that I finished.  I loved picking out the fabrics for it - it was a challenge as I was still a newbie.  It was for the first quilt class I took and it was the first quilt I sent out to be quilted.  My class 'neighbor' was a longarm quilter.  I enjoyed her friendship, appreciate her talents as a quilter, and enjoyed her as a student several years later when I began teaching at that same quilt shop!  So this quilt has a lot of great memories...

Oh and it was the first of many "there isn't a border I can't screw up".  Sometimes you cannot take shortcuts... like sewing the inner Pictureand outer borders together... unless you are doing a miter border - which I knew nothing about at the time.  This 'oops' cost me a ton of time and gas hunting down more of the background fabric.  And I still have that border fabric - maybe I should find something to use it with.

Finally... I love the scrappiness of this Broken Dishes quilt.  The blocks are from a year long block swap that went on at the quilt shop - and I only used about half of them!  Although I didn't make all the individual blocks - Broken Dishes 023I did design the quilt using Electric Quilt.  I had a lot of fun working different possibilities around in the program.  Again a quilt I wish I had made bigger - it fits on my King size bed but I wish it had more drop.  It's also the quilt that used the most fabric for a binding... a long sad tale of miscalculations and mistakes in cutting that ended up using up over 4 yards of fabric... yeah just for the binding.  Good news is that I have lots of precut black bias binding just waiting for a quilt... Broken Dishes 003

These are the individual blocks that I made through the year for the swap - there was a different color each month. I learned to hate lots of half square triangle methods... and learned to love the Triangle Square Up Ruler.


Well that's it... my favorites... sorry Judy I couldn't pick just one!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Very Merry Merry and A Happy Happy...

Today... I turn into a human tornado.  I've got to finish up getting ready for the 2 kiddos to arrive late tonight just before midnight... so I've really got ALL DAY!  The only hitch in my get along is I've got to drive out to the old vets office before noon to pick up anti-anxiety meds for the dog that didn't get sent by the online store I usually get them from.  I only ordered them 2 weeks ago (bad planning on my part I guess) and when the package finally arrived on Monday... her meds weren't there.  Frankly - killing the dog over the holidays doesn't make for happy memories... so either she gets her meds or I get some.  And she's the one with a prescription. So I'm off this morning in this sleety, rainy weather to pick some up.

Yeah so far this sounds a lot like my post about Timing being everything... remember those glasses that fell apart?  I got a call at 3:00 PM yesterday afternoon.  Good news!  My glasses were ready and the guy who does all that stuff would be in until 5:00 PM.  Great - but I had pies to make and cleaning to do... so I asked what their hours were on Wed... thinking they would maybe be working a half a day.  "We are back on Monday" she says...  ?What?  So off I went on my little trek to retrieve my glasses... which by the way is only about 15 from the vets office I have to visit today.  Yeah that timing thing isn't working in my direction this week.

But you know - this is the Holiday Season and none of this stuff is important in the end.  My kids will understand if I don't get the kitchen 'de-cluttered' - and we can cook the pies tomorrow morning as I think we are going to have our Christmas Feast for Supper... it will just make things easier and I'm all about easy.

I do appreciate all of you who take the time to come and visit and comment on occasion.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Spiced Nuts...

Another of my favorite holiday foods...

I received this recipe from a nice lady I worked with once upon a time... it was cheaper to give me the recipe than to continue to bring Spiced Nuts in for us... we were shameless beggars.

For a batch you will need....

  • 1/2 lb Shelled Walnuts
  • 1 lb Pecan Halves
  • 1 Egg WHITE
  • 2 TBSP Cold Water
  • 1/2 C Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Allspice
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cloves

Beat egg white until foamy - not as heavy as meringue but certainly to the fluffy stage without being too dense.

Add Water and Dry Ingredients (I mix the sugar and spices together first).  Toss in nuts and coat well.  Spread on a greased cookie sheet in one layer - use 2 cookie sheets if you need to because you want them to dry out completely.  Bake 45 minutes in a 275 degree oven.  Turn the oven off and leave nuts in for another 30 minutes to cool. 

