Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Sewn! Giveaway.


Head on over to A Thread of Red and leave a comment
for a chance to win our offering for the
Sewn launch party!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Done.

Actually, that should be a long, drawn out done with a question mark at the end as I am pretty sure I'll be changing even more things in the days to come.
Like this: Meh, it's okay. I think I want fresh flowers on the dining room table instead.



But, here is the "new" dining room. I'm still in the process of arranging the big wall. It's a tad too bland and black and brown! But, I love having the window behind the table and the space there is now. No more feeling as though people are crammed in, even though they really weren't. Now to find a nicer rug for underneath the table. This one was an emergency rug, needed in a hurry and bought on a whim because it was, a. big and b. cheap. I regret it every day.



The new sitting area. It's too tiny to be called a living room. I love this space. The window behind the sofa looks out over the kitchen garden and the bed spring arbor, which holds my bird feeders. I can tuck myself in the corner of the sofa and watch the birds come and go, munching on seeds and hiding in the bed springs from the cats.



The wing chairs are hand-me-downs from my mother-in-law. My husband and I think they are about 45 years old. He remembers his parents purchasing them at Ethan Allen on Roswell Rd. in Atlanta when he was a boy. They are still solid and cushy, but the upholstery is a bit weary and worn. They are wearing temporary covers of white cotton sheets until I can get slipcovers made. It may be a while because I cannot decide what I want to cover them in! Maybe muslin drop cloths, or maybe ticking or maybe a floral print...... Ack! I am very indecisive.
I am going to place items that are more suited to a sitting area on the shelves in the corner as soon as I find homes for what is there.
I am much happier in this space. I now have something restful and cozy to look at while I am cooking as opposed to the busy clutter of table and chairs. Plus the added bonus of not having to look at a messy kitchen while we are eating!
One thing I realized was that I don't have before photos to show you. Well, none that are not full of people. It is probably because I did not like these rooms as they were.
But, I love them now!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Push. Sweat. Lift. Sweat. Slide. Sweat.

That's been my day as I have been rearranging furniture in my living room and dining room. In fact, I have completely switched them over. The living room is now the dining room and vice-versa. I really like the change.
But, I am stuck with all the stuff that has been hiding away in those two rooms! I mean really, I vacuum, sweep, dust, mop and yet I have unearthed another dog and two whole cats worth of hair, plus a myriad of other detritus. Ew! Thankfully it is all gone now. All that is left to do is to make a few decorating changes and I'll be done. But, I think that is the hardest part!
I have a long wall in my living room, now dining room, that holds all sorts of pictures, mirrors, etc. It looks kind of silly now with the table and chairs in there. Big, that's it. Big. And too much stuff. I am so over stuff. I see a yard sale in my future.
I think the best solution is to take it all down, edit the stuff and try out different arrangements. Sparse, airy arrangements. And shelves. I need shelves! Maybe I'll take a cruise through the rest of the house and see what I can find. Nothing like shopping in your own attic and finding necessary treasures.
I'm hoping to finish this mini-makeover today. Wish me luck!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cheese, Grommit. We Need To Go Somewhere Where They've Got Cheese!

And, apparently, that would be in Gloucestershire.



Thank goodness they did not show "Thong Man" going down the hill!!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day.


Our local cemetary places a flag at the grave of every veteran.
It is their way of honoring those who have served and sacrificed for us.
I am grateful for each and every one.

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggedy-Jig.

It was too fast. Time with my sister always is. But, in spite of the quickness of time, my nephew has graduated and is ready to move on to the next phase of his life. I hope that you have clear sailing from now on, Brandon.
We started our adventure on Friday, taking a trip to a quilt shop I have been wanting to see, Sew Worth It! And it was. After that a bit of lunch and a trip to the grocery store for supplies and $300 later, we headed home with a truck bed full of what would become some yummy party food.
As soon as we reached home we started cooking. And cooking. And cooking. Dips, spreads, sausage rolls, peeling and cutting vegetables, baking Asian chicken wings, Italian chicken wings, not to mention scalloped potatoes and cube steaks for dinner! I thought we would never finish but we did, at 10:30 that night.
The next morning we were up at eight, making cupcakes and butter cream icing, chocolate and vanilla. The chocolate icing proved too much for my sister's mixer. Half-way through it spun its last spin and smoke came billowing out of the vents. The chocolate icing had visible bits of butter, but that's okay. No one seemed to mind.
It was all worth it in the end. The graduate was a happy (full) camper and everyone had a great time.

