Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Working on more snowman blocks

I need three more.
It's going pretty slowly because I've been doing more ripping out than I'd like. Ever try to rip out something sewed with a stitch about twice as small as a regular sewing stitch? It's especially fun when you sew the exact seam wrong--TWICE. Some days just aren't made for sewing!

Calidore, you asked if I had any tips on how to do paper peicing the easy way. Yes, make sure you sew with the tiniest stich you can. That way the paper will come off the back easily. Just don't make any mistakes you have to tear out!

See this little piece of white that's sticking out? The exact same thing happened on the first one and I just can't figure out why. Maybe I will get it right by the 4th block! I will have to make creative use of the rick rack for the arm to cover it.

Laurie, does your friend who wants to make this one know how to do paper-piecing? If she ends up making it, please post a picture! It would be neat to see what fabrics, etc. she chooses. By the way, I had to get the book from an interlibrary loan, too. It's a real pain copying the pattern and trying to figure out where to cut each piece. This author did not add the seam allowances - you may remember my rant about that earlier.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Is There Anything I don't Share on this Blog?

Yesterday DH walked into the bathroom and caught me bent over with the hair dryer in one hand, a toothbrush in the other, and the camera on a tripod, set to go off on it's own. The man is used to seeing me photograph weird things, but this one did stop him in his tracks.

Well, what can I say? I do this all the time.

I've already told you how I dry my hair upside down.

Well, as my head is way down near the floor, I get a good view of all the raised panels. Sometimes I see dust. At least once a week, I grab the toothbrush (in the drawer for just this purpose) and I give it a swipe or two, to remove all of the dust. There is nothing weird about it. It's quick and easy.

"How do think the crevices stay so clean?" I ask DH as he gives his head an incredulous shake and walks out. It's not like he would ever (in a million years) think to clean them. I guess men think it all happens by magic.

Sometimes I am the queen of multi tasking! :)

See, I wasn't lying when I said the toothbrush was one of my top two cleaning tools.

Today was nail day. I got a bright color and had a little fan embellishment on one finger. I was in the mood for something different, but this is brighter than I thought it would be. Oh, well, I only have to keep it for two weeks.

I am enjoying this cup of Amaretto Cappucino as I wait for the polish to harden up so I can sew. It takes about an hour and that's about how long I've been doing this post (my Mom called right in the middle of posting, so it's taking me a long time tonight).

O.K. now I have to label it. Hmmmm, I guess I will call this one a "cleaning tip".

Monday, January 29, 2007

Did You Notice my New Categories on the Right Side?

Neat! I love this new feature.

At first I thought it would take forever and a day to categorize my huge blog. After a few attempts, I figured a quick and easy method which I will selfishly share with all of you.

Why is it selfish?

Well, I want to be able to see all the posts you've made in the past pertaining to a category of my interest, just by making one quick click.

So here is how I did it...

Go to your dashboard and click Posts

In the search box type in whatever you want to categorize. All of your posts pertaining to that will pop up. Select "All" and a little checkmark will be placed in all of the posts that came up.

click the arrow in the little box that says "label actions"

click "new label" in the pop up box that pops up.

Another pop up box will appear asking you what to call your new label. Type in whatever you want it called (I used Fall Color). Then click OK

It will take a few seconds and then it will change everything at once to appear with a "Fall Color" category.

To get the categories to show on your blog, you need to go into your layout and add a page element. Click where it says "add labels to blog".

Did you understand this or did I just confuse everybody? Or maybe you all knew how to do it already since I think I was one of the last to change over.

I didn't get every single post categorized, but I got quite a few of them.

Kitchen Germs

excerpt taken from this article:
Between 50 percent and 80 percent of all food-borne illnesses are contracted in the home.

Restaurants and supermarkets are bound to health codes by law: Food storage, food handling, utensil cleaning and cooking temperatures are all regulated. In the home, all bets are off.

