Monday, April 30, 2007

Sometimes You Just Have to Laugh!

I had a telephone conversation with my mom today that still has me shaking my head. First though, before I tell you about the conversation, let me take care of a little show and tell. I've mentioned in my last couple of blog entries that I was working on appliqueing my first block for the BOM-type, sort of Americana, red, white, and blue quilt my friend Patty and I are designing. Well, I finally finished tonight, so I wanted to share a photo:

Patty's been a little tied up with things--mostly eggs and her son Glenn's accident--so I'm not sure she's had time to work on her block yet, but she'll probably get to it before too long.

Anyway, the phone call with my mom. This afternoon, I called. "Hey, mom, how are you?," I asked. "Where are you?," she replied. Slightly puzzled, I told her I was calling her from work. "You haven't come up today?," she asked. I answered, "No, was I supposed to?" "Well, you TOLD me you were coming on Tuesday!" Okay, here's the thing. Today is MONDAY and the last time I visited was LAST Tuesday, so she's obviously confused. In a polite way, I explained to her that tomorrow is Tuesday and although I wasn't planning on coming up, I would if she needs me. Yes, apparently she does. She wants me to take care of some paperwork and bills and has a check to be deposited and--and, of course, this was apparently VERY important to her--she has a box of candles she wants to go through so my husband can give his sister what she doesn't want for an upcoming garage sale. If you read my blog, you know the trip is 1-1/2 hours each way on a good day. Gas for the trip costs about $25. Fast food for dinner (and--VITALLY--an iced latte from Starbucks) is another $20 for me and my husband. I think my mom and I need to have a talk about this, particularly if she wants to continue living up there.

And have I mentioned the saga of the checkbook? I've been paying the bills and have the checkbook for my parents' joint account; she has her own checkbook. About two weeks ago when I was visiting, she asked me to leave her four checks in case something came up. Of those four checks, the only one that was reported to me was one used for groceries. Last week, she said she needed three more checks. What happened to the other three? Well, we can only really account for two. Not sure about the third. Might have been written for $12 to the mortuary. Now, though, she's thinking she wrote one for $30 but can't remember who that might possibly have been to. And those other three checks I gave her last week? Well, she says I only gave her two. Hummmmm. Seems another one up and ran away. Gives new meaning to bouncing checks. Possibly in more ways than one.

And this brings me to the third part of the conversation that stands out in my mind. "The man came this morning at 9 o'clock," she said. "What man?," I asked. With a fair amount of annoyance in her voice, as though I'm supposed to know already, she said, "The man to fix the garbage disposal. It's not working. I called them the other day and when they told me how much it would cost to come out, I told them forget it! I said I'm not paying one penny! But this morning, he came anyway and fixed the garbage disposal and charged me $35. Since it was my fault, I had to pay him." "Okay, mom," I replied, "What was wrong with the garbage disposal?" "Well, I guess when I was under the sink, moving things around, I unplugged it," she confessed. Sheesh! Sometimes you just have to laugh, because if you don't, I think it's called matricide and I'm pretty sure it's not legal.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Once a Soccer Mom . . . .

We've been having some mighty hot temperatures for this time of the year. For the past several days, our temperatures have been up around 90 degrees, and I've had to turn the air conditioning on for the first time this year. When I learned the other day that my 26-year-old son was playing in a men's league championship game today, I was a little hesitant to go sit out in the sun for a couple hours, but not having seen him play for the last few years, I decided that it would be a nice outing, even if we broiled in the sun.

Well, apparently the weather sprites were smiling today, because our temperatures dropped to around 80 with a light breeze. The bleachers were in the shade, and the weather was just lovely!

I wish I could say the same about the game! First of all, I think my son's probably the only one on the team who doesn't speak Spanish. It was kind of funny listening to the two coaches giving their pep talks in Spanish. I don't know if any of the other players interpreted for my son or how he handles that, but I did see the head coach talking with him--in English--near the end.

Coming into the championship game, my son's team was ranked fourth (out of, I think, ten teams) and the other team was ranked third--these two teams had already prevailed against the first and second place teams in the semi-final last weekend. By the half, my son's team had scored two goals to the other team's zero. By the end of the game, though, the other team came back and scored two goals to tie the game and take it into overtime.

If you know soccer, you know they play two 45 minute halves. OT means two more periods of play that we think are 15 or 20 minutes each. Can you imagine running up and down a field for over two hours? The main referee had to come out with leg cramps and be assisted off the field. The players on both teams were looking awfully ragged, and my son, who had played most of the game and OT, also came off the field near the end with leg cramps. The OT period ended with no additional goals having been scored, and that took them into a shootout, where five players from each team took turns shooting at the opposing goalie, one on one. FINALLY my son's team won! I think the score on the shootout was 2 to 3. That's my kid right here--

We hoped to take my son and his girlfriend out for garlic steak sandwiches and fries after the game--there's an excellent grill down the street from the park, but we found it was closed on Sunday, so we left my son and his girlfriend to celebrate with the team and headed home. On the way, we decided to stop at Mimi's for a light dinner. What a nice way to end the weekend!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Nice, Simple Day

Today was just a nice, simple day.

A quiet house, because my husband was at work today. Fresh perked coffee and a piece of blueberry cream cheese coffee cake for a late breakfast. E-mails with friends. A lazy morning and early afternoon spent working on applique. A long chat on the telephone with a best friend. No rush to get dressed, get my make up on, and fix my hair. Simple. Relaxing.

My brother, his wife, and her son, Nick, arrived mid-afternoon, along with Waldo, their Corgie. My son came over, my husband arrived home. We went to an early dinner at my favorite Italian restaurant, Pasta Pomodoro. My brother and I shared thoughts of our dad and our mom, and childhood memories. It was a good visit.

A stop at the mailbox. A new book and cards from friends far away that felt like warm hugs. An evening appliqueing, sitting with my husband, watching television shows on BBC America. A day full of some of my favorite things.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Better Late Than Never!

Today was a better day--today I got the things done that I wanted to do yesterday. First of all, I finished my house cleaning. I'm counting it as having been finished today since it was about 12:30 a.m. by the time I finished with the kitchen, which was the last bit I didn't finish earlier in the day. But it was worth it since I could wake up this a.m. and know that I didn't have to do anything but "play" today.

Yes, and I finished the quilt top, Jo Morton's pattern for Emma's Quilt--that's it up there at the top. I changed the colors a bit in my version and made my geese slightly different; I also made a slightly wider final border. I'm pleased with the way it turned out, even if I did end up with more than a gaggle of small, extra geese!

And yes, yes, yes, I did make a blueberry "something"--I made a blueberry cream cheese coffee cake. Someone--and I apologize for not remembering who it was--mentioned making a blueberry version of the raspberry cream cheese coffee cake in Kelli's blog. The other blogs' photos are better than mine, but I'm posting mine anyway in case you don't want to go chasing down a photo. But Kelli has the recipe on her blog, so it's worth visiting--just click on her name up there. In my version using the fresh blueberries, I sprinkled about 2/3 cup of fresh blueberries on top of the cake layer and before the cream cheese layer. Then I mixed the remaining 1/3 cup of blueberries into the blueberry jam and spread that over the cream cheese layer. Turned out yummy. I should note that this isn't an overly sweet dessert, so it allows the flavors of the fruit and almonds to come through. It's also not as hard as it may appear from the ingredients and steps and is well worth the effort. Yum!

Finally, I spent the rest of my time today working on my first applique block for the red, white, and blue semi-patriotic quilt Patty and I are designing together. Somewhere I have some black iron on bias tape that I thought would work nicely for the flag poles--now if I can only find it, I'll be set! You know, I can usually find most everything in my sewing room because it's pretty well organized, but occasionally I'll be stumped when it comes to finding the "miscellaneous" type of things like this tape. Somehow, I have a feeling it will be much faster to just make a couple bias strips the regular way, but I'd like to try out this bias tape. I just hope this doesn't turn into a flying geese type experience!

