Sunday, September 30, 2007

Pot Bellied Cow?

Is there such a thing? Or maybe a mini cow? Something small enough to live in the living room of a condo? Our good blog buddy Vicky over at LA Quilter is in the market for one. She just bought a milking stool for her living room--it's a conversation piece. Just think how much MORE conversation there'd be if she had a cow to go with it.

I've done a little bit of checking on the internet and found this little guy, Vicky:

Or maybe you'd rather have this guy?

If anyone knows of a nice, small cow, please contact Vicky, okay? She really needs a cow to make her life complete. Even if she didn't make it to the grocery store for a month or so, if she had a cow she'd still have milk to drink. Ice cream to make. Cheese even.

But no beef, okay?!

Sunshine and Apple Pie

In this part of the state of California, it wouldn't really be fall without a trip up to Apple Hill. Apple Hill is comprised of quite a few small farms and orchards that open up in the fall (some year round) and sell their produce to the public. Apple Hill is located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, off Highway 50 just past Placerville heading east--not too far from the site where gold was discovered back in 1849.

On weekends, the Apple Hill area is jam packed with "tourists" in search of a good apple pie. Many of the farms have craft booths and other activities. Each year, my husband and I make the trip to buy apples and other goodies, and we usually go on a weekday to miss the crowds. Not this year, though--we braved the crowds yesterday.

This was our first stop. Starbucks in Placerville, of course!

There was really only one place I wanted to go to--Boa Vista Orchards--and I know how to get there the back way, so the crowds weren't too horrendous. Of course, even the "back way" has a little traffic!

The red barn-looking buildings are one of the participating growers. See those grape vines to the left? Apple Hill also has several vineyards with wine tasting and sales.


Ah, we finally arrived at Boa Vista Orchards. They have a HUGE open building filled with produce--mostly apples but quite a few other things as well.

Besides two half bushels of apples, I picked up some nice, juicy tomatoes, apple cider, apple pumpkin butter, soup and chili spices, and a bunch of little pumpkins.

I took this photo for Sharon over at Red Geranium Cottage because Sharon is challenged when it comes to making pie crust. Dough balls, Sharon!!! That's actually one of my secrets--most of my pie-making is done in the fall with apples, and I just buy enough dough balls to make the number of pies I want to make. The dough is fresh and homemade, and several of the farms sell these dough balls. Yum!

After loading up the car, my husband and I headed back to Placerville for a late lunch of sandwiches at Sweetie Pie's. The weather was wonderful, and we sat out on the open air porch. Look at that blue sky!

Across the street was this old building--I just took a photo to give you an idea of some of the older, historic buildings in Placerville.

Then we headed home to Sacramento--I'm sure the city is down there somewhere!


And look what I found when I unloaded my purchases! (Okay, I actually found TWO! Two for $10--couldn't pass up that deal!)


Yes, my husband and I are dieting, but we really couldn't go to Apple Hill and NOT get apple pie. Could we? No! So we decided we'd skip dinner and go right to the dessert. Sure tasted good with a little (lite) vanilla ice cream on top!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Halloween Idea

The other day I promised you a cute decorating idea--remember? So, here's that post. Unfortunately, since I'm talking today about decorating stuff, I won't have time to tell you about this week's personal beauty treatment. I hope you'll forgive me once you see my idea--I know you SO-O-O-O-O look forward to my Day of Beauty posts.

A couple years ago, my friend Kairle told me about this thing she does with pumpkins and I took part of her idea and modified it to better fit my decorating scheme. First of all, you'll need pumpkins (I like the mini ones), clear acrylic gesso, a paint brush, and glitter. I'm not a really glitzy, glittery type of gal, so I prefer an opalescent glitter--it makes the pumpkins look kind of frosty. Like a margarita with salt on the rim. Or something like that. So, assemble your things and lay down a sheet of newspaper or paper towels or whatever you want to use to protect your work surface and toss out later.

