We leave on the cruise on Saturday and Mark and Julia arrive on Jan. 4th. So what was I to do on Christmas Day...sew my block of the month quilt top together. I started this quilt last January. Every month we would meet at the local quilt shop and get the pattern and fabric for the next block. Twelve months later I had fourteen blocks; okay I made two extra. The middle part I made a few weeks ago. Now I have to do the batting and backing and then the quilting. It's pretty colorful so I'm not sure where it will end up in the house. As always a work in progress; sort of like me.
Mark and Julia made it safely from Kuala Lumpur to Chicago where her family lives. They had 39 hours of travel with a stop in Hong Kong and Los Angeles; only one delay and that was for just two hours in Los Angeles. Going from two degrees above the Equator to Chicago weather was a bit of a shock. Julia's mom met them inside the airport terminal with lots of warm clothes. Mark says they are staying inside as much as possible.
Yesterday Kerry drove their car down to the Concord BART station where we met his dad. I followed in Kerry's car with Harleen. His dad took the car to the city so they will have it to drive to our house on Jan. 4th. Being in the Bay Area reminded both of us why we left; the congestion and stress is way too much.
We are not doing much celebrating; our celebration will begin when the ship leaves the San Diego harbor on Saturday. Today Harleen's puppy sitter is coming to pick her up. They will keep her until Jan. 4th. There is lots of snow at there house in western Nevada so she will get to experience something new. As a last reminder of her chewing skills, she at the top off one of her toys. Hopefully they were small pieces that will pass through her. Gosh, you'd think we didn't feed her.
I signed up for a pedometer program with my health care provider. It came two days ago. My asthma is better so I think I can start taking longer walks and maybe even parking a long ways from where I'm going to shop. That's a great way to add steps.
Dinner tonight is in the crock pot. I cleaned out the vegetable bins. The soup has leeks, cauliflower and mushrooms. I added some home made chicken broth and will add pieces of leftover chicken later in the cooking process. It's rainy and cold so it will make a good dinner.
Glad so many bloggers are providing photos and details of the immense amount of snow falling in their parts of the world. The photos are beautiful; I'm glad I don't have to shovel any of that white stuff.
I hope all of you will have a wonderful holiday regardless of how you celebrate it. Don't know if I will get a chance to post during the cruise. So Happy New Year too.
One of you wonderful bloggers mentioned that you could freeze sauces in Ziploc bags. Somewhere in my brain that bit of information stuck. So currently the marinara sauce is in bags, laying flat on a cookie sheet in the freezer. I remembered the cookie sheet part too. Once they are frozen you just remove the cookie sheet and the bags lay flat. Thank you whichever blogger posted this.
The dog is taking an early morning nap and the cats are both asleep somewhere in the house. It's one of those cold, wet, gray days that I love. It's perfect for staying indoors and making delicious dishes. We have friends coming for dinner this evening so I have another reason to cook all day.
Actually the cooking started yesterday when I made another batch of marinara sauce. A local farm continues to grow tomatoes under a hoop house. Don't know how long this will last but while it does I'll make marinara sauce. These little beauties got cut up and put in my crock pot along with onions, garlic, oregano, basil, olive oil and red wine. After 12 hours in the crock pot the sauce was the perfect consistency to puree in the Cuisinart and then put in jars for freezing. Only thing is I don't have any jars available at the moment. Luckily it's cold outside. I poured the whole mixture into a pot, put a lid on it and placed it outside the front door. I'll get jars later today.
I needed the crock pot because I'm making refried beans from scratch. Never done that before. Our dinner guests are really good friends; the kind that allow you to try new things on them. The other new thing is goat. Yes, goat. I bought it from farmer Dan who also supplied our 10-pound chicken. I found a Cuban recipe for goat that includes lots of spices, tomatillos and tomatoes. I diced the goat meat (it was a de-boned leg of goat) and let it marinate over night. We are also having Mexican rice. I'm hoping Kerry will make some Margaritas; they would go well with the dinner or maybe Mexican beer.
