Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dark Days Challenge: Week 6

I think my camera is dying. The broccoli looks pretty unappetizing. I don't know why I have that pink area in the photo. The same thing happened with my popover photo a few days ago.

So use your imagination. We will be away for Week 7 so thought I'd hurry and get Week six in before we leave for urbanhennery territory (aka Washington State).

I brined the pork chops from Coffee Pot Ranch. Bob's pork is incredible but I find that for my taste I still need to have it moister. My brine is hot water, brown sugar, salt, Dijon mustard and cider vinegar. Chops this size usually brine for about two hours. I steamed the broccoli in the microwave and then topped it with the family's secret sauce (not-so-secret mayo and soy sauce [the really dark kind]). The veggies and meat were local and organic.

Hope all of you have a happy and healthy holiday season. I'll be back in the new year.
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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dark Days Challenge # 5

My photo of a pan of popovers was out of focus so all you are going to see is the butternut squash soup with garlic, onions, chard and bacon.

I baked the squash and then scooped it into this pot so it could cook with some half and half and seasonings.

Then I fried the bacon; the onions and garlic were cooked in the bacon grease. Because it's a pig from a local rancher, the fat content is pretty low. At least this time I didn't have to add butter. The last thing I did was tear up chard leaves, place them in the frying pan and cover with a lid so they would wilt.

I poured the bacon pieces, onions, garlic and chard over the squash (shown here). I used my immersion blender to mix it all together. Nice mixture of flavors. Everything, but the cream,
was organic and local.
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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Art Quilting

A while back I took a class from Rose Hughes on art quilts. I bought one of her patterns and have been working on it for months. I think I'm finally ready to share with you some pictures of the wall hanging. You really can't tell see the detail without some close ups. This is the first time I've worked with silk; I like vibrant colors so silk really works for me. Take a look at her work: http://www.rosehughes.com

It's draped over the tread mill.

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The Best Candy Bar In The Universe


They are not easy to come by where I live. The company that makes them is in St. Paul, MN; they don't seem to ship very far from home.

I've had a love affair with this candy bar since I was in grade school, which is a long time ago. Yesterday a box of them arrived from my sister, her husband and their son. It was to thank me for my caring through all her health problems during the past two years.

Nut Goodies say love in any language. Let's see if I can describe them. It's milk chocolate poured over a cluster of nuts and a creamy filling that has a subtle taste of maple to it.

I received 24; we are now down to 22. I told Kerry I would share with him even though I did more caring than he did. I think that works out to one Nut Goodie for every two I eat. Sounds fair to me.

I'm leaving them at home for the holidays; we leave for Washington next Tuesday for about a week.
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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dark Days Challenge: Week Four

These are all the ingredients for the meat loaf and potato/leek scalloped potato recipes. I posed them around our John Deere Tractor lamp. I bought Kerry the lamp thinking that then he wouldn't buy a tractor...wrong.

Local Ingredients:

1. Ground Pork from Coffee Pot Ranch
2. Ground Beef from High Sierra Beef
3. Eggs from Sinclair Family Farm
4. Leeks from Newcastle Produce
5. Garlic from Natural Trading Company
6. Unsalted butter from Straus Family Creamery
7. Whipping cream (in the cute little bottle) from Straus Family Creamery
8. Petite Syrah from Lucchesi Vineyards
9. Potatoes from Newscastle Produce

The Tillamook cheese is not local but does come from cows that have not been fed Rbst. The Parmesan cheese is also not local. The ketchup is organic but not local.

All this turned into a delicious dinner which we have eaten for several days. There isn't anything better than a cold meat loaf sandwich.
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Friday, December 11, 2009

Block 11 Baltimore Album Quilt

I tried something new with this block. The cornucopia just looked too flat so I decided to do some trupunto which is really just putting stuffing in something. I used roving which I have lots of right now.

We have one more block to do . I'm glad I made this quilt but doubt I will do another one.

Once the 12th block is done then I'll put it together and decide who will quilt it. The tradition is that you have to hand quilt your own, but I just don't have the patience or the good stitching for that. I'll probably either send it to an Amish community for hand quilting or have someone local machine quilt it.
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Foraging For Butter

I included the picture of Harleen staring out the window looking quite forlorn so that you non-locavores would have something to look at. She usually takes up this position whenever Kerry leaves the house and doesn't take her with him.

