Thursday, October 29, 2015

greedy chipmunk

Earlier this week I was visiting my parents and watching the birds at the bird feeder they have mounted on their porch railing.

They had quite a few birds coming around,,,chickadees, tufted titmouse and, nuthatches.  But then the big greedy bully shows up...a chipmunk!  He goes on both sides of the feeder to cram as many seeds as he can into his cheeks.   He scampers off to store them in his burrow to eat later this winter. But then he comes back and repeats the process!

Can you see him on the right side of the feeder? You might have to biggie size the picture.

My mother gets mad at him because he scares the birds away and makes such a pig of himself.
Here he is again - just to the right of their "hen and chicks" planter...

It's kind of surprising what good climbers they are. It's hard to outsmart them when they know there are seeds to be had.

Later that day at home, the sun tried to come out a bit and gave us a lovely but short lived rainbow.

I don't usually see them at this time of year - mostly in June or July.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Nielson surveys

If you have been seeing "Arbitron" showing up on your caller ID a lot lately, they probably want to talk you into filling out a radio listening survey.

I am not sure why I agreed to do one. Maybe it was the lure of a fresh crispy $1 bill for every member of the household.

I did one of these surveys years ago and it's quick and easy and it's only for one week, so I don't really mind doing this one.

I wonder if this is still the only way for them to know how many listeners each radio station has?

What about TV? Are there still "Nielson families" that get a device hooked up to their TVs to record their viewing?

One time, in the early 1990's, I agreed to use a bar code scanner thingy  from a data gathering company, to scan everything I purchased.  In return I received packets of coupons from them.
It seemed so high tech at the time!

Monday, October 26, 2015

coconut meringue pie

I have a bit of a sad story.
 I made two pies for Sunday dessert. A coconut meringue and a lemon meringue. It was a toss up on which pie I would take photos of for the blog, since I hadn't put either one here yet.

I decided to use the coconut pie this time and diligently snapped photos of every step. When the pies were cool enough, I cleared a shelf in the fridge for them. They wouldn't fit side by side, so I set the coconut pie on the shelf and used a plastic container as a pedestal to set the lemon pie on beside it.

Well, the next time I opened the refrigerator door...there was the lemon pie sitting smack in the middle of the coconut pie. It had just slid right off the makeshift pedestal!

Of course when I lifted off the top pie it pulled most of the meringue off the bottom pie. Both were still edible, not contaminated or anything, but the coconut pie could not be made pretty enough to get a final photo of a sliced piece of pie.

Oh well, these things happen.

Coconut Meringue Pie
1 cup shredded coconut
3 eggs
1 can coconut milk
1 1/2 cups half and half
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a non-stick skillet, over medium high heat, stir coconut around until lightly toasted (takes about 4 minutes).
Set aside to cool.

Separate the eggs. Put the whites in the fridge for now.

In a non-stick skillet, combine coconut milk and half & half.  Mix flour, sugar,and salt together and whisk in to milks. Lightly beat egg yolks and mix in with a whisk. 

Over medium high heat, bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook and stir until thickened.

Remove from heat, cool to lukewarm, then stir in toasted coconut and vanilla extract.

Pour into a baked and cooled pie crust. 

At this point you can top the pie with whipped cream or cool whip and refrigerate, and use those egg whites for an omelet tomorrow morning.  Or you can make meringue.
Meringue is not a specialty of mine, but I give it a try from time to time.

Beat egg whites with 1/4 tsp salt in a mixer bowl at a high speed until frothy.

Mix 1 tsp.cream of tartar with 1/3 cup sugar and slowly sprinkle into eggs with mixer running.

Continue beating until whites are stiff enough to hold a soft peak.

Spread over pie filling and bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Cool and refrigerate.

This is how mine looked before going in the fridge and becoming part of  The Great Pie Disaster.

So that's my sad pie story.

I tried a recipe for Swedish Meatballs for Sunday dinner, along with mashed skin-on red potatoes, buttered egg noodles, fried cabbage, peas, carrot salad, and canned cranberry sauce.

We liked the meatballs. They were very mild tasting, partly because I didn't use allspice like the recipe calls for.  I used nutmeg and ginger instead, but just a little.

Next time I will buy some allspice and stay true to the recipe.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

sewing fund raising items

Chopper helped me out with my computer problem and all seems to be okay for now.  I still think I might need to get a new computer, before this one does poop out and I lose stuff I have on here.   We'll see.

What I have been working on, are some rotary cutter cases that my quilt group, Mt Washington Quilting Bees, will be selling to raise funds for our group.

I made a few of them from some quilt blocks I had sewn for something else and didn't use.

I cut them to shape and layered and quilted them, then added a snap or velcro closure.  
I never really feel like I am very good at this sort of I am happy to have them finished.

 Bees group members are making these and a couple of other items and will be selling them at an event called  "One Stop Shop Hop".   It's where several quilt shops in the surrounding areas jointly rent the conference center and set up their wares to sell.
One big shopping day!

They are letting my quilt group set up a table to sell our things, in exchange for some of our members helping them get their "shops" set up at the venue.

Hope someone will buy some of these cases there!  $5 each!

Friday, October 23, 2015

computer problem

When I tried to load my latest photos on my computer, it told me I need to "free up some disk space", but when I try to do that it tells me "there is not enough disk space to perform the task"...and a "fatal error" has occurred. (and it makes a scary warning noise!)

So, no photos today...and probably not until I can get some advice and help from my sons.

It's a pretty old computer, but I haven't replaced it because I mostly use my android tablet. It may be time to upgrade.

Well, I have an idea...I will show some old vacation photos!

These are from 2007 Australia.  The Sydney Opera House.

A funny sign in a hotel room...

The speedometer in our rental car.  Yes, I was going 100, but it was kilometers per hour. I am not sure what this equals in miles per hour.