Oh, and gratitudes! Although I like reading those blogs that list gratitudes at the end, I haven't adopted that idea for my blog. I often write my blog entries late at night, and while I think that's an excellent time to think back on the day and the things--or people--that I'm grateful for, I'm afraid I'd never get to bed if I had to think about them and list them in a post. But I wanted to mention today that I am extraordinarily grateful for my dear husband who came home from work today carrying a Starbuck's iced grande percent latte for me without even being asked. Isn't it just the BEST when your spouse anticipates your needs and burning desires? I guess after 26 years, all those lessons are sinking in!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Zero, Zilch, Nada

Do you ever have those dreams where you feel like no matter how hard you try to get somewhere or get something done, you keep getting side tracked, take one step back for every step or two forward, or just find yourself running in place? Today seemed a little like one of those dreams.

The day began with me in a fairly lazy mood, sipping my coffee and catching up on all of your blogs that I hadn't read in the last day or two and exchanging a few e-mails with friends and fellow bloggers. Oh, and I slept in too--I stayed up a bit late reading.

Around mid-day, I wandered into the Sweat Shop and started cutting fabric for the next borders on my Jo Morton quilt. I finished the pinwheel border last night and was ready to move on to the flying geese--I needed something like 62 of those. After I got the fabric cut, I decided I ought to start on the house cleaning. That's pretty much the way the day went--sew a little, clean a little, sew a little more, clean a little less. By late afternoon, I had a pile of flying geese going. I should tell you that this particular pattern isn't going to look very good if all the seams don't line up precisely, so I was being extraordinarily careful with my cutting and sewing, even going so far as to then trim the geese to within a thread of their lives! I made a bargain with myself: I'd sew one border of geese together and then get back to the cleaning. Soon I had a strip of 14 geese all nicely pressed with the seams going this way and that so they'd nestle up cosily against the seams of the pinwheel blocks. I put that perfect little strip up on the design wall, only to realize I had made all the blocks 1/4" too small. Grrr!

This is one thing I've noticed about myself these days--although I seem to feel okay, I think my mind must be somewhere else because I'm really not very focused. I just made the pinwheel blocks last night and the geese are supposed to be basically the same size--two geese would be the same measurement as a pinwheel block. Now you'd surely think I'd remember the dimensions, wouldn't you? I would! Which is why I didn't think to go back and read the directions.

So, I thought, at least I'll get the house cleaned. I figured I'd come back to the goosey dilemma later. Did I get the house cleaned? Well, not yet--at least not as I'm writing this blog post. It's mostly done but the kitchen isn't quite finished. And what about the geese? Well, I decided the smaller geese just weren't going to work--the scale wasn't right even if I could get the measurements to work somehow. So back to the cutting board. And sewing machine. Once again, I have about half my geese sewn but I need to trim them to ensure perfection. But maybe I'll wait until tomorrow.

And how about that blueberry something-or-other I thought I might make? Nope! Didn't do that either. I DID fix dinner--my famous chicken Caesar salad that I blogged about a few weeks ago. That turned out well, so I can still hold my head up around here. And see that picture at the top of my post? That's what I got done today! (Yes, it's a trick question--Blogger isn't eating photos.)

So I'll say goodnight and head for the kitchen, cleaning supplies in hand. Happy quilting!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Tired of Sad!

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of sad. I'm probably as tired of writing about sad stuff as you are reading about it. So let me tell you about what I did today.

In my "normal" life, the perfect weekend is one where I can live the life of a hermit--drive home from work on Friday night and not have to leave again until Monday morning. Of course, weekends don't always work out that way, but when they do, I'm happy as a pig in you-know-what. I spend my time quilting, watching some TV, reading books, reading blogs, writing blogs, cooking, etc. So here I am with the rest of the week off work--a great opportunity to indulge in my hermit existence, right? Well, I got to thinking about it, and I kind of thought that if I spent three days hanging around the house, under the current circumstances, I just might start feeling even more down about life. So what could I do instead? Well, it just so happened that today was the first of four days of our annual central northern California quilt shop hop--Quilt Rush. Did I want to do a little shopping? You betcha! It seemed to me that time spent driving would be the perfect opportunity for a little reflection, and time spent shopping would mean I wouldn't get to feeling too sad and sorry for myself.

Last year, my good friends Patty (from Florida) and Kairle (from Utah) came to stay and "hop" with me, and we had a wonderful time. In fact, I've done the "hop" every year since it began--I think the first year was 2000, so this would be the eighth year. I had decided a month or two ago that this year, I'd skip it. But here I was with time off and no commitments until Saturday when my brother comes to visit, so I decided I'd visit a few of the local shops.

My first stop was at Bear Paws and Hollyhocks--not one of the Quilt Rush shops but one of four shops hosting a separate hop. (Last year, Kairle, Patty, and I did both hops for a total of 20 quilt shops and about 650 miles in two days!) Not only is BP&HH the shop I spend the most time (and money) in, but for the hop, all fabric was 25% off--couldn't pass that up! Here are the few little things I couldn't manage to leave the store without:

Next, I drove a bit south of Sacramento to Country Sewing Center in Elk Grove. This shop is one of my favorites, but I don't visit it very often because it's about a 40 minute drive from my house and they're not open on Sundays. Again, I managed to find a few things to buy (that bundled fabric is a kit--it goes with the pattern to the right):

Heading back to Sacramento, I stopped at Quilter's Corner (another regular stop for me) and Tayo's. I managed to be a bit more thrifty at those shops, although I absolutely had to splurge on the woven FQ bundle at Quilter's Corner. (That photo at the top of my blog was taken of one of the displays inside QC.)

My last stop of the day was at a quilt shop not too far from home, Stitching Station in Roseville. In honor of the hop, they handed out a couple "freebie" patterns (top row, far right and far left)--they really have a great selection of patterns at their shop. They also had a great selection of discounted FQs, so of course I had to bring some FQs and patterns home with me. Oh, and I won that little Moda needle case on the bottom center--my name was drawn during their hourly drawing:

Originally, I contemplated doing the northern loop of shops tomorrow, which would take me by the town where my mom lives and would give me an opportunity to stop by and visit with her for a bit, but I think I've had my fill of driving, shopping, and goodies. It's still a possibility, but I think it might be the hermit act for me tomorrow--I'll just give my mom a call and chat a bit. I also have a house that's accumulated quite a bit of dust, dirt, and odds and ends that aren't in their proper places, and as much as I hate doing the cleaning, a clean house always makes me feel better. Today I also managed to drag myself around the grocery store before I finally headed home, so that "chore" is taken care of. I had to laugh because I bought a pizza to bake later this week, and when I got it home, I found it wouldn't fit in my side-by-side fridge--so it was pizza for dinner tonight! Oh well, after all the running around, I didn't feel much like cooking anyway.

But blueberries were on sale, so I bought some. Maybe tomorrow I'll bake a cobbler or something equally scrumptious and tempt you with pictures. Maybe I'll finish the piecing on my appliqued Jo Morton quilt top and share a photo with you. Maybe I'll end up with a clean house and feel like I'm a little more in control of my world. And maybe I'll play with some of the goodies I bought today! Happy quilting!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Today my husband and I drove up to Oroville to spend some time with my mom. She hasn't been eating or sleeping very well and has been fixated on taking care of everything that needs to be done. Perhaps not surprisingly then, when we arrived, she was tired and extremely cranky. She eventually relaxed, though, and we had a nice visit. She shared with us some of her memories of her early years with my dad and also of the years when they lived in Idaho later on, when my husband and I were first married. We had two young children of our own and not much money, so travel was difficult for us, and we didn't see very much of them for several years except twice when they traveled down this way for vacation. I'm glad she has such wonderful memories to hold in her heart.

I thought I'd share a couple photos of my parents. The first one above was taken around 1947, which would have been a year or so before they married. My dad had served in the Army during WWII, and when he returned, they started dating and eventually got married. I came along in 1956. They had been married for eight years and were unable to have children, so I was adopted. Just as they were looking into adopting a second child, my mom finally became pregnant, and my brother was born in 1960.

The photo below was taken around their 50th wedding anniversary. It wasn't too long afterward that my dad's health started to decline. I know the coming days, weeks, and months will be difficult for my mom, and she will have many decisions to make. I'm continually grateful that there are so many kind and helpful neighbors in her retirement community, since we don't live close enough to see her on a daily or even weekly basis, but we will call her often and see her whenever we can. Ideally, I would like her to move closer to me, but that's one of those tough decisions she will need to make for herself. In the meantime, I hope to bring her to our house for a weekend in a few weeks--it's been quite a few years since she was able to travel due to my dad's health problems. I know she will always miss my dad, but I hope that she will realize her own life can and will go on, and that she's surrounded by people who love and care for her.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Thank You!

