Monday, December 14, 2009

Candy recipe

I've finished another couple of quilts, and have three more to go before I go make a delivery to Albuquerque on Thursday. The quilt express is rolling along. Fortunately Pat likes to piece and is way faster than I am. Thanks as well to all my quilting buddies that are cleaning out their stashes of orphan blocks!

Here is the recipe for Chocolate Coconut Balls . It came from Pauline Stringer, who had a PhD in Home Economics when that was my major in California some 30 years ago. (I didn't stick with it.)

Mix together in a large bowl, stirring well:
1 stick melted butter or margarine (butter is best)
2 cans flaked coconut = 14 oz. (no longer comes in can)
1 can condensed sweetened milk (Eagle Brand)
4 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
4 teaspoons vanilla

Add 2 boxes (=2 lbs.) powdered sugar and mix thoroughly.

Form into small balls. At this point I usually chill so it holds together when dipping in melted chocolate.

Melt 2 packages chocolate chips in double boiler with 1/4 square parafin.

Dip each one and set on wax paper. If you refrigerate it at this point, it will get freckles...won't be attractive, but will still taste great. One warning, this makes A LOT. Good to do with many small or large hands to form the balls.

Here is the other quilt that Pat put together from leftovers. It's small, but then so are some of the newly diagnosed kids. Dr. Kaufman is on call over Christmas, and this is always the most difficult time of year to have this kind of news. Not that there is ever a good time...

I'm off to the dentist for teeth cleaning, and unlike Dr. Stringer, I don't think I'll be taking any candy to mine.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

And the winner is...

Linda P. Congratulations, and I'll be mailing your package out today or Monday! I have finished a few things besides aprons. Another pair of socks.

This was the expensive wool I bought at a yarn shop, which I'll probably not do again, and I'm hoping it is indeed "super wash" and doesn't shrink. Somehow $27 for a pair of socks that I have to make myself is just wrong! I have a bit of yarn leftover and I'm working on making some cuffs, or fingerless mitts with the it. I'm sort of adapting the sock directions since I love the two at a time on cirular needles method. I could use something on my hands in the morning while I sit at the computer before solar gain takes over heating my space. We do have a gas heater, but since we lower the thermostat to 60 during the night, it takes a while to warm the house up in the predawn hours.

Lindsay came and spent the night and we did some holiday cooking. We made a full batch of the coconut/nut balls for dipping in chocolate, and I thought we'd never finish! It had been a long time since I made a full recipe. Fortunately the garage was just the place to set the trays while I waited to melt chocolate, dip them, and then let them "set." I do like them way too much and there was a lot of sampling.

I still need to bake cookies and the cardamom bread that I made last year. I also finished quilting and binding a small quilt, and will have another batch for delivery if I can get one a day done. That will keep me in the sewing room away from all the chocolate that is calling out to me!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Sewing and sewing...

It all started when I was reading the quilting forum, and someone mentioned they were getting rid of their jeans stash. Well, I have (had) a big Rubbermaid tub full of salvaged jeans. I thought that sounded like a good idea, and so I decided to go through my own denim stash after I saw this cute apron. Well, I had a lot of jeans that I could salvage and after doing a search of images for jeans aprons, I found some bib aprons from the pants legs.

I just couldn't stop even after I had made aprons for each of my girls, and their boyfriends. I repurposed a quilt block, some clothing labels, and some of my Route 66 fabric stash. More pictures of the rest of the aprons on Flickr.

So even though I have a pile of quilts to quilt, I've been otherwise occupied. Then today I spent most of the day cooking, making tortellinis, bread, and cinnamon rolls. Tomorrow younger daughter is coming over so we can make candy, scone mix, and cookies. And so since I didn't ever do a giveaway for my 100th post, here it is! Leave me a comment by this Friday (12/11) and I'll draw a name and send you an apron, and some other goodies!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Winter is here!

Boy it's been dreary and very cold the last few days, with temperatures not getting above freezing. The sun is trying to make a small attempt to come out as I write this. My husband bundled up and made the trek to the post office yesterday. His footprints are still visible in the snow almost 24 hours later. I wasn't as brave, and barely ventured into the sewing room. Hopefully today I'll get some solar gain and won't need to be bundled up while I'm out there. I have a baseboard heater which usually combined with our sunshine is enough to make it comfortable out there.

Tomorrow I'll have to brave the roads to attend a longarm meeting in town. We need lots of groceries as well, so it should be a productive trip. It's been a while since I've been able to attend.

