Sunday, July 31, 2011

Stir Fry and Crackers

I got another border planned and partially completed today.  Will easily finish this up tomorrow.


My parents and my friend Kristin were out for company and dinner.  Whipped up a chicken stir fry.




My rice pot boiled over when I got to chatting.  Reminds me of the white chocolate fiasco (Cookie Day)




Kristen brought Lemon cupcakes with blueberries.  Very good, tart and sweet.


We have the most interesting bugs here.  Saw this moth on my windowsill.  It was huge.  About 5" or 6."  His wings were so interesting.  Ragged on the edges I assume to blend in with tree bark.


  That's it for tonight.  Great day today with family and friends.  More tomorrow!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Crackers

I got back to work on my Crackers quilt.  I waited until the inhibitors got settled in for their naps.  One took the bed in the guest room and the other above the cabinet over my washer/dryer.  Once they were sleeping they did not seem to care that I was sewing.  Sounds a lot like an email I got from my friend Lynnette yesterday who was waiting on her children to go down for naps before beginning a project of her own.


I finished up the black inner border and added a pieced 1st border.  The pieced border has the tape measure fabric I liked so much but was not sure how I was going to work it into the quilt.  I think it looks great with the yellow squares to break it up.


I also added a second border of the red and think it really controls the stripes in the tape measure fabric and keeps it from looking too busy.


Now what?  I still want the quilt a little bigger before I add a six inch border around the outside to finish it off.  If I am going to use any of the cream ones I need to do it now.   I think this is going to be a great fall quilt for the guest room.  It has the reds and yellows and is bright and strong with  a touch of the blue that will be in the newly upholstered chair. Hmmm.  May need to make some matching pillows.

Checked on my Beauty Berry today and found it has turned a deeper shade of purple.  Lovely.


We have a lot of Beauty Berry and much of it is wilting in the heat.   Only the ones lucky enough to be within range of sprinkler system over spray are doing well.

We have the most interesting bugs here.  I love this dragonfly that hung around while I was watering my herbs. 


I have a new project for the fall.  I am going to paint the screened porch floor.  There is a lot of research I want to do on the subject before jumping in, but I think I have an idea of how I want it to look. Can't wait to give you more details!  Hint: anyone up for a game of Scrabble?

New Inhibitor photos posted as well.  I have been taking a lot of pictures lately.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Come On, Don! I'm Your Biggest Fan.

The drought.  It' is claiming the oldest tree (judging by the diameter of the trunk) on our land.  The upper most branches have given up and fallen to the ground.  They lay piled at its base waiting to be chainsawed into firewood.


I cannot begin to describe how this makes me feel.  We have many trees on our property, but something about the age of this one really bothers me.  Trees are not wise, they do not think and process information.  They do not learn or have opinions.  But they do have character.  THIS tree has character.  Is this where my family of raccoon live? Or may be the owl we hear right before dawn. The baby squirrels that romp through the trees might find the holes left behind by limbs long gone a safe home from the hawks and coyotes.


It is probably too late to save this tree.  Even if Tropical Storm Don were to come and drop days of soaking rain on us, the wood is dry and brittle.  But we have others that are showing great stress that are not lost yet and could use some rain.  Here is one of my flowering dogwood back on March 20th before the leaves had fully opened.


Here is that same dogwood confused and going into early hibernation; turning to its fall color way too soon.


If it was October I would be thrilled with these photos.  But as our Elms turn yellow and our Oaks turn red I just have to wonder how many will be left to change color next year.





Even the grass and weeds have given up.  Nothing but dirt.

How is the drought affecting you?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Welcome to Chez Templeton

My girl friends Amanda and Krystina came for lunch today.  Both have very recently aquired their own homes and one will be moving to another city.  I had a couple housewarming gifts I wanted to give them, and since summer is almost over and we will all be heading back to work I thought it would be nice for us to get together one more time.  I cooked.


