Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Le Petite--Butter Churn

Christmas decorating has begun at my house. In fact, I took the week off work to take care of the decorating and a few other things, like getting ready for a tamale-making get together I'm hosting on Saturday.

It's 1 a.m. and I've decorated (and cleaned) a fair amount today. A lot of the time has been spent sorting through boxes of decorations and thinking about what I want to use this year. I've about finished the living room and done a bit more here and there. Tomorrow I'll finish the kitchen--that's always a room that takes a long time--and get whatever remains to be decorated done on Wednesday. Since I'm working on a new Christmas quilt for my bed, I don't think I'll have our bedroom completely done this week, but once the rest of the decorating is done, I can get back to the quilt.

During the past weekend, I finally found time to make the Butter Churn quilt top--it's not quilted yet but I think it will go fast. I used the Fruitcake line by Basic Grey for this quilt--it's the November project for the Le Petite club.

One of the projects on today's agenda was to sort out the Sweat Shop, and you can sort of see that I've pinned several holiday projects up on the design wall, and I've also decorated the tree in there--since I spend so much time in this room, I can't ignore it when it comes to decorating.

If I don't post tomorrow night, it's just because I'm too tired and sore to do anything but crawl into bed. Which is kind of how I feel tonight, so I guess it's bath and bed for me. Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Got Leftovers?

Do you have what's left of one of these?

Yes? Then I just might have a really good soup recipe for you!

I came across a couple different soup recipes that sounded good, and I decided to combine and tweek them a little. Happily, it resulted in a really YUMMY leftover turkey soup! And because Hubby gets a little upset when I do this since he knows I'll never remember exactly how I made something ever again, I thought I'd share it with you and forever memorialize the recipe so I can find it again too.

It's a turkey/mushroom/rice soup, and here's what it looks like--

Yum, and double yum!

Here's what you do--and, by the way, this recipe will fill a pretty big pot, so you can freeze half for another time.


4 slices of thick bacon, cut into 3/4" pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
3 large ribs of celery, chopped
8 oz. pkg. sliced white mushrooms
1/2 of a green bellpepper, chopped
3 tablespoons of butter
2 pkg. Rice-a-Roni (or other brand) long grain and wild rice
30 oz. (approx.) chicken broth
2 10 oz. cans cream of mushroom soup
1-1/2 to 2 c. diced turkey
2 cups half and half
Salt and pepper to taste


In large, heavy soup pot, brown bacon. Remove bacon to paper towel to drain. To remaining bacon grease, add 1 tablespoon of butter and then onion, celery, bellpepper, and mushrooms. Saute over medium heat, stirring often.

While vegetables are cooking, prepare Rice-a-Roni according to package directions.

When onions are cooked to the point of being translucent, add chicken broth, cream of mushroom soup, turkey, salt and pepper, cooked rice mix, and reserved bacon. Reduce heat to low/simmer and cover pot, stirring occasionally, for one hour. Add half and half and heat through before serving.

Seriously, make this soup; it's THAT good. And if you don't have any turkey? Go buy one just so you can make the soup! (But if you're still resistant, substituting chicken would probably still be pretty darn good!)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

More Homework--

But this time it's homework for YOU!

Remember my Holiday Wreath pattern made from the Paganini Schnibbles?

If you were one of the people who wanted to make it, the directions can be found HERE. And the template for the bows can be found HERE.

Remember, you need the Paganini pattern to make the quilt--my directions simply supplement that pattern. And if you make it? I'd love to see a photo, so please let me know if you've posted something on your blog or email a picture to me. And, of course, let me know if you have any questions about the pattern. Happy quilting!

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Tomorrow (Saturday) from 1 to 5, I'm teaching a Schnibbles class, so I spent a good part of today gearing up for it--putting together my handouts and goodies and deciding what to feed my students. Once again, it's supposed to rain on the day of my class--as it did the last two classes--so again, soup seems like a good idea (and I'm SO GLAD I have the new crockpot with the locking lid!). I've been wanting to make a turkey/mushroom/wild rice soup, but I thought everyone would like a break from turkey, so I'm making corn chowder and accompanying it with pineapple/coconut muffins. Yum! I'll make the turkey soup for us sometime this weekend with our Thanksgiving leftovers.

Since this is the last class of the winter session and I haven't signed up to teach during the first couple months of the next session due to other commitments, it almost feels like I'll be getting out of school on holiday soon! It's a good thing, though, because with Christmas less than a month away, there's lots and lots of things to be done. Decorating, shopping, baking, sewing, crafting, wrapping, . . . . It makes me tired just thinking about it!

I didn't spend ALL day working on class stuff though--I stopped a couple times for recess. Quilting recess!

I finally started working on the Le Petite project for November, Butter Churn by This & That patterns. I'm using Basic Grey's Fruitcake line for this one and hope to have it done before--long before!--Christmas. In fact, I plan to finish the top in time for the parade on December 1st, and the really nice thing about these small quilts is that they quilt fast.

I've made all the churn dash blocks; next I need to start on the Jacob's ladder blocks. And as much as I'd like to do that RIGHT NOW, it's 1 a.m. and I have a class to teach in 12 hours, so I guess I'd better get to bed. Thanks for stopping by for a visit.

Friday, November 26, 2010

More Stuffed Than the Turkey!