A week from today we will be at sea on the Holland-America ship Oosterdam for a seven day cruise of the Mexican Riviera (Mazatlan, Puerta Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas). It's 83 today in Mazatlan; it will be great to have a few days of warmth. There will be nine of us on the cruise. Instead of going to Washington to be with Kerry's family (it's 8 F. there) we decided to all cruise together for a late Christmas celebration and a wonderful at-sea New Year's celebration.
Well, I still have to get some meat off the chicken legs so I'd better get going. I'll let you know how the goat turns out.
First of all I have to make a Locavore's confession; tomatillos are not in season where I live. I missed them by a few weeks. But...I want to make this recipe for a Sunday dinner with our friends Susan and Einar. I know that in the Locavore world that is not acceptable but...well I'm doing it anyway. There is no Locavore confessional. If there was, I would not go there. Recovering Catholics don't do confession.
So the goat recipe calls for all kinds of spices, tomatillos and tomatoes. Ultimately the meat and sauce get folded into a warm flour tortilla which is smothered with warm salsa. I've never had goat but our guests and Kerry are ready to try it.
This is the very large fusible applique on which I've been working for the past two weeks. It will be the center of a quilt. The blocks that go around it are nearly done. I'll probably put the whole thing together after the new year. Please click on the photo to see the flowers more clearly. The folded fabric flowers are supposed to be tulips or budding tulips. I took a class from Rami Kim a few years ago and learned all kinds of things about Korean chop key which is sort of paper origami using fabric.
Here's our ten pound pasture-raised local chicken before the roasting and after. I had to use my turkey roasting pan because the other one was too small. I filled the cavity with sliced apples from our apple trees and sliced lemons from the farmer's market. The vegetables around it all came from local farms: leeks, potatoes, carrots and Tokyo turnips (much tastier than regular turnips). I roasted it for about 70 minutes at 425 degrees. Olive oil, salt and pepper made the skin delicious. It was yummy. We have enough left for all of you to come for dinner tonight. Kerry stripped the carcass so today I'm going to make stock. It's cold and rainy outside so a nice chicken casserole would be good to warm our insides for dinner.
The sleeping together (see Harleen's paw over Nora's leg) came about after Harleen finally stopped throwing up yesterday. When I wasn't watching, she ate some of the stuffing from her giraffe. He's gone. She threw up for several hours. She finally had nothing left in her stomach, so settled in her crate. Not long after that Nora joined her. Nora cleaned her for a while, and then the two settled down. Today, of course, Harleen is bounding around like yesterday never happened. Nora is staying clear of the bounding puppy.
This puppy weighs in at ten pounds. I put the soda can next to it so you'd have some idea of its size. I've bought turkeys that were smaller than this.
My search for locally-raised chicken has taken many twists and turns. Through a friend I learned of a farmer who occasionally has extra chickens for sale. I approached him at the farmer's market on Saturday morning. He'd heard I was looking for a pasture-raised chicken. He said he had one for me, but I had to come to his farm the next day (Sunday) to pick it up. I did; it's now thawing on my kitchen counter. A ten pound chicken for $15. I call that a bargain. We will get at least three meals out of it and then chicken stock and who knows what else. At first I thought I would roast it for dinner tonight but then realized that it would not thaw out until tomorrow morning. So we are having pasta with homemade marinara sauce and a salad.
Got a call last night from a survey firm. I love answering surveys so I agreed. About 30 seconds into the call I realized it was a research firm hired by AT&T to find out why I left that company and switched to Vonnage. My favorite question: What can AT&T do to get you to return as a customer? At first I was going to say "nothing." But then a little light bulb went on and I said, "I'd like the CEO of AT&T to come to my house and personally apologizing for the high cost of his phone service." There was a long silence on the other end. Did you get that, I asked. Oh yeah, she replied. Well so far no sign of the man. I should look him up so I'll recognize the dude when he arrives. Like that is going to happen in my lifetime. It was sort of fun.
My mother used to buy this soup by the case, always the Campbel label. When I got married I bought a case and then carted it around with me as I moved from place to place. I finally threw it away. Until recently Campbells soup didn't really understand that some people are allergic to MSG. It was in all of their soups. I hear that they are changing that, but too late for me to be their customer.
