Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What happened to autumn?

Wow -- summer's over, fall disappeared & here we are, smack in the middle of winter. How the heck did that happen?
It's been an eventful few months. And the next few look even more . . . . . shall we say 'exciting'? Sure, let's go with that.
I'll be moving from (mostly) sunny SoCal to (mostly) not so sunny SW Ohio in less than a month. Can you say 'yikes!'? I'm trading a mostly solitary existence to one filled with kids, driving, kids, winter, kids & more fun than I'll know how to handle. I'm going to make a big effort to blog about it all right here, so if you don't see anything by, say, February 14, give me a nudge. I should be ready by then, I think, if I've survived the cross-country mid-winter trek & the moving in of all I hold dear (with the exception of course of my DH & all these critters).

Today we're taking apart those old library chairs so we can reupholster them. They're not anyone's style anymore, but they are very comfy & won't take up a lot of space, either on the way or once we're there. Alan's actually started on the deconstruction & the exclamations I hear from the other room are pretty funny. Or scary. Both, I guess. This should be interesting.

We'll be heading to Lowe's to check out paint, carpet, lighting & tile for Josh, then on to JoAnn's for padding & fabric for the chairs. Busy day.

Check back for periodic updates, OK? I'll try harder. Really.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Summer is nearly over, but SoCal doesn't know it. Today's high temp was 111, too hot to collect the mail, too hot for the dogs to do more than their business before hightailing it back inside, too hot for the cats to complain about being confined indoors. I couldn't even muster the energy to step into my sewing room to assess the mess, much less address it. Maybe tomorrow?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

SoCal Quilters Run

Tomorrow's the last day of the '09 Quilters Run, but I'm finished. We managed to get to all of the stores in area 4 (12) and all of the stores in area 2 (11+1 highjacker), then I was coerced into stopping at one more store -- Stars & Scraps in Corona -- for a grand total of 25 stores in 10 days. I'm pretty sure I won't be attempting anything like this again. The 'highjacker' store was a new store that posted signs & a young woman at a streetcorner, all to lure Runners into their clutches. I was willing to visit the store, but didn't even take my wallet in, just knowing it wouldn't be worth the effort. Wrong! It was Cranberry Quiltworks, whose booth I'd visited last year at the Loma Linda quilt show. I bought 2 kits there, and they're both finished! What a treat to see the brand-new store, stocked with some great, fresh fabrics and patterns. Definitely worth the detour.

I'm not going to flame any of the lesser stores, but we really enjoyed Flying Geese in Tustin, and The Fabric Patch in Montclair. Favorites in the San Diego area were Cozy Quilt shop in El Cajon and The Crazy 9 Patch in Ramona. Of course, closer to home are the Quilters Coop in Temecula, and my personal local quilt shop, Temecula Quilt Company, both of which are terrific shops.

We had a great time over the 4 days it took to get to all these far-flung places, and I got to see a lot of places I'd never been before.....not to mention my first time driving the Ortega highway. Yikes. I didn't tell my passengers it was my first time until we'd descended in Orange County.

I'm having a hard time deciding which of my purchases is my favorite. I'm tending toward the new June Tailor ruler that has 1/2" slits, with lines to square-up blocks up to 6" -- plenty big enough for most of what I do. Or maybe it's the fabric I bought for a special relative's birthday present. Or, it might be the gift I bought for a friend's birthday. There were some great patterns in my shopping bag, too. Patterns for little quilts, runners, bags & even a couple of big quilts. So much fun, so much laughter, so many miles, so many quilts, so little time. Very satisfying.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Good Book Alert!