First of all, paint a layer of gesso on the bottom halves of the pumpkins. The gesso will dry clear as long as you don't put it on too thick--just paint it on as you would paint. (I actually got mine on a little too thick, but they still look pretty.)

While the gesso is still wet, sprinkle with glitter. Let dry for about 45 minutes.

Turn over and repeat. It will likely take a couple hours for the gesso to dry completely, but the pumpkins can be handled within an hour or so.

Here's what I did with mine:

All you need is a tray, a candle, a glass container for the candle, Candy Corn, some really cute pumpkins, and something colorful and festive to line the tray.

My girl boss told me about the idea of using Candy Corn as a base for the candle--cute, isn't it? I've since talked to a couple other ladies who use the same thing, but I hadn't heard of it before. For optimum attractiveness, it's important that you examine all of the Candy Corn and remove any flawed pieces--this is a little known secret that I thought I'd share with you. Shhhhh!

Now since this is our little secret, it's very important that you hide the evidence of the flawed Corn. The best way I've found to do that is to simply eat it. After all, you surely wouldn't want to keep them around for fear they might accidently get mixed up with the "good," Corn, right? Oh, and just in case you were wondering, this kind of corn digests much better than the variety that comes on a cob. Did I just hear you ask about my diet? Check this out: 140 calories for 22 pieces. And since I'm only eating FLAWED pieces, I think there's probably only half the calories anyway. Heck, it's really not that much worse than eating an apple, right? By the way, do you think a serving of Candy Corn counts as a serving of vegetables? I'm pretty sure it does.

Happy decorating!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Reclaiming my Home

Who? Me?!

When the Wild Child and the Drooling Dog went home on Wednesday, I thought things were on the way to getting back to normal. As my husband and I were getting ready for bed, we heard a crash. When I went to investigate, I found Spike, the younger cat, had gone into my daughter's room and knocked a plant off the shelf--probably her way of saying "good riddance to the Drooling Dog." I came back into the bedroom and told my husband what had happened and, as I started to leave the bedroom again, he asked, "Are you going to clean it up now?" "Nope," I replied, "I'm going to take pictures." Funny what blogging does to us, isn't it?! To tell you the truth, that one last pot full of dirt scattered around my daughter's room did little to make the house much worse than it already was, but maybe that was the last straw that tipped the balance in favor of taking a mental health day!

I'm a little stiff and sore this morning. I didn't stop cleaning and decorating yesterday until around 3 p.m. when my feet and legs just didn't really want to play that game any more. Then I took a quilting break and a grocery store shopping break and another quilting break. Finally, late last night, I finished some of the cleaning I hadn't done earlier. Boy I slept good last night too!

Here are a couple photos of my Autumn decorations . . .

and the leaf quilt which still needs binding--but it's close!

I still need to decorate in the kitchen and get binding on that quilt--probably tonight. Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mental Health Day!

I just wanted to post a quick note to let you know that I took a mental health day today. Instead of going to work, I cleaned house, decorated, and quilted. Oh, and I even went to the grocery store!

Boy am I'm pooped! I still have a little bit of cleaning and decorating to do, but most of it's done, and I feel like it's safe to touch things, prepare food in the kitchen, etc., again! No drool! I think going to work would have been a lot easier, but everything in the house would still have been here when I got home.

I finished quilting the leaf quilt--now on to the trimming and binding.

I'll get some photos tomorrow and share them with you over the next few days. I also have a little decorating idea my girl boss passed on to me that I thought I'd share. So check back Friday night or Saturday and I'll show you what I've been up to.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Coming Along!

I'm late posting tonight again, but this time it's all good. I came home to an empty house--even my husband wasn't home because he had a late meeting at work. What luxury! If only a cleaning service had visited before I got here!

My house is really filthy. At this point, I think the only really clean thing is the refrigerator I cleaned the other day. I might decide to live in it. After the domestic stresses of the past few days, I just didn't feel much like cleaning. Instead, I figuratively locked myself in the Sweat Shop all evening and got on with the very important job of quilting. At least when I'm in there, I can ignore any mess outside that door, and any mess inside the door is usually a happy clutter of fabric and quilting supplies, and I can live with that.