Anyway, foraging for butter...what the heck is she thinking. Well, when we first listened to Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma" we didn't realize how it would change our lives. Now I find myself searching out local, organic ingredients that aren't always easy to find, like butter.

For the most part, my early foraging days included trips to farmers' markets and buying some canned organic food at the grocery store. I felt really proud when we joined the meat club and started getting regular supplies of meat from local ranches. I learned not to eat asparagus when it wasn't in season here in northern California. The asparagus during the winter that came from South America did not tempt me.

But I was still eating meat in restaurants. I stopped doing that at the end of last year. Every once in a while an In And Out burger makes it to my plate, but it's pretty rare. All I have to do is read more e-coli stories; I can easily stay away from meat whose origins I don't know. I do feel sorry for those animals who are treated so badly during their short lives.

As I look back, I realize that finding meats, fruits and vegetables were the easy ones. I know I will never find locally grown sugar, but I do have access to local honey. It's from a grove of mandarin trees a couple of miles away.

We also listened to Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food." Basic message: if you eat healthy, clean foods you don't need vitamins and supplements. He pretty much does a number on the whole field of nutrition. I threw away my vitamin pills that I took religiously every day. No problems arose. Kerry's diabetes is under control.

But back to my foraging for butter story. I thought that Crystal Dairy in Auburn was going to fill the bill at least from the local stand point but then I found out that Foster Farms bought them. Yuck! So I started my Google search and bingo...Straus Family Creamery. Cows and creamery are in Marshall, CA, which is near Tomales Bay/Point Reyes. Milk, half and half and whipping cream come in bottles. That brought back memories of a birthday game I played as a kid: Drop the Clothes Pin in the Bottle. The bottle was a milk bottle. I want to visit the cows.

Anyway, I digress. I went to two local grocery stores (Raley's and Nugget) and found Straus products. I had just never looked in the right places. I saw half and half, whipping cream, butter (both salted and unsalted), plain yogurt and eggnog.

Recently I found organic flour from a company in S. San Francisco. A fellow blogger in San Francisco had written about it. I know there are some farmers in northern California who grow organic wheat for flour, but they sell to bakeries not individuals.

Along the way we've met many interesting people. It may be a bit more work to eat this way but I think we are healthier for it. Who knows what I will forage for next.
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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Dark Days Challenge 3: Corn Chowder

Kerry and I both have colds so we have been thinking warm, soothing, comfort food. Soup easily falls into that category.

The local ingredients in this corn chowder are:

1. Bacon from Coffee Pot Ranch in Sheridan
2. Corn from the Roseville farmers' markets last summer that I froze
3. Leeks from Newcastle Produce
4. Garlic from the Natural Trading Company in Newcastle
5. Potatoes from Newcastle Produce

Despite my bests efforts, I have been unable to find a local source of butter or cream. I thought I had found something in Crystal Dairy but then discovered that they had been bought by Foster Farms. Not good.

So the cream and butter in the soup are well intentioned but do not meet the guidelines for Dark Days Challenge. I will keep searching.

A Dark Days Challenge blogger recently wrote about making popovers; that reminded me of HomeEc where we made them. That was a very long time ago. I too have trouble sourcing flour that is organic and local. I went to Married with Dinner's blog to find out where she gets her flour. She's the closest blogger geographically. That's when I discovered Giusto's Vita-Grain Flour Mills. I ordered five pounds, which I used to make the popovers. Not local but organic and they seem to have the ethical thing down pat. The flour bag can be composted. Used eggs from pasture-raised chickens that are local. We ate both soup and popovers for two nights.

One interesting thing about using bacon from a local source; there is very little fat. The recipe called for one slice of bacon to get enough fat; I needed four slices and still had to supplement some butter. We got the bacon flavor just not the bacon grease.

Hopefully we will both be healthy by next week.
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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Being Sick Sucks!

Kerry and I are both sick now. I got the cold first; he followed a few days later. I was feeling pretty good on Monday so went to my book group lunch. Then Tuesday morning I went to my quilting bee. I think my body could have taken one or the other but not both.

All I did at the quilting bee was talk about how I had to go home and go back to bed. It took me a good hour to accomplish that. So today Kerry and I decided to just lay low for the entire day. The most energetic thing I did was refill the bird feeders. That really wore me out. He went out to the road with the ATV to retrieve our garbage can.

Kerry and I have been in and out of bed all day. We decided that it just feels good to lie down for a while. Harleen has been joining us; frequently hogging the bed. That usually gets one of us up.