I made a triple batch Sunday... hey don't go looking at my dirty oven or my 'geez don't ya ever scrub those' cookie sheets.  I've had those cookies sheets for more than 30 years... they are well seasoned... just like me.  I put all these in and set it for convection baking.... sweet!  Nothing got over or under done... I'm liking my new oven!

Spiced Nuts 001

I like to loosen the nuts from the pan with a spatula after this 30 minutes and when completely cooled store them in a covered tin or glass jars.  Please don't try to do this without greasing the pan... between the egg whites and the sugar IT'S GONNA STICK!  Ask me how I figured that out?  I've never tried those silicone baking sheets... they might work.

Spiced Nuts 003

These Spiced Nuts make nice gifts... one I certainly enjoyed receiving long, long ago!

Monday, December 22, 2008

My Favorite Holiday Treat...

It just doesn't seem quite like the holidays if I don't make some Cranberry Orange Relish.

I have decided that I need a new name for this because a relish means... Something adding a zestful flavor; a condiment eaten with other food to add flavor.

This is good enough to eat all by itself - just you, a bowl and spoon.  I've never made just one batch a season... usually I make several and almost always in a doubled batch.

This morning I made a single batch - because I only had one bag of cranberries in the fridge and it was snowing outside.

It's easy... wash a package of cranberries.  You want to sort out any that have gone soft and squishy.... I usually find them pretty easy while washing by taking a small amount in my hand and rolling them around.  You'll pick out the soft ones pretty quick.

Cranberry Orange Relish 002

This was a 12 oz package which gave me 4 cups - just what I needed.

Grate 1 Tablespoon of orange peel... (this is optional - sometimes I do and sometimes I don't if my oranges aren't pretty)

Cranberry Orange Relish 003

Then cut the peel off 2 oranges... I use to peel them by hand and spend a lot of time trying to make sure all the white stuff was removed... but have you ever tasted a fresh cranberry? Exactly... a little bit of orange peel isn't going to make a difference... it will be fine.  Then cube it up - not too small because we are going to throw them in the food processor anyway.  Make sure you remove any seeds.

Cranberry Orange Relish 004

Put one cup of walnuts in the food processor and chop.

Cranberry Orange Relish 005

Cranberry Orange Relish 006

Dump those into a big bowl and then add half the cranberries and half the oranges.... pulse to chop. 

Cranberry Orange Relish 008

Then do the other half and add that to your bowl.  These cranberries aren't finished yet...

 Cranberry Orange Relish 007

Add 1 cup of sugar and stir.

Cranberry Orange Relish 012 Cranberry Orange Relish 013

We love to eat it just like this - but boy howdy is it good on ice cream... or cheesecake... or yogurt.  You could mix it with some cream cheese and have a yummy spread or dip for crackers.  You could gift some to a neighbor who will love you forever.  You could use it as a relish and have a little with your holiday meal.... or you could do what my girls and I do and just eat a small bowl of it just like it is... YUM!

Should keep 2 weeks (LOL as if) in the fridge and freezes wonderfully!  Freezing part of the batch is the only way I can stretch it out and not eat it until it's gone!

I modified a recipe from the Better Homes and Garden New Cook Book.

  • 4 cups (12 oz. package) washed fresh cranberries
  • 2 medium oranges
  • 1 TBSP grated orange peel (optional)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup walnuts

Cranberry Orange Relish 014

Here was desert last night - Vanilla Ice Cream, Cranberry Orange Relish and some Spiced Nuts!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Timing is everything...

We all know and understand that concept...

You arrive for dinner someplace and sit right down and not 10 minutes later the place is full and people are waiting...

You get the last of the groceries in the door and the skies open up and dogs, cats, fish and a few hippos come raining down...

Some times these things work against you... like a car window falling out of it's track on Christmas Eve... as your daughter arrived home from finishing her holiday shopping with her bonus... yeah...

I took my glasses off yesterday morning and...


... yeah... just that easy!   Good news is that I haven't had them a year yet so it won't really cost me any money.  Bad news is that the eye place is back where we use to live - which will require another 35 minute trip when the new glasses come in - hopefully next week... but with the holidays and all... who knows?

Your kids want to drive down to visit for the holidays... and they are now forecasting snow for at least one of their travel days...

