Sunday, September 30, 2007

Our Mission Organization

Something about the changing season, & snow capping the mountains behind the house, knowing soon it'll be flying down here too, made me want to clean & organize this weekend.
I started on Friday evening by pulling out all of my summer clothes from my closet, then most of Saturday was spent putting winter clothes in, (much neater than it had been), & putting the summer things in the under the bed bags. I also got rid of 1 large garbage bag full of stuff, & at least 7 or 8 old T-shirts have been cut up & turned into dust & paint rags.
I also did a major vacuum & dust job today.
Today we switched the summer door for the winter door in the kitchen.
Now the summer door resides in the corner of the living room.
On the dining room table, I put my Halloween fabric on the table.
A layer of orange cotton duck, covered with a sheer net with spider webs all over it. These are the only kind of spider webs I'll allow in my house.
We went to a movie last night. We saw "The Brave One" with Jodie Foster. The critics weren't very kind to it, but Warren & I really liked it. It is more of a "guy flick", a lot of violence, but I found it pretty riveting. I was afraid it would have a very unhappy ending, & it did make me tear up at the end, but it was better than I thought it could be. Naveen Andrews plays Jodie's fiancee, & I really like him from Lost. I didn't realize he was actually British, because on Lost he is Middle Eastern, & has a different accent. It was strange to hear his British accent in this movie. If you like Die Hard type movies, you'll like this one.
I did pretty well my 1st week back to work. My shoulder is a little stiffer, but this week I'll get 2 days of physical therapy by working Mon. , Wed, Fri. The schedule stinks, but is probably better for my shoulder. I haven't gotten any sewing done. I still have to finish the Irish Dance Dress, but will try to work on it a bit this evening, & will probably get it finished by next weekend. Getting ready for winter had to take priority this weekend I'm afraid.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Dress, Curtains, Exercise, etc.

The Irish Dance Dress is almost done AGAIN! Christie stopped by today after school so I could have her try on the top half of the dress before I sew the skirt back on to it. It fit her like a glove. I actually think I should let it out about 1/4-1/2 inch to give a bit room for the skirt & breathing. The skirt appears to be the right length now, & it's stiff enough with the extra stabilizer & stays that I've added, so soon I'll be piecing it all back together. Then I'll have to shorten the cape & make a head piece to match. Christie liked the new black sparkly lining I put in.
The other project I worked on this past week, is curtains for our closets. We opted for fabric instead of wood doors, as the walls & ceilings are all cedar boards. We agreed that was more than enough wood in the room. The bistro table in the above shot will go into Warren's bar when he gets it done. Then we'll have room to dance in our bedroom!
The recliner was bought for my shoulder surgery. It'll also come in handy when I get bronchitis again (which seems to happen every couple years or so). I have Asthma, & if a cold moves into my chest, breathing becomes a real effort. I try not to get sick often.
In an effort to stay healthy, I moved the bike out into the living room so I would be more likely to use it. It doesn't look bad where I put it. It's tucked out of the way, so much so Warren walked past it several times without noticing it setting there. I've spent 15 minutes a day on it since I moved it (yesterday...30 minute total so far), so I promise to use it at least 5 minutes on work days, & 15 or more on non work days! I've also joined Weight Watchers again. Lost 4.4 lbs the 1st week. My Physical Therapy is going really well also. I'm making gains in strength & range of motion each time I go.
So now, I owe, I owe, so tomorrow morning, it's back to work I go!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

It's Back

Well here's Christy in her dress. It's still too loose on top, & too long, so ...
here's what it looks like now. Oh well, I knew I was likely to need to do a bit more work on it, & the deconstruction was easy.
I've already taken the top in, & raised the seam on the shoulders, now just need to get cracking on the skirt. I'm also going to add more stabilizer & more lining to make the skirt stiffer.
The seam ripper in the above picture shows where I'll be cutting it shorter.
That also means one of the back snowflakes will be removed, but I'll use it to make a tiara for her to go with the dress.
Tuesday I took a Sashi ko class from Carroll Jones. It was very nice of her, as she didn't charge us a cent for the class. I haven't taken a picture of my project yet. Maybe later, I've had other things on my mind.