Cross-contamination and the mishandling of food lead to some 72 million instances of disease in the U.S. every year. There are more than 250 known food-borne diseases, including botulism, salmonella, shigella, listeria, campylobacter and hepatitis A.

The dirtiest item in anybody’s home is the kitchen sponge.

The dirtiest room is the kitchen, the dirtiest spot is the sink and the worst culprits are the sponge or dish towel. Bacteria colonies with a total population exceeding 50 million can live on a single dirty sponge. And that’s what you use to wipe down countertops, forks and drinking glasses. Blecch.

The best bet is to soak the sponge for about a minute in a solution of bleach and water (approximately 1 ounce of bleach to a quart of water will do) after each use. Another option is to boil the sponge for three minutes. Nuking a sponge is not as effective, since microwaves have dead spots, and dishwashers won’t necessarily reach 155 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature needed to kill germs.

Some might think I am a little paranoid about this stuff. I keep a bottle of bleach and water under my kitchen sink, and I use it all the time.

This is the bottle, but it's not really Clorox Clean-Up. Years ago I bought a bottle of the Clorox. I saved the empty bottle and fill it myself with a splash of bleach and plain old water. (You want to be sure to label the bottle so you don't spray bleach where you don't want it!)

Every time I cook chicken, I spray the counter, the cutting board, the knives, etc. with this. (I had just finished spraying this bowl that I tossed my chicken fingers in). I spray the bottom of the sink, too.

I let it sit a few minutes and then just wash with good hot soapy water.

It makes me feel good to read the article above, which pretty much says to do exactly what I've been doing for years.

There are two cleaning items that I could not live without:
#1 Bleach
#2 a Toothbrush

What about you? Which two cleaning items do you use most often?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

I Couldn't Resist This Photo Opportunity

I can't think of a more perfect setting to show you my latest border additon to this quilt.

This is the first time I've used words on a quilt. It was fun.

I so wish I had not put those first borders around the snowman. Too late now, so I will have to figure out some way to make them look like they belong. It would be nice if, just once, I would figure out the quilt design, BEFORE, I start sewing. But I never do and probably never will.

I will also change the butttons. Since I am not using the teal colored fabric, I will switch to black. I am waiting to do that until after the quilting is done.

1:15 p.m. Update: I've been working on this ALL DAY! I am not even dressed yet! On one hand it's wonderful to get so involved in a project; on the other, I really have a lot of other work I should be doing.

I've added more of the inner border fabrics and I think it's better now. My plan is to add 3 more of the snowman blocks across the bottom. I will work on them next week.

Debbie, it's the first borders (the stripes) that I wished I had not put on. I thank you so much for your comment. It means a lot when another quilter thinks it looks O.K. I've mentioned here before that I really don't know any quilters in my non-blogging life. Sometimes it would be nice to have a quilter friend to bounce ideas off of. So if any of you quilters wander on in here, please don't hesitate to offer advice. I am no expert and would appreciate honest advice. Like, "Yo! Zo! What the heck were 'ya thinkin' with those loud stripes?" LOL.

My life without quilter friends may be changing soon. My sister recently bought a "Little Gracie" quilting machine. . . Don't ask... I know it's weird to buy such an expensive machine before you even know how to quilt, but she has no desire to hand quilt, so she bought it and is now teaching herself to make patchwork quilts. She knows how to sew and is crafty, so she's learning fast. I may ask her to machine quilt this one. I am still working on handqulting the one I made last year. Machine quilting would sure speed things up!

On the other hand, I am in no hurry to finish. As you can see I already have one snowman quilt.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Calling All Blogger New Version Experts........

If I click to update my template, I will lose all of my blogroll links as well as my stat counter. Is that correct?
I just HATE when they change something once I have it all figured out!

BBQ Country Spare Ribs

This was one of those meals that I wished I had invited someone over for dinner. It turned out so delicious! DH thought they were the best ribs we've ever had.