I've been sidetracked from quilting the many tops Pat sent me...making some gifts. With the cooler weather, I'm tempted to stay in the warm cozy house and just keep knitting on my wool socks. I'm solar powered and need the sunshine back to charge me up.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Quilts delivered

Had my appointment at the VA for my knee and am definitely on the schedule for a total knee replacement the end of February. That will work out for attending the retreat in Phoenix, and for daughter Jackie's wedding in mid-April.

After my appointment, we delivered quilts to Dr. Kaufman. It's the reason I keep doing this. She is a wonderful doctor, and it is a small payback for all the care she gave our daughter Lindsay.

My 100th blog post came and went and I meant to have a giveaway. I'll have to think of something and post it on here, so stay tuned--all two of my readers! Here's the other Ariel quilt and its pieced backing...

OOPS! In my haste to post these pictures, I forgot to edit them and my quilts have legs and feet! LOL!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Finishing more

I've been on a roll and finishing quilts that Pat sent me. I'm on a deadline since I have to go to Albuquerque on Friday and it will be a good day to deliver quilts to Dr. Kaufman.

Winter has settled in here. It was 10 this morning! But thankfully the sun has been shining brightly and we've reaped a lot of solar gain heat. My sewing room has a large southern sliding glass door, and while working pantographs, I have my back in the winter sun.

This is one of two quilts that I loaded on a king sheet. The colors all worked well together.

I'm now working on a second of two "Ariel" panel quilts. They're great for a sea turtle pantograph by Dave Hudson in variegated King Tut.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Winter comes and goes...

A few minutes ago it looked like a nasty snow storm was descending down on us. The wind picked up and it's blown away somewhere east of us. I don't know why I'd call it nasty--we really do need the moisture.

I finished quilting another two quilts that Pat sent. I was able to load them sideways and make use of a king flat sheet for backing. In between all of this we installed Edgerider wheels on my Gammill. The excellent instructions by Jeffrey Lomicka made all the difference on installing the wheels on my stitch regulated Gammill. I've only tried them a little, at the end of the quilt, but I can tell it's going to make a big difference in my control, and I will join the ranks of others singing their praise.

I finished one other donation quilt. I had wanted to do something freehand rather than a pantograph with this quilt, but I really struggle with design ideas to evenly quilt something--and usually end up going with a pantograph. I didn't on this one, except in the borders, but the quilting isn't terribly exciting. Oh well, it keeps the layers together, and sometimes that's enough.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Fall hike

My husband hasn't hiked all summer, waiting for his knee to heal from a short "run" to get out of the rain he did when he went back east. His knee hasn't really healed, but he decided to go for one of his "lesser" hikes. It was so beautiful and full of birds that he wanted me to go with him...just to the canyon. He generally hikes 5 miles beyond this point. Okay, so I thought, I'd try it. I used two ski poles which helped considerably but halfway down the gravelly trail I had serious doubts about my ability to make it. But I persevered and was well rewarded for my pain.

There was a rock ledge with a deeper little pool of rather icy water where I sat and soaked my still healing ankle. The canyon was indeed beautiful, quiet, and the weather just perfect. Unfortunately most of the bird population had decided that winter is really coming and fled south. We did get a great look at a Williamson's sapsucker (woodpecker) just as we were packing up.

Thankfully the trek up proved to be much easier. Once I got in and sat down in the truck though, I was done for the day. Took my boots off and slipped back into my Crocs. It was the first day I've had "real" shoes on since I wiped out on the bike.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A couple more finished

My friend Pat is a prolific quilter (and I use this to term to apply to all the various stages of quilt making, designing, piecing, and finishing). I'm not very fast when it comes to piecing. I'd much rather quilt and bind than get beyond the first few blocks. So it's a good working relationship for us.

I'm working on quilting the tops she sent me, and have finished the two "cowboy" quilts. One for her niece's boyfriend's son, Ethan, and the other will go to Dr. Kaufman.

I got a new pantograph for these from Dave Hudson, Buffalo Skull, though Pat and I feel it looks much more like a cow skull. (Though I know I haven't seen any buffalo skulls.)

I was happy to back them with this nice quality, muslin feed sack material that I picked up at a thrift store some time ago. I'd been wanting to do a western theme quilt to be able to use it...but as you know I'm not fast or prolific when it comes to piecing.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

One done, a bunch to go

I started this quilt quite a while ago for my friend Rosie. She loves blues and so I tried sticking with blues for her quilt. Tropical Blues seemed an apt name for it. The back features fabric she had given me when she moved to Hawaii. The center part was a nine-patch pizzazz, which I then grew a bit to make it a queen.