Time for presents! I wonder why he has such a big smile?

Well, it's because of this!


A new car, all for Brandon.

Although I am sure his sister has plans for it as well. You can see it all over her face.

Sunday morning my mom, John and I woke up and began to get ready for our drive home. Everything was running smoothly until John discovered ants on his shorts. Apparently he had brought in a hitchhiking beetle, which died during the night. His death brought in dozens of fire ants, evil things. What did John do when he found them? Threw his shorts at me. I caught them, still not really realizing what was wrong until ants began crawling off the shorts and all over me. Holy cow!! They were everywhere and they were m.a.d. What do ants do when they're mad? They bite and hard. Once I got John's bites treated, I checked mine. While I did not have too many, the bites I received caused my hands to swell along with my right ankle, where I didn't even know I had been bitten. Seriously, I had to wait an hour before I could leave to make sure nothing more was going to happen! Good night above.

Thumb shown is larger than actual size.
And so, we are home. Mom had fun, John has more party treats than he will ever need and I have two very pudgy hands compliments of the nest of fire ants that live outside my sister's window.
Would I do it again? You betcha!! But I'd leave out the part with the ants.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I'm Leavin' On A Jet Plane.

Oh, how I wish I was. But, I will be leaving tomorrow, driving to Florida for my nephew's high school graduation and heap-big hoo-ha -you-made-it party. It's going to be a lot of fun. See you next week!
Be good. Yes, you.

Monday, May 18, 2009

I Don't Think I Have to Worry About Losing My Marbles.

My brother was here last week for a short visit. One week is short in my book. It rained most of the time he was here, which put a literal damper on some of our plans. But, one plan that it did not impede was playing Marbles after dinner.
This isn't the game where you aim your shooter at smaller marbles and knock them out of a circle. No, it is a board game much similar to Parcheesi. The boards that I have were made by my Grandmother Kimball. She was a clever one, that Grammy.
This jar of marbles are mostly hers and some that I have collected over the years. I usually find the ones I played with when I was small, the rainbow Cat's Eyes. The dice in the bowl are Grammy's as well.



This is the same board that my brothers and I played on when we were little. The houses are faded and yet I cannot change them. It would not be the same. It had been green at one time, then blue and, finally, pink. It has always been pink to me.


This blue board is the six-player board. It's a bit warped now and sometimes the marbles will roll if you don't get them right into the holes. I store it flat with books on it to try to straighten it out. It isn't working very well.


In the center of the board are the construction paper dice and houses my grandmother made, along with the names of family members and friends, some now gone.


There is my grandfather, Don, my grandmother, Rita and my dad, Don Jr. Eunice and Tom, my dad's cousin and his wife and Tom's parents, Charlie and "Ve" for Vera. My uncles, Dick and Harry and my grandmother's friend, Bob. He used to scare me when I was little. He was a tall man, with a scruffy face like a hobo and always had a deal in the works. He bought and sold things. I don't know if that was his actual job, but that is how I remember him. There are other names that I know I should remember but don't. Maybe Dad can jog my memory.
The object of the game is to get your men (marbles) out by rolling a one or a six on a dice. If you roll a six, you get to roll again. (If you roll three sixes in a row, you send the marble closest to your home base back to start. ) Once out, you move around the board, trying to stay a step ahead of your opponents. Whispering a desired number to your dice is a common occurrence and cries of disappointment come when, yes! the right number was rolled and you have sent back to start someone who was this close to home. One game can last a few hours if the players are playing cutthroat, as we call it.
The first player with all of their marbles safely tucked home is the winner. When we were small, we would play for second and third. We don't do that anymore.
It is a simple game, really, but we love it. It takes us back to when we were children, sitting around the card table in Grammy's music room, plotting our next move disregarding the fact that everything was a matter of chance.
Playing Marbles this past week was one of the highlights of my brother's visit. I have to say that it topped the King Tutankhamen exhibit for me. That may be because I didn't really get to see the King Tutankhamen exhibit because I was busy avoiding people's ankles while pushing my mother in the wheelchair.
One day I hope that my (future) grandchildren will come to visit and I will teach them to play Marbles on the board made by my grandmother.
The game goes on.........