The Menu
Beverages
    Home brewed sweet tea
    Fresh squeezed strawberry lemonade
Appetizer
  *Stuffed Zucchini (mine was not exactly this, but it was my inspiration)
    Zucchini stuffed with bacon, tomato, onion, and grated parmesan
Salad Entrees
  *Caprese Salad 
    Perfectly ripe roma tomatoes, organic basil, fresh mozzarella, EVOO and balsamic vinegar, with a 
      pinch of sea salt
  *Spinach Salad 
   Sliced strawberries, red onion, and candied almonds sit atop a bed of baby spinach leaves with
    homemade poppy seed dressing                
   *Chicken Salad
   Made with roasted chicken, grapes, apples, mandarin oranges, celery, and onion  tossed with a    
    corriander mayonaise
Bread 
  Lightly toasted Luciane served topped with goat cheese and green onion
Dessert
 *Cream Puffs
    Gently baked, custard filled pastry, served with chocolate drizzle and fresh berries

It was yummy.  I especially liked making the almonds for the spinach salad.  My grandmother had a recipe for candied pecans that called for tossing the nuts in egg whites then cinnamon sugar and baking in butter.  Delicious.  But this recipe has you putting sugar and nuts in a pan and heating on the stove.  As the nuts heat they release their oils which makes the sugar stick.  No eggs or butter or extra steps.  I will try this with pecans this fall adding spices to the sugar.  The key is to keep stirring since they brown so quickly.


I thought it might be time for a little work on my Crackers quilt.  I have all the sashing on and I'm working on the black inner boarder.  How much do you think I got done?





May be later.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

2 Posts In One Day! Must Be Something Special.

Considering my post today was about living in the country, I felt it was okay to make 2 posts in one day concerning the same subject.

Coming home from the grocery store this evening I was lucky enough to have my camera with me to get these 2 shots of a momma deer and her spotted fawn.  Times like this I REALLY wish I had a better camera.  We see deer a lot, but I'm usually am not prepared with my camera. Just wanted to share even though I have already shared today.

Momma

Her spotted fawn

You're in the country when . . .

A couple weeks ago I was locking up doors to get ready for bed.  I opened the door to the garage to make sure the garage door was closed.  At my feet (yes really) was a raccoon on the mat.  He never looked at me.  He just turned and hurried off.  I screamed (small scream, but quite girly) and shut the door.  My son Cameron came and checked to make sure the raccoon had left the garage before I closed the door.  The last thing I wanted to do was lock him in for the night and have him angry in the morning.  I assumed he was attracted to my bag of birdseed by the door.



The night before last I repeated this same routine of locking doors and checking the garage door.  Would you believe there was a raccoon, again, at my feet?  He again turned and left without giving me a glance.  I did not scream this time, but quickly shut the door.  This time he chewed into the bag of seed.


So this morning I was out checking my cucumbers and what did I find?  Apparently the raccoon likes my garage and was none too happy about the fact that I closed the door last night before he had a chance to get in so he decided to try and chew his way in.  Is the bird seed he was after really worth all that paint covered plastic he ingested trying to get to it?


There are other things you get used to out here in the country.  We have a baby armadillo that makes himself at home in the late afternoon.  He is cute to be sure.   For scale keep in mind that the garden hose in the photo is only 1 1/2" wide and the weeds about 4" to 5" tall.  I can't believe he let me get this close.



But the mess that he makes over night digging up the grass to get to the grub in the ground is a pain.  Glad he is getting the grubs, though.  Should it bother me?  No.  Does it bother me?  No again.  We live in the country.  It is to be expected.



One thing that is a pain (nobody has been stung except for inhibitor 2 and he is fine) is the scorpions.  They're not so bad; they're small, non-lethal, but annoying.  Would I rather have scorpions than roaches?  Absolutely.  I HATE roaches.   So I'll spray my foundation with a little Terro a few times a year and be done with the scorpions.  I usually don't like chemical solutions but with this problem I have no choice.


Occasionally I need to re-rake my flower beds when an armadillo, raccoon, or wild pig comes through and nudges stuff around looking for dinner.  Not a big deal.  Everyone out here is in the same boat.


