Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Plethora of Kims

1. A superabundance; an excess. . . .

But really--can there ever be too many Kims?

I was born in 1956 and I was named after Kim Novak, an actress who made several popular films in the year or so before my birth. Growing up here in California, I never knew another Kim. In fact, one year on the first day of summer school, I found myself listed on the boys' roll call--apparently the teacher thought I was an Asian boy, which wouldn't have been too bad except my mom insisted on keeping my hair short, so I was a little sensitive when it came to gender. When you're a child, having an uncommon name can feel like a handicap. I always longed to be named Susie and have long, blonde ringlets. Sigh.

In the past year, my office hired another secretary named Kim, so now when I call anyone, I have to leave my first AND last name. After being the only Kim for so many years, sometimes I forget. A court clerk who tried to call me back one day got passed around and was a bit annoyed by the time she reached me. I told her I'm considering changing my name to Bubbles. At least people don't usually stay annoyed when you make them laugh, and as a legal secretary, the LAST person you want annoyed is a court clerk! We have a new office manager, and when I was introduced, I asked if she could please fire the other Kim--not that I have anything against her, but it's all just too confusing!

Since beginning my blog, I've discovered quite a few quilting Kim bloggers out there. Early on, I had an email from Kim at Kim's Quilting Adventure--how funny a coincidence is that? A week or two ago, I had a comment from "KimP"--OMG! Did I somehow manage to email myself?! No, it was another Kim P.! Most recently, yet another quilting Kim left this comment:

"Good Lord! Talk about blonde . . . when I was reading down through your other comments and I came to Sherry's "Hi Kim..." I nearly jumped out of my chair! I was thinking, "Wow! How did that person know I was reading these comments?? Spooky!" . . . . Geez Louise, I'm still wiping tears from my eyes from laughing at my own lunacy."

At least I'm not alone in still thinking my name's rather unique--when it's really NOT anymore! So, in tribute to all the quilt bloggers who share my name, I've begun a link list in the sidebar especially for my quilty Kim blogger peeps. I'm pretty sure there are a few more out there I've overlooked, so if you belong to "our" special club, please comment so I can add you to the list. And if your name isn't Kim? Well, I still like you anyway and you're welcome to visit any time! Unless your name is Susie and you have long, blonde ringlets.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"Call in the next 20 minutes . . .

because we can't do this all day." Can you identify the infomercial this line's from? Here's another clue: "Are you with me camera guy?"

I watch a LOT of cable TV channels while I quilt, and so I'm subjected to a lot of dumb commercials and infomercials. Some are much more annoying than others.

One of the attorneys in my office was talking the other day about a commercial his family saw for these:

Jay Leno's been making fun of these things for weeks now--and for good reason! Yep, I'm sure they're warm and convenient, but don't they kind of remind you of those backless hospital gowns--maybe in a Siberian hospital or something? Which makes me wonder: Are they wearing something UNDER those things or are they all just sitting nekkid on the upholstered furniture? Ick!

The attorney related that when his family saw the commercial, his wife looked at him and said, "Don't you dare! Don't even THINK about it!" (Kind of makes me wonder what kind of gifts he usually gets her!)

THIS is the one that really annoys me though--the one I gave you clues to--the one that sets my teeth on edge and makes me want to knock that silly headset off his spiky-haired head:

Sadly, Vince has a new commercial we're sure to see over and over again. Here's Vince with the Slap Chop:

I think if I could just slap chop Vince, I'd call in the next 20 minutes! And pay considerably more than $19.95. What's WITH that headset anyway?

What commercials and infomercials annoy you the most?

Monday, December 29, 2008

All Good Things . . .

must come to an end, and the Christmas holiday weekend is well and truly over, although I must say I've tried to stretch it out as long as possible. Here it is, 1:15 a.m. and I have to go back to work tomorrow morning. Why is it that on weekend nights, I have no problem going to bed at a reasonable hour, but on nights when I have to go to work the next day, I'm a total night owl?

My house is cleaned and I played with sample blocks for the Valentine quilt class I'll be teaching. Yes, as a matter of fact, I was a VERY good girl about cleaning the house--in record time, I might add!--so off to the quilt shop I went. Mostly I wanted to get some fabric for sashings and borders for the class samples I'm working on.

The black with small flowers is for the sashing and the larger print fabric is for the border. Well, except then it occurred to me that I had some Mary Engelbreit fabric in my stash I might like better, so I got that out. I didn't get a photo though--I'll probably show you later.

I can see I'm going to have the same problem with my own quilt designs as I have with other people's quilt designs--I keep seeing things I want to change! I think it will work out okay though--I'm always being asked about my design process, so maybe this will give me a chance to talk about that in class.

Part of my housecleaning today involved clearing out some of the Christmas leftovers in the fridge as well as a few items that I think might have been in there since Christmas 2007! The more recent leftovers went into tonight's dinner. I had made fried wontons on Christmas and ended up with a LOT of leftover pork filling--seriously, the market only sold the pork in 1 pound packages, and I probably only used a couple ounces in the wontons. So I browned the mixture, added some Italian spices, and then added a jar of store-bought sauce.