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fun Mail Day!!

My package from Susan at Not Quite June Cleaver came today. I won her vintage apron giveaway last week. Eek. Look at how cutely she wrapped it!



Do you not just love the color of the tissue and the yo-yo trim?


Inside? Why the cutest little pink gingham apron with Dresden Plate patches on the pocket and a vintage recipe booklet. It was a vintage recipe booklet kind of day today. I picked up five of them at a yard sale! This one just adds to my collection. Perfectly.



Susan mentioned that this apron came with a bit of a mystery. These snaps have something to do with it. For some reason, there are snaps on both sides of the apron which, when attached, create sort of a sling shape. My thought was that perhaps the snaps were used when collecting veggies from the garden. It would certainly give more room to carry things and keep your hands free for further picking.
I am afraid that my future career as a solver of mysteries may be in jeopardy.
Thank you, Susan, for the sweet gifts and, especially, the challenge.
Have a happy weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Fabulous Quilt GIveaway!


Elizabeth at Pigtails and Snails is giving away this darling quilt. Called Pink-A-Boo, it features a sweet raised applique rose, complete with button accents. How perfect would this be for a new baby in the family?
Go over and leave a comment and take a peek at what she makes. She really does such lovely work.

Well, Now You Know.

For inquiring minds I present,

The History of Thomas' English Muffins- (from here.)
1874, young Samuel Bath Thomas left England for America with a recipe for a muffin baked on hot griddles. These English Muffins were very popular in England and would soon become a popular part of the American breakfast.After arriving in New York City, Mr. Thomas worked in a bakery, and by 1880 had saved enough money to open his own bakery shop at 163 Ninth Avenue in Manhattan, New York. Mr. Thomas' bakery was different from all others. In addition to common white and rye breads offered by other bakeries, Mr. Thomas offered English Muffins to his customers. His muffins were round, single serve portions of distinctively coarse-grained, yeast-raised dough baked on a griddle or hotplate. They were to be split, not sliced, and toasted prior to serving. The flavor and texture of Thomas' English Muffins were unlike any muffin on the market. He soon had a large and loyal following. Word quickly spread through the neighborhood about these delicious muffins and soon other stores were buying them and selling them to their customers. Very quickly Mr. Thomas was making deliveries beyond Manhattan into Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens. And soon, the demand was so high, he had to open other bakeries, and make deliveries by horse and wagon. Samuel Bath Thomas died in 1919, and his daughters and nephew inherited the business, incorporating S.B. Thomas, Inc. in 1922. The business continued to prosper, and was sold by the family in 1970. Over the years, Thomas' English Muffins introduced flavors including Cinnamon Raisin, Honey Wheat and Oat Bran, and in 1994, introduced a sandwich sized English Muffin, called Thomas' Super Size English Muffins. In 1996 Thomas' introduced fresh Bagels, which have grown to be a national leader. In 1997, Thomas' brand packaging was updated to identify the brand and the brand has come to mean more than just English Muffins. The Thomas' brand now includes: Sandwich Size English Muffins, Bagels and Toasting and Swirl Breads. Thomas' is now a part of the George Weston Bakeries family. And the rest is, well...history.

Fannie Farmer's Fabulous English Muffins

Maryjane asked if Fannie was sharing, and she is!! Here is the recipe I used for making my batch of English muffins. Make sure you toast them to a crisp and plop on lots of butter and raspberry jam. Or whatever jam you like. I don't want to tell you what to do.

