Thursday, September 27, 2012

Salsa Beef

I discovered a new, easy stew recipe in Taste of Home Healthy Cooking magazine.  My brother gave me a subscription last year for Christmas and renewed in 2012.  I have tried quite a few things, but many of the recipes just rely on small portion sizes to reduce the number of calories one takes in.  This stew is low-fat and even better the next day.  Some carrots might be a good addition although it's fine as is with a salad on the side.

Combine in crock pot:

            1.5 lbs. beef round stew meat, cut in cubes

            2 c. salsa (mild)

            1 T. brown sugar

            1 T. soy sauce

            1 garlic clove, minced

 Cook 8-10 hrs. on low.  Serve over rice!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Etsy shop

I took a baby step into selling the other day.  After several months of consideration and some advice from Samantha, I opened an Etsy shop.  I agonized the most about a name and finally settled on "Cobble Hill Quilts," since that's where I live and I like alliteration. 

I posted two quilts for sale:  last year's throw-sized guild mystery quilt, and last year's guild challenge quilt which is baby-sized.   This is the front of the challenge quilt.  The back used the challenge fabric in a modified Blooming Nine Patch with brighter colors.  

Friday, September 21, 2012

A little of this and that

It was fun to go to quilt guild Tuesday night and see people I haven't seen since June.  Show and tell was terrific - people were certainly busy this summer.  I showed my "Drunken Row Robin," which I made using the rows I received last June.

We sat in "teams" to plan next year's programs, and since I'm on the November team, we really have to get our act together soon.  Each team is to come up with a block of the month; we are going to do something for the holidays that highlights fusible applique which will be our program.  Each of us is to create a block to audition for next time. 

The following morning, I made a snowball block with a "poufy" tree appliqued on it.  I'm not sure the tree is beginner friendly, so I'm going to see if I can create am easier,  more triangular one before our October meeting. 

Wednesday I also got fabric together for the "Block Robin" we have been doing for the past three years, and this time I chose blues and greens which I'll also use for the blocks of the month.  That way, I can combine the blocks for a larger quilt.   I also made this month's block and finished off the guild logo block to go into the quilt.  I feel caught up, just a little.

Wednesday we also went down to Woodstock to the Billings Farm quilt show, a smaller show by area quilters.  It was nice to see contemporary designs mixed in with traditional, and there was some lovely quilting, too.  The leaves are just beginning to turn, promising a beautiful fall.  Because bad weather always catches me unaware, I decided to go to the shoe store yesterday and buy some rubber shoes.  I had tried some "Bogs" last year, but they didn't have my size, and, sadly, they didn't again this time.  I would really rather buy locally, but online it would have to be.  And they have just arrived via UPS.  Amazing!  These have great tread and will be great for running around in wet weather.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Yard sale today

Our neighborhood yard sale was yesterday and today, but I only sold stuff today.  Fridays I volunteer at the historical society, and I didn't have that much to sell.  I set out some quilts on a rack, knowing that they wouldn't sell, but they offered some attractive color.  I did sell a whole lot of potholders made with orphan blocks - bet I had 20 made up, and I only have 4 left (did give a few to Chris for helping me).  I had one larger 12" hotpad that sold, but the other two didn't.

It is amazing what some people buy - a Ben & Jerry's t-shirt, an old pink bathroom rug, an old laptop computer, an iPod without a power cord, a cheap plastic picture frame, some old jewelry, an alabaster owl.  They did not buy empty instrument cases, several yards of fabric, a ukulele (although many looked), an antique gypsy wagon, some nice oil lamps, and a Richard Scarry book.  And they didn't want old curtain rods or skis, no matter how free.  During slow times, we cleaned the garage which really needed it.

Yesterday, it was 80 degrees and sunny, but unfortunately today it was 60 and cloudy.  My neighbors all seemed pleased with their sales, and we had a good time buying from each other.   I only bought a lovely blue and white flower pot, and Chris bought a hockey stick.  He was looking for a coffee maker, so when we couldn't find one, I gave him our backup from the basement.  I was saving it "just in case."  Hmmm - what else do I have down there that could have gone?  At any rate, I've got only two boxes of leftovers to take to goodwill on Monday, and we are having pizza for dinner tonight with some of my earnings.  I'll sleep well, having spent the whole day outside, chatting people up.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Where were you on Sept. 11?

Eleven years ago, on a sunny Tuesday very much like today, I was sitting in a public library statistics steering committee meeting with some of my colleagues from other states and some "feds."  We were at the Embassy Suites in Chevy Chase, right over the DC line, in what we natives used to call "Friendship Heights."  Someone came in around 9 am to let us know that a plane had just hit one of the World Trade Towers in New York.  By the time we had caught our breaths, planes had hit the other tower and the Pentagon, and all of the federal workers were heading home.  Washington seemed under attack, they said, and the DC Metro was shut down.

We librarians huddled together in one room, watching TV most of the day.  All of the stores and most of the restaurants nearby closed, including the grocery store, and the streets were deserted.  We tried to call home with little success, since the phone lines were jammed all over the country with people calling each other.  I finally got through to Paul and then to Chris to let them know I was OK.  Then came the arduous task of trying to get home.  All flights in and out of DC were cancelled, and there were no rental cars to be had.  The hotel was extremely helpful, despite being short-staffed, and we found a restaurant around the corner open for dinner.   Stores reopened Thursday, but the atmosphere was somber.