I made my own today; it was relatively easy. It's just one more step on our journey to clean, local, organic food. I got the idea when a fellow blogger mentioned that she had just made her third batch of cream of mushroom soup. The light bulb went on, I found a recipe I liked and mushrooms grown in a nearby community. Nothing fancy about the mushrooms; just like the ones in the picture. But boy does the soup ever taste good. I used leeks so the onion taste is a bit milder. I filled two pint jars that are now in my refrigerator.
I also started marinara sauce in my slow cooker. A local produce market sells from the owner's farm so you always know if you are getting their stuff or someone else's. They are still producing delicious tomatoes thanks to the hoop houses they use to protect them from frost. I cut up two pounds of tomatoes, added leeks, oregano, basil, and red wine. It's slowly cooking its way to sauce. The house smells great.
Meanwhile, I have pork ribs slow cooking in the oven. That's our dinner tonight plus roasted cauliflower. The ribs came from our local Coffee Pot Ranch. Tomorrow I'm making broccoli cheese soup to put in jars so we have soup for lunch or dinner on these cold days. I know that cold is a relative term when you live in northern California, but it was only 39 degrees when we got up this morning. Brrr.
So here we are 18 months after listening to Michael Pollan's "Omnivore's Dilemma." I love "foraging" for food and making wonderful simple dishes with locally grown in-season food. Foraging means that I have to go to several places to get what I need for us to have a healthy diet. I like to forage. It's amazing how little time I spend in the mainstream grocery stores.
Some of the dogs came with their own holiday decorations. Harleen had her Christmas picture taken wearing a Santa hat. She looked really cute but not really happy to be where she was. By that time she was very tired having been in puppy kindergarten for an hour before the party. She slept all the way home and is still asleep in her crate in the house. Several recipients of CCI dogs were there as well; two were in wheel chairs and one had a hearing dog. Hearing dogs have orange leashes. I didn't know that. We played games and then had the dogs pick out toys from Santa. People wrapped the presents they bought (for a dog). We didn't do that so our stuffed animal gift was immediately taken by one of the service dogs. Harleen, true to form, picked a package with dog biscuits in it. That's Harleen in the bottom picture with Kerry (in the red fleece vest) during kindergarten. I just hope she doesn't have to repeat it again. It might give her a complex. It was a lot of fun; Kerry and I came home and napped too. We got a wrong number phone call six times. So I finally gave up and got up. That's why I'm typing now. He's sound asleep.
Every where you looked at the Christmas party there were dogs of all sizes and colors. The cape for the littlest pup is still too big. Blogger will only let me post this many pictures so I will continue on the next post. The little kids belong to our trainer Carly.
So I finally got my sister's photo from my phone to my blog. Don't ask why it took so long. Chalk it up to my stupidity. Those pictured are from left to right: my nephew Adam, whom I didn't recognize because he has that hat pulled down low over his face, my sister's sainted husband Neil with grandbaby Max, and my other nephew, Michael, who also happens to be Max's dad. The caption was "waiting for the turkey." Michael's wife Minna was in the kitchen with the turkey and all the other stuff. This is an amazing accomplishment for my sister. It brought tears to my eyes.
Okay, now for the rest of this 'n that.
1. We have switched our phone service to Vonnage. I got so tired of AT&T promising to lower my bills and then doing just that for one month. We don't talk on the phone very much because we e-mail everything. So I'd finally had it. We switched, have the same phone number and all the same services for just (drumroll) $14.95 a month.
2. Tomorrow is the puppy kindergarten Christmas party. We have to bring a dish (people food) for the potluck and a gift for the dogs. If we bring a gift then Harleen gets one. Do I want my puppy to be traumatized by her first (and probably last) Christmas with us? I don't think so. This means we are going to the deli at Raley's to get an appetizer and then to Petsmart for a toy. The party hostess said the dogs could wear antlers or Santa hats. I have trouble imaging Harleen in any of those. I see her head shaking and her paws trying to remove the offending article of clothing.
3. I'm working on the biggest applique I've ever done. Luckily it's not needle-turn but done with fusible stuff. I'll post it when it's done. It will be the center of a "block of the month" quilt that I am doing.
