Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Shakin' and Bakin' in SoCal......

Yes, we had a good earthquake today. Well, maybe that's not the adjective I should choose, but we had an impressive one. Yes, that's better.

We live under that bright blue square with the smaller red squares. I was at a stop light, in my poor tired Tody-yody (which is in neeed of new shocks and struts), and was suddenly being bounced around at a pretty good intensity. What was funny was the SUV in front of me, which was jostling like an elephant on a trampoline....

And then it was over, except for one smaller (3.1?) aftershock I felt a few minutes later. (there have been more aftershocks; I just have not felt them.) To read the write-ups and listen to the television, we were just panic-stricken here....

LOS ANGELES - The strongest earthquake to strike a populated area of Southern California in more than a decade rattled windows and chandeliers, made buildings sway and sent people running into the streets on Tuesday. But there were no immediate reports of serious injuries or major damage.

The 5.4-magnitude quake — considered moderate — was felt from Los Angeles to San Diego, and as far east as Las Vegas, 230 miles away. Nearly 30 aftershocks quickly followed, the largest estimated at 3.8.

Not so. Didn't seem all that dramatic to me....but I was in traffic. Still, didn't see anyone running screaming from the strips of shops and businesses on either side of me. Daughter Laurie emailed me to let me know that evacuating from the 7th floor (likely in heels) wasn't a lot of fun.... Daughter Karen said that in spite of a small fire, maybe not even earthquake-related that resulted in air conditioner failure, sadly, she was not being dismissed to come home....

Sheesh. Of all the places I've lived (and I realize I'm tempting the universe by making this comment), California has been the most benign. We're veterans of:

Three Mile Island in PA,

a polio outbreak in PA,

blizzards in Chicago,

-9 degrees at the school bus stop in Chicago (-22 with wind chill),

tornados and fire ants and scorpions and well, blast furnace heat in Texas,

The earthquakes thus far haven't really fazed us. The yearly wildfires, mudslides, and tanker-sized black widows are a bit more concerning to me, but, that's just me....

Well, moving on....

I wanted to post some pictures from the International Quilt Festival at Long Beach! I went with Karene and Yvette and Karen..... We're now the Three Amigos and the Lil' Amigo.... and we had a ball! We had looked forward to this for MONTHS and it was like a high holy day in the Quilting Kingdom!

Here, we are approaching holy ground.....The convention center in Long Beach.

Lots, and lots to see...............

And look! Eleanor Burns! She was so nice, greeting every one patiently. She took a few moments to admire a new quilter's first quilt, applauding excitedly and making her feel wonderful about her accomplishment.

I turned into what Karen would call a total "fangirl" at this point, and started hyperventilating.

(In my defense, it was 211 degrees on that aisle and I may have been having hot flashes to boot - so I gave up and stuffed my hair up and turned the corner and wouldn't you know it, THAT'S when we found Eleanor!) I hastily bought a book (hey, they were 20% off!!) and she graciously signed it for me!

After she signed it (and I gushed about how she has influenced my quilting and I love her books and I love her methods and I have gotten my sister started even, and now SHE'S using her books, and, and......) she also graciously asked if we'd like a group picture.....

Didn't have to ask us twice! We got done with the picture and she gave us each a souvenier boa as we left her booth. Yes, I was star-struck.

We plodded on, craning our heads and looking in all directions until our necks were using our entire range of motion......including backwards... There was So. Much. To. See.

Wait - who's that sweet lady in that booth?

Whoo hoo! We found Marti Michell's booth! We got to meet her too! Fangirl Joy gushed again.....in tandem with Fangirl Karene (I love your templates, I love how your templates fit together, I will own all your templates one day, etc, etc!)

Karen grabbed this picture, and we mosied on down the aisle.

I also got to see the Last Supper. I had heard about this quilt on a couple of Yahoo group boards I read.....

This lower picture of the Last Supper was NOT taken by me - but it shows the cute gentleman who designed it. The 15.3-foot-by-5.5-foot quilt, created by Donald E. Locke of Waxahachie, Texas, is comprised of 350 fabrics, some hand-dyed, cut into 51,816 half-inch squares. The quilt was machine quilted by Linda V. Taylor of Etna, Wyoming.

