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Sunday, December 31, 2023

My 2023 New Year's Eve Party!

Let's party!
Join me in my celebration of 2023 finished projects and my gratitude for the friendships I've made through your blogs! I'll start with a couple of finishes I failed to post. First is a chair re-cover. I was reminded of it when I read Wendy's post and spotted a familiar "cat" fabric in her Japanese rice bag. The second is a scarf I posted on Instagram. Read on for more details!

Craft chair - before
When my husband cleaned out his shed, he pulled out a bar stool that I used in a previous sewing room in another house. Katy the cat had imparted claw holes to the dark brown faux leather top, so I had a vintage doll quilt on top to hide the holes. When we moved, I no longer wanted the stool, so it went to live in the garage and finally ended up in the shed. I had forgotten all about it and was delighted to reclaim it for my "new" sewing space.

Craft chair - after. Rosie's tail is included for your viewing pleasure.
I removed the seat and covered it with a couple layers batting and cat fabric, then folded and tucked it somewhat like wrapping a gift. I secured it with staples, and screwed it back into place. It is handy and comfy when I am doing craft work at my cutting table and feel the need to sit.

This light linen is one I had long loved and hoarded,
from the Andover Maker Maker collection 

The scarf was crocheted with a moss stitch using 2 skeins of I Love This Yarn in Painted Canyon, purchased back in 2016! It is soft and cozy.

For a review of all my finishes for 2023, feel free to click "2023" at the top of my blog.

It has been one year since I stopped hosting To Do Tuesday, my resignation made possible by Carol of Quilt Schmilt graciously volunteering to assume that weekly commitment. Since then I have not posted in the weekly linkup, preferring instead "To Do Whatever", and I have to say I am enjoying just posting occasionally rather than on a schedule. Also I have eased up on joining any quilt-along or stitch-along, although I'm not shutting the door on any of them.

In spite of my footloose state of mind, I still enjoy reading your blogs, and I cherish your inspiration, friendship, and kindness. You have no idea how your words and photos lift my spirits and light a fire under me, so thank you!

My wish is that your 2024 is filled with joy, peace, and good health!
Friday, December 22, 2023

Christmas Threads

Sunrise with Christmas lights twinkling in the distance
This has been the fastest holiday season ever! After everyone was here for Thanksgiving (it was a blur), my mood was "I have plenty of time before Christmas", but life intervened, as always.

I did get a little holiday decorating done. Even without a tree, I am happy with our lights and favorite decorations. Above are some daytime vs evening scenes from our living room.

And our view from the sofa every night

I made cookies from Granny Mitchell's recipe yesterday and have more dough in the freezer. This is her treasured recipe, written in her hand and signed Elzadia Mitchell. You can see from the photo that it was a much used recipe before we decided to laminate it years ago! Mom told me Granny had made this recipe since the 1880s, when she was a young girl. When Mom pressed her for the recipe, this was her best guess! Here is a post about the recipe.

I put aside my fall quilt for a little while, but I will get back to it

I've been playing with the 16 across blocks!

Last week I decided to make a small quilt for The Littles. When I moved my sewing space, I found some handmade flannel Christmas napkins I had purchased but never used, and after cutting off the hemmed edges I had 12 square-ish pieces. I placed them in a simple 3 x 4 design but got in a hurry and forgot to square up the blocks before I sewed them together!

I added a flannel border and a panel and more flannel on the back. It made a smallish, non-uniform quilt, but it is a play quilt for The Littles, and they don't care if it is square!

I also made three more rag-edged Christmas stockings for my daughter, like these I made last Christmas. Since she got married in March, she needed one for John, her husband, and for the youngest two of his four children.

My sweet daughter-in-law Susan sent me this adorable Grandma sweatshirt! You can see how long it is - perfect for my leggings.

We made two 100 mile round trips to our daughter's house in the last week and will go again on Christmas morning for brunch and to watch Everett and Delaney open gifts. Yesterday we made another 100 mile round trip to meet our grandson to give him gifts to take home to our son and family in south Texas. That is a LOT of driving for us old folks!