These were pork ribs.

Do you boil ribs before you cook them? I know a lot of people swear by the boil-before-you-bake method.

I don't. I am of the belief that boiling just removes flavor. It also dirties another pan and who wants extra clean up? Not me.

I just take them from the package and put them in a roaster & put salt and pepper on them. This time I put quite a bit of Emeril seasoning on also.

I put them in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes. The high temp is my way of getting a little browning action without taking an extra step on the stovetop. Then I turned the oven to 350 for one hour. Then I turned it to 225 for another 1.5 hours. I cooked them about 3 - 3.5 hours total. During the last hour I dump on our favorite BBQ sauce (Sweet Baby Rays). Since 225 degrees is not enough to brown the sauce, I stick them under the broiler for the last 10 minutes or so.

I also roasted these potatoes as well as carrots (way in the back).

The potato are sort of like French Fries, without frying. I seasoned them with Kosher salt, pepper, and paprika. Splash a little EVOO and stick in a 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

I put carrot sticks on a separate baking sheet and put them in the same oven for the same time. Before cooking I grated a bit of fresh ginger over them and sprinkled with salt/pepper and olive oil.

When they came out of the oven, I grated just a skosh of orange peel over the top.

All in all, I was happy with everything.

Except this little accident...OUCH! (If blood makes you squeamish (like it does me) don't look)

Gotta watch those sharp knives!!

So Far so Good

Well, everything seems to be working with the new blogger. The only difference I discovered is when I sign in to Google, I have to put my email address. I don't remember saying that I wanted that as my log in. Maybe it's automatic?

Calidore, so sorry to hear you had problems making the change and had to start a new blog. I have not yet made any template changes. It said mine was outdated. I guess I will have to update it to get the categories, etc. I am afraid to attempt the update because that is probably where the problems begin. I personally like a plain template. All that clutter of stuff all over is distracting to me. I would like to just keep the one I have.

A few of you asked about the bean pots. Yes, I do use them when I make baked beans to take to a pot luck, which is not very often. There is just nothing that looks more homey than baked beans in a bean pot. If I ever have a sandwich & salad buffet at my home, I will use a bunch of them for all the salads. I think that would be neat. You know how I am all into the presentation of tables.

All week long I worked on making these little 3-inch blocks for the next border of my snowman quilt.

I thought I would pick up the mitten & button colors.
After spending 4 days making them, I decided they just weren't doing it for me. As much as I hated to I had to start all over. I will save these for some other quilt. It will be wonderful to have them all finished and ready to sew on when the time comes.

After tossing around a few alternate ideas, I chose to stick with the red and blue colors. I wanted a somewhat intricate pieced border, but something a little easier than the blocks above (which took about 20 minutes per 3-inch block).

I decided on this:

I think I like it.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Test Post in the New Blogger

Well, what do you know. I popped in here and it said it was ready to switch me over. It's been saying that every day, but today it actually worked!

A few days ago, Dianne asked to see pics of my family room. So I thought I would use that to test the new blogger.

You've seen them before, Dianne, but you've probably forgotten. So here it is again:

These are some of my bean pot collection:

No time to play with this right now. Be back later this afternoon. I haven't been in the blogging mood all week. Maybe checking out the new blogger will get me back in the mood.

Crossing my fingers that everything works!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Maybe it is Worth Looking at those Magazine Offers

Here's a heads up in case you get lucky enough to get this offer.

I am glad I opened it before tossing it in the garbage.

Just $23.95 for 21 issues.

That’s $1.14 an issue! When have you last seen a magazine for $1.14?

I couldn’t resist that one.

It’s an uppity magazine for high end gardeners, but I feel certain that I will get at least a $1.14 worth of inspiration from each issue. Just the pretty pictures are worth a buck.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Once Again Pea Has Inspired Me

This was dinner tonight. DH thought it was great. I told him to thank Pea in Sudbury. He just looked at me. He knew it was a blog "thing". LOL.