The quilting on the leaf quilt is coming along, and I think I just might finish tomorrow night; if not tomorrow, though, then most definitely by Friday. Well, unless a kid comes home to visit or some other natural disaster strikes. Of course, I'll still need to add the binding. Oh, and I guess I still have to clean house too, so there are a few possibilities that may side track my plans.

Speaking of projects moving along, how's everyone in the Hometown Christmas group doing? By now, you should have completed the first section and have the second section done by the end of the weekend. The first book ends, I think, with the red bird section which isn't numbered Section 3, but it will be the next one we'll work on, and that will be "due" by October 15th. Are you all keeping up?

I wanted to share a couple quilty things that have arrived in the mail. Since I couldn't attend the Thimbleberries retreat at the Main Street Cotton Shop in Hutchinson, Minnesota, I did the next best thing--I ordered the Mr. Halloween's Party bucket of strips from that line and I ordered a Buck Bundle of the Thimbleberries fall fabric line. If you're not familar with MSCS's Buck Bundles, they're kind of fun! A Buck Bundle consists of a 10" square of each piece of fabric in a line, so it's really about the equivalent of getting 4 charm packs. I didn't get a photo of the Buck Bundle, but here's a photo of the Mr. Halloween's Party bucket:

In other quilting news, did you know that Kim Diehl is coming out with her third book soon? She's one of my favorite quilt designers and I've preordered her book. Since I began quilting, I've always preferred quilts that are pieced with some applique added, and I love quilts done in the country/homespun/slightly primitive style, so when I "discovered" Kim Diehl, I felt like she was a kindred spirit. Looking closely at the quilts in her books, I see many of the same fabrics I have in my stash. Here's the new book:

My last bit of upcoming news is that a new Art to Heart/Nancy Halvorsen book should be out before long called "Be Attitudes." I really like the look of this quilt but I'm not certain I'd ever get around to making it, so this is one I haven't ordered. I may change my mind, of course. But for now, I'm resisting. Here's a photo of the book with the quilt on the cover--cute, isn't it?:

And since these aren't out yet, I'm not really "megging" you, am I? Nah! I wouldn't do that!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Empty Nest?

Would you think me an unnatural mother if I told you that I was sort of looking forward to the Wild Child and the Drooling Dog's departure tomorrow? I love her dearly--the Wild Child--but my happy little schedule is disrupted and I'm yearning to get back to "normal." I think I'm even getting a little cranky!

I think it's hard when our kids move out and then come home to visit. For the first couple hours, we're overjoyed to have them back. After that--well, I think we'd be happy to have them back if only they'd leave for a little while. Or something. I guess I'm kind of conflicted.

I haven't really been able to quilt much since she's been home. When I start quilting, I'm invariably interrupted. And that's okay in a lot of ways, because I want to spend time with her, but I also want to quilt. Similarly, I haven't gotten any further on decorating the house for fall. I'm just itching to decorate, but it's hard to do with two cats and a dog to referee and two other adults--all of whom, humans and pets alike, seem to be hanging around all over the place.

My blog post is late tonight because the Wild Child has been downloading and giving titles to 628 photos from her digital camera. Finally, when I did get on the computer, she came running in here with an unopened 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle begging me to let her open it and start putting it together, even though it's 10:30 at night, she's leaving tomorrow by noon, and she has a lot to do between now and then. And it's a quilting puzzle I bought for myself and have been "saving" until I had time to put it together. I said "no." She begged some more. I said "no" some more. She looked at me with sad eyes--you know that look, right? I said "no" again. I feel mean.

I look around my house and see messes that wouldn't be here if there weren't three adults and a dog coexisting in this small home. Oh, she's pretty good at cleaning up after herself with the larger messes--like when she baked (and burned every single one of) a batch of cookies. But, for instance, her camera is still sitting here on my desk, I found one sock draped over a kitchen chair and another in the living room, and her purse, keys, and cell phone are likely to turn up anywhere. That's just an example--it is not even close to being all the stuff that's scattered here and there around the house.

