Friday, August 31, 2012

Home Again, Home Again!

Hello! Are you still there? I'm delighted to be back home to sleep in my own bed tonight, but I'm sad the vacation time with my friends is at an end. We pulled into my driveway around 7:30 p.m. or a little later, and it's taken me all evening to unpack and put things away . . . and, of course, I had to stop and show Hubby some of the things I made and bought as I unpacked each item.

I've finally found my way to the computer, and it's after 1 a.m. on Friday morning. I'm much too tired to pick a winner of the mini stocking pattern right now, so I'll have to ask you to be patient one more day. Barring any crazy catastrophy or winning the lottery, I'll be back tomorrow to announce the winner and tell you a little bit about my time away.

Now I'm off to bed to get reacquainted with my mattress. Goodnight!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Comfort & Joy, Block 5

Can we really be on Block 5 already?! Christmas will be here before we know it . . . and, of course, long before we think we're ready for Santa!

Here's my block:

If you look close, you may realize the applique is prepped but not stitched down yet. I got this far before vacation and I've taken the block with me to finish while I'm gone. Of course, I've written this post ahead of time, and I'm hoping that by the time you see it, I'll have finished the block.

Don't forget to visit Anne at Cottons 'n Wool and admire her block. From there, you can click her links to the other participants and see how they're doing too. This is really a fun project! Thank you Anne!

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Little Something While I'm Gone

When I went to the quilt shop on my last day before leaving for vacation, I came across this really cute mini Christmas stocking pattern by Joanna Figueroa of Fig Tree. I decided that if I thought it was cute, you just might agree and want one of your own.

So, to help make up to you for leaving you here while I'm hanging out at the beach, having a great time, I thought I'd have a giveaway. Leave me a comment telling me you'd like a chance to win this pattern, and I'll draw a winner when I come back--I'll announce the winner on my August 31st blog post--my first post after I come back from vacation! Good luck!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Here's What I Made . . .

. . . for my friends who are on vacation with me:

I couldn't show you before because I didn't want to ruin the surprise. I'm writing this post before I leave, but it won't publish until after we're all gathered at Pismo Beach and I've given the girls their little gifts and projects.

We agreed some months back that each of us would bring a small project "kit" for all the rest of us, and I picked out two of the wool Christmas ornaments designed by Woolie Robin, found through Woolie Mammoth's blog--click on the ornament in the sidebar of Woolie Mammoth's blog for directions to make Santa; further back there was a link to a snowman ornament. Really cute stuff! I dug through my wool and put together little kits for both. I also found another free snowman embroidery pattern called Willie & Me by Rustic Threads. If you think you might be interested in that one, just click HERE. I put together a kit for each of the ladies, including the embroidery floss.

Ready for more goodies to keep you busy while I'm away? You can find the pattern to make these cute lunch bags on Ayumi's blog, Pink Penguin. Just click HERE. The pattern is quite a few pages--29!--but it's very clear and illustrated each step of the way.

Ayumi designed these lunch totes to hold bento boxes, and I ordered some small ones through Amazon. I think the boxes and the totes will be perfect for holding sewing supplies so we can just grab our totes and go . . . to work, to the doctor's office, to the Department of Motor Vehicles, or wherever the wait is sure to be long!

I have one last thing I want to add to the totes before I give them to my friends: I'll need to shop for some kind of chocolate, I think. Busy ladies on vacation need to keep up their energy levels and what's better than chocolate?!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Oh My!

I can hardly believe it, but I seem to be just about packed and ready, except for all those last minute toiletries that will get thrown into the bag in the morning. And it's not even midnight yet!

It seems my last minute over-packing urges struck a chord with many of you. I have all my sewing "stuff" piled in the livingroom (no sewing machine, though) and it's quite impressive. I have the applique blocks I'd prepped ahead, a fairly large packet of wool (with some wool patterns), a couple of applique projects that are not yet prepped, and a couple of potential embroidery projects. I like choices. I like to know that no matter what I feel like doing, I've got the stuff to do it with. Unless I feel like sewing on a machine, then I'm either out of luck, or it's an excellent excuse to head to the nearest sewing machine dealer and buy a new one. Now normally I'd say I'm not that impulsive, but then I didn't think I'd be packing all this "stuff" either, so who knows?

A couple of you asked what Halloween embroidery pattern I thought I had but didn't. It's this one:

Yes, I found it at one of our local quilt shops during my lunch hour. Here's a closer look at the embroidery--I'm not sure how I'll set it, but I don't think I'll likely make the whole quilt as shown in the pattern--

Besides my sewing stuff, I have a rather large suitcase packed with clothes, a quilt, and a pillow. Hubby laughed when he saw how full it looked all zipped up until I told him there was a pillow stuffed in the upper section. Even he knows I'm not one to overpack, so I think he was tickled by the idea.

And finally I have a box in the kitchen half filled with a few cooking supplies--because we DO have a house we've rented and we're planning to do some cooking while we're there. We've agreed not to bring a lot of food with us; instead we'll shop for what we need when we get there. But there are still a few things like seasonings, olive oil, etc., that we're bringing from home, as well as a few cooking "tools" and utensils that the house probably won't have.

So, I'm ready. And I'll miss you while I'm gone. But I'm going to write a few blogs ahead of time that will post while I'm gone, so check back now and then. I should be back again on the Friday of the Labor Day weekend--August 31th, I think. See you then!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Wild Hair

On the way to work this morning, I was thinking about the lunch hour trip I needed to make BACK to JoAnn's for a couple skeins of embroidery floss I'd forgotten the day before when Martha waylaid me. My brain started churning, Halloween started knocking, and I was suddenly thinking how fun it would be to bring one of my Halloween embroideries on vacation to work on--and I knew just which one!

I wasn't sure which floss colors I might need, so the trip to purchase eight skeins of floss turned into a trip to purchase something like FIFTY-eight skeins of floss. And a magical organizer thingy that could hold floss or any number of other small crafty supplies. And floss holders. Next thing I knew, I was sitting at my guild meeting, winding floss on holders, and before long, I'd convinced my friend Sandy to help me.

What happened to the idea of prepping a couple more applique blocks and calling it done?

Well, when I got home and looked for the embroidery pattern I had in mind, I didn't find it. In fact, I think I never actually BOUGHT it. So tomorrow--my last day before vacation--I'll spend my lunch hour making a run to one of the local quilt shops to see if they might have the pattern I've been thinking of. If not, maybe I can find it on my travels, because now I have just about every color floss one can imagine, all neat and tidy in a magical storage organizer and I don't want it to go to waste.

