Nov 21, 2014

where did the last two weeks go?

I knew it had been awhile since I updated my blog but I've been off doing who knows what for two weeks??  No wonder I got a concerned email from a friend yesterday who thought perhaps I was having a hard time with the holiday season approaching.  She may be partially correct as this is the year of firsts without DJ at my side.  So far I am hanging in there, with a few exceptions, but then we are about a week away from Thanksgiving yet.

I have gotten little sewing done.  We had some really frigid (for us) weather lately and when it did warm up with had a ton of rain.  Like 4 inches in a 12 hour period kind of rain.  Those overnight temps in the high teens and low 20's and daytime highs about 20-30 degrees below normal.  And cut right through you winds.  Like Illinois!  Anyway, Oscar has been in more then out lately.  Of course he loves that!  It just means that I cannot go to the sewing room and get anything done as he whines if I don't come back right away and I have to keep an eye on him.  He WILL pee in the house and not necessarily in the kitchen.  I try to circumvent that by taking him out to walk about every two hrs or making him go out in the backyard for a bit.  I'm told dachshunds are notorious for peeing anyway and he is 10 years old too.  I send him out at night and I see him do is bark, bark, bark at who knows what?  Right now he is curled up in my spot on the couch and on my bathrobe.  Skyler is on the back of the couch curled up on that Friendship quilt that my friend V assembled and quilted for me.  They take turns curling up next to me, most evenings with that quilt on my lap.  I enjoy them but it means reading, knitting--anything but work in my sewing room.

I DID drag one machine out to the kitchen and did some cutting from the sub-cut sections of fabric for those chair pads.  I had done that at the last Belles meeting.  I started sewing on the over sized one for Robert's kitchen chair and it looked horrid!  I told Glynda she might want to see how it was looking before I went any further with it.  I had only cut two of the 6 out at that point. We left it that I would try another idea on one of the smaller pads and then decide if it would be okay.  I had done some streamlining and the 2nd one doesn't look too bad but I need to put some Velcro on it for closure and possibly take a little tighter seam in a few spots.  Those chair pads are on my weekend list.  The serger is also set up as this fabric ravels like crazy.   There are green threads all over the house but there is no point in cleaning any of it up till that task is completed.  I have a feeling that they are going to be like Christmas tree needles and keep showing up for months and months after, LOL.

 I had also done a few lines on Donna's 2nd quilt.  Well, I said lines but was trying a serpentine stitch with some purple variegated thread.   Every time I tried to get near the machine Skyler was stuck like glue to me.  I get Oscar squared away either outside or after he goes in his crate for the night, and then Skyler wants my attention.  It is NOT my quilt so I don't want him sitting on it.  I try to get him to move or set him down and he hops right back up.  And then he gets upset and bites and/or batts at me with his paw.  I finally put him out, closed the door and did those few rows of stitching.  Will probably have to that again next time.  He and Oscar both seem to jockey for attention, though dogs are more needy than cats, I find.

Last week was busy because I had outside meetings and such; this week started a bit like that too.   I finally got to the Social Security office to see about drawing my own SS or his.  I made it through the interview without crying until I thanked the woman who had helped me.  I got up to the Revenue Commissioner's office too.  DJ being over 65 we were eligible for tax exemption on the house but we had to take our income tax forms in from  2013, for example,  plus complete a few questions on their mailing and sign it in their presence.  His being gone left me wondering just how to check off "are you or spouse over 65?"  At least this time I did not draw that horrid public servant we got last year that I was ready to write to the commissioner about.  Needlessly rude and unhelpful.   This time I drew a woman who I used to see on the walking trail or park all the time so we did a bit of chatting about that.   Turns out, I needed to provide them with a copy of the death certificate and since I was going to be back downtown the next day for my appointment, they allowed me bring it then rather than about 20 miles round trip to go home and get it.  I should have thought of all that.  I had all that pulled, and more, for SSA.  So a few concerns are clearer now.

