Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Mixture

This is the current state of my design wall. The three on the left are part of the block of the month quilt I am building. The bottom flower in that group is one of four that will go in the corner of each row. The other block is applique for the Baltimore Album Quilt block of the month.

I am still drawn to applique far more than regular quilting.

Big news, I am now part of a quilting bee that meets every Tuesday from 9-12. Some very interesting quilters there. After only one meeting I find that there are all sorts of things I want to try...thread art is top of my list.
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Catching Up

Kerry and I are sending Jesus to summer camp again this year. Eight weeks of fun including great field trips. He's very excited. It's five days a week from 7:30 to 5:30. Gotta keep him tired out so he doesn't hang out too much with the kids in his apartment complex. They aren't the best role models, but he doesn't know that.

This is an old picture; he's grown a lot. He also asked to go to a week-long basketball camp the week before summer camp. We signed him up for that too. His mom who is here cleaning today told me a funny story about him. They were talking about a teenage girl that he knows (he's 9). Jesus said that she had her period. Francesca was a bit surprised he knew about things like that. But then he asked when he was going to get his period. We both cracked up when she told me the story. Tomorrow he's going to receive an award at school. I wish we could be there.

We leave tomorrow morning for a car trip to Burlington, WA where Kerry's sisters live. It will be great to see everyone and experience cool Washington weather. But best of all, I'm going to get to meet another blogger, Laura at Plus we are going to the Mt. Vernon Farmer's Market on Saturday morning. Looking forward to seeing what they have to offer.

On Monday we will head down the Oregon coast to visit our friend Charlotte who lives in Newport. Harleen is going too. She gets to learn about motels. Thursday night we will be in Wilsonville outside of Portland at the Best Western. They are dog friendly.

She did very well on the camping trip. Zooey, our friends lab, and Harleen played together every day. I'm just glad we camp only once a year. Everyone came home covered in dirt.

So that's it for a while. We will be home on June 4th. I'll catch up with you then.
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Friday, May 22, 2009

An Eclectic View Of Our Weekend To Come

We are going camping this weekend at Steve and Janet's Yellow Dog Ranch near Boonville, CA I've been doing this on Memorial Day weekend since 1984. These photos were taken in 2006, I believe. This is the only time we came all year.

The outhouse is an important part of where we put our tent. As you women of a certain age know, you never want to be far from the bathroom, especially at night. Getting up in the night with a flashlight to find your way to the "loo" is always interesting. Luckily these are "new" outhouses that have been carefully tended and are rarely used.

Hopefully someone will bring lots of asparagus that will be roasted over barbecue coals as pictured. In the evening we will gather round the fire to talk, dodge the smoke and sparks and watch the kids make s'mores.

About 100 people attend each year. It started out being lots of people Steve and I worked with at PG&E but now it's grown to include an expanded circle of friends, their kids and grandkids. This year dogs are not allowed. We won't mention the irreverent behavior of some dogs last year that resulted in this ban. Harleen, Zoey (their yellow lab of the same age), a senior citizen golden retriever named Emily who comes from Alaska each year and an old, timid dog that Sue brings each year will be allowed. The rowdy ones have been banned.

Packing for this two night stay is like planning for an army assault. Last year we didn't get the chicken out of the freezer in time so we ate really late. Tomorrow we are putting it in the marinade in the morning when we leave for our 3.5 hour drive. You learn something every year; you forget something every year. The stars will be heavenly. Have a great and safe weekend.
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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Traveling In Style To The Market

It's not just transportation; it's a statement. My sister-in-law Joanne has this exact car. It's a 1970 Cadillac that was owned by her father. She's getting it cleaned up and dusted off for our trip to the farmer's market in Mt. Vernon, WA on Saturday, May 30th.

That's the opening day for the market; what a great way for veggies and fruits to ride home. Wave if you see us.
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Slow Food Dinner

It was really, really hot but the olive grove provided lots of shade which helped immensely. There were about 100 people eating luscious, locally grown food. Even the beer and wine were locally produced. Linen table clothes and napkins, real silverware and dishes. Harleen was not impressed by any of it. She finally got settled down in a cool patch of earth and didn't budge much. I did get her to go see the chickens.