In looking for the embroidery pattern, I DID find two other patterns I wanted to make, though. Both are wool. All I need to do now is comb through my wool supplies, looking for what I need, and I'm good to go--at least as far as wool projects are concerned.

Okay, so here's the thing. Up until now, I've been the voice of reason for my little vacation-bound group. Whenever they see me, they know they'll hear me say something like "Don't bring too much stuff!" Or remind them, "There's not enough room!" "You'll never use half of what you bring!"

Yeah, right. At this rate, if the Big One hits (that mythical, oft-predicted earthquake that's expected to drop California into the Pacific Ocean) while we're on vacation and Pismo Beach turns into Pismo Island, I know I'll have enough crafts to keep me busy until rescue arrives to relocate the survivors to dry land.

I wonder if we're going to need a U-Haul for this vacation?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

That Darn Martha!

You know it's probably a toss up whether I like Halloween better than Christmas or vice versa, right? I think, though, that I'm more of a sucker for Halloween paraphernalia, probably in part because there's just not as much of it in stores as there is Christmas stuff. So, anyway, during my lunch hour today I made a quick run over to JoAnn's for a few things. Halloween was probably the furthest thing from my mind: I mean it IS August, right? Halloween's more than two months away for goodness sake! Well, gosh darn it, but there it was: The Martha Stewart Halloween decorations. ARGH! I was sunk right then and there!

Martha, of course, designs some of the best Halloween stuff, year after year. I saw a few items today from years past, but there were a bunch of new things too. Want to see? Because, of course, I NEEDED to buy some. How about that heavy cardstock paper Halloween Ferris wheel with "seats" that hold candy? How cool will that look on the dining table or sideboard?

I've had fun with her rats silhouettes in years past; this year I decided to go with the black crows. And I always love bottles and jars filled with Halloween candy with funky labels, so I had to get that one too. THEN there was one thing I can't show you just now because they're for my stitchery friends at our October gathering--I'll show you then.

So, consider yourself warned: If you have low shopping self control when it comes to Halloween and/or Martha Stewart, stay away from JoAnn's for awhile. I'm sure you won't have to stay away too long; all the best things usually sell pretty quickly anyway. (But if you can't stay away? Not only is there a 40% off one item coupon in the current mailer, but there's also a $5 off coupon. Happy Halloween Shopping!)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Another One Ready

I finished prepping another block on Sunday--this was one of the Autumn House blocks. I'd like to get maybe two more blocks ready before I leave for vacation, but I don't know if I'll have time.

I have mixed feelings about what I was able to get done on Sunday. I just about finished making the surprises for my friends who are going on vacation with me, but other than that and the one block I prepared, I didn't have time to do anything else I wanted to do--like a little more house cleaning and cooking dinner. Tomorrow night after work, maybe. But that's why I'm not sure how many more blocks I'll be able to prepare. Well, it's not the end of the world. Goodness knows I probably won't even have time to do all I WILL have ready!

I thought you might enjoy seeing our other cat, Spike. She's the one who's a little more reserved and doesn't like to be the center of attention the way Stitch does.

But then you can't see her anyway, right? Cats are funny when they think they're hiding.

A little bit later, she decided to come out of hiding and just lay on the paper. What is it about paper that cats love so much? Especially Spike.

Recently we've given her a new sheet of tissue paper about once a week, and it's the funniest thing. If we wad it up and toss it on the floor, when we come back into the room a little later, we'll find she's spread the paper out and usually we'll find her laying on it, like it's the most comfortable cushion in the world!

Another weekend's over, and it's time for bed. See you tomorrow!

Sunday, August 19, 2012


I'm really enjoying my weekend excursions to the farmers' market. Seriously, as much as I loooooong to sleep in on a Saturday morning, I just can't. This morning, for instance, I had set the alarm for 8 a.m. and sort of half woke up ahead of time and turned the alarm off: I'd decided to sleep in and either skip the market or go a little later. The problem was, though, that I just couldn't go back to sleep again, because I was thinking about the market! So I finally rolled out of bed and got dressed.

It's funny, but as I'm writing about it, it seems like that happened DAYS ago, but it was only this morning. I guess that means I've had a fairly full day!

I didn't take photos at the market but I DID lay out the goodies when I got home to show Hubby what I'd found, and so I took a photo to share before I put everything away. Aren't those strawberries beauties? And they're just as tasty as they look; I know that because we had some for brunch.

I thought I'd check out the meat booths today too; I ended up bringing home some country sausage--also for our brunch. Along with the sausage and strawberries, I made something else we enjoy in summer: corn and basil cakes. They're a little like pancakes but they're full of corn and chopped basil and they're not a sweet dish. To top them off, I chopped tomatoes, garlic, basil, and a sweet corn relish. I've provided a link to the recipe for the corn and basil cakes but the tomato relish is something I just throw together.

Our three tomato plants are starting to really produce. We have a small yellow pear tomato, a large yellow tomato, and a large red tomato, so I suspect we'll be eating a lot of tomatoes. It's a funny thing, but the only tomatoes I like much are the homegrown kind.

At the market today, I also found a few other tasty goodies. I've never really cooked with unusual varieties of mushrooms, but I bought a package of four different types to try out. If you look back at the photo, the mushrooms are just above the strawberries, but the packaging looks a little foggy. I also talked with the goat cheese man and brought home a package of his garlic and herbs goat cheese. We had a little bit of it on our corn on the cobb at dinner--yum!

Besides going to the market and cooking, I got some of the housecleaning done, took a nice nap, and prepped blocks in the Sweat Shop. Oh, and I cooked some more.

Here's one of the blocks I prepped--the THIRD block of the Sew Spooky BOM:

For those of you who might have thought about doing this BOM but weren't sure about the applique, I can tell you that the applique is fairly minimal. Each of the blocks has a fence that needs to be appliqued but besides the fence, there are just a couple other applique elements in each block. Most of it is simply piecing.

There are some embroidery and buttons that need to be added to this one in the upper windows and at the tip of the witch's hat roof too. And those bottom windows? The Quilt Company, the designer of the pattern, offers pre-printed fabric sheets and button packs--the Jack O'Lanterns in the lower windows are from the printed sheet as are the cow in the open barn door in block 2 and the quilt hanging on the side of the house in block 1. Those little extras do a lot to enhance the quilt; I always purchase them with The Quilt Company patterns, even if I'm using my own fabrics.