First, for those who haven't heard much/anything about brining--brining is like a marinade. Some marinades add flavor and some tenderize or condition the meat in some way. Brining is a process that does both but is mainly used to make the meat more juicy. And it's popular because turkeys cook for a long time and have a tendency to dry out. But don't ask me how brining works because I'm not sure. Magic. I bet Alton Brown could tell you--email him and ask.

Brining uses liquid and salt and, quite often, sugar as well. Aside from those main ingredients, different flavors can be added, but it's the salt and liquid that hold in the juices when the meat is cooked. So I used water, salt, sugar, chicken broth, soy sauce, rosemary, celery seed, bay leaves, and thyme. And ice.

Seriously, I didn't notice much difference in the turkey either as to moisture or flavor. The soy sauce made it darker, though, and it cooked to a beautiful brown, so visually, it was quite nice. Usually my turkeys are moist and this one was too. I read that brining will make a turkey cook quicker, and there was a little part of the turkey underneath and to the back that wasn't quite submerged in the brine, and that part didn't really cook quite as well, but when we sliced the turkey and saw that little area wasn't quite cooked, we put slices in the microwave for less than a minute to finish the cooking and it turned out fine.

I mentioned yesterday that I was going to throw together a few appetizers, and I did--I had decided to only use whatever I had in the house rather than plan and buy more food, and that turned out well. We had deviled eggs, pimento cheese stuffed celery (haven't had that since I was a kid!), little smokies wrapped in small triangles of crescent roll dough, clam dip and crackers, and green olives. Plenty to eat! And THEN there were the main dishes. ARGH!

We ate at 1 p.m. so Soccer Son and His Lovely Wife-to-be-Someday could go on to her mom's house for a later Thanksgiving meal and the Wild Child went to a boyfriend's parents' house out of town for dessert and to spend the night. That, of course, meant Hubby and I had the perfect opportunity for a late afternoon Thanksgiving nap!

The Drooling Dog has had his share of table scraps and Spike and Stitch had their dry cat food spiked with clam juice, so everyone has eaten well today.

Now Hubby and I are both nibbling on the leftovers and thinking about the pumpkin pie that awaits, as yet untouched. Uh oh, I think I can hear him up and moving about the kitchen, so I'd better get off the computer and make sure he hasn't gotten into that pie without me.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey Talk

This year I decided to brine my turkey. What do you think? Do you brine yours? Smoke or barbecue it? FRY it?

Normally I just roast it the old fashioned way, but THIS year, about a week ago, I decided to brine it, because I had an experience over the summer where I brined pork chops and they came out marvelously moist and tender, which is unusual for pork chops. MY pork chops, at least. So I figured brining was magically good stuff.

There was only one problem: About ten minutes after I decided I was going to brine the turkey this year, before I even LOOKED at a recipe for brining, I forgot. Totally. Until about an hour ago, around 8:30 p.m. on the eve of Thanksgiving.

The internet is a wonderful thing. Within a minute or two I found a TON of brining recipes with all kinds of star ratings, so I was able to find one with an excellent rating that used ingredients I already HAD. Then I went in search of a who-knows-how-many gallon bucket and washed that out--several times. Of course there's NO WAY that bucket will fit in my refrigerator--not with the shelves holding all the OTHER Thanksgiving food! But remember how I said we were having a really cold Thanksgiving? Well, I took the bucket out to the garage and covered it with boards, and I'm sure it will be just fine there until around 7 a.m. when I retrieve the bucket, stuff the turkey, and stick the bird in the oven. (Just as long as Hubby doesn't wake up from his nap in the recliner, decide it's too cold for the Drooling Dog to sleep in his dog house on the patio, and bring him into the garage--THEN we might just lose our traditional holiday meal and have to get Chinese takeout for Thanksgiving.)

I've made the stuffing, and it's in the refrigerator. The rest of the meal--green beans with bacon, onions, and mushrooms; scalloped potatoes (I cheated and got Trader Joe's--we LOVE them!); Crescent rolls; and cranberry sauce will be simple and quick. Hubby was going to make a pumpkin pie, but he ran out of time today, so the Wild Child picked one up at the grocery bakery. Oh, and I have a few appetizers I can throw together. So, all in all, for our little family gathering, we're pretty well set and I'm looking forward to a nice day. And, of course, I hope you are too! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gobble, Gobble!

One more day of work and then Thanksgiving is here! Most years we've been invited to a smallish get together at my in-laws' house and we've gone a couple times, but I really enjoy cooking the traditional dinner at my house for my immediate family--and besides that, I LOVE having the leftovers to eat over the following few days while I work on getting the Christmas things out and the house ready for the season. And as far as Thanksgiving goes, I would also love to have a larger gathering at my house, but the house is so small, we can't accommodate more than about six people. Some years it's still so warm outside, if I'd known ahead of time, we could actually set up a couple tables on the patio and host the whole family, but this year is going to be one of the cold ones. The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down for the first time ever in the foothills south east of us today and temperatures in the Sierra Nevadas will get down to zero degrees or below tonight. Brrrrrrrr! Perfect Thanksgiving weather, though, and the ski resorts should have a pretty good amount of snow to start off the season.

How about you? Are you cooking or going to someone else's house? Do you have any particular Thanksgiving traditions that you HAVE to repeat year after year? And what about Black Friday? Are you planning to get up and out early to shop? Personally, I prefer to sleep in and then get busy with Christmas decorations when I get up.

We'll be having our Thanksgiving dinner early in the afternoon this year so Soccer Son and his Lovely Wife to be Someday can have dinner at her mom's house in the evening. I kind of like the earlier dinner but it means prepping a lot of it tomorrow night.

