Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sincere Flattery

There was no way this weekend was going to go like my "to do" list said it would.... garden finished, floors done, typing done, pantry cleaned out, fridge cleaned out, and a few towels appliqued. I decided to settle for a clean bathroom, floors done in tandem with Karen (she vacc'd, I mopped/dried).... From there I enjoyed a quick visit from Laurie and Jason...and got my typing done....

The dishes meanwhile, were fruitful and multiplied.... So the dishes got done, and done, and done.

I opened the door to the pantry to clean it out, and just repeated my action from earlier this week. I backed away slowly and got over it. Same with the fridge.


I did get to make a few towels! The saying goes "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." Last year, Yvette gave me some Oh. Sew. Cute. towels for my birthday.... and I decided to make some for gifts this year...

This is how my stitching will look someday..... Yvette's is just perfect!

And here are the two sets I made today!

(Yep, forgot to reverse the pattern!) I fused both sets and stitched one, and have one more to stitch out and I'll have two sets for gifts. Yay! I made one goof on the stitching, too, but I'm not going to dwell on it! Perfection was not the goal! I'm getting better at the applique, and I'm enjoying it. That's all that matters!

Monday looms..... Night night all!


Friday, March 27, 2009

The Happy (Thirsty) Couple

Guess who came to dinner today??!!

Our missing lady! The lovely couple showed up and for a moment, drank together from the hummingbird feeder.

Then he took off and she continued to guzzle. She was so thirsty that she would bend over and slurp....

and then straighten up and let it run down her throat!

I was glad to see her! They are Hooded Orioles and they make my day!


If you click on the link above (blue) it will take you to a site that you can even hear their birdsong. This is how I know they are on the feeder while I'm sitting, three feet away through the window screen, at my computer transcribing. I hear them over the dictation! I can turn slowly and they don't even flinch. Even if the phone rings, I can usually answer and they just keep on slurping!

I caught one picture of his markings across his shoulders today(unfortunately through both glass and screen, and I didn't realize the flash was on)... the black across his shoulders extends around under his throat. Quite the handsome fellow, even if this picture is pretty fuzzy!


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Blankie Girl gets a Blankie!

Yesterday late in the afternoon, I received the most gorgeous gift from my dear friend, Deborah! The envelope tucked inside the box said 'Joy (a.k.a. Blankie Girl)' and explained that she could not wait until my birthday to send it so it could "wrap me in her love and prayers"! (She knows its been a bit rough around here emotionally, in the last few months! We've had a few heart-wrenching bumps in the road, but ultimately, we are fine!)

Believe me, I tore into that package FAST. It was not a total surprise, because Deborah had told me she wanted to make me a blankie.... so I knew it was coming.... but I could not WAIT to see it!

(Deborah used to work with us in the transcription business, and used to live nearby, but shortly after I met Deborah and Joe, they sold their home here and moved to semi-retire on a beautiful 5-acre grove in Pennsylvania. She has successfully battled breast cancer, and my transcriptionists helped make a chemo-blankie for her when we found out she was sick. I sent squares (cut pieces) out to everyone and they constructed the squares and sent them back...And I have not quit making chemo quilts since then...because sadly, we keep hearing about more and more friends and family members who have cancer!)

Deborah knits and crochets beautifully! Look at this!!

I love it! I took a picture with it flat on my living room floor (carefully cleaned before hand!) and the individual squares of this "quilt" are soooooo pretty! I don't know how she did it. I think its an afghan stitch for the background squares, and a cross stitched design over the squares.... but she's not home and I haven't been able to ask her yet!!

This is a close-up of a square to give you an idea how she did it, but as I said, I am not really sure of the technique.

All I know is, it is absolutely the prettiest thing and it matches my living room furniture (so it can rest there, in between stints of keeping me warm on the sofa in the den!) and Deborah? I LOVE IT! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!

And I have one bit of springy news:

He's back!

I have not seen any sign of a female this year. Last year and the year before, he had a female with him and they took turns at the feeder. He's been here three days now, and I've not seen her at all! Hopefully, she'll show up soon!


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A tentative score....

Karen, Laurie and I enjoy soy milk from Costco in cartons that are shelf stable, and we just chill one at a time in the fridge. Inexpensive by the case and lower in carbs, high in protein, and good for us in so many ways! I usually make my own yogurt from whole milk but with the vegan guidelines the girls are following, they have occasionally shelled out the big bucks for soy yogurt.

Soy yogurt from Vons or Albertsons (from this week's on-line ad)...

$1.59 for six ounces, with fruit. (so really, less than six ounces of actual soy yogurt)

And my home made soy yogurt, to which we can add fruit (either fresh fruit, or a tablespoon of all-fruit, no-added-sugar preserves).......

