Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving was a wonderful holiday for our little family this year. We stayed tucked into our house all day with the delicious aroma of roasting turkey all around us. We ate and laughed. We ate and reminisced. We ate and played games. Then we ate and played some more. We've recently added one more game to the game closet - Dutch Blitz.
It is easy to learn, fast paced, and just like the box says, "A Vonderful Goot Game." When alternated with the Chinese Checkers and Mexican Dominoes we have been playing the last few weeks, it seems like we have a game going at the table all of our waking hours.
I didn't get out to the stores or sales yesterday. The idea of tussling my way through traffic and crowds in search of a bargain becomes less and less appealing all the time. Today was a different story. I needed a gift for a gift exchange at a party this week. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to head out to Country Loft. The gift does not need to be quilt related but they have a wonderful supply of gifty things to choose from. No one really needed to twist my arm too hard to make the trip and Hubby was open to coming a long for the ride and a lunch date. In addition to the gift, look what came home with me. A new pattern and a dozen fat quarters.
I almost made it out, but Kathy made sure I was aware of the sale - Buy 8 fat quarters, get 4 free. Who am I to pass up such a deal?
Since we were in the neighborhood, we stopped in at Rosie's, too. Again I almost made it out without buying a thing. And then . . .
I went into the room with the brushed cottons and homespuns. The bolts practically started jumping off the shelves and into my arms. Hubby and I picked these out together. As soon as the holidays are over, I'm going to begin working on a quilt for our 30th anniversary. I just have a sort of overall vision of what I want and each of these will work perfectly in that vision. I'm sure I got far more than I'll need. What doesn't go into the front can go on the back any left after that will fit nicely in the stash.
But before that, Christmas decorating must be done. All of the fall things have been put away for this year. The Princess said it looked bare. After she left for work this afternoon, I started hanging Christmas quilts. It will look much cozier when she gets home this evening.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A turkey is a funny bird,
Its head goes wobble, wobble,
All it knows is just one word,
"Gobble, gobble, gobble."

Happy Thankgiving to one and all!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Preparations for Thanksgiving have begun in earnest. All the purchases were made over the weekend and I didn't even have to go inside the supermarket chain-store in my area. In putting the items away, it became clear that I might need to use some things up from the freezer to make a little room.
This morning I pulled out a couple of pounds of frozen asparagus and made soup. It is the easiest recipe in the world to make up. Not only did I make a little room in the freezer, I got some extra space in the fridge by using up a couple of partially used containers of broth. Every little bit helps at this point of the game. And the added bonus of no cooking for the next couple of nights.
It is easy to make the soup creamy with an immersion blender - a pretty snappy little tool. If you don't have one on hand, a regular blender or even a hand mixer will do the trick. Hubby likes it if the soup still has a few 'chunks' here and there.
The majority of my day was spent baking bread. Our carbohydrate intake is going to be HUGE this week. These loaves of white bread are destined to become seasoned cubes for turkey stuffing.These loaves of squaw bread will make some mighty tasty sandwiches with the leftover turkey.
This sponge will become sandwich bread as well. Yes, it is true - our family enjoys the leftover turkey in sandwiches more than the original meal. I have never used leftover turkey for anything but sandwiches. The rest of our holiday meal will be simple, but abundant. Seasoned herb stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, fresh green beans and cranberry sauce - the jellied kind that comes from the can. I think it's funny in an ironic sort of way that that is our favorite. Oh, I've made my own from fresh berries, but it's just not the same as those jiggly little slices neatly arranged on the plate.
In the cubby, I have been working on a secret project. The project itself isn't really a secret, I suppose. Still I want it to be a surprise when it's received. I will give just a little *hint* that wool is involved. Since the wool bin was out, I decided to start a project from a pattern I've had on hand for a few months now - Church Cat, by Cheri Payne.There are vines and flowers on either side of the cat and some embroidery embellishments here and there. It will make a nice evening television project as I slowly but surely build up my quilting callous working on Amish Pinwheels. The finger injury from last month is nearly all healed, just some faint bruising left under the nail. The only lasting effect is I completely lost that callous. Doggone it! I won't complain too much about it. Hubby keeps reminding me how lucky I am there isn't a bit of scarring from the cut and I have full use of my finger. That callous will come back.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

As the anniversary of my grandma's passing was approaching this week, I was drawn to pull out one of the several boxes of old photos that are kept on a closet shelf. Most of the photos are not labeled which sadly means that many of the people and places I cannot identify. Still if they were important enough for Grandma and Mom to hold on to then they are important to me, as well.
