Saturday, November 29, 2014

borders added to quilt top

I have finished up my quilt top by adding purple borders.

Usually when I make a baby quilt, I try to keep it around 42" wide. That way a single width of fabric is wide enough for the back.  This quilt is 48" wide so I had to piece together a backing.

Here is a close up of the backing fabric. The green one has numbers and the pink one has letters...just right for a lots of animals to look at!

Now all I need to do is finish whip stitching some batting pieces together and I will be ready to pin baste it for quilting.

I could zig zag these batting pieces on the machine but sometimes I get a bumpy ridge when I do it that way.  Sewing them this way is pretty quick, anyway.

Friday, November 28, 2014

turkey day

Thanksgiving morning we woke up to a little bit of snow on the ground. That is two snows already this year! Is that a sign of  a lot of snow this winter or are we just getting it out of the way early?

Our Thanksgiving dinner turned out well...nothing burned or forgotten anyway! 

I tried out something different, I bought this package of fresh herbs for poultry dishes at the grocery. It looked like something that might jazz up the dressing.  
Sage, rosemary, and thyme.
I am not used to using fresh herbs so it was a learning experience. I pulled the leaves off the stems and minced them up finely. 

It did make the dressing tasty but one of the spices was too predominant...I think the rosemary. I am glad I tried it but I'll go back to the dried poultry seasoning next's the taste we expect from dressing.

Lonnie and the boys helped out in the final stages of getting everything to the table...

Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, crescent rolls, sweet potato casserole, creamed spinach, asain slaw, cranberry sauce, and corn.
It's pretty much the same every year...except for changing a couple of vegetables. 

So later we had dessert, then sprawled around on the furniture in a partial food coma. That is a good Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

I got my pies baked Wednesday night.

Also made cranberry sauce and put the tablecloth on, and the plates. I am pretty sure I have all the supplies I need for the rest of the meal.

Why 3 pies for four people?  Everyone has their favorite and I like making desserts!
There is pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and a cheesecake (that is the cranberry sauce there too).
Cool whip (of course) is thawing in the fridge.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

a smart phone!

Last week my husband's cell phone disappeared, and since his smart phone service contract was up...he decided he would prefer to go back to a standard type cell phone.

Before he chose a new phone and contract, I did a little research online to see what kinds of deals and pay-as-you-go plans were out there..but he ended up staying with the same provider.

Since this was all fresh on my mind, I stopped and looked at the phone display at Kroger...and they had a deal I couldn't pass up.

This android smart phone for $9.99 !!!  (Was $49.99)

As you can see on the box, I can spend as little as $19.99 every 90 days for service that includes talk, texting (which seems to be what most people prefer now), and data (internet and email).

That little phone on the upper left is the one I have been using for years, and really, it's  fine because I don't talk on the phone much at all. It doesn't even have a camera. I have kept service on it by buying $10 worth of minutes every year.  That's how little I talk.

But while my husband had the smart phone, I really appreciated it for the other handy features it had so I am happy to find something similar that is budget friendly. Having the camera on it will be nice too, since I like to take pictures to share here on my blog.

I will go through a test period before I give up my trusty $10 a year phone, though!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

getting ready for Thanksgiving

Sunday night I put the turkey from the freezer into the fridge to be thawing. We didn't have to buy one this year...Lonnie's chiropractor was giving them away to his patients!

It weighs 13.55 pounds...smaller than I usually buy. I always send a good amount home with the boys and have enough for a day or two of leftovers for us. Then I put the rest in the freezer to use in soups.
I was considering buying a couple of extra legs to cook with it, but really, this will be enough (unless I just see some turkey legs that are a good bargain).
Also on Sunday, I cubed up some bread to be drying out for the dressing.

Monday night I took my Thanksgiving plates out of the closet.  My  thoughtful husband surprised me with this set one Thanksgiving a few years ago.

Eating off these nice dishes makes the day seem more special. They are so pretty I hate to box them up again afterwards.

