Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas Quilt

Yes, I realize I haven’t even finished the Fall Quilt yet. However, I figure the Christmas Quilt will piece together rather quickly.

Last night before I went to bed I decided to simply lay out all of the squares in the Charm pack of Figgy Pudding by Basic Grey for Moda. I hadn’t actually seen all of the fabrics yet and figured it’d be a good idea to look at them before deciding on a quilt pattern. I love this line. I know it has been out for awhile now, but the colors and patterns are great.

Looking at my dog sleeping on her sofa blanket, I’m thinking that using that pattern for the quilt will work well, just slightly tweaked. And filling it in with Kona White will make everything pop. I just need to decide if I want to do a gradient from light to dark or simply mix all the squares up and form a random, scrappy quilt. Either way, I’m sure it will turn out fabulous.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Decorating

With Christmas just a few short weeks away we should have our tree up and the house decorated. However this weekend was just too busy for it.

I’m thinking that sometime this week I’ll start getting out the Christmas decorations and swap out the fall décor. I don’t know just how much decorating we will do this year, but I want to get it started, get the few presents we have wrapped and under the tree, and get into the spirit of the season.

If time allows, I’d also like to get my Christmas quilt done, using Moda’s Figgy Pudding by Basic Grey, which also means I should start it. I’m planning on using a very simple pattern for this quilt, but as of yet don’t know what it will be. More than likely since I am using two Charm packs I’ll stick to the 5 inch squares and possibly make a quilt similar to the dog’s sofa quilt, just doubled using some Kona White for filler. We’ll see. I may end up making an elaborate work of art, although, admittedly, that is quite doubtful.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

When Busy Weekends End

Seriously, even with five days off for the holiday, I feel like today should be Saturday. Alas, it’s already Sunday.

Between hosting a Thanksgiving dinner, out of town family for the weekend, tree lighting & concert Friday and a family brunch yesterday, it feels like this extended weekend has been flying by too fast. But then again it has been a long time since we’ve had a busy weekend like this, and I have to admit it has been fun.

However, today after the family leaves and the house gets cleaned and rearranged back to how we normally have it, I originally wanted to start decorating for Christmas but think that might be best left for next weekend. We’ll see. Personally I think I’d rather not leave the house or do anything of substance.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


I don’t know what it is about candles, but the addition of small flames dancing around a room seem to completely alter an atmosphere for the better. I doubt I’m the only one who feels this way.

Spring and summer I can go candle-less. I mean, they can be there, but I don’t find it necessary to light them during these times. Fall and winter on the other hand almost seem to beg for lighted candles. My theory is that less daylight from nature’s candle, the sun, requires a similar energy to make up for it. Of course, I could just be talking out of my ass here, but in all honesty I feel that having candles lit during the fall and winter helps prevent sunlight depression. Sadly, sunlight depression is also known as SAD, (seasonal affected depression) and that’s sad. Okay, so SAD is a real thing, but in all honesty, unless you live in an area that actually has no sunlight for a long period of time you probably just need to spend a few minutes outside every day to form vitamin D. Or drink a glass of milk. Or take a pill.

Candles add a certain ambiance that cannot be duplicated. When company is coming over we usually light candles in both of the bathrooms, leaving the doors open of course, as well as the living room and sometimes the dining room. Typically I don’t use scented candles for the dining room, but if only one is going to be lit and it happens to be meal appropriate, like, say, the cranberry scented candle I had on the dining room table for Thanksgiving, go for it. Otherwise unscented is best so as to not overpower the smell of the food.

As much as I love a roaring fire, personally I find that having a large candle holder fit into the fireplace is not only interesting to look at when not lit, but also gorgeous when it is. Not to mention that lighting it and putting it out is way easier. Well, until we get a gas insert for the fireplace which we can turn on with a remote control.

Friday, November 26, 2010


What does it say about our society that we appear to value shopping more than family? Then again the idea of selflessness has slowly been leached out of our psyche too.