Remember the photos I've shown you of turkeys lurking around my office? Yesterday I was in the kitchen/dining room, which is lined with one wall of windows looking out on a grassy section and then our neighbor's parking lot, and what did I see? A freakin' FLOCK of turkeys! I COUNTED them and there were TEN! I sure wished I'd had my camera with me. With the economy the way it is, I have to wonder how many of the flock will be left come the weekend!

I think I'll be back to post tomorrow night, but if I'm not, just picture me up to my elbows in stuffing, wishing you and your family a happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sorry, No Post Tonight

I'm cleaning house in preparation for Thanksgiving and the computer is in the dishwasher. See you tomorrow!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gotta Run

I was talking with some women today about stuff like running marathons and extreme exercise endeavors . . . see, that's why I get a lot done. I don't clutter up my life with silly things like that. There's no way I'm running anywhere unless (1) I'm being chased by an axe murderer or (2) there's a really good fabric sale. For me, teaching a class AND going to the quilt show all in one day is just about enough to do me in. Sometimes people tell me they don't know where I get the energy to do what I do. Seriously? There are people out there running 15 miles a day to prepare for marathons and all I do is quilt!

Speaking of creative projects and the class I taught yesterday, I thought I'd show you the wreath I finished:

I'm quite pleased with it--it looks so happy! I just need to make sure the Wild Child doesn't steal it--she said these are her favorite colors and she used them to decorate her own place for Christmas last year. Maybe by the time she moves out again, I'll send it with her. We'll have to wait and see about that!

Gran and I got together today for coffee at Starbucks and I finished tying fabric to the wreath while she worked on her embroidery. She was embroidering her Joy banners (she's making two); I finished mine yesterday so I can show you how it turned out:

I think I told you about it before, but in case you missed it, it was a free pattern by Kathy Schmitz and you can find it HERE. I did mine just a little bit different from her directions--I used red instead of green floss for the dots alongside the letters. And I'm not sure where I'm going to hang it, so I haven't finished off the ribbon ends yet, but I will eventually.

Thanks for the congrats on my ribbon from the quilt show. I knew there were a few flaws in the quilt, so I was surprised to win first place; when I picked up the quilt and read the judges' critique, they noted the flaws I already knew about--you really can't get much by quilt show judges! One time, some years back, I entered a huge quilt with a lot of applique in the show and I won viewers' choice and best of show, but I failed to win a ribbon from the judges--they were looking at the quilt from a technical perspective and they were right about the errors I made. A few of my friends became quite indignant about the judges' "snub," but I knew they were right--entering something to be judged in a show is about much more than how pretty it is, so I think I was pretty lucky this time.

But enough about that. I had a little bit of time to kill when I was on the other side of town, waiting until it was time to reclaim my quilt, so I headed over to Trader Joe's and picked up just about everything I needed and didn't already have for our Thanksgiving dinner. I've also transferred the turkey from the freezer to the refrigerator--hopefully it will thaw in a couple of days and be ready for the big occasion.

It's awfully hard for me to believe Thanksgiving is almost here. Doesn't it seem like it should still be September?! Tomorrow night I'm going to do my housecleaning, and I still need to take down Halloween decorations. Maybe I need to take up marathon running--it seems like I need that skill just to keep up with everyday life!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Am I Done Yet?

With the day, that is! Teaching class is always fun but tiring, both mentally and physically. I think we all had a good time though.

Here's a photo of a couple of my students hard at work on their wreaths.

And another photo of fabric strips all laid out and ready. The gal who was making this one was still working on hers when I left, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear she finished--she seemed pretty determined to not go home to the demands of her kids--I'm sure most of us can relate!

I'll confess that I just about forgot to take any photos until someone said something about it, so I snapped a few when we were well into the class--after lunch. As you can see, there's not a lot of food left.

You were right though--soup on a rainy and chilly day was just perfect! (I got this photo during one of the few sunny breaks.) And the new crockpot? I know for a fact that I would have spilled soup all over my car at least five times on the way to the shop with my other one, so this was a wonderful improvement.

With the big sale going on, the shop was busy most of the day--I just took a quick photo to show you--every aisle had a customer in it!

After class, three of us headed to the local quilt show to visit the vendors and enjoy the quilts made by our quilting community--this is, I think, the largest quilt show around and it's the last one of the year, so it's always well attended.

Do you remember my Hey Ghoul Friend quilt? This is one of the first classes I taught. One of the women involved with the show asked me if I'd like to enter a quilt, so I entered this one. I haven't been a guild member for a few years, but I think I'll probably rejoin again this year.

After the busy day, I drove home through the rain and found our little crepe myrtle tree had snapped one of its stakes and was leaning over, nearly touching the ground, so I had to struggle with getting it back up and then I also had to unload the car--all in the rain. Did you catch that? I can't emphasize that part enough--it was pretty miserable to be out in it, and I was soaking wet by the time I came in. I rewarded my efforts with a nice hot chocolate when I was done.

It seemed like every joint in my body was tired and achy by that time, and I didn't think I could do another thing, but I managed to throw together a simple dinner before collapsing in the Sweat Shop to watch some TV and work on my fabric wreath and a couple other small projects.

The wreath isn't done yet, but I think I am. Tomorrow will be another day of running around, so it's time to get some rest.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Perfect Timing!

