Wednesday, April 9, 2014

happenings

A bunch of odds and ends today....
Little Jack, sleeping angel, snuggled into the blankie that my mom made for Brita when she was a baby.  That blankie has seen her through all of life's challenges and is still hanging together in one piece, although a bit tattered and frayed.  I guess Jack still likes it!
With a birth weight of a smaller number than we expected (6# 4oz.) we are all happy to see that he is making big strides in poundage, already up to 7# 10oz. after just about 2 weeks!  He still is a tiny tater tot, with plenty of room in those newborn cloths that his brother hardly used at all!


And yesterday was a fun day for big brother, because he got to visit Choo Choo Bob's in St. Paul!  If you are anywhere near the city, and have any sort of young child in your acquaintance, you would be wise to take them there.  It is a shop full of train-related toys, and in the back of the store there are several tables open for play with lots of little wooden train cars and tracks and buildings.  Ian is a big fan of Thomas the Train and all of Thomas's friends, each of which he knows by name!


In this picture, you can see his special little train hoarding technique that comes from his experience at the daycare center.  Not a lot of sharing goes on among the toddlers, so it is best to clutch onto any cars you want to have handy!  Hold as many in one hand as possible while playing with 2 or 3 more on the table.

I (we) have embarked on another big project--a long-awaited remodel of our kitchen and bath!  All new cabinets, some rearranging of things and emerging from the 80's into the 21st century!  Choosing countertops, paints, cabinet doors, tile, fixtures, etc.


I find myself wandering around Lowe's or Menards taking pictures of things to possibly use....


Our stove will be positioned in an island so instead of having an under-cabinet range hood, I need to find something to hang from the ceiling.  So many decisions!  Also looking for a good wine refrigerator and not finding good reviews on the ones that are in my budget.  Might have to ask Santa for one next Christmas!  And bring it filled with wine, too, Santa!

In a moment here and there, I am exploring some English paper piecing possibilities like this block---


All of those little pieces turn into something that looks like this--

At least I hope it will look like that sometime within my lifetime!  All of this doesn't leave much time to write on this page, so I will keep trying to tuck in a little bit here and there.  So stay tuned!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Switching gears


The only freedom you truly have is in your mind, so use it.

M.T. Dismuke

My mind had been occupied by my amazing little grandsons during the past 2 weeks. Two (2) grandsons! Little Jack Robert is almost 2 weeks old already. Big brother Ian is adapting fairly well, but he is only 2, after all, so don't expect miracles!  
Now it is time to get my mind engaged in creative endeavors and back to the backlog of quilts awaiting my attention. Yesterday brought something that I don't often see--
A quilt made of vintage fabrics!  These  are fabrics from the 1930's from what I know. I am not sure of the history of these blocks but I know they were resurrected by my friend, Maggie. The Dresden plates were stitched by hand and the blocks were assembled with many little bits of collected vintage fabrics. Some of these prints might be considered real oddities by today's standards, but are so interesting to see. 
This one, for example, combines some shapes and colors that I would never willingly combine!  Makes me stop and think about what was in the mind of the person who designed it! I mounted this with batting and backing on my longarm frame and basted the layers together. Now Maggie will spend a few minutes (or months!) hand quilting it. Maybe I will get a picture of the finished product some day down the road to share. Now off to get creative!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

3 of my favorite things

A good cup of coffee dripped through my Mellita single cup filter. The low tech version of the oh-so-popular Keurig coffee maker. 
My special cup and saucer from the "Flow Blue" porcelain from Gustavsberg, Sweden. Purchased in 1971 and still in good shape!
Monster cookies, recipe in the list on the sidebar. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

a lifetime achievement award

It's not Oscar Night, but I am nominating my very special and experienced automobile for the highest achievement award!  It is a bittersweet experience to let go of my Saturn that I have been driving since 2000.  Yes, 14 years!  We have traveled far and wide, or just to work and the grocery store some days!


Very little trauma has come our way, no incidents that would qualify as a motor vehicle accident.  Twice I did some damage in my own driveway with stationery objects that were in the wrong place.  And once I had a close encounter with a poor deer that I didn't even know I had hit until the body shop man found deer hair in my doorlock!  I thought I had been hit by a rock while driving at night, but some poor creature took my outside mirror and a chunk of finder with him!

I have had an excellent service record and a friendly service guy--Bob!
He always stayed on top of oil changes, etc.
And we are lucky to have a good, reliable, trustworthy auto repair shop--
Advanced Automotive in St. Francis--always up to a challenge!

I took a parting shot of my odometer so I will know what I have to beat with the next car!


The next car hasn't arrived on the scene yet, but even though it is going to possess a lot more bells and whistles than my Saturn had, it has some big shoes to fill.  I'm willing to give it a try!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

a bonus day

Back again, so soon!  I have been thinking about what I said on this morning's post about Chex Mix.  About The Pioneer Woman and her life on the ranch.  About growing up on the farm.  And I thought I should share another favorite of mine--The Peterson Brothers music videos on YouTube!

)

This is just one of their fun creations, you can find more on YouTube if you look.  Honestly, we never leaped around on top of the silage or hay pile.  Not much, anyway!  I loved the smell of the silage, and I was amazed that in the middle of winter the inside of the pile would steam when a shovel broke the surface.  And we would get some of that fresh-cut vegetation smell.

The farm I grew up on was not huge by most standards, but when I was in Sweden in 1971, the people there likened it to a ranch because it was so much bigger than their smaller farmsteads.  And the fact that we had beef cattle!  I think they might have pictured it like a huge herd out on the vast prairie!

So enjoy some humor and entertainment from some modern day farmers, the Peterson Brothers!

kitchen tools

I am preparing 2 big batches of traditional Chex Mix - well, mostly traditional!  I found a recipe on the Pioneer Woman's website for a variation that I decided I wanted to try.  I think that this cook, Ree Drummond, is a good source for down-to-earth recipes.  And she writes well, too!  Just read some of her descriptions of life on an Oklahoma ranch with her family, you will get a chuckle.  Reminds me of some of the things that happened way back when I was a kid on a farm.

Anyway, this Chex Mix recipe holds pretty true to the corporate version.  The biggest variation is Ree's substitution of real garlic for garlic powder.  But I don't always keep real garlic on hand, but use the minced garlic in a little jar on many occasions and I find that my everyday palate is not offended.  Not in the least!  So I set about to put the garlic into the mix, but thought it needed to be mushed up a bit more to spread out the garlicky goodness more evenly.  First I tried just mashing on those little garlic bits with a spoon in a cup, but got nowhere fast.  Then I resorted to my tool drawer--


Every self-respecting kitchen has a tool drawer, right?

And I worked out a better plan--


With the garlic bits in a sealed bag and my kitchen hammer, it works so much better!  I suppose a mortar and pestle would be a good addition to my repertoire, but in the meantime, I have my own way to make it work!  And now half of my chex mix is out of the oven--


And yes, I know that you can buy chex mix in a bag in the store, but I tasted that once and it is nowhere near the taste of good homemade chex mix.  This is going to provide sustenance to 50 quilting ladies on Friday to keep them happy until dinnertime!  I better get the second batch whipped together, I would hate to see what would happen if we ran out!