4. Not sure there is a four. Or at least I can't remember it right now. As soon as I hit "publish" I will think of it.
Pictures to follow from the puppy kindergarten Christmas party.
Took Harleen to the vet today to weigh her so we could get the correct Heartworm dosage. She weighed in at 41.4 pounds. A month ago she weighed 27 pounds. And she's not fat, just growing taller and longer by the minute.
An update on my sister; if I could get the photo transferred from my phone to my e-mail I might have something other than words for you. But I can't make it work. On Thanksgiving Day she sent a photo of her husband, Max, her grandson, her son and another person sitting on the sofa waiting for the turkey to be done. Now this may not seem like much to many of you but, she was in her son's home (that meant she felt good enough to go out) and taking a picture which she sent to me. She is slowly but surely piecing herself back together again. It has taken a lot more patience than she thought it would, but she is making progress. She's even talking about a big family get together in Minnesota next year. We will be there.
For newcomers to my blog, here's the short version on my sister. She had a simple surgery on Feb. 6, 2008 to remove a cancerous nodule in her colon, stitches didn't hold, colon leaked fecal matter into her body cavity, kidneys and lungs shut down, in the ICU for 8 weeks and in the hospital and rehab facilities for a total of 8 months. That's why I'm so happy that she sent me a picture on Thanksgiving.
Out of all of this I did learn something important, ICU nurses are the most amazing health care workers. She had one nurse just for her 24/7. They did a phenomenal job of caring for her. After 8 weeks in ICU where she was paralyzed and in a drug-induced coma, she did not have a single bed sore. That is amazing.
So for all of you out there who prayed for her, I want to thank you once again. Your prayers, energy, Reiki, etc. all worked. She is going to be just fine.
This is a tough word. When I was growing up there was no truth in my family. My father had affairs, my mother drank and I tried everything I could to be a good girl. My brother and sister worked hard at this too. The truth of our accomplishments mattered little to our parents. They did not deal with the truth. It was too scary; at least that's my take on it.
Ultimately in a dysfunctional family truth did not win. So I grew up with lies; that's a strong word too. You said or did whatever you had to in order to survive. My most vivid remembrance is when I told my third grade teacher, Mrs. Ervin, a lie and got caught. I told her that it was okay for me to go to a friend's house after school. My mother didn't want me to be happy and have friends; she would not have agreed to the time after school with my friend. So I lied. I got caught; the fact that I still remember that is very telling.
When you live day in and day out with lies you don't believe any other way of life exists. You lie to yourself about what is best for you. I did that when I married my first husband twice. Finally I couldn't lie to myself any more.
I have learned that it is so much better to deal with the truth than to pretend that what you are doing is working. Most of the friends I have today live that way too. The others are on their way to discovering what the word means for them. As I said at the beginning, this is a tough word.
Truth has brought me much happiness. I would not give that up for the world.
The object pictured here is a butternut squash. We like this vegetable a lot, but it is a pain to peel. The skin is tough as nails. Well, I finally Googled, "peeling butternut squash." Found a simple way to do it and did it last night. You soften the skin by placing the whole thing in boiling water for 4-5 minutes. The skin then comes off with a vegetable peeler. Voila! We can now eat a lot more of this great vegetable.
Sunday we took Harleen to the Mandarin Festival in Auburn, CA where we all worked in the booth for Canine Companions for Independence. She was exhausted by all the attention. Best part though was having a corn dog. Yup, a real one with nice grainy corn bread all around it. Slathered it in mustard and enjoyed every mouthful. Harleen slept most of Monday to recover from here frenetic Saturday (puppy kindergarten) and Sunday.
I'm still reading anything written by Jodi Picoult. A friend lent me "Second Glance" and I've been on a mission to read all of her books ever since then.
Tomorrow we drive to Steve and Janet's for Thanksgiving. They live over near the coast close to Boonville, CA. I'm bringing my grandmother's sweet potato recipe. No marshmallows or pineapple for my grandmother. Just butter, brown sugar and sliced potatoes. You caramelize them at the end of the baking period by removing the cover and slowly withdrawing the fluid as you baste. They are so yummy. We drive back Friday afternoon (it's about 4 hours).