On the evening before I teach a class, I'm usually running around the house, trying to get everything I need together in one place and finishing up whatever remains to be done. One of those things tonight was to pull some fabric and cut some strips so I could demonstrate how to make the fabric wreaths. I wasn't really looking forward to pulling fabric--it's always hard to decide what fabrics go together and what I want to "give up" for a particular project and what needs to be "saved" for something else.

I finally got into the Sweat Shop around 10 p.m. and thought that first I'd open a package that arrived with yesterday's mail. What did I find? This--

A lovely, happy jelly roll of Robert Kaufman's Sparkle All The Way fabric. You know what? I found it on sale online about a week ago and ordered it with the thought that it would make a good quick project, like a tablerunner, OR a wreath. Yep, a wreath! And then I forgot about ordering it. Don't you agree it was perfect timing that the jelly roll came and I opened the package just as I was wondering what I was going to use for fabric for the class wreath? I couldn't be more pleased! I have about a third of the jelly roll cut into strips already and that's enough to work with in class.

Tonight I made chicken noodle soup too, and guess what? This morning I decided to look at slow cookers with locking lids online and found just what I wanted at WalMart for a good price, so Hubby did a little shopping for me while I was at work today. No, this isn't a picture of my chicken "soup"!

This is just the packaging. My soup really IS chicken soup! And it fills the crock perfectly so it's ready for transport to class in the morning. Last time I brought soup to class, I had to drive veeeeeeeeeerrrrry careful, which is TOTALLY unlike me, and I had to strap the crockpot into the seat with a seatbelt. Admittedly neither are bad ideas anyway, but at least I know this time that the soup won't spill, even if I take a corner a little fast. Perfect timing! And if the chilly and rainy weather keeps up, I might be making and transporting more soup for the Schnibbles class NEXT weekend too!

I think I'm ready for class except for loading everything into the car tomorrow morning. I guess that can mean only one thing: Time for bed! Thanks for stopping in to visit.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What You Said

I thought I might revisit a couple of your comments tonight. Charlotte asked yesterday:

"How can you write about your day (Thursday) when it is only 8AM in CA when I am reading your post. Or were you writing about Wednesday? I am confused!"

Good question and it's something I know has confused others but I tend to forget. Here's the explanation: I'm a night owl. If you look at the time I'm posting this--actually the time I started writing it--it's well after midnight and is technically Friday morning. So I'm more or less at the end of my Thursday--not the beginning of Friday when most of you are reading this after you wake up. Does that make sense? And I look at my blog as a journal--at least in part--so I like to look back at my day and record what I'm doing and what's going on around me to some extent.

Everyone, I think, voted for chicken noodle soup for my class and many of you said you wished you could be here. Sandy emailed me and also voted for chicken noodle soup and she WILL be in the class. So chicken soup it is! And if you're anywhere near Sacramento and feel like spending part of your rainy Saturday in class, having fun from 10:30 to 1:30, and eating chicken soup--well, I think I have two more openings, so give Bearpaws & Hollyhocks a call and sign up. As an added incentive? The shop has a huge sale going on--35% off. Can't beat that!

Finally, why am I up so late? Normally, I admit, I write my blog around 11:30 and post around midnight but tonight I'm writing later. And all this ties together--I'm up late writing and printing out patterns for class. Here are photos of the projects--we won't make them all in class, but I'll explain, demonstrate, and hand out patterns:

It should be fun!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Oh My Goodness, I'm Tired!

I went back to work today and felt better, but I'm not exactly 100 percent yet, AND I had to catch up at work, go to the Vintage Notions quilt class, and then run the errands I should have run the last couple nights but couldn't--Michael's and the grocery store.

Besides the regular groceries, I stocked up on Christmas baking supplies, purchased some of my Thanksgiving necessities (the turkey's now in the freezer), and bought what I think I might need to make lunch for my quilting class on Saturday--I'm conflicted between making a chicken and rice salad or chicken noodle soup. It's supposed to rain, so chicken noodle soup might be better in some ways, but then there's the whole crockpot thing--how to transport it without spilling, etc. (I saw a commercial for one that has a locking lid. If my name is on your Christmas list, there you go--now you know what you can get me.) I think I have everything I need to make either dish, so I'll just wait and see what I feel like making Friday night. But tell me this: If you were coming to my class, which do you think you'd prefer?

I got home from the grocery store around 10 p.m., cleaned out the fridge, and unloaded and stored groceries away. Now the voices in my head are telling me to take a bath and go to bed. I think I'll obey. I'm glad you could stop in to visit!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


That's how I feel--I'm still not feeling so good. I thought I felt better this a.m. until the stomach cramps hit again. I tried to go to work but I only drove about a mile before I had to turn around and come back home. Ick.

There's really too much to do to be feeling bad. I took a nice nap today and went into the Sweat Shop later on to do a little of it. Tomorrow I have to drop a quilt off for the upcoming quilt show this weekend, and I needed to sew a hanging sleeve on, so I did that.

I also made block two of the Layer Cake Quilt Along that was posted this morning. Want to see it?

I'm using the Wee Woodland fabric line, which is a little outside my normal color range and style, but I think it's a fun and easy way to try out something different. I've ordered border fabric that has the alphabet on a black background and the accent fabric I'm going to use is a teal blue with an all over print of leaves and mushrooms and flowers. I have no idea what I'll do with the quilt when it's done. I think it might turn out looking kind of masculine, so maybe it will make a good guy quilt.

