Friday, February 29, 2008

Why does all the bad weather come at the Weekend?

We were planning to get away this weekend, so, of course, it's snowing with freezing rain predicted for Sunday when we would be coming home. Arrrrrrgggggggggg....We will have to wait until tomorrow morning to see what becomes of this storm. Maybe we can still get away for one night.

For tonight, I will leave the suitcases unpacked, and be content to sip a glass of wine, have a light dinner and stay home and sew.

For my next project I have decided to take one of my plates and design a table runner around the plate. I am very excited about this lightbulb flash of an idea. Why spend so much time making table runners that may not match any of the dishes I own? It makes much more sense to design the runner around the plates.

I have a set of hand-painted Knowles dishes that I really love. They are probably from the 1960's and oh, so retro looking. The pattern is called, "Modern Plaid".

Here is a dinner plate with three fabrics I have picked to work with.

It's just crying out for a geometric design in the table runner.

Oh, this will be such fun. Can't you just see a big brown bean pot full of twiggy branches & Shasta daisies as a centerpiece with these casual dishes? I have lots of bean pots, so you will probably see a full tablescape later in the summer season.

I haven't spent much time reading blogs this week. One night after work was spent on middle-age maintenance (hair cut and nails). Last night I went out with my 4 sisters-in-law for our annual "Girls Night Out" dinner that my twin sisters-in-law plan. This year they picked a new Chinese restaurant, which I really enjoyed. I had a good meal and it was great to spend a few hours with just us girls. I took my camera, but decided to leave it in the car because the place was packed. So there are no pictures of my "Sizzling Platter" of shrimp, scallops, chicken, and beef with an array of Chinese veggies. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm

I hope we all have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I'm Even Dressing in Easter Colors!

All this purple/pink decorating is influencing my wardrobe choices. Today I looked like my Easter table!

I started with a purple jacket that needed a bit of punch. Look how boring.
It is crying out for some bling.

I added a sparkly brooch, but it still needed something....

So I went to my sewing room floor and pulled up a small piece of the pink bandanna fabric. I folded it and pinned it into the pocket.
I liked that much better. I had on black pants which went well with the black in the bandana fabric. I am really getting mileage out of that old fabric!

I was leafing through my latest Midwest Living magazine today and I found the cutest idea for an Easter centerpiece. I ripped it out to save. I thought I'd share it with all of you. Maybe someone will want to use it.

Isn't this adorable?
As always, click to see it in it's full glory.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Easter Tablescape '08

Remember my hibiscus trees that died last summer? Right from the start I had a vision for the dead skeleton with the nicely braided trunk.

I knew the limbs would provide perfect appendages to hang Easter eggs.

All of the eggs on this centerpiece are real eggs that I have blown out and decorated. Many are decoupaged. This pic is dark on my computer and hard to see. You can click on it to see it bigger.

For this table, I used these pink vintage napkins. I have had them for years, but I don't think I have ever used them. I love the tulips, but they are a little smaller than I like.

I folded them and inserted into these bunny napkin holders.

Aren't these the cutest carrot candle holders? Look how that little mouse is crawling through the carrot.
I bought these at Hallmark and was quite surprised that they don't really stand securely....just a tad wobbly. I will stick a gob of flower arranging gunk under them so they don't topple over.

Each place setting has an egg holder with more of my real eggs.

This one is cut out and I have decoupaged a bird's nest inside (click and you can see it much better). You can't see it, but inside it says, "Every bird likes his own nest best."

I just love these two blue jean bunnies that are perched on the top of a chair. The seams are all raggedy edged...again you may have to click on them to see the edges.

I made them years ago. In fact, I didn't even remember that I had them. Did you notice that the first one has the same pink bandana fabric as I used in the star quilt?

This mother rabbit sits in a corner tending to her apron full of babies.

Here is the full tablescape
Does anyone recognize the table runner? I used all those rejected blocks from the border of my star quilt. I spent most of Saturday machine quilting it. I quilted it every 1/4" which was way more work than it was worth! I will chalk it up to practice as it's not anything I would be proud to have closely inspected.

So I now have all my Easter decorating done and I can enjoy it for the next month. Is anybody else decorating for Easter?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Nanette's Rooster

A few weeks ago I wandered into a new blog. The author posted a pic of a very cute table runner with a rooster block. It was much cuter than the rather elementary chicken block I made last spring. Most of you know that I have an affinity for roosters.