As more and more stores are open on Thanksgiving Day for deal shopping and more and more people are willing to camp out in front of stores for days just to save a few bucks on a television, I’m afraid that the idea of a family holiday is on the verge of extinction. For years I worked in a retail environment where I witnessed firsthand people physically assaulting each other over a DVD player or complete strangers cursing one another in front of their tired children over who should get the last popular Christmas toy of the year. I guess I never got on board the hyped up bandwagon of Black Friday Shopping, and still don’t understand why people would be willing to sacrifice a day they should be spending with family and good friends to stand outside in the cold and wait for the store doors to open. Personally I’d rather be eating more pumpkin pie, turkey sandwiches and playing games.

I know that other parts of the world have holidays that have gone the wayside due to increasingly subversive ideas of consumer-driven economics, and funnily we all fell flat on our asses when that bubble burst a couple years ago during, arguably, one of the worst global recessions (and in some cases depressions) in history. Yet recent events don’t seem to faze many retailers and shoppers alike, as many of them were open on a national holiday so people could spend money they probably should be putting towards paying their bills. With unemployment as high as it is in this country I’m surprised at the sheer amount of high-end electronics that are being pushed. But then again, on the other end of that are the manufacturers of those high-end electronics whose jobs are on the line because they have an overstock they need to get rid of or risk even more job losses.

Of course, right now I’m sitting here blogging on a laptop computer, listening to Christmas music on a replica of an old Crosley radio with our 50 inch high definition television staring at me through the corner of my eye. I’m not saying that I’m a pedagogical example of anti-consumerism, but I also know that these items were purchased at a time we were financially able to afford them. Yes, I realize there are good deals to be found today in all sorts of purchasing categories, but honestly I don’t understand running the risk of coma, death or dismemberment for a new TV that in a couple weeks will probably be priced lower just to get rid of them. I’d rather be in my warm house cleaning up after a wonderful Thanksgiving spent with family and friends.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tips I've Learned

When it comes to preparing a Thanksgiving Feast, the best advice I can give you is to not take on the challenge alone. Unless, of course, you’ll be alone.

Preparing a big meal for a large family get together or close friends you consider family can be a huge undertaking. Growing up we never had one person who was in charge of everything, we were all expected to bring something to the table potluck style. Of course, there wasn’t a randomness as you’d expect from a potluck, but rather one person was in charge of contacting everyone and informing them of their options of what they should bring. This eliminated too many duplicates, but also made it easier for the person bringing the dish to know what they were expected to bring rather than freaking out at the last minute trying to prepare a dish. So if you want Aunt Martha’s Green Bean Casserole, tell her to bring it rather than trying to make it yourself (and no, I don’t actually have an Aunt Martha. Well, I might. I don’t know. My family breeds like rabbits.)

The host should be responsible for the turkey. I’m not saying this out of malice for anyone else who might be inclined to bring the bird, but out of practicality. Then again, in my family, the host was responsible for one of the three turkeys. Anyways, transporting turkeys, with all those lovely juices and drippings, can be quite the messy ordeal. However, if you are the host and you prefer someone else to take on the turkey task, then by all means, delegate. Hell, you could probably delegate the entire meal out if you do it right which leaves you with just cleaning the house and setting the table. Hmmm…

Don’t overdo it. Seriously, why take extra time out of an already hectic day to make a ton of cute little appetizers to snack on before dinner (unless those happen to be deviled eggs, which sadly, I’m not making this year) when you’ve already got a ton more dishes to make? Get yourself a meat and cheese tray and a veggie tray and call it good. Save your energy for the side dishes. Personally I tend to take on more than I should, but only because I’m a control freak and want to make sure all of my bases are covered as well as have a backup plan in case anyone flakes out on their duties. Not that I’m expecting anyone to flake out (lies, all lies) but it does make sense to have a few things on hand in case your guests decide to bring guests, which I swear would never happen in my family (again, lies, all lies!)

Keep it simple. Don’t spend all day in the kitchen. Enjoy the company of your guests. And above all, remember to have fun. And yes, wine helps.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Frozen Water

Yes, I realize that frozen water is called ice. But in all honesty, when that ice is inside the chickens’s waterer and the fish pond, it should be called frozen water, since it should be water not ice.