Thank you all for your comments, thoughts, and prayers for me and my family. It means a great deal to me to hear your kind words.

Last night after I posted, I read all of the blogs on my "list" and was comforted by many of those I read. It's odd, but there were several that dealt with some of the issues I've been dealing with--aging parents and their health, family memories, and one gal even talked about memories of her father who had passed away some years back. It almost felt like these bloggers were talking directly to me! Okay, lest you begin to worry that I'm becoming delusional, no, I'm not hearing voices in my head--yet! LOL! But I realize that although we quilting bloggers are truly a diverse group, with wide ranging experiences, and from different parts of the world, there remain common bonds that run between us. And I think many of us--those who quilt and blog--are in the same age group and have experienced or are experiencing similar life events. It just amazes me sometimes that all these women who have never met in person can reach out and touch each other's lives. I've belonged to an online quilt group for several years, so this idea isn't a new concept for me, but it continues to surprise and delight me each time a connection is made.

At a recent quilt club meeting, I mentioned blogging, and several women said that after spending their work day in front of the computer, going home and getting back on the computer is the last thing they want to do. While I can understand that, at the same time I think about what a rich experience they're missing--opportunities for friendships and the exchange of ideas that will never take place. So, my blogland friends, I want you to know that I appreciate each one of you--those who read my blog and take something from it for their own lives, those who read my blog and leave comments for me, and those whose blogs I read and am encouraged, motivated, amused, and touched by. Thank you!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sad Day!

I talked to my mom this morning; she called to let me know that my dad's time was approaching. A little while later she called back to say he had passed. As you may imagine, it's been a sad day for us, but at the same time, it's been something of a relief. I understand from the nurses I talked to this past week that my dad was in some pain which was relieved by morphine, but of course that left him barely conscious much of the time. The last few weeks have been hard on everyone; we had really started our grieving last weekend when we knew his death was inevitable. Both my parents made arrangements some time back for cremation, and neither of them wanted a memorial service, so there's really not much that needs to be done other than informing relatives and taking care of the business end of things. I'll be going to work tomorrow and clearing up what I can, and then I'll probably take the rest of the week off, and spend some of that time with my mom.

My mom seems to be holding up fairly well. My brother and I have both talked to her several times today, although she didn't want us to come up just now. I'll go on Tuesday for the day, and my brother will come up near the end of the week.

In the meantime, between telephone calls, I did some sewing today and finished a small quilt top from a Jo's Little Women's Club pattern--photo above. I'm grateful to have my quilting to give me something to do at times like these. Even our weather here was somber with the sun peeking out only occasionally and a huge downpour around dinner time with thunder and lightening. My dad would probably joke that it was the sound of St. Peter slamming the gates shut when he saw my dad coming, but I'm sure that's not the case. I'll sure miss him and his great sense of humor and his smile!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

How I've Spent a Rainy Saturday

It's been raining most of the day--not too hard but constant. I suppose it's meant to bring May flowers, but since most of the spring flowers are already in bloom here in Northern California, my feeling is that it's just meant to keep me inside the house quilting. Not that I'm complaining, mind you.

Some of us here chose to simply bury themselves under a quilt, but I've been busy in my sewing room. You know, there are parts of quilting that are pretty darn boring, and I think adding sashing and plain borders to a quilt is one of those parts, but then knowing that I'm completing the last steps before I have a real life, honest-to-goodness quilt top keeps me motivated.

Today I'm feeling kind of stashbusterish. You gals in that ring will be proud of me! If you've been reading my blog, you may remember I mentioned last week that I could barely close one of my scrap drawers, so I took everything out and sorted it and cut strips. All week I've been working on sewing the strips together. I was kind of surprised to find I still have quite a stack of strips leftover--probably about half--but I'm done with "scrappy" for now, so they'll go back into my scrap drawer--at least there's plenty of room!

I think once I get this quilted, it will go to my husband's aunt. I think she'd like the cheerful quilt. I thought about adding a final border but I think I like it just as it is. Sorry I couldn't really fit it all in the photo but I have space limitations in my sewing room and in my house. If the weather was nicer, I could have taken it outside to photograph but that's not meant to be today. I'm not sure you can tell from the photo, but there are five "braid" sections--the far right one is kind of turned in on itself because I ran out of wall. I haven't measured it, but I'd guesstimate that it's about 6-1/2' long by around 6' wide.

I've sent my husband over to his sister's house this evening for dinner and to visit with some friends, but I needed some time to "decompress" on my own. It seems like the last month has been a busy time following my parents' accident and all that's come out of it, together with work and the rest of life's little aggravations and worries. So this weekend is for me--no pressure, no stress, my own mini-quilting retreat--at least that's how I'm looking at it. I think I'll go find myself some bon bons or something and kick back and relax. Or quilt. Or read a book. Or whatever else I want to do on this rainy day. Peace.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Weekend's Here!

Yippeee! It seems like it's been a long week, and I think part of that feeling is due to having only had one day last weekend to putter around the house. I've been looking forward to this all week. I'm planning to stay home and quilt and maybe, just maybe, do a little housecleaning, but that's optional.

I've been working on a quilt top this week, using the strips I cut from my scrap drawer, and I hope to have it done tomorrow so I can post a photo. Next on my quilting agenda is a block for this year's Thimbleberries block of the month and a Jo's Little Women quilt. And, when I need a change of pace, I still have my applique block to work on. I have about half the pieces prepared. Of course, I don't think I'll get all of this done this weekend, but I hope to get a good start.

Here's the last of the "stuff" my mom sent home with me last weekend--or at least a few of them. I'm going to put these away because I think they're kind of cool, but I'm not sure what we'll do with the rest of the box full of vinyl record albums. She insisted my husband told her some time back that he wanted them. Not so said my husband later, but that's my mom for you. She has a tendency to make things up that way, and I kinda think she even comes to believe her own stories. A couple times she's given me junky little things and insisted that I made them for her in school when I was a child. Of course, the "Made in China" stickers on the back were dead giveaways. Over the years, I've found it's easier to just go along with whatever it is, so now we have this box of albums. Who knew she liked Kenny Rogers enough to buy five of his albums? And Nipsy Russell comedy albums? Several, in fact. Yeah, that's about the era of most of them--1970s or so. Not old enough to be all that interesting; not even the album covers. Well, maybe my husband can find some weird use for them in creating some kind of garden art or something!

Have a good weekend, and happy quilting or whatever you chose to do!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Spreading Love Through the Power of Cheese

Have you seen the commercials for California cheese? I love those cows! "Happy cows come from California!" Yep, it's true. The other day I was kinda sorta lost on the outskirts of town and saw bunches of them. Of course, they all pretended they couldn't talk. When I asked them for directions, they just stared. I'm sure that once I drove off, they all got a good laugh too. It's not like I live in an unpopulated area, so I really couldn't go too far without finding civilization again--if you can call an automobile wrecking yard "civilization"! But the cows looked happy enough. After all, they don't call Sacramento "cow town" for nothin'!

So what's with the cows and the cheese? I was sitting at my desk today, catching up on all the news thats fit to print by my blogland friends and eating the last of the mac and cheese I baked the other day and I realized I was in a state of near bliss. Or as close to bliss as one CAN be, sitting at one's desk at WORK, instead of sitting in front of a sewing machine, quilting. And you know what? You too can experience near bliss if you follow a few simple steps.

Several people expressed an interest in my mac and cheese recipe, so I thought I'd share. Yes, I won't keep this recipe to myself any longer. Well, actually it never was JUST mine. You know those community cookbook fundraiser things? Some years back, I was involved in the PTA at my kids' school and had the brilliant idea that we should solicit recipes from the parents, publish them into a cookbook, and then make the parents buy them back. It worked out fairly well, and I ended up with a cookbook full of good, simple recipes. This was one of them, and believe me, the recipe is so simple that most of the time, my husband does the cooking. Bonus! So here it is, your chance to experience near bliss:


2 cups of macaroni
2 tablespoons of butter (or margarine)
2 tablespoons of flour
1 cup of milk
1/4 teaspoon of salt
A dash or two of pepper
3/4 pound shredded cheese*

Cook the macaroni according to the package directions. Drain and rinse; set aside.

In medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and then add flour. Heat until bubbly. Slowly add milk, whisking as you go to keep the sauce smooth. Add salt and pepper and continue heating until the sauce is thickened.

Add sauce to cooked macaroni.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a 9" x 13" pan. Layer half the macaroni mixture, then half the cheese. Repeat. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes until mac and cheese is bubbly and top is somewhat crispy and brown.

*About the cheese: Well, of course happy California cheese is best, but if you happen to be in Wisconsin or one of the other cheese capitals of the universe, sacrificing the flavor of California cheese may be necessary. The original recipe calls for sharp white cheddar cheese but just about anything you like works. The last time I made this, I had some leftover fresh mozarella and a couple varieties of Velveeta. Because they were soft cheeses, I added them to the sauce and continued to heat until melted. I then skipped the layering part and just sprinkled a shredded Mexican cheese blend over the top. Yum!

A word of caution though. If you eat too much of this stuff--which is easy to do, believe me!--well, let's just say you may be mistaken for a California cow!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Treasures From the Past

Today I'll start off by telling you a little bit about my grandfather--this is my dad's dad. Grandpa was a small, Italian guy with a loud voice, hair sticking out of his ears, and gnarled, callused hands. Grandma was a plump, Italian gal who loved to cook for her husband and her four sons. Both of their parents immigrated to America. Like many first generation Americans, I think both English and their parents' native language was spoken at home, so my grandparents both had slight accents and could speak some Italian--I suspect, though, that it was mostly swear words! My grandfather worked all of his life as a shoe repairman. When I was very young, I vaguely remember his little shop downtown. He drove a huge salmon pink Cadillac with tail fins--boy was he proud of that baby! When he "retired," he closed his shop and moved all of his equipment into his garage where he continued to repair shoes for several years. I remember the sound of the machine running and the smell of grease and hot rubber. I couldn't tell you what the machine was precisely, but I recall a long metal rod that rotated and had various wheels, discs, and brushes attached to it; the machine did things like buff, polish, and grind. We weren't allowed in the garage when the machine was on--it wasn't safe for us kids. And when the machine wasn't on, more than likely the garage was locked up, so we rarely got to see everything up close. I also recall my grandpa had an industrial treadle sewing machine for stitching leather shoes--I don't know what happened to that, but I wish I did! At one time my mom wanted it, but when my grandfather finally retired for good, I think it was either sold with his other equipment or given to another relative.

When I would occasionally stay with my grandparents, I remember customers would come by to drop off and pick up shoes. Most of my grandpa's loyal customers consisted of other members of the Italian American community and priests and nuns from the Catholic church. Back then nuns still wore full habits. My only exposure to religion having been occasional visits to the Episcopal church, the sight of those nuns walking up the driveway, bringing their shoes for my grandpa to fix, made quite an impression on me.

So why am I telling you all this about my grandfather? Well, when he finally retired for good, my mom asked him for a pair of ladies boots he'd displayed in the window of his storefront for years. The story goes that a woman had brought her shoes in for repair and never returned for them. My mom asked Grandpa for those boots, and I remember she was as excited about receiving them as I am with the Featherweight! The boots were white leather, and my mom didn't like the color, although she loved the style and age of them. One day, she spray painted them gold and eventually displayed them in a decorative basket. Now those gold boots belong to me.

Here's the thing, though. I'm not a metallic kind of gal. I like the boots a lot, but the gold is a little much. So what I'm wondering is, what can I do to change that or tone it down? Do any of you have any ideas? Although the gold paint hasn't made them too stiff or cracked, I think another coat of anything might ruin them. I'm wondering whether I could take some brown shoe polish and rub it in to tone down that gold. Any ideas you might have would be greatly appreciated!

I've spent most of the evening trying to catch up on blog reading--my list has grown long lately! It seems like no one posts for DAAAAAAYZ and then all of a sudden, everyone has a new post for me to read! LOL! I didn't have enough time to leave comments, but I hope to get back to visit again soon! Happy quilting!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

More Goodies From the Past

I thought I'd share with you a few more of the things my mom had sent home with me. Nothing quite as exciting as the Featherweight, but kind of cool nonetheless. I had some help with the box. If you haven't met her before, this is Spike. She hates to be left out of anything.

I don't remember seeing this set of pinking sheers when I was a kid, but they must have been around somewhere. The ones I remember had black handles, and I actually still have them, but these must have been from an earlier time. I just love the old graphics on the box!

Buttons! Who among us doesn't love buttons! I have plenty already but these will be fun to look through. I'm fairly certain there's nothing here that's really vintage (as in Bakelite) or antique, but they're fun anyway.

Spools of thread! All wooden spools! I don't know if the thread's still useable, but I love the old wooden spools. My husband got a gleam in his eye when he saw them too, so I'll probably have to guard them. If you saw my post a few weeks back about his hobby of making weird things from leftover "stuff," you'll understand why I need to hide these.

Rick rack and trims. Mostly the rick rack excites me because it's turning up everywhere now, and this stuff is the old cotton variety, not a cotton/poly blend. There's piping and bias tape and several other things too. I also "inherited" a bunch of zippers but I haven't really looked at them yet--not quite as exciting, I think.

My mom also gave me these neat little collectible Hummel thimbles. Do any of you collect thimbles? I hadn't before, but maybe I'll need to start. I don't know where she got these or why, but they're dated 1983 and 1984.

Finally--and I didn't get a good photo of it because it's still in it's original plastic bag and just reflected the flash--I found in the box a orthodontic tool for removal of bands circa maybe around the 50s or 60s. Weird, huh? I'm not sure how it got in there. My mom used to work as a dental assistant/front office gal but not for an orthodontist. One of my best friends is a dental hygienist--I'll have to see if she collects "vintage" instruments or knows anyone who does.

Tomorrow night I'll post the last few interesting things I got. I need some input on one of the items because I think I need to get a little "crafty" to turn it into something I'd want to use, so please stop back by and tell me if you have any ideas or suggestions.

What's in the Black Box?

Could it be treasure? It is, it is!

This is one of the "goodies" my mom sent home with me. Pretty cool, huh? She told me a few years ago that she wanted me to take it, but I felt that she should keep it. Or maybe I just felt it really wasn't something I should have. You see, my mom never let me use her machine. She said she was afraid the tension would get out of adjustment and she'd have to send it into the shop to get it fixed. To this day, I don't know whether it was just an excuse to keep me away from it or whether she truly was unable to adjust the tension herself. It wasn't that she didn't think I should sew, because she sent me to sewing classes during my summer vacation one year when I was probably around 12 or so. Oh, and a year or so later, I had to make a skirt for a school home ec project. I WAS allowed to use the sewing machine for that project. But I never had my own sewing machine until I was 17, when my first husband (then my fiance) bought me one--a newer Singer that lasted up until about 10 years ago.

Have you ever seen the buttonhole attachment for these? It's almost as big as the machine itself! I remember when I was a kid, I was fascinated by the metal things in the small box on the bottom right and wondered how it all worked. I still don't know, but I'm sure I'll figure it out at some point.

My good friend Eileen, who lives on the other side of the country, knows a lot about Featherweights and she'll help me with whatever I need to know. In fact, she's sending me some information now and it should arrive in a few days. From what I can see, everything seems to be in good condition. I was worried the belt might be dried out, but it looks fine. I've plugged the machine in and made sure it runs but I haven't sewn anything yet. I think I'd like to take some time to clean it first of all. Maybe I'll play with it this weekend--compared to my other two sewing machines, it kind of looks like a toy! LOL!

Oh, and just so you know I've been busy, here's a picture of the strips I've been cutting. All done, and my scrap drawer is about half empty now. I have plans for these scraps. The next step will be to do a little sorting because I don't think I want to use all these colors in my project--I want it to be scrappy but I want to control the colors a bit.

I don't know about you, but I have a hard time knowing when it's time to stop playing and go to bed. It's waaaay past my bedtime now, so I'll say goodnight. Thanks for stopping by to visit!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Somewhat Lazy Sunday

Thank you all for the kind words about my dad. We saw him yesterday and he's doing okay, but he's being given morphine so he was awfully groggy when we were there and was drifting in and out. The day was gray and rainy, which was in keeping with our mood. My brother and his wife spent some time with dad last night and today when he was more alert--I'm glad they had that chance since they hadn't been able to get up here to visit since October. And my daughter came down from Tahoe to go with us and see her grandpa; she hadn't seen him for some time either.

