Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Who'd a thought on Sunday that by Tuesday, the high temperature in Sacramento would drop 26 degrees? I sure didn't! I was starting to think we'd have temps around 100 degrees until Thanksgiving. Not that we've suddenly been plunged into cold weather, mind you. We'll still be in the high 70s and 80s through the foreseeable future, but for us, this is fall, and I couldn't be happier about the change!

I'm sure you're tired of hearing about Sacramento weather, but I started thinking about changes, and that's a big one for us. What other changes have there been recently? Well, did you hear that Mark Lipinski has left Quilter's Home magazine? Big change, huh?

To tell you the truth, I only read one issue of the magazine and that was, I think, the first or second issue. I found that his "voice" was so dominant throughout the entire magazine that I was a little annoyed by the time I got to the end. Strong personalities affect me that way sometimes. Back when I first started quilting, I tried watching Quilt in a Day a couple times but I wanted to shoot Eleanor Burns by the end of each episode. Same thing with Mark Lipinski. Still, that's just me--I know both Eleanor Burns and Mark Lipinski have HUGE followings, and many quilters are devastated by his leaving Quilter's Home. And I'm sure everyone agrees that the magazine certainly won't be the same without him!

You've probably heard the saying that "when one door closes, another opens," right? Well, have you seen the new Canadian quilting magazine? Sweet P. Paulette (who really IS quite sweet!) surprised me by sending me a copy.

That partridge/pear tree quilt on the front? Advent calendar! Really cute idea, don't you think?! If you have an opportunity to check out the magazine, please do so.

Do I have any more changes to talk about? Well, you KNOW I've been motivated lately to cook some cooler weather dishes--somewhat optimistically and ahead of the season, I admit! I made one of our favorite fall/winter pasta dishes the other day--penne pasta with Italian sausage, sauteed mushrooms, and spinach in an Alfredo sauce (topped with parmesan and toasted pine nuts). YUM!

It's much simpler to make than it sounds. Let me know if you want me to post the recipe--I'd be happy to share.

Speaking of cooler weather/seasonal food . . .

Hubby baked an Apple Hill cake today and served me up a piece topped with vanilla ice cream just as I was sitting down to write this. So, I'm afraid it's time to say goodnight to you so I can eat it. I'm sure you'll understand. Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Following Up . . .

Tonight for dinner we had toasted French bread and bowls of the creamy chicken noodle soup I made Saturday night--and boy was it good! Really, it's always GOOD, but because the way I make it is a bit variable depending on the ingredients I have on hand, sometimes it's better than others--and this was one of those times. Yum!

Then again, maybe the soup tasted so good because of the hint of fall weather in the air. Yes, I do wish to thank all of you who blew your fall weather in this direction. Here's the forecast:


I figure that gusty wind stuff is 'cause of all your hard work! Thanks so much!

Hubby was kind enough to make a trip to the post office this morning to mail off packets of small goodies for those of you who "earned" a treat for finishing your projects in August as well as Sandy's package--Sandy was the winner of the pumpkin bag from the last class I taught. So, if any of you were wondering, the stuff's in the mail.

I've been hard at work quilting the Buggy Barn witches--yes, I did finally get it pin basted over the weekend. I should have it done and ready to show you sometime this week, I think. Lately, though, I've gotten a bit sidetracked by books (although I haven't been very good about keeping my sidebar current as to what books I've been reading). Have you ever read anything by Lynda LaPlante? She wrote the screenplays and/or books for the Prime Suspect series (seen on TV here in the US some years back on PBS Masterpiece Theater or BBC America)--Helen Mirren starred in the lead role. Here's a bit of a visual memory refresher:

Although I haven't read that series, I've read a few of her other books, and I've just recently managed to get ahold of the first two books of another series called Trial and Retribution--and, since I pretty much read them over this past weekend, I had to track down the next two books in the series. From what I understand, Trial and Retribution was a TV series in the UK, although I'm not sure it was ever shown here in the US. One of the things that interests me about the stories in the series is that they're a bit like a cross between Prime Suspect and the Law & Order TV shows. The first part lays out the crime and the police search for a suspect, and the last part goes through the trial and verdict. If you like British police procedurals and have an opportunity, check them out.

Thanks for stopping in! I'm off, now, to do a little reading.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Little Fall Cooking

A couple people asked me about recipes for the roasted chicken and the soup, so I thought I'd share. Both are really simple!

First, the roasted chicken. After I clean and wash a whole chicken, I pat it dry and stuff the body cavity with cut up onions, carrots, and celery. I then work my hand up under the breast skin, gently loosening the skin from the meat, all the way down either side between the breast and thighs. Once I've loosened the skin, I add a spice rub of some kind into that cavity under the skin. My favorite--what I used yesterday--is lemon pepper, salt, and sprigs of fresh rosemary.

I then put the chicken in an uncovered roasting pan, brush it with a little oil, and sprinkle it with a little more salt and pepper. I bake it, uncovered, at a temperature anywhere from 375 degrees to 425 degrees (depending on whether I want to bake anything else with it) for about an hour and a half. I'll usually poke it with a long fork in the thigh or deep into the breast on the side to see if the juices run clear--if they do, it's done.

I took this photo maybe about an hour into roasting, so it hasn't turned nice and brown yet--but it does get more brown!

To make the gravy, after the chicken is done, I remove it from the pan and add about one to one and a half cups of hot water to the pan liquid/drippings along with a little chicken bouillon, or if I have it on hand, I'll add a can of chicken broth instead of the water and bouillon. I heat the liquid on the stove and add a tablespoon or two of soy sauce to make the broth darker and give it a little saltiness. In the meantime, I mix about 1/4 cup of milk with a couple tablespoons of flour--if I have a problem with lumps, I'll strain it. Once the broth in the pan begins to boil, I add in the flour mixture and continue simmering to thicken into gravy. Before serving, I'll correct the seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed.

