Saturday, July 31, 2010

Friday Finishes

I've had what appears to be an awfully productive day today, although I'll confess--if you didn't already know--that each of these projects was nearing completion anyway. I'm just happy to have them done in my effort to "clear the decks" for wool month!

First, I've finished this embroidery:

I debated with myself whether it actually WAS finished because I want to make it into a quilted wallhanging or a pillow; in the end, though, I figured the EMBROIDERY was finished so that counts. In any event, I need to set it aside for now, although I hope to get back to it again before Christmas. Gran and my fellow embroidery students will be astonished when I bring it to show and tell in August because I really NEVER finish an embroidery project--probably because I rarely START one either!

I finished up the apron today too--

At the end of last night's class, I still had to sew on the pocket and make the flower; then I decided to replace all the buttons with red ones. Gosh, I wish I was as thin as that apron looks hanging on the door! Maybe it's the vertical stripes.

Finally, this is a project I've been carrying around with me for a very long time--a wool case for my reading glasses. Ever since I lost the first one I'd made about a year ago, I've worked on this on off and on. Here's the front--

And the back--

It really didn't take that many hours to make; it's just that I never devoted any real time and attention to it. At least it's done now and ready to use.

I have several more projects I'd like to finish tomorrow--I'll let you know how I do on those. The weekend's here--I wish you a wonderful one!

Friday, July 30, 2010

What I've Been Up To

Having told you of my upcoming August plans, I thought I'd tell you what I've been doing recently besides thrift store shopping. You know that Charm Pack Quilt Along over in my sidebar? Well, if you've been quilting along, you know we're making a gazillion half square triangles and we have until Sunday to get them done, at which point we'll be given the next step. And since Sunday is August and August is WOOL MONTH, I've kind of gotten ahead of the group and finished the half square triangle blocks and the four-patch blocks--which we haven't been given yet. Shhhhhh! Don't tell--I'm such a rebel! In fact, I've even put the blocks together into a quilt top--although it doesn't have borders yet. I made mine a little larger than the quilt along quilt--right now it's 6' x 6'. Want to see it so far?

In the above photo, the quilt top is spread out on the Wild Child's bed, which is a double. Since I have a king size bed, what I've made so far will cover the top, so whatever borders I make will need to take care of the drop on the sides and foot--and I haven't decided what I want to do for borders yet. For now, though, I need to fold it up and set it aside until my wool projects are done, so you probably won't see it again for awhile.

Just before I sat down at the computer a few minutes ago, I finished this book:

I told you I'd let you know what I thought about it, and I'm not sure it's really sunk in enough just yet, but generally speaking, I thought it was okay but nothing that will stay with me in years to come. The book looks at relationships, love, and loss, but I don't think I came away with any greater understanding of these subjects than I went into the book with. Maybe if I'd suffered a recent loss, it would have had more meaning for me. Sometimes when you read a book, how you feel about the book depends upon what's going on in your life--and this may be one of those books.

Remember I talked about the class I was going to take to make one of these aprons?

The class was tonight and it was a lot of fun. I didn't quite finish mine yet, but it looks much like Gran's in this photo. Once I finish, I'll get a photo of it and show you. Someone left a comment last time asking about a pattern--no, there's no pattern so far, but there will be soon. Tianna, Gran's daughter-in-law, taught the class, and she developed the idea based on something a bit similar she'd seen, but then she added a lot of the really cute touches that make this apron special. She's writing the pattern now and Bearpaws and Hollyhocks will carry it. You can give the shop a call in about a week if you're interested in the pattern (just click HERE to visit their website with contact info).

In these last two days of July, I think I need to concentrate on getting my house in better order and finish up the few things I have going on right now. I'll be sure to show you the completed projects. For now, though, it's time for bed--and the next book on my nightstand, The Secret Life of Bees.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


It's hard to believe that July is nearly over and August is almost here, isn't it? I expect August will be a busy and eventful month.

I think I'll be returning to work next week--I have an appointment to see my surgeon on Monday so I'll find out then.

We're beginning a bathroom remodel around the middle of next week--that's expected to take about a week and a half.

