Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Luncheon Number 2

Our Friday luncheon was another great success.   4 weeks ago we hosted an Indoor Tailgate lunch and this week's theme was Five Alarm Friday based on the community helper the fireman.  How do you like the flames pouring from our windows?

We had chili and all the goodies for Frito pie, salad and cornbread.  For desert we had my cheesecake tarts and chocolate chip cookies.

Loved the road table cloth, dalmatian and fire hydrant
After tossing around the options, I topped some of the tarts with white chocolate shavings, and others with almonds, my Peach Vanilla Jam, and dark cherries.  I left a few plain.

Everything was a hit and we are all so happy that we belong to a wonderful group that does this sort of team building every week.  Feeling like a productive part of a group is so important.  All the laughter and bonding is  pretty great too.  Not to mention (but here I will) all the fun it is to plan and prepare.  Our hall has 19 ladies, all of whom are wonderful which includes Amanda, Allie, Karen, and Marah whom I am lucky enough to work with everyday.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Five Alarm Friday

It's our classes turn to fix lunch tomorrow.  You may recall this is our luncheon tradition at my work.  The last theme we had was a football tailgate.  This week's theme mirrors the one we are using with our kids which is community helpers; specifically fireman.  So, we are cooking up some Five Alarm Chili with all the goodies (pictures tomorrow), and I am in charge of dessert.  I struggled with this because I really wanted to make my Cream Puffs, but have already done that.  So I am doing something new and crossing my fingers.

Cheese Cake filled Tarts

2-8 oz package cream cheese
2-14 oz cans sweetened condensed milk
Zest and juice of two lemons
Additional lemon juice to make 2/3 cups

Cream this all in a mixer until smooth and refrigerate.  Yep, that simple.  I may be alone in this, but isn't lemon zest amazing?

I let it chill in the refrigerator for a few hours then filled some mini tart shells with the no-bake cheesecake mix.

I was going to have 60 of these guys, but 4 in one container were shattered so I'll settle for 56.

Popped them in the fridge to set over night.

Tomorrow I will decide to top them with a cherry or maybe some white chocolate shavings, or I may leave them as is.  They will look great on the tray I picked up at HEB and will be the perfect small treat after spicy chili.

I will say I made way more filling than I needed so I will probably whip up a pie crust tomorrow so I can freeze the left overs.

I will take pictures tomorrow of our set up just like I did last time.  It is going to be cute.

And I got some more done on my pumpkin pillow.

I did save the hardest for last.  The stem has those points which will be a challenge.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I Miss Her Already

Today was a mixed bag.  A local radio station has a "Working Women's Wednesday" event at a restaurant here in town.  A few of my coworkers and I went and had a great time chatting and taking in an early dinner.  One of the ladies at our table even won a giveaway sponsored by the station.  Fun, fun, fun.

Now for the "mixed bag" part.  Last night I tried to do a little sewing on some new lanyards (Jane, your name is on one of them) and my machine was not happy.  First she stopped doing a locking stitch, then she would not go into reverse, then the stitches became HUGE.  I turned off the machine and then turned it back on to hopefully reset the computer.  No good.  This morning I packed her into my car to go to the shop.

Luckily we have a Janome dealer in town and they do repairs.  When I showed up with my machine the gentleman dabbled with this and that and then asked "How long since you've had it serviced?"  I told him never and that I didn't want a lecture.  Yes, I really said that.  So it will get a check up to see if they can fix her.  Hopefully it won't take long.  My list of what I want to do before Christmas is too long.  Besides, looking at the empty space that is left behind in it's place is sad.

In the mean time I will work on my pumpkin applique and may be start making some pickles.  I need to get some new pictures up of what is going on in my Earth Box.  It's too dark now for good shots, but tomorrow that sun will come up and I'll get you an update.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Thank you, Joy

I made a little more progress on my pumpkin today.  I really enjoy this form of applique so much better.  Not very good at it yet, but the practice will help.

I do have a quick story to share about yesterday's post.  Truely, when I came home from work yesterday I wasn't feeling my best; allergies were getting the best of me.  I had it in my head that I would pass on my blog and just rest up.  At 7 pm that changed.  I checked in on my blog and found a new comment.   Someone who has not commented before wrote about how she enjoyed my blog.  Of course that made me feel good, all your comments do, but then she wrote "can't wait to read it everyday."  Well that was the kicker.  If someone out there was making that kind of commitment to me, the least I could do was give them something to see when they checked in.  Thus, my pumpkin pillow.  I am so glad for Joy's comment.  It really helped me get focused and now I can say I did not waste a night on the couch.  Now my pillow is well on it's way and that is a good thing with Halloween and my October company right around the corner.  Thank you Joy.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Reverse Applique Halloween Pillow

I mentioned that for my birthday I recieved Dear Jane software to make a Dear Jane quilt.  I have been playing with the software and one thing is clear; it will be a challenge.  Some blocks are pieced, some paper pieced, some applique, and some reverse applique.  I decided to kill two birds with one stone in this post and get a head start on my Dear Jane experiene.  One, I will learn how to reverse applique.  Two, I will make my next Halloween pillow.  October is right around the corner.