The chicken part is interesting. These are the layers. Their home looks like a rickety old cottage on wheels. It gets moved around the farm every few days so the chickens eat the things that normally would be taken care of by pesticides. This farm also uses cattle and goats to keep down weeds. No chemicals and very little use of diesel. Much better for the world and those who consume their products. Joel Salatin, a farmer in Swoope, Virginia, does a lot of this type of thing. Check out his web site at

Dinner was Moroccan lamb with peach chutney, roasted chicken with a nice spicy sauce that was green, an assortment of vegetables, salad with quinoa, and for dessert, strawberries in a custard with a chicken-shaped sugar cookie. The most interesting part was the appetizer: fresh goat cheese wrapped in grape leaves which were secured with strands of leeks for the baking. Very delicious. Lots of french bread for dipping in olive oil from the olives in the orchard in which we ate.

Since then the weather has cooled considerably. I probably would have had a better appetite if it had been cooler. Harleen would have been happier too. Met one of the people I Twitter with: Chris from Chaffin Orchards Farm. Nice young man. We also got more eggs, including some green ones, and a gallon of olive oil. Great way to spend a Sunday.
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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Not Fast Food

The Slow Food movement started in Italy in 1986 when a McDonalds opened at the Spanish Steps in Rome. To counteract fast food, Carlo Petrini, founded "slow food." The movement has expanded globally to 122 countries.

We joined the Slow Food USA chapter about a month ago and today are going to our first dinner. It's in a 100-year-old olive grove on Chaffin Orchards Farm just north of Oroville, CA. All the food will be from local farms cooked by local chefs. No packaged foods. Local wine and beer too. We will savor every bite and talk a lot between courses. There will be about 100 people there. It's going to be 102 so it's going to be a test of my ability to be outdoors in the heat. Harleen is going too. Hopefully the olive grove will be cooler.

Chef and cookbook author Alice Waters is leading the Slow Food movement in the U.S. Her Berkeley restaurant, Chez Panisse, is still a mecca for foodies who want simple, well prepared meals. I've eaten there; the food is sublime.

Yesterday I blanched ten ears of fresh corn and then froze the kernels. Creamed corn will taste really good in December.

This week we start receiving our box of veggies from our CSA (community supported agriculture) farm, the Natural Trading Company which is just up the road from us.

My goals this CSA season: learn to like beets.
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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Take The Challenge

All you have to do is serve one locally grown item at one meal per week. That's pretty simple. Here's an example: you are barbecuing chicken and decide to have a salad and corn on the cob to go with it. Go to your local farmer's market and see if they have either or both of those veggies. Cook them up and report your meal to Farm to Philly. If it sounds pretty simple, that's because it is.

You support the local farm economy, find out what's in season in your farm neighborhood, and have some delicious food. Who knows it might become a habit.

You can sign up by May 30th at

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Food, Glorious Food....

I stole that from the musical "Oliver." But it describes how I feel about our dinner tonight. It's all about glorious leftover food: BBQ beef tenderloin and oven-roasted cauliflower. That's the basis. Add flour tortillas (burrito sized), black beans and sour cream. It doesn't take much to make a wonderful locally grown meal.

I'm already planning for tomorrow because I have book group tomorrow night so I have to eat early and Kerry eats later. Pork stew meat will go in the crock pot early in the day with an assortment of vegetables, spices and homemade chicken stock. For some reason I've never made pork stock.

It's farmer's market tomorrow morning, which is always exciting.

Plus next Sunday we are going to our first Slow Food USA event. It's a dinner in a 100-year-old olive orchard. All the food and wine will be locally produced.

Wednesday is platelets: so far I'm at 113 pints.

If you've never thought about it, give it a try. Whole blood, platelets and plasma are always needed. Check it out. The people there are really nice and in the summer you get coupons from Baskin Robbins for free ice cream.

Rick Nelson: April 10, 1970

This wasn't exactly a high point in his career as a singer; performing at the Baumholder Officers' Club. But I was dispatched to cover his concert because the editor of the Overseas Family (companion to the OW) knew that military wives would read the story. And besides, I got to meet one of my teen idols.

I was late getting there because I had been visiting friends in Munich and miscalculated how long it would take me to get there. I remember taking a curve in the Germany countryside on two wheels. Of course back then I thought I was invincible.

