Tuesday, May 31, 2016

a day no mulch was spread

I planned to spread mulch yesterday but it turned hot and humid early in the day.  So I watered some of the new plants and trees in the morning, and filled the bird baths, then came inside to do some sewing.

All I need is one last brown border on this quilt and the top will be finished. Then, on to the basting and quilting!

I had a little trouble with the parallelogram border. It kept stretching as I was sewing it and that can cause puckers. I tried to press it into submission with the iron.  After it's quilted it should be fine.

Later, I went back outside, thinking I would spread the mulch...but the wheelbarrow was still full of the last load of stuff I pruned off the lilac bush.  
I had to dump it in the burn pile.
I don't like for the burn pile to get too big, or rabbits might build a nest in there and I would be afraid I would roast their babies when I finally started a fire.

So, I had to go ahead and burn it all...and since I had a fire, I gathered up other fallen sticks and branches, and also some small limbs I had trimmed out of trees earlier this year.

You can see below, back on the right...I haven't burned all of those pine branches yet either. I threw a couple of them on the fire, but mostly I've been dragging them back to the sink hole a few at a time.

It was nearly dark by the time the fire burned down enough that I could leave it.

That's the story of how I didn't get any mulch spread!

Monday, May 30, 2016

no new recipes

No new recipes this week, unless you count this custard mix.

It's from Kroger's closeout sale of foods from their "Taste of Spain" promotion. The Sasquatch brought over 3 different kinds of this dessert mix that he found for 25 cents each at the Kroger near his house.

It was good...almost like custard doughnut filling! Just add milk and sugar and cook a couple of minutes until thickened.

I also made a batch of Sugar Cookies to have along with the custard for Sunday dessert.

Our Sunday dinner was Famous Butter ChickenFried Rice, Carrot Salad. garlic rolls, and a combination of green peas and sugar snap peas.

The garlic rolls are made with Kroger frozen dinner rolls, thawed and baked in a square pan with minced fresh garlic and melted butter drizzled over before baking.

The butter chicken is a simple recipe but this time I forgot to add the butter to the dish until it was nearly finished baking. It still came out fine though.

Sounds like a lot of butter in one meal doesn't it? It just worked out that way.
I might as well tell you...there was butter on the peas too!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

what I've been reading

Recently when I was decluttering, I came across a book by Andre Dubus III called "House of Sand and Fog".
It was a book I had enjoyed reading so I had been saving it, thinking I would read it again someday...but I decided to donate it to the library instead, and try a different book by this author.

So I chose this one, "The Garden of Last Days".  It's fiction.

The story's main character is April, a young mother of a four year old daughter.
April has struggled to make it on her own, without help from the father of her daughter, or from her own family.
Unfortunately, the only way she can earn enough money is by working in Florida's strip clubs.

One afternoon April's elderly babysitter has a heart problem and ends up in the hospital.  With no one else to depend on, April feels she has no choice but to take her daughter to work with her (at the strip club) and have her stay in the office of the "house mom", who promises to keep an eye on her while April dances and works the customers.

Sometime during April's shift, her daughter goes missing.

Other main characters in the story are the elderly babysitter, a bouncer at the club, and two customers at the club...one, a young Saudi Arabian man, and the other, a young father who is in the midst of a bitter divorce.

The events are told alternately, from the viewpoint of these main characters, and a few minor ones too. 
The reader is aware of each character's thoughts and motives.

  Just like in real life, no one is all good or completely bad.

Mr. Dubus is a good writer and a good storyteller. This book seemed to drag on a bit in the beginning but after the daughter went missing the pace picks up and you want to keep turning pages to find out what happened.

I didn't like this book as well as "House of Sand and Fog", but it was pretty good. 
I'll probably put another book by this author, " Bluesman" on my reading list.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Crazy Quilters meeting

Last night was Crazy Quilters group sewing.  I wasn't able to make it to the meeting last month so I had to catch upon what everyone had been doing. Well, those that were there...only about eight of us.

Even though it is a quilting group, sometimes someone will bring something different to work on.

Lee brought in her gourd project...

The bowl shaped part is actually a dried gourd with the top removed. Lee had stamped a colorful design on the gourd (later it will get a glossy protective coat of varnish).
Then she began forming a collar around the top opening, using moistened basket making materials and fastening them together with a sturdy thread. 