First I need to make a design.  I'm thinking that being a newbie I will keep it simple.  A pumpkin with a scrappy pieced border.  My colors won't be this bright but it gives me an idea of placement.

As I understand it, I'll sew the layers together and remove the foreground fabric. I debated on whether or not I needed stabilizer and decided to skip it.  I hope that doesn't come back to haunt me.  Get it?  Haunt me.  Halloween.  Okay, a weak attempt.

So I printed out the pattern onto freezer paper so I could iron it to my fabric and trace the outlines.  

After I trace, the freezer paper peels right off with no residue.  I love this.

Now I baste the background fabric behind the foreground, and I'm ready to start turning under the edges.

Okay, that wasn't so bad.  It's all whipped down and looks okay.   A little fray check in the corners is probably a good idea.  Oops, bad idea.  It changed the black I fear for good.   Now it's just a mess.  You just have to love the whole learn by doing thing.

It's okay, I'll just start over.  I'm using scrapes for this and goodness knows I have plenty.  However, this time around I will needle turn applique.  Not sure I care for the reverse technique.  May be if I had picked an easier pattern I would not be bailing on this.  It's okay though.  I'll use the same pattern and fabric.

Here is what I have so far.

More tomorrow.  I think it is going to look great in the end.

I have new Inhibitor photos if you like seeing how nuts my boys are.

Wearables? I'm A Quilter!

A friend had a problem.  Her really cute little dress lost its hem.  Now of course she knows I sew (she watches my blog) and asked if I could fix it.  I think a chill actually went up my spine.  First of all, sewing on someone else's stuff makes me nervous, but I also don't do wearables.  Yes, I am a quilt snob, and no I don't want a 12-step to cure me.  When was the last time I stitched a hem?  I really can't recall.  I of course said I would take it and do my best.

Now you have to understand what I was up against here.  The fabric is silky and slippery (scary), it's a short dress so anything I do to it will be visable (yes, more fear), and I refuse to do this half way (I'm funny that way).  A simple straight stitch was not going to work here.  What to do.

I pulled out my sewing machine's manual and looked for what it suggested for hemming.  Lo and behold there was a blind hem stitch setting on my machine.  Awesome.  However, the graffic on how to use it was horrible.  On to the internet. is my friend.  I found a wonderful video on how to make a blind hem so I did.

I followed her directions to the letter and I think it turned out okay.

Sewing the blind hem stitch on the folded fabric
Hem stitched but not ironed
Here is the after
Cute dress, but now I've wrinkled it
I am still a quilt snob, but now I am a quilt snob who can sew a blind hem!  I guess I'll be fixing my husbands slacks from now on.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Homemade Basil Fettuccini!

I decided that the weekend was the perfect, no stress, enjoy the processes time to break in my pasta maker.  After too much time on the computer looking at the do's and don'ts of pasta making I thought enough was enough and I would wade right in.  Here goes

Basil Fettuchini from All Recipes

3/4 cups chopped fresh basil (luckily I still have some in the garden)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons water
2 1/2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

Process basil in a food process until fine.  Add  1 1/2 cups of flour and pulse to combine.  Add the egg, oil, and water.  I had to add an additional 2 Tablespoons of water to get my dough to form a ball.

Wrap dough in slightly oiled plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for 2 hours.  This gave me some time to check out some you tube videos on how to use my pasta machine.

After the pasta rested I rolled it out into a small rectangle and cut it into 4 pieces.  I left 3 covered in plastic so they wouldn't dry out while I worked with the other.

Next, I just kept feeding it to the machine and changing the setting so it got thinner and thinner.

1st pass
2nd pass
3rd pass
Final roll had the dough 37" long
Look how thin and strong the pasta is.

 Now to turn it into fettuccine.

Then I piled it into little mounds tossed with flour to keep it from sticking and I wait until dinner when I get to cook it.   I'm thinking shredded chicken in a white wine garlic butter cream sauce will be great with the basil pasta.  I'll let you know.

Meanwhile we had company.  My faithful blog follower, Ellen and her friend Fuu stopped by to bring us some Sweet Potato Biscuits.  Look at the texture. Yum.

These would be fabulous made larger with a biscuit cutter for a sandwich with a slice of turkey and cranberry jelly.  I'm thinking The-Day-After-Thanksgiving-Lunch.  Ellen is a great cook.  May be I can get her to do a guest blog post from her kitchen sometime.  (hint, hint)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Horseshoes, Anyone?

The title is probably a giveaway, but if not, let me explain.  I decided 2 weeks ago to give my husband a set of horseshoes for his birthday.  I thought it would be a fun thing to do when we had company and would encourage our guests to head down the back hill and enjoy the outdoors.  Mentioned it to my brother when we were in town celebrating the September birthdays last weekend and he pulled up some pictures of pits on the internet to look at.  As it turns out, he was able to come out today and help (actually was our fearless leader) as was my dad.