After we've eaten and I've removed the extra meat from the chicken (for another meal or to add it to the soup), I break up the carcass and put everything--bones and cooked veggies--into a large pot and cover with water and/or chicken broth. (If I use water, I'll usually add some chicken bouillon.) I simmer the pot on the stove, uncovered, for about an hour until the bones are falling apart. I strain the whole thing, setting aside the meat and veggies and returning the broth to a large pot.

To the broth, I add some seasonings--I have a seasoning called "Soup Pot" by McNess that I like to use, but I've also used a little rosemary, some sage and/or poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper. At this point, I sometimes add chopped up vegetables--carrots, onion, celery, mushrooms, or whatever I find in the refrigerator that appeals to me. If you add veggies, allow them to cook a bit before going on. Then, once the broth is "done," I stir in a can of undiluted cream of chicken soup. And if I don't have a need for the leftover gravy? That goes in too!

Continue to cook the broth on low heat until the meat/veggie mixture has cooled enough to handle. Pick the meat from the bones and return the meat to the broth, discarding the bones and veggies. Because I prefer white meat, I also shredded the leftover chicken breast from our dinner and added that to the broth as well, but you can add in whatever leftover chicken you may have, or just what's left on the bones--either way, the soup will be flavorful.

Last of all, I cook some egg noodle or other pasta or rice and add it to the soup. Don't quite cook it all the way as it will continue to cook in the hot broth as it all cools.

And that's it! Fairly simple cooking and you'll end up with a chicken dinner and enough soup for a few more meals!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Welcome Fall!

So I stayed inside all day, in the air conditioning, and pretended it was much cooler outside than it was. And I did a lot of the things I said I wanted to do.

I decorated my home for fall.

And I decorated some more--until I was done!

I roasted a chicken. And I made mashed potatoes, green beans, and gravy.

I made apple-something. No photo, but I baked a couple of apples and served them with vanilla ice cream. Maybe tomorrow I'll make an Apple Hill Cake. Or apple pie. Or apple turnovers.

And soup? I even made soup!

So what if it was over 100 degrees outside? Inside, fall has arrived!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

And More . . .

Today I went in search of pumpkins. First, I let my fingers do the searching--on the internet. Turns out that most of the pumpkin farms in our area don't open until October 1st. Why am I feeling like I'm so LATE this year then? Maybe I'm early?

I found a local nursery only about a 10 minute drive from the office that had a nice assortment of all the weird pumpkins--the red-orange variety, the white variety, the light green and dark green varieties, and of course the plain old orange variety--but in lots of different sizes. Just what I was looking for! BUT what I wasn't looking for was the price--most of the medium/large pumpkins were priced around $17 to $18. YIKES! So, I limited myself to a smallish white pumpkin and a few of the smaller sized plain old orange pumpkins. Oh, and a couple small white and orange striped ones that were fairly cheap, considering. So now I have a kitchen table scattered with pumpkins--tomorrow I'll finish the decorating and find places for them around the house.

I've talked to a few local people over the last day or two about the obvious absence of fall. All my friends who normally break out their autumn decor in the first couple weeks of September are incredibly slow to get going this year because it still feels like summer! I'm quite envious of all of you who have said fall has arrived in your area. Our weekend forecast? A severe weather alert. Here's what it says:


Aren't you sorry for me? If you answered yes, then could you do me a favor? If you have fall where you live, go outside Saturday afternoon and blow as hard as you can toward California. Sunday's supposed to be 102 degrees. And while we DO tend to stay somewhat warm in California in the fall, it's not usually THAT hot and we can count on crisp mornings and evenings--but not this year, not so far.

I was flipping through a Halloween magazine the other day, and they showed an idea where they'd taken a photo of a graveyard and had it blown up to the size of a mural and then taped it to the inside of the windows. I think that's what I'm going to do with yesterday's fall blog photo. Maybe I can just stay indoors with the air conditioning on, tape that photo to the living room window, and pretend it's fall outside.

And SOUP? I was in Trader Joe's today, looking at the soup and remembering what eating soup was like. I WANT SOUP! I want it to be chilly enough to eat soup--and not Gazpacho! I want to eat comfort foods again. I want to bake. ARRRRRRGH!

And worst of all? I think all this waiting has invaded my quilting mojo. I can't seem to get motivated to DO anything. My next quilting "task" is to pin the Buggy Barn witch quilt for quilting, but do you think I could get myself talked into doing that this week? NO! Why? It just seemed like too big a job--although it seriously isn't. And I know that. But I'm deep into waiting mode--waiting for the quilting fairies, I suppose, to come do it FOR me.

Tomorrow. Tomorrow I'm going to stop waiting. Tomorrow I'm going to pin the quilt. I'm going to finish the fall decorating. I'm going to roast a chicken and make gravy and who knows what else--maybe we'll have a mini-Thanksgiving. And I'll get my box of apples and bake an apple-something. Because maybe if I ACT like it's fall, and if you'll all blow really hard in the direction of California--maybe Autumn will arrive!

Or maybe not. But I can still pretend.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Waiting . . .

I seems I've been waiting for fall to arrive. I finally went looking for it today.

Here in Sacramento, it's still HOT. Our temps have been in the 90s and they're expected to stay there for the next few days at least. In fact, it might even be over 100 this weekend. ARGH! THAT's not FALL!

I mentioned yesterday that I'd been doing some fall decorating, but with this weather, I'm just not feeling all that motivated. On the way home from work, though, I stopped in at Bearpaws & Hollyhocks to "reclaim" my Hey Ghoul Friend quilt, and now it's hanging on my wall. At the shop, I found Lindy had just gotten in the Witching Hour fabric line and had that panel I showed you--the one I framed. And, by the way, here's something I forgot to mention in that post--I just used an inexpensive black frame from JoAnn's to frame the panel. I even bought it with a coupon, which made it LESS expensive. Not bad for a focal point! I think I'll rummage through my frames and see if I can find another, smaller frame for the Thimbleberries panel I used last year. I still have a couple places where it would fit nicely!