Wishing all of you a very happy holiday season!
Saturday, November 18, 2023

Slow Down Autumn and Thanksgiving Countdown

This is our menu for Thursday

November is moving right along, much to my dismay! Somehow this favorite month of mine always manages to zoom way too quickly.

In spite of spending time every day in my room, I don't have much to show for it. The butterfly quilt for my sister-in-law is still waiting for me to load it up and quilt it. I am still making 16-across blocks for a Christmas quilt. And the Cheyenne blocks are going to become a quilt! I love these blocks so much that I made the decision to buy more of the background fabric, and I've been cutting out more pieces for HSTs and squares.

I finished and framed a little Thanksgiving mug

We have been navigating doctor, dentist, and hair appointments this week. I had four inches cut off my hair yesterday! My hair was well past my shoulders, and I have really enjoyed the ease of long hair, but I needed a change. My hairdresser added layers and it is a wee bit shorter in the back. But I do miss my pony tail!

My dear husband cleaned out the garden, and I will be working prepping it for next spring. We dump all our coffee grounds and vegetable and fruit peels on the garden, and it has really made a difference in the soil. I am expanding the space a little bit for next season.

My heart is heavy this week as I just found out my niece, who had a mastectomy in 2016, has been diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer. Debbie is the one for whom I made this prayer quilt in this post on my old blog. She lives in Oklahoma and is not married, but my two nephews and her Mom all live nearby, and they are all very close. She will find out her treatment options on Monday, so I am praying extra hard for her. 

I pulled out the wall hanging "Oklahoma Sunset" that I made in 2021
On Thursday, our son and family will drive up from north of Houston, our grandson from Dallas, and our daughter and son-in-law from Frisco, and we will celebrate with the feast listed on the menu above. This is my favorite meal to make, and I look forward to it all year! I will be making and freezing rolls this weekend and make the pies and cookie dough on Wednesday. The Littles will be with their Dad for this holiday, and we will miss them, but it will be kind of nice to have a quieter "adult" visit. 

If you celebrate, what are your plans for Thanksgiving?
Sunday, November 5, 2023

Autumn Vibes

November is my favorite month! I look forward to October - December all year, and I want the season to slow down so I can savor it. Our weather is not really cooperating, but I just love this time of year!

There are two squirrels currently fighting for dominance in my space, and this is my latest Squirrel-spiration. I plan to make a table runner and hope to have it quilted and posted this week. The blocks are Cheyenne blocks and are quick and easy to make (even though I sew them together wrong and have to take them apart!) I love the colors and can't wait to finish!

I'm using my hoarded "Fancy Cats" panel by Makower, UK.

I continue to make Sixteen Across blocks, squirrel-spired by, and it will eventually become a Christmas quilt. I am so happy to give my Christmas scraps a home! Diann is doing them as leaders/enders and you can see her pretty blocks here.

Here is a rough idea of what sashing and scrappy cornerstones would look like as a layout.

Since I stopped hosting To Do Tuesday, my blog reading and posting has slowed down as I finally realized that it is not my responsibility to comment on every blog or record everything I do in my sewing room - lol! I am currently not participating in any linkups or sewalongs, and the extra time is a good thing. I am saving the patterns for Moda Blockheads 5, but so far have not started any blocks. 

My Hubs has a "polysomnography" at a hospital sleep lab this week to determine if he is a candidate for a CPAP mask. He apparently has borderline severe sleep apnea. His cardiologist told him that means he is deprived of oxygen several times per night, and that makes his heart work harder. Since his heart attack in 2012, he has had stents and a cardioverter-defibrillator implanted, so we want to make sure we are doing everything possible for his heart. But it will be the first night we've been apart since 2017, and we are both dreading it - lol!

What are you up to on this "Fall Back" Sunday?
Thursday, October 26, 2023

Thursday Threads

Fall has finally come to far north Texas, and you can see how the tree behind the shed is just now starting to give a hint of color. We received 3.20 inches rain yesterday, and by next Monday temperatures will be in the 30s at night - makes me so happy.