Sometime around the second week of August, The Wild Child will be moving back home (along with the Drooling Dog). She's enrolled in college classes that begin a little later in August. She leaves for a week's vacation right after she moves home, and then she starts school the day after she gets back. And sometime before she moves home, I need to move a LOT of my stuff out of her closet and cupboards. Having another adult living in the house will take some adjustments. but she's not too hard to live with.

We have a few social occasions on the calendar in August also. An office "mystery event" and dinner out with friends are two that come to mind.

Last August, I think I decided to devote the month to finishing quilt projects that had already been started; THIS August is devoted to STARTING new quilt projects. Specifically, I have a couple of wool classes I'm going to be teaching this fall, and I need to develop some samples and projects for the classes. Wool in August?! Thank goodness for air conditioning! (My recent thrift shopping also netted me a couple more wool blazers that Hubby's been taking apart for me and felting.)

So much for those "lazy days of summer"! I think my vacation's just about over.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Book Club

My "real life" book club isn't meeting this month because some of our members are on vacation, so I need a "book discussion fix." I don't know if you've noticed, but the area in my sidebar where I list what I've been reading has been blank for awhile. When I thought about what I'd read over the past few months, I realized that none of the books were anything to get too excited about. Most of them have been mysteries, and while they've been entertaining, they're not the kind of thing you spend time thinking about afterward. Know what I mean?

In my recent thrifting excursions, I've picked up a few promising books. I really don't know anything about these first two or their authors--if you have any input, please leave a comment.

The next two books are by Lorna Landvik. A couple of years ago, I read Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons which was written by Landvik, and I really enjoyed it. I'm hoping these are just as good. Again, any input? By the way, I can recommend Angry Housewives if you're looking for a good book. I think it might particularly appeal to women who grew up in the 1960's and 1970's as much of it takes place during that time period.

The Secret Life of Bees is a book I've heard good things about over the last couple years, and I've been wanting to read it for awhile, so when I saw it at the thrift store, I thought it was about time to bring it home.

The next one, The Threadbare Heart, isn't one I found at the thrift store--it's a fairly new book I ordered from Amazon a few months ago. There's a bit of a quilting thread in the book, and that always appeals to me too. The Threadbare Heart is the next book I'll read--I'll be sure to let you know what I think of it.

Speaking of quilting threads running through books, I picked up a copy of the Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas at the thrift store today. I think this is my favorite Sandra Dallas book. If you haven't read it, you must! In fact, I was wondering whether there was any interest in having me circulate the book among those who want to read it? I could set up a list and we can mail it from person to person--to keep costs down, we'd have to limit it to those in the U.S. If this is something you might be interested in, leave a comment, and if there's enough interest, I'll start a sign up list.

I know quite a lot of you enjoy reading, because when I talk about books, I seem to get the most comments. I love hearing about your book recommendations--and I'm sure you all enjoy reading what others have to say in the comments too. So, in addition to your input on the above books, what have you enjoyed reading this summer? Inquiring minds . . . .

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thrifting Parade, Part Deux

I wanted to show you a few more treasures I've found lately. Gran had told me about the American Cancer Society's Discovery Shop, and since I needed to go to Trader Joe's, which is just across the street, I thought I'd check it out. There I found these individual salt and pepper shakers made by Irice--six for $3. Hubby laughs at the idea of us EVER needing individual salt and pepper shakers, but the real attraction for me is that they match my favorite larger salt and pepper shakers!

While I was there, I carried around a set of Battenburg lace place mats for awhile, thinking I could make them into a window valance, but in the end, I put them back. I wonder if I'll regret that later?

Today I found a blue-green Atlas canning jar. I have a collection of these types of jars, but most of what I have are Ball jars, so I was kind of excited to find this one.

It always amazes me to find these in antique stores for $5 or more, because they're still fairly available at thrift stores for much less.

Here's a blast from the past--the 60's, I think.

I kind of think my mom might have had this same lazy Susan set, but I'm not sure. When I consider all the times I've filled various bowls for "make your own" salads or tacos, I think a lazy Susan will come in handy. I'm not quite sure about the green and yellow, but it's vintage, and those were the popular colors back then. Each dish is inscribed "Made in California," and the wooden base still has a sticker/stamp affixed.