We were able to get a little more information about my dad's medical condition. Although he will eventually pass away due to complications from the bleed, it may not happen for days or even weeks. So we'll all try to go about our normal lives. It feels really odd though, waiting. But I'm grateful that it allows us all the opportunity to say our goodbyes.

If you read my blog a few days ago, I mentioned making Paula Deen's Taco Soup. Before we left yesterday morning, I got everything into the crockpot so we had a hot meal waiting for us when we got home. It only takes about 15 minutes to get everything started, which was perfect. If you haven't tried it, do so--it's wonderful. The only change I make is to double the taco seasoning and ranch dressing mix, but it's fine "as is." And best of all, perhaps, is that it means we'll have a couple really fast and easy dinners this week because the recipe makes plenty!

I've spent most of today cooking and quilting. Fresh coffee and cinnamon muffins got the day underway while I worked on preparing some applique pieces. Around mid-morning, I shifted my attention to the overflowing scrap drawer I mentioned a few days ago. By bedtime, I had only gone through about half the drawer, cutting strips and sorting the remainder into what to keep and what to toss--although I rid my "stash" of JoAnn's-type fabrics some time back, I found I still had quite a lot in my scrap drawer.
Early in the afternoon, needing a break from playing with scraps, I made homemade mac and cheese, which is not only great comfort food, but it let me use up bits and pieces of leftover cheese. I kind of like to do a little cooking on the weekends, particularly if I'm making enough to feed us during the week.

My mom has had some boxes of "stuff" set aside for me for awhile now, and I finally brought those things home with me this weekend. In the next few days, I'll try to get some photos so I can share my "treasures" with you. In the meantime, happy quilting!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Just in Case I Disappear . . .

Do you ever read someone's blog and see that they've posted something about family or health problems and then they just seem to disappear for quite some time? You check back every day or so, and they still haven't posted? If you're like me, you probably wonder what's happened and whether everything's okay--even if you don't really know that person very well or haven't read their blog for very long. But I think we quilters tend to be pretty compassionate and caring people, so we're just made that way, don't you think? Or are we just nosey?! LOL!

I've had some sad news today that may take me away from blogland for a bit; or maybe it won't take me away long enough for anyone to notice. I debated with myself about whether I should post something just in case you came looking for me and I wasn't here, and I finally decided I would.

You may have followed my posts about my parents' car accident and know that they were in a nursing home for awhile. I'm pretty sure I mentioned sometime this week that my mom was discharged home. Well she called today to tell us my dad has a bleed in his brain and has been moved back to the hospital. At his age and in his physical condition, there's really no way to treat it, so it's just a matter of time before he passes away. It may happen this weekend, or he might linger for a week or two.

While I am very sad to see my dad's life coming to a close, I've seen his health deteriorate over the last several years. He has constant back pain and cannot stand up straight. He's had quadruple bypass surgery, and he's had surgery for prostate cancer. He's so hard of hearing, he barely knows what's being said around him. In the last year or so, I've seen his mind start to deteriorate as well. He's 81 years old and has lived a good life. I think it's time. Or at least my brain is resigned; my heart is another matter. But I'll be alright. I know it's really a blessing, because I don't think he would have ever gone home again, and I know he would not have been happy living in a nursing home without my mom.

My husband, daughter, and I will be going up to visit him and spend some time with my mom tomorrow (Saturday); my brother and his wife will join us, and they'll stay there for at least a few days. We should be back home tomorrow evening, but after that, I don't know how frequently I'll be traveling back and forth or what will happen. I'll post when I can, and I'm sure I'll be checking in on everyone's blogs to see what you all are doing. I suspect I'll quilt when I'm home and have time, because it's about the best therapy I can think of! If I find any time for quilting, I'll share with you whatever I'm up to. Meanwhile, if you notice I'm gone, at least you know why.

Friday, April 13, 2007


Friday's here--finally! Last night was a reasonably productive one. I started thinking about peanut butter cookies--maybe because I didn't have my usual peanut butter and crackers for lunch. (I stopped on my way to work to pick up a latte and croissant for breakfast and a salad for lunch.)

Tomorrow I drive up to take my mom grocery shopping and do whatever else needs to be done. She came home from the nursing home Wednesday and is glad to be home. We're expecting a storm to come in, so it will mean having to drive through a lot of rain and I'm not looking forward to that, but I should be home around mid to late afternoon and then I'll have the rest of the weekend to putter around and quilt. I've been thinking about making Paula Deen's Taco Soup. Have you ever made it? It's as simple as dumping a bunch of cans of stuff into the crockpot and leaving it. Well, yes, you DO have to open the cans first. It might be nice to get it started before I leave for Oroville tomorrow so I can come home to some nice comfort food. If I do make it, I'll take a photo for you and get you the recipe.

Anyway, peanut butter cookies. I remembered my mom likes peanut butter cookies too, so I decided to bake a batch and take some with me for her. There's something wonderfully delicious about this simple cookie! I also worked on finishing up an appliqued center square for a Jo Morton pattern--one of the classes I took from her. The photo of the center is posted below next to the pattern photo--which you probably can't see very well, but next I'll need to do a couple pieced borders. The pink fabric really isn't that bright--funny what photos do! I really wanted to start the block for Patty's and my applique project but I thought I should finish this one first. Now I have a clear conscience, so I'm ready for some applique fun this weekend!

The table's set for tea. Would you like to come over for some tea and peanut butter cookies?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I Think Not!

Today's horoscope says, "Your imagination is quite vivid right now, but try not to let it carry you away." Why? What's bad about being carried away by one's imagination?

Peanut Butter and Crackers and Stuffed Armadillos

For the last few days, I've been eating nothing but peanut butter and crackers for lunch. Emergency rations that live in my desk drawer with my dark chocolate M&Ms. Better than starving but it's not exactly fine dining or a balanced meal. And do you know WHY I've been eating peanut butter and crackers for lunch? Well, darn it, I get so caught up in reading all the blogs during my lunch hour that I forget to go pick up lunch. And in the morning before work, ditto--no time to scrounge around the cupboards and fridge to make my lunch.

Yesterday, Paula tagged me for the Thinking Blogger Award. I'm sure most of you have seen it going around. Each person who is nominated then tags five other bloggers whose blogs make them think. I am greatly honored by Paula's nomination for a number of reasons, but one of the reasons that stands out in my mind is the fact that I'm a new blogger, having resided here in blogland for only a little over a month, and I didn't think there were many people reading my blog, particularly since I don't belong to a webring. So, I'm just tickled as can be! Thank you, Paula!

Watching this Thinking Blogger Award go around, I've found many more blogs to add to my list of sites to read--what I guess you could call recommended reading. I hope in the coming days to become more familiar with the ones I didn't know about before. (Note to self: Do something about planning better lunches.)

Because so many of the blogs I read have already been nominated--some several times--for the Thinking Blogger Award, I think I won't "formally" nominate anyone, but I would like to share with you a few blogs that are among my favorites and the reasons why, just in case you don't already know about them.

On my sidebar you'll see my two friends, Kairle and Patty. Kairle was the first of the three of us to begin a blog some time ago, but for a number of reasons, she quit blogging about a year ago and has only just started again. Patty, although she didn't have a blog of her own, kept up with the lives of many bloggers and told us about some of the "must read" blogs. I love reading both of their blogs. Check them out if you get a chance.

Since many bloggers only post once or twice a week and I've only been seriously reading blogs since I started my own, I'm not very familiar with many of them yet. But I can tell you about three blogs I've been reading off and on for the last year or so.

First is Thee Handworks. Many of her posts are deep and touching and when she's funny, she's very, very funny. The first blog entry I read was about a stuffed armadillo her husband's client gave him and what she thought she might do with it. The photos were hilarious! If I remember correctly, there was even one of the little critter laying on its back, holding a beer bottle! LOL! I wish I could link you back to that entry, but she changed from Blogger to Typepad and I'm not sure if or where they might be archived. This was what got me started reading blogs--and my friend Patty was the one who told me about the stuffed armadillo.