I just read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, and I want everyone I know to have read it, too. Such a wonderful story, about the island of Guernsey during the German occupation during WWII. The story is told entirely in letters to/from residents of the island and others in England and elsewhere. Oddly, the format didn't seem to get in the way of the story at all, but the different styles, syntaxes and voices of each writer was a special bonus. I don't want to tell too much of the story, but I will tell you that there was humor, pathos, tragedy, high comedy (and low!), mystery, history . . . . . I could go on, but you get the picture: it was a complete entertainment and I hated to reach the final page. I may just have to read it all over again before passing it on to a friend. Or, I may have to buy another copy for my friend and keep this one close at hand. Yes, it's that good.
Go! Get thee to the bookstore and get your own copy so you can understand what I'm talking about here. Really.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Well, children, the truth is this: I didn't take a single picture at the wedding. There was too much going on! I'm counting on my siblings contributing theirs to the pot so we can put an album together for Mom as well as Jill & Matt.
It was a wonderful day, with lots of laughter, some tears, so many wonderful hugs & the sight of so many dear ones that my heart overflowed. The grands were great, even Charlie, who refused to perform his ring bearer duties and, instead, sat between his dad's feet during the entire ceremony. The Right Reverend George proved to be worth his weight in gold, providing a ceremony custom-made for Jill & Matt and causing the first of both the tears and laughter.
The sampler menu at the reception was a big hit, with literally something for everyone, from appetizers (starting with little tomato soup shooters topped with tiny triangles of grilled cheese sandwiches) to the last hurrah (mini milk shakes and mini Chicago-style hot dogs at 11pm). The exclamations of delight continued throughout the evening.
The photo booth was hysterical fun, with everyone in infinite combinations heading for the booth to contribute their own goofy reel for the album and for themselves. I think the group that provided the most laughter in the booth was my five nieces -- it's still making me laugh.
I am so grateful to my family for showing up in force for this event. Matt, too, fully appreciated the effort made on his behalf, and the rest of us just enjoyed being together to celebrate this much-anticipated wedding.
It was all good. Well done, my children. Best. Wedding. Ever. Really.

Monday, March 9, 2009

This is the week, my friends, that my middle son will marry his sweetheart. My own heart is full, and I'm looking forward to both the wedding and spending the weekend with all of my siblings and most of their children. The only one missing will be my mother, who is disappearing minute by minute in the labyrinth that is her mind. We're gonna miss her. We'll take lots of pictures and share them all with Mom, over and over and over again. There are no reruns in Mom's world.
For now, I need to get packed and get the house organized for me to be gone. I've found a dress (thank you, Julie!), shoes (thank you, Alan, for carting me around), undergarments and hosiery. My sweet friend, Ellen, will be helping with the 'do for the wedding, but I need to find someone to do the grands' hair Saturday morning. Neither their father nor I is any good at doing girly hair. How did that happen? Peggy is providing 'important' earrings, as well as outerwear for the weekend. What on earth would I do without my support system? Fortunately, I'll never know. I do feel loved.
On to the packing. Pictures will be posted as timely as possible.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lemon Cream Scones

Well, it occurred to me that it might be a good idea to post that scone recipe. Especially since the entry in the guild's cookbook is wrong! This recipe is from Bon Apetit magazine, 1996, I think.

Lemon Cream Scones

2 C. flour
¼ C + 2T sugar
1T baking powder
½ t salt
¾ C chopped dried apricots (about 4 ½ oz), optional (or dried cherries or dried cranberries)
1T + 1t grated lemon zest
1 ¼ C whipping cream, not ultra-pasteurized if possible (Trader Joe's has great heavy cream)
3T unsalted butter, melted (but I do use regular butter)

Preheat oven to 425. Mix flour, ¼ C sugar, baking powder & salt in a large bowl. Stir in apricots (or other dried fruit) if using, and 1T lemon zest. Add cream and stir just until dough holds together. Form dough into a 10-inch diameter, ½” thick round; cut into 12 wedges. OR divide dough in two; form into 5” diameter, ½” thick rounds; cut into 8 wedges each. Place on a large baking sheet. Mix 2T sugar & 1t lemon peel with the back of a spoon. Brush scones with butter & sprinkle with lemon sugar. Bake 15 minutes or until golden.

Serve alone or with lemon curd & softly whipped cream, or with jam.

This was our view on Sunday morning, the last day of the Valley of the Mist first annual quilt retreat. We stayed at Vina de Lestonnac in Temecula's wine country. So peaceful and beautiful. The balloons are an every-weekend thing in the area, but this was the first time I'd seen them. Pretty spectacular.

The weekend was a lot of fun, with lots of food, prizes, laughter, and of course, sewing. Every finished top was greeted with oohs and ahs and cheers. We are such an enabling group! Of course, every single one of us was inspired by the others' workmanship, choice of colors and design. Check out the pictures in my Flickr badge, on the left.

