Wednesday, December 30, 2015

pin basting the quilt

I am finally getting back to working on my Labyrinth Walk quilt. I showed a photo of the finished top about three weeks ago.

 Besides Christmas preparations, there has been something else holding up the process.
I couldn't decide on batting.

I had ordered a wool batting, but I was sort of disappointed in it. It's very thin, as you can see below. You can see my fingers through it.

The other choice was a cotton batting. Much thicker and heavier.

I kept wondering which would be the warmest...thin wool or heavy cotton. I even tried to test them by laying down and covering up with each.  
I didn't think the Sasquatch would like the wool - he likes heavy covers! But it needs to be a nice warm quilt,too.

Finally I decided to be brave and layer  both battings in the quilt.

It was a bit tricky getting all the layers smoothed out and pinned together.  First I pinned the two battings and the backing together from the back, then flipped it and pinned on the pieced top, from the front.
There was a lot of smoothing out and moving pins before I was satisfied with the quilt sandwich.

funny - I noticed I am dressed to match the fireplace - camouflaged!

Then I added more and more safety pins, rolling up as I went, and removing the back pins.
I used my cutting mat underneath to keep from scratching the floor with the pins.

I ran out of safety pins and had to buy more to finish up with the next evening.

I put the thin wool batting underneath to trap and hold body warmth, and the cotton one on top of that.

Now I am ready to start the quilting. Hope I can squeeze it under the sewing machine!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

a little sewing project

We eat a lot of grapes, and usually get them at Sam's, where they are sold in these three pound containers.

I have found that they will last a good long time in the fridge as long as they have some air circulation. A few years ago, I cut some air holes in the lid of this container that we always use to hold grapes. 
It's been working well until a couple of months ago, when a whole corner of the lid cracked off.

That made it just too trashy looking. I thought I'd buy a new container to punch some holes in, but then I got the idea to just sew up a fabric "cap" for this container.

I cut a rectangle, a few inches larger than the lid, then sewed a deep hem in all the sides, leaving an opening to run elastic through.

I put my elastic on a safety pin and fished it through the hem, then knotted the ends.

It works!

I was thinking that I should have rounded off the corners, but actually those square corners create a nice little tab to grab to pull the cover back.

It seems to be working fine and it will be easy to keep clean with a quick wash.

Monday, December 28, 2015

it was a happy holiday

On Christmas Eve we had a beautiful full moon. It was out early in the evening...before it was completely dark outside.

We had a really nice Christmas Day.

We started with a late brunch....

Thick cut bacon, sausage links, cheesy scrambled eggs, drop biscuits, cream gravy, hash browns, ham and swiss crescent braid,  baked mixed fruit, and cinnamon rolls.

I tried out Pioneer Woman's drop biscuits - click to see her recipe
I like her recipe better than the recipe I've been using.

My cinnamon rolls (sticky buns) came out pretty good this time. Sometimes I have trouble with recipes using yeast, but this time I was very careful and followed all the steps exactly.

Afterwards, we had our gift exchange, then had eggnog and then later cookies!

Torn wrapping paper and empty boxes when it was all over...

When it started getting late, I helped Chopper and the Sasquatch load up some leftovers and some baggies of cookies to take home with them.
I'll see them again in 2016 (next week, ha ha!)

Then for two days, it has rained and rained!  We took a drive Sunday afternoon. Lots of standing water around our area.

The Salt River is up...

See that guy fishing below? There on the left.  Surely he can't be catching anything!

Notice how green the grass is. With the warm temperatures and rain, we'll be getting our lawnmowers out again!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas to All

I'd like to wish you a Merry Christmas!

I am"unplugging" for a few days of quiet rest and reflection and family time.
Looking forward to a relaxed  and unhurried Christmas day with my husband and sons.

I'll be back Monday with more stuff!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

celebrating Christmas at my parent's

For many years we have all gathered at my parent's house on Christmas day for our holiday get-together.
This year we changed things up a bit and celebrated this past weekend.

Here are my parents. They worked hard cooking and decorating to make the day special.

Once again, I neglected to take photos of all the good food they had ready for us. My dad made a batch of gumbo, and there was homemade potato salad, ham sandwiches, chips, homemade carrot cake and bourbon balls.
Not to mention, my favorite...a punch bowl of eggnog with scoops of vanilla ice cream floating in it!
Who could remember to take photos with all those goodies tempting you?

I did get photos of my family though.
Here is my sister and her husband. She is a lot younger than me but I always like to tease her by telling people that she's the oldest! No one ever believes it of course!

There is my Dad with my older son, who was telling funny stories about a recent airline travel experience. My younger son was there too, but you have probably heard how difficult it is to get a photo of a Sasquatch.

Here is my uncle George, my Dad's brother...