Now it's time to get to bed, and in the morning, I'm surely going to sleep in and NOT get up to go to the market or anywhere else. I hope you're having an excellent weekend too!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Getting Things Together . . .

Doesn't it sometimes seem like going on vacation takes an awful lot of work? For the next several days, I'll be getting ready--that's one of the reasons my friend Imelda and I got together last night to cut the Autumn House kits instead of waiting. As it turns out, most of our group will be vacationing together, so we thought having the last kits available to work on would be a good idea.

Yes, as a matter of fact, I DID just now say my stitchery group would be going on vacation together. Most of us, anyway. Those of us who can make it rented a house in Pismo Beach for a week, and we leave on Thursday. A whole week of sewing, shopping, wandering on the beach, eating out when we want, and relaxing without having to worry about the family . . . what could be better?

The only drawback is that I'll be away from all of you here in Blogland for a week. We've learned the house has WiFi, but I don't have a laptop, so any internet access will probably be on my Kindle unless I come across an internet cafe with computers available for use. So maybe I'll surprise you and post something, but probably not.

I plan to spend the next few days getting projects prepped for hand work, so I won't have to take a sewing machine or too much "stuff" along. The first block I have ready is the second Sew Spooky block:

There are yo-yo spiders and embroidery to be added, but the piecing is done and the applique is glued into place, ready to be stitched. There's a cute owl button that belongs up there in the window of the Haunted Barn, but that will be added after the quilt is done.

Here are the first two blocks side by side:

Finally, when I was uploading photos, I "found" the photo I'd taken of the swap blocks. There are nine blocks here, but after I took the photo, I decided to make one more block before I moved the scraps into the bin and put the yardage back on the shelves.

Thank you all for the suggestions on applique--I'm leaning toward the red birds, I think. I liked the ideas for bells and ornaments, but the group agreed to stick with a winter theme and not include Christmas. There were several other good ideas too--and I might use a couple to make blocks of my own to keep, but I'll applique at least eight or nine similarly for the swap. This is another one of those projects I'd like to take with me to work on while I'm at the beach.

Of course, not all the vacation preparations are as much fun as hanging out in the Sweat Shop, getting blocks ready. I also need to do a little house cleaning and probably work some overtime next week before I go. Then there are a couple secret projects to surprise my friends with on vacation, and I won't be able to show those to you for the time being, but maybe I can write a post or two and set them to publish after I'm gone, when it won't ruin the surprise for my friends. Over the next few days as I'm getting ready, if I don't have time to write or much of anything to write about, I might not post, but I'll probably be here as usual. I know I say that from time to time and then post anyway, but I don't want you to worry that there's anything wrong in case I'm "missing."

Have you taken a vacation yet this year? Or do you have vacation plans coming up soon?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Can't Fool This Gringa!

I had a really nice time at a friend's house tonight, but I wanted to tell you how her husband tried to slip me a little tongue.

I know; it's kind of shocking, isn't it? Could he seriously have thought I'd fall for his tricks? But I'm getting a little bit ahead of myself.

My friend Imelda is one of my group of stitchers and she's also one of the members of our slightly smaller Autumn House block of the month group. As we're winding up this project, Imelda and I thought we'd get together a little earlier in the month than normal and cut the last "kits" for the four of us. (I'll have to tell you why we didn't wait until our regular meeting day, but that's for another post.) We usually meet at my house, but this time Imelda invited me to hers and extended an invitation to me to join her family for dinner as well. In fact, Imelda mentioned that her husband David might barbecue for us.

I've told you before about the time David barbecued for us when Imelda hosted all of our stitchery group. The Fourth of July had just passed, but David entertained us all with his own little pyrotechnical display. (Click HERE if you've forgotten the story.) So, yeah, dinner by David promised to be a bit of an adventure, and I was happy to accept Imelda's invitation.

During the afternoon, I received an email from Imelda. "For dinner we are having tortas; what kind of meat do you want?," she asked. She went on to list the options: "Carne Asada (my favorite); Carnitas; Lengua (David recommends Lengua); Chicken."

I absolutely love Italian food and Mexican food. I seriously couldn't pick just one, but luckily, I live in an area where both are abundant. I was raised in an Italian family living in a state whose culture and history is inextricably linked to Mexico. And while I haven't eaten EVERY kind of Italian and Mexican food, I've eaten enough to know which are my favorites and which I probably never even want to try--and I even know what they're called in their native tongue.

Well, David thought he'd tease me a little bit, so he had Imelda send me that email. First of all, he didn't think I'd know what a torta is, but he was wrong. A torta is basically a Mexican sandwich. Heaven between grilled bread. A Mexican panini, if you will. Yum!

But where he really thought he'd get me was with the "lengua." Uh huh. Tongue. I may be sort of blonde and I may not speak Spanish, but I know better. Not gonna catch me with that one, David! You'll have to try that tongue on someone else.

As it turned out, the carne asada torta was delicious, even if it was purchased at a restaurant and there were no pyrotechnic displays to accompany our meal. Imelda and I had a good time visiting and catching up with each other's news, and we did what we set out to do: Finished cutting the Autumn House quilt kits. Now all I need to do is make the last couple blocks and the border. And sew them together. And quilt it. Yep, that's all.

And David? Nice try, but now it's my turn!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Winter Swap Blocks

The other sewing project I worked on recently was making the backgrounds for my little group's swap blocks. I told you a bit about it before, but in case you missed that post, I belong to a group of about eight quilters from my quilt guild who got together a few months ago with the idea of participating in a block swap. We agreed our theme would be "winter," and the colors we agreed to use are primarily blue, white, silver, and gold. When I last talked about it, I showed you the first block I'd made to test out my idea. After I decided I liked the way it looked, I cut strips to make the rest of the blocks:

It seemed like I cut an endless number of blue and white strips while I watched the Olympics. I suspect whenever I see this block, for years to come it will remind me of the Olympics, but how funny it is that I watched the Summer Olympics while making winter blocks!

Here are the first five blocks I completed:

I made a total of ten blocks and I thought I had a photo of them, but I can't find it. Still, I can tell you that the other five blocks look pretty much like the first five.

Now I need to decide what I want to applique in the centers of the blocks. First I was thinking of either a pine tree or a bird. THEN I thought about an ice skate. I really like the ice skate idea, but to make it look good, I think I'd have to add a fair amount of applique to each block, and I'm trying to keep it simpler than that. Now I'm thinking about the bird again. But what color? Not blue--I have enough blue. I was considering red, but I was also thinking about adding a couple holly leaves and berries, so maybe not red. (Or is adding leaves and berries getting too fussy again?) Brown?

