Saturday, April 29, 2006

Cooking Marathon Day

Whew! I've been cooking all day.
I made the cabbage rolls and a broccoli casserole - enough for 4 meals for us and I took some to my Mom & Dad for their dinner tomorrow.
I also made two meals of Petite Steaks in mushroom sauce. So tomorrow's dinner is cooked.
The refrigerator is stocked with meals for next week and the freezer has a few for the future. If your going to make a mess cooking, you may as well go all out.

Needless to say I did not get outside. It was only in the 50's anyway ---too cold.

During my cooking breaks, I did get all of the paper removed from the border.
This is what you have to remove.


You just find a loose spot and stick your finger in and pull it off. Most of it came off easily in nearly complete strips


Here it is ready for the garbage man


As I write this, I am watching "Little People Big World". Have any of you seen this? It comes on every week on The Learning Channel and is about dwarf parents in Oregon raising their family of three regular-size children and one little person. I find it interesting.

We never think about how difficult every day life can be for little people.

They are just a normal family trying to overcome life's obstacles. Their son who is a little person is actually a twin. His twin brother is not a dwarf. Zach, the dwarf twin, just came home from a little person conference and he is saying how difficult it is for him to reenter his normal world where he has to look up to everyone. I can only imagine how tough it is for him.

I am impressed with this family. They work hard to make a living and seem to be doing a fine job raising their children.

Friday, April 28, 2006

I Shopped Till I Dropped

I don't really like to shop, but every now & then I get the urge.
Tonight was the night.
Look at all this fabric!
I didn't have any orange or yellow fabric so I stocked up.

I just know somewhere down the line I will NEED these colors.

I also bought 3.25 yrds of 120-inch muslin for the backing for my quilt.

Earlier in the week I bought some 108", but decided to buy the wider to make sure I would not have any piecing on the back. It was 50% off so I couldn't go wrong. I will use the 108" for another quilt.
Thread was also 50% off so I bought a bunch.

Then I went to another store and bought some make up and these beaded flipflops. For some reason they appealed to me.


I hit the clothing store next and I made quite a haul there, too--2 pantsuits, 2 skirts, and a pair of dress pants.


Almost everything has to be hemmed, so that's on my weekend to-do list. (It's not fun buying clothes when you are barely over 5 feet tall.)

I must have been overcome with a shopping virus because my next stop was the grocery store. In my family I am not the grocery shopper. Somehow I managed to buy a whole cartful of food items. DH will be soooooooo surprised when he gets home tonight.

As I walked by the produce section, I thought cabbage rolls (or "pigs-in-the-blanket" as they are are known in this area) sounded good. I bought a head and plan to make that tomorrow for dinner. I even found the rice aisle and grabbed a bag of that as I remembered I was getting low.

I am hoping to get outside this weekend. I have not done any outside work since I dug out the sedum last week. It's been too cold and windy. I am quite the wimp when it comes to working outside in cold weather.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Spikey Border Blocks

Are Finally Done!



I am very happy with them. The border was my first paper-piecing project and it took a long time (about 33 hours of actual sewing time)-- much longer than it takes to just cut strips of fabric and make a plain border. But it was worth it.

Every block finished at exactly 10.5 inches. It was quite a breeze to sew on.

There was not one piece where I had to "make it fit" -- how wonderful is that?

I am happy to report that tearing off the back paper is not nearly as tedious as I expected it to be. I've only just begun that part, but it's going quite quickly. I've already discovered that the secret is to sew with a very small stitch (which is NOT so wonderful when you have to rip out sections--believe me, I did my fair share of ripping out).

I can't wait to start my next quilt. I've purchased another Carol Doak book full of 9-patch paper-pieced star blocks.

I am now an official paper-piecing addict!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Do You Eat

Flowers in Your Salad?

To me it is a total turnoff.

I just can't bring myself to munch on a flower.

I've tried to eat chive flowers in my salad, but had to push them aside and leave them on the rim of the salad plate.


For me,flowers belong in the center of the table or maybe as a garnish on the side, but not in my food.

Did They Survive?

See the baskets of sweet potato vine on each side of the arbor?







Last fall I decided to try to save them. I just cut off all the foliage and stuck them in the crawl space under the house for the winter.






I pulled them out yesterday and I think they have survived.

It's hard to see here, but there are little red live-looking pieces coming up. I gave them some water and will keep them in the garage (setting them out for a few hours each day to get some sun) until there is no danger of frost (end of May here).