And today I found these yellow and white lazy Susan dishes--I thought they'd fit the base, and they do--well enough at least. I thought I'd see if I have a bowl that will fit in the middle--if not, I'll have to look for one.

You may have noticed that the wooden base for the lazy Susan is kind of scratched up. Well, I have plans. In one of the Mary Engelbreit books I found the other day, she shows how to paint wooden "bowlies." In fact, I've been specifically looking for a few interesting wooden bowls, and I found these two to "test":

I've bought a few other things, mostly as "supplies" for similar projects, but I won't show them now because they're kind of boring--I'll save them until later when they're pretty!

On Saturday, there was a neighborhood garage sale in my own neighborhood. I don't usually go to garage sales, but since there were several in a small area, I thought I'd make an exception. So I got up early Saturday morning, put my tennis shoes on, and headed out--it was only later I realized I'd never even had my morning cup of coffee! ARGH!

I'm always drawn to boxes with the idea of doing some type of paint or altered art project, and that's what initially attracted me to this one. But really, the rusty metal exterior is kind of neat "as is." I don't know what I'll keep in it, but I don't think I'll make any changes.

At the same house, I spotted this older Singer. No, it's not a Featherweight--it's a half size standard model.

I asked the woman what she wanted for it, and she wasn't really sure but she finally said $10. Although I don't collect Singers, I thought that was too good a price to pass up. I understand it still works, but I haven't actually tried it yet. The real negative about it is that the case is extremely beat up and is currently held together with duct tape; I understand this particular model HAS to be in a case--they don't run on a table top because there are moving parts underneath. So someday Hubby or Soccer Son will need to build a case for it, or I'll find something else that will work, like lowering it into a table.

My last garage sale purchase was this wagon:

I liked the size, and I immediately saw all kinds of seasonal decorating possibilities. I'm not so excited about the bear, but the woman said the bear went with the wagon, so I brought him home. Oddly enough, Hubby kind of likes the bear. Go figure. So maybe the bear's mission will be to decorate and beautify Hubby's work bench in the garage.

Well, I think we're about done with the thrift shop parade for now, although I DID find some books to read. AND I was thinking it's been a few months since we talked about good books, so come back tomorrow with your list of favorite reads so we can discuss and share, okay?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Thrifting, Part 1

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you probably know I love to visit thrift stores, but since I've been off work for my carpal tunnel problems, I just haven't had the urge to thrift. I'm not exactly sure why except that at first, when both my hands were painful, the idea of buying things and bringing them home and putting them away or deciding how to decorate with them seemed altogether too bothersome, and by the time I was physically up to thrift shopping again, I'd just gotten out of the habit, I think. And, of course, for awhile my main thrift store target was wool garments, and at that point, I had all the wool I could imagine needing. So I stopped.

As I mentioned yesterday, because I signed up for Gran's daughter-in-law's apron class, I needed to head to the thrift store to search for men's shirts for that project, and once I stepped into the first Goodwill store, it all came back to me. Yep, I'm hooked again.

So what treasures did I find? Well, I've now been to five or six thrift shops in the last few days, and I've found several items that are treasures to me. I thought I'd break this into two posts so it's not overwhelming. I hope you'll enjoy seeing what I've found.

On the first day, at the first shop, I found the Sidewinder I showed yesterday, along with a Cabbage Rose quilt book, and that pretty lace napkin. I thought the napkin would make a good background for an embroidery project, although I have no idea what I'll embroider yet. Still, isn't that the fun of thrift store shopping? All the dreams and planning involved in the purchases?

I have a small collection of teapots, and I tend to like the simple ones that have a nice shape and a lovely colored glaze. But my collection was missing a red tea pot--until now!

Another category of treasures I've been searching for are refrigerator containers--remember the days before Tupperware? Although I'd still love to find some colored, lidded glass containers, I was tickled to find this clear Westinghouse meatloaf dish with the lid and no chips or dings. One of the most fun things about thrifting is finding affordable vintage items. I think this dish was $3.99.