Luckily my photographer, a gorgeous swede named Calle (pronounced Culla), was there to get what I missed. I had such a crush on Calle the entire time I worked with him. He spoke fluent English but with that Swedish lilt. He was also married with a child. He flirted right back. That's all I'm going to say.

My work took me all over Europe, except for France. DeGaulle had already thrown the American military out. I still found ways to get to France.

Usually I would leave my apartment in downtown Frankfurt on Monday morning, take the tram to the train station and head out by train for a week of interviews and trials. I'd come back on Thursday evening and write all day Friday.

I have to search for more clips from my days there. This was just the first one I found. More to come.
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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Yes, Cats Can Swim

Kerry, Harleen, Nora and Georgio went for a walk this morning to see if we had any rain damage. None found.

But Georgio decided to take a short cut to get back to the pack. He mistook the red algae on the lower pond for dirt. He leaped, landed in the water and paddled furiously to shore. I tried to get a picture of him; he looked like a drowned cat. He won't sit still long enough to have the picture be in focus.

Nora is now working on getting him cleaned up. So now you know, cats can swim.

The quilt pictured here is one I finished for a class I'm taking; it's only 36"x36". The title of the pattern is "romantic." I think mine looks more "frantic." I don't think the teacher is going to be very happy with me. Oh well, live and learn.
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Sunday, May 03, 2009

How This All Started..The Way We Eat Now

A farmer (Chaffin Orchard Farms) I twitter with sent me a link to a blog about how to support a sustainable urban food system. The blog is Civil Eats. But for those out there who read my sermons about this I'll keep it simple and just start with what the blog says is number one. It's really the core of what I do.

"Start small and simple

  1. Make a few things from scratch.
  2. Pick three actions to start now: for example, stop eating packaged foods (that's a biggie), prepare your own food and cut out meat eating once a week.
  3. Compost.
  4. Plant and grow your own herbs (golden oregano, sage, Greek basil, thyme, Rosemary in my garden) and your favorite vegetables (tomatoes).
  5. Get clear on the origins of your favorite food – where do the ingredients come from?
  6. How was it made?
  7. Harvested?
  8. Who harvests the ingredients and how is it processed?
  9. What’s the impact of your choice?"
My first step was composting. We can't use our garbage disposal very much because we have a septic system. To cut down on our garbage output I went to Peaceful Valley Farm Supply and bought a compost bin. Then I bought worms so the stuff would get digested easier. The worms came in the mail. Weird. I had no idea where this would lead.

It's taken me nearly three years to get to where I am today. I've met some pretty amazing people during my journey. Our next food adventure is dinner in a 100-year-old olive orchard sponsored by Slow Food USA and Chaffin Orchards. Everything served will be locally produced. I can hardly wait.

An additional benefit, doing this just might get rid of your sugar craving. Even though you may not eat it directly, I'll bet it's in so many of the packaged foods you eat. It's in the form of corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, sucrose, etc. That's all sugar and it does horrible things to your appetite. And it lurks in low fat salad dressings.

So that's my Sunday sermon.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

My New Kitchen Toy

This summer I have plans for freezing lots of fresh vegetables; peas and corn in particular. Ziploc bags work pretty well; but this new toy works a whole lot better. Today I shelled a bunch of peas while listening to a book on CD (Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson). I blanched them, chilled them and then sealed them with my toy. They looked so beautiful as they went into the freezer.

I also made a big batch of chicken stock and cream of mushroom soup. The soup is already in the freezer. The stock goes in tonight.

This is our second straight day of rain. We got an inch yesterday. Last night I left our slider in the bedroom open so I could fall asleep to the sound of rain. It's really good for my soul.

Harleen ran errands with me today and was a real trooper. Once she has her vest on she knows that she's in the public eye and must behave. She went to a very short quilt class, to Starbuck's for coffee with a friend, then to the library and finally to the grocery store.

I took her to the ladies room with me at the grocery store. It probably looked pretty funny with my two legs and her four visible under the stall door but we managed. I would have used the handicapped stall but it was in use and I couldn't wait.

Quiet night planned; watching episode two of the second season of Boston Legal and having chicken enchiladas for dinner. If you've never seen this show, rent it from Netflix; it's great, especially William Shatner as Denny Poole. Candace Bergen is in it too.
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