I will say, though, that the pigs (especially when they are flocking, Ellen) can do a lot of damage.  We've had them come through the back of the property and tear things up, but not the grassy area we maintain as lawn.  Saw a herd back in February of about 30 a half mile down the road.  I'm glad they didn't come through the yard or I might have had some really messy photos to post here.  Whew.  Instead a picture of our Beauty Berry which is blooming all over the property.  The berries will last through winter turning deeper purple and providing food for the birds.  They have just started to turn from pale green to this light pink.

07/26/2011

On the other hand, aside from the mildly annoying critter interactions, we have had many wonderful experiences.  Breck and I were out on the back patio the other morning when a deer came through.  This is not an issolated incident.  It happens quite frequently.  In fact, it is the reason we have two pairs of binoculars on the patio.  A month ago a mother and her very small spotted fawn made their way through my back yard and that was a real treat.  The birds we have seen over the past year have kept us entertained.  Especially the Yellow Bellied Sap Sucker (woodpecker) that likes to frequent our bird feeder and the bright red cardinals that appear year round but that were especially beautiful in the February snow.

February 4, 2011

The Red Tailed Hawk was stunning (Sorry, no picture.  I really wish I had taken one) as are the Painted Buntings and their multicolored feathers.  The bunnies are fun to watch at dusk when they chew the weeds all the way to the roots and the coyote serenade at sunset is quite impressive.  And bumble bees!  Real ones.  They are so big and slow.  Fun to watch.  They love my Vitex tree and its fragrant purple flowers.


So do the butterflies.  You could actually spend a day watching this tree in the spring and see dozens of butterflies of different colors and sizes come into view.  Not as easy to photograph as you would think with a $99 Olympus point and shoot .


Have I mentioned the sunsets?  Every night, 365 nights a year we can watch them from our back porch.  Some are so stunning my camera could not possible capture their beauty.

March 2011

All in all, it is the country and it is a wonderful place to live.  Why didn't we do this sooner?  Why would we ever want to leave?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Halloween Cathedral Window Part II

Now that the boring part is over it's time to sew.  Take two of your main fabric squares, raise one corner of each square and pin.  You will sew along the pressed line.




That's it, very simple.  Pin another block to the pair you have and sew along the press line again.  Make three sets of three.


Now to sew the rows of three together lay two rows side by side and pin the flaps just like you did on the pairs. Now sew.


You are almost done.  Sew tacking stitches at each of the places the points meet.  This will hold them in place when it is time to sew in the windows.


This is what it looks like from the back.  You can see how this would make a nice finish to a quilt using no batting.


Play with your window fabrics until you get them in a pleasing pattern then pin.


It is now time to sew the windows in place.  You will do this by rolling the main fabric over the edge of your windows to make a soft arch.  This is easy because we folded this on the bias of the fabric so it is more flexible.  Drop your needle at the corner of a fold and stitch close to the edge of the curve.




When you get to an intersection, drop your needle to hold your place, lift your pressure foot so you can rotate your fabric if necessary to make the next curve.  Drop your foot and fold back the next arch.


The more arches you can do without stopping and cutting your thread the more time and thread you sill save.  Make the intersections and neat as you can, but know we will be sewing a button here that will cover up any imperfections.

Continue until all the windows are sewn down.  It won't take long to get excited about how your windows are looking.  Well before you are done things will look good.  Kind of like mowing the lawn and seeing the nice even row you just cut keeps you going because you want to see more.


Before you  know it you are done.  Trim your block to 13 1/4" x 13 1/4"  Before I had a chance to trim, you know who got involve.


Things didn't change much after I trimmed.


Sew on your borders and trim to 17" x 17" for a 16" square pillow form.  Add decorative buttons if desired (I desired).  Cut backing fabric 17" x 21" , then cut in half (17" x 10 1/2"), hem one 17" edge on each piece, pin to front of pillow overlapping center.  Stitch 1/4" seam all the way around; double stitch where fabric overlaps.  You know have a pillow case with an envelope backing.  Turn right side out.


Always feels good to finish a project.  This pillow is going to look great with my Halloween quilt and other plans I have for the guest room.  I can't wait until fall.