Or maybe it's a snowman in a snow storm?! THAT's easy enough!

What would you do? Do you have any suggestions?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sew Spooky

You know what's "sew spooky"? The fact that I could put aside everything I'm already working on to start a new project. But that's exactly what I did on Sunday. Because look what finally arrived in the mail late last week:

"Sew," can you really blame me? I bet you'd be tempted too. Maybe you WERE tempted? Did you sign up for the whole quilt kit or perhaps the block of the month kits? I'm sure I'm not the only one! Are you working on the same project--or dreaming of starting it?

Yes, I've finished the first block--I just finished it tonight. (By the way, that quilt hanging on the side of the house is dimensional and underneath lurks a spider!) I guess you might say I kept my nose to the grindstone--or to the sewing machine, needle, and thread, at least. SOMEONE tried to side track me by laying on my block while I was adding the final embroidery stitches tonight, but he was swiftly escorted from the Sweat Shop.

Persistent little bugger! He reminds me of the Wicked Witch of the West, flattened under Dorothy's house; don't you agree?! But then what black (and white) cat WOULDN'T want to get close to a Halloween quilt block, especially one that has a cat on the roof!

Block two? The haunted barn.

I'm very tempted to start it right away, but there are other projects demanding attention, not the least of which is Mr. Stitch, who is, as I type, straddling my keyboard, staring intently at me, beaming thought waves in my direction reminding me it's time for his dinner.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Food Blog?

I didn't really mean to turn this into a food blog, but I suppose food is what I've been focusing on recently. Why? Well, I'd like to get serious about losing weight and eating healthier. We'll see if the losing weight thing works out, but at least I can try to serve healthier food, right?

Okay, yeah, I know what you're thinking: What kind of diet includes homemade jam and spaghetti and meatballs, right? Fair enough. But I think there's a time and place for everything and it's about portion control and making good nutritional choices. After all, a teaspoon of homemade jam on a piece of multigrain toast isn't a terrible thing; the jam's a better choice than butter. And oh, my, is it tasty!

When I was on the jury, another juror I talked to had recently lost nearly 30 pounds. I asked him how he did it, and he said he eats six meals a day, but each meal is served on a 7" lunch plate instead of a dinner plate. Half of the plate consists of vegetables, one quarter is a starch/grain/carb, and one quarter is a lean protein. He's cut out snacking, for the most part, but he does allow himself a handful of peanuts each day.

That gave me something to think about. If I was to place more emphasis in meals on vegetables, what would happen? If nothing else, it would at least be healthier than the way I had been eating. Homemade, fewer preservatives, and organic are pretty good things to include too. And maybe if our temperatures EVER drop back below 100 degrees, I might even consider adding a little exercise to the mix.

In the wee hours of Saturday night, I made some blueberry jam. With these jars in the pantry, I think I'm done with my canning for now, unless I decide to can salsa--something I've done before and enjoyed.

A couple people were interested in the cauliflower recipe I made the other night. It was really pretty simple and so darn good! In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of butter. Add 1 small, sliced sweet onion (or half a larger onion) and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Saute a couple minutes until fragrant. Add 1/2 to 1 head of cauliflower florettes. Sear the cauliflower on one side before stirring; stir and sear again. Continue until the cauliflower is somewhat browned on the outside but still crisp. Salt and pepper to taste; I served it with a little shredded parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. Yum!

Finally, this is the coolest thing I've come across in a long time, and I found it on Woolie Mammoth's blog a couple months ago:

Salad in a jar! It's taken me this long to try it out, but I swear it's a really excellent idea, particularly for those of us who eat at work.

Anna said she fills several jars on Sunday and they stay fresh all week long. No need to make a salad before work in the morning--just grab a jar and head out the door. When it's time to eat, take off the top and turn it upside down onto a plate or into a bowl--the dressing covers the salad ingredients as they come out of the jar.

Here's how you layer them: In the bottom of each jar goes the dressing. I used a low cal Italian. The bit of water from the just-washed lettuce drained down and diluted it a little, which seemed just perfect because sometimes I think the low fat dressings are a little too strong.

Next add the veggies--the stuff that can sit in the dressing and marinade. I put in some sliced radishes, sliced onions, the leftover cooked cauliflower, and diced tomatoes.

On top is the lettuce. And for these I made for the next couple days, I added a small baggie of cooked shrimp. One of these quart jars of salad holds a meal-sized salad or enough for two side salads.

Okay, I think I'm done talking about food for now. Tomorrow I'll tell you what I've been working on in the Sweat Shop.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mama Mia, That's a Spicy Meatball!

Remember the old Alka-Selzer commercial? That's really dating us, isn't it?!

I wouldn't say my meatballs are spicy but they are darn good. A couple of you asked about the recipe, and it's really the same as my meatloaf recipe that I "published" a few years ago HERE. In my father's Italian family, it was the basic "go to" recipe for just about everything. Peppers were stuffed with the same thing, as were cabbage rolls, except sometimes we replaced the breadcrumbs with cooked white rice. Even my grandmother's hamburgers were made with this recipe--something she called "paupiettes" although an internet search doesn't turn up quite the same thing as the version she made, which was just this meat mixture shaped into a patty and cooked in a skillet.

First of all, gather this stuff together:

And just in case my superior photography isn't quite what one would wish, here it is in plain English [SEE NOTES BELOW TO ADJUST AMOUNTS FOR MEATBALLS]:

2.5 to 3 pounds of ground beef--lean is good.

2.5 to 3 cups bread crumbs, fresh (just toss a few slices of bread in the food processor)

1 cup Parmesan cheese. Oddly enough, the cheese that makes for the tastiest meatloaf is the old green container of Kraft Parmesan. It's pretty rare that I have that though, so we'll go with the semi-fancy-schmancy shredded Parmesan.

2 bunches of green onion. Cut off the root tips and about half way up the green stems and give them a whirl or two in the food processor, along with--

1 bunch of parsley. (Remove the stems first and wash before adding it to the green onions.)

You will also need a can of tomato sauce. 16 ounce or so, but I only had a BIG can, so I didn't use it all. [FOR MEATBALLS, OMIT THE TOMATO SAUCE--YOU'LL HAVE A POT OF SPAGHETTI SAUCE INSTEAD.] And here's something that didn't show up in time for its photo--milk.