And books. I always check out the books and sometimes I find really great ones. Since I LOVE Mary Engelbreit AND crafting, I was thrilled to find these. There are TONS of fun ideas in these books to get my creative juices flowing and my mind thinking about repurposing some of the things I've found thrifting. In fact, a couple of the projects I found here are responsible for the last couple thrifting excursions. I hope to have a few handmade things to show you before too long.

Finally, don't you love these cups? While they aren't really MY thrift finds, I had to share them with you anyway. Gran found these at a thrift store and gifted them to me for my birthday (along with a few other things). Really, what could be better than Christmas cups from Starbucks that have peppermints and red candy decorations? Gran knows me well, doesn't she?!

I need to go out tomorrow and run a couple of errands, and I'm pretty sure a thrift store or two will be added to the errand list. If you haven't been thrifting for awhile (or ever--yikes!), I highly recommend it! Unless you live in the Sacramento area--in which case, hold off for a few days until I've had time to get to all of them first, okay?

Sunday, July 25, 2010


I need to focus here. I have several things to blog about and if I blogged about everything, it would take you half an hour to read it all. Actually, it might anyway. But I've been thrifting again, and I wanted to show you some cool stuff; thrifting has also led to visiting some garage sales, so there's that too. But tonight I think I'll try to focus on yesterday's birthday celebrations.

Although it was low key, I think this was one of the best birthday celebrations I've enjoyed--or maybe it's BECAUSE it was low key. I know I've sometimes fallen into the trap of thinking the day needs to be REALLY SPECIAL, and when it doesn't quite live up to the expectation, I'm disappointed. So no real expectations this year other than my own decision to just do whatever I thought I'd enjoy, and of course, the day's big event was tea and stitching at the quilt shop with Gran.

This month's theme was birthdays, because not only was it my birthday, but Cindy's birthday was the day before, and Linda's birthday is in about a week or so. Gran hung birthday pennants and streamers and each of us "birthday girls" had a glittered paper tiara to wear. Typically at our Friday afternoon teas, each of us brings a treat to share, and this tea was no exception.

This photo only shows a small part of our spread. I made the Tomato Phyllo Tart from a recipe at the Eating Well site (click on the name of the dish if you're interested--it was really yummy!). And check out these mice--

I seem to be haunted by mice! Darling, aren't they? I wondered if someone brought them to tease me, but it was just a coincidence. These mice are special pastries made by a local Mexican bakery, and since they're filled with coconut, Hubby's favorite, I brought mine home for him.

After we ate and chatted for quite awhile, it was time for the White Elephant gift exchange. The package I selected was wrapped in the obituaries--who could resist such a quirky idea?

Inside were three "cracked egg" candles. And can you believe no one tried to steal away such a fine gift?!

And the gift I brought to the exchange? A thrift store find for $3! All intact and looking like it had never even been used.

One of the most popular gifts was the rubber chicken purse. Yes, that's right--RUBBER CHICKEN PURSE. Want to see it?

Through a series of steals, negotiations, and trades, Gran's daughter-in-law was able to walk away with the chicken, which had been brought to the party by Linda. I already knew Linda was an accomplished thrift store queen, but I also learned that when she comes across "treasures" that are just too odd or wonderfully goofy, they tend to go home with her and "wait" for the next occasion, like a White Elephant gift exchange. What a hoot!

I guess I should mention that Gran's daughter-in-law and her two grandkids are visiting from Maryland, and Gran's having a wonderful but busy time. Her daughter-in-law is quite crafty too and will be teaching two apron-making classes at the quilt shop while she's here. I've signed up for the evening class next week, and that's one of the things that got me back into the thrift stores. Take a look at the shop sample--

Isn't it cute? For class, we need a man's XL long sleeved dress shirt as well as a few other items. I ended up with THREE shirts, so I'll have to narrow it down before class and shop for the other things I need next week.

By the way, I finally figured out between me and Gran which one of us is Thelma and which is Louise. As it turns out, I must be Louise, because I noticed THIS sign hanging on the wall in the ladies' room at the quilt shop:

Since Gran seems to have a never-ending supply of scented lotions and other bath products for giveaways--evidence of which appeared during the White Elephant gift exchange--I figure she must be the Queen of Perfumes (or at least a part owner of the Bath and Body Works shops).