We found a spot that looked great and my brother brought out his wonder lazer level to check out the lay of the land.  He always has the coolest tools.  Those are morning shadows, by the way.  We got an early start.

We found the land sloped more than we though as you will see.  My brother drew up some plans, got together a shopping list, and he and my husband headed to Lowes to pick up supplies.  When they got home we got right to work.

We had some excavating to do so we dug some trenches while my dad and brother assembled the decking.  Breck loaded dirt and bricks to bring down the hill and we made good progress.

Remember I mentioned it sloped?

Several hours later, countless trips up and down the hill later, numerous shovel fulls of dirt later this is what we have.  Two wonderful pitching decks and pits.

I can't even say the shadows were long when we finished for the day.  They were nonexsistand.  We still have a little work to do, but by far the bulk is finished.  I can't wait to break it in when we have company in a few weeks.

Thanks, dad and Mike, for all the guidance and help today.  Breck and I could not and would not have done it without you.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My 100th Post, Giveaway, and Statistics

This is my 100th post!  I can't believe I am here.  I'm not sure what my expectation was for this blog when I started, but I know I did not expect I would have accomplished as much as I have.  Let me elaborate with some interesting statistics.

  • My 1st post was on June 10th which means I made 100 posts in 104 days.
  • I was successful posting on 96% of the days
  • As of 4:30pm today I have had 4,187 page views
  • 320 comments have been posted
  • 31% of my viewers use Firefox, 23% use Chrome, 17% use Safari, but only 14% use Internet Explorer (interesting)
  • I have been viewed in  18 countries: U.S, Canada, Australia, Germany, U.K, India, Singapore, Switzerland, Denmark, France, Taiwan, Indonesia, Finland, Russia, Hungary, Italy, Greece, and Slovenia
  • I have posted more than 1,000 pictures, but taken about 38,000 that didn't make the cut
  • 26 pillows were made
  • 20 new recipes were tested
  • My most popular post was "My New Sewing/Crafts Room" with 85 views.
  • The "Quilts I've Made" page has been vied 118 times, "Earth Box" 64, and "My Inhibitors" 58 and the most popular recipe was for Strawberry Lemonade
I completed more projects than I would have ever attempted with out your support.  I have enjoyed every moment and again am grateful you were all there to keep me going.  Your comments were always welcome and very appreciated.

But what you really want to know is who won the giveaway.  Here is how it went.

16 people entered (thanks guys!  I will do this again.)

And the winner is . . .

Congratulations Dot C number 5!  

Thanks again to all of you.  As I said, I will do this again and I hope you will take another chance with me.  I guess I better get back to planning my 101st post.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Giveaway Reminder

As you know I am giving away 2 potholders for my first ever giveaway.  It is a thank you to all you guys who have supported my blog.  This is my 99th post and I will be drawing the winner on the 100th.  Good luck to all.  To see how to enter the contest click here.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Giveaway: How to Enter to Win

Yesterday my family had their "September Birthday" get together.  We met at the folk's place and went to dinner at local Italian restaurant.  Yum.  I think I have seen more of my family since moving away than I did when we lived close.  Funny.

This morning opened a couple gifts.  My husband has set me up with plenty of future blog posts by giving me a pasta maker.

Can't wait to use this!  I'm totally getting in touch with my Italian side.

My father-in-law and his wife Jeanne sent me a new software package for making specific quilt blocks called Dear Jane.  We have a small (may be growing) group that wants to meet starting in January to work on a quilt from this software.  It will be quite the endevour.

Here are few examples of a Dear Jane quilt from the EQ software.

Gail  Stewart from Kansas
Vicki Fallon from New Jersey

Sarah Francis from Texas
Claire Ochler from New York

Now onto the giveaway update.  I have now finished the 2nd potholder and am pleased with how it turned out.  In fact, I wish I could enter to win.  In retrospect I may be would have made the acorn darker, but I still love it.

And here they are together.  The pictures don't do the fabulous batiks justice.

To pick the winner I found a randomizer on line at  Research Randomizer.  I will fill in the appropriate numbers here based on the number of people who enter.

Then it will pick the random winner which looks like this.

I will post the screen shot of the winning number.

So here is how it will work.  Post "Enter Me" as a comment to this blog post to enter.  You must use your real first name and last initial so I know who you are.   Each comment will be assigned a number in order.  If you are first to comment you are given 1, second will be 2 and so on.  This is blog post number 98 and I will randomize the winner on my 100th post, September 22nd.  Please only enter once.  You do not need to be a "follower" to win, but I would love to have you all as followers if you want to take the plunge.  Family and friends are all welcome to enter.  You have all supported my so well and kept me motivated.  Thank you.

Unfortunately, even though there are people in 12 other countries (makes me smile) that frequent my blog, I can only ship within the United States and Canada.  Please keep this in mind when entering.

So, good luck.  I hope you enjoy this.