English Muffins
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon shortening
1 package dry yeast
3 cups white flour
Bring 1/2 cup water to the boil and mix it with the milk, salt, sugar and shortening in a large bowl and let cool to lukewarm. Stir the yeast into 1/4 cup warm water and let it stand for 5 minutes to dissolve. Add yeast and two cups of the flour to the milk mixture and beat vigorously. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. (I use the oven with the light one.) Stir, add remaining flour and beat well. Cover and let double in bulk once again. Turn out onto a light;y floured board and pat, not roll, the dough to 1/2-inch thick. Cut into three0inch rounds, cover and allow to rise until almost double. Cook on a well-greased, fairly hot griddle or skillet for about 15 minutes on each side, turning muffins and adjusting heat as necessary. Cool, split, toast and enjoy!
I tried the cornmeal in the skillet method and it worked fairly well. The next time I make them, I will use the method described here, just to see what the difference is. Store the muffins in the refrigerator as they are still very moist an you don't want them to get moldy before you can enjoy them.
I'm making a new batch today. That and some more crock pot yogurt. Now, if anyone knows how to make homemade Boraxo hand soap, I'd love a recipe. They use it at Ted's Montana Grill and I love everything about it- the feel, the smell, how clean my hands are.....Yes, insert bit of weirdness here _________.
Have a good day, everyone!

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Bit Late, But Done Nonetheless.

I hope you all had a lovely Mother's Day. I did. It was quiet and simple- a phone call from my son in California, my daughter coming home for the day and dinner cooked by my husband. Who can ask for more?
Now to follow through on the award responsibilities!


7 Things I Love-


1. This man. Most of the time.


2. This boy.



3. And this boy.

4. And this girl.


5. And caring for these girls.


6. Making things.


And, 7. Finding out that there is a whole world full of women who think like I do. Who love to create and do so unabashedly and with flair and that we get to connect through this amazing blog world.


That said, here a few of my favorite places to visit, each one more than worthy of receiving this Kreativ Blogger Award. They envelop and inspire me daily and I am always grateful to learn something from them each time I visit.

Now to bestow this bit of lovliness onto seven others-




1. Cindy at The Plum Tree. - If I can't make it down to the shop, I can always visit her blog to see how Cindy has artfully displayed her wares. Her spirit shines through in each and every thing she does. I could live there, I tell ya.


2. Sue from Country Pleasures- Sue always delivers the right mix of perspective. Her recipes are fabulous and her insights on life are spot on.


3. Cathy from Cobblestone Farms- I had the pleasure of meeting Cathy last year in Kentucky at Frannie's Girlfriend's Gathering. Her blog is as beautiful and swee as she is.


4. Jess from Hectic Household- With eight children, a husband, a dog and now a sweet brood of chickens, you would think that she has enough on her plate. But, she is also finds time to create some of the most wonderful things with those busy two hands of hers. She is a wonder.


5. Nanette at Freda'a Hive- She is just an amazing talent and nice as pie. Her quilts are awe-inspiring and very drool-worthy.


6. Bev at Sew On and Sew Fourth- Bev is a true blue farmgirl, raising a small herd of Fainting Goats, raising bees and stitching the most adorable aprons this side of the Mississippi!!


7. Nathan at Words- I gave birth to this young man, the one full of insight and tenderness. His poetry is deep and rich, stark and raw. I love this kid. But then, I'm his mom.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Random Snips of Life and a Sweet Award

Yesterday was chock-full of events and discovery. It was John Albert's very first day at his very first paying job. He was very excited! He is working at AJ Wright, a store like Marshall's or TJ Maxx. In fact, they are all owned by the same company. He will be working in the back room doing, are you ready? Hanger Management. Yes, really. They even had a video for him to watch, which, when they said the name of it, sounded like Anger Management. It wasn't until I was on my way home that I realized what they really said and burst out laughing. By myself. In the truck. People stared.
Not long after returning home it started to rain. And rain. And rain.

Guess who does not like getting wet? He ran so fast he nearly knocked me over!


I had read Alicia's post about her baking her first loaf of bread. It looked heavenly and made me want to make some of my own. So, I pulled out my trusty copy of the New York Times No-Knead Bread recipe and added a few tablespoons of sugar and some raisins. I made two loaves- one for us and one to share. It is delicious. Crusty top, soft insides. Toasted and spread with real butter, it is divine. Thanks for the inspiration, Alicia!


I decided that while I was already making bread, I should just go ahead and make English muffins. I did. I used Fannie Farmer's recipe. Totally old-school, with shortening. (Only 1 tablespoon though.)