When I was looking in the fridge to see what kind of cheese we had (some of which was kind of an icky fuzzy green!), I came across a pesto cheese and sundried tomato spread I'd served at Christmas, so I added some of that to the mix.

While that simmered, I cooked up some pasta, mixed it all together, and baked it for awhile in the oven.

Yummy! It drives Hubby crazy that some of our best meals come about this way--me throwing stuff together that just happens to be around and not remembering later how to recreate it. But I figure we just have to enjoy whatever it is while it lasts--just like the Christmas holidays! Life moves on and neither Christmas 2008 nor this particular pasta dish will come along again, but both have been great while they lasted!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tamale Central

Guess what I did today? Well, it's no surprise if you've had a chance this holiday week to read my blog. Today was the day I made tamales!

I like to make the filling the day before so it's not too much work for one day, but even so, it took me about eight hours to wrap and steam the tamales. Still, I quite brilliantly realized I could clear off my sewing table and wrap tamales in the Sweat Shop while watching TV--mostly one of the History channels--so the time went quickly. And, of course, dinner was ready when Hubby came home from work--in fact, dinner was ready all night long if all anyone wanted was a tamale!

I managed to squeeze a little sewing into the day as well. I thought I probably ought to start getting some teaching samples ready for the Valentine heart quilt class, so I cut some strips and sewed and subcut strip sets. These aren't sewn into blocks yet, but I'm sure I'll get to that tomorrow. It's been about a year since I made the quilt I'll be teaching, so making some of these blocks is a nice refresher, and it should help me write up the pattern directions.

And tomorrow? Well, it's housecleaning day. After the mess I made in the kitchen today and the Christmas festivities, it really needs it! But at least I know that if I'm too tired to cook tomorrow night, I have a nice stockpile of tamales to pop in the microwave. I ended up with nearly 5 dozen! (And, if I'm a very good girl and get my cleaning done early in the day, I might reward myself with a visit to Bearpaws & Hollyhocks quilt shop in the afternoon! Woo-hoo! Sometimes a girl needs a little incentive!)

Time to go finish packaging up the tamales and sorting them into the freezer and refrigerator. Then it's off to bed with a good book and maybe a nice cup of hot chocolate. Goodnight my Blogland friends!

P.S.: Happy Birthday Boy Boss!

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Today, it's all about the updates!

First, I bet you noticed I updated my blog design! Christmas is over, so it was time to make a few changes.

An update on the Pennie Pockets: Done! There are 18 Valentine Pennie Pockets hanging on this tree. Thank you Monica for a fun pattern!

Finally, I've updated my sidebar to include the quilts I'll be teaching at Bearpaws & Hollyhocks with the dates and times for those of you who are local and expressed an interest. The shop newsletter is up on the website, and I even spotted my name listed, so I guess it's official! If you've been waiting to sign up and haven't yet, please do so.

I have to chuckle to myself because I'm reminded of a time when I was a kid--in maybe around 3rd grade--and a friend of mine and I decided to have a party. We invited everyone we knew, decorated the garage, prepared food (for some reason, I particularly remember potato chips and onion dip!), and had a record player and records set up, ready to go. NO ONE CAME! We were devastated!

So, yeah, it would be nice if someone came to my classes. Otherwise, I might have to eat all the snacks myself!

Friday, December 26, 2008

It's Done!

Christmas 2008 has come and is almost gone--just another couple hours until midnight and then another year before we do it all again. How many of you are determined to get an earlier start on making Christmas gifts next year? Last year I thought I would, but it didn't work out. Oh, well--it is what it is, and I think it turned out well anyway.

However you spent the Christmas day, I do hope you enjoyed yourself! I know a few of you had to change your plans because of the weather, and some of you weren't able to spend the day with family and friends for one reason or another, but whatever situation you found yourself in, I hope your day was filled with things you love.

Our daughter made the trip down from Tahoe after spending a couple hours digging her car out of the snow--they received about a foot and a half of snow last night. Our dinner was a little later than planned, but I intentionally made my plans flexible, because there's no telling how long it might take in weather to make it down the mountain. My son and his girlfriend joined us for a day filled with food, laughter, conversation, and more food.

After dinner, we played a game of Risk. To tell you the truth, I was hoping I'd get eliminated early on so I could kick back and relax for awhile, but about three hours into the game, my son and I were the last players left, and the situation was such that we could foresee the lead shifting back and forth over the course of another hour with the outcome still undetermined, so we called a tie and packed away the game.

I'll spend part of the day tomorrow making the filling for the tamales I'm planning to make this weekend. Yesterday, on Christmas Eve, my son was in an auto accident, and although he's fine, his truck is probably totalled. I'm going to loan him my car for a couple days until he can get the insurance business straightened out, so I'll be housebound this weekend. That's fine with me though--I have plenty of things to keep me occupied and I'm not really interested in the after Christmas sales anyway.