Okay, so now that I’ve totally confused even a few of my own personalities, let me explain. When I think of ice, I think of things that should be ice, like in an ice cube tray or the roads after a particularly wet day and freezing evening. I do not think that a fish pond should be ice. I do not think that the waterer for the chickens should be ice. I do not think that either of these things should freeze over causing more work for me, but alas, I don’t always get my way in circumstances where nature is at work.

As we left the theater last night after watching Harry Potter 7: Part 1 again, I thought one of the people in our party was joking when he said it was only 8 degrees out. But sure enough, the sign in front of us flipped over from the time to reveal 8 degree Fahrenheit. I don’t know if this was a fluke or if the slight wind chill may have factored into the reading, but it was frakking cold. Of course, after getting home I noticed the fish pond had frozen over and the fish beneath were swimming around, so I took a random 2x4 laying on the deck and made a few holes in the ice for them to breath. Perhaps we should take our old aerator for the aquarium, stick it inside a PVC pipe and use that for oxygen? I don’t know, we’ll see how rambitious I get this morning.

The poor chickens on the other hand will have to be cared for a little more, as I never did get around to making the light-bulb-in-a-tin-can-inside-a-cinderblock-water-heating-device I was thinking about since last winter. Instead I’ll have to haul the waterer into the utility sink, thaw it out enough to open it up, take out the ice, and refill about halfway. Ugh. I really don’t like freezing temperatures. Snow, yes. But ice? Cursed be thy name!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cranberry Sauce

Few things in life cause as much division between people as cranberry sauce. You either love it or hate it.

With Thanksgiving only a couple days away, it’s time to think of make ahead items, and what turkey dinner would be complete without cranberry sauce? Now, I know what you are all thinking, sauce is a rather loose term for a sliced, gelatinized, can-imprinted piece of “fruit”, but I assure you that making your own is not only simple, but well worth the time. So to further entice you, I’ve included my recipe for cranberry sauce and I hope you do try making it yourself.

Cory’s Cranberry Sauce

1 12 oz bag fresh cranberries
2 oranges, zested and juiced
½ cup orange juice (or water)
1 cup sugar (more if needed, to taste)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg, ground or freshly grated
½ teaspoon cardamom
2 tablespoons cornstarch

In a medium saucepan combine cranberries, orange juice and zest, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmering and cook until cranberries are tender, stirring occasionally. In a small cup, stir the cornstarch into 2 tablespoons cold water then whisk the mixture into the cranberry sauce and cook, continuing to whisk, until the sauce thickens. Taste and add more sugar if necessary.

A couple suggestions to consider would be replacing the additional orange juice or water with a good Port, something I always say I want to try but never do. You can usually find Port with other fortified wines. Another would be to use an orange flavored liquor for a quarter cup and using a quarter cup water, as orange and cranberries have an uncanny affinity for each other. And isn’t uncanny what we’re going for on Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Planning Thanksgiving

So with only a few short days away until Thanksgiving, I suppose I need to head to the grocery store to make my purchases. Of course, planning ahead in case the few guests we are having over forget to bring their respective dishes will prevent any (food) disasters.

We are keeping the menu simple, as there isn’t really a need for 20 different side options when there will only be five people, but still, having a variety will be nice. It would be a good idea while grocery shopping to pick up a few cans of green beans, corn, and any other simple veggies, and perhaps even a frozen pie… just to be prepared for missing items your guests may forget. Getting cans and frozen items will make it look like you have a well-stocked pantry and freezer without insulting your guests that you are anticipating they’ll forget something.

I’m also thinking that anything that can be done ahead of time should be, but looking at my list of items we’re preparing, that only leaves the cranberry sauce. Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing really aren’t make ahead items, but cranberry sauce can be prepared a week or two in advance. Hmmm… I sense tomorrow’s post. Oh! And how could I forget that my partner is making homemade rolls?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pulled Muscles

My plans yesterday were foiled because, get this, I pulled a muscle turning my neck. I still can’t move my head to the right or look up or down.