Of course, making the block wasn't one of those "have to do" things--that was just play because I didn't feel well enough to do much else. I still have directions/patterns to write up for the Christmas class this weekend, but at least I'm just about ready with having all the samples made and other things done. Of course, after that, there's Thanksgiving to plan, which I've barely thought about. Then there's another quilt class I'm teaching after that--a Schnibbles class that following Saturday. So, lots to do and no time to feel icky.

I guess I should get a good night's sleep so I have a chance of feeling better tomorrow. Because there's going to be lots of things to do at work too after being out for two days. ARGH!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I woke up this morning with an upset stomach and decided I'd better stay home from work. Since I wasn't well and didn't feel up to doing much, I laid down on the couch in the living room with a cup of coffee and a book. Before long, both of our cats had come into the room at different times and sat quite still, intent on watching the entertainment unit. It didn't take me long to figure out the rat was keeping me company in the living room.

After about 20 minutes, I finally spotted the darn thing on top of a set of bookshelves. Because there was no easy way for it to get up or down, I thought I could get the sticky traps out of the pantry and put them at either end of the bookshelf. By the time I got back with the traps, though, he had jumped back to the entertainment center.

I spent another 20 minutes or so catching occasional glimpses of him. I'd see his little nose pop out from behind something or I'd see movement behind the DVD player. At one point, I saw him on top of entertainment center, calculating whether he could jump from there to another set of bookshelves, but he realized it was too far. Soon he returned to the first side and made the leap--right into a sicky trap!

He tried to leap out of the trap, but both he and the trap tumbled off the bookshelf and onto the floor. He pulled himself, still attached to the trap, behind a small trunk, while I went to find Hubby so he could deal with what followed. I refused to watch. I actually think rats and mice are cute, and this one had been a house guest--practically a family member!--for several months, even if he had outstayed his welcome. I felt bad about just about everything except for the fact that we were finally rid of an unwanted pest.

As it turned out, Hubby deposited the rat, still attached to the sticky trap, into the garbage. For some reason, he checked on the rat a couple times during the day, bringing me unwanted updates. Finally, he announced the rat had freed himself from the trap but was still stuck in the garbage can. Of course, I went out there, raised the lid, and stuck a broom inside to assist him in his escape efforts. After all, I don't want any bad murdered rat karma or feelings of guilt any more than I want a rat in my house!

Bye, little guy!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Here, I'll Show You . . .

Have a cookie and I'll show you what I've been making . . .

Yes, I've been baking cookies. These are a variation of one of the recipes on the Home for the Holidays blog hop--I was missing a couple things in the recipe, so I improvised. How do they taste?

More from the blog hop--this is the embroidered banner I mentioned yesterday that was designed by Kathy Schmitz. I finished the embroidered letters and now I need to attach the pieces to black wool.

Yes, I have it all pinned and ready to take with me to Gran's embroidery class tomorrow night.

Have you made fabric ornaments? They're fun!

Another project made from thrift store finds, although these don't need to be made from wool--any interesting sweaters will do.

That's about it for this weekend's projects. I'm off to bed because play time's over and it's back to work tomorrow!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Did I Tell You . . .

That I'm teaching another class next weekend? It's basically a Christmas projects class, and the main project I'll teach is making a fabric wreath like the one below:

But I have a couple other projects I'm working on instructions and samples for, and tonight I spent the evening cutting up little kits for one of the projects.

Now that I think about it, I guess I spent a good part of the day rounding up the supplies I'll need for class. I visited Goodwill, the dollar store, and the thousand dollar store--Michael's! Well, maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but Target is the hundred dollar store, so that name's already taken. Now I think I have just about everything I need, although I'll take one more look at my list just to be certain.

Between shopping trips today I joined a few friends for an afternoon of chatting and stitching, and when we got hungry, we just walked down to a restaurant a block or so away to pick up take out panini sandwiches. Gran was able to join us for stitching too, although she was still a little wobbly on her sea legs--she just got back from her cruise. And no, it wasn't her cruise ship that caught on fire and was stranded--she was on its sister ship, traveling the same route, but luckily for her, there were no mishaps aboard her ship.

Have you been following the Home for the Holidays blog hop? Kathy Schmitz was the featured designer on Friday, and she had a cute little stitchery banner for Christmas. I knew my friends would like it too, so I put together kits to take and give to them today. Gran is making two banners and is already working on the embroidery for the second, but she's much faster than I am. Still, I don't think it will be too long before I finish mine if I can find a little time between preparations for the upcoming class.

So far it's been a really nice weekend! I hope you're enjoying yours too. Now, it's time for bed, because there's still a day of weekend left and I don't want to sleep through it. Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Pest Extermination, Day 9

Look what I found in the fruit basket tonight. (The apple--the other stuff you see are Halloween decorations.)

And professional pest extermination is better why? And how much are we paying for it? ARGH!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Good News!

An internet story caught my attention this morning: Turns out a study found that night owls tend to have higher IQs. Yay me! Apparently it has something to do with the relatively recent ability humans have to stay up later and be productive at night as a result of the development of electricity; from that point in history, some of us evolved and adaptated quicker than others. Huh. On the other hand, a couple psychiatrists pointed out a few drawbacks--leave it to the psychiatrists, eh? One said she found that night owls tend to be less reliable, more emotionally unstable, and more likely to have problems with addictions and eating disorders. Sounds to me like she's still mad at a former night owl boyfriend. Then another Sigmund Freud wannabe, who is himself an early riser (hey, surprise!), said early risers tend to be more conscientious, persistent, and apt to cooperate. Phooey!