On the 15th the quilting pals who had done the Block of the Month at Ashville House this past year had a little quilt show with their completed tops.  They spread them out on tables at the Baptist Church near their shop for several hours.  This was in conjunction with the shop's 5th year anniversary as well.  The girls all needed to sign up for next years BOM and pay the 10 bucks.  I think this next is a more conventional format while I liked how they did things this year.  They gave the fabric but they all picked whatever pattern they wanted to do which made for all kinds of different tops.  I've got some pictures but will post them later.  I don't want to turn on the desktop to upload them to the computer etc.

I have been invited down to then neighbors for Thanksgiving dinner.  Plans have changed a bit in that I am to make pies now.  I'm thinking my classic no bake pumpkin pie that I have made for years and Dutch Apple Pie that DJ really liked.   Robert was telling me about his mom always making chocolate pies--one for his dad and one or his youngest sister and one to pass.  I said I wouldn't do pecan pie as I really don't like that--too cloyingly sweet.  It might be that I didn't like my previous attempts at making them, maybe with a different recipe it would be better.  Another guest can bring theirs, LOL.

(I shared some of this on Facebook today so if you follow me there it will be a bit of a repeat.  Read if you want some more background).

What I don't do is normally make crust as the store does a better job than me, generally.  Today, I thought I might try to remedy my fear of making crusts and try one of those chocolate meringue pies and take it down to the neighbors.  I  spotted a couple recipes in a cookbook but it is amazing to me what is assumed that one knows about cooking/baking when you look at how sketchy the instructions are!  I read up in three of my "expert" books last night---Schmidt's Master Recipes, Bittman's How to Cook Everything and Anderson's The Perfect Recipe.   Very detailed instructions in Schmidt's book--like 10 pages covering every aspect of pastry making.  I used Bittman's recipe for the filling and meringue though as it was less fussy.  The crust had a lot of steps, chilling times, following the instructions for a fully baked shell etc.  I followed the recipes and each step meticulously.   All day long deal almost.

So how did it turn out?  The filling tastes good but I wonder if is ever going to set up.  The unbaked leftovers are in a custard cup in the fridge and it still looks pudding like, not cut with a knife-able.  I took the pie down to them just before it got dark as it could cool there.   Don't know if the crust recipe was a keeper or not.  Knowing what I just said about the pie you might wonder how I could take them something that may not have turned out so well.   When I was talking with Glynda about the chair cushions, I told her I was going to make them a chocolate pie and practice up for next week, so to speak, with scratch pie crust.   About time I learned to do this better.

 Unfortunately, just as Oscar and I were climbing the few steps up the stairs I must have shifted the pie plate, the meringue cracked and I had a sweater dripping with chocolate filling!!  Worse yet,  when Glynda turned on the porch light I saw that it was also running down my jeans leg.  Amazingly, Oscar did not start licking my clothes with his great sense of smell.   I caught him licking my shoe but removed that temptation-- pronto.   I was pulling off my outer clothes as soon as I got us back in the house and right into the washer!  Glynda did say tonight that she was getting her MIL's recipe for her pie this weekend (and maybe that chocolate cake she told me about the other day) so I may be able to try it again but with store bought crusts!!  I won't have time to practice, come the big day.

This was actually day two of major cooking as I was in the kitchen a big chunk of the day cooking several different entrees and sides.   The dishwasher has gotten quite a workout, let me tell you. When I wasn't cooking the last two days, I was off to the store replenishing the pantry. Between what is in the freezer and stocking up on what I consider staples I can make just about anything (minus some meat).   Well providing I feel like cooking in the first place.  I've already said how much easier it is to just throw a sandwich together.  Not exactly a balanced diet with any variety to it---- and I am trying to do better.  Hopefully, I am good until mid week when I need to get the apples for the pie.  We are having a low key potluck at Belles next week and I could go in a couple different directions for my dessert type dish and won't have to decide till Monday.