So what did I do instead of cleaning or quilting or baking, all of which I had planned to do? Had an ice pack along my neck on and off all day and took copious amounts of ibuprofen. Copious amounts. This morning it is still sore, I still can’t turn my neck very well, and my head seems to be curiously tilted to the left along with my left shoulder looking as though it is raised.

I find it humorous that every time I accidentally move my head in the wrong direction and the pain causes me to hit the counter or stomp the floor (or both at the same time) while spewing out a slew of cuss words, I tense up, causing the pain to worsen. And of course being told to relax and stop tensing up doesn’t actually help, but seems to make it worse. Okay, actually I find it quite annoying, really. I mean, why in the world would the body’s natural reaction to pain be to, what appears anyway, make the pain more pronounced?

Well, I may not have all the answers (which will be shocking to some of you, no doubt) but I think I can figure out one thing for certain… I don’t drink enough water. Even though I was taking ibuprofen every couple hours, I have a tendency to only drink very little liquids due to my uncompromisingly Irish bladder. In case you are unfamiliar, we Irish pee a lot. Even us partial Irish. Or perhaps only us partial Irish who’ve inherited the small bladder gene. It’s no joke, I pee twice as much as I drink, and usually within only a few minutes of consumption. Anyway, the point is keeping hydrated allows the muscles to stay hydrated and helps reduce toxins in the bloodstream produced by strained muscles. While yes, having ice on the affected muscle area on and off will help flush those toxins by reducing inflammation, water will help prevent stiffening of the muscles. So I suppose I’ll just have to buck up, drink more, and have to run to the bathroom frequently.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tuesday, the Bitch

I’m not exactly certain when and where we went wrong in raising our now 12 year old cat, Tuesday, but she has been evil for quite some time now. Recently she has taken to biting me while I’m typing my blogs.

Tuesday is an absolutely gorgeous calico cat, with bright green eyes and a genetic flabby pouch-like belly. I say genetic because her mother had it, her litter mates all had it and so does she. Perhaps it is a remnant of their past life that still hasn’t been bred out of them yet through domestication (her mother was feral, after all), and is much akin to the same flabby pouch-like belly found on cheetahs to help them maintain their balance as they run at breakneck speed. I don’t know. The only time I see Tuesday run is when there is either a foreign dog chasing her or I’m putting food in her dish without her previous knowledge.

Anyway, ever since I started blogging on the laptop in the living room as opposed to the desktop in the office, Tuesday has decided to sit next to me while I do so. It was cute… for a while. Then she would try to chase my fingers as I typed, pawing me with her claws which seem to always be protracted. I would push her away and she would go back to cleaning herself. For the past couple weeks, however, she has gotten slightly more aggressive and has decided to start biting me while I type instead. Actually now that I think about it, my partner was playing his trumpet every time she would bite me, so perhaps she was simply telling me to make the noise stop. Either way, I let our dog chase her off.

Perhaps the thing about Tuesday is that because she is so pretty, she knows it, and thinks it gives her a free pass to be a complete bitch. Same thing with our dog, Lucy. Actually, Lucy is technically already a bitch. Or perhaps because out cat came from feral parentage and was never that affectionate except during rare occasions for mere seconds before she’d go all manic and attack you for petting her is the reason she prefers to simply be let alone. I don’t know. But I do know that the next cat we get will be cuddled from kittenhood as often as possible to prevent the monstrosity we more than likely played a part in creating known as our cat, Tuesday.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wants versus Needs

So this weekend I really want to get as much as I can on my fall quilt, but at the same time have to practically gut my craft room due to, well, chaos and impending company. I guess what I want to do will have to wait until after I finish what I need to do.

It’s a classic pairing, want and need. I want ice cream but I need to lose weight. I want a new TV but I need to pay the bills. I’m not saying either of these are me, just using them as an analogy, as I’m perfectly fine eating ice cream and watching TV with our current set. Anyway, I’m thinking that if I can at least finish the four feature panels this weekend I’ll be happy. Currently I have one appliquéd but no embroidery work on it. Yes, I’m quite lazy… probably too much eating ice cream and watching television.