Beginning Saturday morning with a nice massage was a real treat. Thank you, Linda! You can borrow my car any old time. I finally settled on a project, after rejecting three others. It took a long time to get a block made, after sewing lots of strips together and cutting them into smaller units, over and over and over again. Then, things began to come together, not just for me, but for everyone, it seemed.

The convent food was just OK. Maybe not even that, but there was plenty of it, and the atmosphere throughout the retreat center was a welcoming one. Our Friday afternoon tea, on the other hand, was a big hit, with lots of savory and sweet treats, along with a very nice assortment of teas. My scones were a hit, and I am now the official scone baker for future retreats. Works for me -- I'm happy to have an excuse to make them.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pearl's Narrow Escape

This is our Pearl, the trouble-maker mentioned in a previous post. We banished her from our bedroom, which turned out to be a mixed blessing: Little Grace was very happy to be alone again, but Pearl was lonely and began roaming through the rest of the house -- occasionally during the day, but mostly at night. Since I've been putting Buffy in the laundry room, safely behind a locked gate, I wasn't worried about Pearl at night. Until last week. The day after we returned from Chicago. I was lying in bed, playing with Little Grace and Mama, when I heard Buffy yipping (like she does when she's excited) along with some crashing and bashing. Little Grace headed for the closet; the dogs and I headed for the door, to see Buffy hell-bent for election, tearing into the bathroom. We ALL ran into the bathroom to see Buffy, Pearl in her mouth, shaking her head furiously back and forth, slamming Pearl into the toilet with every right-hand swing. Horrifying. After much yelling and smacking, I was able to get Pearl out of Buffy's mouth, and Buffy out of the house -- along with the other dogs. A quick once-over showed no outward damage to Pearl's body, other than a lot of misplaced hair. There was poop everywhere -- Buffy had literally shaken the shit out of her -- but after a quick cleanup, I still couldn't see any damage. After closing Pearl in the bathroom for the time being, I checked the gate on the laundry room: still securely locked, but standing wide open. That dog is Houdini reincarnated, I swear. Our neighbor, the vet tech, confirmed little outward damage to Pearl, but cautioned that the one puncture wound on her hip could become infected, and that internal damage was a possibility. She also told us about Buffy attacking our Gracie, the 85# German Shepherd dog, the day before we returned home. That was it for me. Buffy confirmed for me that she was the killer of our sweet Blossom, she attacked Gracie and tried to kill Pearl. She's out. She's been living outside for the past week while DH tried to find a home for her with no other animals, but so far, no luck. So it looks like she'll be going to either a shelter or Animal Control. I won't risk any more of the pets we love to her aberrant behavior. It's odd how good a hunter Mama is, but she's able to tell pet from prey. She didn't teach her daughter to do that.
Pearl seems to be fine now, although she's very wary of all of the dogs. Mama has been very solicitous of her -- maybe she's trying to make up for Buffy's awful behavior. Mama sticks her head in the sewing room each night at bedtime to say goodnight to Pearl. Very civilized of her.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Is everyone else as full of hope as I am this morning? I know all of us didn't vote for Obama, but even those who did not surely feel a sense of optimism on this day. I wasn't sure I wanted to vote for him initially. I so wanted a woman in the White House, but I just wasn't sure I wanted that woman to be Hillary. When Obama won the nomination, my reservations evaporated. I listened to what he said, watched his face and gestures, and felt that sense of hope and possibility grow. As the mud-slinging increased, and as nothing stuck to him, I began to think that his election was a real possibility. Even when people continued to try to convince me that Barack wasn't really a citizen born in this country; even when his middle name was used to 'prove' he was a Muslim; even when his youth and inexperience were brought into play, the tide grew and gained momentum. On election day, I felt a sense of certainty: this was going to happen.
So today, I am full of hope. Let's give our man a chance to find his footing. Let's all pray that he has chosen his advisors well. Let's hope the rest of the world is willing to give us another chance to show that we're worth their consideration. That's what I'll be doing in the coming days, months and years: praying that Mr. Obama is able to fulfill his promise -- his own personal promise of statesmanship and integrity, as well as the promise to bring this country out of the doldrums and into a new age of hope, honesty, consideration for the planet and for each other.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