So, Tuesday, I will go buy the rest of the stuff I need for the meal. Then Wednesday night I will bake the pies.

Since we are talking turkey, these pictures are from 2010. We had the largest flock of wild turkeys pass through our yard that I have ever seen here. 

You are safe with us, turkeys!  We only eat the ones from the freezer section!

Monday, November 24, 2014

cabbage soup

Usually I don't make soup much during warm weather...but lately,since it's gotten wintery...there has been a batch of some kind of soup every week. We still had a half pint of chili left in the fridge when I decided to make a pot of cabbage soup.

Cabbage Soup
1 medium head cabbage
3 Tblsp. butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 medium potatoes, diced
4 to 8 ounces chopped ham
3 - 4 cups chicken broth
salt, pepper, bay leaf - other favorite seasonings

Melt butter in your soup pan and saute onions and carrots until softened.

Add potatoes and ham, stirring and browning about 3 or 4 more minutes. ( I leave the potato skins's easier and they are good for you!)

Add chicken broth and water, if necessary, to cover. ( I used Knorr chicken bouillon this time but I prefer to use a soup base paste product - not as salty).  Bring to a boil and add cabbage and spices.

Reduce heat and simmer until all vegetables are tender (an hour or more). Adding more broth and/or water if needed.  Add seasonings to taste.

Here are a couple of seasoning products I use quite a bit...

Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning - it's not a cajun spice but a nice blend with a little heat. It has salt in it so be careful not to over do it with plain salt too.

A splash or two of Balsamic Vinegar improves almost any dish as well.

I like making soup...cook once and have meals for days!  It's easy for husbands to heat up a bowl full while you are away at quilt group!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

visiting chickens

One day recently, I glanced out the window and saw something out of the ordinary.  Chickens!

(glare on window,sorry)

They aren't mine!

I know the neighbors have chickens, and the day before, I had had noticed these chickens on our side of the woods...which surprised me. I didn't think chickens would go through the woods like that.

But, there they were. I wanted to get a closer look at them so I got some cracked corn in a container and rattled it and scattered some from the porch and they came running.

A rooster and 3 hens. All shiny and healthy looking. They were cautious but not really afraid.

For a minute or two I was wishing I had chickens again, but then they started scratching mulch out of the flowerbeds so I got over that thought real quick!

Toward evening I looked around in the woods to see if they were sleeping in there or if they found their way back home. I didn't see them - so I'll just assume they know their way around the area.

I kept chickens for a few years when we moved here. For a long time everything went well...then somehow every predator known to chickens was out to get them.  I would come home from work to find headless chicken corpses strewn around the property...or wake up in the morning to find terrified chickens huddled in the corner of the coop after some critter had found it's way in and had a chicken dinner.
Hawks would swoop down and snatch baby chicks before they could make it  safely under their mothers wings.  It was heartbreaking.

We did get plenty of eggs and some of the chickens became pets. It was a good experience but I'm through with it.
But if these chickens visit again, I will give them a snack.

Friday, November 21, 2014

what I've been reading

I like to dig around in the "DISCARD" shelves at the library.  For a small donation you can pick up a few books that were going to be thrown out and read them at your leisure...rather than worrying about returning them on such and such date.

That's where I picked up the book I've just finished reading..."The Million Dollar Mermaid" an autobiography by Esther Williams with Digby Diehl.

I didn't really know very much about Esther Williams before reading this book. I somehow had her mixed up with Ethel Merman and in my mind she was a swimmer who sang with a nasally voice.
Nope! That's all wrong.

Ms Williams discovered at an early age that when she was in the water she was in her element. She learned to swim when her mother helped convince the local parks department to add a swimming pool to a local park where they were building ball diamonds. Her mother's reasoning was, that since girls didn't play baseball (in the 1930's) that a pool would serve all the children in the neighborhood.