The craft room shouldn’t be too hard to prepare for our Thanksgiving weekend guest, my partner’s sister, but just the thought of going in there to clean it seems daunting. Perhaps that is because I tend to just toss stuff in there rather than put anything away. I’m certain that keeping the door closed at all times doesn’t help the fact, as it truly is out of sight, out of mind. Ugh. I should probably spend some time cleaning off the desk in there too, as it has acquired a vast amount of stuff, some of which needs to be thrown away and others put into a scrapbook box. And I’ll also have to figure out how where to put all of the puppet making materials I have under the two card tables, which will obviously have to be moved out. Hmm… maybe I can get away with having one in there if I cover it with a table cloth? Lazy? Absolutely. But quite practical given the sheer amount of stuff I need to hide.

And so it appears my weekend will be filled with cleaning instead of quilting. Oh, the sacrifices we make in the name of family. Well, that and the simple need to organize our crap every now and then.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


It’s been pretty rainy the last couple days here, and with it comes trouble. As in leaky trouble.

Every time it rains we seem to discover a new leak somewhere, and lately those somewheres all seem to be in the garage. Practically everywhere there is a nail hole from the roofing material a leak has formed, which is probably a cause for concern throughout the rest of the house too, but since we can’t see any of the other areas, I’m perfectly fine lying to myself and saying that the problem is confined to the garage. Okay, so I’m really not.

I mean, the leaks are nothing major, mostly just wet areas as we look up and not puddles on the floor, but still, the fact that this is happening can’t be good. Of course, it seems to be happening more often than it used to. We’ve had our fair share of leaks in the house too, one of which was professionally fixed years ago that was by our front door. That was a lovely way to greet guests! “Welcome to our house, don’t stand there for too long or you’ll get dripped on!” A few years ago we also had a leak in the kitchen, but that seemed to go away. Still, having rain come down through the exhaust fan in the ceiling wasn’t something to simply laugh at, but it only happened during a particularly wild and rainy storm for a couple days.

So with the weather here supposed to be wet, cold and windy for the next few days, I’m expecting there to be more leaks to form. Hopefully they’ll be kind and confine themselves to the garage area only and not start dripping on me while I’m cooking again.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Overwintering Plants

With the weather starting to change rapidly, it’s time to start thinking about protecting your outdoor plants. While most will be okay, there are a few that need a little extra attention or brought inside until spring.

I am a lazy gardener. If it requires a lot of maintenance, it doesn’t make the cut. However, with that being said, I have made an exception. There are a few basil varieties that will grow year after year and most of those either require a subtropical climate or need to be brought indoors and treated as a houseplant during the winter. My Greek basil is just like this, but alas, I think I waited too long as nearly all of the lower leaves have dropped. I’m still going to bring it into the garage for a week before keeping it in the house until spring just in case it bounces back, but if it doesn’t, I’m okay with that too. And yes, I think of that as being high maintenance.

For the most part I plant either native or climate specific species, which not only reduces water consumption but also increases the chances of survival for the plants. However, for color spots, I still buy what is pretty and will make a good show for a long duration.

The other thing to worry about, even during the winter, is watering. Not all plants go dormant during the winter and they still require watering, especially if they are in an area where they won’t receive any rain like under the eaves of the house. A good rule is about half as much as you would water during the summer and every other week. This will ensure they will thrive come spring and not be all scraggly and pathetic looking. Also, it is a good idea to water any temperature sensitive plants, like fruit trees and rosemary, by completely spraying the plant to basically create an icy shell to cover it when temperatures dip below freezing. This will not only protect the next years fruit on trees, but keep your rosemary from drying out and dying, as ice can only be at freezing and not below.

So check your nursery tags or go online and research if you have any plants that need some extra help for the winter. If in doubt, and they are in pots, err on the side of caution and move them to a protected area, like under the eaves of the house. Just don’t forget to water!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Contemplating Thanksgiving

My family used to have huge Thanksgiving meals every year. It’s been five years since the last time we all got together.