Pea made some chicken fingers last night. I had chicken breast thawing to make for dinner. After seeing her fingers, I decided to make something similar. I baked mine in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. They were great. We also had mixed veggies, tossed salad and corn muffin tops (bought at Walmart today--they were VERY good).

Thanks,Pea. If I hadn't read your blog, I would have made the same old boring chicken breasts, topped with cheese and salsa.

Update: Monday, 400 pm

I really should not post a food picture and not give the recipe. Don’t you hate it when you see something you want to make and there is no recipe?

So here is what I did:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

I took 6 breast halves and cut them in pieces. I crushed about 4 garlic cloves and threw them on top with a light sprinkling of soy sauce and a drizzle of olive oil. They marinated in the refrigerator for about three hours.

I took a large freezer zip lock bag and tossed in about 3/4 of a cup of flour, a couple good shakes of paprika, salt, pepper, and some green dried stuff that I don’t remember what it was (big grin). I remember the Food & Beverage Director from work gave it to me for something I planned on making. I must not have made the dish and now don’t know what it was. If I had to guess I would say thyme. It does not really matter, use any spices/herbs that appeal to you.

Drop 6 or 7 pieces of chicken in at a time and toss to lightly coat. Spray a baking pan with nonstick spray and arrange in pan so no pieces are touching (I had to use 2 pans for the 6 chicken breasts). Drop in a few chunks of butter. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes. It really depends on how thick your chicken pieces are. Just don’t over bake or they will be dry. If they don’t look browned enough, you can put them under the broiler for the last 5 min. of cooking. I did not do that.

Finished the Paper Pieced Snowman Block Yesterday

I embroidered the facial features, used a large rick rack for the arms and added a few button embellishments as well as a flower on his hat.

I think he's cute. Now I just have to figure out how to design a quilt around him as the center block.

This morning I puttered around with it a bit. I added some borders, so it now looks like this:
I have no clue as to what I will do next.

I just got back from Wally's World where I saw my sister, 2 sisters-in-law, MIL, FIL and an uncle. I tell you, Sunday morning at Walmart is a socialite's dream in my town. LOL.

I bought some more clear storage bins for fabric--smaller ones this time for all the one-inch strips I have for log cabin quilts. I really don't seem to be getting anywhere in my quest to organize my fabric. I just keep buying bins, which take up just as much space as the previous boxes. Everything still looks like a big mess.

I've concluded that without a big exclusive space for quilting, I am always going to be living in the midst of a big mess.

That's just the way it is...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Valentines From my First Love

from 4th, 5th and 6th grades.

I found these in my very old scrapbook that was falling apart (along with the piece of chewed gum he gave me). I tossed the fozzilized gum, but I can't possibly throw these away after all these years! LOL

Ah, yes, First Love was so dreamy….tall, dark, handsome. I always seemed to go for the tall guys.

I have not seen First Love since I was 18 years old. He was still dreamy when I last saw him.

My sister saw him once a few years ago.

“Really?” I tried to be nonchalant when she mentioned it to me.

“Yes. He gained a little weight.”

“Haven’t we all?” still trying to give the old devil-may-care attitude. “Is his hair still dark?”

“What hair?”

“You’re kidding!” Forget the nonchalant airs. I had to gasp for breath. “You mean he’s bald?”

“Not a hair on his big head.”

“How big was he?” Now I have no shame. I want to hear it all.

“About 275 lbs.”

I grasp my chest in a Fred-Sanford style, shocked that tall, dark and dreamy is now tall, fat and bald.

Then I smile. “Thank goodness he never liked me as much as I liked him.”

We both laugh.

Revenge is so sweet.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Making Comfort Food for a Cold January Weekend

I watched Alton Brown last night and he made meatloaf.

That's not so amazing, but he did something I have never seen a TV chef do--it's one of my biggest cooking pet peeves ever (and you all know I have a few FoodTV peeves!).