Don't you love the weekend after Christmas? Finally the pressure to get things done on a deadline is lifted and the world is filled with new possibilities! So now what? What next? Well, I'm not really sure but whatever it is, I'm looking forward to it! First of all, though, I think I just might sleep in tomorrow. Goodnight Blogland and Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

It's almost midnight, and Santa should be arriving soon. If we aren't ready for Christmas by now--well, we have another 365 days until the next one!

I want to thank you all for the words of sympathy and caring at the loss of our Button. We think of her numerous times each day and will for a long time, but I believe pets teach us a valuable life lesson about loving and letting go. And your words make that easier for us to do.

Have you read The Quilter's Kitchen, one of the Elm Creek Quilters books by Jennifer Chiaverini? I made one of the recipes from the book for us tonight, on Christmas Eve: Jaegerschnitzel (Pork Loin with Mushroom Gravy). It was pretty easy and sooooo good! I'm looking forward to trying more recipes from the book. If you've read it, have you tried anything you'd recommend?

I finally took a photo of the Christmas tree on my desk at work. In the background, you can see the little Santa wallhanging I made earlier this month.

I had to work today, but our office closed early, at 2:30 p.m. Hubby was off work, so he stayed home and did a little baking while singing along with Christmas carols. He told me Spike, our young cat, was kind of freaked out by the singing and kept trying to get into his lap or climb up to face level. She's a funny one and keeps us entertained!

I wanted to make a few Christmas Pennie Pockets to tuck gift certificates and money in, so I made these three when I came home from work--

This evening we visited friends and brought them an applesauce cake--I baked the last three last night. We came home with some of my friend Lisa's pistachio and white chocolate truffles, a holiday favorite we always look forward to!

All in all, we've spent a wonderful Christmas Eve and are looking forward to spending Christmas with our children tomorrow. Hubby and I wish you and your family a joyous Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Little Bit of Sadness

Sadly, we lost our friend Button yesterday. Button was somewhere beyond 19 years old, which is pretty old for a pet, and her passing was not unexpected.

Just about 18 years ago, when our daughter was in first grade and on the day of her elementary school Christmas pagent, she caught a cold and was too sick to perform. It was raining hard that day, and toward evening, a black cat came to our back door, crying to come in. At the time, we didn't have any pets, and Hubby was somewhat adverse to adopting one, but when this particular cat was quite persistent about wanting to come in out of the rain and would not go away, he finally relented. For our daughter, a cute, new pet was consolation for missing the pagent. Hubby named the cat Button.

Within about a month, Button got pregnant and, in due course, bore a litter of kittens. That was the first--and only--time the kids and I saw an animal give birth. What a fun experience! But, it was not one we wanted to repeat, so Button took a trip to the vet for a little surgical procedure.

Button was the haughty queen of our household. Even our two rather large dogs knew who was the boss and kept their distance. And Button? She would often go into their dog houses and sit there--just to prove she could.

I took this photo of her about a year and a half ago. Hubby was doing some baking, and when he wasn't looking, she put her face in the container of flour. She seemed rather put out by our laughter, and--unlike Spike who has to be in every photo--Button never really liked her picture taken.

While we're saddened to lose her--particularly at this time of the year--we are grateful to have had Button as part of our family for so long. We have many good and happy memories. We knew she was ailing this past week or so, and Hubby and I talked Sunday about whether this might be the right time to have her put to sleep before she started to suffer. As it turned out, that was a decision we didn't have to make after all. And for that, too, we're grateful. So, yes, we're sad, but not too much. It was just time.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I Got Up . . .

That's how my day started. No, now that I think about it, I'm wrong. I think what happened is that after my alarm went off for about five minutes--long enough for Hubby to stick his head out of the bathroom door--while I dreamed something where the sound of an alarm made perfect sense, I finally woke up enough to slap the snooze alarm. Then I turned off the alarm. THEN I got up. And really, the day didn't get much more exciting.

My allergies and sinuses have been acting up lately and I've had a sinus headache on and off for a couple days now. Today my teeth even hurt. Nothing, really, that popping a few Advil couldn't help, but annoying nevertheless.

Back to work today. Then to the grocery store on the way home to pick up whatever else I thought I might need for Christmas.

Are you excited about my day yet? No? Okay, how about this: I'm planning to make tamales this weekend. YAY! Shall we have a virtual tamale making get together? I'll bring the tequila! Seriously, though, I posted my tamale recipe last year--the filling is HERE and the recipe and instructions for the masa dough, wrapping, and steaming are HERE. Just in case you want to make some too. Because if you don't--if you only get to LOOK at mine--you're going to be jealous!

Now, I bet you're dying to know about the rest of my day, right? So besides getting some Christmas groceries, I got some tamale groceries. Then I came home and made sandwiches for me and Hubby for dinner (because I can't cook stuff like applesauce cakes and tamales ALL THE TIME!) and then I went into the Sweat Shop and made more Pennie Pockets. The count is up to seven now. Wanna see? I got a few more boring and dark photos before I found a camera setting that gave me this result:

And while I was on a roll, I decided to try a photo of our main, living-room Christmas tree, which never photographs well because the big red balls (stop snickering over there!) always seem to glow (stop it, I said!).