Then, here's the process. In a large bowl, mix the beef, bread crumbs, cheese, and green stuff. Add in some milk. It's hard to say exactly how much milk, but you want that meat mixture to be kind of mushy gooshy. Much softer than Playdoh. Use your hands--you want it to ooze through your fingers when you squeeze, but if you use too much, it won't really stay together in a loaf. I just pour some milk in without measuring, but I'm guessing it's probably somewhere between 1/2 cup and 3/4 cup. Maybe. But here's what it looks like:

Okay, so this is where we move from the meatloaf recipe to the meatball recipe. And I should also mention that 2-1/2 to 3 pounds of meat is probably more than you need for meatballs so you can cut that back about a third and use 2 pounds and cut back on the bread crumbs too to maybe 1-1/2 cups, but leave everything else the same. This is enough to make meatballs for a large pot of sauce; you can cut that in half if you're making a small pot. And if you have leftover meat, make a small meatloaf!

When I make meatballs, I don't make a meat spaghetti sauce, because invariably, a few of the meatballs will break down and it will become meat sauce anyway, but the key to not breaking up the meatballs is to not really stir the sauce until the meatballs are cooked or nearly so--about a half hour to 45 minutes. So you'll want to make your sauce and simmer it until it's getting close to done before you add the meatballs, and then turn the heat to a temperature low enough to not burn the sauce on the bottom of the pot.

Just roll the meat into balls about 1-1/2" in diameter and drop them one by one into the hot sauce. Don't stir. What I'll usually do is pick up the pot and jiggle it back and forth, side to side, until the meatballs sink a bit and are covered with the sauce. Altogether, I let the meatballs cook for about 45 minutes to an hour in a covered pot. If you need to stir, be very gentle. The difference between pre-browning meatballs and this method is that these are more tender without a crust on the outside, so they don't hold together quite as well but I think they do absorb a little more flavor from the sauce and vice versa. Since I use a lean hamburger, I don't find they release very much grease into the sauce either.

Buon Appetito!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Food-centric Day

As it turned out, I DID get up early(ish) and went to the farmer's market.

I arrived a little after 8:30 a.m., before it got too miserably hot out. This market isn't the same one I visited last Sunday. This Saturday morning market is behind a local shopping mall in Citrus Heights; last Sunday I visited one that's located in downtown Sacramento, under the freeway.

Both markets were unique with different vendors and items for sale. As I mentioned last week, I loved the guy with all the fresh herbs--nothing like that at this market. But this market has some live music and several different vendors--like a booth with fresh pasta. As it turned out, the fresh pasta booth was perfect for my plans. AND one of the best things? They had a booth that served some pretty good coffee--which is a good thing since I'd only had time to microwave a cup of what Hubby had made the day before, and (SHHHHH! Don't tell him I said so!) Hubby just doesn't make very good coffee.

This multi-colored cauliflower display is stunning, isn't it? I had no idea there was orange cauliflower!

Here are my purchases, just before I unloaded the cart.

Some years back, my sister-in-law and I would go to the local flea market on Saturdays and buy produce and drink beer. (I was a little wilder then, and it was when I was into the whole microbrewery thing.) Anyway, that's where I purchased the cart. Over the years, it's come in handy now and then for hauling sewing stuff, but now I've put it back into action as a fresh produce transport vehicle.

And here's what I came home with. Beautiful, isn't it? And right away I used some of it--the fresh salted rosemary bread and berries--to make breakfast for Hubby and I--open faced ham and egg sandwiches with fresh fruit. Yum!

And that fresh pasta I mentioned? Here's why I was happy to come across that booth. My plans for the day involved making a large batch of spaghetti sauce with meatballs.

Many people brown their meatballs before they go into the sauce, but not my grandma, my mom, or me. Those pale things floating around in the sauce are the meatballs, and boy did they turn out good! Well, the whole thing did. And I ended up with enough meatballs and sauce for another couple meals this week and three more containers in the freezer.

Dinner ended up being the fresh pasta with meatballs and sauce and sauteed cauliflower--there was a recipe in the farmers' market cookbook I bought a few weeks ago, and it was excellent! I've not been a big cauliflower fan in the past, but this dish turned out crispy, nutty, and slightly sweet. I'll definitely make it again.

Finally, my last cooking accomplishment of the day was peach jam--two pint jars of "regular" peach jam and three pint jars of jalapeno peach jam--something a friend had suggested might be good. I bet it would make a good glaze for pork spareribs--yum!

Poor Hubby! It's his job to clean up the kitchen after I've made a mess, and I'm afraid I left him with a colossal chore this evening. But at least I fed him well today, so he doesn't hate me too much.

Tomorrow I have a few more food plans, but they don't involve the farmers' market and they certainly DON'T involve getting up early. I'm sleeping in!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Wish Me Luck

Here in Sacramento, it's been hot and it's expected to continue that way for the next several days. 105 degrees tomorrow. Or maybe it's 108--it depends on what forecast you look at. In discussing the weather, we Sacramentans usually commisserate with one another when it gets hot like this. Most of the time one person nods as the other proclaims, "but it's a DRY heat." As if a dry 105 degrees is that much better than a humid 90 degrees. Maybe it is; I don't really know. Personally, I'd rather be in a comfortable 76 degree climate.

Lately, though, Sacramento's seemed a little humid to me, and I've heard other people say the same thing. Saturday morning at 6 a.m., we're supposed to have 57 percent humidity. That seems high, doesn't it? In fact, it seems like a good reason to stay in bed.

Ah, but there's the rub. You see, I'm kind of enthusiastic about this farmer's market/healthy eating thing. Saturday morning we'll test whether my enthusiasm is greater than my desire to sleep in. Because you KNOW I'm not going to go out in that miserable heat if the morning is too far along and the thermometer is creeping steadily upward. In fact, I have absolutely no desire to be out of my air conditioned house between about 10:30 a.m. on Saturday and about 1 a.m. early Sunday morning.

The farmer's market starts at 8 a.m. I think if I leave the house around 8 or 8:30 a.m., I can get back home by 10:30 a.m. That means getting up early. On a Saturday. And the thing is, I have food in my house. I really don't NEED anything. I can make do. So we'll see. We'll see whether the delicious laziness of sleeping in wins out over the lure of fresh and healthy food. And I'll put the camera in my purse now, just in case, because I know some of you are going to want proof that I gave up sleep.

Friday, August 10, 2012

On Trader Joe's Menu . . .

