Saturday, May 31, 2014

son's new gadget

My older son got this new little gadget at a big discount through a special offer by the organization he works for. They encourage health and fitness for their employees and besides this deal, they will pay a nice amount each year for anything having to do with fitness. It could be anything from equipment to athletic shoes to yoga classes.

But back to this device. It is called a Fitbit.

It works like a pedometer but better. You clip it to your belt and it measures how many steps you take in a day and how many flights of stairs you climb.  My son found out he walks  1 1/2 to 2 miles at work each day.

(that picture was a Sunday so a lower count). Also you program in your weight and other info and it will calculate how many calories you burn each day.

It will sync with a program on your smart phone or other device to give you even more information. If you choose to wear it at night on a will track your sleep!

The dark blue lines show times of sleep...the turquoise shows restlessness and the red lines are time awake.
Pretty interesting!

I am thinking about getting one, too. Maybe it would encourage me to be a little more active!

Friday, May 30, 2014

cutting more half square triangles

I have been working on cutting and sewing  480 of these  ... 2  1/2" square units. 

This is a method that seems the quickest and easiest to me. I am using a special ruler..the Easy Angle Ruler.

So to get started, you layer your light and dark fabrics with right sides together...and cut a strip half inch larger than your finished square should be. So in my case, that's a 3" strip.

I flipped the layers here to show up better in photos.

Now, you find the line on the Easy Angle ruler that is the desired size of your finished square. Line it up along the edge of the fabric and cut.  Mine is the 2 1/2" line. Now flip the ruler and make the next cut. Continue down the length of your strip.

Sew along the long side of the triangle then press open for your finished square (like in the top photo).

I took my little machine out on the back porch and got a bunch of these sewn. Usually I would sit at a taller table but since these were small and I didn't have a lot of other stuff to spread out - this worked just fine.

Actually maybe even better...a good visual angle for what was going through the machine!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

country fried steak

This was Sunday Dinner, Country Fried Steak.   It's not something we have real often even though it is quick and easy to fix.

I watch for a price break on the chopped steaks at the grocery. They are not ground like hamburger - just thin and cross-cut so they cook quickly. Look for the ones without a lot of white fat/gristle/connective tissue in them.

I make enough for the boys to take home leftovers. Just salt and pepper each side and give them a good coating of flour.

Fry them in a good amount of bacon grease. Don't overcook or they can get tough!

I set the fried steaks aside in a baking dish while I make the gravy.  Gravy is not my best thing but this time it came out pretty good. I thickened skillet drippings with flour, added salt and pepper, milk, half&half, and chicken soup base for flavor.

All right!

Then I pour it over the fried steaks waiting in the baking dish and keep it warm in the oven until everything is ready to go on the table. 

Really, after I took this picture I smothered the biscuit with gravy too and I might have put more on the steak!

Easy to reheat leftovers. Just warm up the meat in the gravy in a nonstick skillet.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

a new device for cleaning the pool

We had been using an electric robot device for cleaning the pool bottom. It worked by crawling along the pool floor and catching debris in a bag. It did a good job when we had the larger rectangular pool - but not so good in this new kidney shaped pool.

It would go back and forth along the same path repeatedly. Something about the curves of the pool I guess. Then it developed a problem with the timer and would shut off after a few minutes.

We decided to go back to the type of vacuum we had before.

This one uses no electricity. It some how works with the circulation of water. You just plug it into the skimmer hole.

It uses weights to sort of bump it along the floor of the pool...vacuuming debris right in to the filtration system.  You can still use the pool while it is working...unlike the electric one.

With the electric one we had to always remember not to leave the control box out if it looked like rain. No worries with this one.

After a couple of hours the job is done...just remove the whole contraption, so the skimmer can resume  clearing the top of the water.

This smaller pool is much easier to take care of!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

more about the bus trip

The quilt show that my group went to last week was put on by the National Quilting Association. 
It was a good size show with lots of vendor booths for a little shopping...

There were booths selling, sewing and embroidery machines, long arm quilting machines, fabric, thread, notions, sewing furniture, rolling sewing machine bags, patterns , vintage fabrics,and more.

There were quilts every where. In the vendor booths...for inspiration...

And row after row of quilts that were entered for judging...

So amazing to see all the different designs...such creativity, precise piecing, intricate quilting patterns. 

I was inspired to buy this Australian fabric, Aboriginie designed.  Ironic, because when I visited Australia years ago, I stopped in a quilt shop to get some souvenir fabric. It was all from the United States!

The best thing about a bus trip is that we were dropped off and picked up at the door of the event center. Pretty nice for tired feet! 
Same for when we stopped to eat at Cracker Barrel on the way home.

Monday, May 26, 2014

games for a bus trip

Last week  my quilt group, the Mt Washington Quilting Bees, took a bus trip to Columbus Ohio, to a quilt show there. My friend, Pat, who was in charge of planning the trip, asked if I would help with figuring out some games for the ladies to play on the bus to help pass the time.

I searched around on the internet and came up with an idea that I tweaked a little and turned it into "Quilter's Derby" (like Kentucky Derby). I drew these pictures of quilters...all carrying cash and credit cards, and taped each to a paint stir stick.