$1.06 for the carton of soy milk (bought by the case), $0.60 for half of a store-bought plain soy yogurt (for the original culture) equals $1.66, divided by eight (6 ounce containers made) results in a cost of $.20 apiece, or maybe $.22 if you add in a couple pennies for the tablespoon of fruit?

Now we wait for the taste tests conducted by the girls..... :)
Update: The texture was good, not as thick as the whole milk yogurt I make, but acceptable. It really lent itself more to making yogurt shakes, and that's what I've used it for. I like the flavor and I won't hesitate to make it again. But I think I personally prefer the whole milk yogurt anyway (greek yogurt), so I will probably make whole milk yogurt most often, but it will also depend on what I have on hand! :)

Monday, March 23, 2009

I am Le Tired....

It sounded like such a good idea at the time.... I wanted an even better garden this year, and I really started early to try to make sure it worked. I bought flats, planted seeds, and started eying the slope....

About the time some of these seeds started sprouting, I got a sudden wave of industriousness and decided to make terraces on the slope, so that water retention would be improved, more stuff could be planted, and of course, so I could walk around up there without the extreme risk of breaking one/both hips slipping on the slope....

So I got plywood (the cheapest, which means it will likely disintegrate in two years, but, oh well!) and had it cut into foot wide, eight foot long boards. I got stakes to hold the boards up....

And I set about trying to restructure the slope. However, the soil is ALL clay/rocks/yuck.... so I needed something along the line of compost/soil amendment to give my vegetables a chance at living long enough to produce!

See these beauties?

They live at Serrano Creek Ranch Equestrian Center. They eat, and eat, and eat...... and of course, they poop and poop and poop. Well, their stable is located near a sawmill, and from what I understand from someone on a gardening forum, the sawmill cooperates with the stable.... large quantities of sawdust are composted with horse poop.....
and after it cooks (composting to 150 degrees which kills all weed seeds, etc, but maintains the organic goodness) and turns into black gold....

We buy it!

Thirty bags worth! Compost/soil amendment at Home Depot: $5.87 for two cubic feet. Compost at Serrano Creek Soil Amendments: $1.84 for two cubit feet. I like that math!

Their website says "Our amendment is organic- just wood shavings from lumber mills and horse manure from hay." I hope my seedlings are impressed. Anyway, this stuff should improve the soil, and also retain moisture a bit....hopefully reducing the watering necessary this year.

I terraced off the majority of the slope in about four days. I have about 14-16 feet left to do at the far end. I have planted bush beans, pole beans, yellow squash, zucchini, butternut squash (I think...), watermelon, cantalope, pumpkins, and various kinds of sunflowers and a bush type of morning glory....all with varying degrees of success. I put in 2 cherry tomato plants, 9 regular tomato plants, and a short row of strawberries (which I think I will extend as soon as I scrape together the money for more plants!)
I've managed to get some of my seedlings mixed up, so I'm looking forward to seeing what actually grows where!..... It will be a fun surprise!

I ache.

All over.

Mr. B. drove with me down to get the compost... and helped me sling the bags all over the backyard and the slope, to await final application to the soil. But the rest of it, I've done all by my lonesome.

I am Woman, hear me roar! (whine, whine, whine!)

Here's a peek at a baby zucchini....

And a baby bush green bean plant! The label says they can be harvested in 40 days - I could have green beans for dinner by May 3! Yum!

I am Le Tired.... I'm going to bed!


Friday, March 20, 2009

Take That! (I say to the economy)

I made laundry detergent this morning..... made dish washing detergent also... ($17.00 + $6.00, respectively, saved off the list for Costco or Sams)

Made double batch of wheat bread that just came out of the oven...
(whacked another $5.00 off the list, for the cheapest double loaf package of pseudo-wheat bread one can find at Costco or Sams)

Wheat Bread

1 cup warm water
1 tbsp milk or soymilk
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups unbleached wheat flour, all purpose
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 tbsp wheat germ (raw, not toasted)
2 tsp active dry yeast

(*you may replace the above flours with all whole wheat, subtract 3 tbsp of the whole wheat flour and replace with vital wheat gluten to improve texture. However, I couldn't find my vital wheat gluten this morning, and when I contemplated cleaning the pantry out to find it.... I chose to back away slowly and just use half/half flours as above.)