While there is a time to be nostalgic about the past, there is also a time to be ecstatic about the future. I’m leaning towards the latter this time. It has been great spending the past few Thanksgivings with friends, but I think I really want to spend this year with family again. I just don’t know if I really want the huge family get togethers we used to have or start something new.

And so now I sit, thinking about what kind of Thanksgiving I’d like to have this year, and thinking of new traditions that can be started and which I’d like to carry on. The possibilities are endless, but alas, if I don’t start making the plans now they’ll never come to fruition. After all, I am the biggest procrastinator on the planet!

So with Thanksgiving a little over a week away and no real plans in place, I guess I’ll have to decide soon what I want to do. We’ve received a few invitations from friends again this year, which we’ve declined, so I’d hate to not do anything. Perhaps something small with just the immediate family in the area will be nice, which means perhaps we’ll be hosting. We’ll see.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes

With the growing number of gluten intolerant and celiac disease people, it only seems natural for the recipe world to follow suit. But honestly, I was tired of making my Honeycakes and itched for something new.

Okay, so here’s the deal, a few people in our church are gluten intolerant. Because of that whenever I make cupcakes for an event I usually make a dozen or so gluten free cupcakes too. Usually this means making my tried and true recipe for gluten-free, dairy-free, cane sugar-free cupcakes sweetened with honey instead, but I figured I’d try something new… and something chocolate… this time. Apparently they were a huge hit, as even the non-gluten-free crowd were savoring these sweet morsels of deliciousness.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes

Makes 16-20 cupcakes

15-ounce can unseasoned black beans
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa
3 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Drain excess liquid from beans, rinsing slightly. Add to a blender or food processor along with the vanilla extract and mix until smooth and pasty. If it starts to stick, add a little water. In a bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder. In a separate bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), beat eggs, sugar and yogurt together, finally adding the bean puree. Once thoroughly mixed, fold in the dry ingredients until just combined. Line a muffin tin with cupcake holders and pour the batter in, about 3/4 full. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Place cakes on a rack and cool.

Frost with your favorite chocolate frosting recipe, though personally unwhipped chocolate ganache is a perfect complement to create the chocolate overload necessary for pure bliss.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Old Mac with Spam

Last night we went out with a bunch of people to celebrate our friend Laura’s birthday. While there was a little over an hour wait for the restaurant, the food was totally worth it.

A few days ago our friend Laura was trying to finalize plans for her birthday. She really wanted Montage for dinner then head over to Kennedy School McMenamins for more drinks, so even though we knew the wait for 20 people to get seated in the small dining area of Montage would be a challenge, we were all ready for it… especially since they don’t take reservations. As it turned out, 20 turned into 12, but the wait was still the same, and there was another party of 12 right after us on the list.

While waiting outside in the threat of rain that fortunately never manifested itself, we were talking about the food from those in our group who’d eaten there before. I was pretty sure I was getting macaroni and cheese based off the conversations, but was unsure of which one I’d be selecting. After we were all seated and ordered drinks (I had a Your Not My Real Dad based solely on the name, but must admit the combination of Peach Schnapps and lavender was delicious) I perused the menu in search of something to eat. Of course, me being me, I chose the item I’d planned on before even walking into the restaurant, Old Mac… with Spam. It was delicious.

Once we were all done eating, paid the bill which was an adventure all in itself with a dozen people trying to figure out what they all ordered, my partner and I headed home while the rest of the group went to Kennedy School. Let me tell you, trying to sleep last night with a belly full of mac & cheese was not on my list of good times, but I guarantee we will be going back to Montage again. Something about really good Cajun and southern comfort foods makes me happy and this place did not disappoint. Of course, the extremely attentive (and eclectic) staff made the night fun, but having good company to share a meal with made it great.

Montage is located in Portland, Oregon at 301 SE Morrison St, 97214.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Thanks water company for deciding to turn the water off for 5 hours on a day I need to make 150 cupcakes. Especially when I have plans tonight that will impede on the amount of time to make these.