In the sewing room, my sister-in-law's butterfly quilt is sandwiched and ready to quilt (after I get those pesky wrinkles smoothed out).

I had leftover triangles from the butterfly quilt, and I made some HSTs. Here is one potential design as I decide what to do with them.

Five minutes after I shot the HST photo, Toby decided it was his bathtub.

This squirrel-spiration was found on Jocelyn's post the other day in her link to Susie calls it the "Sixteen Across" quilt block, and it is a simple sixteen-patch block made with 2-1/2 inch light and dark squares that create a diagonal design. I decided to use up some Christmas scraps to make a few and see how it looks. I like it! If you squint you can see the diagonal in mine. My light and dark squares probably need to be more strongly valued (is that a thing?) but at this point I just want to use up those scraps. It's nice to just sew without reading a pattern or struggling with fabric selection.

At night I've been crocheting a scarf. Back in 2016 I bought 3 skeins of  I Love This Yarn in Painted Canyon. It was a time in my life when I was very unsure about the future, and the yarn and crochet offered me an odd comfort. I stitched a few nights, then put it away and forgot all about it until a few weeks ago when I was rearranging my yarn closet. I'm enjoying the Moss Stitch on this one - doesn't take too much attention away from TV!

Gus (aka Gussy, Gustopher and Baby) the sweet black kitty
This little guy has taken up a lot of my time, trying to help him feel comfortable and safe in his new environment. The other kitties are trying to make friends with him, but he still hisses a bit. I leave the door open to his space a little more each day, and he actually seems very happy. Can a cat be happy? If they can, I think this one is!

Our 54th anniversary was this week, so we celebrated early last Friday at the local Texas Roadhouse, then headed home for this dessert - brown sugar apple pie. I actually use both kinds of sugar in it, but I like the brown sugar name better - lol! Here is the recipe if you'd like to try it:

Brown Sugar Apple Pie
4-5 cups apples, sliced thin (Granny Smith, Braeburn, Honey Crisp, or any variety of your favorites)
1/2 cup salted butter*
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
Heaping teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 9-inch double pie crust
*If you use unsalted butter, add 1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 425°. Prepare pie crust dough for 9-inch double crust.

Melt butter in saucepan, add flour and stir to form paste, cook a couple minutes over low heat. Add sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, and water, whisk until smooth, and bring to boil. Add apples, lower heat, and simmer 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. (Sometimes I add a half teaspoon maple flavoring too.)

Roll out and place bottom crust in pie pan. Add apple mixture. Roll out top crust and place on top of apples. Crimp edges and cut slits or shapes in several places.

Bake at 425° for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 350°. I place mine on the lowest rack of the oven. It seems to cook the apples better and the crust edges don't brown as quickly. I also place foil on the crust edges about 30 minutes into the bake, to keep from browning too much. Bake until apples are tender and juices are bubbling through crust. Mine is in the oven about an hour total. Place on wire rack to cool.

I hope your week is is going well and that you are looking forward to a great weekend!
Thursday, October 12, 2023

Thursday Threads

I enjoyed this sunrise several days ago
It has been awhile since I wrote an I Like Thursday post. Thanks to LeeAnna at Not Afraid of Color, for her encouragement to look for things we like! Her links to additional bloggers and their I Like Thursday posts are right here. This is a long, photo-heavy post, so if you like, just look at the photos!

SLC, a common term describing "scary looking clouds!" These only contained rain and lightning
I like this October weather! We had rain, then it got down in the 40s last week and is supposed to again this coming weekend - woo-hoo!

I like my "new" old Club Ware aluminum pot. My Mom had one just like this one, and the best pot
roasts were made in it. I was "watching" one on eBay and got an offer from the seller I couldn't refuse.

Although many would say it's too soon, I like Christmas displays! We found this one
last week at Home Depot, and I'm sure Hobby Lobby and other stores have followed suit.

I liked spending time at soccer practice with Delaney. And we will get to keep Laney
and Everett a couple nights this weekend while Jenni and John go on a weekend trip!