I left a comment for Nanette at Displaced Yoooper asking her where she found the pattern. Without hesitation she emailed me back and offered to send me the pattern! I was amazed at her generosity. She had no idea of who I was. It was my first visit to her blog.

True to her word, I received the pattern a few days later.

Today I finally had time to work on the block. I made my share of errors, and did a lot of ripping out and restarting. There were no labels on the pattern telling me what parts were body, tail, background, etc. It can be tough to figure that out with a black and white pattern that's printed in reverse of the finished block (as all foundation piecing is).

Anyway I finally finished one block. It finished a lot smaller than I thought it would be (I am sure the directions probably told me it would be only 6", but I didn't really read the directions).

I decided to turn it into the center of a star symbolizing the know, rooster waking up as the sun rises...
My original thought was to turn the rooster into a window valance for a set of new summer window coverings. That was when I thought the rooster was taller. But still I pinned it up to the window to see what it would look like.

It seems like a lot work to add fabric to the sides, the top and the bottom and make it all work....I do like that it matches the rooster above the window.

Maybe I will just add batting and backing and let it drape over the kitchen china cabinet.

It goes pretty well with the chickens and flowers that are already on top of the cabinet.

Another thought I have is to make it the front of a Farmer's Market tote bag. Wouldn't that be cute? It would also be very useful when we go the Farmer's market on Saturday during the summer months. Since I have never made a tote bag, I am not sure just how to do it. Perhaps I can take a pattern I already have and rework it somehow....

Anyway it was fun to make. Nanette, thank you again for sending it to me. I am always amazed at how friendly people are in blogville.

I Had No Idea!

I thought it odd that bags of green M & M's were in with the valentine candy. Thanks to Dianne (who is a wealth of all kinds of interesting information), I now understand.

I guess I didn't even read the disclaimer on the package that states: "Consumption of The Green Ones® may result in elevated romance levels. If you experience this effect, contact your significant other immediately."

So not only are those cookies healthy, but they have aphrodisiac qualities. I think I will go wake up DH with a big plate of cookies.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I Found the Most Delicious Frozen Veggies Today

I don't grocery shop very often, so they may have been around a long time, but today was the first time I saw this Caribbean Blend of frozen veggies.

At first I thought the yellow was squash, but it's not. Guess what it is?

Yellow Carrots! I liked that because it was different than the usual orange color. I just boiled these until crisp tender and tossed them in butter, salt and pepper...YUM! This blend has green beans, yellow carrots, broccoli, and red pepper. It would be great for a stir fry.

Since it's getting close to St. Patrick's Day, I thought I'd make some green cookies. I wasn't in the mood to work hard enough to make cut out shamrock sugar cookies, so I bought a bag of all green M & M's and tossed them into some oatmeal cookies.
They turned out very good. It's just the recipe on the Quaker Oats box with M & M's thrown in. With 3 cups of oatmeal, I think they can be considered "health food", don't you? LOL.

As I write this, I am watching Paula Dean's talk show. One of the guests is a large man who has sweat dripping down his face. I must have a very weak stomach, because seeing someone cook with sweat droplets almost makes me lose it. I keep imagining a big "plop" as the sweat drop drips into the saucepan. GROSS! I will leave you with that pleasant thought... :)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

It's the Occasional Comment Like This One that Makes it all Worthwhile

from Anonymous:

I have long wanted to leave a comment for you. I just want you to know what an absolute inspiration you are to me. As both a gardener and a novice quilter, I am encouraged and constantly inspired by your talent in both areas. Your quilting and your love of design and home-making are an on-going source of inspiration to me! You savor and utilize every moment of every day! (After teaching for over 30 years, I will retire in three months. I am so looking forward to doing exactly what I want to do each and every day.)

You are a wonderfully talented lady who makes living life a wonderful journey. Kudos to you, my friend!!

Someone who has enjoyed your blog for over a year....

Anonymous, thank you so much. I cannot express how good I felt after reading this. Congratulations on your upcoming retirement!

Last night I completed border #3 and I've finally made one that I like. I have used that green fabric in a couple of the centers so I think it ties it all together without taking away from the stars.

Now I will just roll it up and set it aside to await it's turn for quilting.

Maybe I will try to machine quilt this one. Then again, maybe not. I don't even know how to machine quilt and I like this one too much to mess it up. I am still awaiting the quilting package for my new machine. It's been a month now and still nothing. Evidently it’s on back order because they are out of walking feet.