As a teenager Esther started swimming in competitions... which led to a job with "Aquacade" , a synchronized swimming production at the San Francisco World's Fair, where she swam with Johnny Weismueller (Tarzan).
All this and her first marriage before her 18th birthday!

Her beauty and swimming skills were noticed by Hollywood talent scouts and that's how she started her career as a swimming actress with MGM.

This book is interesting reading, as Ms Williams recounts her dealings with producers and studio executives and her stint at entertaining service men and visiting hospitals during WWII.

She describes each of her movies with anecdotes about her leading men, co-stars, and directors.  Meanwhile, she divorces her husband, remarries and has children. Years pass, she divorces again then hooks up with Fernando Lamas ( this is the guy that Billy Crystal was spoofing of when he did the "You look mahvelous, dahling!" routine).
Fernando doesn't want her children living with them so she divides her time between two homes. Later when they marry, Fernando tells her she must also give up acting to be his wife.
Esther agrees, realizing that the days of swimming movies had run their course anyway.

Overall, I liked this book..especially the early Hollywood part.  Perhaps, Ms Williams  is a bit boastful and egotistical when telling her story, but that's to be expected from a successful movie star.

Some parts of the book were sort of weird and really out of place. Like descriptions of a few of  her male friend'"attributes".  What the heck?  I wonder if someone else convinced her to add some steamy parts to the book.
Also tiresome, was the way she blamed so many of her problems on her second husband. Apparently he frittered away millions of dollars without her knowing about it...and continued even after she found out. Meanwhile she is having affairs with her leading men but doesn't express any shame or regret about her own misconduct.
Really, she blamed all misfortunes on others...but , aside from that, she was interesting and likable.
The book has a photo section too.

After reading the book I wanted to see an Esther Williams movie. There aren't any on Netflix, but I will probably find one online somewhere.
Esther Williams died in June 2013 at the age of  91.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

thirsty birds

A few days ago there was a flock of migrating birds that stopped to take turns getting water. They drank the bird baths almost dry so I filled it up and they nearly emptied it again. Some were drinking water standing on  the pool cover.

Mostly Robins and Cedar Waxwings. These birds are insect eaters so they weren't interested in the bird feeder.

 The Cedar Waxwings are the ones with the yellow tipped tail (you probably have to biggie size the picture to see it). 

Not sure if these cats are homeless or belong to neighbors, but all the birdie commotion attracted them to the yard.  Or course the birds left when  the cats arrived.

Now that the freezing temperatures have set in...I got out the heated bird waterer...which is really a heated dog bowl.

I put a big rock inside the bowl to help the birds judge the depth or to climb out if they fall in.
This bowl is holding up much better than the birdbath heaters I have tried in the past. This will be the third winter for it.
It did ice over one time when we had a long cold spell. Easy to clean, too.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

early season snow

This is what we woke up to Monday morning.

Very pretty and not much of a problem since it melted off the roads (here anyway).

More snowfall before noon but not much accumulation overall.

It's unusual for us to have snow in November. We get it mostly in January and February.

It was a good day to stay inside and sew and listen to the radio and eat leftover chili for supper!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

only two blocks left to sew

I am moving right along with these quilt blocks.  There are two blocks still to be sewn...then comes the part that is my least favorite...sewing the blocks into rows and then sewing the rows together.

This quilt will be for a four year old girl, recently adopted by my husband's nephew and wife. 
I wanted to make it a bit bigger than a crib quilt - but not too big.
It looks sort of big here but will be smaller once I get it sewed together. Then I want to put a border on it, too. I am thinking of using this purple dot fabric (at the bottom of the photo) for a border, but I am not sure yet...I may want to use a darker color...but not dark blue since it's for a girl.

I will definitely be quilting this one with colored thread. That will still need to be decided on as well.

Monday, November 17, 2014

"frost flowers" or "ice flowers"

A few days ago, when the temperature was just above freezing, I was stretching my legs a little by walking around our property.
I happened to notice what looked like damp toilet paper wrapped around some of the weeds underneath a big pine tree.  I thought "How did that get there?"

