Tuesday, August 30, 2011

And the resurgence continues. After painting the downstairs bathroom at the end of July, I had decided to dedicate one day per week to painting. The plan was to work on the trim throughout the downstairs. Let me just say that painting trim is the just the worst part for me and I thought that if I got that done first, I couldn't just decide it would be 'good enough' and skip over it.
But as with so many things that I try to plan and schedule, painting got pushed back. That is until yesterday.
A good part of the day was dedicated to the dread task. I have worked my way of of the 'laundry hall' as well as the hallway that leads to the stairs and made my way into the sewing space (and some natural light.) First I work on the molding up top. When I get bored of being on the step ladder, I take a break to sit on the floor and work on the base moldings. I am so looking forward to rolling color on those walls that I might even paint trim for a second day this week.
Heaven knows I have found a little more time each day since the haircut.
No more planning out time in the day to get that hair dry. *hmmmmm* Maybe I should think about a new quilt project to use that extra time.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

It is almost impossible to believe that 20 years have come and gone. Some days it feels like just a minute ago and others it seems like such a surreal and distant thing. On this day in 1991, my mom lost her battle with cancer after a long and valiant struggle. She fought hard, she complained little, and on that last day she left on her terms. Except for wishing she was here with us still, we couldn't have asked for anything more.
To mark the day, Hubby and I have signed up for a half-marathon that we plan to walk later in the year. We will make a donation in Mom's name to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and then hit the streets. Also I'm sending off 10" of my hair that was cut this week to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. It is all precious little, but every little bit helps for those that are still in the fight.
Miss you, Mom!

Friday, August 26, 2011

My word of the month has been resurgence. First I finally shook off the last bits of the debilitating summer cold that consumed much of July. Then I pulled out a long neglected quilt project and started working on it again.
I am ready to start stitching the third row of pennies down.
It feels like a long time since I have worked on applique and I am enjoying it very much.
On my Kindle, I am currently reading Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl. An interesting and humorous look at her time as the food critic for the New York Times. Ruth is causing me to think more about the food I'm eating and what it tastes like. Can I taste the earth in carrots? Maybe a hint of sea in scallops? I find I am making each meal a little more of an experience rather than a means to fill the hole.
Best of all, though, are the recipes tucked into the stories she shares. Last night for dinner I prepared her Spaghetti Carbonara accompanied by a tomato salad. For dessert -
Apricot Upside Down Cake!
I am still finding my way around the new kitchen. I need to rearrange some cabinets and drawers to better fit how I work there and then look out. I'm pouring through the cookbooks and stalking the farmer's markets. There's a resurgence in the kitchen as well.

Monday, August 22, 2011

I am truly reaping the benefits of living in the same time zone as The Princess. Case in point - this weekend, we got to have a mother/daughter slumber party. With Hubby away, The Princess came over in the afternoon with her little ditty bag. First on the agenda was a movie that neither of us had heard of but enjoyed very much. We stopped here to pick up some sushi and noodles on the way home.
Daisy is very much 'one of the girls' and joined us while we junked out on tv and snacks - chocolates for the humans and puppy biscuits for furry one. We slept in a little on Sunday, had a nice breakfast before The Princess had to get going. Laundry waits for no one.
When Hubby arrived home in the afternoon, we watched the first episode of The Sandwich King on The Food Network. Jeff Mauro (The Sandwich King) is the latest winner of The Next Food Network Star which we had kept up all summer long. Since we had cheered for Jeff to win, we made sure to not miss his show. I think this season they really picked a winner. For the first time, we knew we would be trying the recipes right away.
Tonight's dinner Mortadella and Fig Focaccianini*.
I used a prepared fig spread that I already had on hand and provolone cheese. Delish! The greens on the plate are baked kale chips*. Another success but if you try the recipe, don't make them ahead. They lost some of their crispness in the bowl after a couple of hours.
Now that the kitchen is cleaned up, it's time to settle in for the night and take a few stitches in something.