Instead of my usual morning routine of coffee and blogging first thing after getting up, I had to make sure that anything requiring water was accomplished, including showering and pet bowl refills. A few days ago we received a notice from the water company that they will be shutting the water off for five hours to perform some maintenance. This really shouldn’t come as any surprise since they’ve been doing work along the road next to us for what seems like two weeks now. What exactly they are doing is beyond me, but hopefully they are fixing the water pressure issue, which for us is the opposite problem most people have… we have WAY too much water pressure. I mean, to the point where it has been breaking the shut-off valve seals.

But this whole thing got me thinking about a bigger picture. Have we become so spoiled at having the convenience of tap water that we freak out when it suddenly isn’t available for a short period of time? Or perhaps even used to the fact that we have a very reliable source of power here in the Pacific Northwest? It sometimes feels like we live in a fantasy world when there are other parts of the world with limited power that gets shut off daily at certain times, or water that has to be hauled from a central well. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to live in that world, but I could imagine it would seem quite normal for those who’ve been living in it.

So instead of having a negative attitude about waiting to make cupcakes and do the dishes, I’m going to do some much needed grocery shopping, house cleaning, and maybe even a little quilting. While I wish I could simply bake and get the cupcakes done right away, I’m going to instead challenge myself to make everything faster. Hmm… maybe I should make mini cupcakes instead? Nah! People like my cupcakes too much for the joy to be over in two bites!

Uh oh… suddenly a thought popped into my head. Maybe I should run to the home improvement store and pick up new faucets and shut-off valves and replace them while the water is already turned off? Actually, on second thought, that not only seems like work, but also seems costly. Another day, perhaps.

Friday, November 12, 2010


I used to read a lot. Now it seems my book reading has been replaced with blogs and Facebook status updates.

In anticipation of the last of the Harry Potter movies (well, part 1 anyway) my partner has been rereading the book, albeit this time at a much more relaxed pace. The first time was a fervent effort to get through it as quickly as possible to talk about it among friends. I, on the other hand, took my time reading it because I like to enjoy the words I’m looking at and imagining the scenarios rather than simply take it all in so quickly just so I know what happens in the end.

I enjoy reading. It is one of those simple pleasures that can transport you to another world or thinking of new ideas. I don’t really have a particular genre I like more than another, but I must admit I do like mysteries, fantasies and thrillers. And if it is quirky, all the better. Villa Incognito by Tom Robbins is a great example of a quirky, fun read that got me hooked from the first line of the book. Of course, the first line is, “It has been reported that Tanuki fell from the sky using his scrotum as a parachute.”

However, I must admit, my reading has dwindled dramatically as of late. Ever since I realized the book I had started earlier this year was a sequel to the popular All Quiet on the Western Front it has made me want to read that book first. Plus I’ll probably have to start the book over anyway because I don’t remember where I left off and a little person was kind enough to take the bookmark out of its place.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fall Quilt: Started

With it almost being time to decorate for Christmas, I’m beginning work on my fall quilt. I know, I have impeccable timing.

The fact of the matter is that I’m a procrastinator. I know it and so do most of you. However, I finally started making cuts for the appliqué pieces that will be going on the four feature panels of the quilt. I’ve decided to keep the leaves all on one panel and add a burgundy mum to another. I love mums and they always come back in the autumn so I figured they should have a place on this quilt. That and there are already similar flowers in the same colors on some of the Mix & Mingle fabric I’m using for the bulk of the quilt.

Instead of using any patterns for the cuts I’m freehanding it all. I figure this way it’ll give the quilt that bit of whimsy that most of my baby blankets I’ve made have. Plus I’m going to be hand embroidering details onto the appliqués after I hand sew them onto the panels, which will really make them pop. I can’t wait to show you what they’ll look like when they’re done!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Ever since we fired up the furnace this season it hasn’t worked properly. Let’s just say that now is not the time for it to go out.