I was not expecting such a soft dough. The dough we made last week was a bit more sturdy. This was very light and airy and very tender. But still, it made twenty muffins, and they rose as they should, like little round pillows on my baking sheet.



Once risen, you cook them in a pan sprinkled with corn meal. No baking! Sweet. About 7-9 minutes on each side and, Voila! C'est finis! Complete with lovely "nooks and crannies" for buttery goodness.



And you know that nothing was going to stop me from having one right away! Out came the butter and Bonne Maman Raspberry jam. Pop into the toaster went the fresh muffins and when crisped to perfection, they were spread generously with the aforementioned butter and jam and popped into my mouth.



My tummy was quite happy to be full of English muffins. They were such a success that I think I will make them from now on. They are simple and good and very inexpensive to make. I just don't think I will make bread and muffins on the same night again. While preheating the oven for the bread, I realized that I had the dough for the English muffins in there rising. It could have been a disaster, but it wasn't. It was a wonderful end to a very nice day.
Something else that is wonderful is Robin's blog, one still frame. I met Robin in Kentucky at Frannie's Girlfriends Gathering. We had a great time and Robin (Beulah) and her mom, Pat (Tilda), are the nicest women. You can tell they are best friends. It was a treat to be around them, hear their stories and get to know them.
Robin's blog is full of beautiful contemplations and photographs that she takes herself. Quiet, lovely, calming, intensely profound words and images will take your breath away. I promise.
This sweet girl has given me a blog award. This one:



I don't know how Kreativ I am , but I am very grateful and honored. It made my day when I discovered what she had done. Not for any other reason than I knew she had thought of me.
I think that is what I like best about blogging, the thinking of others. Someone pops into your mind and you can, with the click of a mouse, go visit, read what is happening in their world, leave a comment and they instantly know they have been thought of by someone.
What a lovely thing that is.
PS- I am supposed to list 7 of me loves and 7 recipients of this award. Want to know? Tune in tomorrow. :)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Did you Miss Me?

It has been a flurry here. Of activity that is. This past week I have:


1. Watched Miss Gussie return to good health. Turns out that the girl is a climber! I caught her halfway up the living room curtain yesterday. I'm pretty sure that is what caused her to have a sore neck last week. Falling. But she is back darting all over the place, a happy kitten once again.


2. Grown my fingernails out to a length that I can still work with but makes me no longer appear to have Hobbit hands. Man, Hobbit hands are just not a good look. Unless, of course, you are a Hobbit. Then they look fabulous.


3. Finished the Scottie Dog block, almost finished writing the pattern and quilting the original for my mom for Mother's Day. On Sunday!!


4. Began the one-seam Flying Geese blocks for my mother-in-law's Mother's Day present. Did I mention that it is Sunday?!



5. Walked three miles on the treadmill every day. I know, I know, I hate it. But, it must be done. I feel a bit lighter, my back feels better and I am now able to chase the chickens around the yard without losing my breath!



6. Began working on a project for the next issue of MaryJane's Farm magazine. I love how it is turning out! Cute stuff, if I say so myself. Here's a tease: (it will in no way give you any hint of what's to come)




7. Pieced the top of the latest strip club quilt. Only one more border to stitch on! It went together in a snap. I now have five quilt tops to make into quilts. Good night.



8. Learned how to make homemade English muffins from a friend. Made the fifth batch of homemade yogurt, which was turned into yogurt cheese. I added garlic and dill to one half and strawberries and brown sugar to the other. Mmmm, sweet and savory. Perfect to suit any mood I may be in.

9. Missed all of you so I made sure to visit your blogs. And thank you for stopping by to check in on me. I am grateful for all of you. :)

That's it. I'm back on track. For now.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Popping In.

One project down,
(this one for A Thread of Red)



Only four more to go! Plus, one of the kittens is sick. I don't know what happened. She was fine at dinnertime last night and now, she is having trouble keeping her head up and walking. Momma Cat is not helping her at all. :( I'm giving Gussie kitten milk with a dropper. She is very appreciative. I hope she gets better soon. I cry every time I hold her. She is just so helpless.