Just as I was posting this I got a comment from Jodi at Organized Chaos saying that she considered me as one of the bloggers she "loves reading because of their positive-ness!:)" Oh, my goodness. I feel even more special. Thank you, Jodi!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Tonight I Reaped the Rewards from a Previous Day's Labor

Remember a few weeks ago when I made chicken pot pies and I froze some for future meals?

Well, tonight was the future.

It was great to have the meal all prepared. I just threw it from the freezer to the oven, made a tossed salad and dinner was ready. It was almost as good as the first time around.

Have you noticed that people are getting very grouchy?

I noticed it at work today. Just about everybody had a sour attitude. I think they are all sick of winter. Not me. I don't know why, but I am loving the cold weather this year. I like being toasty and warm inside while snow squalls (or icy rain) bang against the windows.

Unfortunately I have to go out into it every morning to get to work. That's the part I don't much care for!

Well, I am off now to make another attempt at a border for the pink star quilt. This will be my third attempt. I hope it's the charm.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Ice is Falling in Horizontal Sheets off the Side of My House

I went outside to take some pics and I couldn't even walk on the driveway as it's sheer ice. It was raining while I was outside so the sheet of ice on the road is now covered in water, which will freeze tonight.

Since I live on a seldom used dead end road, it won't get plowed or salted until all the main roads are taken care of.

On top of this we are supposed to get 4 inches of snow tonight. I am not looking forward to getting to work tomorrow.

At the moment I am not going to worry about it. It's a wonderful day to enjoy being home.

I spent all day yesterday making the border blocks for the star quilt. I think I made 36 of them.

Now that they are done, I don't like them. At all.

I tried different arrangements.

Nothing works.
The blocks are just too overpowering for the stars.

This is quite disappointing as I do not have enough of the same fabrics to attempt another border. So either I use these or just leave it as is.

It really hurts to have done all that work for nothing.

I decided to test the size without the last border. I did add one border to turn the triangles into squares.

Just about perfect!

So perfect in fact, that I decided to spend about two hours under it to finish reading my murder mystery.

And talk about a quilt nut....just look what I am reading. The murder victim was found under a stack of quilts!

Maybe all my work will not be in vain. Perhaps I can use them for a table topper. I played around to see what could be made

They will make a 40.5 square which might be nice to cover a side table. I am confident that I will find a use for all of them. Now I feel better about spending all that time making them.

Early this morning I roasted a chicken.

With all the ice DH thought power lines may be going down and I wanted to be prepared with a meal. So far we have not lost electrical power, but my dinner is all cooked and just waiting for me to reheat.

All in all I am having a wonderful Sunday. I hope you are, too.

Friday, February 15, 2008

It's Friiiiiiiiii Dayyyyyyyyyy


I am free for two whole days to do whatever I feel like doing!

I had appointments for three out of 5 days after work this week. I HATE having to go anyplace after work. I want to just get home, change into jammies,chill out for a couple of hours, have dinner, sew, read blogs and go to bed. That's my idea of a wonderful evening.

After work today, I had to go to H & R Block to sign some tax returns, then I went to Joanne's to get fabric to finish my border for the pink/black star quilt. I can't believe I need to buy more fabric, but I ran out of black and I simply must have black for the last border. I am excited to see how the border I selected turns out. I am still working on the first border to finish off the squares. I will show you the completed top when I finish it.

I also made a stop at Kmart to buy some of my favorite lip liner.

It's Wet & Wild lip liner and it sells for just .99 cents! There are still bargains left out there if you just search a little.

My neighbors got back from a trip to Florida today. We picked up their mail and kept an eye on the house while they were gone. They brought us back a bag of Georgia pecans and some chocolate covered pecans. The pecans are double or triple coated in chocolate and were dessert for tonight's frozen fish fillet dinner which was lovingly prepared by my darling husband. He even made his own tartar sauce. I don't usually eat tartar sauce, but his was quite tasty.

Here it is already after 7:00 p.m. The night is flying by! I am off to sew a bit while watching old Andy Griffith shows.

I hope you all are enjoying your Friday evening.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It Started as a Small Project

I thought I'd just make 4 blocks to use as a throw on the back of the sofa.

Somehow it turned into twelve blocks and it's 3 ft by 4 ft long! So now I will just have to add a border or two and it will be big enough to curl up with a good book on a lazy spring afternoon.

I like the pink bandana fabric in this block that I made before going to work this morning:

The center is almost identical to the whole block.