*click links in post for recipes*

Thursday, August 18, 2011

One downside about moving from sea to shining sea (and back again) in under two years is having to face the disgrace that is a stash of incomplete projects. Remember I said ONE - stay tuned for future posts with a similar theme.
I have my full quilter's share of unfinished projects with a list just as long of reasons for them remaining incomplete. Those reasons run the gamut from just plain losing interest to waiting for the 'perfect' fabric for that final border. The subject of my post today has to do with lack of confidence. That's right, lack of confidence. I thought about it for a while and realized that is was never a lack of skill, I just couldn't quite figure out how to undertake the next step.
I found the first mention of this project on Oct. 19, 2007. Followed quickly with a post on October 21, 2007 and then again on October 25, 2007. I have very clear memory of stitching my fingers til they were practically numb while watching coverage of the wildfires raging in our area. I mentioned my progress again on November 5, 2007 and finally on December 12, 2007.
That's the point where I reached the end of my confidence, stuffed everything into a large paper bag and waited for the quilting elves to arrive under cover of dark and finish it for me.
I guess they never received the change of address card.
This morning I went out to the garage, rooted around in some of the yet unpacked boxes of quilting supplies and projects, and brought it once more into the light of day. Most of the pennies just required a little pressing. Others needed a shot of steam.
The magazine pages are a little rumpled and crumpled, due in part to my leafing through them again and again as well as from their 6,000 plus mile journey.
But the good news is that I have had some sort of quilting epiphany. I had been struggling with how to lay out the pennies in even rows for applique (without some sort of elaborate use of rulers - gotta keep it simple.)
I have a plan. I am ready to stitch. This quilt has been waiting a long, long time. I threw away the paper bag so there are no excuses left and no place for it to hide.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Half-way through the week . . . . already! How in the world did this happen? Well for starters the weekend was a whirlwind of fun that began on Friday afternoon and lasted all the way through Monday afternoon. We had guests that arrived Friday and I planned an itinerary to keep us hoppin', starting with pizza at home with Guests, The Princess, Boyfriend, Hubby and me.
Saturday morning after leisurely breakfast and coffee, we headed out for a visit to the new (well, new to us) Legoland Aquarium.
It was educational, playful, well-laid out and definitely geared toward kids. Please notice Hubby's head inside the tank in the middle pic - so let's say geared toward kids of all sizes.
After an enjoyable lunch, we stopped by the house to give Daisy a little romp before heading to the movies to watch The Help. I usually don't care to see movies after I have read the book because I end up being disappointed, not the case this time. I hope that Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer receive multitudes of awards for their work.
Sunday began with another leisurely morning over breakfast and coffee. But the day ramped up Linkby visiting a local street art show and sale before over to a theater performance of Ah Wilderness! The entire group of us are lovers of live theater, but Hubby and I were particularly interested in this play because of its connection with the town we lived in while in MA. While there was an opportunity to stay for a cast chat after the performance, we quickly headed home to meet up again with The Princess and Boyfriend for a backyard BBQ, a bonfire and some great photos from our guest's trip to Africa. (How wonderful to learn that you can plug a memory stick into our television and advance the pictures with the remote control . . . . like a modern day slide show!)
Come Monday morning, Hubby had to say his goodbyes early on his way to work. But the rest of us managed a leisurely morning of breakfast and coffee that lasted beyond noon, when they had to hit the road for home. Not wanting to start any big projects so late in the day, I did a minimum of straightening, played with Daisy, then put the finishing stitches in quilt bindings.
Three completed quilts! I cannot remember the last time such a thing happened around here. Sure feels good, especially that part when you pull the quilts all warm and crinkly soft from the dryer. Yum!
Speaking of yum, the Quilt Pals will be over this evening for stitchin' and chattin'. We all know that quilters require sustenance. When I couldn't think of a thing that I wanted to go out and buy for a refreshment, I decided to just make something at home. How about some Snickerdoodle Cookies.
Pre-heat oven to 400f.
In a small bowl combine 2 3/4 c flour, 2 tsp cream of tartar, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt.
Set aside.
In a mixer bowl, combine 1/2 c shortening, 1/2 c softened butter, 2 eggs and 1 1/2 c sugar
mix on medium speed until creamy.
Begin adding flour mixture to form cookie dough.
Refrigerate for one hour.
Form small balls of dough and roll each in a mixture of 2 tsp sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon.
(mix the two together unlike this photo) If you have leftover cinnamon sugar, make toast for breakfast tomorrow.
Place coated cookies on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.
Remove from cookie sheets to cool.
I gotta go, those Pals will be here soon and there are still more cookies to finish up.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hey - does everybody know what time it is?
It's tomato pie-time!