I haven't even felt like quilting or sewing on beads.

But still thoughts of the Dark Day Challenge swirl in my head. I think it's going to be a soup. When you are sick, soup is a great way to eat. Right now it looks like corn chowder with leeks and Yukon gold potatoes with popovers. Trying to have lots of veggies when we are sick.

That's all now from the infirmary in Lincoln, CA
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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dark Days Challenge No. 2: Moussaka

I'm not the kind of cook who prepares complex dishes. Barbecuing, oven roasting and boiling water for pasta is just fine.

The moussaka recipe sort of crept up on me. I had two beautiful eggplants from the farmers' market, some ground beef from a local ranch and tomato sauce that I froze last summer. The ingredients pictured here (I forgot to include the potatoes which came from our CSA box) seemed pretty benign. I did not, however, read what you were supposed to do with all of them. I'd never made moussaka before but I figured, how hard could it be?

By the time I was done I had used just about every pot and pan in the kitchen. Luckily Kerry handles the clean up chores, but I knew I was going to hear about this.

I had to make a roux, separate eggs, whip egg whites until stiff, blend the yolks with grated cheese and then put it all together to pour on top of the meat, potatoes, eggplant, onion, garlic and tomato sauce. It actually turned out just like it was supposed to. I discovered that a roux is not hard to make and that the huge eggs from a local farm were just right for the yolks and egg whites.

Even the olive oil was local from Chaffin Orchards Farm up in Oroville. The only things that were not local: butter, cream, flour and cheese.

I know all of you have probably done this stuff a million times, but not this locavore. I've been sick with a bad cold ever since so it's a good thing there is lots of moussaka plus leftover turkey from our gracious hostess at Thanksgiving. I'm on the mend so am looking forward to my next, less complex, dish.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Post Thanksgiving Recipe Idea: Turkey Risotto

That was one of the first Tweets I read this morning. Sounds like a great idea. Especially if you are not a turkey fan.

Our Thanksgiving dinner was exceptional in every sense of the word. My friend Jean was the hostess. There were 19 people (including five young children) and nine dogs (one only made a brief appearance; Belle is so tiny should would have been trampled by the other nine).

The eight remaining dogs included an aging pit bull named Dubby, Harleen and her buddies Tucker, a French bulldog who has one ear that salutes and one that doesn't, and Bailey, the Goldendoodle (Tucker, Harleen and Bailey are pictured on Jean's sofa when she took care of Harleen so we could go to Palm Desert.) The other dogs included a Havanese named Louie (only four months old), an Airedale named Sophie, and two Corgis named Spongee and Babs. Babs didn't spend much time with the others. She's not thrilled about crowds.

Jean prepared a feast that was topped off by four pies: pumpkin chiffon, pumpkin, pecan and coconut cream. The latter was my pick. She had cooked an extra turkey so we all got leftovers to take home. That's why the turkey risotto idea was so appealing.

A cold has a grip on my head. Just hope I didn't pass it on to anyone last night. I tried to keep my hands to myself. Glad I did my Dark Days Challenge Meal before I felt lousy. I'll post it tomorrow even though we ate it Wednesday night.

Hope all of you had a great Turkey Day. There is so much for which we can be thankful. The State Dinner at the White House made me happy once again that Barack Obama is president and Michelle is First Lady. She looked stunning in her gold gown. Ah, to have those arms....
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Grandma And Sweet Potatoes

I've been thinking about a Thanksgiving blog for a few days; everything I thought of seemed pretty trite. Kerry and I are blessed with so many good things and our families are all doing so well. It would have been one of those yadda-yadda lists that would have bored everyone. Living this life is wonderful; writing about it really isn't.

Then this morning Mark called to get the recipe for my grandma's sweet potatoes. As I gave it to him I realized that I should write about her; she has been giving back to the family for so many years even though she's been dead since 1970.

I loved and still love my grandma more than any other woman in my life. She was there for me so many times when my own mother wasn't. As I've written before, loving was not an adjective anyone would have used for my family. On the outside we looked perfect, but within the confines of the house life was pretty awful.

Grandma was a Locavore long before the term was coined. All she had was local; she cooked it simply and well. Her pork chops with gravy and mashed potatoes were to die for. And her creamed corn did not come from a can. Her seasonings: salt and pepper. I remember helping her make applesauce from their backyard apple tree when I was very small.