I have four irises that are blooming and one that is getting ready to bloom. Strange; last year I had one bloom at this time and it bloomed again in the spring. My Gerbera daisies are blooming too.
I'm going to spend most of the rest of the day working on my applique. I just love it. Who would have thought I'd ever have the patience to take tiny stitches. That's what life is about...discovering new things about yourself.
Hope you all have a happy thanksgiving. If there ever was a time to eat carbohydrates, this is it.
I didn't even realize he was in there at first. The tee pee sits on top of a quilt which is on top of a bookcase in my sewing room. I was in there moving around getting ready to start a project when I saw some movement out of the corner of my eye. I just thought he looked so cute I had to take his picture. After all, we can't have Harleen hogging all the photos. I originally bought the tee pee for my late cat Comet when she was very sick at the end. Giorgio and Nora had sniffed it a few times and declined to enter. I guess it's okay now.
I don't think that the U.S. government should bail out U.S. automakers. I will happily read your thoughts on this; I just don't think it's right to bail out companies who have not been astute enough to realize that the world is changing and they have to change too. I am a life-long Democrat so don't accuse me of going over to the dark side.
I blame the management, the board of directors and the unions for this. Everyone has been greedy and the employees will pay the price of that greed. I had my own consulting business for 13 years. I loved being my own boss. There were times when I was worried I wouldn't be able to pay my bills. Clients dropped off the radar; Enron file for bankruptcy when they owed me $13,000. But I got through those times by realizing what I had to do to bring in money. I never thought about anyone bailing me out.
None of the car makers outside of the U.S. is asking anyone for anything. The one thing they all have in common is that they are located in countries with universal health care. The big three car makers are paying large sums of money for health care for employees and retirees. Also, those non-U.S. car makers are building cars that people want to buy. Duh!
So, I'll get off my soapbox now. Do let me know how you feel. I promise not to delete your comments.
I've discovered a blogger who is as addicted to fabric as I am. She asked me to post some of my applique which is why some of you are seeing this stuff for the second time. The new blogger resides at http://sugarcreekstuff.blogspot.com. Check her out.
The picture with the cow contains one non-applique. I'm sure you can guess which one. Sometimes I post whatever is on my design wall. The five baskets are part of an applique block of the month class I'm taking. We will have a total of 12 blocks which we will make into a quilt. We have ten blocks done. I did the heart applique quilt for my sister who was seriously ill this year. The road runner table runner is from Albuquerque. My son used to live there so on our last visit I bought this to remember Albuquerque.
In January I'm starting a new applique block of the month class which will end up being a Baltimore Album Quilt. I started quilting about 15 months ago and very quickly discovered my love for applique.
Yes, that's what I've been doing for the past two days. Here's why. On our trip home Kerry and I listened to a wonderful book on CD. It's called "It's all too much." The author is Peter Walsh.
It's basically about how to get rid of all that stuff that you have accumulated. Kerry is a third-generation pack rat who has filled every space available to him with stuff. I set limits on the inside of the house when we moved in (he can fill his office but nothing else). So he has filled one entire double garage which was supposed to be his art studio, the entire underbelly of our 3200 square foot house (we are on a hill so there is lots of space under the house) and half of the other double garage...and, of course, his office.
He has tried the typical organization person where you figure out how to store your stuff and get rid of some. That didn't really work for him. I'm hoping that Peter Walsh's approach will help him. I think Kerry is drowning in his stuff.
Walsh encourages you to explore why you ever kept all that junk in the first place. If the things you have accumulated aren't actively helping you get closer to the life you really want, then it's getting in the way; it needs to go. The first step in all of this is putting in writing what you want your life to be. Then you can decide what to keep and what to discard.
While I'm not a pack rat, the book did spark some thoughts about the life I'm living now versus what I used to do...work. My sewing room still has too many remnants of my working life. So yesterday I started shredding much of what's in my file drawers. That space will hold many of my quilting supplies. I've also contacted a friend who works for the local Assistance League. I've asked her about donating clothes. I still have my work wardrobe. It's time for it to go.
