Monday, August 18, 2014

Bloom where you are planted

We pass by this sunflower on our walk around the neighborhood.  When I first noticed it, I never imagined that it would make it this far.  Hardy little flower for sure! 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

One of the most viewed posts on this blog has nothing do with quilting at all.  Tomato Pie was a favorite around our house, too.  Then along came our eating and fitness lifestyle change in late 2012 after Hubby's heart surgery.  Suddenly Tomato Pie didn't fit in anymore  . . . and we were sad.  I found other delicious, heart-healthy recipes to help fill the void.
In the American Heart Association Cookbook is a great recipe for a Tomato Basil Soup.  It is a go to for me because it is not only healthy, but easy and delicious.  I have modified it to suit our taste and dietary needs by subbing Greek yogurt for non-fat sour cream, swapping out water for chicken broth, don't add sugar.  That's the great thing with recipes, you can play around and really make them your very own.
The addition of a spiral slicer to the kitchen has meant that we have taken traditional pasta out of the pantry.  Now that zucchini is coming in in abundance, think about replacing pasta with vegetables.
Here I spritzed some zucchini strings with some olive oil.  Added some grape tomatoes.  Then roasted in the oven for about 20 minutes at 400f.  Add a couple of grates of Parmesan or add a little pesto.
Both of these ideas make regular appearances on our dinner table.  Delicious but they ain't no Tomato Pie!
Then last week, the latest AARP  magazine showed up in our mailbox.  I regularly deposit the same directly into the recycle bin as a form or rebellion (or perhaps denial) that I am, in fact, eligible to receive such a publication.  This month, though, the magazine landed on the table where it stayed for a few days.  Bored while eating lunch, I leafed through the pages and there it was!
Tomato Cobbler!  Okay, it's still a little high in sodium for maintaining our stated goal of 1300 -1500mg  per day.  Easy enough to take care of - I rarely add salt when following a recipe and we now view cheese as a minor garnish rather than an ingredient these days.
Next time I will use more tomatoes - they really (REALLY) cooked down.  Also I will do a better job with the biscuit topping.  I should have used smaller blobs so they might not have become one in the baking.
There you have it my friends.  Keep that Tomato Pie recipe in your arsenal.  It is a delicious recipe perfect for that special once-per-summer meal.  But try out the soup, roasted veggies, and Tomato Cobbler for a healthier way to enjoy the wonderful bounty of summer.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A quilter's confessional - continued.
In my last post, I shared my shame with my inability to complete projects.  What I left out of the equation was falling down the rabbit hole known as Pinterest.  I avoided Pinterest with all of my might for a very long time.  I had a long established habit of bookmarking photos, tutorials, recipes, and websites that interested me.  It worked.  I didn't need or care to change to something else.  But I realized that the computer on which I stored this mass of information was becoming VERY unstable.  When it dies (and it surely will) all of those bookmarks will be forever lost to who knows where.
So I opened a Pinterest account, added the Pinterest app on my phone and set out to get all that information in a place where I could find it without depending on a particular device.  Simple but time consuming.  And heck as long as I was there, I might as well look around and see what all the hubbub has been about. I started 'following' a few folks to see where their pins might lead me.  Oh dear, now look what has happened  . . . . 
I found this pinned on Linda Brannock's board.  I love and admire her work.  I vaguely recalled some abandoned blocks I had stuffed in the bottom of a scrap bin from a quilt that just never went anywhere.  When I dug them out, I discovered I had 14 and the start of 2 more.  It was like kismet.  I pulled out a fabric from the stash for the inner border.  Just enough for that and a binding.  Added the wide muslin border, selected a back from the stash.  
 *voila* Another top for the 'Basket of Incompletes.'  If you happen to be a fan of infomercials, at this point you will be so excited because  . . . . . . wait there is more!
The Lone Star top that I shared in the last post was originally supposed to have a different border treatment.  Half log cabin blocks set on point.  I trudged through making the half loggies, but just couldn't muster up any excitement toward piecing them into the intended borders.

So I took the lazy way out, used straight borders on the Lone Star to get that top ready for the 'Basket of Incompletes.' Then turned to Pinterest for inspiration for my orphan blocks.
Here's what I have so far.
 I have a total of 36 of these blocks.  When it's all assembled, I'll have a top that is 60" square.  Something about wide expanses of muslin seems to be calling my name these days.  I can always tea dye, if I want to later down the line.  And I'm using up some stash.  Viva 'Basket of Incompletes!'