My quilt holder uppers, Dale and Jim, didn't do a very good job--so she took the picture of it on their queen bed.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's raining, it's snowing

The wind blew most of the night and I expected it to be bone chilling freezing as I walked to the garage in the dark this morning to fetch some dishwashing detergent. Surprise, it wasn't! But they said we would hit our high for the day early on and have snow. They didn't lie, by the time it was light out, our previously clear skies had turned cloudy, and the temperature has been steadily dropping. It's just that in between temperature where occasionally it's snowing, corn snow, flakes, and then turns back into rain.
I finished my second pair of bamboo/cotton socks, and I'm wearing the first pair I knitted today. I tried to put on shoes other than Crocs, but my ankle sure didn't like that at all. Thank goodness I have furry lined winter Crocs. Got the box-o-quilts from Pat, and all I can say is WOW! I need to get off my butt and get started on quilting all those tops.

I turned my back to the window and when I looked back again, this is the view! Thank goodness I don't have to drive anywhere.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Winding down

Our next stop was Pedernales Falls State Park. We had wonderful weather and this was perhaps our favorite park of the trip. We drove to Fredericksburg checking out Trader Days on the way. Bought a nutcracker for the camper so we wouldn't have to keep shelling pecans with a meat tenderizer hammer! There were a lot of Monarch butterflies in this area of the hill country.

From Pedernales we headed to Inks Lake State Park. We were planning on doing some canoeing, but had different visions of what the lake would be like. It was windy and the lake was too big. I decided to explore the park on my bike while Dale was working on his which had a flat tire. I wrecked on the bike and man I got bruised and battered. This has to be the worst fall I've had on a bike. My ankle must have hit the pavement pretty hard, and it bruised and swelled. I had to straighten the handlebars and pedal back to our campsite after some choice words. I have a half dozen bruises in various shades of purple.

We had intended to finish up our trip in Balmorhea where we started to get more pecans and a killer burrito, but the weather was raining as we were heading home, and Dale decided to just make a run for home. Despite ending with an injury, it was a great trip. I'm still putting stuff away!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

More Texas' parks

We left Galveston with the intention of staying at Brazos Bend State Park. We'd been there once before and it was an easy drive. It was not to be on this trip as they were full. We went to Bastrop State Park instead. We had nice weather and checked out the park as thoroughly as my knee would allow.

Drove a bit around town and happened on a farmer's market where we got a wonderful loaf of whole grain pecan bread. I took a class offered by the park on macro photography by Mary Ann Melton. It was the second of three classes, but it was inspiring and makes me want to make time to learn and use my camera better.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Houston International Quilt Festival

My intent in going to Galveston camping was to be able to attend the Houston quilt show. It was earlier this year, and we really enjoyed it. I suggested we pack a lunch since my experience at the Paducah quilt show led me to think that mostly there would be overpriced concessions with little variety except for hamburgers and the like. Besides, we had been eating out with a quality I'd quickly become accustomed to. I wasn't sorry. We lucked out and were diverted to parking at the Toyota Center since all the $15-20 parking lots closer to the venue were full. Lucky because we parked with overhead cover for $2 all day! We had to walk a bit, but even the close parking required a bit of a walk.

Thanks to drugs, I was able to walk all day for the show. The convention center was huge, and the quilt displays weren't crowded. There was ample room to see the quilts and photograph the ones that allowed it. It was wonderful to see "live" works such as Domestic Goddess by Pamela Allen.

The vendor mall was packed. I was saving my money to get Edgerider wheels for my Gammill, but nobody had any that I could bring home with me! I only bought a few things, a cut of fabric, some felted wool balls, and a couple of cones of Marathon thread which I hope my machine will find agreeable!

We refortified ourselves with Starbucks coffee and dessert upstairs from the quilt show for the drive back to Galveston. Houston is traffic, traffic, all day, all the time, but much more manageable without pulling a camping trailer.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The value of seat belts

Our next stop was Galveston Island State Park, where we had camped numerous times. The park was severely damaged by Hurricane Ike, and we were lucky to get campsite for three nights on the beach. We actually went swimming in the gulf! On previous trips the water temperature only allowed for walking in water while seeking out treasures in the sand, probably due to the fact that it was early fall and not winter.