After Bearpaws, I made a stop at Michael's--I thought I might find fall THERE. Nope! I seriously didn't buy a thing! I was hoping maybe I'd find something new among their Martha Stewart items, but I didn't. I DO have her Halloween magazine, but I haven't had a chance to read it yet. Maybe I'll find a new idea in the magazine. As it is, though, so far I've just been recycling all the same old stuff. Not that it's BAD stuff, mind you--but I like to try to add a little something new every year, and so far this year, nothing's caught my eye.

After Michael's? I stopped at the grocery store and added pumpkins of several sizes to my cart. I'll need a few more, but I've made a good start. So, maybe fall IS on its way, but it's taking its own sweet time about it.

Did I tell you I stopped at Apple Hill on the way home from Lake Tahoe quilt camp? I picked up a box of apples so I could do some baking. That hasn't been happening either--I'm still waiting for fall. I'm going to have to do something with them soon, though, so if fall has stopped to visit you at your house, could you please send it on its way? I really, REALLY miss it!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What I've Been Up To

I haven't shown you much of what I've been up to lately, so I thought I'd take a couple minutes to do that. And, by the way, while I'm thinking about it, if anyone with an asterisk by their name in my sidebar who participated in the Finish it in August challenge hasn't yet emailed me their snail mail address, please do so--I have a little reward to send out and I don't think I've heard from everyone yet.

At my recent Buggy Barn class, I used the "cats" pattern from the Frightfully Crazy book to demonstrate how to layer and cut the fat quarters. Over the weekend, I finished piecing the top and I added the borders a couple days ago--I thought I'd show you. The wool facial features will be added later, when I'm quilting it.

I don't think I'd mentioned it, but I had arranged to take this past Monday off as a vacation day--I knew after the event on Saturday, I'd want a little time to recover and then I'd need some time for chores around the house--like cleaning and starting to decorate for fall. So that's what I did on Monday, although I still have a lot of decorating left to do. But, if you've been reading my blog since last year, you might remember this "picture"--

I had taken a Thimbleberries fabric panel and centered it and wrapped it around the backing cardboard of a large picture frame and taped the edges down with masking tape. Well, I did the same thing again this year, using a different fabric panel:

This one is called The Witching Hour by RJR Fabrics.

I've been suffering from allergies this week, and between that and work, I haven't had much time or energy to get back to the decorating, but I plan to finish up this coming weekend. I would also really like to get that other Buggy Barn quilt top, If The Hat Fits, pinned and start quilting it. As you can see, I've been caught up with fall--maybe if I pretend fall is here and the weather is cooling down, it really WILL!

Thanks for stopping in to visit me!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Little More . . . .

Oh, about 18 years ago--or something like that--I was working a freelance temp job at a law firm here in town, and I was typing some documents concerning the case of a woman who had been involved in a hot air balloon accident which resulted in a nasty knee injury--I think she even needed surgery to repair the knee. She sued the balloon company for causing her injuries, and her deposition had just been taken by the attorney I was temping for.

The funny thing was that the injured woman worked for another local law firm--a law firm I had recently heard about. In fact, I was looking for a full time position at the time, and I had already sent that law firm my resume. As it turned out, I was hired not too long afterward, and here it is, many years later, and I'm still with the same firm.

And the balloon accident the woman was involved in? It was on the occasion of another of our firm's annual mystery events. Odd, isn't it?

Would you like to hear a little bit more about our firm's annual events? Two of the more outrageous events occurred before I joined the firm. One involved hot air ballooning in the Napa Valley. I'm kind of glad I didn't work there at the time, since I'm not too excited about heights--and, of course, there WAS the fact that one of the balloons went down and landed in some power lines, balanced on a fence. Yeah, I don't think I would have had fun at that one. I think that event also involved wine tasting. Wine tasting seems to be a recurring theme!

The other outrageous event? Helicopters landed somewhere and picked everyone up and whisked them away to a winery. From what I've heard, it looked a little like a scene out of Apocalypse Now. An epic firm legend revolves around that event and one of the female attorneys--who was no longer with the firm by the time I started--who wore absolutely NOTHING but the event T-shirt that day--and there was something about climbing some kind of open metal staircases. Quite memorable, apparently!

One of the best events I DID get to attend? We were given directions to an old hotel in the Delta area--one that had been in existence at the time of Prohibition and mobsters and had some kind of involvement with both, according to the old stories. That afternoon, we played team golf on the hotel's 9-hole course and each team had to share one golf club. We didn't much care, though, because there was a fully-stocked golf cart/bar that made its way from team to team all afternoon long. That night, we all dressed up in formal gowns and tuxes for dinner and dancing, and then we spent the night at the hotel. We gathered for brunch in the morning before leaving to go our separate ways.

Every now and then, there's a family event. One year we met at the local railroad museum. From there, we boarded a train for a short ride--we were held up by Wild West outlaws, and the kids loved it. Afterward, we had lunch in the courtyard of a lovely restaurant and there were games and prizes for the kids and tarot card reading for the adults.

One event I would have LIKED to attend but couldn't--I think it was one of the years when I was working the quilt show--was a bus trip to San Francisco, followed by a scavenger hunt at one of the shopping areas along the wharf. Afterward, everyone boarded a ship for a dinner cruise on the Bay before returning back to Sacramento by bus.

Yep, each year it's something different and you're right--it's a great place to work! Over the years, our office, like most offices, has cut back on some of the benefits offered, but despite changes in the economy, they have always maintained some of the traditions that make it a unique and special place to work. Seriously, I think I'd be happier if I'd been born rich or won the lottery and could just play with fabric all day long, but if I have to work? Well, I think I'm at the right place!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The "Event"

Have you been anxiously waiting to hear about Saturday's "event"? I hope I haven't kept you waiting too long with all my lazy laying about yesterday--I needed a day to recover!

We started off at the office with a light breakfast of pastries, fruit, and juice--and I stopped at Starbucks on the way there, because all the best journeys begin at Starbucks! By 9 a.m. our bus had arrived and we'd all loaded up for the mystery trip. First stop? R.P.M. Indoor Kart Racing here in Sacramento!