Our new black kitty Gus, with Toby creeping around the corner to meet him.
Meet our newest kitty Gus, named after my favorite Lonesome Dove character - Augustus "Gus" McCrae. I've been spending an enormous amount of time helping this sweet little guy adjust to the good life, after being a street cat that I have been feeding whenever he showed up for two years. In August he finally allowed me to pet him, and last Friday we made the decision to bring him inside before winter. He is so sweet and shy but brave, and so far tuxedo Toby is his favorite of the other four cats.

Leeanna recently provided some interesting prompts related to our favorite spices and herbs, so here we go!

Most used spices or herbs
My favorite baking spice is cinnamon, followed closely by nutmeg. I buy whole nutmeg and grate it with a microplane. Favorite cooking spices and herbs are garlic (both fresh and powder), basil (fresh and dried), smoked paprika, and cumin. I like spice blends like Everything Bagel and like Wendy, I like to sprinkle it on my hummus. My husband bought a big jar at Sam's made by Einstein Bros, but I prefer the blend from Spice House. I used to buy Penzey's spices and used them frequently in my catering, but when they made me feel unwelcome a year or so ago, I was one of 40000 folks they lost as a customer. But the bonus of that was finding Spice House, and I love their spices and buy them in "flatpacks", which are shipped free. I also purchase spices and herbs from Trader Joe's and Walmart.

Sits next to the stove and frequently used!
Special containers
I purchased some pretty glass containers on Amazon, and Hubs made a special spice rack for the counter so everything is handy. Sometimes I just use the container it came in, especially if it is Trader Joe's! 

Herbs I grow
Basil is almost always in the garden. Although I fail to use it very often, I do like to pick a leaf and smell it! Rosemary is another favorite, and I love to use it in homemade bread. I haven't grown any since we lived in south Texas, where it was pretty much perennial and grew into a small bush. It is included in my garden plans for next spring.

An unusual herb I enjoy
Maybe it isn't very unusual, but I love cilantro. In my experience people either love it or hate it. My mother hated it and said "it smells like a stinkbug" - lol! I buy a bunch in the produce section, cut about a half inch off the ends, and store it in water in the fridge, loosely covered with a plastic bag. I love to snip it into salsa, salads, guacamole, and soups. I change the water every few days, and it lasts about two weeks, then I throw the remains with the water into the garden.

Spices and herbs used when I was growing up
Mom used Lawry's Seasoning Salt, and that was when it still contained MSG. She was quite adept with the shaker, and everything she made was delicious to me. I think she used garlic salt too. I buy the low salt version of Lawry's (no MSG) and garlic powder instead of garlic salt. Like Helen's Mom, my Mom sprinkled paprika on her deviled eggs, and she made some kind of really good noodle dish with the name "paprika" in it. My cousin Weezey had never heard of paprika and couldn't remember the word so she repeatedly asked Mom to "make those Puerto Rico noodles" every time she visited.

My Granny used nutmeg in her old fashioned sugar cookies (recipe here on my old blog), so I grew up loving it. It is my favorite cookie spice. Mom used whole cloves when she baked ham, and she covered it with them. I used to like cloves, but for some reason I no longer care for the taste, so I do not buy pumpkin spice to use in pumpkin pie but instead use cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and sometimes a bit of cardamom.

Ethnic foods I like, and do I make any of these at home
Mexican is always my choice for a restaurant! Our favorite Mexican restaurant is Lupe Tortilla and our favorite in south Texas was Guadalajara. My husband gets the same thing every time - beef enchiladas covered with chile gravy and cheese, but I like to branch out and try some of the "specials" (even though I'm usually full of a frozen margarita, chips, queso, and salsa!). My favorite entrees almost always contain chicken, avocado, and roasted poblano peppers, and I love fish tacos with either grilled or lightly fried fish.

I have recreated my husband's favorite enchiladas and a really good queso by using
this cookbook by Sylvia Casares, the owner of popular Tex-Mex restaurant in Houston.

If you've stuck with me this far, let me know what kind of spices/herbs you like in the comments!