On the way home from the Sashi-ko class, I stopped down by the creek at the bottom of our road & snapped these images.

I saw my doctor Wednesday & will be going back to work next Tuesday. My shoulder is making perfect progress, now my #$!@darned knees are hurting. Getting old aint for sissies!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

More Autumn & My Bread recipie

It was a glorious autumn day today. The sun was shining brightly, & the air felt crisp & cool. I helped Warren out on the deck, just holding the t-square for him in place so he could clamp it on the posts, then, use it as a guide to cut the tops of the posts off level & at the correct height. After they were all cut I went around picking them up off of the ground, & started noticing plants that are changing color, so of course I had to go in & get my camera.
I loved this leaf (from a wild raspberry plant I think).
& this little weed too, but I really got excited when this group of sandhill cranes flew over head. Oh they make a wonderful racket! We could hear them long after they'd flown out of sight. I had hopes that they may have taken a respite at Potters Marsh, so we hopped in the car & buzzed down there,
but alas, all that was there were a few little ducks.

Oh, and a few fish.
We could see more termination dust from here too.

I decided this stump looks like a water dragon.
Back at home I had to admire the vignette of fruits & veggies that I have on the kitchen counter, along with my latest Susan Branch cookbook that my sister Em sent a while ago. The sun made my peppers glow. Why is it when I'm trying to stick with a good diet (i.e. Weight Watchers) all I can think about is food?
Speaking of food, a couple of you asked about my cranberry cinnamon bread.
It turned out delicious. I was taught how to make bread by my friend Lori DeWitt, in Grand Haven, Michigan. Lori & I both worked in the ICU at Hackley Hospital in Muskegon, & she was passionate about cooking & baking. One day she decided to take me & 2 other nurses, & teach us the art of bread baking. It was an extraordinary day. She had 4 batches of bread started in different stages, & took us through each stage until we all had sore muscles from kneading dough, but at the end of a long day we went home with about 16 loaves of bread & a new skill.
Bread made Lori's way starts with
the sponge:
3 1/2 c bread flour (or whole grain if you want-I always use Spelt flour)
1/2 c sugar (or honey, but cut down your liquid if using honey)
1/2 oz fresh cake yeast or 1 pkg dry yeast
2 c water warm
1 c milk warmed
You dissolve the yeast in 1/2 c water from the (2 c above). I dump a little of the sugar in this cup too to jump start the yeast. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, water,milk & the yeast once it's doubled in the cup (should be ready in a couple minutes, if not you need new yeast). Stir this well, about 100 strokes, then cover with plastic wrap & set in a warm spot to rise. About 1 -3 hours.
Dough & 1st Rise
1 Tbs salt
2 Tbs melted butter
4-5c Bread Flour
Sprinkle the salt over the top of the sponge. Let it melt a bit, then add the butter, stir this up [now is the time if you want to have all over nuts, raising or other stuff you can add it (Lori's way), or just wait & do it at the end (my way), & you can make 3 different kinds of bread from one batch]. Now add the flour. I do this pretty much 4 cups at once, then mix with a huge rubber spatula until the flour is mixed in well. Next I dump about half of a cup of flour on the counter top, dump on it the ball of dough (it's pretty sticky at this point), & then the other 1/2 c of flour on top & start kneading. I knead for a full 10 minutes, adding more flour as I go to keep it from sticking, & making it become a big cohesive squishy ball of dough. Lori's big tip here was, you know the dough is the right consistency when it fells like you're pinching your earlobe, when you pinch a bit of it between your fingers.
Spray your large bowl with Pam or grease it up, & put your dough in & cover it back up to rise some more. It should double in size in about 2 hours or less, depending on how warm the room is.
Punch Down & Second Rise
Flour the work surface lightly & dump the dough on it again. Knead it well to get out all the CO2 bubbles, about 6 minutes this time. Return it to the bowl & cover & let rise again about 1 or 2 hours until doubled again.
Shaping the Loaves & Final Rise
Turn the dough onto the lightly floured surface again, & knead it well (about 3 minutes). Make one round ball, then cut it into 3 equal wedges (I picture a clock & cut it at noon, 4, & 8). Set 2 of the wedges aside then take the 3rd & flatten it with a rolling pin. Roll it out into a rectangle about 8 inches wide & 18-20 inches long. Now if you want a plain loaf of bread just roll it tightly, pinching & tucking the ends until you have a loaf shape, & put it into a greased bread pan to rise.
If you want to make a flavored bread, like the Cinnamon Cranberry this is where you add the flavors. For the Cinnamon Cranberry, first I melt a couple Tbsp. of butter & spread it on top of the rolled out dough. Then I sprinkled on Orange peel, cinnamon, a hand full of cranberries, & a drizzle of honey, or a little brown sugar (both are good). Roll it tight as you can, tucking & pinching the ends so the goodies don't fall out. Put it in a greased pan. Cover it & let it rise again until it's rounding above the edge of the pan.
Other flavors I've used that are good are herbs & cheeses, several different combinations.
Baking & Cooling
Bake in 350 degree preheated oven 25 - 30 minutes. Now the hard part. You must let it cool for 2-3 hours before slicing it or it'll be doughy in the middle if you cut it sooner. So, let me know if you try it!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Termination Dust