The dog drools. Really yucky, ugly, gross, snotty looking drool. And sometimes he shakes himself off. I now have drool plastered on the outside of my patio screen door. I'm kind of afraid to look at anything too closely in the house. I really, really, really need to clean house--like tomorrow night after she's gone. Maybe I should take time off work and come home early to get started. Maybe I should pick up all kinds of disinfectants and bleach on the way home. Maybe I should just build a bonfire and burn everything. Well, maybe not. Bleach and Lysol will have to do.

I have to lure the cats in the house while the dog's outside and then lock them into a room where they're safe. This morning, they both got "breakfast in bed"--I had to feed the older cat on a table in the garage and the younger cat's dish is relocated to the top of the bureau in my bedroom. I got out of bed this morning and stepped on the younger cat because she was crouched on the floor next to the bed where she presumably felt safe.

I think I'm getting old and set in my ways. I like my habits. But I love my kids--both the Wild Child and her older brother. I know that once my life gets back to "normal," I'll miss her terribly. Like I said, I guess I'm kind of conflicted.

Yeah, maybe I might even miss him. A little. Well, maybe not. At least photos don't drool!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Tails and Tales

The Wild Child and the Drooling Dog have come to visit. That's Rocky, aka the Drooling Dog, up there. The Wild Child says he's my grand-dog. Hummm.

Our two cats are terrorized. They run away and Rocky gallops after them. He spends time intently surveying the tops of book cases looking for cats. The Wild Child tells me his eyesight's not the best, which was obvious when he thought a ceramic rabbit that sits on the livingroom floor was one of the cats until he could get a few good, deep sniffs.

When I got home from work tonight, the older cat greeted me in the front yard. Well, "greeted" isn't exactly the right word. She WAS out there and moved to the center of the yard when I pulled in the driveway, but after that, she just glared at me for allowing this invasion to take place. Rocky's been out in the backyard, and since that's the route of choice for the younger cat, we haven't seen hide nor hair of her. The Wild Child goes back to Tahoe on Wednesday, so we expect the cats will be throwing her and the Drooling Dog a going away party--after they've gone away!

Okay, now about that soup. You all have to understand first off that I'm not real experienced at beef soup. Chicken soup of any kind, yes. But beef? Not so much. So when I was at the grocery store, I picked up a package of beef bones for flavor and was staring at the rest of the cuts of beef when the butcher asked me if I was finding everything I needed.

You all have to understand second off that I'm not really one to ask for assistance much. There's just no way I would have asked the butcher's advice if he hadn't been standing there, asking if he could help. So I said, "What beef do you have on sale or at a decent price that would be good for soup? I have these beef bones, but I need some meat." So the butcher pulls out a package of oxtail bones or some such and said they would be excellent. I dubiously eyed the package, which pretty much looked like more beef bones to me but with a little more meat on them, and asked the butcher if there was enough meat on those things. "Oh, yes," he said, so into my cart the package went.

Now you all know I mentioned having this soup in the crockpot yesterday, so I'll fast forward this tale to around 7 p.m. last night when I pulled all the bones out of the crockpot to separate out the meat. Nope, no meat really. I had to cut through a bunch of gristly, tendony stuff on the oxtail bones to get to tiny bits of stringy, tough meat, and after working on that for about a half hour, I tossed them all in the garbage and ran back to the store for some tri-tip steaks that were on sale 30% off. I think you'll understand that dinner last night was scrambled eggs and English muffins while the soup simmered away another couple hours.

I wonder, now, if that really WAS a butcher or whether some random guy just felt like putting on a white apron and hanging around the meat case, 'cause this guy sure didn't know what the heck he was talking about! And this, of course, is one of the reasons I tend to not ask for assistance a whole lot.