Lee showed me some photos of other gourd projects - and I think this is something I'd like to try doing sometime!

Linda was re-working the binding of this enormous quilt that her mother made. Each block has a pretty embroidered design and is framed by strips of lace. 

The embroidery is the same color as the soft muslin fabric of the background...so it's hard to see in any of the photos I snapped.  Here is a close up of one of the blocks...

and another...

After Linda does a little more patching on it, it will go back to her mother, who uses it on her guest room bed.
Linda also brought a delicious chocolate cake to share. It was four layers high, with pudding filling and a fudge-y cream cheese frosting.  So good!

Jan was working on a baby quilt for a new little family member who is expected to arrive  later this year. 
She is using bright and modern fabrics...black and white and a spring green.  Unfortunately, when I took the picture, the blocks were all wrong side up.   She has them laid out in a specific arrangement and wanted to keep them in the right order. 

And here are the finished April "block of the month" blocks that four of us brought in. 
Well, I had to finish my block up as soon as I got there and got my sewing machine set up.
 Wouldn't it be pretty to have a whole quilt made from tulip blocks in different colors?

So here are my blocks finished so far for this quilt...January, February, March and April.

A couple of the ladies started on their May block right away when they got their instructions.
I want to keep making progress on my big quilt before I do anything else.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

neglected flower bed

My new bypass pruners arrived yesterday...

My old ones broke last summer and I haven't really missed them until I started working on this overgrown corner. 
That's a big lilac bush that was there when we moved here.  I've read,  that every few years, you are supposed to cut out about a third of the largest trunks. I do this with my other lilac bush, but I've been neglecting this one.
Some of the trunks were so big I had to cut them with the reciprocating saw, but I needed new pruners for the smaller stuff.

Planted too near the lilac bush are two azaleas (also here when we moved here). They developed a bad growth habit...trying to reach for the sun.  There was a lot of dead wood in them and they barely bloomed this year...so they got a major pruning too.
That's one of the pruned azaleas below, right at the base of the lilac. 
I dug up some dirt around it to see if it could be moved - but it has a huge thick root - so I just left it as is.

This big pile of clippings all came out of that area!  There were vines...a thorny one and Virginia Creeper...and Creeping Charlie everywhere.  
The pruners worked good! I like Fiskars brand.

Now for some mulch...

There is some extra room in there now but I think I'll just leave it so the azaleas can stretch out.
I left a few of their branches long enough to half bury in the dirt. If the branches develop roots, I can dig the new plant up and move it away from the lilac a bit.

I have some ceramic gnomes in the shed. This would be a good place to put them for the summer!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

cute walkway

I took a drive out to the Sasquatch's house. I told him about a clunking noise that I've heard in my Jeep a few times...in the rear... when I take off from a stoplight.

He checked underneath and said everything seems to be fine. I will just keep listening to see if I hear it any more.

Unrelated to the problem, but my tailgate is sagging from the weight of the spare tire and it's getting harder to close it. The Sasquatch is going to check online for  new hinges or some other solution for me.

He has been busy around the house. He pressure washed the siding and made this cute little walkway from the driveway to the back porch.

The round stepping stones were there when he moved in...but just placed randomly, so you had to hopscotch your way up to the door.  The bricks were on the property too. 
This a good way to make use of them.

In the corner by the porch he has planted some starts of sedum from my house. That should fill in that problem area nicely.

And he worked on his riding mower too. It was always breaking belts. He fixed it with a pulley and belt from a timing system he changed out of his car.

Here he is one handedly tumping over the riding mower to show me how he relocated the pulley!

A lovely day for a drive home along the back roads, with the windows open, swiveling my head left and right to see what everyone has blooming in their yards!

Monday, May 23, 2016

tried a meatball recipe

My sons like spaghetti sauce with meat, but not so much the spaghetti noodles. They would rather just eat it spooned on garlic bread.

Instead of just serving a big bowl of spaghetti sauce with meat, I decided to try out a meatball recipe.

I found this one on allrecipes.com.   It's named Meatball Nirvana.
Instead of me copying the whole recipe, you can click here to see it.

It had a lot of good reviews and I followed it pretty closely...except for tripling it and using ground pork for one pound of the meat.   Also I didn't have an Italian seasoning blend...so added extra oregano and some basil.

I wanted the onion chopped really fine...no big chunks in the meatballs.