OMG, I can't remember the last time I had so much fun! The only drawback? It was awfully HOT and we had to suit up in racing gear, including a heavy-weight suit, head sock, neck brace, and helmet. I thought I was going to die, especially once I was strapped in and racing around the track! Before that, though, we had to watch an instructional video and divide up into teams; afterward, we each got a five-lap practice run, which also determined qualifying time. Next, the racers with the best time from each team raced to determine pole position, and finally there was a 45-minute endurance relay, in which each member of the team had to participate. Our most aggressive team ended up being disqualified for causing too many accidents! My team came in fourth place out of nine teams--pretty respectable, I think.

After the races, we stayed at R.P.M. for a lunch of sandwiches, chips, and cookes. Before loading back onto the bus, we had time for a group photo, and ice chests filled with soft drinks, wine, and beer were brought out, as were VATS of mojitos and margaritas for the next leg of the ride. After all, we wouldn't want to get too thirsty!

After about an hour on the road, driving through the Sierra Nevada foothills, our bus turned onto a small road and traveled up a hill to the C. G. diArie Winery in El Dorado County, not too far from historic Placerville. The logo for the winery consists of the two Egyptian lions and the calipers with the glass of wine--and that was the logo on our shirts of course! The calipers? The wife of the husband and wife team that owns the winery is also an artist, and her art works line the walls of the public spaces in the winery.

On the grounds of the winery, there's a wonderful tent imported from India, and tables had been set up for us under the tent.

Here's a better look at that view:

Throughout the afternoon, servers mingled among us with wonderful treats to eat. Each of us received a booklet of recipes and the caterer demonstrated several for us, and we were given samples to try.

A little later, our large group split into two smaller groups. While one group stayed for more cooking demonstrations, the other group was taken on a tour of the winery.

Because it's harvest time, these vats were being filled and the wine was fermenting--the heady scent of fermentation filled the air. Here the wine maker told us about the process--he has a patent pending on these vats.

In another room, we tasted some of the younger wines amid the wine barrels. Yum!

Dinner was served buffett style with various dishes set up at different stations. One station had green salad with gorgonzola cheese and fresh fruit, poached salmon, and black rice with mushrooms. Another station had lettuce wraps with a chicken, onion, and pepper filling. The third station had pork loin, au gratin potatoes, and different kinds of bread with butter. All of the food was wonderful! And to end the meal? The table in the center of the tent was filled with trays of bite-sized desserts! Best of all, as we dined, we watched the sun drop below the hills.

As you may imagine, the bus ride back to the office was somewhat subdued, but we were a happy, contented bunch. And as we departed the bus at 10 p.m. that night, we were each given a bottle of wine to commemorate the day. What a great time!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Down Time

I gave myself permission to do absolutely nothing today, including writing a blog post. I slept in, read a book, took a nap, read some more, sent Hubby out for fast food, read some more, watched a little TV, and read some more. I think I'm just about recovered from The Event--or I should be by tomorrow. Just as soon as I read and sleep a little more. See you tomorrow!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I'm Not As Young as I Used To Be!

Saturday night, 10:30 p.m., and I'm dead beat!

Yes, Hubby and I got to go on the mystery trip--I think we're just suffering from allergies. Yes, we went go-kart racing here in town, and yes, we went to a winery up in the Amador/El Dorado foothills. It was a ton of fun and I have stuff to tell you about, but I'm too tired tonight and I haven't even downloaded my photos yet.

First thing I did when I got home was take a nice, cool bath and put my jammies on. Oh, it felt good to wash the day off!

I'll tell you a funny thing before I go to bed. Just before I woke up this a.m., I had a dream that one of our senior partners called me into his office and told me I was going to have to do something about my hair--it was just too messy. He thought I should see a stylist. Right after that, I woke up and saw it was just before my alarm was set to go off. I was a little puzzled about why one of the senior partners would think my hair was too messy, but I DO think about doing something different with it every so often, so I thought maybe THAT's where the idea was coming from.

Now the funny part. Do you have any idea what a head condom (okay, that's not what they're REALLY called but I don't remember the name and that's what they looked like--kind of like a ski mask but lighter weight) and a helmet do to a person's hair? I think my dream was quite prophetic! And I had absolutely NO idea we'd have to wear those things!

Okay, bed time for me--and I'm pretty darn sure I'll go to sleep quite fast tonight. I'll be back tomorrow night to tell you more about the day.

Oh, and by the way--my racing name? "Quilty Speeder"!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

It's a Mystery

Each year, usually in the fall, my firm has an "event"--somewhat similar, I suppose, to the more typical "company picnic"--but different. One of the differences is that whatever it is is always a mystery until the day of the event or--for some of us who are pretty good guessers--perhaps the day before.

On the day before the event, we receive shirts bearing some kind of illustration or art work that hints at what the event will involve. Last year, we had a 1960s Monte Carlo night at a local country club, and the T-shirts had cards and dice on them--although on that occasion, wearing those particular shirts wasn't part of the event; instead, we were to dress in 1960s formal attire. Hubby and I didn't make it to that one.

It seems that more often than not, we don't make the event. There have been several years when the event fell on the same weekend as my guild's annual quilt show in October, and I'd already committed to work the show. Other years, when our kids were still at home, we had soccer games and tournaments to attend. And sometimes, we've planned to attend but something happened at the last minute to prevent our going. Every few years, though, we've managed to go, and it's always been a fun but exhausting day!

Tomorrow (Saturday) is this year's annual event. And I think we're going.

That photo at the top is what's on this year's shirts--which, by the way, are polo-type shirts.

See the racing flags? We think those might represent kart racing. We've been told we'll be loaded onto a bus and will be traveling no more than an hour from the office. An internet map program shows that Infineon Raceway in Sonoma is 1 hour and 12 minutes away, and apparently Infineon Raceway has kart lessons and racing this weekend. Someone else, though, thinks we'll go to a local indoor go-cart raceway. Also a possibility.

