Thursday, January 29, 2009

Changes in the Air

Hmmm. I've been dipping my toes into the great, wide, unknown ocean of blogs! A world unexplored and I'm afraid I'll fall in... HA. It is very interesting and one thing has been very obvious to me - some blogs have beautiful pictures and it has inspired me to add more here. I doubt I can take such beauties as I've seen, but I do have a nice new camera and am willing to try. YAY.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cold is Back

After a good week of milder (even hinted of spring) weather, the cold is back. It was -1 when we got up this morning, and only 9 now at 2 p.m. Needless to say, I was not happy. Since it was 38 deg. on Thursday, I had blindly assumed today would be good for running early in the morning, which would've been great since we have a basketball game at 4 p.m. But I did not go out. I will probably regret it.

Instead, I took the valances to the church and hung them in the classrooms. After finishing them last night after supper, I was eager to get them into their proper place. They look very nice. I'm glad I lined them, as well as the ones I made last spring for the other two classrooms. Tomorrow I will return the leftover fabric to the lady who bought it. Then the project is done. Yay!

I decided on an outer border for drh's quilt, and cut and sewed it last night and this morning. Now I'm ready to piece the backing and layer the layers. It's a simple single Irish chain pattern. Most appealing to me right now are the patterns with nine-patch design, and especially ones in which the diagonal is somehow accentuated to lead your eye across the entire quilt. Also, I just discovered the disappearing, or tossed, nine-patch variation, and am intrigued and inspired to see how that really works. I'll post more photos of this Irish chain, and other forays into quilt blockdom, as I progress.

This is the center of the quilt with the first border. Each block is 9", and the border is 2". Below are the two options (just laid out to test) I had for the second border. I decided to use the second one as a 5" border, which provides a bigger contrast with the alternate (dotty) blocks, and because I am also using the dotty fabric for the backing. It's already sewed on, but my camera battery is charging. Then I will use the darker marble print again for the binding.

Monday, January 19, 2009

New Projects

I feel very organized and somehow serene about the beginning of 2009. Christmas and New Year's holiday time was very nice this year - relaxed and with plenty of time to visit with our kids, drh's parents and other friends. Then we took a trip out of state to my sister's for her wedding, which I had greatly looked forward to - and we are all very happy for her and her new husband, as well as all their kids. They are good for each other and both deserve lots of happiness.

I had time to organize and clean up paperwork and balance the checking account, which had been sadly neglected during the fall. I cleaned up and put away all the Christmas decorations (admittedly I had fewer things out this year), did a fantastic job of re-storing all the wrapping supplies and boxes, returned some items that were not used as gifts, exchanged a couple of gifts and sent thank you notes. I still have to learn more about using the gifts I received from drh- a new camera, a digital picture frame and an MP3 player (also for pictures - for when I have grandbaby photos to show off).

I've worked on a single-size quilt I'm making for drh, starting with some blocks that were leftover when my younger sister and I made a quilt for the newly married sister. It has been a long time since I made a quilt, and never one for him. Something struck me a few days ago while I was looking at internet pictures of quilts and I'm now inspired by a picture, took the time to lay out the design on the computer and even calculated how much of what fabrics I need. Saturday I had to work in the morning, but after that I visited two fabric stores and had a good time looking at the options. I was disappointed that the old standby store, a chain but always had lots of choices, seems to be paring back their selection of quilting cottons severely! That's too bad, but it's probably the economy.

Sunday we went to the basketball game and enjoyed watching our team get another win. Before we left, I put ingredients for jambalaya together in the crockpot, and invited friends to come over for supper after the game. The meal was great! I also made apple/raisin/walnut salad, and homemade cornbread with butter and honey. MMM.

Here is the jambalaya "recipe." I used a 3.5 qt. crock pot; 5-6 hour cooking window.

1 pkg. Zatarain's red beans and rice mix (make sure the spice part is crushed up and not all in one hard chunk)
1 c. Minute Rice
a few slices of ham (not deli-shaved, but a thicker lunch meat is okay), cut into bite sized pieces
4 precooked Andouille sausages (Johnsonville makes them), sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
about 2 c. sliced or chopped red and yellow bell peppers (or orange, or green if you like them)
1/4 of a large onion, chopped
1 can of red beans, incl. liquid
fill the can with water and add to crock pot
garlic powder - 1/8 t. or so
oregano - 1/4 t. or so
thyme - 1/4 t. or so
hot sauce (Tobasco or any other) - a few drops

Stir all together in crock pot. Cook on low 4 hours. Stir thoroughly so all rice is completely mixed in and turned over and add some water (about a cup or less) if it seems dry. Cook 1-2 more hours on low. Make sure it doesn't dry out or burn to the sides and bottom. Serves 8.

You could add chopped celery, too. You could substitute or add cooked chicken cut into bite size pieces during cooking time, or add cooked, hot shrimp when it's done, if you wish.

I am looking forward to having some more of it tonight. Then I will do crosswords and watch tv. I had today off, so I sewed curtains for the church Sunday school rooms, did laundry and ironed, and went on a 4-mile run! It was beautiful out - unlike most days lately like last week when it was -20 degrees. This afternoon it was 17 degrees, NW wind of only 10 mph, and bright and sunny. Perfect!