Doesn't it kind of look like one of those Hallmark cards where they blur and sort of fuzz out the sharpness of the photo to make it look more homey and romantic? Or does it just look like a photo taken by your drunk Uncle Al? Whichever, at least there are no glowing red balls in the photo! Time to go to bed, because tomorrow I have to do most of this all over again. Goodnight Blogland!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Just a Couple Days to Go!

It's been quite a rainy day here in Sac Town--a good day for staying indoors! But I had a couple of errands to run first. My first errand took me to Bearpaws & Hollyhocks to drop off two of the quilts I'll be teaching and to leave the fabric requirements for Gran to type up tomorrow. I took a photo of the Valentine quilt, All You Need is Love, before I sent it off, just in case I need any visual references when I finalize the pattern directions.

After that, my travels took me to Trader Joe's for some of the things I'll need for our Christmas dinner. By 2:30, though, I was home again and dry. After getting the makings for a pot of chicken soup simmering on the stove, I headed into the Sweat Shop for the rest of the day.

My friend Patty left this comment on last night's blog post: ". . . Knowing you, I bet you are thinking ahead now to the next holiday . . . lol. Always one step ahead of the rest of us!" Yes, Patty does know me pretty well, because that's exactly what I've been doing today! Have you seen Monica's Pennie Pockets over on her Happy Zombie blog? I've been making a few in Valentine's colors. I've taken a photo of the three I've finished, hanging on the Christmas tree in the Sweat Shop--I think they might make nice decorations for the Valentine's Day tree, although they don't show up as well in the photo as they do in person.

Because of the rain and bad weather, the get together at my friend Lisa's house tonight--the one I mentioned yesterday--was cancelled. Well, I guess I should explain that it wasn't just a get together at her house--the plan was to pile into cars and go look at the local Christmas lights displays. With the heavy rain, that plan didn't seem like such a good idea. As it turned out, it was just as well, because it was a nice Sunday afternoon and evening to just stay indoors and sew and listen to Christmas music.

And before I get too far ahead of the calendar, I had a couple Christmas gifts I wanted to show you--one I received and the other one I made.

I was surprised and excited to receive a package from Red Geranium Sharon the other day. She and I have had an ongoing thing about cows, and look what she sent!

I love that little jewel-like cow ornament in the center! It promptly found a place on my barn yard tree in the Sweat Shop where it most definitely shows off to the other cows and sheep.

I made this little wallhanging for Eileen and forgot to take a photo before I sent it off in the mail, so she sent me a photo to share. The pattern is Cardinals from Patch Abilities' Monthly Minis line.

I used the same techniques I used to make the little Santa wallhanging. Eileen takes good care of the birds in her neighborhood, hauling 50 pound bags of bird seed around to make sure they're fed, and the Cardinals made me think of her. Originally I planned to make her a snowflake quilt from a Pieces From the Heart pattern, but other things came up that kept me from making the quilts I planned, so I sent her a "do-it-yourself" gift too! Oh, well, I think we all know that things don't always go as planned, and another project to work on will keep Eileen out of trouble for awhile!

Finally, before I say goodnight, I wanted to alert you that the "Wee Gifties" links in the sidebar will disappear in the next few days, so if there were things there you wanted to make at a future date, please take the time to bookmark the websites.

Goodnight Blogland!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas . . .

Ta-Da! A whole lotta cake all dressed up and ready to go to the party! And we all had a wonderful time, spending the day with family today.

Santa looks dressed up and ready to go to a party too!

The kitchen tree.

All set for tea.

I love red and white stripes!

Some time back, I mentioned I'd post some photos of our Christmas decorations, but I never really did. Here's a little tour of a few sights around our house.

And just a couple things before I go to bed: First, several of you asked about the pattern for the Hey Ghoul Friend quilt. Over there in my sidebar to the right there's a section that mentions sources for patterns. Click on Hey Ghoul Friend and it will take you to the only shop I know that currently has the pattern, although you could also probably call Bearpaws & Hollyhocks and ask them to order one for you when they order the patterns for my class.

Second, thank you Lynne in Hawaii for the tip on how to cook a ham--it sounds good and I may just have to try it! I'm heading to Trader Joe's tomorrow (Sunday) to stock up on a few Christmas goodies, and I think I'll look at their hams.

One of the wonderful things about this time of the year is spending time with family and friends, and tomorrow night Hubby and I will spend a little time with my crazy friend Lisa and her family as well as a few of our own family members. I hope you, too, are enjoying the wonderful things this holiday season holds!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

More Cake Please!

The bake shop opened again this evening after a trip to the grocery store to restock some of the ingredients. Five more cakes were made--the fifth is still in the oven as I write. Twelve cakes baked in all (not including the two "practice" cakes) and a few more to go, but those last few will be baked later in the week. Many of these cakes will be distributed tomorrow when we go to my in-laws' house for our annual Christmas celebration.