Well, whatever. Being the highly intelligent and evolved night owl that I am, though, I need to go do some intense reading before bed time. I have some interesting new "text books" I need to study carefully.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Follow Up

Shopping in San Francisco. I think I'm probably going to go with the Noe Valley contingent unless one of my readers suggests something more interesting. I did an online check of "Noe Valley Shopping" today and it seems I missed quite a few shops last year, so there are plenty of places left to explore. Besides that, the ladies are lunching at Tyler Florence's restaurant, The Wayfare Tavern, and that sounds like a wonderful idea to me! I've read a couple of reviews and everyone seems to agree the chicken is wonderful. Since I have about a month before the trip, there's plenty of time to contemplate what to order as a side dish. In fact, by then I suspect I'll want to try everything!

This week during evenings spent in the Sweat Shop, I've been working on star blocks for the borders of the Charm Pack Quilt Along Christmas quilt. I have all the pieces cut but only nine of the twenty-three blocks sewn so far.

It seems I've had other things going on this week, so I haven't had very many hours free to spend sewing.

Did you hear about the cruise ship that's without power and stranded down around the Gulf of Mexico? I gather it's being returned to San Diego by a bunch of tugboats. Well, Gran is on a cruise ship down there somewhere, and I don't know which one she's on. I don't THINK it's the one in the news; I think I read that cruise left last Sunday and I believe Gran's cruise left last Friday. Still, I guess it would make for a good blog story wouldn't it? I'm looking forward hearing she's back home safe and sound though!

A friend of mine who has been following the story about our resident rodent asked today for an update. Well, we haven't seen or heard from it for several days, but then again, we also haven't had any indications that it might no longer be living, if you know what I mean. Of course, some traps are visible and I know it's not trapped in any of those, but some are tucked away here and there, and I'm not even sure where ALL the traps are. The two cats seem a little less on guard in the kitchen, but then again, they were never very good guard cats to begin with, were they?

This week, Hubby built a dog house for the Drooling Dog. I guess now that his creative efforts aren't required for building mouse traps, he has to direct them elsewhere. I'll have to take a photo to share with you. The Drooling Dog's not used to being outside in the rain, but for some reason, he doesn't like being in the garage either. I, of course, don't want a HUGE dog who drools living in the house, so it was starting to be a little bit of a problem as the weather got chillier. Now, though, he has his own house on the back patio, and it has one open side so he won't feel too boxed in and can see us in the house. He has a cushion and a sleeping bag, and he seems very content curled up in his home.

That's about all the news I can think of, so I suppose I should get to bed. Thanks for stopping by to visit!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Little Help Here!

If you've been reading my blog for a year or longer, you probably remember that every year in early December our office staff is treated to an outing in San Francisco to do pretty much whatever we want as long as it's legal. If you click HERE, you can see my report following last year's excursion when my group went to Hayes Valley, Noe Valley, and the Ferry Building.

Every year around this time, all the staff start asking one another, "What are you going to do on the shopping trip this year?" And this year, as usual, I'm pretty clueless when it comes to ideas, so I thought I'd ask YOU.

So far, we have a group going to see a stage production of Shrek. It sounds okay, but I have a hard time imagining it living up to the movie. Another group is going to the Jewelry Mart. I've been there several times, and while it's a good stop if you're into jewelry or have small gifts to buy for people on your Christmas list, I'm not into it this year. A third group is going back to Noe Valley, which was fun last year, but I wonder if I want to go back again this year or do something different?

Another thing to consider: This would be the same date as my Thimbleberries Club's big end of the year party, so if I go to San Francisco, it has to be something worth missing the party for.

What I'd like to find are some quirky shops with fun and/or artsy items that aren't overpriced. In other words, if there was a street of Etsy shops, I'd be in heaven.

I'm not interested in shopping for clothing or shoes, except possibly something like scarves or other small (quirky, fun, and/or artsy) accessories.

So, where should I go? Suggestions anybody?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Christmas Excitement

Are you starting feel the excitement? I am!

Thank you for the compliments on my Christmas version of the Schnibbles Paganini quilt. I can hardly believe I've finished a Christmas quilt already! I'm going to write up my adaptations to give to my Schnibbles class at the end of the month, and I'll post them here around then too if anyone's interested. I know it will be kind of late by that time, but you can get a head start by buying the Paganini pattern, collecting 5" green squares of fabric, and starting on the directions to make the version 2 blocks. You'll only need 13 blocks instead of 16, but if you want to make all 16, you can always use the extra 3 blocks for pillows or a tablerunner. You'll also need 1-1/4 yards of the background fabric. Finally, for now, when making the half square triangles, I sewed a scant 1/4" seam, so I was able to trim the half square triangle blocks to 4-1/2" rather than the 4" called for in the pattern, and my wreath blocks measured 8-1/2".

Have you checked out the Home for the Holidays blog hop? A different designer is featured each Tuesday and Friday, and that designer offers a project and a cookie recipe on her blog. Last week was Brenda Gervais of Country Stitches and Debbie Field of Granola Girl Designs. I've printed out their projects as well as their cookie recipes. I've already made Brenda's thumbprint cookies and I have the cookie dough for Debbie Field's cookies in the refrigerator. I thought that if I made a batch of each of the cookies and put two dozen away in the freezer each time, by the time Christmas gets here, we'll have plenty of holiday cookies to share with friends and family. Not only that, but the baking won't be a two-day marathon, and we'll have a few treats early--whatever's left after storing two dozen in the freezer.