About the only way to mix it is by hand...then roll into balls and bake. 
Baking is one reason I chose this recipe...other versions called for frying the meatballs, and some had you dropping the raw meatballs into the sauce and simmering for a couple of hours.  

After the meatballs were done, I put them in a casserole dish and poured a big jar of Prego spaghetti sauce over them, and put them back in a 300 degree oven for about 45 minutes.

They were pretty good. I think they could use more spicing up...and less bread crumbs.
It's tricky with meatballs - you can't tell if they need more salt, etc. until the whole batch is done.
Or, I wish I had thought of this...I could have cooked a small portion in the microwave to check the taste before I rolled them out.  Next time I'll do that.

We had this for Sunday dinner, along with garlic bread, creamed corn, green beans, and a tossed green salad with blueberries, mandarin oranges and walnuts.

We were celebrating the Sasquatch's birthday so we had birthday cake for dessert.  

With two choices of ice cream!  The Sasquatch's favorite is vanilla, but I thought Blackberry Swirl might be good with a vanilla cake.

Yep, it was good!

 Happy Birthday to Sasquatch!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

rainy day cook out

Last Saturday I wrote about how we were mixed up about the date that Lonnie's brother, Charlie was coming for a visit.

So we got that all straightened out and Charlie and his older daughter, Dawn, arrived in the middle of a downpour yesterday.
It really did rain all day.

We told them the weather had been much nicer last weekend!

I had a batch of Bruschetta  and toasted french bread ready to snack on while Lonnie got the grill started.

His grill is in the screen porch and it's dry in there...but he had to dash back and forth from the kitchen to the grill a couple of times in the pouring rain.  

Here is Lonnie and his brother Charlie... 

And Charlie's daughter, Dawn.

Along with the steaks, we had caesar salad, buttered mixed vegetables and red skinned potatoes.

For dessert, a Pumpkin Roll.  I forgot to put the chopped pecans on the filling layer before I rolled it up...so I just rolled them around on the outside.

Afterwards we sat in the front room and talked until up in the evening.

We really enjoyed the visit...it's been a while since we've had guests (maybe since Christmas?).
We all agreed we need to do this more often!

Friday, May 20, 2016

progress on the quilt

I was so happy to see the sun finally out again yesterday...and warmer temperatures.
We have been freezing in the house because we had the gas turned off for the summer, to save paying the base fee for those months (our furnace is the only thing that uses gas).

The cooler temperature hasn't stopped the grass from growing!   While I was waiting for the sun to dry things up outside so I could mow, I cut the first border for the quilt and sewed it on. 

Next will be the parallelogram border - which I worked on this week, on quilt group day. I still need to iron the strips and trim the dog ears off, then sew both strips together.

It probably seems like I'm showing the same photos of this quilt over and over, but I really am making progress!

Also, in the afternoon, I planted the new Damson Plum tree, and a small Sycamore tree that had grown from a seed that just happened to land in a flower pot at the Sasquatch's house.
Then, I dug up an area in the back field to plant the offshoots of the Nandina that Chopper brought over. I surrounded those with some daylillies that I had thinned out from another flower bed.
The dirt is not very good back there. We'll see how they do.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

what's been blooming

The ants have been busy doing whatever it is they do that helps the peonies bloom.

Nice big blooms this year!

I only have these white ones but I might eventually add some more. They seem to do well here and don't need a lot of attention.

Next up....Salvia...white and purple...

The Clematis, up close....

Now from farther away.  I had taken this photo as the sun was going down (it's a little washed out).

Then again a bit later as it was getting dark...The Clematis and the purple Iris looked like they were glowing...

I make an exception to my "nothing with thorns" policy for these miniature roses. They are a perfect yellow.
That's Artemisia growing low in the back.

The shade bed is filing in nicely...

The only blooms there are some tiny Coral Bells (Heuchera)

Uh-oh, these two below are nearly the same color. Someone will have to move. Probably the Heuchera, the Japanese fern will stay.  
Well they both can stay until I get everything else done!

This Sedum by the pool edge is really plumped up with all the rain we've had.  I am really happy with it. I like the contrast of the lime green Sedum with the blue of the pool.

I have some different Sedum around the back edge of the pool...but I think I will move that somewhere else and spread this kind all the way around.

That is, after I get everything else done!