And, on the quilting front, between cakes I finished the Hey Ghoul Friend quilt that I'll be teaching starting in January. It's never too early to start thinking about Halloween, although I am feeling a little seasonally confused working on a Halloween quilt with only a few days to go until Christmas! If you click on the photo, I think you can see some of the trim I've added tonight. Personally, I love the "diamond ring" she's wearing!

While I was out running to the grocery store, I took the opportunity to stop at Kohl's and pick up a few last gifts. Other than needing a couple gift certificates (and a couple more cakes), I think I'm just about ready for Christmas as far as gifts go. How about you? I'm certain many of us will be busy this weekend preparing for the holiday. Our son, his girlfriend, and our daughter will be here on Christmas, and I still need to decide what to cook. I'm leaning toward "simple," so maybe something like a Honeybaked Ham will end up on our table.

Time for me to get off this computer--that last cake needs to come out of the oven in a few minutes and I still want to make a cheese ball tonight for our get together tomorrow. I hope all of you are enjoying this holiday season!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Applesauce Cake Success!

I don't know if anyone even noticed I didn't post last night, but if you were here, looking for me this morning, sorry about that. It was getting late by the time I got on the computer and since I'm on vacation for two days, I decided to play hookey from Blogland.

Here's what I did yesterday:

I got seven of these made before I ran out of cloves, so I'll be making a grocery store run this morning to restock. There are a few other ingredients I know I'll need more of too--like applesauce, believe it or not!

I finally perfected the recipe and I'm so happy about now being able to carry on the Christmas tradition my grandmother started. I know some of you wanted the recipe once I figured it out, so here it is:


2 cups applesauce (nothing fancy, just the old fashioned sweetened variety)
1-1/4 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 cube) melted butter
1 egg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

In a medium bowl, mix together the first eight ingredients. In a separate, larger bowl, combine the flour, spices, and cocoa powder. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until well blended but don't over mix.

Grease and dust with flour a Bundt pan (or other round pan with open center, such as an Angel Food Cake pan). Spoon cake mix into the pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Let pan cool for 5 to 10 minutes and turn cake out onto plastic wrap. Wrap cake tightly and allow to cool overnight.

(Here's a photo of the cake just before I wrapped it in the plastic. Because the cake is still fairly hot, the plastic wrap works almost like a shrink wrap, so these cakes will stay fresh and moist for at least a few days.)

Seriously, this is an easy cake to make. The mixing and prep time takes only about 15 to 20 minutes. I also wanted to mention that unless you have questions about your oven, don't bother checking the cake for doneness--I think it probably continues to bake a little after it's wrapped anyway. I believe my grandmother's directions were originally to bake it for 45 minutes; I've added an extra 5 minutes "just in case."

In my family, we particularly enjoyed this cake on Christmas morning, along with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk, while we opened our gifts. Give it a try. Maybe you'll start a new tradition in your home!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Great Applesauce Cake Experiment, Part Deux

Thank you all for your suggestions.

Tonight I adjusted the applesauce cake recipe passed on to me from my grandmother by way of my mother. The taste was much better, but the results left a bit to be desired.

I'm pretty sure the mistake this time was trying to "dust" the pan with powdered sugar instead of flour. All I can say is, "Don't." It seems the sugar made the cake stick to the pan. Still, all was not lost.

And I've wrapped the "good" part in plastic wrap to see what effect that has on the cake's moistness. I told Hubby he could unwrap it and take a piece to work for breakfast, but he demurred, saying he was getting a little tired of applesauce cake. Of course, as any wife would, I told him that if he loved me, he'd eat it anyway.

Here's a tip I can pass on though. Don't wear a black sweatshirt while baking. The results remind me somehow of Monica Lewinsky after a trip to the Oval Office. I wonder if she ever considered wearing an apron? I wonder if that's why French maids wear aprons?

Tomorrow the bake fest continues. I need about ten of these to turn out right by Saturday. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Where's Alton Brown?

The Great Applesauce Cake Experiment got underway tonight with somewhat disappointing results. There seems to be something wrong with the recipe, but I'm not sure what, exactly. (No, that's not a photo of MY cake--just one I got off the internet that looks a bit similar.)

For one thing, it's not quite sweet enough. I don't know whether that's because of the applesauce I used or if the amount of sugar is off.

For another thing, it's not quite dense and moist enough. My mom's recipe says to bake for 45 minutes, but then she added "or 1 hr." At 45 minutes, it was still somewhat raw in the middle. Next time I'll test it at 50 minutes, because I baked this one for about an hour and although it was okay, I think it could have baked a little less. That may help with the moistness issue.

I wish Alton Brown was here. I bet he'd know exactly what needs to be done to "fix" it. Now that I've made it once, though, I've gone searching recipes on the internet and I've found two that are similar.