The soup, you'll be happy to hear, was wonderful even if it was a day late. No, I didn't get a photo and I don't really have a recipe exactly, except that I took THIS recipe and pretty much followed the basic directions except I added the veggies in THIS recipe as well. I also added about a tablespoon of minced garlic at the browning-the-meat (or bones!) stage where the first recipe says to add garlic salt. I also had some liquid concentrated beef bouillon and added a bit of that (maybe a couple tablespoons?) as well as about a 1/4 cup of red wine toward the end of cooking. Or what I FIRST thought was going to be the end of cooking. And some salt, garlic salt, and pepper to taste later on.

And it's a good thing that soup turned out well in the end, because I think we'll be eating it most of the week! At least there will be more time for quilting if I don't have to cook. That providing my husband and Wild Child stay out of trouble. Just as I was writing this post, they managed to lock themselves in the house and can't open the door to the garage. When I last checked, they were taking the knob and locking mechanism apart. I've heard a few bangs from from that direction too. At least we have plenty of duct tape now.

LATER ADDITION: Now we have no door knob on the door from the kitchen to the garage. Yes, that's right. My lawn is dead, the produce bin in the refrigerator is mended with duct tape, and the door knob is completely off the door. Which, by the way, means there's no real barrier between the Drooling Dog and the old cat. Unless I duct tape it shut. But the good news is that no, we have no Buick up on blocks on the dead front lawn--yet. And no, we do not have Christmas lights still up on the house. And before you ask, yes, we do have indoor plumbing. Last I checked, it was still working too. Please e-mail me for my address if you wish to send a check or money order for any and all repairs, or if you have a handyman or gardener you can spare for a little while. Thank you for your concern.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Stuff I Hate to Do

1. Get up on the weekend, get dressed, put on make-up, fix my hair, and go out.

Yeah, I'd really rather just be a bum and hang around the house quilting. You know the old HERMIT thing I like to do on weekends? But I wanted to go check out a few things on sale at Kohl's and then hit the grocery store to buy what I needed to make beef and barley soup in the crockpot. So I was up and out and back again by a little past noon. I didn't end up with what I THOUGHT I was going to Kohl's for, but I did get a cute wooden pumpkin wallhanging thingy that's now hanging in the front bathroom and a set of two non-stick Farberware skillets on clearance for $15 (marked down from $40-something). Last time I scrambled eggs in my old non-stick skillet, there were some crunchy bits that I think were Teflon! I hate shopping so much, I tend to wait until I'm desperate!

2. Clean the refrigerator.

This is another thing I put off. Oh, I wipe up spills as they happen and toss out any semi-liquid veggies--usually when I get home from shopping with a bag of fresh produce. But the REAL cleaning where you take EVERYTHING out and wash everything? Nope, not happening here more than a couple times a year. For one thing, the way the refrigerator fits into its nook means that I have to pull the whole thing OUT to get all the shelves and drawers out. Anyway, I did that chore today, so I think I'm set for the upcoming holiday season. I think I filled up three or four grocery bags of stuff that was out of date or that I knew we just weren't going to eat, either because of this diet we're on or just because.

And what made me do that, you may wonder? Well, one of the produce drawers kept sticking. I had pulled it out and washed it all before, but I probably didn't do a very thorough job, and it still kept sticking. Finally, the front of the plastic drawer cracked from all the pushing and pulling. It started out as a small crack, and I could still get the drawer open by pulling on the sides, but I think my son must have come over and gotten into the food, because suddenly half the front of the drawer was covered in jagged cracks.

After I got the refrigerator all cleaned, I decided the best thing to do was to mend the cracked drawer with--what else?--duct tape! I must be suffering from high testosterone levels or something because that seemed like a reasonable solution. Of course, we were all out of duct tape, so I had to run back to the store and get some. Now I have a white trash produce bin. See?

The other alternative is to track down the original paperwork that came with the refrigerator, see if there's a parts list, and order a new drawer, but that would probably mean looking through about three different drawers for the correct paperwork, and I'd probably have to clean out those drawers too, and I'm just not in the mood today. Really, all I want to do is go back to my hermit ways and head on into the Sweat Shop!