I got up early this morning & went to rejoin Weight Watchers. I've gained weight this summer from my inactivity. After the weigh-in & went & sat down for the meeting. I hadn't paid any attention to what the weight was, I knew about where I was, & didn't need to look, but then as the meeting started I glanced at the booklet... Holy COW! According to what was written down I had gained about 40 pounds since I last weighed myself a couple of weeks ago! Well, I sat there having this strange conversation in my head.."this has to be a mistake, ...I wouldn't fit into my pants if I'd gained that much weight... but what if it's right, & my scale is wrong? Oh how humiliating to demand to be weighed again because I just can't possibly be THAT heavy,
so I went & bought a pedometer, & just stepped up on the scale while I was there...PHEW!
Yep the gal had made a 40 pound mistake. I told the lady 40, & she said "you mean 4, right?", & I said "No, look...40". So during the 1/2 meeting I made it way past the 10% goal that was written. It was a new record for Wgt. Watchers. We all got a good laugh, except for the girl who weighed me the first time, she just hung her head & continued to work on paper work (rechecking her numbers I suspect).
Finally today, there is a little termination dust on the mountain tops! It's always exciting to see that first dusting of snow.
Warren finished of his "Quilt top deck" today, now he just has to finish the side rails. We've decided on steel cable to keep it visually clean. We want to see our surrounding woods & wildlife.
Inside I decided to make bread. It's the first time I've made it since we moved back into the house. Before we did the addition I used to make bread every weekend. A new exercise in my Physical Therapy made me think of it. It was the same motion as when I knead bread, so today I did. The one on the left is plain Spelt bread, the other 2 are my cranberry cinnamon bread that Warren likes to eat with peanut butter. It also makes great toast, & french toast. It made the house smell wonderful.
I also had a fire going in the living room to help the bread raise faster. Broccoli was enjoying the heat, but was a little annoyed at my flash. I can just hear a Morris the cat voice in my head saying,"Must you really?".

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Greek Salad & Fruit Fly Traps

It was my turn to host my Calendar Girls group today. These woman are so much fun. Mary , in the middle there was getting teased & given some gag gifts because of an unfortunate typo on the auction quilt list at our quilt show last weekend. The person who typed the list of auction quilts, typed the name of the quilt, then who made it. For one of Mary's quilts, the name "Cherry Blossom" was substituted for Mary's name. Well you can imagine that led to all sorts of fun.
We managed to squeeze 12 women into my living room! I wasn't sure we would all fit, but we did OK.