On closer was actually ice...which was weird, because there hadn't been any snow or rain.

As I looked around I found it in several more places, under other trees and at the edge of the woods.

It turns out that this is frost flowers or ice flowers...a sort of unusual phenomenon. It happens only in late fall or early winter when air temperatures are freezing but the ground is not frozen. And it only occurs on a few types of plants.

Here is what happens...(quoted from Missouri Dept of Conservation website)

How they form

While the plants’ stems are ruptured by the first hard freeze, the root system is still sending up plant sap from the warmer ground. The sap pushes through the broken stem and freezes on contact with the cold air. As more saps moves up, it forces the freezing stream of white ice crystals into ornate, folded ribbons that look like petals, puffs of cotton candy, or snarls of white thread.

Here is a website with more info and some better photos than mine...

I wish I had been out earlier in the day. The ones I saw may have been melted a little since the sun had been out and warmed things up a bit.

Have you ever seen these frost flowers?
Now that I know about them I will try to watch for them each year if the conditions are right.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Tomatillo Pork

Years ago, when my husband was a distributor of wholesale Mexican foods, a vendor sent him some sample products that included a can of tomatillos.

Neither of us had ever even heard of tomatillos and had no idea what to do with them. This recipe was printed on the side of the can so I gave it a try.

It was really tasty and a good way to use leftover pork roast. I saved the recipe and have been making it occasionally ever since.

Tomatillo Pork
1 onion, slivered
2 cloves garlic, diced
Olive oil
1 lb. cooked pork, shredded
salt and pepper
1 can tomatillos, drained
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup water

Saute onions in oil until softened. Add garlic, pork, salt and pepper.

Stir to brown pork a bit then add tomatillos, salsa and water.

Chop the tomatillos in half with your spoon. 

Cover pan and simmer gently for 45-60 minutes. Serve over rice (I used brown rice)or you could put it in tortillas.

These days, I notice fresh tomatillos at the grocery fairly often...and the canned ones too.
 I just buy the canned ones so they will be ready to use when I have pork left over.

Friday, November 14, 2014

catalog shopping

Do you get many catalogs in the mail?  Especially in the months before Christmas?

We sure do!

I used to really appreciate getting catalogs because I could get lots of gift ideas by looking through them.
Actually, I have ordered from nearly every one of these companies at some time in the past.

Once you order - they never forget you!

It seems like my gift giving list has shrunk over the years so the catalogs aren't as handy as they used to be. I still like looking through them in case there is something really amazing in there somewhere.

Now, I order nearly everything online from Amazon...including the things I help my husband pick out for the young kids on his side of the family. Since we don't know which toys are popular, it's easy to read reviews on Amazon to see what others recommend.

Then they are delivered to our house by the nice man in a big brown truck.  That's my favorite way to shop!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Blueberry Cream Cake

Working on using up stuff from my freezer, I pulled out 2 pints of frozen blueberries for last Sunday's dessert.

This it sort of a cross between cheesecake and coffee cake. It's good as a dessert but since it's so fruity, it would be fine as a brunch item too.

Blueberry Cream Cake
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
4 cups blueberries (Use fresh or thawed and drained frozen berries)

2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla

For crust, mix flour, 1/2 cup sugar and baking powder. Blend in butter and vanilla to make a dough.

Pat dough in the bottom and half inch up the sides of a greased  10" springform pan.

Spread blueberries evenly over crust.

For the topping, whisk together sour cream, 1/2 cup sugar,egg yolks and vanilla. Pour evenly over berries...tap the pan down on the counter a couple of times to settle the topping.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 55 - 60 minutes. Don't over bake...the topping will be a bit jiggley looking when you remove it from the oven, but it will firm up as it cools.
Allow cake to cool about 15 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of pan to loosen, then remove the ring.

It's good at room temperature or chilled...holds up well in the fridge for a few days.