On the bus, I divided everyone up into teams and gave each team a numbered quilter picture. The object was for each one to be handed clockwise around the bus and make it back to their team first.
Two dice were thrown for each turn. The first die showed which team would be moving their quilter picture and the second die showed how many seats it would be moving. It turned out to be fun and the winners were excited to win a fat quarter of fabric for every member of the team.

We also played a few games of Bingo using punch out cards...and one that involved racing to unroll and re-roll toilet paper. Wish I had gotten a chance to take a photo of that one.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

filled oatmeal peanut butter cookies

These cookies are favorites of  the boys and Lonnie. They are heavy and rich, though - you can't eat many.

Filled Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies

1 1/2 cups flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla extract
2 cups quick cooking oats

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar. Add eggs an vanilla. Mix well.
Gradually add flour mixture.
Stir in oats.

Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto a lightly greased baking sheet.

Bake In a preheated 350° oven for 8 to 10 minutes. My oven runs a little hot so I usually set it for 345° and the cookies are ready to take out at 8 minutes. I like them just slightly under done so they will be soft.

Cool the cookies completely.

While the cookies are cooling you can make the filling.

6 Tbsp. butter
1 cup peanut butter
2 cups confectioners sugar
5 Tbsp. Cream of half&half

Cream together butter and peanut butter. Add confectioners sugar. Add spoon at a time until mixture has a good spreading consistency.

Spread a generous amount on a cookie and top with another cookie. Don't worry if you run out of filling because the cookies are good alone, too.

Makes a huge batch...maybe 6-7 dozen cookies...but once you put them together with the filling it is only half as many!
This recipe came from the Allrecipes website.

Friday, May 23, 2014

a stupid chunk of concrete

Late last summer we had a crumbling concrete porch broken up and replaced with decking. When the demolition guys were here, I asked them to set aside a big concrete step from the 
porch. I thought I could use it in another area where we have a step down.


The thing was way heavier than I imagined. No way to maneuver to the place where I wanted it.  Really no way to move it anywhere!

I decided I would chip away a little at a time...until it was small enough to move.

Here it is with tools so you can better see how big it is. At one point we attempted to drag it up on that pallet...thinking maybe it could be pulled along the ground easier...sort of like a sled.

Junior gave it a couple of big wallops with a maul and it hardly fazed it.

We thought it might break in two.    Biggie-size this picture to see the moment of impact!


At least he was able to turn the whole thing over for it would be easier to break up on the rocky underside.
It turns out there was a metal pipe sticking straight out the bottom...there's no way it could have been dragged.

A couple of little frogs had been hanging out underneath while all this was going on.

Surely they must have been stunned or struck deaf.

They hopped away like everything was fine.

So here is how it looks now. Making a little progress.

You can eat an elephant. One bite at a time.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

what I am reading

Not exactly reading reading, but paging through this quilt pattern book I ordered...Nickel Quilts & Borders by Pat Speth.

 I have another of her "Nickel Quilts" books and it has a lot of good ideas in it so I thought (rightly) that I would like this one.

The author coined the term "Nicklel quilt",  because all of her patterns start with 5" squares...either used whole or cut down into smaller sections.

The unique thing about this particular book is that the quilts are pictured complete with one border, but then several alternative borders are shown,so that you can mix and match - make your own design. You could use these border ideas for other quilts as well.

There are several quilts I would like to make in this book. The instructions are clear and detailed so this would be a good book for a beginning quilter too.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

what's wrong with this picture?

A few days ago when it was rainy and turning cooler, I noticed something out of the ordinary as I was heading for the back door...

See anything? Let me zoom in a little for you...

I guess I was a little nervous - my pictures are all blurry!

Now, from inside the house I am very brave!

This is where he was headed. Trying to find a warm dry spot before a cold night.

He was still there the next morning ...

 But gone later in the day. Hope he finds another place to hang out!

Monday, May 19, 2014

birthday cake

We were celebrating Junior's birthday so I baked a BIG cake.

Cake mixes are smaller than they used to be but the instructions are still to bake in the same size pans...producing a thin, sad looking little cake.
I decided to bake two cakes using these nice 9" square cake pans.

I baked them at 320 degrees hoping the corners wouldn't burn before the middle was done. It worked out pretty well...the chocolate one's corners were a little crispy.

How do you like this platter I painted at one of those "paint your own pottery" places? 

I sliced each cake into 2 layers.

And stacked them up with a thin layer frosting in between - Buttercream Frosting with a tablespoon of cocoa added to cut the sweetness a bit.

About this time I realized I hadn't bought any whipping cream that I usually use for the outside frosting.
I drove down to Kroger and was hurrying in so fast that my shoe flew off in the parking lot! 
I don't think anyone saw, though!

I found this Creamsicle ice cream to go with the orange cake. It was good!

Junior had been talking about getting a toaster oven and had this one on his wish list. It's a pretty nice one. It has a rounded back so it can hold a large pizza and hopefully some of his cast iron bakeware.

I also gave him a few packages of muffin mixes so he can try it out right away.
Happy Birthday, little dude!