A couple nights ago, I stopped by Trader Joe's to pick up a couple things. One of the fun things about Trader Joe's is that most of the time, they come up with a menu idea using their products and serve samples, and every now and then, it's something really simple and delicious. Sometime last year, I believe, I shared with you one of their soup ideas where they combined a carton of chicken broth with artichoke and spinach dip and pre-cooked chicken breast strips; to that, I added some rice. It was really yummy and we made it several times. If it wasn't over 100 degrees outside these days, I might STILL be making it, but now I'll need to wait until the weather cools down a bit.

Anyway, this time, they had another tasty meal made up of these products: Precooked carnitas, brown rice, and corn salsa.

Besides being a really quick meal, it's all heated up in the microwave, so for these hot days of summer, there's no need to heat the oven or stove--or even the grill for that matter. The carnitas come precooked and shrink wrapped in the refrigerated section of the store with the meat and cheese; the brown rice is in the freezer section (three bags in one box); and the corn salsa is in one of the canned foods aisles, near the salsas and tortilla chips. If you haven't had the corn salsa before, I should tell you that it's not very hot but it does have a little kick. It's also both slightly sweet and vinegary.

Of course, I had to buy all the ingredients, thinking it would be nice to have everything on hand for one of those last minute meals; and the need for one of those last minute meals came along a night or two later when I came home late after a quilt club meeting and found Hubby hadn't had dinner either. All Hubby needed to do was microwave the carnitas for a couple minutes to heat the meat up and then microwave the rice while he shredded the carnitas.

The shredded carnitas are served on top of a bed of rice and the corn salsa is spooned over the top--as much or as little as you like. I think this would also be a good dish to add diced tomatoes to--or serve sliced heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes on the side with a little salt and pepper. I had a bag of raw peas in their shells that I'd bought at the farmer's market, so we ate those. Yum!

I know: some of you don't have a Trader Joe's anywhere nearby and I feel your pain. But maybe you could find similar products in your local store, or make a batch of carnitas ahead of time and store individual packets in the freezer so it's handy when you want it. In any event, I hope this gives you a quick menu idea because we still have another month or two of hot weather to get through!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Five Ring Circus

Have you been watching the Summer Olympics? If so, what's your favorite sport? Do you have a favorite athlete?

Here in the U.S., there's been a lot of talk about NBC's coverage and the internet and broadcast spoilers. I've been wearing figurative blinders whenever I log onto the Yahoo home page; I try to get to wherever I'm going without really reading any of the headlines so I don't know what's going to happen ahead of time. I've watched the games most evenings, but last weekend I felt like I'd been overloaded with too much sports coverage, so I left the TV off--of course, that also meant I didn't do any quilting either!

Now that track and field has begun, I'm reminded of what glamour girls some of the female runners are. Isn't it fun to see them? Remember Flo-Jo (Florence Griffith-Joyner)? She really set the standard for high fashion hair, make-up, nails, and running attire. And I can't believe how cut those women are, can you? It kind of makes me want to go around my house and cover all the mirrors; especially the ones in the bathrooms!

The thing about the Olympics that really has me annoyed, though, is the broadcast times--why can't NBC at least begin primetime at 7 p.m. instead of 8 p.m.? And if it bugs me--and I'm a confirmed night owl--what must other fans be thinking? My own personal marathon has become how many nights in a row I can stay up late watching and then try to write a blog post and get ready for bed. ARGH!

So what do you think about the games? Discuss.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What's Next?

Several months ago--I think it may have been in January--quilter Diane Steele (Rabid Quilter) came to talk to our guild about block swaps, challenges, and round- and row-robins . . . among other ideas for collaborative quilting. Some of us were interested in trying out her ideas, and a small group was formed.

I don't think we have a name--or, if we do, I've forgotten it. But we decided the theme of our first attempt would be "winter," our blocks would be 9" (finished), and the main colors were to be blue, white, silver, and possibly green for trees. I think we can use other colors too, but blue, white, and silver should be predominant.

We're to exchange blocks in mid-September. Of course, I've procrastinated. But over the last month or two, I've had a concept in mind; tonight I finally pulled out some fabric, put pencil to paper and rotary cutter to fabric, fired up the sewing machine, and came up with this:

Yeah, not too much . . . so far. But I'll be adding some applique to the white center. In my mind, the white is the background and the blue is primarily a frame. I think I'm supposed to make eight or nine blocks, but I'll make ten just to be sure I have enough.

I think I'll probably continue to stitch up the "background" blocks and then add the applique when I'm done. Periodically, I'll show you my progress as I go. I know our group's organizer, Sandy, reads my blog occasionally, but I don't know that any of our other members do; besides, we haven't been told to keep these secret, so I don't think I'll be ruining anyone's surprise.

Check out Diane's blog--there's a link you can click on up at the beginning of this post. Her current post shows some photos of row robins and a challenge project she's been involved in. Maybe she can inspire you too!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Trial Follow-Up

I've been busy tonight getting things ready for our monthly Autumn House gathering tomorrow evening--the four of us working on the project get together once a month to cut the "kit" for the next month's block, and I usually fix us something to eat for dinner while they're here. Unfortunately, I only have so much time each evening, and sometimes blog time is a little limited--and that's the case tonight.

Rather than not write anything, I thought some of you might be interested in hearing a little more that I've learned about the trial I served as a juror on. Phyllis, this is your chance to click away if this kind of stuff offends you. Go ahead; come back tomorrow.

Here's the brief news story that was printed about the case:

The other day, after we reached our verdict and finished the trial, I did some computer searches to see what was published when the defendant was first arrested, and I didn't find anything. What I did come across at the same time as two of the rapes were committed was information reported to police of a very, very similar crime--it really sounds like it was the same guy, same van, and the same area. This wasn't one of the cases we considered though--my thought is that if it WAS the same guy, perhaps the prosecutor wasn't able to re-locate the victim as the case was coming to trial. Anyway, here's what was published in the local newspaper's crime blog:

(If the print is too small to read either article, I've provided links to the originals.)

Finally, I talked to one of the attorneys in my office today--up until a few months ago, he worked as a deputy district attorney in a neighboring county and is very familiar with criminal law. He said that one of the counts we convicted this guy of, kidnapping with intent to commit rape, carries with it a life sentence. Of course, that doesn't even include the time this guy will serve for all the other crimes we found him guilty of. While I kind of feel a life sentence is a little steep for anything short of homicide, the fact that this defendant seemed to be escalating in his criminal behavior and probably committed more crimes than he was tried for makes me feel a little better about the jury's findings. It's sad, though, to think about how his actions have impacted not only himself and his victims, but his family and his friends as well. And I have to say, for those of you who think the guy should be strung up by his thumbs and have similar acts done to him, that up until the time the verdicts were read in court, I never would have expected to feel sorry for someone who committed a crime like this, but I do feel a little sad. And, of course, a little glad he was caught before he harmed more women. It's an odd mix of emotions.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Oh, What Fun!