While we were there we got a call from our daughter's fiance. She was fine but totaled her car. She was driving home to Pueblo from Colorado Springs, and all she remembers is hitting her brakes. The next thing she remembers is crawling out the window of her upside-down car. She apparently went into the median, went airborne over the northbound lanes of traffic, without hitting anyone else, and flipped over landing in the shoulder of the northbound lanes.

She is one lucky girl--with only a few bumps. She is now extolling the virtues of seat belts after being told by sheriffs and health care workers that it would have been a different outcome without her seat belt. (Justifies my threatening her with loss of driving privileges if I ever saw her around town without a seat belt when she first started driving!)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Welcome rain

It started raining as we headed to McKinney Falls SP, but not the violent sort of storms we're used to. It would rain, let up, rain some more. We found out that central Texas had been in somewhat of a drought and so it was welcome water.

We had city things to do in Austin, like checking out some of the fourteen Goodwill stores there. We only made it to two before being sated. I got a set of four wine glasses, heavy, handblown for a dollar each, and the cut crystal cordial glass was 59 cents. The blue rimmed margarita (?) glasses were from a thrift store in Balmorhea, also a dollar each. We tend to break glasses every once in a while and so I get them when I find ones I like. My peach cordial is ready to decant and it will make great gifts along with a pretty little glass. Also picked up a June Taylor shape cut ruler at the Goodwill, along with a cute pet dish for Frangelica.

Chased away the dreary weather with an awesome lunch at Carmelo's restaurant. What a wonderful meal. I had SPECIALITA DI MARE, sautéed Alaskan king salmon with pomodoro
Provencal and Striped Bass with wild mushroom ragu and Dale had almond coated shrimp with a light mango sauce, tomato, mixed greens and gorgonzola. We topped it off with a sinfully delicious chocolate cake. Sadly I'm home now, dieting to pay for my vacationing excesses.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Camping vacation

We left early morning and headed straight south to Balmorhea State Park. We'd been there before, but this time it was warm enough to get in the beautiful pool. You'll just have to take my word that the water is a most beautiful color, deep blues and turquoise, because I didn't take any pictures. I don't know if it's because of the depth or what. There are fish in the pool as well including some rather large catfish.

We ate lunch at the "cutest restaurant in Balmorhea," La Cueva de Oso. We had wonderful fajita burritos and ate outside in their patio though the weather was just teetering on being too cool. When Dale went to get a jacket in the truck he discovered pecans on the ground in the field adjoining the restaurant, and we picked pocketfuls. They were delicious, and we ate them throughout the rest of the trip.

Headed to McKinney Falls State Park next near Austin. We ended up passing by this guy several times in our treks, part of the Benini Foundation Galleries and Sculpture Ranch.

I wouldn't mind returning with better timing to be able to enjoy the whole ranch. Texas still has a wealth of state parks that we haven't discovered, and we have a year with our parks pass...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Another batch of quilts

Thanks to Pat, quilter extraordinaire, I have another batch of quilts to deliver to Dr. Kaufman. These two quilts so similar and so different due to the frabrics. She is a much more accomplished piecer, and I hope to *grow up* just like her! Actually our skills are complementary since I prefer quilting over piecing, but there is much room for improvement in my piecing. Hope this wild quilt of mine brightens some child's day! I tried to use lots of scraps, but as usual it hardly made a dent in the pile.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fruits of our labor

It's wonderful to have help, and in two days we had four five-gallon buckets of peaches processed. What a yield! I made a batch of cordial--well at least I got the nectar made until procuring the final ingredient, juniper berries. I still had a bottle of aged cordial from 2004 which is wonderfully mellow and the best stuff mixed with honey and lemon for a sore throat or cough. Hoping to still get some apples from the local orchard to put up applesauce. It's comforting heading into winter with the cupboards full.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Peach pickin'

What a wonderful day. We headed up to Embudo to pick peaches, and the weather couldn't have been more perfect. It always amazes me to see Johnnie's peach tree so loaded. His tree never even takes alternate year breaks. We got there just in time to pick lunch up from Sugar's BBQ We ate at Johnnie's picnic table with peaches periodically raining down on us. Johnnie's place is always a feast for the eyes, but at peach harvest it's also a feast for the nose with the smell ripe peaches heavy in the air. The bees were buzzing all the fruit on the ground, and I would love to find their home to sample some of the peachy honey.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Mango Man

I get up early, usually very early, like between 4 and 5. Once I'm awake, and it's morning, I seldom fall back to sleep, and so rather than toss and turn, thinking about doing stuff, I get up and do it. Usually though, that doing is sitting in front of a computer, responding to email and checking in on a variety of blogs. That all leads to an early, early breakfast, and lately I've been heading out to the sewing room after a couple of hours.