Here Grandma is a young woman, many years before I would know her. Based on trying to date the fashion she is wearing, I am guessing she was about 30 in the picture.
Grandma was the fourth of 10 children - 4 girls and 6 boys. This picture has the most family members of any I have found. Grandma is hugging the young man in the uniform, her nephew. He was held as a prisoner of war in WWII. Perhaps this picture was taken when he was safely returned home to his family. My mom is in the dark suit holding her cousin's hand. Also in the photo are my great grandparents and two of my grandma's sisters along with their husbands.
This photo is the one that shows Grandma looking the way I keep her in my mind. Still taken a few years before my birth, this is how she always looked to me.
I love that she's picking flowers. Many of my memories of Grandma are centered around flowers and gardening. She tended a rose garden and admired the gardens of her friends. At the county fair she wanted to spend all her time in the floral arrangements or textile displays. Grandma taught me how to embroider which gave me a lifelong love of working with my hands making things for home or gifts.
My first completed piece is this potholder stitched on an old flour sack and filled with a worn out wash cloth. I can still remember the pride I felt when the ladies at Grandma's weekly sewing circle made a big fuss over my work.
Grandma and I only had 14 years together but I feel like she's here with me every day. While she would probably be a little disappointed in how I tend my rose bushes, I think she would be mostly proud of how I've grown up. I hope I can pass on the things I learned from her to the generations to come.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Doesn't it feel good to put the last stitches in a project and call it done. Binding a quilt is the favorite part of the entire process for me. There's just something about the repetitive stitches, you know you are finishing but it also feels a little like a secret that is being sealed in the layers.
I got to have that fun feeling twice this week. First the snowball quilt with the applique stitched down and a few buttons to give the snowman a little personality.The second is the Stick Tree. The Princess was a little curious as to why this snowman doesn't have a body. That one was easy - because he's only a snowball.
Speaking of The Princess, I'm starting to wonder if I should give her a new name - The Scholar. Here she is working on a paper for one of her classes.
Oh I won't change her name. She has been The Princess since my dad first laid eyes on her. But I do marvel at her dedication to her studies. I remember when I used to have to nag, beg, bribe, cajole, and threaten just to get her to crack a book from time to time. Now her studies come first above all else. I tell ya, it makes a mom proud.
Now all of that study doesn't mean that a girl can't have some fun. We added another game to our cabinet last week - Dominoes, and set about learning to play the version called Mexican Train.
After struggling through a few hands at the table Friday evening, we felt as if we had a grasp of how to play by bedtime and planned to play some more on Saturday. In the morning, The Princess went over her day's schedule of study and work only to discover she wouldn't have much time for games that day. Well that just wouldn't do. What fun we had in our pajamas playing dominoes with breakfast. We may just be on to a new tradition.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

The holidays are creeping up on me faster than my mind can get in gear. It's true that I've been working on decorating and gift projects for a few weeks now, but the fact of just how close Thanksgiving and Christmas really are hit home while shopping at my favorite meat counter this week. There were signs all around reminding me it's time to place my order for the Thanksgiving turkey. That one little event unleashes a flurry of shopping, decorating, baking, cooking, card writing, mailing, visiting, movie watching, all mixed with liberal amounts of snacking, game playing and general merriment that will become the focus of the next six weeks. *whew* I think I'd better borrow a tip from the busiest of all at this time of year and start making a list and checking it twice. I don't want to forget anything.
Little bits of Christmas decorations are starting to show up around the house even before the boxes have been pulled from the garage rafters. I found these little make-do trees at the quilt shop. It is really fun to pick one up and listen to the jingle bells.