See the wine glass? Sonoma is a huge wine-producing area. Wineries make great places to visit. Most of us figure a winery is involved. Up to this point in the clues, my money's on Sonoma.

See the Egyptian lions? No idea what those might represent. And the curved calipers (or maybe ice tongs)? Notta clue. And I can't find anything in the Sonoma area that might fit those images. So maybe it's not Sonoma. Hummmmm.

So, tomorrow morning we have to get up earlier than we do on a work day and be at the office by 8:30 a.m. We'll be brought back to the office by 9 p.m. tomorrow night. I don't know if I'll be able to muster the energy to write a blog post tomorrow night, but I'm planning to take my camera and I should have a post about the event for you sometime this weekend--just don't hold me to writing a post tomorrow night when I get home.

Oh, and the one thing that might keep us from going THIS year? Both Hubby and I have been feeling like we're coming down with colds. I'm hoping it's just allergies, but we'll probably know better in the morning. In the meantime, tonight I'm taking a nice bath and going to bed early with a good book. Either way--event or cold--I'm going to need a good night's sleep!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Beauty Routines

Those of you keeping up with my beauty routines will be fascinated and awestruck by the fact that I finally broke out the box of Nice N Easy (or whatever brand was on sale recently) and refreshed my blonde(ish brown) locks tonight. It's something I've been meaning to do for about two weeks now. Sometimes it takes me a little while to work my way up to something that momentous. Now I'm good for about another four months (although it will probably be about six months before I get around to it again).

Now that THAT's done, I'll have to check my calendar to see when I might be able to fit in a good chin plucking. Those who know me in person will be forever grateful.

The week before quilt camp, I got to thinking about all the beauty products I may need to further enhance the happy and well rested look I'd be sporting upon my return, and that's when I picked up the hair color. At the same time, since I'd worn the colored stripe right off my old toothbrush, I figured it was time to get a new one of those too.

I don't know if you remember THIS post, but I had gone to the grocery store for toothpaste, and I was totally dumbfounded and confused by the wide and varied selection of products available. Why would anyone need this many different types of toothpaste? I remember the good old days when the only choice was whether to buy Colgate or Crest.

And that brings me to this. Have you shopped for a toothbrush lately? Here's what I found out: THERE ARE NO "NORMAL" TOOTHBRUSHES ANYMORE. The toothbrushes on the store shelves all seem to do more than just brush teeth. And the colors? Do I really want a neon green and purple toothbrush to jolt me awake each morning? Do I have a choice? This is what came home with me.

It really looked somewhat normal, except for the colors. At least the brush part looked like a brush part, right? But when I took it out of the package and tested it out in my mouth--OMG! It felt like I was brushing my teeth with a French tickler! There's nubby rubber stuff on the back that tickles the inside of my cheeks and the brush feels much larger than it looks!

I think the people in charge of our dental health have WAAAAAAY too much time on their hands. Maybe we should give them something more to do, like solving the world hunger problem. Or finding a cure for facial hair in women of a certain age.

Besides bemoaning the current state of beauty products, I wanted to announce the winner of the pumpkin bag giveaway. The number 13 seemed appropriate for a Halloween giveaway, and the 13th person to comment that they wanted to be entered was Sandy from Thimbleberries. Sandy is a local quilter who I don't see very often but who reads my blog all the time. She's entered many of my giveaways, and I understand she's always convinced she'll win, but she never does--until now! Congrats, Sandy! Email me your snail mail address, and I'll send it off to you!

Okay, now that THAT business has been taken care of, what beauty products most fascinate, puzzle, or mystify you? Oh, and before I forget, did you see they held the Snuggie fashion show this past week?

Yep, seriously. I guess the Christmas season is gearing up!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Nothing Much . . .

Is it just me, or do you feel like September is speeding by? Most years by now, I've at least made a really good start on decorating my home for fall, but so far, there just hasn't been time. You know what else? I haven't been to a thrift shop since June, I think. Where did summer GO?!

Seriously, I'm not a huge fan of summer--not in this part of the world. Not when summer means it's just too hot for anyone to want to go outside. And it's still pretty warm outside now, even in mid-September. Maybe that's one of the reasons I haven't been too anxious about getting ready for fall--it just doesn't seem that close except when I look at the calendar.

And when I DO look at the calendar and think about the last couple weeks, I realize I haven't been home very much. Labor Day weekend I was trying to get ready for quilt camp and the class I'd be teaching when I returned, then there was quilt camp, and then there was the class I taught last weekend. This coming Saturday, Hubby and I will be attending my firm's annual mystery event, so there's another lost weekend. On Sunday--with the Drooling Dog back home again in Tahoe--I plan to do a good job of house cleaning--something I haven't managed to do very thoroughly for a couple weeks.

Speaking of the Drooling Dog--are you tired of hearing about him yet? Yesterday when I came home from work, I glanced out the patio door to see him sprawled out, sleeping on the patio table. I told Hubby to come look, but by the time he got to where he could see, the Drooling Dog wasn't laying down anymore. Nope! Instead, this is what Hubby saw:

It kind of startled me to see the dog on the table. I guess I just haven't had any dogs that climbed much (except for a yellow Lab that was pretty persistent about climbing over the fence). This photo was actually taken this morning--yep, he was back up on the table. Why? Why would he want to be on the table? Is he goofy, or what?! (By the way, in case you noticed Rocky's lopsided appearance--he got out one day a couple months ago and when he came home, part of his left ear was missing.)

I think it was Paulette who commented that even after getting so much finished up in August, her projects were starting to pile up again. I'm experiencing the same thing. I should have another Buggy Barn quilt top to show you soon--I've been working on the Halloween cats and have about half the blocks made. (Coincidentally, Paulette shows a friend's Buggy Barn DOG quilt on one of her recent blog posts.) I'd just love to get the witches and these cats quilted before the month's over!