We did it. We finished on Sunday. Got the pictures posted to Flickr the same day, but I forgot to let you know. So. Here they are -- just click on the flickr badge on the left and you can see the progress we made. I actually sewed a few seams on Sunday evening. Yippee!!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Later today I'll try to post some pictures of the progress in the sewing room. I'm going to re-paint it first. The color I originally chose is just hideous. It reminds me of a morgue.....and I've never been to morgue. Alan added daylight cfl bulbs to the light fixture and it only makes the color worse. Seriously. It's just awful. For Round #2, I've chosen a softer, slightly darker shade of green. I didn't want a white or whitish color for this room, as I want white at the window. I've been looking at the Country Curtains website and I can get some really pretty cafe curtains fairly inexpensively. So. My goal for today is to get that room painted, open the window & turn on the fan to get it dry, and get the furniture moved in. I know: it's a lot, but I'm focused. Onward.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Pete Bakes!

Have I mentioned Pete Bakes? It's this great site by a young guy in Washington, D.C., who bakes. Yep, that's it. He bakes, posts pictures & a recipe. Mostly, it's good, basic baking. I love his style, although the lack of caps in his posts is a bit eccentric for me, but I'm getting used to it. Today's post was the best recipes from his 2008 posts. I copied 3 for my very own: Onion, bacon & cheese biscuits, Challah, & a great-sounding Chocolate Chip coffee cake. I may try that for next week's guild meeting.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Happy New Year!

It's been a long time, I know. There's just been so much going on. And not so much, at the same time. We went to Las Vegas for both Thanksgiving & Christmas this year -- different on both counts. Didn't go back to IL because we'll be there the end of this month for the mother of all showers. A big tea party! What fun, huh? I'm really looking forward to it for so many reasons: seeing Patty, Julie, Julie's girls, my boys, etc; the shower itself, as we have a wonderful gift; we'll have Christmas with all the IL family. Yeah, I'm looking forward to it a lot. I miss my kids.

We started working on the 2nd guest room, turning it into my sewing room. I've given up trying to use the porch -- it's just too cold or too hot most of the year. No, I'm not Goldilocks! I just need me some hvac to make my workroom functional. I also needed better lighting & more outlets, so the move into the house really was inevitable. We'll put the queen from that room out on the porch & I'll use it for laying out quilts when we don't have guests. We'll still have the same number of beds, but the one on the porch just won't be air conditioned. On the other hand, nights are generally OK, even in the summer, & we can add warmth in the winter -- so no worries.

So. . . . we stripped the wallpaper, got all the goop off the walls & the holes patched. We even got it painted, although I'm not loving the color I chose. It looks kind of ill. I'm pretty sure it will be OK once I get the furniture moved in, but in the meantime? yuck.

The best news? I'm no longer an officer of my lovely group, so this year I can enjoy it more without stressing about each meeting. That's a very good thing. AND I don't have to attend board meetings anymore -- that's one evening meeting down! Of course, I have volunteered to serve on a couple of committees, so I'm not a complete slug. In fact, I'll be leaving one of them after next month -- too much stress for me on that one.

All the critters have survived to greet the new year, although we had to separate the cats last week. Little Grace was very stressed by Pearl & wasn't using the litter box, so we moved Pearl out of the bedroom & into the hall & bathroom. She now has 3 beds: in the hall, on top of the scratching post & inside a bathroom cabinet. She has said scratching post, as well as the track ball thingy & all her toys, with her food, water & box in the bathroom. She's adjusting pretty well so far, although I know she misses sleeping with me. Little Grace has returned to her own goofy, fully-present self & woke me up the other night sitting on my face! She's really happy again -- I guess she likes to be the only cat. Funny, because she didn't act like this when Blossom was alive.
So now you're fairly current with what's happening. Oh, my beginners' class is coming along very nicely. I have 4 or 5 regulars, & a new student will be joining us next week. I like doing this -- it gets my week off to a nice start & helps me to clarify my thinking about how & why I do things the way I do. It's all good, as I expect the rest of the year to be. Mostly.