Today's designer is Cheri Saffiote-Payne, and you know she's going to have some good stuff to share with those of us who enjoy her folk art style. If you haven't already checked out the Home for the Holidays blog hop, hop on over to Buttermilk Basin's blog to see what it's all about and what designers you can look forward to--after you've finished MY blog, of course!

Finally, I came across the link for this e-zine, Amy Powers' Inspired Ideas, The Christmas Issue, on Happy Zombie's blog and thought I'd add it here just in case anyone hasn't already read it. If visions of Christmas crafty ideas aren't already dancing in your head, they will be after you take a look at this. Just click on the title of the e-zine above, click your heels together three times, and fly off to visit the wonderful wizard of Christmas inspiration. Just make sure you come back and visit me again before too long!

Monday, November 8, 2010

On the Quilting Front . . .

Like many of you mentioned, one of the best things about weekends is having time to quilt. I didn't have that on my "bests" list, though, because (1) I quilt whether it's the weekend or not, and (2) it's a little like saying one of the best things about weekends is breathing, right?! Ha!

But I thought I'd show you that I DID do some quilting this weekend. Except for a label, I've finished my Christmas version of the Paganini Schnibbles quilt--

Not, maybe, the best quilt photo ever, but I had a hard time photographing it because of its size--it's surprisingly larger than I would have expected. In hindsight, I probably should have gotten up on a step ladder and taken a shot down on it, but I didn't realize how it came out until I uploaded the photos just a little while ago. Here's a close up of one of the wreaths:

Adding all the buttons for berries was one of the most time consuming parts but I like the way it turned out with them, so I think it was worth it.

The other little project I worked on was the first block of the Layer Cake Quilt Along hosted by Moose on the Porch. I'm using a Wee Woodland layer cake by Keiki for this one.

Finally, remember that Charm Pack Quilt Along that Freckled Whimsy hosted? There's an icon for it there in my side bar. Well, way back in August or something like that, I finished the center of the quilt but I wanted to add pieced borders and make it large enough for my king size bed, so I pulled that out today. I had used Kate Spain's 12 Days of Christmas fabric, so I got out the rest of my 12 Days fabric and got going on it. Nothing to show you yet because most of what I did today was plan and cut fabric, but I hope to be done with the piecing before too long. I'd really love to get it quilted and on my bed for Christmas this year.

By the way, I kind of enjoyed having a day with 25 hours in it! It seemed like I got a lot more done. How about you? Did you get to quilt this weekend?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pest Extermination, Day 3

Today I baked a snap trap along with the rest of our dinner.

We knew the pest guy had put a trap somewhere in or under the broiler (which is under the oven at floor level), but he told Hubby we could use our oven--just not the broiler. First I heard a loud noise, but I didn't have any idea what it was or where it came from. Later I figured out it must have been the trap springing when it started to melt. Really, it was the chemical smell of melting plastic that tipped me off; my only fear was finding a furry little body inside the melted plastic--not something I really wanted to even THINK about while cooking dinner.

No fur though. Just a contracted piece of melted plastic partially melted onto the broiler. ARGH! Maybe I DON'T like cooking on weekends after all.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


I was thinking tonight (Friday) about how much I enjoy weekends, which is kind of a no-brainer of course, but then I started thinking about what the BEST things about weekends are. So here are a few of the reasons I value weekends so highly:

Puttering around the house, doing this and that, feeling no pressure, no schedule, and no particular need to accomplish anything. Sometimes I actually get more done this way than any other!

PBS, for sure! Saturday nights on PBS usually mean episodes of MI-5, and Sunday nights on PBS usually mean Masterpiece Theater--and Masterpiece Mystery is my favorite. A weekend without one or the other--or BOTH! Yikes!--is just not the same.

Cooking. Cooking on weekends is more about pleasure and creativity than about getting a chore done and out of the way. And in particular, having the time to cook and eat a leisurely breakfast feels incredibly indulgent. In fact, now that fall is here and the weather has turned a little chillier, thoughts of pumpkin pecan pancakes for breakfast and chicken and dumplings for dinner are haunting me.

The absolute BEST thing about weekends, though, is sleeping in, buried down under a quilt, with a cat curled up by my side. Waking up to the sound of an alarm clock going off on weekdays is guaranteed to make me grumpy, and having that happen when it's still dark outside--well, that's just criminally WRONG! Of course, if you live here in the US in an area that observes Daylight Savings Time, getting up in the dark may be a thing of the past as of next week, because we'll be returning to Standard Time on Saturday night.

So there are some of my favorite things, and now I have a couple questions for YOU. What's your favorite thing about weekends? AND what's up with McDonald's McRib sandwiches? I've never had one, but since they seem to have a very devoted, cult-like following, I have to wonder what I'm missing. So, if you've had one, tell me what's so special. I just might need to add one to my weekend favorites.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pest Extermination, Day 1

The guy who ISN'T Billy the Exterminator came today. I asked Hubby whether OUR exterminator watches Billy, but Hubby didn't ask. I asked Hubby whether OUR exterminator watched the Dirty Jobs episode that aired the other night. Mike Rowe was helping catch a skunk and had to go under someone's house to get another DEAD skunk. Hubby didn't ask. What in the heck DID they talk about if not these fascinating subjects? Sheesh!

So anyway, here's the run down of pest extermination, day 1--because I know from watching reality TV that America likes nothing better than a good pest extermination saga.