That's about all that's going on in my life at the moment--nothing huge, but everything seems to be going nicely. I just wish there was more time! I hope you're finding time to do everything you want to do.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Three Things . . .

I say "three things" to help me remember what I want to say--otherwise, I'd probably get to the end of this post and forget I wanted to mention two of them! Getting older means not remembering quite as easily as we did when we were 20, doesn't it?! Sometimes I think that's just as well, though.

Okay, first thing: Those people with asterisks next to their names in my sidebar--the ones who finished three or more projects in August--please privately email me your addresses. I have little "prizes" for you. I was going to do this near the beginning of September, but I didn't want to have to worry about mailing things out before I left for camp. Don't look for BIG prizes--I just have a few little things to give away that I thought you might enjoy.

Second thing: I said I'd give you the directions for making the pumpkin treat bags. Here they are:


From outside (orange) fabric (fat quarter):
Cut two (2) pumpkin shapes using outside template line (*see pattern sheet)

From fusible craft interfacing (quarter yard):
Cut two (2) pumpkin shapes from inner template line

You will also need orange fabric (fat quarter) for the inside of the pumpkin bags, but those pieces will be cut later.

Cut two eyes and a mouth from scraps of black wool–*see shapes on pattern sheet or design your own

Cut a length of ribbon or trim for handle 18" long


According to manufacturer’s directions, center and iron each of the pieces of fusible interfacing to the “wrong” or back side of the fabric that will become the inside of the bag (this is that "other" fat quarter you didn't cut), making sure to leave at least 1/2" between the two interfacing shapes. Trim the excess fabric from around the interfacing, leaving at least 1/4" seam allowance between the edge of the interfacing and the edge of the fabric.

Fabric side up/interfacing side down, layer each of the two fused pieces with the outside pumpkin fabric, right sides of the fabric together. Pin to secure layers. Turn over; with interfacing side up, sew around the pumpkin, just to the outside of the interfacing, leaving the bottom of the pumpkin open to turn. Turn and press; press the raw edges of the fabric at the open seam to the inside.

For the next “quilting” step, I prefer to use the free motion foot and settings on my machine, but a regular stitching foot and settings will work also. “Quilt” in the vertical pumpkin definition lines on both pumpkin pieces. On whichever piece will be the front of the bag, layer and pin the wool eyes and mouth. Using black thread, sew near the edges of the wool to secure the eyes and mouth to the pumpkin.

Pin the back of the pumpkin to the front of the pumpkin, “wrong” sides together; insert the ribbon/trim handle near the top on each side and pin in place–*see markings on pattern sheet. Top stitch the front of the bag to the back, beginning and ending at the black circles on the pattern sheet. At the bottom of the bag, stitch close enough to the edge to ensure the seam that was left open for turning is secured.

*NOTE: THERE IS NO PATTERN SHEET for purposes of this blog post! Where you see a reference to the pattern sheet in the directions above, you'll need to come up with your own designs/drawings. For the pumpkin shape, I drew a shape that was just a little smaller than an 8-1/2" x 11" piece of paper. The fabric pumpkin shape was about 1/4" larger than the fusible interfacing. I hope this is enough to get you started.

Finally, third thing: If you'd like to WIN a pumpkin treat bag, leave me a comment on this post saying you want to be entered--U.S. addresses only for this one, okay? Besides the obvious cuteness of the bag itself, there are a few treats I gave my students, including a printed pattern for the bags and ribbon and wool to make another bag.

That's three things, right? Okay, then, I'm done! Oh, yeah--you probably want to know when I'm going to draw a winner for the pumpkin bag, don't you? Let's make it Thursday night, and then I'll announce the winner on Friday's post. Good luck!


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Look Who's Visiting!

Although I was up at Lake Tahoe last week--where the Wild Child lives--I never got to see her. Why? She's on a 10-day kayaking trip around the lake; she left last Wednesday morning. And before that? She spent Tuesday driving down to our house to drop off her dog Rocky, shop for her trip, and drive back to Tahoe. So, you guessed it--yep, we're dog sitting!

Rocky's made himself at home and seems quite happy.

Yesterday, Hubby put Rocky out on the patio and the next time he walked by, Rocky was sitting in that same chair, but he was sitting up straight and tall instead of curled up and half laying down. What a funny sight!

While I was at quilt camp, Rocky kept Hubby company except on Thursday night when Soccer Son came over and "borrowed" him for the night. Quite frankly, although Rocky is a sweetheart and just about the best behaved dog I've ever met, I wouldn't be disappointed if Soccer Son wanted to "borrow" him until the Wild Child comes to pick him up on Saturday.

You see, the one flaw Rocky has is that he drools--all the time and quite a lot. It's so bad, in fact, that I call him the Drooling Dog rather than Rocky. When he was younger, he was so spoiled, he'd fuss and cry when we'd try to keep him outside, so we'd have to put up with him drooling all over the house. Now dog sitting him is a little easier--although he still comes inside for awhile, most of the time he's happy enough out in the backyard, and he sleeps in our garage at night. Of course, when he's in the house, we keep a drool rag handy.

This morning when I was getting ready for work, I went out to the garage to get a pair of pants out of the laundry basket. The first pair I pulled out had dried drool on them. So did the second pair, but not as bad--just a little bit on the leg. Good thing I was able to clean them up! Hubby thinks it's pretty funny; he said Rocky was tossing a pig's ear around last night and it landed in the basket; Hubby took a look but I guess the drool wasn't very obvious until it dried.

Saturday can't come too soon.

Monday, September 14, 2009

What I Did On My Summer Vacation . . .

I suppose I should first show you what I made the quilters who took my class on Saturday. I wanted to get everything ready for class before I left for quilt camp, so the weekend before I left, I got all these "treat bags" ready:

At camp, I sewed together the blocks for the Buggy Barn pattern, If The Hat Fits:

Of course, that's one of the patterns in the book I was teaching from on Saturday, and all my students in that class elected to make this quilt. I'm looking forward to getting it quilted before too long! I've decided that I'm not going to add the wool noses--I like it better without them, I think.