... this morning I couldn't wait and take the chance of not getting train tickets... so I booked them both on Amtrak and I splurged and put them in Business Class... that wasn't necessarily as much for their comfort as it was for mine.  I won't have to listen to any whining when they get here about the train being over crowded.

I've got some baking to do today... there is pumpkin bread that needs to be made (the puree has thawed) and I'm thinking it's a great day for Corned Beef Stew... mmmm yeah that sounds yummy and will last us through the weekend for lunches too!  I need to get the spiced nuts made too... that always makes the house smell yummy!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Progress... of sorts...

Boy that sure felt good... both physically and mentally.

I had resolved to exercise on a more regular basis... working on the third floor sorting out my sewing room has provided a lot of opportunity.

I get in a lot of squats and lifting weights boxes and I've done quite a bit of time on the stairmaster 3 flights of stairs.

It's amazing how much of a mess you can make trying to make things useful...

progress 005

That's a box full of bubble wrap and paper on the floor that I'll smooth out and put in another box.  I'd already flattened several boxes and those in the center there are empty and awaiting their turn at the knife.

progress 003

Last night I was able to unpack several boxes of quilting books, quilt magazines, and craft books - they have all gone on the wood shelf set into that cubbie space on the right of the window.  That space had previously been full of boxes - most of which are empty now... YEAH!

In the unpacking I found my Christmas CD's and the cable to my old camera - so now I can make merry music while I download pictures to my computer!  I also found my mouse and keyboard and as soon as I unearth the computer desk... I'll be able to set up my computer area too.

There is still a lot of moving and shoving around to do... but it is progress... light at the end of the tunnel so to speak.

By the weekend I plan to have my treadle sewing machine set up and my cutting table and large ironing board set into place and operational.  I will sew this weekend... yes I will!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Homemade Sauerkraut... Yum!

Back in early September while poking around on the Internet I followed a link from Gizmo Quilts Blog to The Milk Man's Wife Blog

There I found a post about canning Sauerkraut... and I have to tell you - I had never ever thought about how they make Sauerkraut.  She didn't go into how she made it - she only showed that she canned the leftovers from her last batch. 

My sauerkraut experience has been limited to eating it on hotdogs (think Costco) and on Reuben sandwiches (hold the cheese) - I don't think I've ever bought any to cook at home.  But I do like it... so I was intrigued... and did some research.

What I learned was interesting... Sauerkraut is very good for ya and fairly easy to make if you have the right equipment.  Homemade is suppose to be far superior in taste than the commercial stuff.  All that made me want to try it out... except that I didn't own a crock. 

One day in talking with my neighbor Mrs. B I found out that she use to make Sauerkraut each year and had her Mom's mandolin, crock, and stomper - items she said had belonged to her grandmother.  She suggested we make some together!

I wish I had a picture of the Crock and stomper she had... I guess I never paid any attention to Crocks - I didn't know they came that BIG!  And the stomper was impressive... kinda like a tapered cylinder wooden head on a long heavy pole. She didn't think we should make too much so she only got 9 heads of cabbage... yeah - 9 heads of cabbage is apparently not a lot. LOL  Who knew?  And these were giant heads - they all had to be at least 12-14 inches diameter.

cabbage_slicerI was very impressed with the mandolin - here is a picture of a new one.  We quartered the cabbage and put a couple quarters in the 'box'.  It's amazing how quickly you can shred 9 huge heads of cabbage with that thing.  Between the 3 of us cutting cabbage heads up, shredding cabbage, sprinkling salt, and stomping cabbage in the crock we were done in less than an hour.  We only filled the crock about 3/4 of the way... so yeah - 9 heads aren't a lot.  Then it sits for 6 weeks to ferment...

Last night Mrs. B made pork roast & sauerkraut for us for dinner with homemade applesauce and mashed potatoes.  YUM! 

Sauerkraut 001

I went over this morning with my 10 quart 'Red Pot' to fetch my portion.  She filled it up!  I had to transfer it to a 12 quart pot so that I could heat it up for canning.

But first I ran to the store for some hot dogs and buns...


Sauerkraut 002

Because this looked and smelled too good... I had to have some for lunch.