After tea, I was sorely tempted to skip picking up Chinese food, because I was still so full I couldn't imagine being hungry again, but of course I was. Luckily I had made the stop anyway at one of our favorite little restaurants, the Green Jade. Since Hubby and I are trying to be more careful about what we eat--and there was just no WAY I was going to give up ordering what I wanted for something healthier on my birthday--I elected to order just one lemon chicken combo plate to split with Hubby. OMG! Even a half order was too much for us to eat, although we ended up picking at the leftovers all evening long.

Well, you already know the rest--most of the evening was spent playing in the Sweat Shop. Thank you all again for the birthday wishes--you and my other friends made it a great birthday!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Friday Night Sew-In

Thank you all so much for the birthday wishes! I've enjoyed a really nice day, and I'll tell you all about it and show you some photos tomorrow, but since we're supposed to post what we did during the Friday Night Sew-In, I thought I'd limit myself to that part of my birthday in this post--besides, I'm getting old and want to go to bed early(ish) and read for a bit!

During the Sew-In, I worked on the half square triangles for the charm pack quilt along. I also worked on the four-patches for that project. Yes, I know--she hasn't given us the instructions for the four-patches yet, but I figured them out and when I got too bored with the half square triangles, I made four-patches. You can see a couple piles in this photo.

I forgot to say the other day when I did the tutorial that the line I'm using is Kate Spain's 12 Days of Christmas. I splurged on a fat quarter bundle, so this seemed like the perfect project for those fabrics.

After working on these pieces for a few hours, I started to get really antsy to see what a block would look like--because, really, making 216 half square triangles and 108 four patches tends to lose its appeal after a little while (like after about 75 half square triangles and a several four patches). So I put together two blocks, just to spur me on.

I like it so far!

While I sewed, Stitch played. He was feeling rather mischevious--you can see him just peeking out under the ottoman in this photo. (At least he wasn't bringing mice in to play.)

Spike had been sitting on top of the ottoman, but I think she got a little crazy with Stitch's antics and stalked off. I took this photo of her yesterday, sunning herself in her regular seat on the ottoman and napping on my embroidery bag.

What I didn't catch just a minute before this photo was taken was that she was sleeping with her nose buried in the bag. She looked so funny!

While I kind of would have liked to have worked on something a little more interesting during the Sew-In, at least I feel I'm making progress on this project. And now that I've seen a little sample of how it's going to look, I think I'm better motivated. So all in all, a good night sewing! But then really, is there ever a BAD night sewing?

Friday, July 23, 2010

You're Invited!

Hey, guess what? Today's my BIRTHDAY! Woo-hooo!!!

My non-quilting friends think I'm nuts, but I'm sure you'll understand that for my birthday, I can't think of anything more fun than spending most of the day and evening sewing.

Gran usually has Friday afternoon tea and stitching at the quilt shop on the last Friday of the month, but this month, because there's a class on the last Friday, she's having tea TODAY--and we're having a birthday party theme, because not only is it MY birthday, but two of the other ladies who regularly attend have birthdays very soon too. We're going to have a white elephant gift exchange and I found something at the thrift store to bring. It's going to be fun!

After tea, I'm going to swing by one of our favorite Chinese restaurants and pick up dinner--take out. Why take out? Because it's the Friday Night Sew In!

The last two Friday Night Sew Ins that I participated in, I didn't really get to spend the WHOLE, entire evening quilting, so this will be a real treat. And you're invited, of course! We'll have a blast and we'll celebrate my birthday, okay? I'll even share my virtual cake with you--no calories, I promise!

Of course, if you want, you can have REAL cake and it's totally and completely justified but there probably WILL be calories. Anyway, I hope to see you there!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Just Follow The Lines . . .

Are you by any chance engaged, like I am, in making 1,532 half square triangles for Freckled Whimsey's Charm Pack Quilt Along? (Yes, you're right. I'm exaggerating the number--slightly. I'm actually making 216 half square triangles because I'm making mine 6 blocks across by 6 blocks down; it just FEELS like 1,532 of the suckers!)