******several commenters have requested the recipe - among them are more than a few folks set at "NO-REPLY" which means that I can't send you a funny little email that lets you know to just click on the words 'tomato pie' for the link to the recipe.******

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Wanna know the truth? I started out the day with a bit of dread. Why? Because today's agenda began with a trip to the local base to have my military dependent identification card renewed. As a retired Marine, Hubby's identification card is issued for life. For me, I have to get a new card issued every four years and I just never look forward to it.
Because in the past this one thing can take two, three or more hours, we left with fully charged Kindles - ready for the wait. Usually Hubby will remind me of a recruiting poster that was popular at the time he joined the Marine Corps. Imagine our complete surprise and subsequent happiness at being in/id'd/out in under 30 minutes - including a new card for Hubby that does not show a social security number and a sticker for our truck! The clerks were friendly, knowledgeable and made eye contact!
The best part was not that we were able to take a reminiscing drive around the base or stop for breakfast before Hubby needed to get to work, but that the young people and their families now serving their country are being treated with dignity and respect - their time is valuable and so are they.
Now I have a whole unplanned afternoon to fill up. Back in June, I started a new project that got put away while I prepped for quilt camp and there it has stayed
until today. I added a few more blocks to the pile. It won't be long and I'll have all the blocks ready to start putting the top together.
I also got the bindings sewn on two quilts.
All ready for the hand stitching. I have a date with the Quilt Pals tomorrow evening - guess what I'll be working on?

Saturday, August 06, 2011

It all started innocently enough. In a recent post, I shared a butter churn that was gifted to me. Milah left a comment suggesting a wooden checkerboard as a topper. What a great idea! Faster than you can say 'quarter inch seam,' I was searching the internet for vintage checkerboards.
Before you know it, I have found an old red, white and blue quilt for sale on eBay. To my recollection, I had not seen 9 patches set in this particular way before. After zooming on the photo to look more closely at the quilting, I notice the fabrics.
Hey! I have fabrics in my stash that are very much like those used in the vintage quilt - just different colors.
This is the quilter's equivalent of a 'triple-dog-dare-ya'. Soon I was settled in at the sewing machine for a day of sewing, cutting strips, sewing 9 patches, putting rows together. By late afternoon all that was left to piece were the few border blocks that needed some cyphering.
Back at it this morning after the breakfast dishes were cleared. *ta da*
A completed top that finished at 25" square. The original has more rows and measures large enough for a full-size bed which explains the border treatment on three sides only. I hope my attention span holds long enough to get it quilted and bound.
I do have a finish to share - one of the log cabin quilts from the June Lake Quilt Camp.
On Wednesday, the Quilt Pals came over for an evening of stitching. We had a guest Pal. Dawn from Collector with a Needle joined us. I hope we didn't scare her off, 'cuz we'd love to have her come back again and join the fun.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

It's a fact, we are on our way. To where? To turning this house into our home. Hubby helped me put the finishing touches on the downstairs powder room last night. What began as a simple, 'Hey - let's paint the bathroom.' Turned into a redo of all other than the vanity and throne.
We pulled out the mirror that covered the entire wall.
And replaced it with a vintage mirror that came from my mom's home. Also installed a new light fixture - something a little plainer than the fixtures throughout the house.
The new mirror left room to hang other things on that wall.
A stitchery from one of Cheri Payne's books. On the adjacent wall, we hung a flower press. the counter top has a few knickknacks gathered from all around the house. Before we knew it, there was a definite birds-and-bees-theme happening.
This little birdhouse found a new home.
It fits in perfectly and makes good use of the hook in the ceiling. I have already tried a plant there, but the lack of sun makes it a pretty hostile environment.
I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. It inspired me to continue. Next up the 'laundry hall' and the quilting space.
In other decorating news, I came up with a topper for the butter churn.
Not sure this is the final, permanent solution. For now it works just dandy. The bonus: the tray was right here in the house. Love when that happens . . . and Hubby LOVES it more!
Over the weekend, I got the last stitches in the binding of the June Lake Camp Quilt. Yesterday it received a coffee bath and dried in the sun.
I love how the coffee takes the harshness out of the white and took down the brilliance of a couple of the pinks. Now it looks like one of my quilts. Those are my favorite kind.