A comment to one of the recipes suggested wrapping the cake while hot in plastic wrap and then foil for moistness. Yep, I'm going to try it. That recipe also had twice as much sugar, although it also had more flour. The real difference between my recipe and the two similar ones I found is that mine doesn't have any eggs and the other two do. I have to wonder whether my mom forgot to write the egg down. Anyone know what adding an egg would do to a cake?

THIS one is nearly the same recipe, but it has an egg. It also has only one cup of applesauce and mine has two. There are a couple other minor details in the spices, but the main ingredients are much the same.

THIS one is also similar but with twice the sugar, two eggs, and more flour.

I wish I was more like Alton Brown and had a little better understanding of what each ingredient does to a cake. I guess I'll just have to keep experimenting unless any of you has an idea?

Hubby's taking the "failure" to work tomorrow. Those guys will eat anything! Seriously, though, it's not BAD; it's just not THE cake. I'll try again tomorrow night and hope for the best. Goodness knows I have enough ingredients to make about 15 of these babies. I just hope they turn out right eventually so people don't start running away when they see me coming, screaming, "Here she comes again with another one of those cakes!"

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Self-Indulgent Luxury

What do you consider your favorite self-indulgent luxury?

I'm a bit tired tonight and there's not too much on TV that I care to watch, so I'm contemplating a nice bubble bath followed by going to bed early with a good book. On a cold December night, with a list of stuff on my mind that I SHOULD be doing instead, THAT is really my idea of the ultimate in self-indulgent luxury.

Sometimes we all need a little "down time," and I tend to forget that. There's always something I'm anxious to do or make next, and I don't usually "allow" myself to do nothing at all. And how do we end up with so many deadlines anyway, particularly when it comes to quilting or whatever other hobby we engage in? I know I've said it before, but for the last couple of years, my goal has been to try to get away from those kinds of deadlines, which are, for the most part, self-imposed. But I don't think it's in my nature. I think I'm a very goal-oriented, driven person. And, if anyone had suggested to me 25 years ago that was my nature, I would have laughed!

So what happened? I think it was the kids. I'm blaming it on them. All of you who have kids know just how much time and attention they take to raise. And, when I became a mom, I always wanted to do my best for them AND fit a little "me" time into the schedule, so I quickly fell into the habit of staying up too late and getting as much done in as little time as possible. Once they grew up and moved out, it was too late to break old habits, I suppose. But tonight--tonight I'm reverting to my old, care-free, pre-children days. I'm taking a bubble bath and going to bed with a good book. I hope you, too, find a little time to relax in this hectic season!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sleepy Sunday

It rained all day today. We haven't had enough rain this year and I love it, but it makes me lazy and sleepy. So, yes, I did indulge in a nap this afternoon while the rain ran down the windows outside. I wanted to take a nap a little earlier in the afternoon, but I couldn't. Hubby kept calling me from Costco and WalMart.

My sister-in-law was nice enough to go shopping with him, and I had given him a list--mostly applesauce cake ingredients--and reasonably explicit instructions about what to get. Mostly I was concerned about the applesauce. Back when this cake was made by my grandmother, applesauce was applesauce. There wasn't a choice between regular applesauce, unsweetened applesauce, chunky applesauce, and cinnamon applesauce. So I told Hubby to get regular, old fashioned, run-of-the-mill applesauce. Do you think Costco had any? No! Well, actually they DID but only in the small individual servings. And they had some labeled "no sugar added." I don't think that's what my grandmother used. There were a couple other things on the list that Costco didn't have, so Hubby and his sister went over to the Super WalMart to fill the rest of the list. They called me twice from WalMart.

You know, you can't hardly get annoyed with a man who keeps calling and keeps you from napping when he's the one out there, fighting the Christmas crowds and doing the shopping in the rain. Nope. I knew I was a lucky woman. I can't say I really enjoyed getting up to answer the phone every 15 minutes, but I was grateful. Sleepy but grateful. And now I have this:

I surely do have to make that cake now. I'm committed. Because there's no way I'm going to use up all this applesauce otherwise!

Besides being lazy and napping, I worked a little bit on quilting the Hey Ghoul Friend quilt. I'm waiting for a collection of bright threads to arrive by mail, and I'll need those to quilt part of it, but I found I had enough of the thread colors I need to get started on the center, at least.

The backing has been giving me fits though. When I first pinned it last weekend, I pinned it out on the patio where it was cold and damp. I finished the pinning and when I took it off the table, I found the backing had settled into a little crack between the tables, and I had a "bubble" in the middle. So, I had to take half the pins out and try again. By then, the fabrics were fairly damp and stretchy, and as you can imagine, I didn't end up with the best pinning job! So tonight, I readjusted quite a few of the pins once again. If this ends up hanging halfway decent when I'm done quilting it with no folds and creases in the backing, I'll be amazed!

It's back to work for me tomorrow--only three days of work this week, but it will be a very busy three days. I hope you enjoyed your weekend!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Before I forget, I wanted to mention that my friend Eileen over at My Quilting Porch is having a giveaway--the Pieces From My Heart Trees Up! pattern. Pop on over there and check out the one she's making. I sent her the pattern when I finished mine, and now she wants to pass it on to one of you, if you're the lucky commenter!