Do you ever visit the local farmers' market? Several weeks ago, I was watching our PBS affiliate station, and they ran a half hour show (after Masterpiece Mystery) where the host interviewed a woman who was intrumental in starting some of our local certified organic farmers' markets. She and another woman, a local chef, have written two cookbooks organized week by week and featuring recipes using local produce that should be at its best each week. For instance, last week's menus included lots of tomato dishes, baby potatoes, green beans, and blackberries. Yes, as you've probably figured out, I bought one of the books after the program aired. The one I purchased is called Placer County Real Food from Farmers Markets (by Joanne Neft with Laura Kenny).

I've been having a box of organic produce delivered to my home once every three weeks, and although I like getting that produce and the surprises it can bring, I've found that I'm not using all of it, partly because it's not what I selected and partly because I'm just not putting enough time into cooking these days to make the effort to figure out what to do with it and how to cook it. So a couple days ago, I cancelled the next couple deliveries and looked into where and when there were farmers' markets I could check out. Today, Sunday, was my first RECENT produce shopping excursion. (I've been to farmers' markets before but haven't been to one for a couple years.)

I took my camera along so I could take photos but do you think I remembered to take photos? No! In fact, I locked my purse in the trunk of my car and only took my keys and my cash with me. Yep, the camera was in my purse.

I really had a wonderful time though! If I hadn't had to be somewhere else afterward, I would have stayed there much longer and really looked at everything they had to offer. The market I attended is a large one with many growers offering everything from flowers to produce to bread to meat and fish. One grower had some unusual mushrooms--I would have loved to buy some if only I knew what I might do with them! I guess that's something I can think about next time I go. And I loved the guy with all kinds of herbs and micro greens in bunches--$1.25 a bunch.

So what did I buy?

Some herbs--thai basil and oregano as well as chard micro greens--potatoes, corn, gypsy peppers (I had some before in my produce box and stuffed them with corn and cheeses--that's what I want to do again), peas, string beans, and jalapeno peppers. (Yes, these are many of the items featured in last week's menus from the farmers' market cookbook.)

A small loaf of bread--I can't remember what it was called, darn it!

And lovely, lovely fruit: peaches, strawberries, and blackberries.

The fruit was my main goal for the market; I was itching to make some jams, for one thing. I had even gotten out my canning jars and started sterilizing them before I left to go to the market.

After I came home, when I was sorting out the produce and cleaning out the fridge, I realized I had a small bag of plums (two different varieties, it seems) as well as a few pluots (a cross between a plum and an apricot) that had arrived in the last produce box. So the first jam out of the pot and into the canning jars was a plum jam. As you can see, I wasn't planning to make huge batches--just enough for us and maybe a couple jars to give away.

After that, the strawberries were next up. But what's that green stuff in the pot?

Ah, that's minced jalapenos! I found a strawberry and jalapeno recipe online that sounded pretty good, and since I had a whole bag of jalapenos . . . well, yum! It's much like a mild pepper jelly but with a strawberry taste to it.

Finally, I finished off the day with a blackberry jam. As you can see, it was a fairly productive day, and I still have some strawberries and blackberries left for other treats. What about the peaches? I'll make peach jam another day. The peaches were so firm I know they'll last until I can get to them.

I'd like to get in the habit now of visiting the farmers' market every week or two. Once I'm more familiar with what's available, I'm sure I can cut down on my grocery store shopping and it will mean we'll probably be eating food that's better for us too, since it's certified organic and very fresh.

The one drawback? I haven't spent any time in the Sweat Shop this weekend! But I'm sure I won't be making and canning jam every weekend. And I think I just needed this weekend to catch up and recharge after the long jury trial anyway. Besides shopping and cooking, I finished reading one book and began another, I had my hair cut, I saw a movie (Moonrise Kingdom), and I cleaned house . . . a little. No sense overdoing it. Now it's bath and bed for me with a book, and back to work--and my normal routine--tomorrow.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Juror Number 11

So about the trial I served as a juror on. The case involved allegations of rape of four prostitutes, and although I won't be very graphic in telling you about it, I want to warn you up front that there will be some sex terms in case this story might not be something you'd want to read.

None of the women were beaten; there was no violence of that nature, although they were threatened with violence if they didn't cooperate. One woman was threatened with a knife and another was threatened with a gun. All of them were told they'd be beaten if they didn't do what they were told.

The four rapes occurred over the course of the last three or four years. Two of the four women were under age--one was 16 and one was 17. Those two women had listed their services online; one on Craig's List and one on a website specific to prostitution. The other two women, who were a few years older, were picked up off the street.

The defendant was in his late 30s, I'd guess. He was divorced with a teenage daughter. He had a girlfriend during much of the time period in question. On most days during trial, his mom and dad were present in court. They seemed like nice, respectable people.

During trial, we heard testimony concerning drug use by the victims. There were residual drugs found in testing the two older women after the rapes, although the drugs were simply marijuana and amphetamine metabolite--nothing that would have altered their perceptions or made them paranoid or delusional.

As the jurors, we were asked to consider 18 separate counts along with special findings related to many of those counts. Among the charges against the guy were vaginal and anal rape, oral copulation, skin-to-skin touching, and kidnapping. The kidnapping charge only applied to one of the prostitutes who asked him to drive her to her motel room; instead, he drove her a few miles away to a deserted industrial/warehouse district where he parked in a sunken loading dock with the passenger side of the car up against the wall of the dock so she couldn't get out.

When they initially reported the crimes to the police, all of the prostitutes lied about what led up to the rapes. That didn't surprise any of us. All four of them testified in trial that while they didn't admit they were engaged in acts of prostitution at first, they were truthful in their reports to police and medical personnel of the events surrounding the rapes, and they eventually confessed to the police that they were initially hired by the man for sex. Unfortunately, one of the women had changed her story so many times and told several different people that some of her story was a lie, that when we deliberated, we couldn't reach a consensus on what was believeable, so we were hung as to the three counts involving that victim.

All four women testified in court, and their testimony seemed truthful. The defendant, as is his right, didn't take the stand. I can't say whether he should have or not, but without his testimony, there wasn't much to contradict the testimony of the victims.