I almost forgot to take a picture... I splurged and had two dogs on my roll... with some stone ground mustard... Yuuummmmm!Sauerkraut 003

I didn't even want to wait for the dogs to cook so I split them so they'd cook faster....

Sauerkraut 004

Did I say this was Yummy?

Sauerkraut 005

And look... I've got 19 pints!


So do you make Sauerkraut?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Some Thoughts and Observations on Exercise...

  • If thinking about exercise were productive... I would be slim and trim...
  • Why can't those exercise DVD's use older ladies who are out of shape to show you how to do stuff?
  • I bought one of those big exercise ball... it came with a hand pump... I was worn out just blowing the darn thing up... honest - it's a workout all by itself.
  • How's your balance?  Mine seems to be a bit out of whack... and I'm not liking that idea at all... maybe it's just the ball... but it was a surprise it took more effort than I thought it would to balance.
  • Exercising makes my abs hurt... all 3 or 4 six packs of them.
  • I wish I still had my elliptical machine... I liked it even though it kept telling me to get off... no - actually it kept telling me to go slower... almost to the point of standing still which is almost like telling me to get off.
  • Lesson Learned:  Bring all ALL the Christmas Decoration Boxes out of the 3rd floor THIRD FLOOR Attic storage area and DOWN to the FIRST FLOOR before you begin your new exercise routine.  Because it would have been nice to have full use of my arms, legs, and the sorry excuse for abs...
  • I'm not waiting until after the holiday food is gone...
  • I'm not waiting to make it a New Years Resolution...
  • I've got to get going on it now... a little bit at a time... My plan is 3 days a week with the weekend off
  • It would be nice to drop the extra 10 or 15 20/30 pounds I tote around...
  • I just hope I can make good progress and get past the warm up exercises - yep that's my first goal... getting past the warm up exercises!

The exercise ball was just 19 dollars at WallyWorld and it comes with a DVD.  It's the Golds Gym 'Stay Ball' - which means it's got some sand or something in it that keeps it from rolling away and gives it a little bit of weight.

Care to join me? 

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I may have to take up a collection...

Just Look at those two sweet faces...

Keao Kai 08

I'm not sure I can wait for them to come here next summer - I might just have to go to Hawaii to snuggle on them. 

And did ya see that cute Little Tiny Hawaiian shirt he's got on! 

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Who was that last night?

We have 2 dogs

One I believe is part Texas Junk Yard Dog... she is certainly the protector of her little part of the Universe which unfortunately includes all that she sees and hears - and she hears very well.

'Last Call' in our house usually involves me having to wake the girls up and encourage them to go outside.  It's getting to be a bit more difficult as it has gotten colder... which I understand because I no longer go out with them and just watch from the door.  No sense them wandering around the yard forever afterwards because I'm ready to lock the door and head to bed.

Last night I sent TJYD out and she stopped right outside the dog door... and just stood there.  "Hurry up - get out in the yard" I had called several times while holding the dog door open with my foot... "Hurry Up!" 

Absolutely no response from her... she just stood there and stared out across the driveway towards the school next door.  There had been activity at the school earlier in the evening but everyone was now gone.  But something had her attention.  If she actually saw someone I knew she would be barking... and BARKING... and barking!  But she was just standing... and listening...

Curious as to what had her attention I ventured outside... "Hurry up - get out in the yard" I said again to no avail as she stood and listened.  But then I heard it... actually I heard it as I opened the door but thought it was a noise the door had made.

So I listened... TJYD and I standing and listening intently... it was close... I could tell, it was very close - but I couldn't yet see it.

Whoo, Whoo, Whooo.... Whooooo... Whooooo........

That totally had TJYD confused as she's apparently never heard an Owl... up close and personal like that.  I could tell it was very close.

After just a minute of listening and looking I found it in a branch overhanging the driveway to the school - probably not more than 20 feet above where we stood.

After some research this morning I've decided it was a Great Horned Owl.

It has a 'white collar' under his face... and that is what I could see in the dark last night... as he(she) turned to look at us.  He was just a large dark shape on the branch except for the faint reflection of light off his collar.

I'll have to keep an eye and ear out for him and see if I can get a picture...

So do you have owls near you?