I really fell down on the job as picture-taker this time. I didn't bring my camera, and I completely forgot to ask Karen or Yvette to take a picture when we located Leah's booth and found Teacher Extraordinaire there, smiling and working hard! That was one of the high points for me and I was so excited to see Janet and grab a quick hug, that I forgot about a picture. Sigh.

Another highpoint happened around lunch time. We bumped right into Ellen and Jenny and had a quick lunch with them. Anne was there too!! It was like being at class, only no machines! I loved seeing everyone and I can't wait to get back to class for the month of August. I miss them all! Ellen looked so good! She is feeling much better and had her familiar twinkle in her eyes, and that makes me smile!! :)

This picture was taken by Eva after we returned to Yvette's house - still grinning....

And wishing we could go back and walk through it all again!


Friday, July 25, 2008

My Ranch Recipe....

By popular request.... :)

Homemade Ranch Dressing

1 cup mayo (the real thing, not miracle whip, low fat, etc)
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. parsley flakes
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. MSG (Accent -- this concerns some folks, and it can be omitted)
1/4 tsp. garlic/herb mix or just garlic powder (I just happen to have a humongous bottle of garlic with herbs from Costco)
1/4 tsp. onion powder (I prefer to use a tbsp. dried onions, also from a humongous bottle from Costco!)
1/2 tsp. dillweed

Mix all with a whisk in large mixing bowl, and store in fridge. (If you use onion powder, you could use it right away, but the dried onions need a couple hours to reconstitute which also serves to thicken the dressing just slightly).

Now, the above recipe is my own variation of a pile of recipes I collected off the internet... And I never make a batch this small!!

I get a 32 ounce jar of mayonaise, and a quart of buttermilk, and adjust all of the spices up accordingly (x 4). And for the dillweed, I absolutely REFUSE to pay the $7.00 a bottle pricetag on the little bottle in the spice aisle at the grocery store here. So, I went to Henry's, a market here that sells spices in the bulk aisle. I got a plastic bag and put a huge scoop of dried dillweed in it, for about a buck. I refilled the store-bought brand-name bottle three times from it!

Another alternative, before I found the bulk spices, was to purchase fresh dill in the produce department. A container of fresh dill cost me about $2.00 and when dehydrated in my dehydrator, and then crushed, nearly refilled the brand-name spice bottle.

I make so much of this stuff it's not funny! It keeps a long time. I saved my store-bought dressing bottles, and use a bottle brush to wash them, etc... soaked off the labels and then filled them with my own version of Ranch!

I am sure that you could make a reduced fat version of this easily enough, but this version is lower carb and that is helpful to me. I don't eat huge quantities of it at any one time, but I do use it pretty often! I started making it when Patrick was living with us, because there was never a time that boy filled a plate at our house that he didn't also plop a puddle of ranch onto it! He ate Ranch with EVERYTHING. Even with his Thanksgiving dinner plate!! I made this and he loved it! I figured that was high praise from someone who included Ranch Dressing as a food group in his eating plan!

Enjoy!! :)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

For Karene, especially

For Karene, because I forgot to blog it earlier - my Saturday Sampler square.....

And for anyone amused by enthusiastic small dogs.....

"I know if I keep pulling, I can get this toy in my bed!"

"I think I can, I think I can...."

"Can't I? Barkity-bark-bark!!" (canine cursing, I'm sure)

Yes, I put it in the bed with him right after I stopped giggling took the pictures.

(Also, I moved the electrical cord. I had been moving a portable fan when I noticed what he was doing and stopped to take the pictures. Fan/cord were removed immediately after I stopped giggling took said pictures... No enthusiastic small dogs were harmed (or shocked) during the creation of this blog post!!)


For Jackie, especially!

Yesterday was the great Laundry Soap experiment! I have been reading a number of frugal sites (google for homemade laundry detergent and the vast number of recipes will amaze you), and I settled on a variation of the one that seemed to pop up the most. This one called for 20 Mule Team Borax, Arm 'n Hammer Washing Soda and either a Fels-Naptha bar or the easier to locate (sometimes) Zote bar. I assembled my "ingredients."