She believed that meat was not really good for you but chocolate held the secret to longevity; she lived to be nearly 90. Her favorite was chocolate-covered cherries. My teeth hurt just thinking about how sweet they are. During the depression when money was short she made butter and sugar sandwiches for dessert. I still make them.

I was named for her (Kathleen), but her nickname was Kit not Kathy. She was a lot shorter than I am which means she was really short. Tiny feet in those old-lady black leather lace-up shoes with a short heel. She wore a corset, which was the cause of at least one trip to the emergency room. She was having trouble breathing; the doctor diagnosed a too-tight corset. Got a new one and breathing was fine. I'm not sure she would have had enough muscle tone to sit up without the corset.

But back to the sweet potatoes and the phone call. Mark is more precise in his cooking than either my grandma or me. Here's the recipe. Cut sweet potatoes (the ones with red skin) into quarter-inch slices. Layer in a baking dish. Place pats of butter all over the top of the potato slices (usually about half a pound). Pour an entire box of dark brown sugar over everything and press down. Cover tightly with tin foil. Bake for an hour at 350 degrees. When the potatoes are softened, uncover the dish and turn up the oven to 400 degrees. You cook them until they start to caramelize. This is the tricky part. You withdraw a little liquid and then baste with the liquid left. This goes on for up to an hour. Until you finally have these yummy sweet potatoes.

My grandma had a hard life in many ways but still she gave so much love regardless of what happened. She was 29 when she married my grandpa who was 21. Scandalous. She was the old maid school teacher in town. She suffered from depression long before there was any help for her. At one point she simply went to bed for two years. That gene for depression was passed on to my mother, brother, sister and me. She lost her only son in World War II. She had two daughters who did not live to be very old either. My mother killed herself at 54 and Aunt Jerry died of lung cancer in her early 60s. I always wanted Aunt Jerry to be my mother. She was there to save us when my mother got out of control.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dark Days Challenge And Water Buffalo

Yes, I served barbecued water buffalo for our first Dark Days of Winter Eat Local Challenge meal. The cut was filet mignon; it was delicious, moist and tender. I did put a little homemade barbecue sauce on top of mine. Kerry ate his with only salt and pepper. The locally grown organic vegetables are broccoli and potatoes that have been oven roasted in olive oil from Chaffin Orchards near Oroville, CA. Decorative pumpkins came in our last CSA box from The Natural Trading Company. I have to do better on the wine. This was from Trader Joe's but wasn't local. Next week it will be.

Nick and James Chapel raise water buffalo in Meridian, CA, which is a wide spot in the road on the Sacramento River. Their farm joined the Sierra/Placer meat club a couple of months ago. Roger Ingram, the UC extension guy who runs the club, had to convince me to try it. He claimed it was delicious; he was right.

Beef filet mignon in the club is $22 per pound. Water buffalo is $10 a pound. That helped convince me too.

So we are off to a good start for the Dark Days Challenge. Thanks again to www. urbanhennery.com for once again hosting the challenge. Her blog will have a recap of the 50 participants' meals each Monday.
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Monday, November 16, 2009

Knobs And Pulls

Wayne, a local handyman, was here with his son, Mike, for most of the day doing various things. Among those things was adding knobs and pulls to our kitchen cupboards. I really like the way it looks. The ladies who help us with design stuff for the house suggested it when they came by to talk about re-carpeting three rooms.

I told them I really wasn't happy with my cupboards. They suggested pulls and knobs as a way to dress them up without spending a fortune. They brought us all kinds of samples; we chose the ones that you see. Click on the picture to biggify so you can see more detail.

Wayne and Mike also installed two ceiling fans and finally got the vent over the stove to work. We've been here for six plus years without a working vent. Now the smell of garlic cooking in olive oil will be shared with the cows in the nearby pasture.

Not much else happening here today. Just a nice, quiet fall day.
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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cats And The Mayan Calendar

Apparently while we were in Palm Desert our cats got a hold of the Mayan calendar that says the world is going to end in 2012. To prepare, they have been eating more than they should for their waistlines. I guess they figure the extra food will help them get through the Apocalypse. They had really trimmed down over the summer so maybe this is just an annual event. They look like little furry sausages.

Had a good, lazy time in Palm Desert. I managed to avoid eating meat the entire time and still enjoy my meals. I just don't want to eat meat if I don't know from whence it came. My favorite was at Babe's: a tamale stuffed with goat cheese and smothered in a spicy tomato sauce.