You may make this the old fashioned way, if you have time, and aggressions to work out while kneading the dough. I just slapped the ingredients in the bread machine and let it mix and complete the first rise. Then I put the dough into bread pans and completed the second rise and baking. (350 degrees for 35 minutes)

So THERE, Economy! I've saved $27.00 today already! (Plus my house smells heavenly!)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

By popular request

Seems the daughters have fond memories of my peanut butter granola. Seems they are both are on a vegan kick. Seems that, thank heavens, this recipe is both vegan, if I use a margarine with no milk derivatives such as the dreaded sodium caseinate (one of the principle proteins of cows' milk), and high fiber, if I use steel cut or thick cut healthy oats. It is also inexpensive.

Notice I did not say low calorie, but, ah, a minor technicality.

Laurie could use help affording to eat, in her new place. Karen likes it to take for a snack at her desk or in the car to avoid unhealthy purchases while out and about. Great finger food, but also good in a bowl with soy milk over it!

I wonder if it could be pressed into granola bar shapes, but will not try that today, because I have another granola bar recipe to try instead. Anyway, here's the recipe in case anyone is interested in avoiding the high price of decent granola at the store.

Peanut Butter Granola

6 tablespoons margarine
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup light karo syrup *
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt (I have forgotten - no difference noted)
9 cups steel cut or thick cut oats
1-1/2 cups raisins (optional and we don't)

* can use honey, but we thought it changed the flavor unfavorably)

Begin by melting margarine and peanut butter in saucepan. Add syrup, and when all is melted (over low heat) and smoothly mixed, stir in vanilla, and salt if desired. Put oats in large mixing bowl (read that: huge). Pour peanut butter mixture over all and stir with spatula until oats are evenly coated. Spread over 2 large flat cookie sheets. Bake each sheet for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. I ended up turning my granola and baking for 2 minutes more... but my oven is ancient and unpredictable (read that: soon to be replaced). The granola will still be sticky and moist when you take it out of the oven. Let it cool on the pan you baked it on. Magically, it will crisp up as it cools. Store in tightly sealed container. SO GOOD.

Note to self: Must try to avoid eating 1/2 cup in tiny tastes throughout the baking process.....

P.S. I used healthy oats, but I keep them in my old Quaker Quick Oats tin...cos its cute!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Shamrocks and good wishes!

And Happy Anniversary to my sister Jacque and her husband Tim! 31 years today!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A difficult week, but a good day

It has been a rough week.... You hear about 650,000 people laid off last month..... and 700,000 more expected to be laid off this month (nationwide) and somehow it is a number you can't even wrap your mind around.

"One" is a number we understand all too clearly in this family. Monday, Karen was laid off! Here, in our kitchen, she's unpacking her box the company quickly gave her to clear her desk.

She was one of the more fortunate ones. She got a very generous severance package and truly compassionate treatment. There is no easy way to do this, and in retrospect, her company really handled it very nicely. (It was very fast and efficient - kind of like ripping off a bandaid! She was out the door before it really sank in, and then her BFF TiJae surprised her with an impromptu dinner with about 8 of her nearest and dearest friends... A wonderful show of support that meant a LOT to Karen!)

Now, Le Tigre is a happy dog....Her Karen is home for extra walks and nice visits to the reservoir to admire the sunset!

Happy Le Tigre! (Happy Karen, too!)

Plus she's been trying new recipes - she makes a mean vegetable tempura dish!

Today was the day for our "Home is Where the Heart Is" block of the month for March! We got together this morning and pooled our stashes and had a great time picking out the perfect fabrics for our blocks...

As Yvette noted, I actually finished fusing before she and Karene finished this month...

(this picture is missing some trees and steps, etc)

I finished first because I cheated! I started last Wednesday afternoon during a few free moments!

Here is Yvette's block, as she is working on it...

And here is Karene's, very nearly done.... (Her background block was back at her house, but she had some of the same fabrics with her, and used the extra fabric to help her pick her small pieces.... Worked like a charm!)

After that, Karen and I went to visit Laurie at her new place! We had a wonderful visit with her and even went over and hung out with her friend Jason for a bit.

I'm loving that smile!!

Now it's time to buckle down and type a bit.... so that hopefully tomorrow I can do some work on my March Tiskit a Tasket block and maybe stitch a bit on my "Home Is" block too!


Wednesday, March 04, 2009


We almost had a rainbow.... I love rainbows.... This one did not quite get completed...

Karen has nearly finished her Bobbin' Along quilt with 4,592 pieces..... She is ecstatic!

Ellen is helping her hold it up to show the class.....

Sew Pretty!

There are two dogs napping in this crate! (click to embiggen the cuteness)

Kimi is opening a landscaping service. Jerry is keeping a lookout, because he's heard this is not an approved activity for puppies at this address.....

He'd like to point out that he's quite clearly not to blame....

this time......