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I Finally Have a Bloom to Show

Flowers have been blooming all over blogworld, but none in my blog.
Well, finally I have a few...to be sure, it's not much to brag about, but here they are all fancied up in heart frames...




And I saw two of these little tree frogs on the deck tonight. (I've always called them tree frogs, but not sure if that is correct.). I see them all the time. They are usually climbing the walls or behind the wall planters.

I've never seen one in a tree, though.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Beware




of Sedum Album ‘Coral Carpet’.










At least I think that's what this is.

It was given to me when I was a new gardener and very thankful for anything that spread quickly to fill up all my empty space.

And let me tell you, it spreads!


The problem is, it roots wherever it touches. The tiniest little piece will root and spread like wildfire. See how it's escaped the edges of this bed and has even planted itself firmly in the ditch? This spreading is just from last fall. I cleaned it all up last summer.

It does have its strong points. I love the way it feels (yes, just run your fingers lightly over it - a very tactile little plant), deer and rabbits don't eat it, I love how it changes from green to red when it's cold or in full sun, and it has lovely little star-shaped flowers when it blooms.

But I can no longer put up with its lack of behavior at the edge of this particular bed. I am digging it all out (I already took it out of the opposite end of this bed). The roots are shallow so it is not difficult to remove -- as long as you get every little piece out. Drop one piece and before long it's all over the place again.

This area is full of hosta which will be up soon. Nothing really grows very well here so I don't know what to plant at the edge. I am thinking of impatiens, but I tried them years ago and they didn't do well either. It's also a very big area and I would need quite a few flats just to go around the edges. The only thing that has ever grown well here is this sedum!

Gardening can be so frustrating sometimes.

Fine Gardening Magazine


has a container garden contest every year. In 2005 the theme was "Footloose and Flower-Free". The containers could not have any flowers.

They had some beauties!



I especially like this one.

Here are a couple more that I really like



I may try to recreate these (or something similar) on my deck this year. It depends on whether I can find the same plants in my local nurseries.

I could dig out a hosta and heuchra from my garden for the last one. I am not sure what the other plants are though. Anyone else know?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Hope you are all enjoying your Easter Sunday

as much as I am. We had a family brunch at 11 a.m. at my SIL's. Everything was yummy.

I made this egg, bacon & cheese crescent roll thing and the cake in the next post. We had about 5 different egg casseroles.

Early this afternoon I went out and worked in the gardens for about an hour, trying to remove grass from a little area by the arbor. After struggling to get it out, I finally decided to just dig out everything that was there and start over. I went to another garden and dug out half of a few Sedum Autumn Joys and moved them to this area (we all know I have plenty of SAJ to spare!). Now the back side will match the front side and it will be very easy to take care of.

When I finished outside I came in and sewed for a bit...still working on those spikey border blocks. I could get them done this week, if I work on them each night.

All in all, it's been a great day. Hope yours has been, too.

Creamsicle Cake



Does anyone remember orange creamsicles?








With these major ingredients you can make a cake that has a similar flavor. I made it for our Easter brunch today and thought it was quite good.



Orange Creamsicle Cake


1 Duncan Hines Orange Supreme Cake Mix

1 bottle orange Faygo (use some in the mix and 1 cup for the jello that is poured over the cake)

2 4-serving packages orange Jell-o

1 package instant orange creme pudding (4-serving size) (can use vanilla if you can't find orange)

1 cup milk

1 cup water

1 tsp. vanilla (I used orange extract instead)

8-oz. Cool Whip (thawed)

Prepare cake mix according to package directions except use the orange soda in place of water. Spray a 9x13-inch pan with cooking spray. Pour batter into pan. Bake 20 to 30 minutes at 350.

Let cool 5 minutes then poke holes in the cake with a metal skewer or a fork.




Mix 1 package of the orange jello with 1 cup of HOT water until dissolved. Add 1 cup orange soda, stir well and pour entire mixture over the cake.


Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Mix pudding mix and the other package of jello together (dry). Add 1 cup of milk and 1 tsp vanilla. Mix well. Blend in the thawed Cool Whip.If mixture seems a little thin, set in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes then frost the cake.
Store in the refrigerator.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Who Knew

That sage was a perennial herb?

I am glad I did not pull this sage out of my little herb pot last fall. I just assumed it was an annual.

I planted it because I had a delicious meal of chicken saltimboca at an Italian restaurant, and I wanted to re-create the dish at home.

I never got around to making the sage-stuffed chicken breast.

Now I have another chance to actually use the herb.

Anyone else do that? Plants herbs and never use them?