I know Kerry spent some time yesterday sitting outside in the sunshine writing in his journal. Maybe he was writing about what he wants his life to be. It would be great if this book could help unlock his life.
And the beautiful picture above is what we came home to. When we left the tree was mostly green. Over seven days it turned fire engine red.
This is the view of the golf course and mountains from the timeshare we were in at the Marriott Springs Hotel. It's a two-bedroom, two-bath condo on the first floor with ample kitchen, dining and living room space. Kerry's dad bought two of them back in the late 90s. No one seems to know why. With his death, they passed to Kerry and his sisters, Susan and Joanne. We all meet there twice a year; once in early November and once around Valentine's Day.
It's a pretty laid back existence as you can see from the pictures of Harleen. I especially like the one of her in the jacuzzi tub. No jets for her. Our days were pretty much centered around food, reading and naps. Discussion would start at breakfast about what we would have for lunch and dinner and how we would space our meals. We tried a new place called Flemings. It's named for Paul Fleming who is also the PF in PF Chang. I stuck to my vegetarian regime except for eating bacon with my french toast one morning.
There were several demonstrations about the vote on Prop. 8 while we were there . The Mormons poured $37 million dollars into the campaign to make it illegal for gays and lesbians to get married. Now how Christian is that way of thinking. To spend millions to deny people their human rights is simply awful. The Palm Springs area has a large gay and lesbian population so they were out marching on Thursday and Friday night. I don't think that the vote on Prop. 8 is the end of this matter. At least I hope it isn't.
Harleen was extremely good all week. She tolerated the nine-hour ride down as well as any of us did. We took her to the hotel, let her ride the elevator, have lunch in one of the restaurants and ride the shuttle bus back to the villa. She really liked having more people around. Today she seems pretty bored with Kerry and me.
I'm too tired to post much but thought you would enjoy this picture of one of our favorite restaurants in Palm Springs: Babe's. It's all barbecue. You can see from the people in the background just how large the bronze pig is. Great food, great service and wonderful ambiance. We are so happy to be home. Harleen was an exceptional dog on the trip. She went to restaurants without a problem; rode elevators, walked through the very large lobby of the hotel and didn't make a sound and managed to find lots of duck poop in the outside area of Starbucks at the hotel. Well, no one is perfect as she would point out. I'm going to bed. Hope you all had a great week.
Tomorrow we are driving to Palm Desert to spend a week in the family timeshare with Kerry's sisters and his brother-in-law. This time Harleen is going with us. Should be an interesting trip. We've realized that we have to bring twice as much for her as we bring for ourselves. In fact, all the stuff won't fit in the Prius so we are taking Kerry's Honda Element without the two back seats. Just like when you travel with little children.
This should be quite an adventure. She will be four months old tomorrow; we think that all of us are ready for this trip.
Here's a photo from the island resort where Mark and Julia went for their honeymoon. I love the feet touching. It was somewhere off the coast of Malaysia. They are really enjoying living and working in Kuala Lumpur.
Well, it's time to get serious about packing. All the clothes are clean and dry so it's suitcase time. I probably won't have a chance to post while we are away. Have a great week.
On the Monday before the wedding, Mark and Julia went for a hike in the Grand Canyon. It was a pretty steep route which ended with Julia "slipping and sliding away" as Simon and Garfunkel would have sung for her.
So they cut their hike short and headed up to the rim the next day. No bride wants to limp down the aisle. But while they were there, Julia found the perfect rock. I've heard about these from a blogger in Missouri who has a whole collection.
A few days later Julia had traded in her wilderness garb for a wedding gown; she became the lifelong partner of my wonderful son Mark. I couldn't be happier for the two of them.
I'm an Aquarius who was raised a Roman Catholic in Minnesota. I've managed to overcome the religion and the state. I've lived in California for 40 years. I retired in 2007 and became a quilter and appliquer. Never thought I would find the medium that would let me express my artistic feelings. I love vivid color. In addition, I'm a locavore, foraging for food to keep my husband and me healthy and to help local farmers. I live in Northern California on five acres.