This little pack of fat quarters called my name from across the shop. They were 25% off, so I bought the little basket they were in, too. Just doing my part to help the economy.
I quilted up the two applique backgrounds that were pieced earlier this week. They have been bound and through the washer and dryer. They way they crinkle up fresh from the dryer just sends me over the moon every time.The Snowball quilt is all ready to applique. The Stick Tree has all it's pieces prepped, but not placed on yet. I kept the wool box out for just a little longer. There is one more, secret project that I need to get working on. That's the part of the holidays that I really enjoy - feeling like one of the elves.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

There has been a lot of action in the cubby over the last couple of days. A new pine needle scented candle burning nearby has been inspiring me to stay in the holiday spirit. Here is a look at the last batch of stockings to be used as gift wrap this year.
Every bit of the stocking project came from stash and scraps. While some gifts will be sent to away, many of these will find a home under our tree. A nice, green solution to paper wrapping - especially since they can be used again next year and beyond.
I dove back into the scraps and pieced backgrounds for the two patterns I picked up over the weekend. I adjusted the size of the snowballs on this top to accommodate the pre-cut squares I have on hand. I'll get a border stitched on this morning.
This is the background for the Stick Tree. Because it is very much like Spooky Tree that I made for Halloween, I changed up this background, too. Using some more of those 5" squares that I have on hand, I started out making a disappearing 9 patch. Then there was an 'oops' in cutting. I just stitched a strip on the shorted 'oops' and moved ahead. It was no surprise when the layout wasn't exactly right either. No worries - it will just add to the primitive feel of the finished project.
I plan to quilt, bind and wash both of these backgrounds before I add the applique. The quilting will be my goal for today.
These little guys have been done for a while, I just kept forgetting to take their picture.
I never stop being amazed at the little quilts I can find in that scrapbox.
It's Veteran's Day today. A very special thank-you from me to Hubby and The Princess and the countless other men and women who serve their nation proudly and honorably in the Armed Forces.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Happy Birthday United States Marine Corps!Thank you for 233 years of faithfully protecting our country and making it strong.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

I had been anticipating Saturday morning and a trip to Old Town Temecula all week. I was in possession of a little postcard notice that one of my favorite primitive shops, Rooster Creek (no website,) was having their holiday open house. Hubby and I got ourselves ready to hit the road nice and early. I can always find a little something in that shop and this time was no exception. While I didn't pickup any holiday items, I came away with some decorating ideas and some fabric.They have a small selection of wool on the bolt and much of that was on sale! One piece of wool and two new homespuns just had to come home with me.
Only a couple of doors down from Rooster Creek is The Quilter's Coop, another on my list of favorites. Not only do they have a great selection of fabrics and inspiring samples, they have a supply of patterns by Cheri Payne. As you can see, a couple just had to come home with me.A fella like Hubby should only have to take so much fabric shopping, so we took a break for some lunch before we started browsing our way through the antique shops. From past experience, I know that I find the best stuff when I don't have anything in particular in mind. I found this bowl tucked in the corner of a booth in one of the shops.
I shared my love of old bowls in a previous post. This new addition to my collection is an exact match to one I already have only one size larger. I can hardly wait to use it. Hubby and I had such fun on our little shopping excursion. Just the right kind of get-away day.
When we got home the fun wasn't done. There was a package on the porch from an order I had placed with Lehman's. We have been wanting some new games for the family to play during the holidays and beyond. I just couldn't resist this Chinese Checkers game. It will be fun to play and it will look great hanging on the wall.
I think I'll pop some corn to fill that new bowl, fill mugs with hot chocolate and we'll have some good, old-fashioned family fun around the table tonight.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I can still remember the first time I tasted a pomegranate. I was in kindergarten and the lesson had to do with the five senses. There was a table set up where we could test our sense of taste. Those little red seeds were so fun to pop in my mouth. When they burst open and the tasty juice filled my mouth I knew I wanted more.
Every fall, my mom would reluctantly buy the fruit for me. I was always admonished to eat it outside and try, just try to keep it from getting on my clothes. As time passed, I grew up and became responsible for my own laundry and stain removal. Those pomegranates didn't seem like the delightful treat of my childhood.