In the end, we found the guy guilty of just about everything except the three counts involving the one woman I mentioned who had lied too many times and a couple other counts involving multiple rapes of another woman. As to that other woman, the prosecution alleged that he raped her three times just because he had trouble maintaining an erection and "fell out" a couple times--they took the position that each time he began again it was a separate rape--we didn't buy that argument and found it was all one rape.

We also found him guilty on many of the special findings, such as using a dangerous/deadly weapon, committing the same acts with two or more women, etc.

As the verdicts were read, the defendant broke down and cried throughout. I think most of us felt sorry for him in a way. Had he simply paid the prostitutes the couple hundred dollars it would have cost him and not physically threatened them, the most he'd be looking at would have been whatever the punishment is for engaging in prostitution. Now I suspect he'll serve a long time in jail.

During the trial, the defense tried to suggest that the four women had somehow conspired with one another to frame this guy, but they weren't able to come up with anything linking them. All of them testified they didn't know one another and all of them "marketed" themselves in slightly different ways, so they probably wouldn't have come into contact.

The deliberation process itself was interesting. Most of the jurors were reasonable about discussing the evidence and explaining why they thought one way or another, but there was one older guy who was a bit of a bully and tried to intimidate and argue the rest of us into his narrow minded view--especially the women on the jury. We weren't about to be bullied, though. The jury consisted of six men and six women. During one vote, four of the women were of one opinion contrary to the rest of the jurors, and this jerk suggested it was a "woman thing." Now and then, if someone disagreed with his view, he'd say things like "stupid!," half way under his breath. Because I was sitting next to him, I couldn't help but hear, and he really pissed me off.

There was one discussion about the victim's testimony that she didn't see the defendant with the knife as she was being forced to have oral sex--the count against him had to do with whether he used a knife or threatened to use a knife during that act. This jerk next to me said that of course the knife was there even if she didn't see it, because "when you're orally copulating a man and have your head in his lap, you can't see anything!" I turned to him and asked him if he knew that from personal experience. It took him a minute, but the rest of the room exploded in laughter. There were a couple other exchanges like that between us. What a jerk!

The biggest problem with this guy was that he seemed to be making up stories in his head about what had taken place and wasn't looking at only the evidence we were presented with. In the end, though, it didn't really matter what he did since he couldn't impose his opinions on the rest of us and our findings were consistent with what he believed had happened anyway.

After spending three weeks with these other jurors, it was sad to say goodbye. I exchanged contact information with one woman and I hope we'll get together for lunch one of these days. All in all, though, I'm happy to get back to my "real life."

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Block of the Month Number 281

Okay, you're right. I'm not actually working on 281 block-of-the-month projects, but it seems like it. I knew the day would come when I'd start to feel that way. After all, how could I remain ignorant when I'm the one who keeps signing up for this stuff?! Although if Hubby asks, I might plead early onset Alzheimer's. (And that's not to say I don't understand Alzheimer's is a very serious disease; it's simply that I'm just not a very respectful, tactful, circumspect person and I have an irreverant sense of humor.)

About a week ago, the first block kit of Shabby Fabric's Sweetheart Houses arrived, and I've been working on it all week--I finally finished it Friday night:

The color contrast doesn't show up very well in my photo--and I took a couple photos on different settings, but none of them were very distinct. Oh, well, take my word for it--it's a cute project, although I DO kind of wish the blue of the flower pot was a little darker. Maybe I'll have to see if I can do something to change that; if not on this block, at least where blue is used in the others.

Isn't the tiny white rick rack on the windows cute? More fun than embroidery too!

Luckily, my group of appliquers is getting close to finishing our Autumn House block of the month project, so that will drop one off the schedule. AND I don't have too many more sections to go before the Garden Club block of the month is done too. Hopefully I won't get so overwhelmed with having too many projects going at once that I decide to just shut down. Do you do that? I think there has to be the right balance.

What else is new? Trial ended today: We reached verdicts on most of the 18 counts we were asked to consider, although we were hung on 3 counts. I'll have to tell you more about it in another post now that I can.

Also, the aches and pains I was suffering over the past week are starting to get a lot better. I think I'll take a muscle relaxant now, before bed, but this might be the last one unless I aggravate it when return to work on Monday.

In the meantime . . . happy Saturday!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Failure to Connect

When I got online last night around midnight, Yahoo was playing games with me. Sometimes it would let me connect to the home page; sometimes not. If it did, sometimes it would let me connect to my mailboxes; sometimes not. Sometimes it would let me get into my mail; sometimes not. Once I got so far as replying to an email, but it never was sent--the computer was just "thinking" for a long, long time.

Just in case some virus had attacked my desktop computer, I got out the Kindle Fire so I could email a friend who was expecting to hear from me, but there I had the same problems. Yikes! I gave up. After taking a muscle relaxant, that seemed like the smartest option anyway.

So here's what's going on in my life: Nothing much. My shoulder and neck are beginning to recover. I'm not in so much pain that I want to curl up and die, and I can actually LOOK at the lane next to me when I want to change lanes while driving.

Last night, I even managed to prepare a couple small applique pieces. That's a lot more than I've felt capable of doing the last few days!

As far as jury duty goes, we should start deliberations today. That's one of the reasons I wanted to prep some applique pieces. I'm not sure how the process will go, but if we're all just talking together in a room, and if it seems appropriate, I might want to stitch while I talk, so now I'm ready to do that.

And speaking of jury duty, it's time for me to get ready to go do that. Thanks for stopping by to visit!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I Didn't Think I HAD Muscles!

Last night I slept with ice on my shoulder/neck--at least for awhile--and then I laid on my back, very, very straight, all night long. When I got up this morning, I felt better . . . for about a half hour. After moving around a bit, though, the pain came back. Darn!

Jury duty was very brief today, and after we were released, I headed to the office where I made an afternoon appointment with my doctor. There I found that my pain problems seem to be muscular in nature because all of my parts moved the way they were supposed to move (as directed by the doctor) without too much pain. So that's good, right?

The doctor gave me some muscle relaxants to take in the evening and told me to also take my horse-pill sized Motrin tablets with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. When I got home after that, I took a muscle relaxant and haven't noticed much difference except that I want to crawl into bed and go to sleep. I can see that taking muscle relaxants every night may well cut into my blogging for a bit, so don't worry if you don't hear anything from me sometimes over the next couple weeks. I'm just sleeping. Besides, I'm also not doing much sewing right now, so you're not missing much there either.

Oh, and if I post complete gibberish some evenings? You'll just know that I've taken a muscle relaxant and thrown caution to the winds. Then you can pretend I've posted the wittiest, most interesting blog posts ever, okay? 'Cause that's what friends are for.