Well, that reminds me. A week or so ago, Gran was talking about drawing diagonal lines on the backs of squares--I think she was talking about the Joy Luck Schnibbles. "No, no, no," I told her. "Just slap some masking tape on your sewing machine." "Huh?," she asked (or words to that effect). So as we sat in her car after returning home from Benicia, I quickly tried to show her what I was talking about using some props--whatever was sitting in her car that could be used as a straight edge and an imaginary sewing machine needle. ("Quickly" because it was probably about 95 degrees out and I wanted to show her before we sweated out all of our bodily fluids.) But YOU, my little Blogettes--for YOU I have photos! Nothing but the best for you, I say! So for you, I have a little tutorial that might make life a little easier.

Before we begin, here's a photo of the "lines" on my sewing machine. (Well, the lines are actually on the acrylic TABLE, but you know what I'm saying.) Can you see that they're just about 1/4" apart? The lines serve two different purposes. First, the masking tape on the right is the one I recommended to Gran. This is a great (not to mention CHEAP) tool for stitching a straight corner-to-corner diagonal line for connector corners or other diagonals where you're just making one stitch line.

To place that piece of masking tape in position, line up the edge of the ruler with the needle hole in the plate and make sure the ruler extends straight to the edge of the table. (It should line up with all the lines of measurement on the plate.) Stick down the tape, following the edge of the ruler. To use the tape to make diagonal stitching lines, position one corner at the needle and line up the opposite (diagonal) corner with the tape. It won't work if your square is HUGE and extends past the edge of the lines, but it will do fine for smaller squares.

Now, the second masking tape line for the second purpose. This is the one that will help you make two plain squares into half square triangles without drawing a line on the back of one of the squares. For this piece of tape, place it to the left of the first piece of tape, with a 1/4" space between the two. Does that make sense so far?

Without a drawn line, it's all about lining up the fabric with the masking tape references to stitch a straight line. And to give you a little visual reference here, I've marked a little line where the stitching will end up--this is 1/4" to the right of midline. See how the corner of the square is at the edge of the left-hand tape and the line is at the edge of the right-hand tape? Although this photo doesn't show it, I've also lined up the top corner with the left side of my quarter inch sewing foot, so the needle will go into the fabric at a point that's 1/4" to the right of center. (You can see that a little better a couple photos down.)

Now I just keep feeding my squares through the machine, lined up as I've shown you--no need to take the time to draw lines on the backs of the squares.

Once I've stitched a bunch and am getting bored and fidgety, I turn the whole thing around and do it all over again on the other side of the imaginary center line. (In this photo, you can see where I position the top corner.)

Once I reach the end, I cut down the centers between the stitched lines and press the squares open. Ta-da! Half square triangles, the no-muss, no-fuss way! Now I just have to trim them to size.

Hey! Where'd THAT pile come from?! I thought I was done! Well, at least I don't have to draw those darn center lines!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What Ever Happened To . . .

Remember back a few weeks ago when Stitch brought a friend home to play? (If you wish to refresh your memory, click HERE.) Well, I'm happy able to say that he/she/it is alive and doing well--thriving, in fact.

Since that evening, Stitch has lost all interest but Spike has remained on the alert. We've noticed now and then that she'll sit in the kitchen, staring intently at one of the cabinets, the dishwasher, the stove, or the refrigerator for quite a long time. Then, a few days ago, we found mouse droppings on the floor of the cabinet under the kitchen sink, so Hubby went out and bought two traps.

No luck so far. But this morning, Hubby found Spike staring at the refrigerator again, and a little bit of movement caught his attention. I was brushing my teeth when he called me, but I quickly grabbed my camera--because, of course, as a true blogger, DOCUMENTING the event took priority over CATCHING the little guy. (Look away if you're bothered by the sight of mice.)

See it there in the corner? I wasn't sure if the photo would turn out, so I got up on a chair and snapped another.

Cute, eh? Before we could catch it, it jumped down behind the refrigerator. Hubby found that one of his traps under the sink had been sprung, so he re-peanut buttered it and moved it next to the refrigerator. I sure hope we can catch this guy soon! In the meantime, Spike is standing guard. Stitch--not so much. He's probably out looking for more friends.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ah! Summer Means It's Time for BBQ!