That's the Sydney Harbor Bridge behind us there.  They actually have tours where you climb over the top of the bridge (they tether you to something so you can't fall off).  Heavens no, we didn't do it!

 A view of the Sydney skyline...

Now, I am off to email my sons for some computer help!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

quilt groups get together

Warning!...Photos of yet another potluck buffet below...just in case you are tired of seeing them here!

A quilting group that meets on the other side of the city, Northeast Quilting Friends, invited my quilt group members to come and visit them and share a meal.

About twelve of us Mt Washington Quilting Bees attended, and there were three more ladies who are members of both groups.

They really gave us the "red carpet" treatment and completely wowed us with their hospitality.

All the tables were decorated with lovely fall decorations, including quilted table runners. See those things that look like cupcakes around  the table?

They are really fat quarters (fabric sections), rolled up and placed in cupcake papers...on a doily, with decorative straight pins as candles!
They were favors for us to take home!  What could be cuter?

Here is the real food. I couldn't even get it all in the picture!  They had everything in nice serving dishes.

The tables all had tablecloths and more fall decor...even the napkins and plates had a seasonal theme. They really made everything so nice and special.
Below is the dessert table...


The ladies had a lot of things scheduled to make the day fun.  They had a game where a picture of a quilt block was pinned to each persons back, and everyone had to try to guess the name of the block on their own back by asking others for clues.

They also had door prize drawings and even wrote a song for us.  Here it is below, along with a handmade name tag they had made for each of us.

They had lots of their own quilts hanging around the room and they had asked us to bring a favorite quilt of ours to show as well.

We all had a really nice time and our hosts invited us to come back and join them for a class they are having at their meeting next month.  A nice and gracious group of ladies.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

what I've been reading

My older son brought over a stack of National Geographic "Traveler" magazines. He had a subscription to them and has brought a few over to us before.

Like the regular National Geographic magazines, they have lots of nice photos from all over the world.  I wouldn't say they are very helpful for planning a trip, but they are nice for "armchair travel".

I have a personal " no magazine subscriptions" policy for it's fun to get a stack of someone else's to look at.

My younger brother is vacationing at the Grand Canyon...and he has emailed a few photos...

Amazing, isn't it?  

Between seeing his photos and Chopper's travel magazines, I am getting the urge to pack a suitcase!

Monday, October 19, 2015

block of the month - September

Whew, I am finishing up this month's block pair with only a couple of days to spare. We will get the next block patterns at our meeting this week.

Here are all the blocks so far...

Let's see, only three more months - three more block sets to go on this one.   

We are already talking about another block of the month quilt for 2016 ! We are looking at a book of possible ideas for it, and have it narrowed down to a favorite.

I hope I can finish up a couple of other projects before it's time to start that one!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

frost/freeze in the forecast.

It seems like winter is creeping in....we have temperatures below freezing in the forecast.

I used to have several houseplants that I would set outside for the summer and have to bring them in when the night time temperatures started dipping down.
They were mostly big plants in heavy pots (including a couple of big spiny cactus).
I even set up lights on a timer in the basement for them, since I didn't have places for all the pots near the windows.

I finally decided I had enough of lugging those plants in and out (and asking my sons to help) and late one summer, I sat them out by the road for free (one at a time).  They all went home with new owners.
Except for one particularly hateful cactus which I abandoned set free in a grocery cart in the Kroger parking lot...shh!

So now life is simpler, but I did bring in some of this purple heart vine so I'll have a start next summer. Usually it will come back on it's own if we have a mild winter, but not always.

I also potted up some of this oregano to bring inside. Lonnie's son brought it up from Florida earlier this year and I have no idea if it dies out over the winter or not.  I don't care for it for cooking but I like the shape and leaf texture of the plant. It's good for filling in an empty spot in the flower bed.

The only other thing to come inside is a small Carob Tree. It really isn't very attractive but I am attached to it because I grew it from a seed pod that I picked up off the ground in Israel many years ago.
I don't believe the tree has ever been happy here and no matter when I bring it inside, it drops it's leaves and makes a mess. 
That's it on the left.

A couple of days ago, I saw the weirdest caterpillar I have ever seen...

It doesn't even look real, does it?  Sort of creepy looking - sort of comical looking. 

I looked around online and I believe it is a Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly in a stage just before it pupates.

It seems like a strange time of year for a caterpillar, though. I will have to do more reading about this one.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Quilting Bees, all day sewing

My quilt group, Mt Washington Quilting Bees, had reserved a day ( 9am to 9pm) at the Extension Office for our group. They set up the big room for us to spend a day sewing, socializing, and sharing potluck lunch and dinner.

There were only 20 of us participating so we had lots of room to spread out.  The room is nice and bright and has electrical outlets in the we don't have to string up extension cords to get all our machines plugged in.

Plenty of empty floor space to lay out a work in progress. This one is Jackie's.

That's Ruth, our Extension Agent, standing.  She made sure everything was ready and the tables were all set up when we got there. Also coffee was brewing and a pitcher of ice water set out..  

We brought lots of stuff from home to set up for a comfortable day of sewing, and plenty of projects to work on.

There were a couple of counter height tables to use when cutting fabric...

...and irons and ironing boards set up ....

We all like to walk around the room to see what everyone is working on. 

Some were hand sewing, some were machine sewing...

It's fun to socialize and at the same time do something constructive.

We learn a lot from each other. Someone always shares a shortcut or easy way of doing something.

And also there is sharing lots of good food!

And desserts!

The day passed fast and as it got later we started losing momentum, one by one. I left for awhile, then went back (in time for supper) and stayed until around 8pm.  By that time, there were only about 3 die-hard quilters left.

Everyone said how much they enjoyed the day and are looking forward to doing it again next year!