The worst was a baked potato with veggies and cheese at the Claim Jumper in Temecula. We visited Kerry's Aunt Harriet there; she likes the Claim Jumper so we always go there when we visit. The vegetables were probably all frozen even though they were in season.

This week is the beginning of the Dark Days Challenge so you will be reading more about food for a few months than you have lately. The goal is to cook one meal from local, seasonal ingredients each week, take a picture of it and post to my blog. There are 50 bloggers from all over the country who will be doing this. It's the brainchild of Laura in Washington State. Her blog is urbanhennery.com

Well, that's all for now. The sun sending us its last few rays of the day. I love the colors when it does that.
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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Palm Desert Bound For A Week

Sunday we trade our wonderful rural life for that of Palm Desert and its fountains, lakes, over-watered lawns and many, many golf courses and plastic surgeons.

Kerry's dad, a wonderful man whom I dearly loved the short time I knew him, bought two time shares several years ago at the Marriott Desert Springs. This is a picture of the hotel lobby. Only in the desert in California would you find a lake in the lobby and boat that will take you on tours of the resort or to your restaurant in the evening. Life jackets are included.

The first time I was there I asked the young woman who was captaining our boat about the source of the lake's water. She assured me it didn't come from Northern California; it came from the Colorado River. That did not make me feel any better. Such a waste of precious resources.

Harleen has gone to our friend Jean's for the week. Jean has a young Goldendoodle named Bailey and a French bulldog named Tucker. Based on their behavior tonight when we brought Harleen to Jean's home, things will be just fine.

We are driving; it's easier and much less expensive than flying. Our travel ritual is to have Chinese food for dinner the night before we leave. We take the leftovers with us and have that for lunch so we don't have to stop long. It's about nine hours from our house to the time share.

My goal today was to finish reading the book "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett. I got it from the library as a seven-day loan. It was 442 pages so that's a bit much for me for seven days. But I finished it tonight, a day late. But we'll slip it in the box at the Carnegie Library in Lincoln in the morning as we head for the desert. Lincoln has a one-day grace period so I won't be fined. It is a must read.

I leave town with an iris blooming; this happened a couple of years ago but not with this same plant. I can see it when I look out my sewing studio window. I always miss being in our home with it's peace and quite. Tonight it feels strange to have Harleen's crate gone. There is a big white block of carpet that is cleaner than any other part of the room.

So, I'll be back in a week. Hope you all have a good one.
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Thursday, November 05, 2009


I've had lots of things I've been going to write about but somehow never got around to it. The latest fabric art piece I'm working on has consumed me. I just love it.

I've been thinking about writing about Urbanhennery's Dark Days Challenge, which I signed up for, and the new way I fixed chard the other night. I'll still get around to those but first I have to comment on the vote in Maine to not allow gay marriage.

I am dumbfounded by the world's intolerance to anyone who is not like the family in the first grade reading book, "Dick and Jane." For those of you too young to remember them, the family was written version of Ozzie and Harriet or Leave it to Beaver. The cat was named Puff; the dog Spot. Dick and Jane were the children whose adventures helped us learned to read.

Intolerance shows up in church, voting booths, schools and just about everywhere else. I don't understand what is wrong with letting people live their lives in whatever way they want. As long as it doesn't hurt anyone, who cares who they sleep with or have sex with.

My son Mark was raised without any specific religion. I simply told him to treat people well. The short version of the Golden Rule. It worked; when he thought his boy scout leader was a bigot for statements made about the Vietnamese, Mark called him on it and asked for an apology to the troop. He never got it so quit the troop. I was so proud of him for that. He never got to be an Eagle Scout, but he did stand up to an intolerant person. Big life lesson there.

I have many gay and lesbian friends. Many of them have been in committed relationships much longer than any of my straight friends. That includes me; I married and divorced my first husband twice. That, perhaps, was carrying "tolerance" a bit too far.

Many of my gay and lesbian friends have children. I don't really care how they got them, but I do know that they are wonderful parents struggling with the same issues that heterosexual parents struggle with.

One lesbian couple I know were asked to leave the Catholic church they attended when the pastor found out that one of the couple was pregnant. Now that takes intolerance to a whole new level. The Catholic church is very good at legislating morality. I should know because I used to be a Catholic.