Finally, the last project I've been working on is the Blackbird Designs pattern, Hallowe'en 1904. There's a TON of hand applique in this pattern, so it will take me some time and probably won't be done for THIS Halloween, but I really like the way it's turning out so far. There are 16 blocks in the quilt (set four by four), and I'm ALMOST done with half of them--the pumpkin in the bottom left corner needs the half square triangles sewn on and then I can say I'm half way there! (Even at only three blocks across, it's already too large for my design wall and the right hand edges of the blocks are curling forward.)

Back to work in the morning, so it's time for bed. Thanks for stopping in!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Quilting Tahoe

One of the biggest "shocks" in returning from Lake Tahoe was the change in temperature. Our high temperatures at the lake were probably around the low 80s, and those highs only lasted a couple hours in the mid to late afternoons. When I got back to Sacramento on Friday, it was nearly 100 degrees at around 1 p.m. ARGH! This morning, though, we woke up to the sound of thunder in the distance, and before long, we had a brief, light rain--rain before late October is rare in our area. Today's high dropped about 15 degrees, and tomorrow it will be even cooler--around 80 degrees. Lovely!

The other "shock" was returning to over-crowded, traffic-clogged suburbia! At least I have the weekend to acclimate before I have to go back to work and face the hustle and bustle of everyday living. Today, though, there was no sleeping in--today I had the Buggy Barn class to teach.

I wonder if it's possible to sew too much? If it is, I don't think I've hit that point yet. Teaching and sewing in class today was fun, as usual. And afterward? Well, I sewed some more, of course! Tomorrow night, I'll show you what I did at camp and worked on over the weekend. Tonight, though--well, yesterday I promised to show you a few more photos of quilt camp. Here are some of the campers in the large sewing room. Everyone seems pretty busy, don't they?

Upstairs in the second floor lobby were windows that overlooked our sewing room. It wasn't unusual to glance up and see people watching us sew. Of course, that's where I took this photo. And see the man and woman at the head of the table on the right? Yep, we had visitors stop in and walk around to see what we were doing. I don't think any of us minded, and all of our visitors were quite friendly and interested. The camp facility is a Presbyterian Conference Center, and there are usually Presbyterians groups as well as other visitors coming and going.

And at the head of the table on the left? That chair with the black sweater? That was my spot. You can kind of see my Buggy Barn witches there. And Lindy sat across on the other side of the table, across from me, but she, Carolyn, and Caroline (two other friends, all on that side of the table) must have been off doing something when I took the photo because their chairs are empty.

Here's the other half of the room. All together we had four sets of tables. Each of us had our own table and most of the tables were 8' long, so there was plenty of space to spread out and work. The walls around the perimeter of the room were pretty well covered with design walls so we could lay out our blocks and display our finished projects for a little while.

On Wednesday, after sewing for almost two days, it was time for a little shoulder and neck R&R. There was a little lounge area across from the sewing room, and a massage therapist was invited in to set up her chair there. Needless to say, most of us took advantage of her services. AAAAHHHHH!

And one of the other highlights of camp? Well, apparently this group of women have a tradition of dressing up each year.

I'm not certain I have it exactly right, but I think each woman brings five of something and contributes it to the overall group costume. And I think it was someone's husband who had the idea for--or found--the "bras." What a hoot! (Or would that be Hooters?! Okay, I know--bad pun!)

Traditionally, on the last night of camp, we have a "room tour." Each room has at least one donated quilt hanging on the wall, and most of us bring a quilt from home to sleep under--those quilts are displayed as are the projects we've worked on during the camp. The rooms are opened and we travel in a group from room to room to admire all of the quilts. Remember what I said about people dropping in and watching us quilt? Well, somehow we picked up two couples on the room tour who came along to admire our projects! I didn't get photos of the rooms, but there were a lot of great projects on display.

Time for bed. I was right last night about sleeping in my own bed, on my own mattress--wonderful! Tomorrow, though, I'd really like to sleep in a little bit. It's my LAST DAY of vacation. I hope you're enjoying your weekend, doing whatever makes you happy!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Home Again!

I'm home again! Did you miss me? It's late and I have a class to teach tomorrow, so I need to get to bed, but I wanted to show you around quilt camp a little bit tonight.

This is the building we spent most of our time in--our rooms were here as was the large sewing room; our group also had a smaller sewing room in the building to the left of this building, housed near the cafeteria. Our sewing room and my bedroom were on the first floor; the main entrance is on the second floor.

This is a fairly grainy photo of my room--of course, the view from the room is the real star anyway! I had to lighten the photo to show a bit of the room, but THIS is the view I woke up to each morning--and enjoyed nearly every afternoon when I took a little nap or relaxed and read a book.

Here's a view of the lake from the large sewing room. I'll show you more photos of this room tomorrow, but I wanted you to see where we toiled away the days. (Most of us had to stack two chairs together to get the necessary height to sew on these tables, although some smart campers brought sewing tables and/or their own adjustable chairs.)

And when we worked up an appetite? We headed to the cafeteria where we were served breakfast (8 a.m.), lunch (noon), and dinner (6 p.m.) each day. It's funny how quickly a person can get used to eating at regular times--something that NEVER happens at home! It's also quite easy to get used to someone cooking each and every meal as well--I'm going to miss that! And? The cafeteria had the same wonderful view of the lake.

And you know what else? Sunsets on the lake weren't too bad either!

I'll tell you more about camp tomorrow! Right now? I'm REALLY looking forward to sleeping in my own bed, even if it DOESN'T have a wonderful lake view! There's no place like home . . . .

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Goodbye, Goodbye!

I'm all packed and ready to go to camp. Thank you everyone for all the well wishes. I know this will be fun!

I've checked Tahoe weather, and it's supposed to be in the high-70s to mid-80s much of the time we're there, with cool temperatures at night. This is a hard time of the year to pack for Tahoe because there's such a fluctuation in temperature, but I know it will be lovely.