I wish had more of that bandana fabric for a border, but alas, I don't. I guess I should make the border so it finishes the pink square. Hmmm....will have to think about the options.

Can you tell that some of the green fabric in the center is wrong side up? I didn't think it was very noticeable, so I left it.

I can't believe tomorrow is Wednesday already! Just three more work days until the weekend is here again.

I really need to spend some cleaning time in my sewing room. I have pink, black, tangerine and lime fabric pieces all over the place. Hopefully, I can get the border done by the weekend so I can put the remaining fabric away.

I've been thinking of my blog friend, Betty. She is in Mexico right now probably having a Margarita as the sun sets............ahhhhhhhhhh, doesn't that sound wonderful? I hope you are having a great time, Betty!

For all the rest of us who are shoveling snow in below zero wind chills, the best we can hope for is slightly warmer temps for hump day.

(just in case someone has never heard that expression - "hump" day is Wednesday -- the middle of the week -- getting over the hump....)

Good night everyone.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

What a Difference a Day Makes

Yesterday I was wined and dined, with servers anticipating my every need.

Today I was the cook, the server, and the dishwasher.

Just look at this mess from my marathon cooking spree.

I guess it's not so bad when you consider I cooked enough for about six meals.

I made a pretty tasty dinner of spinach, beef and cheese-stuffed pasta shells.

The freezer has three extra meals of it and I made a big pot of chili for tomorrow and at least two other days.

I also made red velvet cupcakes for dessert. I am still in the Valentine mood and a red dessert just seemed to fit.

O.K. I confess. I used a cake mix. But don't they look pretty?
They tasted O.K., but not really like a good from-scratch red velvet cake.

When I wasn't cooking today, I was sewing.

Look at this pattern and imagine putting 4 of these 6-inch blocks together. What do you think it would look like?

Sometimes it's hard to visualize what the completed 12-inch block will look like when you see the pattern with no color.

I know you are just dying to see another quilt block, so I will show you.

1.5 hours and 74 pieces later, it became this.

It could have been put together in different ways, but I chose this layout and I love it. I do believe that my favorite part of quiltmaking is seeing the first block completed. This one will become a pillow.

I also finished machine quilting this one. It, too, will be a pillow.

I am really making progress and have almost completed 4 deck chair back quilts and 5 pillows. I can't wait for summer to get here so I can use them all!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

What do Horses have to do with Valentine's Day?

Well, this year, for me, they were a very big part of it.

Early this afternoon we boarded a horse drawn sleigh that carried us through a pine forest, over a wooden bridge, and into an Elk preserve

until we were arrived at a rustic cabin nestled deep within the winter wonderland.

There is no road that takes you here. You can only get here by horse and sled (or walking).

Luckily it was over 30 degrees today. The guide was telling us that last week they did a ride at -4 degrees. BRRRRRRR...Even today (with gloves on) my hands were frozen by the time we got back from the one-hour elk tour ride. They do provide a wool blanket, but just one blanket for two people. You were supposed to "snuggle" to keep warm. I was way too busy taking pictures to snuggle.

Upon arrival my valentine headed right for the big fireplace to warm up before settling in for wine tasting and a 5-course gourmet meal which was cooked on two antique wood cook stoves.

Throughout the two-hour meal we sampled wines from a local winery. The samples were served in little shot glasses I enjoyed most of the five wines I sampled, especially the pear wine served with the appetizer of three shrimp and a pear/apple crepe.
The main course was Crown Pork Roast
and it was very good.

Here's the full menu:

Shrimp Cocktail
Pear/Apple Crepe
Hearty Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
Sweet Nappa Salad & Butter Croissant
Crown Roast of Pork
Pan Roasted Red Skin Potatoes
White Chocolate Mousse Filled Pizzelles With Fresh Raspberries

In between courses, they talked about the Elk, showed craft items that were made from the antlers and even brought an antler around for us to hold up to see how heavy they were.

This one weighed about 22 lbs. Imagine carrying two of those atop your head!

Even the ladies bathroom was an experience.

Just look at how cute the decor is.

The whole event took about four hours.

This place was recently featured in an article in USA Today as one of the top 10 winter experiences (or something like that).

I loved it! It was the perfect valentine present. Before you go on about how romantic DH is to suggest this wonderful place, I must tell you that I was the one who suggested it. But he agreed almost immediately, so in my book, he scored points.

Here's me with Buster and Harley.

It was truly a Valentine's Day to remember (even if it is 5 days early).
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