Alton wore latex gloves while mixing the meatloaf. Finally a chef followed a sanitary procedure while cooking.

Everyone has their favorite meat loaf recipe.
I thought I would post mine. I use only ground beef (I think Alton mixes pork and lamb in his). When I take the time to make this, I always make an extra for the freezer. It's just as easy to make two and I will have a dinner waiting to pop in the oven.

Meat Loaf ala Zo

4 lbs. ground Chuck
1 cup Italian Bread Crumbs
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
salt and pepper to taste
3 medium-sized onions
3 stalks celery

Throw the milk, eggs, bread crumbs, salt & pepper in a big bowl. Mix them all up with a fork and let them sit for at least 1/2 hour.

While the bread crumbs are being absorbed into the liquid mixture above, I like to caramelized the onions. It eliminates those little hard chunks of onion that do not cook thoroughly as well as adding a little more flavor. Throw in the celery when the onions are within 5 minutes of being done. Just cook the celery a few minutes to soften.
When the bread crumb mixture looks like this, you can add the meat.Put those latex (powder free) gloves on and gently mix. (the wonderful thing about wearing gloves is that you will not have any dead cow flesh to scrape from beneath your fingernails).

Pat into two free-form loaves and bake at 350 degrees until they are as done as you like them. I like them well done, so I cook them about an hour, depending on how thick they are.

Don't stuff the meat into a bread loaf pan (as I used to do). You want the sides exposed to get brown and a little crisp (it adds flavor). About 20 minutes before they are done, I usually mix up some ketchup and Karo light corn syrup and slather it all over the top. Personally, I like the meatloaf, gravy, mashed potatoes thing, but DH doesn't like gravy. It's HEINZ ketchup all the way for him. (no Hunts, gotta be the Heinz--He is a man with a very refined culinary palate).

Secondary subject: Yesterday's Mail

I think I have received every magazine offer imagineable this month.

Yesterday I received 4 of them, all of which went in the trash--3 were gardening related, one was for Oprah. I get about all of the magazines I can read already. Unless, of course, I get a per issue price so low I just cannot refuse. Fine Gardening is a good magazine, but at $5/issue, I can easily pass.

I don't know if you can clearly see the picture on the Keepsake Quilting catalog, but that is one fine log cabin quilt adorning it's cover. It's $20 just for the pattern. I don't know about you, but I think that is pretty high for one pattern. I can buy an entire quilting book FULL of patterns for that price.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

"Gone Missing"

Boy, I hate that phrase.

Why is every newscaster using it now?

What happened to "disappeared"?

One has gone hunting, gone fishing, gone shopping…but gone missing?
Grrrrrrrrrr…I want to scream every time I hear it.

Personally, I hope the phrase, “gone missing” goes missing soon.

Life is Short, Eat More Chocolate

That's the title of this scrapbook page immortalizing my love of Hershey kisses, followed by salty potato chips. Are any of you into scrapbooking?
I was about 6 years ago and pretty much organized all of my photos into about a dozen books. I believe I have two books of just me. I really don't have many pictures of my younger years.

Here's the 16-17 yr. old page. Anyone remember those bandanas? I used to love wearing one. I see my hair is curled in that picture. I must have slept on orange juice cans. It wasn't easy to get curls in long hair in those days!

I even documented my beginning days on the internet. I am sure I've told you all that I was a Barbie doll collector. This pages documents my internet Barbie doll swaps. It was such fun.

I see I never finished my last scrapbook. There are numerous pages like this with pics shoved in waiting to be arranged. This page is called "Denim Duds" and is all about the denim clothes I had.
I think I am going to work on finishing these pages this weekend.

Scrapbooking is great fun. If you have boxes of photos waiting to be arranged in some orderly fashion, you may enjoy taking up this hobby. There is a ton of info on the internet. The fun part is deciding on the layout. You can find hundreds of layouts on the net just by using google.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I Have a Man

living in my bag of brown sugar!