Two other "old friends" are Vicky at LA Quilter and Melanie at Covered Porches and Screen Doors. Of course, they don't know me, but I feel like I've known them for a long time. Both of them write sincerely from the heart. On occasion, Vicky has me rolling on the floor laughing--her post about her ordeal at McDonalds is just a riot! I hope you'll visit these blogs if you haven't already and enjoy them as much as I do.
Of course, this only touches the surface of the many wonderful blogs that are out there, and I’ve found several other bloggers in the past few weeks whose blogs I look forward to visiting regularly.

On the quilting front, I attended my monthly Thimbleberries Club meeting last night and had a wonderful time visiting with that group of ladies and seeing what everyone has been up to. I think I may expand on my cherry tea towel project and make some matching placemats and maybe a potholder or two.
When I got home last night after club, I decided to rummage around in my stash and start pulling fabrics for the applique quilt Patty and I will be working on. The photo below shows the fabrics I pulled out for the first block I designed (see yesterday’s post). Spike, my younger cat, kept me company and had a wonderful time digging in my pile of fabric scraps I pulled out of the scrap drawer although she was no real help in selecting fabrics. Her tastes are so eclectic!

I did notice my scrap drawer was getting to the point where it could hardly be closed, so I think some serious stripping may be in my future.

Thanks again, Paula, for nominating me and everyone else who stops by to see what I’m up to!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Start of Something New!

Don't you just LOVE starting a brand new project? One you're excited about? Well, back near the beginning of March (and the beginning of my blog), I wrote a little about a plan my friend Patty and I had to design a semi-patriotic red, white, and blue applique quilt. If you click here, she explains the basic premise, and you can see the first block she designed--which she got started on right away. We're each planning to design six blocks and share the patterns, so we'll end up with a total of 12 blocks, 10" each, set on point.

Since that time, several things have intervened to keep us from getting the project underway--my parents' accident and Patty's insane overtime hours for the most part. I finally had a few free hours tonight when I wasn't trying to meet some deadline (self-imposed or otherwise), so I stopped on the way home from work and bought a drawing pad and got busy on my design. Having to design on a sheet of paper is a new experience. Although I often design my own blocks, I draw them directly onto freezer paper for applique. Anyway, here's what I came up with:

At this stage, it's just the outline, but I'm envisioning that the pansies in my block will be done in blues, ranging from light blue to a deeper purple blue. The flags will be--what else?--flag colors. I think the flower pot will want to be a golden brown. And the ribbon will be red. I haven't put any leaves into my design because I wanted mostly pansies, but I might tuck a couple in so that they're peeking out just a bit if I need some separation and definition between the flowers. And I think I'm going to move the whole thing down just a tad so it's better centered on the block, but we'll see--I'll cut my background larger and center it that way.

Tomorrow night I have a Thimbleberries Club meeting, but I think I might spend the rest of the week working on this block. I should be able to finish it by the end of the weekend, but I need to make the drive up to see my mom on Saturday and run her around town--she's being discharged from the nursing home tomorrow and will need to take care of a number of things. My dad's another story altogether and we're starting to think he may not come home at all, but that remains to be seen.

Do you ever look back at a quilt you made and mentally link it to something going on in your life at the time you made it? I have a large quilt I was working on at the start of our present war and I always remember making the pinwheel blocks for that quilt and watching CNN, seeing the bombings and the troops being deployed with their embedded reporters--very different from anything we had seen before. Since this new quilt will be a fairly long project, I can't help but wonder if I'll associate it with the changes in my parents' lives and whatever arises from their accident--changes that may deeply affect our family--or whether other things will come along that will be linked in my memory to this quilt. Even though the memories may be bittersweet at times, I love the idea that a quilt can be a tangible reminder of a certain time in someone's life, don't you?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

CHOCOLATE! It's Not Just for Breakfast Anymore!

Did you hear the news? Surely you must have! Just look around--today millions of women have a smile on their face and a new spring in their step. But just in case you haven't heard yet, yesterday the news came out that research published by the American Medical Association confirmed something we probably already knew deep within our souls: Cocoa reduces blood pressure. Here's what part of the study said:

"The drop in blood pressure among participants who consumed cocoa products for at least two weeks was in the same range as achieved by someone taking drugs commonly prescribed to control high blood pressure. The fall in blood pressure credited to cocoa could be expected to reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks by 10-20 percent." Wow!

There was also news yesterday of a study that linked high blood pressure to hot flashes. Ah ha! Finally! Justification for that box of See's candies I have hidden in the drawer by my bed! And the dark chocolate M&Ms hidden in my desk drawer at work! It's MEDICINAL!

So go ahead. Eat that chocolate Easter bunny. And those chocolate Easter eggs. Take your kids' and grandkids' chocolate candy--you NEED it more than they do! Really!

And just for a little eye candy, as opposed to the kind you can EAT (after all, this is supposed to be a QUILTING blog!), here's a little decorated dish towel I made last night. I still feel a yearning for all things spring, but I know summer will be here soon, so I compromised with cherries. Which reminds me, I think maybe I need to put some chocolate covered cherries on my grocery list! Have a wonderful chocolate-filled quilty day!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Who Would YOU Iron Sheets For?

I FINALLY finished this quilt last night--got the binding all done. The piecing's far from perfect, but when I made it, I was playing around with some leftover blocks and a limited amount of mostly leftover fabric, and after trying to remake some of the blocks a couple times and not getting the corners lined up, I gave up and figured it just wanted to live its life as a utility quilt, not an heirloom or quilt show worthy piece. But it's very bright and springy on my bed, so I'm satisfied.

I was chatting a bit with the Mare's Nest gal about Martha Stewart--who seems to be on my mind lately--and mentioned that I think she has some neat ideas but some of what she does drives me nuts--like ironing sheets. Who in their right mind irons sheets? But, not being one to see everything simply in black and white, I started thinking about the gray areas. Was there some instance when I might be inclined to iron my sheets? This is the subject that occupied me on my drive to work.

Brad Pitt. Now maybe if Brad Pitt was expected to see my sheets, I might iron them. Do you think Angelina cares about ironed sheets? But then I don't look like Angelina either. Maybe if I had really nice sheets, he wouldn't notice I don't look like Angelina? Doubtful.

Who else? I'm not sure. Sadly enough, my fantasy life is kind of boring--or at least I'm sure it would be to most people. Mostly I fantasize about fabric. Quilt fabric, not ironed sheets. And I don't care much for ironing either. In fact, I fully embraced that look for men in casual attire--that rumpled, wrinkly look. Of course, my husband's a little rumpled and wrinkly too, so it's a natural.

And I have to wonder: If I ironed my sheets, would I be comfortable sleeping on them? Or would I lay very, very still all night, not wanting to get them wrinkled? And I think I would certainly HAVE to make the bed every morning, which I only do about 75 percent of the time now.

No, ironed sheets aren't for me, and neither is Brad Pitt, sad to say. Frankly, at this point, I'll be happy to go home tonight and find that Rocky, my daughter's boxer, hasn't slobbered on them in passing. Clean sheets--it's a GOOD thing!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Bunnies Need Not Apply

Easter arrived last night at midnight--as it has a tendency to do--along with my daughter and her boxer named (what else?!) Rocky. My 23-year-old daughter lives in Lake Tahoe and works as a bartender in a casino. Tahoe is a prime recreation area with an abundance of winter and summer sports, and most of the 20- and 30-somethings work only to earn enough money to support their passion for sport. My daughter and her boyfriend had planned a back country trek this weekend, wanting to get in as much snowboarding as possible before the snow disappears; unfortunately, she turned her ankle snowboarding last week, so she decided to come home for the holiday instead.

Rocky, I'm told, is my granddog. He's a sweet but slobbery guy who rarely leaves my daughter's side except to pace around and explore his surroundings.

So, this Easter morning, we have an overabundance of animals, although a couple of them have made themselves pretty scarce. Our younger cat, Spike, is terrified of Rocky and has been hiding under the bed since he arrived. I finally coaxed her out and set her on top of the amoire in my bedroom with some food and water where she's pretending to sleep but reveals her anxiety every time she hears a noise and looks at the bedroom door with panic in her eyes.

My daughter thought it might be fun to let our two dogs out of their dog run to play with Rocky, but when one of them expressed some interest in Rocky's food bowl, growls erupted and Rocky pinned her to the ground. Play time over.