The fact that California passed Prop 8 to outlaw gay marriage somehow has emboldened the rest of the intolerant people in this country. It's sad that homosexuals who love each other cannot enjoy the rights that we heterosexuals enjoy.

If you are offended by what I've written, then I ask you to think about why you are offended. Perhaps you are intolerant. Please tell me what you think even if you are anonymous. Dialogue is always good.

I oven roasted the chard. Tear the leaves from the stems, lay on a cookie sheet, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, bake at 450 degrees for five minutes. Remove from the oven and drizzle balsamic vinegar on the chard. It's delicious.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Another Vehicle At Our House

Kerry finally found what he wanted. It's a 1976 John Deere tractor with a front loader. He already has all the stuff that goes on the back (brush hog, etc.) but he wanted the front loader.

So here is the list of vehicles that run that are on our five acres:

Honda Element
Volkswagen Jetta turbo diesel
Volkswagen Van (old)
Porsche 911 (old but classic)
Victory motorcycle
Chevy farm truck (old)
Two riding lawn mowers
Rokon off-road bike (used by hunters but he doesn't hunt)
1956 Ford Tractor
1976 John Deere Tractor with front loader


My 2007 Prius.
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween, Snow And A Brave Cat

My daughter-in-law Julia loves Halloween; it's her favorite holiday. She sent photos this morning of their first Halloween party in St. Louis.

It turned out to be an afternoon affair complete with homemade goodies and pumpkin carving. They had the party early, because Julia and most of their friends will be playing in the symphony Saturday night.

Another photo came this morning from my brother who lives in Evergreen, CO. It was taken at 4:45 a.m. when the snow was falling on their deck. Just reminds me why I don't want to live in snow country. He loves it, however. Supposed to have three feet in Evergreen today. Schools are closed. He, however, has to work.

As you may remember, we have three Labrador retrievers and two cats here this week. Harry and Darlan are here because their puppy raiser Lia had to go to Vancouver Island for the birth of her first grandchild.

It was even crazier when our friends Steve and Janet were here for two nights earlier this week with their young lab. The cats have kept a pretty low profile during all of this dog chaos.

That is until this morning when Nora, she's the cat on the left in the photo, decided to come into my sewing room where three dogs were sleeping. They chased after her but she was undaunted; she found a place on a soft blanket where she was unreachable by wet noses and settled in.

The dogs sniffed and tried to nuzzled her; she didn't budge. When SHE decided she'd spent enough time in the room, she left with the dogs in hot pursuit, but they didn't outrun a very swift cat.

So that's life at our house. Kerry is having his surgery right now to remove the basil cell carcinoma from his face. I'll keep you posted on that.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Quilt Show Purchases

Mostly I bought colorful silks to go in my next Rose Hughes piece. The photo of what I'm making is shown in the lower center of the photo. To the right is my new rotary cutter that will make scalloped edges. The purple fabric under the rotary cutter has the scalloped edges. I also got to other blades to use to make different edges. The yarn came from a wonderful booth that had yarn for knitters and yarn for fabric artist.

The other big news I hinted at the other day is that I sent the fabric art I made for Rose Hughes to her; she featured it in her blog on Oct. 15, 2009. http://ravenspeakquilts.blogspot.com

She referred her readers to my blog; I've had many new visitors that way. The fabric art she posted today is just plain amazing. Hope you enjoy it all.

Having friends for lunch today. I made a curried butternut squash soup. Fresh tomatoes and a chunk of great bread will round out the meal.
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Friday, October 16, 2009

The Quilt Show

My friends Mary Jane, Patricia and I had a great time at the Pacific International Quilt Show in Santa Clara, CA. I have never seen so many outstanding quilts in one large area. "Outstanding" really doesn't do them justice. The show made me realize just how many amazingly creative art quilters there are in the world. My friend Marylee won third place for her wearable art. I'll try to find a picture to show it to you in another post.

This show specialized in art quilts, fabric art and wearable art, which is what I specialize in now; well, for the last two weeks ;>))

The top quilt is from a woman in South Africa. I'm not quite sure how she did it, but I suspect there is a lot of folded fabric in it The second one is an applique quilt done in a very different way. I think if you click on the photos you can see an enlargement.

There were literally thousands of quilters attending this event and hundreds of vendors. Luckily we went to the preview on Wednesday night when there weren't many people there. I could get a sense of the show without the shoulder-to-shoulder people who appeared the next day. And, of course, during the preview I bought something I needed. Well, okay, wanted.