10 a.m. The pest control guy arrives

11:09 a.m. The pest control guy finishes laying numerous rat traps all over the house. Some are sticky traps, some are snap traps, and some are some other kind of traps that I haven't seen yet.

11:15 a.m. The pest control guy leaves

9:23 p.m. Barely more than ten hours later, one of the sticky traps is successful in catching something. Unfortunately, that "something" is me when I step into the pantry with my arms loaded with canned goods after a grocery shopping trip. I had to remove my tennis shoe altogether to pry the sticky trap off the shoe. AND I'm going to need to treat my tennis shoe with something to get the rest of the goo residue off.

And I can now confirm, judging by the red itchy and painful bumps on my left leg, that we do indeed have fleas. At least I know that when the pest exterminator comes to treat for fleas, I won't be wasting my money.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bugged and Broke

Today has been an expensive day. My car's in the shop getting several parts fixed that have just worn out during the last ten years and over 100,000 miles of use--stuff like brakes, shocks, tires, motor mounts, etc. And while it's nice that the car's been paid off for awhile, I think the bill I'm going to be hit with is about the equivalent of several months of car payments. Argh! Hubby's been in the automotive parts business most of his work life and the mechanic is one of our best friends, so I know we're not getting overcharged, but it's still quite expensive.

Then we had the exterminator out today too. Well, you all know about the rat problem, right? For the last few months, we've had a rat that has had the run of the house. Stitch brought it in to play when it was an itsy bitsy baby (so little that I thought it was a toy and not a real rat at all) and it hasn't wanted to leave since. We've had a couple sightings and seen a few "leavings" but it hasn't been dumb enough to allow itself to be trapped thus far. And now we've begun to see signs of a flea problem as well. The exterminator thinks the rat is spreading the fleas around and the cats probably brought the fleas in to begin with, but however it happened, NOW we need to get rid of a rat AND fleas, and that's not cheap either. Oh, and apparently the abundance of cotton fabric and wool fabric I have lovingly "collected" over time aren't the best things to have when you might have fleas. By the way, did I mention the cockroach I saw in the bathroom the other day?! Double ARGH! The exterminator suggested we try putting out a few "roach motels" since there aren't any real signs of infestation so far; in the meantime, he's going to try to trap the rat and then treat our home for fleas.

Last weekend the Wild Child and I decided to clean out all of the kitchen food cupboards--I wanted to check for active pests, pest skeletons, and rat leavings--I'm happy to say we didn't find anything, so that was a relief. I was visualizing some pretty horrible things, I can tell you! On the positive side, we still have a fair amount of food in the cupboards and pantry, so I guess we'll be able to eat for awhile despite my depleted bank account.

It's hard to believe, but even though the election is over, I'm still being plagued by pests and the bad economy. Triple ARGH!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sick of Election Campaigns!

I really try not to talk about politics on my blog because I'm not interested in engaging in a political argument, but I think it's probably safe to say I'm really sick to death of all the election hoopla, and most of you would agree with me. Here in California, we have Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown running for governor, both of whom have deep enough pockets to bombard us with almost constant campaign ads. Add to that all the other races, and it's nuts. Hubby and I went to dinner Monday night and came home to THREE voicemail messages soliciting our votes for different candidates.

I think all of the negative campaigning does more harm than anything else. I know that hearing so much negativity from all sides makes me feel rather hopeless about the idea that there's anyone out there who could be a good leader. Sometimes I wish I was 18 again and still believed the "right candidate" would make all the difference.

At least the end is in sight and it will all be over in the morning. If I wasn't so jaded about the whole process, I'm sure I'd be excited about getting up in the morning and feeling like the entire campaign was just a bad dream.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Thought or Two About Trick Or Treaters

One of our local TV stations did a survey asking how old was too old to go trick or treating. What are your thoughts?

When I was a kid, back in the middle ages, we just didn't go trick or treating any more once we'd moved on from elementary school to junior high school. Although we were sad to give up the free candy, going trick or treating was for "babies" and we were clearly almost grown up by the time we hit the 7th grade.

I think the kid who came to my door this year talking on his cell phone was probably too old to go trick or treating. And most likely? I suspect he could afford to buy his own candy. Or his mom could.

Last year, my father-in-law questioned a kid about whether he was too old to be out trick or treating, and the next morning, they found their cars had been egged.

All in all, it's probably better to turn off the porch light and hide in your sewing room all night, eating the bag of candy yourself. See? I already have my plans made for next year!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Paganini--Two Ways!

The first project of this year's Le Petite (organized by Sinta and Sherri) is a somewhat new Schnibbles pattern called Paganini. I wrote about the pattern before when I made this chicken-inspired version about a month ago--

The really excellent thing about this particular Schnibbles pattern, though, is that Carrie Nelson gives us four versions--and two of them are distinctly different. After I had already made the "chicken Paganini," my mind started seeing other possibilities, and as soon as I had a little free time, I began a Christmas version. You can see how different the blocks look in this version.

Yes, I've tweeked the pattern a bit further by setting the blocks on point and adding stars to the wider sashing I used, but the blocks themselves are pure Paganini. Instead of charm packs, I used some of my Thimbleberries scraps and some 5" squares my club swapped.

Were you wondering about the bows? I've used wool for those that I sewed on the machine while quilting. And speaking of quilting--it's not done yet. I still need to quilt the border and bind it. I also want to sew on some red buttons for "berries" in the wreaths.

Yep, Halloween's over and it's time to look ahead to Christmas! I'll show this one again as soon as I get it all finished.