Meanwhile, our older cat, Button, is frightened of Rocky but--cat-like--refuses to show that she's intimidated and has spent much of the morning in sight but up on the kitchen counters and cupboards. My husband has been doing a little baking this morning, preparing a coffee cake for our Easter morning meal. It seems that Button has been able to set aside her fear of Rocky long enough to check out the baking. None of us would have noticed if it wasn't for the evidence she was wearing--check out the flour all over her face--normally she's pure black! LOL!

Does she look bored, or what? The consumate feline actress! Thank goodness the Easter bunny hasn't shown up--I can't imagine what would happen if we added one more animal to this menagerie! Have a wonderful Easter day!

Saturday, April 7, 2007


A clean house with a warm breeze blowing through, carrying with it the scent of newly mown grass. An iced latte, a handful of chocolate Easter candy, and a small pile of discarded pastel foil wrappers. Relaxing on the couch, watching TV, and binding a quilt that's FINALLY done! Looking forward to dinner OUT. Can life get much better? I hope you are all enjoying the weekend as much as I am!

Friday, April 6, 2007

Sunbonnet Duck and Other Easter Musings

Here it is, almost Easter, and I realized I have many things that are not done. Fortunately, none of it is anything that will cause the world to end. Just little things. For instance, I only got two of those darned Martha Stewart eggs done, which means I have a basket full of naked styrofoam eggs and a pile of pretty pastel perle cotton thread. Maybe I'll just be done really, really early for next year. Or not.
A couple of years ago, my quilt guild selected as its annual challenge a crib quilt using 30s fabrics. My apologies in advance to those of you who love 30s fabrics and patterns, but we're all different and they just don't appeal much to me--I think it's because I'm not fond of pastels and I have a hard time with all the medium value fabrics. But being a good guild member and kind of liking a challenge, I decided to participate. Now I have to tell you that I also don't care much for Sunbonnet Sues. Sorry, once again, because I know this gal is popular, but she's just too darn cute for me. Anyway, after thinking about the challenge for a bit, I had this vision of a Sunbonnet Duck. In my mind, it looked kind of like a duck, kind of like Sunbonnet Sue, and kind of like the Keep on Truckin guy. With the quilt show in October, I finally got going in August; in September we went on vacation and I took all my applique pieces with me to work on during our drive through Oregon. Then, on vacation, I got the flu. The really, really bad flu where you can't do a thing--you can barely manage to breathe. So that didn't get done either. Of course, this wasn't a project I was trying to complete for this Easter, so the lack of completion hasn't made me feel like a complete slacker--been there, done that already with this particular project. But I think the ducks remind me of Easter, and I thought you might like to see them (because we all like eye candy, right?!). The blocks are just stuck up on my design wall and the photo's a little dark because I took the picture at night. I want to make two more ducks and set them inside maybe an oval of appliqued flowers and bugs. Hopefully it will be a few more years before any grandkids come along, so I think I have a little time.

My online group was talking a little today about Easter traditions, and that got me thinking of a couple other things I didn't do this year. When the kids were living at home--even when they were teenagers--every year I'd boil between two and three dozen eggs and we'd spend the Friday before Easter decorating them. (My husband didn't really do any of the decorating. His main task was to eat them afterward.) The three of us are all somewhat creative, so we'd generally have a fun time trying to out do each other and arguing about whose egg was the best. Some of those eggs were pretty crazy--very few simply dyed eggs in this house.

And because I don't have a gazillion hard boiled eggs this year, I also won't be making the traditional but fairly gross post Easter meal my mom used to make. Tuna and chopped up hard boiled eggs in a white sauce served on toast. No, I won't inflict the recipe on you. It surprises me sometimes that I've actually made it a couple times myself since becoming an adult, but perhaps I was suffering from some passive-aggressive psychosis and wanted to punish my family. In any event, one of my friends said her family made the same thing but without the tuna, and her grown kids still call her every year to get the recipe. They had a little twist to their tradition though. Before fixing this meal (which was served as Easter breakfast), they would roll the eggs at one another in the driveway, smashing the shells. The winner was the egg that didn't break. How are these traditions borne, I wonder? It boggles the mind!

Well, I have one more day before Easter to see if I can get a few more things done. I still need to go to the grocery store and get whatever I need to make whatever kind of salad I decide I want to bring to Easter dinner. I obviously don't have this quite planned out yet, but I'm leaning toward a pasta salad. That's really the only "must do" on my list, because you know the world just MIGHT end if I don't show up at my mother-in-law's with a salad.

Enjoy the Easter weekend!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

I Want it ALL!

Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? I'm tempted to say "no," but I'll concede that in some--rare--cases, too much is just too much. I have friends who have too much fabric. They can spend hundreds of dollars in one shopping trip and then do the same thing again a week or two later. I'm sure they have reached a point where they don't even know what they have or where it is. So, with that in mind, when having "too much" puts a person into a constant state of confusion and chaos, maybe it is, indeed, TOO MUCH.

And that leads me to today's subject, one of the most controversial among quilters. Stash. Yep, stash. The American Heritage Dictionary defines "stash," as "something, such as money or an illegal drug, that has been hidden or stored." Very appropriate since for most quilters, their stash certainly represents money--spent not hidden--and although not illegal, a fabric stash can be much like a drug. A happy drug. And I think I'm addicted!

Most quilters, it seems, have a love/hate relationship with their stash. In moments of weakness, lust, or a need for retail therapy, we add to it. We proudly take our new acquisitions home and play with them, love them, and then oftentimes put them on a shelf with others of their kind. Later we ask ourselves, "What was I thinking?!" We look around and realize that even if we were to live to be as old as Moses, we'd NEVER use all that fabric. But still we buy more.

When I started quilting, I dreamed of someday having a stash. I worked hard at it, and eventually my efforts paid off. STASH! Lovely, lovely stash! Then, over the years, I heard more and more quilters talk about desperately trying to USE UP their stash. I just didn't get it. Why would anyone want to deplete their stock? Would a stamp collector pull out his treasured stamps just so he could mail off his bill payments? No way!

As you may have figured, I'm a stash-builder, a hoarder perhaps. That's not to say I don't use my stash. After all, that's why I have it. I can't tell you how many times I've gone "shopping" in my stash and pulled fabrics for a quilt or hunted down just the right color and pattern in the middle of the night, when all the fabric stores were closed. I'm not adverse to using the fabric I've collected, but I'm not driven to make a conscious effort to use up what I have either. I told a friend a few years ago that for me, having my stash is a little like an artist having a selection of paint colors, tones, and hues. (She actually just laughed at me--can you imagine?! I get no respect! LOL!)

I new blog friend suggested I might want to look into the Stashbusters webring. While it's a great group of ladies and I truly enjoy reading their blogs, I don't think I possess the right attitude--I'm sure they'd kick me out in no time. A wolf in sheep's clothing. A republican at a Hillary Clinton fundraiser. A gumball in a bowl full of M&Ms. You get the idea. The only fabrics in my stash that I wouldn't mind "busting" are my two drawers of scraps, and I actually DO use my Thimbleberries scraps quite a lot.

What I really need is more time. More time to make the quilts floating around in my mind; more time to use the fabrics I'm inspired by, the ones that insist on coming home with me. Making quilts just so I can use up what I already have isn't the way I want to spend my time. I want to be inspired by a fabric, whether it's on my own shelf or on a store shelf, so that working on a quilt is a joy every step of the way.

I've only had my blog for about a month now and I've thought it would be nice to belong to a webring, a group of like-minded quilters. Is there a Stashbuilders ring, by any chance?! Maybe we should start one. Stash Lovers Unite! Stand proud! Remember: Fabric is a GOOD thing and we love it, don't we? Even if it is a guilty pleasure sometimes?! But don't we all need guilty pleasures?

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

National Registry of "Those Who Should Not Be Given Quilts"

Does that sound like a negative title? I think it probably is. It's hard to know what to blog about today--NOT because I don't have any thoughts in mind but because I have too many!