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hello Friends!  I'm still here.  I'm a VERY bad blogger these days, only slightly less so when it comes to quilting - but the days are full and life is great.
Let me start by apologizing to those of you who have tried, in vain, to contact me by leaving a comment on a post.  I have a vague remembrance of setting my comments to 'moderation' but did not realize that I would actually have to check in to see that there were comments pending.  I thought any comments would continue to arrive in my email box where I would see them and publish from there.  I couldn't have been wronger!  So sincere apologies and thanks for checking in on me over these last empty blogging months.  I'm here, I'm good and I do intend to keep this blog alive, though probably not with any sort of regularity that there was in years past.
So what has been happening?  Not much in the way of quilting.  At least nothing that could be considered finished.  Here is the evidence of my shame:
I do not know, nor do I care to count, how many tops are in this basket.  But this represents the last 3 years of my work give or take a couple that actually did ascend to full-fledged quiltdom.  And while I do feel a certain measure of shame at my inability to finish a project, that has NOT stopped me from continuing to start new things.
This one has now reached the stage where it can be folded to join its brethren in the basket of incompletes.
But why stop there?  
With a partner in crime, I have taken on Cheri Payne's Common Threads quilt.  Our stated goal was a block a week.  That has smoothed out to something more like - a week or two of no progress with a burst of two or three blocks completed all at once.  Whatever it takes for us to encourage, drag, cajole or otherwise get the quilt made, it's okay by me.  Who knows, maybe I'll even get it quilted?
So what am I doing with my time instead of making quilts?  Well, I joined a gym.  Scratching your head?  I know I still am as I came to the decision voluntarily.  Initially my plan was to swim laps but the chlorine was making my hair crappy and it was difficult to find a time when the pools was not crowded.  So in an even MORE puzzling and very unlike me move, I started taking yoga classes which then lead to Pilates classes.  Honestly, I'm shaking my head as I just read those words on the screen.  Two classes of each each week.  I'm also doing a lot of walking.  I walk somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 or so miles per week.  Hubby and I are planning on walking a 5k in November to celebrate his successful surgery.  Then in January we are planning on walking a half marathon with The Princess, some sisters-in-law, a few cousins, their families and some friends,  It should be a fun weekend.
We still enjoy frequent and regular visits to The Happiest Place On Earth.  This Hipster Mickey shirt is my most recent acquisition.  I know I border a little on Disney obsession, but Hipster Mickey really appeals to me.
Then just to keep things from getting dull, last weekend Hubby and I joined in a free ukulele lesson offered by a local music shop.  30 minutes of instruction gave us the ability to strum 4 different chords.  It was fun.  Honestly, you cannot be unhappy when a ukulele is being played.
So we bought our very own, along with a bag, a tuner, a book of music.  And suddenly that 'free' class wasn't so free anymore.  Of course, I get more practice time during the day.  We are both able to play Happy Birthday at this point.  There are more (paid) classes in August.  We are definitely signing up.  Who knows, maybe I'll break out that guitar I've had since I was 12 and have never learned to play. 
And then there's Larkin.
Anytime I might have that would feel like 'free time' is  filled by her.  She celebrated her 2nd birthday in June.  She is beginning to mature  . . . just a little, and does not require constant attention and monitoring.  We play and talk a lot.  She is quite the little comedienne.  But she's sweet and snuggly, too.  There was a time we gave her the nickname The Pickle.  She just didn't seem to want to learn what we needed her to learn.  That nickname has morphed in the Sweet Pickle, she's not so vinegary anymore.
If you've stayed with me this long, congratulations.  This has been a long and rambling post.  I don't make promises on when I'll be back, but I will.  Tomorrow marks the beginning of my 9th year with this blog, I've no intention of stopping now  . . . . just maybe slowing down a little.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Today on my design floor.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Thursday, March 06, 2014

California is in a drought.  My dishwasher is on the fritz.  While these two statements appear to have nothing in common on the surface, they certainly clashed in my mind and got me to wondering  . . . .
Would it be better for our state's water situation (and help me to achieve the recommended 20% reduction of water consumption) by continuing to wash dishes by hand?  *hmmm*  Two people, three meals plus a snack or two each day - this usually takes me a day or a little more to fill the dishwasher.  We have ample dishes and utensils to accommodate that.  Still there is always a little something that requires hand washing.  So as long as I'm hand washing, why not just do them all?
But that really didn't answer my question.  So I did what any able-bodied woman of the 21st century would do -  I consulted Google.  It seems that the answer is:  whatever you want it to be.
I found a study conducted in Europe that clearly concludes that hand washing uses gallons and gallons more water per meal than a dishwasher.  That study, however, makes it clear that the participants left water running in the sink the entire time they were washing dishes.  Even while drying and putting away!
I found an article, published by the manufacturer of a major home appliance brand, that showed in no uncertain terms that a dish washing machine is far preferable to the drudgery that is hand washing.  This article was quickly refuted as untrue in a rebuttal because it didn't take into account the cost savings from not buying that appliance in the first place.
The last article I read broke it down into actual cost per load of dishes, including buying the appliance, supplying and heating the water, and the electricity to run the dishwasher for a total cost of $3.80 per hour.  The author concluded that time spent with her family while the dishwasher did the work was far more valuable than that paltry $3.80.
That's when I stopped reading and paused to reflect for just a moment.  I spent time with my mom every day while doing the dishes.  We did so after every meal.  She washed.  I dried.  I could probably count on one hand the number of times I was allowed to wash.  Even into adulthood, I could not be trusted to do a proper cleaning.  So I dried.  And as I dried, I thoroughly inspected every item hoping against hope that I would find a speck of something that would let me send it back to Mom for a re-wash.  Those triumphs were rare, but I revelled each time.
There was a definite hierarchy to the order of things.  Glasses and cups first.  Next silverware went to the bottom of the sink while plates and bowls were cleaned.  Up came the silverware, one piece at a time.  Last but not least pots, pans and bake ware.  As we neared that final round, I was quietly surveying what might take an extra long scrub to remove debris then begin my campaign to soak.  Oh how I hated just standing there while Mom scrubbed and scrubbed with precision and dedication to detail like no other.  Most attempts were futile, but we would both laugh heartily at my perseverance just the same.
I can say with all honesty that washing (or in my case drying) dishes has never been my favorite chore.  I'm sure that for most of my teen years, my part was served up with plenty of eye rolls and heavy sighs.  But now the memories of the time Mom and I spent in the kitchen warm my heart and bring a smile to my face.
I never did find the answer to my original question - will I conserve water with washing by hand or machine?  What I have concluded is that time is our most precious commodity.  Whether we spend it at leisure or in mundane tasks matters not, it's that we spent it together making memories with the ones we love most.