The following day, we gathered again and, despite the lack of federal employees, got back down to business.  We were stuck anyway, so we might as well get some work done.  Some of the "feds" did call to check on us.  But most people in the DC area, we noticed, were sticking close to family and home.  One by one, we found transportation back to our states, and I ended up taking the train home on Friday, a 14 hour ride due to a tense delay outside New York City.  We became family that week, and while I would much rather have been home with Paul and Chris, I can't think of a better group of people to go through such an unsettling time with:  Keith, Carolyn, JD, Libby, Mary Jo, Suzanne, Darla. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Grandmother's Choice

Starting Sept. 1, Barbara Brackman has been offering a block of the week relating to the Women's Suffrage movement around the world.  She usually includes some interesting historical information along with an 8" block pattern.  I enjoyed the Civil War block of the week tremendously and used it to make two sampler quilts in 2011.  For this project, I wasn't quite sure what colorway to use, so I didn't start last week.  But yesterday I decided just to take the plunge with any fabric that I really like along with a muslin/off white background.  Here's the first week's block, called "Grandmother's Choice":
I love this sunny yellow!  According to Brackman, America's primary suffrage color was gold, often contrasted with black or dark violetThe next block, "Amethyst" represents the British movement which adopted green, purple, and white as its colors.  So I'll be digging through my stash for just the right combination.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Guild block

Last June, anyone in the Heart of Vermont guild was invited to create a 10" quilt block that would be used as the logo for the guild.  Only two people entered four designs, but mine won!  It was a takeoff on the traditional Moon over the Mountains block.  I wanted something that could be machine or hand-stitched and that a beginner might be able to do.  It can also be embellished.

Over the summer, Geri and I spent a little time creating instructions, and she scanned it for use on the guild nametags this year.  I tried following the instructions to make the block in a different colorway, and I like it!
It's a little hard to see that I used three different black and white prints, and I buttonhole stitched around all the pieces.  Before our Sept. meeting, I'll make copies for people to pick up on the membership table.  We're going to have a block of the month this year, so this can be an "extra" for everyone.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Cornucopia of Thanks for September

I've been making Jennifer Chiaverini's Cornucopia of Thanks quilt as a Block of the Month in an online group.  This month's block was "Best Friends," to signify the quilting friends her characters get together with on the day after Thanksgiving.  Each quilter makes a block of gratitude to put into a cornucopia on the potluck table in her book The Quilters' Holiday

My quilt is going to be quite bright, with hot pink, green/lime, purple, turquoise, and yellow.  The sashing in this quilt is what really makes it outstanding, and I love the dotted fabric I'm using for it.  I'm chipping away at the borders as I go along so I won't have to make them all at the end.  This quilt is going to be queen-sized with 12" blocks and 6" sashing.  The original has only 9 12" blocks, but I've made three more to make it bigger.  Thanks to Yankee Pride Quilts, I have another two yards of the yellow for borders. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Where've I been?

It's been a busy, intense time since I last wrote.  I was in Colorado for a week while my mom had shoulder replacement surgery.  Besides caring for her after her 3 nights in the hospital, I also cared for my dad who has Parkinson's Disease and has home caregivers part of each day.  His PD is fairly advanced, but he is quite determined to be independent.  Sometimes that works and other times, it is a detriment since he gets himself into some "situations."  I had to call 9-1-1 one afternoon when he tried to get out of an easy chair to his wheelchair by using his walker and ended up on the floor.  The firemen were cheery and told him the Broncos game was about to start, so they would get him settled to watch.  Most of the other near misses, I was able to pick him up, though it was exhausting.   I was in high gear from 5:30 am to 10:30 pm each day and was pretty glad to be back in Vermont, if only to get a solid night's sleep.

Paul had a hard time without me partly because our dog Max wasn't feeling well - tummy troubles.  We took him to the vet nearly every day and spoke to him when he wasn't in the office.  I've made Max a "bland diet" (chicken and rice) for several days.  Sometimes it works, other times it doesn't.  Now he's taking Pepsid A-C, old geezer that he is (almost 15)!

In Colorado, I read quite a few light mysteries, and when I got home Louise Penny's latest arrived and I dove right in.  The Beautiful Mystery is set in a monastery in a remote part of Quebec, and it's the classic situation with a set number of characters, one of whom must be the murderer.  The pace is a little slow but that just makes the suspense build.  Penny has outdone herself again.

I also visited the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, a few miles from my parents' home, but I wasn't thrilled with the exhibit as I sometimes am.  There were some political quilts which I enjoyed, and then some very geometric ones.  I noticed that Sandra Dallas will be there for a booksigning in October.  What a good speaker she is!

On the quilting front, I'm working on Cornucopia of Thanks, from Jennifer Chiaverini's latest quilt pattern book.  I'm doing a block a month with an online group and finished this month's "Best Friends" block.  Now I'm working on the sashing which is the distinctive part of this quilt.  I was afraid I'd run out of one fabric, so I called the shop where I bought it, and they sent me more the very next day! 

Our weather has been beautiful, Max appears to be better today, and Chris built me a lovely little table with a Vermont verde (green stone) top.  Life is looking up.