I'm not sure I have enough stuff. Have I forgotten anything? That pile in the photo just doesn't look big enough, does it? Well, it will have to do. I went out this a.m. and bought that boom box because I thought it would be fun to take some books on tape/books on CDs along with me. Chances are I won't even listen to them, but at least I have them! A couple books and magazines are also packed as well as a few snacks. They feed us awfully well, but meals are on a schedule, and if you miss one, you have to wait until the next--and I thought it was possible I might miss breakfast once or twice if I decide to sleep in. I've put a memory card in my camera, so I should have enough room for all the photos I want to take.

I think I'm ready! Goodbye! "See" you Friday night/Saturday morning!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Preparation . . .

Much of today was spent getting ready for the week to come and I'm now as ready as I possibly can be for the class I'm teaching on Saturday. I'll just need to do a couple little things when I get home from camp on Friday.

Once I had everything ready for class, I wasn't sure how I wanted to spend the rest of the day. I finally decided, though, that my time would best be spent in getting a head start on cutting fabrics for the main project I want to work on at camp:

There's really a TON of applique to be done on this quilt, so I'm not sure how far I'll get at camp, but I've cut and prepared what I could, and that means--besides having less to fuss with once I'm AT camp--I didn't have to pack up quite as much.

I don't leave for camp until early afternoon. I think in the morning I'll get one or two other things ready to take with me because I anticipate that appliqueing will get kind of old after awhile and I'll want to do a little piecing now and then.

I always seem to take more than I'll need, though, because I forget that sometimes it's nice to just sit and look at the lake.

"See" you when I get home!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Getting Ready

Friday at 5:30 p.m. my vacation started. Whoopie! And on Monday, around noon, I'll leave for quilt camp. Double whoopie squared!

In the meantime, I've started getting ready for the Buggy Barn class I teach next Saturday, the day after I get back from camp. By now, you know how I am--I DO STUFF for my students, so that's what I'm doing--DOING STUFF. Can't tell you what, but I'll show you later. I think I have things well in hand now, though. Tomorrow I'll need to run to the grocery store and get a few things and then I'll be nearly ready for class.

Physically, I'm feeling better--all the stomach stuff seems to have resolved. Mentally and emotionally, I still have my ups and downs. Depression is hard to explain--it's not just a feeling of sadness. It makes no sense, and it seems to sneak up on me when I least expect it--like it did this afternoon. Now it's gone away again, thank goodness, and I hope getting away to quilt camp for some much needed R&R and the company of friends will do me a lot of good.

I haven't been very good this summer about keeping up my reading list in my sidebar. I know that some of you have read and recommended The Help--I'm packing that book to take to camp with me. I just finished reading THIS book--

I started reading it last night, and I picked it back up this afternoon. And despite the fact that I had a lot of other things I should have been doing, I didn't want to put it down again until I reached the end. It was a good book--happy, sad, and made me cry a lot.

This evening, I thought I'd spend a little time with my Blogland friends and visit some folks I hadn't visited for awhile. I was quite surprised to find several bloggers seemed to be about as down I was, many hadn't posted a blog entry in several weeks, and a few had announced they intended to take a break from blogging. It seemed that reading blogs wasn't going to do much to improve my mood! After awhile though, as I continued reading and got to the blogs of many of my newer Blogland friends, I found my mood lightening and I felt much more positive.

Blogging on a regular basis takes a certain amount of "work," but it gives so much back that it seems worth the time and effort--visiting blogs tonight reminded me of that. I won't be able to blog while I'm away at quilt camp, but I hope to come home with photos and stories to tell. Before I leave, though, I have to finish getting everything ready and I have one more blog post to write. See you tomorrow!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

For Your Amusement

I came across this and thought I'd share because it's kind of amusing. Happy weekend!

Friday, September 4, 2009

For the Men

I'm reminded that men actually read my blog. Ha! Imagine that! So I just wanted to apologize to the men for all that menopause talk yesterday--you probably hear enough of it already from your wife, right? (Just don't go trying to claim menopause for yourself, okay? I'm just sayin . . . .)

So I thought I'd write a man blog tonight. Just for you, because you're really special to me--but then you know that, right?

First of all, don't be embarrassed about reading a quilting blog. You can even leave me comments from time to time--don't be shy. Just because I quilt doesn't mean you can't talk to me. And that quilting thing? Do you know there are some pretty manly men who quilt?! Meet Butch. When I was cleaning out the Sweat Shop and sorting out my magazines, I came across this photo of him and one of the quilts he designed.

Butch seems pretty secure in his manhood. I tore him out of the magazine and put him on my refrigerator. I kinda like seeing him. Hubby wondered why I was putting Bruce on the refrigerator, but I couldn't really explain it. I think maybe it's a little like putting up the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue centerfold. Sort of. (No, I don't actually KNOW Butch--not in any sense of the word.)

Speaking of Hubby, who also just happens to be a man, I thought I'd take you out to the Man Cave to see what he's been doing. For the past few weeks, he's been heading out there at night after it cools down a bit and staying out until the wee hours of the morning. (Do you think he'd come in sooner if I unlocked the door?)

I don't know if this guy has a name, but he looks like he's spending a happy day fishing. Did you notice the beer in his hand?

Then there's this gal:

At least I think it's a gal. You can't see it very well, but she has a butterfly on her hand. I know who Hubby made the fisherman for, but I don't know about this one--I'm sure he has a recipient in mind. Last week he made a pot person and took it over to my future-daughter-in-law's mom for her garden. He seems quite creative lately. And he's secure in his manhood. But he doesn't ride a Harley.

Now I don't usually do this because I like to remain somewhat anonymous, but tonight, in an effort to make up for all the menopause and hormonal man-bashing talk, I thought I'd post a photo of me.

I always think it's important to keep hydrated.

Okay, it's not really me, but I didn't think you'd mind. Y'all come back again, you hear?!