I'm tired and can't think if anything else is going on around here.  I just know that I keep busy doing something most of the time.  The next thing I know, it is time or about time to go to bed.    One day whizzes by and then another.  Next thing you know, 2 weeks have passed.   How my life is going these days--------

Nov 6, 2014

Checking In

I honestly do not know just where the last two weeks have gone.  It sure was not doing anything much of a creative bent though I did finally get Donna's lap quilt for one of her nieces quilted once I did a bit of marking.

 I've been knitting a bit--more dish cloths.  It is a good project for when you have to sit and wait which I had to do on Tuesday while they changed my oil, and then the brake pads too.  One, maybe two rear tires I was mentally prepared for as one has had a slow leak for several months now but that just turned out to be a small nail embedded in the tire and they patched it.   (I am still waiting for the GMC people to call back about the recall on the G6.  Apparently there about 300 people on the list, waiting for the parts to come in, the staff said.)    Half a dish cloth was done by the time I left.  I got a few more skeins as I have a lab appointment coming up as well as the 6 month checkup a week later.   Unless they have done something to streamline the lab process better than they have in the past, you can count on a couple hours right there.  I can wait a little more patiently if I have something to occupy myself.

I have read a good bit on the kindle app.  Nothing world shaking, just light reading, mysteries mostly.  I read the books I cared to read on Jane's Kindle finally and returned hers so I am back to using the kindle app on my tablet.

I have played entirely too much free cell on netsolitaire.  I admit it.  But I also spent one full day recently in the office clearing up the paper stuff on my desk, lining up the to-do things, organizing receipts, balancing the checking account and so forth.

I finally gave in and called the plumber to fix the toilet shortly after I most in late October.  Been a pricey two weeks what with the brakes on the car too.  But necessary.  If anything else breaks or quits running, I am apt to be in tears.  How in the world did  he keep things running around here?  Why didn't I pay closer attention to how to fix them?

I binged cooked yesterday and again this morning because the weather had finally cooled enough to not object to having the oven turned on.  It is so hard for me to want to cook without DJ here to enjoy a meal with me.  Mostly it is "why bother" when a sandwich or some convenience meal in the toaster oven is done quickly, with little fuss?  Well here is why I should bother--- I am getting tired of sandwiches and I hate most convenience food . Maybe I had better make my own version of it. This way I can clear out a bit of stuff in the freezer just to add more back into it, LOL.

  •  Shrimp Creole and Mama's Cornbread along with two batches of rice in the steamer as I took half the recipe down to the neighbor's.  
  • Then I made a version of Shepherd's Pie with some leftovers from the freezer and set those up in three serving portions with half the ground beef.  The other half I turned into Maid Rite loose meat for a few sandwiches down the line. That is not the version of the recipe I use.  Actually I don't use a recipe really.   
  • I roasted a couple of sweet potatoes and then made a whipped up casserole version, not sure what it is called really along with Pilgrim's Pride Turkey Loaf from one of those "365 Ways to Cook Hamburger and Other Ground Meats". It was a good thing I was not trying to serve this to anybody else as the loaf fell all apart when I tried to get it out of the pan.  Some remained in chunks and part of it looks more like loose meat!  I already have some homemade cranberry relish up in the freezer so just need to add a veggie.  
  • I also tried a new to me recipe from Taste of Home for Butterscotch Pumpkin Mousse submitted by a cook from my area as it turns out.  It would make a nice parfait.
  • I've got a ham steak slice to grill later in the week so I made some hashbrown casserole supposedly like Cracker Barrel's.  I don't think so as there is wayyyyy too much sour cream in there.  I think theirs taste more like chicken broth than sour cream.   But there are three serving size dishes for me to use up now and the bag of hash browns has been used up.
This morning---
  • my version of Pimento Cheese spread but wayyyyyy less cream cheese and mayo, etc.  Hot sauce instead of jalapenos and a few other minor tweaks.
  • Pumpkin Muffins for the freezer with some of the leftover pumpkin from that dessert plus another can for the muffins with some added walnuts and dried cranberries though.  
  • Then finally breakfast/brunch  sausage and potato frittata--no recipe there either.  Like Maid Rites, I make this often enough that I don't need one.
Now I am running the dishwasher for the like the 4th time in 3 days.  I think you can see why, LOL.