Saturday turned out to be a nice, relaxing day here at Casa de Kim. That pesky Hubby who was anxious for a game plan? I sent him outside to pick a tree full of ripe lemons, which got him started cleaning up the yard a bit and winterizing the dog run. In the end, only about half the lemons were picked, but he was outside and out of my way much of the day. Yep, I'm not just another pretty face--there's a brain inside here too! LOL!

While he was busy with that, I worked on the binding of the Valentine quilt. My sister-in-law Kathy came over for a casual dinner before the three of us went to my son's indoor soccer game this evening. You may not remember, but last January I posted a quick soup recipe we enjoy--basically you just combine the ingredients you see here, heat, sprinkle with some Parmesan cheese, and eat:

For a little Christmas twist, I used green tortellini. Red and green soup! What could be better? Well, how about some soft, fresh baked breadsticks to go with it and a salad?! Yum! It's a great dinner for a wintery day--fast and easy too!

I did finally sit down today and made out a list of those people I want to bake something for, and while I sewed the quilt binding, my mind wandered back to Christmasses past. When I was a child, my mother's mother would make each of the families an applesauce Bundt cake for Christmas. Christmas was the only time of the year we had it, so that cake was special. When my grandmother passed away, my mom carried on the tradition, but somewhat sporadically. Several years ago, she passed the recipe on to me, but I've never made it. It occurred to me, though, that maybe this is the year to start. So I searched though all my recipes and found it.

The cake is moist with applesauce, studded with raisins and walnuts, and flavored with spices and cocoa powder. When I start my baking later this week, I'll take a photo of the cake and share the recipe with you.

Hubby's been tasked with undertaking an expedition to Costco tomorrow where he can get large quantities of applesauce, raisins, walnuts, and several of the other ingredients I'll need. Costco should be a mad house tomorrow. Do you think he'll stop asking me about stuff like game plans now?

Time for my beauty sleep. I have another entire day of fun stuff ahead of me, so I need to rest up!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I'm Making a List, and Checking it Twice . . . .

Christmas is less than two weeks away. Do you have your plans well under control, or are you getting a little panicky? When I logged into my blog tonight, I noticed my Christmas countdown has disappeared--that makes ME a little panicky! Christmas isn't here yet, is it? I didn't just black out and forget?! I wonder whether the countdown will magically reappear?

To tell you the truth, I'm not quite sure where I am on getting ready for Christmas--because I'm not quite sure what my plans ARE! This weekend I need to get serious about making a list of what I hope to accomplish--baking, gifts, etc. Next Saturday is our annual Christmas get together at Hubby's parents' house, and I know I'll want to bring some baked goods or SOMETHING--I just haven't decided what. So this weekend, I need to come up with a plan.

Several weeks ago, I arranged to take Thursday and Friday off work, knowing I just might need to do a little preparation, and I'm very happy I thought ahead. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are sure to be crazy at work because we'll be working short handed again. My being out Thursday and Friday will just make it worse, but at least it won't be my headache! LOL! And, just so you know, my blogging may be a bit spotty next week depending--if I end up working long hours either at work or at home getting ready for Christmas, I'm not going to beat myself up if I can't post every night. But I've said that before, and I've continued to post nightly, so don't necessarily hold me to it!

In addition to Christmas, I need to finish the quilts for the classes I'm teaching, finalize supply lists and fabric requirements, and write pattern directions. In some ways, having taken on these projects has been a little liberating Christmas-wise. I knew when I agreed to teach that the plans I had previously made to get a few quilted gifts done needed to be set aside. But, along with that, it seems I've just kind of pushed the whole idea of Christmas aside a bit--and it's time to get serious. Crunch time.

So, that's what I have planned for the weekend. Besides that, I finished quilting the Valentine hearts quilt and I need to bind it. I have a couple miscellaneous projects I'd like to do. And if the bright threads I ordered arrive in the mail, I hope to get started on quilting the Hey Ghoul Friend quilt. How about you? Do you have a lot to get done? Or can you just relax and enjoy the season?

Addendum: This might amuse you!

I was still at the computer a few minutes ago when Hubby climbed into bed, and our conversation went like this:

Hubs: "So, what's the game plan for the weekend?" [He's been anxiously bugging me the last couple days to come up with a plan to get ready for Christmas, and I've been resistant because I'm just not THERE yet.]

Me [Looking at him for a moment like he's lost his mind. This is the man who plans to do six things over the weekend and rarely gets the first thing done]: "Well, you're going to do all the work things and I'm going to do all the fun things."

Hubs: "Like what? What do you mean?"

Me: "You're going to do all the things that need to get done, and I'm going to do whatever fun things I feel like doing."

Hubs: "And what time should I wake you up to get started?"

Me: "You need to worry about waking yourself up since you have to do all the work. I'm doing the fun things, remember? Like sleeping in?"