There is my younger brother. He is the active and energetic one of us all!  
 Ladies! He is a bachelor! 


Here is my older brother with his fiancee, and her granddaughter, who is spending her school break with them...helping her grandma do some cookie baking!
They have also just added a new puppy to their household too, so you know there will not be a dull moment for them this Christmas.

It was a nice family gathering. Glad everyone could be there.

Monday, December 21, 2015

a family Christmas party

We had two separate family Christmas gatherings over the weekend. 

The first time was at our house...Lonnie's sons and their families. That includes grand children and great grand children.

Soon after they all arrived, I put food out for everyone to serve themselves.

I took more people pictures than food pictures that day. But I did get a photo of the beef stew and chicken and dumplings...after everyone got theirs. 
I made these the day before (except dumplings which I cooked that morning.  The beef stew all disappeared later in the evening when a couple of the men were ready to eat again.

There was also sandwich fixing, chips, deviled eggs, a veggie/dip tray, and won ton appetizers. Oh, and cookies and nuts.
The kids had a picnic in front of the TV.

Christmas would really be fun if we could all wear a dress like this one!  Imagine all the twirling and skipping we would do!

Look at this handsome!

 After we ate, Grandpa Lonnie talked to the kids about the Nativity scene and the celebration of Jesus' birth.

Then it was time to pass out gifts...

This requires some help from Mom...

Lonnie with two of his sons...and a jar of homemade pickles!

The kids were good and played with their new toys awhile. 

 Then they got wound up and started stampeding through the house!  This always seems to happen when they realize that they can make a complete circle...through the family room, dining room, kitchen, front room, foyer...and round and round again.
It's harmless really, but it gets crazier and louder until the parents make them stop.

Soon they were worn out from playing and a couple of the younger ones were in need of a nap. The moms loaded up the shoes, cups and toys and headed for home.

Later,  here is Lonnie's grandson and sons, talking and telling funny stories. I wish the photo were better but I didn't want them to notice me taking pics and stop their conversation.

We always try to schedule this gathering on the weekend before Christmas, since so many have extended and blended families they will be seeing around Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

princess cookies

My grandmother on my dad's side always made these cookies at Christmas time. I'm not sure where she got the recipe, but it is an unusual one.

A buttery cookie with a meringue puff and a walnut half on top.  I have looked around online trying to find  recipes similar to this one, but I didn't come up with any.

When I was a youngster, my parents would sometimes bake huge batches of these cookies. I got to help a few times as we formed a cookie making assembly line.
Someone rolling and cutting cookies, someone dobbing on the meringue, another person adding the walnut, someone swapping out the baking pans in the oven.

If my memories are correct, hundreds of cookies were made and stored in gallon size glass jars. I will have to ask my parents and see if they remember it that way too.

Now, I usually make them every Christmas.  I believe the recipe was given to me with some of the ingredients listed in pounds, rather than cups.  I converted it either for convenience or to make a smaller batch.  This recipe makes 6 to 7 dozen cookies...depending on the size of your cookie cutter.

Princess Cookies

3 ½ cups powdered sugar
2 cups butter, softened
4 egg yolks, beaten
4 Tbsp. cream (half & half will work but cream is better)
1 tsp. vanilla
4 or more cups flour

4 egg whites
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 lb.shelled walnut halves

I like to make the meringue topping first, while my mixing bowl is clean.
Separate eggs...

Beat the whites until stiffened, then beat in 1 ½  cups powdered sugar, a little at a time. 

Set meringue in the fridge for now while you prepare the cookie dough.

Cream together butter and 3 ½ cups powdered sugar. Add egg yolks (you see I forgot to beat mine), cream and vanilla. Mix well.

Add flour, one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Dough should be stiff and a little sticky.  If you aren't using a stand mixer, you will have to work the flour in by hand.

If your dough is too sticky you can chill it for a few minutes.
 On a floured surface, roll out a portion of the dough to roughly one quarter inch thick. Cut out circles of dough and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Add the trimmings back to the main dough and refrigerate until you roll out the next bunch.

Put about one heaping teaspoon of meringue in the middle of each cookie. Top with a walnut half.

Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on them. The meringue should be just lightly brown, and the edges of the cookies beginning to brown.

I just let mine cool on the counter. Wire racks would probably work better...but I don't have any.

Here is something goofy I did...forgot to add the meringue on a whole pan of cookies. Just slid them right into the oven without it.  We will be forced to eat those ourselves...can't serve them to guests like that!

I need to pay more attention to what I'm doing. See anything wrong in the picture below?

one of these things is not like the others!

The evening before, when I was getting ready to go to the quilters Christmas party, I forgot to polish one of my thumbnails.
I didn't notice until I was washing my hands before starting on these cookies. I wonder if anyone else noticed? They didn't say anything.