Then a couple of years ago, I saw a program on The Food Network that showed how to get all that ruby goodness from the fruit without the telltale stains on your fingers and clothes. I just couldn't believe the simple solution they were offering me - do all the peeling underwater. The seeds (pips) are filled with juice and heavy; they sink right to the bottom. The pith and peel float right to the top, easily skimmed and tossed away. It really works. I can once again enjoy a fall favorite.
Speaking of The Food Network, is anyone watching The Chef Jeff Project? When I first saw commercials, I thought it would be easy to dismiss as just another reality chef/cooking challenge show. You know lots of shouting, unrealistic menus prepared under odd circumstances and contestants working more diligently at sabotaging one another than at delivering a good product. I'm happy to say that is not the case at all. The program is about mentoring and giving second chances to kids who could really use a boost to turn their lives around. No one is voted off. Each of the six aspiring chefs featured has the opportunity to win a culinary scholarship at the end of the show. I have my fingers crossed that all six will make it to the end.
I've finished another batch of stockings. They really are addictive to make.
With prep done for another five, I think I'll halt production when they are complete until everyone has done some holiday shopping.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yesterday morning we woke to our first measurable rain. It had been threatening for several days and teased us with a few drops here and there on the patio. It seems like we are forever behind in annual rainfall here, so we will take any bits we can get.
The weather seemed right for a nice big pot of something cooking on the stove all day long. So I got myself together, stopped by my polling place to vote then headed to the market to pick up ingredients for Pork and Green Chili Stew.
I adjusted the recipe slightly by substituting roasted Anaheim peppers from our summer garden and browning the pork cubes in a skillet. That extra step is well worth the time in added flavor.
To go along with the stew, I made Indian Fry Bread. I remember making this back in elementary school with my Camp Fire Girls group as part of a study on native Americans. Of course before dinner was on the table, the rain had long since passed giving way to a sunny, bright afternoon. No one in the family complained though.
Today there are plenty of leftovers in the fridge, leaving me to spend my day in the cubby working on more stockings. Hopefully I'll have a new batch of them to share next time.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Again many thank you's for each of the kind get better soon wishes you have sent my way. Today I graduated to a smaller and more manageable bandage - cute to look at but still a little protection. Swelling has gone down enough that I can bend that joint just a little. I haven't lost the nail . . . so maybe I won't. The dark spot in the second picture is a bruise that goes around to the front. It still makes me queasy just thinking about it.
But I won't let a quilting injury stop me. A girl's gotta get right back on that horse and ride. Here is the project I was working on - Marcie's Christmas Sparkler. Hasn't she come up with another wonderful design?
The quilting is not my best work. I finished it just as soon as I bandaged my finger up but before I realized just how bad I felt. Once it's been washed it will crinkle up, get that cozy look and no one will ever know the difference.
Slowly but surely I've been getting some quilting stitches in the Amish Pinwheel. It's starting to look as if this will be my winter's hand quilting project. There's nothing at all quick about hand quilting, but it sure is satisfying and relaxing.
I was able to get back to the stocking project this weekend as well.

They really are fun. The stockings on the left are made from strips sewn together randomly to look like candy canes. I lined them with left over pieces of batting. While I like the feel, I don't think I'll do more with the batting which took up more space than you would imagine. The others are from the tea dyed muslin and machine appliqued. This entire project has come from the scrap bin and stash.
I did use a pattern for the first batch, now I'm just winging it. A stocking shape is very simple to draw out on freezer paper. I've gone through my patterns and books looking for fun shapes and designs to use for applique. Some of the rusty bells will be used for embellishing. I hope to make another batch later in the week. First I need to purchase more fusible web.
Speaking of the rusty bells, you can find the tutorial for rusting items here. Please be very careful with the solution, it odor is caustic at best. Clearly it can't be good for you, your family or pets to breath those fumes. Also be sure to find a safe place to dispose of any left over. If it rusts bells - just think what it would do to your pipes. Mine is in a sealed jar that I intend to take to the hazardous recycle center in our area.