I served my favorite Greek Chicken Salad, with garlic bread, & Jello Pretzel Salad in 2 different flavors (the usual Strawberry), & I also tried it using peaches & sugar free peach Jello, & Splenda instead of sugar in the crust. It turned out really good, I think I liked the peach best, & so did everyone else.

Now here is an odd change of subject for you. Did you know that Fruit Flies love Port Wine? I first discovered this when Aunt Ethel was living with us, & every evening she would drink a glass of Port. Well it must be Fruit Fly season here, because they are every where we go lately, & we seem to have just a few here in the house, so I asked Warren to buy me a bottle of Port so I can trap the fruit flies. This is a trick my sister Vicki taught me (only she uses vinegar, her fruit flies aren't boozers I guess). Place plastic wrap over the top of a glass or jar. Place a ring or elastic to hold it tight.
Poke a hole in the top of the plastic. The flies will fly in, & get drunk, & drown themselves.
Oh, & here's the Greek Chicken
Place Chicken breasts to marinate in a glass dish, with Italian Salad dressing (about 1/2 a bottle for 4 to 6 breasts, enough to cover them). They can marinate a couple of hours to over night in the fridge.
Prepare salad ahead: 2 or 3 cucumbers seeded & diced
4 -6 ripe tomatoes seeded & diced
1 or 2 large Sweet onions peeled & diced
lemon juice (about 1-2 tbsp)
Feta cheese crumbled 8 oz or more. (the herb & Garlic Feta is really good in this).
some fresh ground pepper & a pinch of garlic salt
toss it all together & pour on more Italian Dressing.
I've used Good Seasons, & Kraft, & a couple of others, even one with Parmesan cheese in it, they are all good. I cook creatively & it still seems to always turn out good.
Grill or broil the chicken breasts 20 to 30 before you want to eat. For a family meal we put the chicken on the plate, then spoon the salad on top. Today with the group, I just cubed up the chicken & tossed it into the salad. It was great like that, & Warren & I had the left overs for supper, & it still tasted wonderful.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Autumn is in the air

I'm in an Autumn frame of mind. The weather has been more autumn like here, though a little warmer than usual for this time of year. No termination dust falling on the mountains yet, but leaves are turning gold, & nights are definitely getting longer. I love the smell of autumn. It's such a spicy fresh scent. I've been switching out the quilts around the house, hanging all the Fall quilts. It's my favorite time of year & it shows. I still have quite a few, even though I sold one of my favorites this past spring.
I brought Portage Paulene, & Crowpass Corrine out from the guest room today.
I also hung "Why?" on the door in the corner, & set an up light on the floor behind it, so that it shines through the window of the door at night. It makes a nice nightlight. This is our winter door, so it'll be switched out soon, & the summer door will spend the winter in it's place.

Below are the 3 small quilts I won at the small quilt auction at our quilt show this weekend.
It was funny, when I first saw this purple hearts quilt hanging in the auction, my 1st thought was "Oh, I like how that's quilted", rapidly followed by, "gee, it looks familiar", then "Oh, no wonder! I was the one who quilted it!"Well I decided I wanted it, so I bought it! The original quilt maker was unknown, the block was found in our guild stash.
This little blue star quilt was made by my friend Kathy Harte. The quilting was done from the reverse side, following a printed panel, what you see here is bobbin thread. I think I may turn this into a throw pillow.

This last one is by my friend Jackie Carley. It was hand painted & stamped & machine quilted. I love the colors. It puts a nice punch of color on my wall.

Have any of you noticed the changes in Quilters Newsletter lately? I was thinking seriously of discontinuing my subscription until these changes came about. It seems to have more news now. I'm liking it better again.

Speaking of news. The La Conner Quilt Museum, in La Conner Washington, is having a special 10th anniversary celebration at the end of September, & they notified me today that they want to use my "Oh! To Dance With a Dolphin!" quilt for their publicity for the "Blue Ribbon Quilts" show that it'll be hanging in. I am honored!