First I cut the Zote bar into thirds. My recipe only called for 1/3 of a bar.

It cut very easily, and then it was grated into a sauce pan.

6 cups of water was added, and it was heated until the Zote had melted/dissolved (after first clumping up and defeating the purpose of the grating!) At that point, I added 1/2 cup (heaping) of the borax and 1/2 cup (heaping) of the washing soda. This was stirred in until it disolved. It was removed from the heat.

I poured 6 cups hot water into my bucket, poured in my hot soap mixture, stirred it up and added an additional gallon of water. I ignored it the rest of the day.

It did indeed develop a sort of egg-drop soupy/half-melted jello salad consistency. Actually, it had a firmish layer on top, and thinner liquid layer below, but when I stirred it, it broke up easily into the half-melted jello consistency.

This was poured via a funnel into containers I had saved from the last several laundry detergents I had purchased. I filled them only 2/3 full, so that we can shake the container (that layer reforms each time it is left alone) before pouring half a cup into a load of laundry.

I tried it on a load of kitchen towels, sox and undies..... The scent is a nice clean scent, and it did a very good job. I actually think it may have done a little better than my Kirkland brand did on my sox. I wear little footies around the house all the time, because diabetics have to be careful of their feet. So, my sox are a challenge, and while NOTHING gets them white (including bleach), I felt this detergent did a bit better job than my usual.... Yay!

I had not done the math for this yet, but the site I copied it from stated that the writer had recently bought ingredients and made a batch and determined how many loads she could do per batch, etc. She estimated her cost per load was one cent.

I tried to follow her math, and with me paying 99 cents for my Zote bar, and $2.99 for my washing soda, and $3.49 for the borax, I came out to a total cost of 70 cents per batch. (tons of ingredients left over for next time!) The 70 cents divided by 64 half cups (makes just shy of 2 gallons) equals indeed, just over one cent per load.

ONE CENT! Whoo hoo! Even at two cents a load (if my math is off, or the amount it makes is off a bit), the Tide at Sam's today is $19.06 for 110 loads (17 cents a load) and the Kirkland Brand is $13.73 for 110 loads (12 cents a load) so I am saving money! (for not much time or effort either!)

I realize this is old news for many fans of frugality, but I'm loving it! I have this recipe stashed with my "glass cleaner" recipe! It's a keeper. Mr. B is scheduled to do his work clothes tomorrow - I'll let you know what HE thinks!

I was so stoked about the detergent (which only took me 20 minutes to make and get into the bucket!) that I had time to make my Ranch Dressing....

These, became this! In about 5 minutes!


And for those of you keeping up with TuffBoy's practice regimen...

He continues to strive to become a True Tuff Boy.... Today he managed to nail Sadie's leg (more often than not, it's the other way around!)

(click pix to enlarge their teeth enthusiastic efforts!)

But she retaliated with an excellent "head lock"!


Monday, July 21, 2008

Little Blessing - FO

I went to take a picture after sewing on a quickie label and, as usual, was amazed at just what a wreck my house is at the moment always seems to be. I could not find one single surface that wasn't covered in dust, dog hair, or home wrecking home improvement tools.....

I finally cleared a rocking chair and then the quilt, bears, and light would not cooperate. Anyway, it's done, and ready to go to Lisa who is way more than ready to welcome her new little girl into this world!

A pic of the whole thing, just for reference.... In case I lose this picture, when I finally get around to making my "quilt book", I can refer here for a picture of this one! Yes, I'm disorganized.

Mom gave me these labels with my name on them, years ago when I first started quilting. They have truly come in handy! I just didn't have it in me to try to embroider a label today. Yay! Off to wrap it and then off to cut more bricks for Rick's quilt.


Sunday, July 20, 2008


A little action in the "garden"!!

My cantalope plant has several little teentsy babies.....

And two adolescents!!

My watermelon finally started doing something!!!