I am thinking that I should cut this sage back to dirt level? Anyone know for sure?

Friday, April 14, 2006

People Are Always Asking Me

"How do you keep the grass out of your garden?"

The majority of my large beds have no edging. I like the look of nothing between the flower beds and the grass.

This look demands a good deal of effort to keep the grass out.

My favorite tools are not very expensive and not very glamorous.



Here they are


Just my foot and a straight-edged spade.

Most people think I must be crazy to hand-edge all of these beds three or four times each year. But it really is not that hard to do. Tonight I did over half of this bed in about half an hour (I still need to do the back side).


Last fall my friend (who is positive that I am totally NUTS to do this) brought his fancy gas-powered edger over to show me how fast it was. Sure enough it was fast. I think he did ALL of my beds in half an hour. But I didn't think it was nearly as nice as when I hand edge. I like to get right down in the dirt. As I bend over to pick up each piece, I find all sorts of things...today I found 4 grubs that I removed and some little rocks that worked their way up. A few inches from the edge I removed 5 tiny dandelions -- oh, how I love to get those when they are small and I can easily get the whole root. I get quite a little thrill yanking those babies out!

I can see the allure of fancy edgers, but as long as I am healthy and able, I plan to continue hand-edging all of beds. Old habits die hard, I guess.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Inspiring Outdoor Spaces

These spaces caught my eye while surfing today:

I just LOVE this porch.


This circular firepit looks easy to do. The bench seating is an easy solution to seat a lot of people. Since I have a lot of rocks around my place, I would probably use my stone form rather than the bricks

I thought this red color really perked up what was probably a dull wall. I like the yellow chairs, too.


Ah, and this..........it's what dream yards are made of!

Monday, April 10, 2006

A Feast for the Eyes

I found this site today that is just loaded with pictures from the Philly Flower Show.

Flowers and outdoor tablescapes --in bright bold colors--
My kind of stuff!


Wouldn't you love to be invited to an outdoor dinner party like this?





Those oranges spilling out are perfect for this table


I loved the green apples in this vase.
This seems familiar - Dianne, did you post this same pic a while back?


And isn't this a breathtaking spring garden?

Was anyone surprised


When Andy was eliminated last night on "Who Will Be the Next FoodTV Star?"

I was!




I really thought Reggie deserved to get the boot last night. His presentations were very lifeless. He seemed to be discouraged and losing his spunk.


Carissa, on the other hand, is really beginning to Wow me.


The judges seemed impressed with her television show pitch on French cooking and the camera loves her. She has a great television host smile.

I am now thinking she might go all the way.

She's come a long way since she made that "pea on the floor" comment during the first (or was it second?) episode.

I couldn't believe when Alton Brown told her that it was not appropriate to wear a sexy low blouse during her demo and gave her a jacket to cover herself with. Obviously he does not watch his own network's other chefs. Have you ever seen a show where Giada was not bursting out all over?

I am always afraid she is going to burn the girls with spitting grease!

Sunday, April 9, 2006

Great Day to Work Outside

We had a beautiful day today to rake and do garden clean up. It was only about 50ยบ, but with the sun shining it was a perfect work day.

I accomplished a lot - got all of the Sedum Autumn Joy cut down and raked quite a few areas. I hauled about 6 wheelbarrow loads to the compost heap. I am finally in the gardening mood!

I cut back my butterfly bush today. A lot of new gardeners wonder how far to cut a butterfly bush back. I am no expert, but this seems to work for me.
Here is the bush before cutting back


And here is what is left.
I left it a little bit taller than I normally do.

How to Empty an Egg to Decorate

The easy way.

If you are not in the mood to poke tiny holes in each end and blow the egg out, then this might work better for you.

Take the point of tiny scissors (I like cuticle scissors) and poke little holes in an oval shape close to the size you want the finished opening to be - you don't have to be exact.


Very gently begin cutting cradling the entire egg in the palm of your hand for support.


Throw away the oval piece you removed


Just dump the egg into a bowl and you can use it for whatever you want to.


What you really want is the shell so you can have fun decorating it.
You don't need to have children around to decorate eggs. I have no kiddies around and I love to play with Easter eggs!

So what do you do with egg shells with big holes in them?

First use acrylic paint and paint them any color you like


Then decorate to your heart's content!

One of my favorite things to do with these eggs is to use the cut out for family pictures. Like this one of DH



You could also cut out the bottom instead of the center and make something like this with tulle coming out the bottom


The possibilities are endless.
Just have fun!
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