Oh, and by the way--if I EVER mention repairing upholstery or articles of clothing with duct tape, please stage an intervention!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Almost Fall!

Am I boring you with all this Autumn/Fall stuff? I hope not, because there's more! And tomorrow's the first day of Autumn, I think! As expected, it sprinkled off and on today, so besides quilting, I lit a couple cinnamon apple candles and dug out some of my fall "stuff." (I'll confess that I also stopped at Michael's on the way home from work last night so I could add to my fall "stuff"--including one of those cinnamon apple candles that are now scenting the air.)

I haven't gotten very far on the decorating and I'll probably take it a little bit at a time, but I thought I'd share bits and pieces with you along the way.

Here's my fall bedding. I made this quilt several years ago from Kansas Troubles fabric. I actually started out with a Kansas Troubles pattern and a monthly class, but I thought the applique was awfully simplistic so I made a few changes as I went. It's mostly machine quilted, but I did hand quilt some of the applique pieces with perle cotton. I finally finished the quilt three or four years ago and entered it in my guild's quilt show. Although the judges didn't award me any ribbons (and right they were, too, because there are some technical defects!), I did win Members' Choice and Viewers' Choice. I love this quilt and I look forward every year to bringing it out and putting it on the bed. Here are a couple close ups:

Morning glories twining around a stalk of corn.

Pumpkin--there are three across the bottom along with two mice and a black cat--this photo just shows one with a mouse and cat.

Purple coneflowers and sunflowers--a branch full of apples on top; on the opposite side, there's a branch of pears. I didn't take close ups, but across the top of the quilt are branches with oak leaves, a black crow (hidden under the pillows), and a moon on one corner and a sun on the other.

It took a couple years, but eventually I made matching panel covers for the wall above the bed, and a valance to go above the sheer curtains in the room. (I couldn't get a decent photo of the valance with the sun coming in, so you'll just have to take my word for it!)

Here's another quilt I wanted to show you:

One year, my online group had a Halloween block challenge. Each of us who wanted to participate made and sent in a block. The blocks were voted on anonymously and the winner got all the blocks. The winner was Eileen, who made the barn block near the center of the quilt. (The block I made is just to the right of it with the flying bat.) I loved these blocks to start with and then when Eileen set them into a quilt and hand quilted it, I thought she did a marvelous job! A year or so later, Eileen gifted me with the quilt as a Christmas present--I was totally amazed! It's one of my favorite quilts! Last year, I was able to display it in the living room, but I have one of my mom's paintings hanging in the only space it fit. So this year, it's on the wall in my bedroom, above my bookshelf, where I can enjoy it when I go to sleep at night and when I wake up in the morning. Aren't I lucky to have a friend like Eileen? Truly, I'm lucky to have all of you quilting friends!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Bits of This and That

Today I have a few miscellaneous things to share with you that have been brought to my attention and I thought I'd pass them on. My sister-in-law Kathy sent me an e-mail about a seagull in Scotland with a penchant for Tangy Cheese Doritos tortilla chips (or crisps as they're called there). I went looking on the internet for the story so I could give you a link. Crime in Scotland is pretty high, I think, if even the seagulls are getting into shoplifting! But I like a bird who knows exactly what he wants and goes for it! If you haven't seen this yet, click HERE and play the video of the news story.