My husband, who enjoys sleeping in and getting up at a more reasonable hour, has his breakfast later. While my breakfast is the usual coffee with manually frothed milk and a slice of toast with peanut butter, his is hot cereal, which I find rather repulsive. My daughters both love hot cereal since he used to fix it for them. I'm not opposed to cooking it, just eating it, and there are a lot of foods that fall in that category like applesauce and canned peaches and pears. (Yuck--he likes the soft Bartlett pears.)

Lately his morning cereal has featured fresh mango, and since they've been large he has shared some with me, bringing it out to the sewing room. All he needs is a cape, and he'll be a real super hero. In my book anyway. What could be more super than a man serving me mango in a Fiesta bowl with a lime slice for garnish?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lucky You!

My older daughter's fiance gave me lots of labels from his clothing, Lucky Brand, which inspired me to make some things. I made some coasters--which he covets and doesn't use for fear they'll get ruined! Silly boy!

The new love stamps gave me an idea for a wall hanging. They are decorating their bedroom in "primitive" style fortunately for me...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Plum Jam

We got home and were surprised at the ripe plums on our little plum tree. It's really quite productive for not being more than a bush.

I picked all the fruit and it was just enough for a batch of plum jam. I tasted one---yuck! Most definitely better suited to jam rather than eating. I'm hoping to score some apples and peaches in the coming month.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Wyoming rocks...

We had a wonderful camping vacation. My cortisone shot in my knee enabled me to hike and enjoy it, lasting just long enough. It's worn off now and I'm on the queue for a total knee replacement. It should be sometime after December. Picture at right is actually in the Dolores River Canyon in Colorado on our way home.

Our close encounter with a bighorn sheep, which liked to hang out in the campground and walked through our campsite. I was a little concerned that he would knock over our solar panels. Found out later that they had a pair of sheep that liked to hang out in the campground and they relocated them, but one managed to return. I was respectful of his wildness, and didn't get too close. We enjoyed cooler temperatures and beautiful scenery.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Summer in a blur

June is gone, and we're half past July. I had surgery on my right thumb, and read the month of June away with my thumb in a splint. I read the entire Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris, and then went on to the first two books of the Twilight series. Now waiting for the third book from the library or paperback edition whichever comes first.

The best laid right thumb surgery didn't go as easily as the left, with an infection after the pins were removed which put me in the hospital for several days on IV antibiotics. It's now healing nicely, and I'm slowly regaining strength and motion.

Back to sewing. I made some postcards, and finished up another couple of donation quilts. Looks like we're going to take the camper out and head north, to cooler temperatures and maybe some hot springs. I need to get some more books, but my thumb is also well enough to knit.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

It's raining, it's pouring

There was a nice reward this evening for the an entire day of off and on showers, an awesome, bright, double rainbow. I convinced everyone to go see it even though it was still sprinkling a bit.

We've also had a little early morning visitor. Not the greatest picture quality, but he was busy going all along the fence line checking out plants for insects? grubs? I wouldn't mind it if he found another place to hang out. They are so pretty, if only they didn't stink! We're getting lots of migrant birds now. Western Tanagers have found the oranges I put out there, and the hummingbirds need air traffic control for the feeders!

Pat is here and we are having a quilting holiday, trying to get a bunch of quilts done for Dr. Kaufman. Together we are so much more productive.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

WIP Wednesday

Hard to believe another month has passed since I last posted. Spring is a busy time of year. There is so much happening outside and new birds keep arriving every day. I finished another pair of socks, and started on my third. So now, no matter whatever else I'm doing, I have a pair of socks in the works as well. I enjoy the knitting, and can knit while riding in the car or watching TV. I don't have to be fast, just keep plugging along on it.

These are both made with Panda Cotton, 59% bamboo, 25% cotton, 16% elastic nylon. I'm hoping they will wash well, and shouldn't shrink like my wool socks.

I'm trying to whittle down my UFO pile. This is a quilt I started last summer for a friend. It's a Nine-Patch Pizzazz, which I don't tire of making. While working on this one, I also cut focus fabric for a donation kid quilt. I won't bother saying I'll try to post more often. Maybe after I have surgery on my other thumb and won't be able to knit or sew as much.