We stayed across the street from the Convention Center at the Hilton Hotel , which was a real treat. Since I retired, I haven't stayed in many of these. In fact,
my Hilton Honors card had expired. The desk clerk was nice enough to fix that.

I forgot my pillow, which was a bummer. The bed was good, but the pillows were way to hard for me. But after walking miles in the convention hall I managed to sleep amazingly well both nights. One thing that helped me with the walking was my Sprongs. It's a shoe with a spring (literally) in the sole and the heel. My hips and knees did not bother me at all. I had brought along pain patches (love them) and Tylenol but didn't need either.

I do love staying in this type of hotel because you can drop your towels on the floor and someone else picks them up, there is room service and a bar and restaurant where you just sign for stuff.

Mary Jane and Patricia had different plans for dinner so I dined in the hotel both nights. The first night I had a rather unacceptable seafood pesto tortellini (not enough garlic or basil) but the second night I struck pay dirt with a spinach salad with feta cheese, walnuts and pear. The pear turned out to be from a can so I didn't eat it.

This morning I had room service. Divine. One thing that was a shock was the quality of the in-room coffee maker. It was a Cuisinart, which made one or two cups...in the cups. It was good coffee and they had real half and half. Well that's all for tonight.

Tomorrow I'll show you what I bought and something else very exciting.
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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Harleen Resting

She was spayed today so is home resting under a blanket because she was shivering. Pretty dopey from the meds. Our vet said that some people don't want to pay for post-op pain meds. She considers that cruel so gives them something even though no one pays for it. We paid for Harleen to get the full dose.

Vet also found a foxtail in her nose. I thought she had one from yesterday when she spent a good part of the afternoon searching for cat and turkey poop on the property. This involved a lot of sniffing. One of those sniffs brought the offending foxtail into her nose. I saw it; not a pretty sight.

She also had her nails trimmed so she is ready for a date and no need for condoms.

That's all; 1.4 inches of rain so far today. Going to my bookgroup tonight. Discussing Thrity Umrigar's book, "The Space Between Us." Great book.
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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fabric Art: The Learning Process

I had so much fun creating this artwork; it's 18" x 24". I've always had trouble following directions so this is a perfect form of fabric art for me. There really are no directions. I started this piece in Rose Hughes class a couple of weeks ago. See www.rosehughes.com for my inspiration. She is amazing.

I left her class with the fabric part put together and lots of ideas on how to embellish it. I was really stymied at first. Couldn't let go of the idea that there must be something I should do. I would wake up during the night thinking about the piece. Then I realized I could do anything I wanted.

I started very hesitantly on the outer fabrics. I learned to love beads; I own a lot more now that I did before the class. Plus I made several of the little puff balls from wool roving that I talked about in my last blog. They are decorated with beads too. One has a bright purple button; looks like an eyeball.

But the center was staring blankly back at me. Then I got the idea for the backwards "C" in the middle. I think of it as the Milky Way. The best part of all of this is if you don't like it you can take it out and start over.

I kept wondering when I would be done; somehow I knew just a few minutes ago. Click on it to bigify so you can see some of the smaller details.

I'm absolutely in love with this type of quilting. No rules and lots of bling.

Next on my sewing table is a pattern from Rose Hughes; it's a landscape that measures 35 x 35. This one is going to take a bit longer. It's called a "New Pathway." Thank you Rose Hughes.
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Sunday, October 04, 2009

A New Use For Knee High Nylons

This is what my work table looks like these days ever since I took the Rose Hughes class. It's all about using your imagination with fabric and embellishments. The term "embellishments" is a very broad one.
In the foreground by the scissors you see five little puff balls of color. They came from the funny looking nearly sausage-like thing right above them. Above all of this is wool roving that I bought on line. It's one pound of 12 different colors. You use the roving plus 3 layers of batting to form little colorful balls, which you place in the knee high nylons; you tie a knot after the ball and then go on to placing the next colorful ball in the nylon. I got 13 balls in one sock. Then you put the whole thing in the wash with your clothes; once it's done washing then you put it in the dryer. The best part is when you open the sock and find the little colorful puff balls you've created.Posted by Picasa
I've sewn beads on some of the puff balls and used them on the abstract art piece I'm creating. You will see it eventually. It is so much fun to create art this way. More on all of this later.