Carole's been doing some serious MEGGING over on her blog with her idea for using fabric scraps to make rugs. At least I know she megged me! I had to go order the book from Country Threads. And while I was there, I had to order a couple other things as well. My friend Patty--one of the gals who went to the Thimbleberries retreat earlier this week--was going to try to get down to Country Threads while she was more-or-less "in the neighborhood"--if you figure Iowa is in the neighborhood of Minnesota--but I'm not sure if she made that trip or not. When we were both at the retreat a couple years back, we ALMOST went until someone mentioned we weren't supposed to take our rental car out of state unless we arranged with the car rental place ahead of time. Well, that and we were pretty busy with the retreat anyway, so we didn't go. In any event, Patty brought this new Country Threads pattern to our attention recently and, since I was right there on their website with my shiny little credit card in hand, I figured that with just a little click, the kit could be MINE! So, yeah, into my cart it went. That's it up there at the top of the blog post. You can either order just the pattern or you can get it as a "starter kit" with enough scrappy fabrics to get started, and then you can add more of your own. Cute, yes?! Then, since I noticed some really cute quilts on Ms. Sharon-Over-Achiever's blog site the other day and saw the very exact same pattern at Country Threads, I really felt I needed to add that to my shopping cart too. Here's a photo from Sharon's blog that I shamelessly stole. Think she'll sue me?

Go on over and visit Sharon and see the rest of her fall quilts though--they're worth a visit. (You'll need to scroll down a couple posts.) More importantly, check out the red and white gingham apron and matching shoes she's wearing! I swear she looks almost like my grandma when old grannie was busy in the kitchen baking. Well, except those photos of her where she's shoving an enormous wooden spoon in her mouth. Grannie wouldn't do that. Or the even LARGER spoonful of "whipped topping"! Only Sharon! (Okay, I know that most of us probably WOULD do the same thing, but I'm pretty sure there are few of us who would want to memorialize it in photos on our blogs.)

Then there are Cheryl and Darlene, both of whom seem to be losing their minds lately--and nearly everything else. If you haven't already read about their recent "adventures" and want a chuckle, go over and visit them.

Friday's here--finally! I haven't done much quilting on my leaf quilt the last couple nights, but then the extra thread I ordered hasn't arrived yet either, and I'm limited on how far I can get without it. I DO think I'll start my Autumn decorating this weekend though--between bouts and bursts of quilting on the leaf quilt. The rain stopped Thursday but it's supposed to come back today and/or tomorrow, so it will be a good time to stay indoors and putter around the house. Seriously, I DO need to pull out my soup cookbooks and find some good recipes because soup season is upon us and I'm ready! Do any of you have a good recipe for a beef and veggie soup to share? Cream soups are my favorites but are too high in calories and fat, so I'm looking for soups made from beef or chicken stock that still pack in the flavor. I'd love to try a couple more recipes if you have any to recommend!

Thursday, September 20, 2007


The weather has cooled, and we were visited yesterday by the first rain of the season. (Yes, those weeds will sure be having a fun time in our dead front yard!) My daughter called from Lake Tahoe; she was on her way up to Alpine Meadows to see the first snow fall. We rarely get storms this early in the season--normally we get a nice storm about two weeks before Halloween--just in time to drench and blow all the yard decorations away!

With this first rain, my thoughts turned to soups and homemade bread, and with that in mind, I stopped at the grocery store on my way home from work and bought a bunch of convenience food. Contrary, aren't I?! To tell you the truth, when I looked at the packaged and prepared soups, everything that appealed to me seemed quite high in calories and fat, so I bypassed those. And since this hot-soup mood struck while I was at work, I wasn't able to hunt through my cookbooks for a few suitable recipes. But I did buy a tomato basil bisque something-or-other soup and thought it would be mighty tasty on a chilly Autumn evening with a grilled ham and cheese sandwich! (Okay, HALF a sandwich made with low fat butter, low fat cheese, and lean ham--kinda takes all the fun out of it, doesn't it?! Still good though!) So maybe that's dinner tonight.

Somehow, I didn't feel much like quilting. What I really felt like doing was curling up in bed in a pair of warm jammies with a good book, so that's what I did. It had been much too long since I did that. Why? Imponderable, I think! But I always seem to think somewhere at the back of my mind that I need to be productive.

Before I hopped into bed, though, I went looking on the internet for an Autumn poem--complete and total Autumn surrender and immersion here! Boy, won't I be surprised when Indian summer arrives and the temps climb up into the 80s again! But, until that happens, I'm going to enjoy the feeling Autumn brings and I'll share a bit with you.