At Knot-y Ladies embroidery class tonight, we started chatting--as we're wont to do--about this, that, and the other. Gran is very good at fostering communication among her students--in other words, we're invited to talk a lot while we stitch, and we often go around the table, taking turns showing off our current projects and discussing whatever's on our minds. One of our ladies is a mom with a two-year-old son who loves to eat plants from the garden. Needless to say, she has the telephone number of the poison hotline memorized and is continually amazed--but grateful--that children's protective services hasn't paid her a visit thus far. Anyway, tonight she told us she and her husband have been working to replace all of the potentially poisonous plants in their yard with edible plants for their little budding vegetarian. (Can't you just see the kid growing up to be one of those wilderness survivalists? I wonder if Bear Grylls ate his parents' garden when he was an infant?) The discussion brought back fond childhood memories for me, and I thought I'd share.

I think I must have been about five or six years old when a family moved into the house across the street from us. They had a little girl around my age, and we soon became friends. Even to my young mind, the family seemed different from mine--poorer, not as clean, and fairly lazy. As a result, life across the street was a bit more haphazard and unstructured--which meant that it was a lot more fun playing across the street than playing at my house.

One of the BEST things about playing across the street was that sometimes the mom would make homemade French fries for us, piling a paper plate full and serving them with lots of catsup. Yum! My mom wouldn't dream of serving us between meal snacks, except maybe a cookie and a glass of milk right after school. My mom also never used paper plates.

But French fries weren't the only slightly illicit treats. The family also enjoyed barbecuing when the weather was nice--again, something my family didn't do very often because we only had a small Hibatchi grill; the people across the street had a large, metal half-drum. And for us two young girls, our favorite barbecued snack was ivy leaves. Yep, you read that right. We would collect and wash large ivy leaves, and the dad would brush them with barbecue sauce and grill them until they were slightly crisp and crunchy.

From what I can recall, the barbecued ivy leaves tasted pretty good and I don't think I ever got sick afterward. Not that we would be allowed to eat many though--usually two or three each was the limit before the dad got tired of barbecuing leaves for us. And how they came up with the idea of barbecuing ivy leaves? Well, I'm not certain, but I have my suspicions. Remember this?

"Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
A kiddley divey too, wouldn't you?
Yes! Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
A kiddley divey too, wouldn't you?

If the words sound queer and funny to your ear, a little bit jumbled and jivey
Sing "Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy"

Oh! Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
A kiddley divey too, wouldn't you-oo?
A kiddley divey too, wouldn't you?"

Dinner anyone?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Got Corn?

Here in Northern California, this year's corn crop is at its peek--sweet, lovely, abundant ears at a price that makes me want to fill my grocery cart FULL of the stuff! And while corn on the cobb with a little butter and salt and pepper is a thing of beauty all on its own, I've found several other ways to serve it, and I thought I'd share them with you.

The other day, Paula the Quilter mentioned the Eating Well website. Since the recipe she mentioned in that particular blog post sounded pretty good and since I'm trying to introduce healthier food choices into our diet, I checked it out--YUM! And while I could certainly rave about the recipes we've tried over the course of the weekend (finding only one recipe we didn't care for), I won't bore you--you can go over there and look for yourself if you're interested. But really, who doesn't like corn? So I WILL show you two of the corn dishes we had this weekend--I hope you won't be bored!

Lemon-Garlic Glazed Corn. Simple to make; yummy to eat. It cooks in a covered skillet. We had it with chicken breasts and broccoli.

Corn and Basil Cakes. I diced up about half an avocado and a tomato, added some chopped garlic, and squeezed in a little fresh lemon juice; a couple tablespoons of "salsa" on top of the cakes made them especially tasty. I served them with tempura-style prawns. To. Die. For.

Can you stand one more? I haven't made this one yet, but I have a little leftover basil I need to use, and the rest of the ingredients are on hand as well.

This one's Roasted Corn with Basil-Shallot Vinaigrette. I actually planned out the week's menus a few days ago, and this recipe isn't on the chart, but I'm sure I can fit it in somewhere--it seems to me it would make a great lunch. One nice thing about the Eating Well site is that you can click on comments by people who have tried the recipes, posted tips, and rated them.

Sadly, the weekend's over and it's time for bed. Glad you could stop by!

(Kind of creepy, huh?!)