Friday, December 12, 2008

Loose Ends

I have a couple unrelated things I wanted to blog tonight. Julia from our Thimbleberries Club asked last night whether I had ever given directions on this blog for felting wool. I think I probably did at some point, but I'm not sure, and since I've shown you some felted wool projects lately, I thought maybe I should mention the "how to" basics.

Most of my wool comes from the thrift store, and I always look for 100 percent wool garments. For heavier projects, like the purses and pillows I've made, I've purchased wool sweaters. The lighter weight wool I've used in applique comes from suits, skirts, and jackets.

The basic method for felting wool is to put the wool into the washing machine with a little soap and run it through on hot. Judy recently mentioned putting the wool inside a pillowcase or cloth bag to keep all the little wool particles that slough off from clogging up the drain, and that's a good idea. You would then remove the wool from the pillowcase or bag and dry it on hot in the dryer. Judy also mentioned adding a dye magnet to the wash. Since I'm usually washing wool from just one garment, I don't bother, but if I was doing a mixed load, I would.

When I felt sweaters, I put them through the wash-and-dry process first and then cut them up later--often not until I'm going to use them. With other wool garments, I cut them up first and remove linings, interfacing, buttons, zippers, etc., before they're washed. If I've forgotten to mention anything about felting wool you were wondering about, please leave me a comment and I'll respond.

This morning when I got up, I put on my robe and found one of the cards of peppermint buttons on the bed under my robe. I couldn't figure out how they got there, but I figured I'd somehow carried them in. Nope, not the case. Turns out when Hubby got up this morning, Spike was running around the house carrying the buttons in her mouth, and he couldn't catch her. I guess she was doing quality control again. Nice of her to leave them where I was sure to find them!

Tonight I thought I'd try to find and post a nice photo of a hot, studly-looking guy dressed as Santa--just to get you all in the Christmas spirit, you understand?! I can't begin to tell you all the weird stuff my searches found, particularly when Yahoo told me it wasn't going to search for me unless I turned off "safe search." I'm telling you, if you ever hear I've been arrested and they've found I've been viewing internet porn, would you please tell them I was just searching for Santa? In the end, I didn't find anything suitable. I did find this on YouTube, though and it's kind of funny if you have an odd sense of humor; otherwise, it's just plain wrong. And, I'll warn you: You might not want to watch it early in the morning or if you're feeling at all queasy!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Wonderful Time!

We had our Thimbleberries Club end-of-the-year party tonight, and I just had a blast! It was so much fun spending the evening with all of my quilty peeps, eating and talking and winning prizes and exchanging gifts--what could be better? Well, doing it in a quilt shop, of course, where there are millions of things to tempt us and inspire us toward more creativity!

Our group meets at Quilters Corner in Sacramento, and Pam and Nicole, two of the owners, do a wonderful job organizing our meetings and making sure we enjoy ourselves, get the latest information from Thimbleberries, and keep busy and inspired with new projects.

One of our activities this evening was a secret gift exchange. I received a wonderful handmade door ornament--a cone made from decorative paper and glitter and filled with greenery and berries and hung from a pretty ribbon. Also in my package was a charm pack and a tin of direction-marked pins from Fons & Porter. I tried to get photos, but they really didn't turn out very well. I haven't been able to show you before because some of our members read my blog, but here's the wallhanging I made over the weekend as my contribution to the exchange:

This was another fairly quick project, although not quite as fast as the Santa wallhanging. Still, it was made using a few of the same techniques and combined regular cotton quilt fabric, wool, and embroidery.

Speaking of Santa, remember this guy?

Yep, I'm sure you do from all the comments you left! Well, at the quilt shop, I came across these delightfully cute, cute, cute peppermint buttons:

I just love the crisp and graphic red and white of peppermint candies! I bought eight buttons, but two of them made their escape before I took the photo. Want to see where they ran off to?

One of my friends at work, Missy, suggested adding buttons and tabs to hold a stick for hanging Santa, and when I saw the Christmas bulb quilt hanger and the buttons, I knew exactly what I was going to do. Santa went to Thimbleberries with me for show and tell, and then he came home for a visit, but he's going right back to work again tomorrow where he'll be re-hung at my desk. I really need to get a photo or two of Christmasland at Kim's Desk. All I really need to add is a fireplace (with the crackle of burning logs) and some Christmas music, and I could probably just live there. Well, maybe not--I'd sure miss the Sweat Shop!

The Sweat Shop, by the way, looks like a bomb went off in it. I could barely stand to be in there tonight during the time it took to add tabs and buttons to Santa. All these quick projects I've been working on mean I've pulled a lot of different materials from here and there, and I haven't really stopped to put any of it away. Tomorrow night after work, that's the first thing on my agenda--cleaning it all up so I can work happily again. And as soon as that happens, it's back to quilting the Valentine heart quilt--I really need to get that finished up for the class I'll be teaching. And you know what? I had such a fun time tonight, the adrenaline is still pumping and I'm wide awake! I bet I could easily stay up half the night quilting. But I'd better not--tomorrow's going to be a busy day at work.

Thank you for taking your time to stop in to visit me!