He's quite a cute little guy, don't you think?

I bought him years ago when my niece was selling that over-priced junk schools send kids out to sell. Amongst the candy and wrapping paper items, I found him (for somewhere in the ridiculous $8.00 range). He sat for years in the back of my cupboard in the little box he came in.

Last fall I came across him and decided to use him as he was intended--to keep my brown sugar free of hard lumps.

So far he seems to be doing the job quite well.

Last August I bought a bouquet of sunflowers at the farmer's market. The sunflowers are long gone, but the yellow statice they used as filler is still happily residing in colored bottles on my kitchen window ledge.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I Did Basically Nothing Last Night

except to spend five minutes finishing off this shelf display.

Dianne, I wasn't looking to add new furniture or anything to the room. I just needed to finish decorating all the china cabinets. Your ideas were good though--I've done both in the past. I have a little table that fits nicely under the window. The only problem is I have a spot in the family room where it also fits nicely. That's where it is now.
I heated up some of my frozen pea soup for dinner, read a few blogs, watched the news and went to bed very early. I think the return of winter weather has depressed my energy level.

Over the weekend I made this pork sitrfry. I like the picture with the wine glass and all the steam.

I just looked outside and it's miserable (snow) again today. I just dread having to go out and battle the slippery roads to get to work.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Living Room Rearrangement is Still Not Complete

Except for some hand quilting while watching FoodTV, I didn't sew a thing this weekend. I spent all my time trying to get the living room and the dining room done. (It seems like I used to be able to do this stuff a LOT faster!) The sofas were moved to even out the sunlight distribution. With that big window, I have to move them all the time so they don't fade.

I'd forgotten how much time and "stuff" it takes to fill and accessorize the tops of three china cabinets. There is one china cabinet here. It still needs a few items on the top.

This wooden box used to be on the top.
I hauled up a table from the basement and layered it with a green tablecloth tucked under on the bottom and a crocheted topper that my Mom made. It seemed like a good spot for the box, which holds Romantic Home magazines.

The other two china cabinets are at the opposite end. You've seen both of them in my posts this past week. The one on the far end still needs attention paid to the shelf in the middle.

I am at a loss for the moment on what I will find to finish off this room. I will have to take a trip down to the basement after work tonight and see what jumps out at me. I know I have a tiny little miniature quilt rack. I found a mini quilt in one of the china cabinets, so I will use that behind the sofa.

What I need to do is plop down on that sofa near the box of Romantic Home magazines and spend an hour leafing through for ideas.

Geez, Jan. 15 already. Half the month is gone!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

I Decided on Milk Glass to fill the Dining Room Cabinet

I have not had the milk glass out in ages.
I decided to do this classic color-schemed table of black and white. It was inspired by the red roses DH brough home yesterday. I cut them down low to make the centerpiece. I used the black metal charger plates I got for Christmas.

Just a few hours ago this table was loaded with fabric, a cutting mat, and other sewing junk.

What a difference a couple of hours can make!

The weekend is almost over and I have had no time to read anything, except for blogs. I guess I see where my priorities lie! LOL.

one week later: the roses are dying. I scattered the petals of one that fell apart in my hand

Remember those old quilt blocks I bought at the Farmers Market?

You probably don't because I bought them in August of 2005. Here is the post.
Today I finally used 4 of them. I sewed them together just to stick them inside this ceramic shell because I wanted some peachy color to hang down. They were perfect because they even had green in them. I am pretty happy with the result.

After I did that, I decided it was time to cover the wire holding the old TV trays to the wall. I decided to stick with the country fabric theme and took a longish piece of this fabric. I squished it together and tied a bow, then put the bow over the nail head and wrapped the ends around the wire.
I think it turned out great!

Now I'm off to find some other items for the dining room cabinet.
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