I love to read all your blogs and see what everyone is doing. It's kind of like a soap opera, a little peek into the lives of other quilters and crafters. I love to read about all the happy things and even the less happy things that touch the lives of those who choose to share them. I love to get inspiration from the projects of others. Reading blogs lifts my mood, and I'm feeling happy today, although I couldn't tell you precisely why. Maybe it's reading about the spring time enthusiasm of others, the start of new projects, the photographs of blooms in the garden, Easter holiday plans, and all the ideas rolling around in my head about projects I would like to do if only I never had to sleep, never had to work for a living!

Today, though, for some reason I was pondering the subject of people who don't "get" quilts. That's okay if they don't--not everyone HAS to understand a quilter's passion. I KNOW other people are passionate about things that I don't "get." But quilting is such a time consuming past time that it would be nice to know ahead of time who will and will not appreciate receiving a quilt.

I think we're all touched by quilts made for others and given with love and caring. The quilts for those who are ill, the quilts for those who are new to this world. But I'm also sure that most of us have a story about a quilt we gave to someone who really didn't appreciate it. Mostly, we just let it go and make a mental note not to make that person another quilt. But wouldn't it be easier if there was a national registry of those who don't appreciate quilts?

I remember my online group was chatting one day about the subject, and one gal told us about all the time and thought she had put into a quilted wallhanging for her sister. When she visited her sister a few months later, the wallhanging was being used as a bath mat. No more quilts for that sister! LOL!

My brother and I had planned to surprise my parents with a new washing machine for Christmas because theirs wasn't working right. A few days before Christmas, I called to tell them our plans so we could arrange for someone to deliver the washing machine and install it. No, they didn't want a washing machine. Or actually they DID, but they also wanted a dryer that matched, which was beyond our budget. Okay, no washer, but what to give them instead? I think my brother sent them a gift card, but I decided to make them a quilt. Since I didn't want to wait too long to get the quilt to them, I went through my completed tops and found one I thought they would like, one that would go with the colors in their home. Of course, it was one that I liked a lot too--made with scrappy swapped blocks from my online group using fabrics I just loved. But you know how it is--you're willing to sacrifice when you're giving someone you love a gift.

So I did the quilting and finally completed it in February, I think, and sent it off by UPS, two day delivery. That's it in the photo above. Never heard anything about it until a couple weeks later when I was talking to my brother who told me mom liked the quilt but it was too heavy to sleep under. Too heavy? Okay, it was simply cotton, top and bottom, with a cotton/poly batting, but since I thought they'd use it as a throw, I wasn't too concerned. When they were in the auto accident a few weeks ago, I had to go through their house, gathering up papers and things to take care of and toiletries and clothing to take to the nursing home. It occurred to me after the first trip that I hadn't seen that quilt. Maybe in a closet or cupboard? On the next trip, I kind of looked around a little better. Still no quilt. I didn't make a thorough search and I haven't asked my mom what happened to the quilt, but I have to think that maybe it isn't something she loved as much as I did. Who can say?
On the other hand, a few years ago, I made my brother and his wife a simple wallhanging as a Christmas gift. They treasured it so much, they had it framed! While I don't really advocate framing quilts--because I think quilts are to be used, enjoyed, and cuddled--at least I KNOW they appreciate the time and thought that went into it. And do you know what? For Christmas they received four quilted placemats from me. Hopefully they aren't framed and hanging above their couch, but even if they are, I know my quilts are going to a good home where they'll be loved by my brother's family.
Do you have a quilt story to tell, happy, funny, or sad? I'd love to read about it in your blog!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Just Do What I Tell You . . .

My horoscope on Yahoo says, "You will be fiery and full of energy today. Explore something new." Who, ME?! Nope, no fire and energy here, so I don't know what they're talking about. "Explore something new"? Hard to do when I'm at work, doing the same things I always do. I would love to explore something new, but who would pay the bills?

According to Yahoo and most astrological charts, I am a Leo--the leader. Blogger has me as a Cancer, though--the homebody. Yes, I'm right on the cusp, which means that I generally stay at home and boss the cats around. I try to tell my husband what to do, but here it is, 26 years into our marriage, and I don't think it's really working. Of course, he either doesn't hear what I say or forgets. Testosterone strikes again, thwarting me in my quest to develop those leadership abilities my birthdate demands. Darn! Even the children have escaped.

Yesterday, I mentioned my chicken Caesar salad recipe, which I did, in fact, fix for dinner last night. (Photo above.) This is usually a Friday night meal, when I don't feel like doing a whole lot. I think this is just too good to keep to myself, so I thought I'd share my fast food fixing secret with you. It works perfectly for my husband and I--if you're feeding more and want to have a go anyway, you'll need to recalculate for your family.

Most of the time when I go to the grocery store, I buy one of those already roasted whole chickens. Costco has the best, but I'll settle for whatever--most are pretty decent unless they've been under the heat lamps for 12 hours. The first night, I make a couple side dishes and serve my husband a leg/thigh piece and I have a breast. That's one meal. The next day, my husband takes the other leg/thigh piece to work for his lunch. Two meals. The second breast goes into the salad. Three meals. Then I make soup with the carcass and whatever meat's left on it. Another meal or two, usually for my husband's lunches. Cool, huh? Meanwhile, much quilting can be accomplished!

The Caesar salad is especially excellent. Back when I'm at the grocery store, picking up that chicken, I also pick up a bag o'salad--the kind with dressing and everything packaged together. My favorite is Caesar Supreme. When I know I'm going to fix the salads, I'll cook up some pasta that morning--bowties are the best but penne is okay two--and let it cool in the fridge. Then all I do is mix up the salad bag contents, about a cup of cooked pasta, and the cubed up chicken--that's enough for two main dish salads. I always forget how really good it tastes until that first bite, and there's very little effort involved. If I have extra "stuff" in the fridge, I can toss that in the salad too. I usually serve it with some toast, English muffins, or bake up one of those Pillsbury french bread loaves.

So, if you'll all just do what this Leo tells you, you'll be well fed, happy, and have more time for quilting! Really! Just do what I say and no one will get hurt--except a couple chickens! LOL!
Do you have any great time saving schemes? Post them on your blog and let me know so I can check them out--I love anything that saves time and all that fire and energy I seem to have misplaced!

Monday, April 2, 2007

Food, Fabric, Fun

Sorry you couldn't make it by for breakfast yesterday--you missed a great breakfast treat! Blueberry crumble French toast stuffed with honey sweetened cream cheese and blueberry preserves. Yum! We ate out on the patio and enjoyed the lovely spring weather.
After breakfast, I got busy playing with fabric--specifically my spring-y looking bright quilt that I've been quilting for the last century or so! I don't know about you, but when something takes THIS LONG, I really start getting antsy to move on to something else. As I was quilting, I found my mind wandering to a couple applique projects that are "in progress," thinking that maybe I could take a break from quilting and switch gears. Or maybe I could wrap a couple more Easter eggs--I got a nice fat package of perle cotton in the mail from Herrschner's on Saturday for that purpose. But no, I made myself keep on quiltin'. I did take a little break, though, to write my April Fool's post about--what else--the tendency we quilters have to wander from one project to the next--lol! In any event, by bedtime last night, I was starting to see the light at the end of the quilted tunnel. I think maybe, just maybe, I'll have this thing done by next weekend if I persevere! Meanwhile, I have a Jo's Little Women Club meeting on Wednesday night with nothing to show for the last month. I did finish a little basket quilt at the class I took from Jo Morton, but that's been sent off to a good friend in Maryland for some hand quilted magic. The other class project is still on my design wall, needing a couple more appliqued flowers and then a whole lot of piecing--which is probably what started my mind wandering in the first place yesterday.
I go through periods--loooooong periods--where I really don't feel like cooking, interspersed with periods--short periods--where I get in the mood. Apparently I was in the mood yesterday for at least a couple hours because not only did I make French toast for breakfast but I also made homemade pizza for dinner. Yum again! It was a great day for eating at my house!

Last week, my buddy Kairle sent me a link to a blog called Cream Puffs in Venice. Great looking food, and I had to try out the pizza recipe she posted on March 18th. I added sliced Roma tomatoes to mine, but it was otherwise the same. Definitely one I'll have to make again!

Tonight, I think, might be a chicken Caesar salad night. (And I just may be moving into that period of not wanting to cook much, but that remains to be seen.) My chicken Caesar salads are wonderful--and very quick and simple. I'll have to tell you more about it next time. Until then, happy quilting!