This is one of the poems I found. It's by Marilyn Lott--I don't know who she is, but I enjoyed her poems--they seemed to invoke images of the season.


There is something about autumn
That brings out such earthiness
Gold leaves adorn bushes and trees
Like an artist with a brilliant brush

Once the leaves dry on the trees
Then the wind begins to blow
It’s a special time of year for me
Because I love autumn so

The cold dry air it seems
Prepares the leaves to fall
Mother Nature’s special time
Yes, it’s the best of all

What a dazzling way to end
The year as winter nears
The way leaves let loose
And drop like nature’s tears

Oh yes, I love those golden days
Dreamy with autumn’s glow
It makes me smile because I do
Love the season of autumn so!

Enjoy the season!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Yarrrr! And Other News

There are some important things in the news that I wanted to share with you. First of all, did you know that today, September 19th, is International Talk Like a Pirate Day? Okay, yes I know it's a weird and odd-ball thing, but what else do you expect from my blog? If you need a few key pirate phrases to bandy about during the course of your conversations today, click on Pirate Talk.

In yesterday's news, I saw we have another World's Oldest Man. This is probably a short-lived title, but the guy is 112 years old, so say "hi" while you can. That seems pretty old to me. I don't think I want to live that long. Of course, when I was younger, I thought I'd be fine with living to be maybe around 65. I don't think so anymore. And maybe when I'm 80, 112 won't look so bad!

Most disconcerting of all the news I read was this one about a woman in Orem, Utah, who was arrested for letting her lawn die and was led away in handcuffs. She's pled not guilty. Why does this scare me, you ask? Here's my yard:

Yes, it's all dead and brown. This is some hair-brained scheme cooked up by my husband and my son. The plan is to dig it all up in October (which is coming up pretty soon!), lay a sprinkler system, and put in a new lawn and landscaping. They think it will be easier if it's dead. My husband's been working diligently all summer at not watering the lawn. My guess is that they won't get around to it, the rains will come, and we'll have nothing but weeds. Thank goodness none of our neighbors are trying to sell their homes! So, anyway, if you don't hear from me for awhile at some point, I'm probably in jail for letting my yard look so crappy. Shiver me timbers!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Project Storage

The other day, Carole asked how we all store our ongoing projects so we're able to find them again--assuming, of course, that we don't just cut into a pile of fabric and follow it through all the way to the binding before picking up the next project. What a novel concept, huh?! But I think most of us have a couple projects in different stages of completion. Okay, I confess I have more than "a couple." I thought I'd share with you my system (yes, I DO realize "system" is a bit of a stretch of the imagination!).

First there's my shelf. That's the one in the middle of the photo. I have various swap blocks tucked away there that will someday grow into a quilt. I even have a few piles of fabric that I might cut into someday. (Yes, those are eyeball straws in the glass on the desk. So?!)

Then there's the "bucket." I love this thing! I picked it up on eBay for a song and didn't even realize how large it was until it arrived. The bucket holds seriously ongoing projects, like block of the month quilts and sometimes folders and patterns from Thimbleberries and Jo's Little Women clubs.

On my quilt rack, I keep projects that are at least partly done. Many times, the tops are pieced but are awaiting applique to be truly completed. Right now, I have my Thimbleberries Club quilt on top. Underneath are several other tops. Truth to tell, I see one or two that should be moved onto the next stop of my quilt completion system!

Then there's this basket. In this basket are quilt tops that are fully ready to be pinned and quilted. I won't show you the overflow pile, but I do have a couple that don't fit in the basket. Which is one of the reasons I'm trying to get a couple quilts quilted now!

I hope you enjoyed looking around the Sweat Shop (and, in the case of the last photo, beyond) at my various project storage ideas. I like to keep things in view so I know where to find them, but I also want them to look as attractive as possible--no plastic bins for me, because I forget what's in them. You know the old saying, "out of sight, out of mind." What works for you?