My zucchini is not yet the proliferative vegetable that I hear other gardeners talking about..... probably because I have collected recipes for zucchini bread, zucchini soup, zucchini saute, breaded/fried zucchini, etc..... Got a little ahead of myself, maybe! But there is another one growing, and LOTS more blossoms.

My cucumber plant gave me two nice sized ones this morning! Salad for lunch today!

And last but not least..... my pumpkin looks like it has a "premie" on the end of one of the vines! (Click any of these pix to enlarge)

And if each of those blooms becomes a pumpkin, I'll have a Real Pumpkin Patch! :)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tuff Boy is getting Tuffer

I've noticed I may need to purchase new "frugal" papertowels soon. The nice white pile has been dwindling (because I keep forgetting and using the good ones for really grungy jobs) and the somewhat tired-looking pile has been growing. Not a big deal to me. They all work the same, but I like to have nicer looking ones in the kitchen for guests to use to dry their hands, etc.

Anyway, every now and then one has come through the wash looking a bit ripped, and I wasn't sure if the quality of the batch I got at Home Depot wasn't up to snuff, or if there was some other reason.

Then I noticed Tuff Boy had requisitioned one during TuffBoy-Practice. Maybe to towel off with, after all his exertion?


They are using them as part of the Tuff Boy workout equipment! No wonder my pile is looking a tad ripped up! (sorry these pix are so blurry - they are moving faster than my camera can focus!)

And when I tried to retrieve it? They BOTH tried to hang on.....

Guess who won?

All that practice is paying off! :)

Playing Catch-Up

I am a dud of a blogger....it's been almost two weeks! I have no real exciting news on the quilting front. Here is this month's Saturday Sampler block that I will be making....

And here are two quilts I saw at Leah's this week, that I'm interested in making....

I am almost done with the Little Blessings binding. I have begun cutting a "Flannel Brick Road" just like the one we made for Craig.... only this time, it will not be flannel. (at least not the bricks, maybe the back?)

One of our good friends has lymphoma, so I'm making the Brick Road for him. He has been a special friend/mentor to Laurie, so she is taking the lighter colored "bricks" to some of the meetings that he attends, and will get all their friends and his sponsor, etc to sign bricks with get-well/hope-filled messages, written in permanent marker.

I'll assemble the quilt and probably try to stitch it in the ditch. Must find out if I need a different walking foot for the Janome 1600..... for stitching in ditch. Here are the colors I picked up for his quilt. I was just looking for "guy" colors, not too flowery, strong natural colors.... These colors are not horribly accurate, but you get the idea. :)

On the gardening front..... (again, those of you with REAL gardens might want to hold down the guffaws, so my delicate feelings are not hurt! teehee! Every gardener starts somewhere and this year I think is my real start!!)

I have zucchini! (click to enlarge)

I have cucumbers!

I have tomatoes popping up all over! Mr. B is contemplating BLT sandwiches!

And here's a little Good Morning to You!

I harvested the first zuke, cuke and tomato yesterday! (I picked that cucumber because it was crooked - I have lots of straight ones I'm letting grow a bit more)!

And here is a look at my Morning Glory trees this year! I keep thinking the vines will choke out the neighbor's trees, but everything is coexisting at this point, so I have lovely blue-blossomed trees out back!

Last night, I met my girls after work and we visited a scrapbooking shop called Scrapbook Oasis (here) which was right down the road from Laurie's work. We kind of got our feet wet, making our first real pages, etc.

I am interested in both the scrapbooking aspect of it (there are six HUGE bins of pictures from the 30 years of marriage/parenting hiding in a closet upstairs) and also especially the cardmaking aspect.

Check out the cards this this lady has made. Amazing! I saw a lot of techniques last night that I really liked, like stamping and coloring in, etc

(Because, you know, I am 5! and I miss coloring! Very relaxing and fun!) I also saw lots of ways to deplete my wallet, but all in all, there are a lot of frugal ways to make cards and have fun at the same time. With cards costing $3.50 on average these days, there's a bit of room for getting a few gadgets to make really personal ones!!

However, as I said above..... I am a dud at the blogging right now, because I forgot to take pix last night. I will try to get pix from the girls of their pages and post later!