Glynda asked me yesterday if I would consider helping her with a chair pad cover project.  She has a sewing machine but does not really like to sew and thought maybe I would be interested.  We consulted to a bit .  She has the foam padding to use and in fact, I have a couple of the ones she cut here on the sewing room table.  I offered the dog hammock fabric since I gave up on that thing and have the rest of the bolt the gal gave me for free.  The green will go with her kitchen and I need to do 6 of them.  I don't have to do piping or ties which is a bonus but they do have to be curved a bit at the corners.  I think I know how to proceed with this though I really didn't find a tutorial for what I was considering exactly.   I may make a mock up one first just to see if it is possible before getting too carried away cutting.

I have other stuff I could be doing but what's another week or so?  When it was so cold and blustery for about 4 days recently Oscar was spending more time inside and that translates to me not getting anything done in the back of the house--sewing room or office.  So we toss his toy whatever animal it is around  "Pinkie" and he cuddles up next to me on the couch.   Not a bad thing, right?

I had accidentally dropped the Quaker Oats container as I emptied that last little bit into the new container.  Oscar ran off with it--first to his bed and then to the couch.  Silly pupper!

Since it has turned colder at night, Skyler has been my bed mate.  I turn over and he often will go to the other side where I am facing.  Now if I can just get him to quit licking and he is in the laundry basket last week.  I wish I had had the camera when he was crawling around on the entertainment center the other night in that sort of open spot where DJ's model car replica of a Crown Vic sits.  You can see what I am talking about from a previous post  HERE  just scroll down to the last pictures.

If you want to see some quilt pictures I do have a few, just none that I have made.  Well scratch that---one project I did participate in!  Tell you more about that one in a minute.

First these are ones that Lois turned in and one that we were preparing to pin at Belles recently.

Double 4 patch

Scrappy Diagonal Strips

4 Patch ZigZag
that may not be the correct name--from past Quilter's World

From a Bargello class at JOY Quilters Guild.  Looks like a Billie Lauder version

My mom has been quite busy the past two years and more making full sized quilts for each of the grandkids.  We have 11 and there is a foster daughter too. The 4 oldest grands got their quilts as wedding presents.  This is the last one and it is going to one of my twin nieces, my youngest brother's youngest kids.  Well, they just turned 15 so "kids" doesn't really fit so much anymore but you know what I mean.  The pattern is "Country Cousins" from Judy Martin's Scrap Quilts book.  Mom and I had made this block for the Hands All Around Quilt Guild (central Illinois) monthly block raffle back in 92 or 3.  I won a stack of them and made more.  SO last year when Mom was looking at doing a red quilt for Elizabeth the pattern and blocks came up.  I said she could HAVE the blocks and jump start the project a bit.  Obviously I was going to do anything with them and I mailed them to her once I returned home from my visit.

She liked the more scrappy look as shown in the book and pulled the blocks apart so each of the 4 sections of the block would be different fabrics.  The block might not be what you think it is as when the blocks are joined you see stars or even a version of square in a square but there is a light and dark side.  I drew one up in EQ so you could see it up closer.  It is like a variation of a block called Four Knaves  Brackman #1197  Nancy Cabot 1938 except for the coloration of light and darks.  Martin likened it to a traditional Fox and Geese block (but no center sashing) but said the quilt setting and coloring more strongly resemble Birds in the Air (but less small half square triangles)

And just because she is so darned cute and just about 4 months old now, here is one of the recent pictures her Nana sent me.   Diane keeps me well supplied with Lily pictures and I love it!

Well enough of this pecking at the keys.  It is a decent day weather-wise.  Oscar and I need to go walk, a little "Mama" face time.  Not sure that I will get any cutting done on those chair pads today or not and there is a bit of paperwork I need to tend to anyway.