It has only been a couple weeks since we’ve had started up the furnace again after an unusually long slumber due to a warmer than normal spring and a summer that was about the same temperature as spring. Taking every precaution, I cleaned out the filter, which, by the way, had to be retrofitted to go up and into furnace’s air intake because they apparently didn’t believe in filters when they installed this particular furnace, and then cleaned out any remaining dust from inside the firing box. However, the peculiar thing was that the pilot light lit, the gas fired, and six seconds later it’d just go out and this would repeat a minute later, over and over. Seriously, two hours later the house would still be the same cool temperature it was when this process started, but because every now and then it worked fine, I just figured it was having a little more trouble due to beginning of the season issues.

Last night I came home from work with my partner calling various HVAC specialists in an effort to get them out to repair our furnace because it was cold and he was tired of it not working. So he set up an appointment. My initial thought was to ask if he researched possible causes because everything seemed to work fine it just wouldn’t stay on, but figured I’d keep my mouth shut on this one, mostly because it’s a gas furnace and I didn’t want to accidentally cause an explosion from messing with the gas line. It wasn’t long before my partner was on the computer again looking for possible causes, which he found overwhelmingly was due to a dirty flame sensor. I knew exactly what this was as soon as he mentioned it.

So with new knowledge in hand, we entered the garage, I grabbed a screwdriver and tried to unscrew the sensor, which of course had to be in a very difficult to reach area. Eventually we decided to simply see if I could lightly sand down the sensor while it was in place. Difficult? Yes. But completely doable. So I lightly sanded the thin metal rod, blew the dust out, turned the furnace back on and fired it up. Sure enough, the flame stayed lit.

I guess the moral of the story is to do a little research before jumping the gun. While it seems easier to simply have someone else take care of it, your bank account will thank you for spending a few minutes to make sure it isn’t something you can take care of. And to think it would’ve cost $130 just for the guy to come out and tell us we needed to clean our flame sensor. Of course, he probably also would’ve suggested replacing our furnace because it’s so damn old, too.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Of Cats and Dogs

Since I’ve been back to work the dog and cat seem to be showing me more attention when I get home. Unfortunately all I want to do is get out of my shirt and tie.

I had a feeling that once I went back to work our dog, Lucy, would show some inclination of being excited to see me when I would get home. After all, she practically does back flips when my partner walks in the door. However, I wasn’t expecting the transition to also go the other way. I mean, I’m actually excited to see her too… I just want to get out of my business clothes, throw on a screen T-shirt and jeans and then I’ll play with her. She doesn’t seem to have that kind of patience. I guess I only have myself to blame.

The cat, Tuesday, has never really been the cuddling type. I mean the type to let you pet her for a few seconds and then swipe your face with her protracted claws, yes, but cuddly? Not so much. Anyway, in the morning while blogging she likes to sit next to me and even allows me to reach over and pet her every now and then. I’m not sure if it’s because she misses me not being around all the time or because she’s getting old and she’s finally calming down, but it has been a nice change.

Right now the cat is licking her ass and the dog is laying down on the couch atop her new pet blanket that rarely gets tangled beneath her. I say rarely because even with strategic planning she still sometimes drags her feet getting up, catching the edge of the blanket and dragging it under her before lying down. It happens, but not nearly as much as with the two smaller blankets, so I suppose it is a success. The cat still meows ferociously in the morning and throws herself against the bedroom door if we aren’t awake so we can get up and feed her and the dog still manages to knock stuff over and get into stuff she shouldn’t, but really, I couldn’t imagine my life without the love of a pet.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bedroom Cleaning

There are rooms in this house that rarely ever get cleaned. For us, it’s the bedroom.

After my partner’s dad and step-mom left yesterday, he got all ambitious and started cleaning out our bedroom, throwing away garbage and broken or torn clothing and accessories and putting stuff back where it’s supposed to go. These are all things that should just happen normally, but for us they happen about once every year or so. I’m not kidding.

There are, however, a couple things that still surprise me. One of these things is just how much dust accumulates under the bed. I mean, seriously, where the hell does it all come from? I’ve heard of dust bunnies, but we must have a full breeding farm under there! The other issue is that the room constantly feels damp. I don’t know if there is an issue under the house or a leak in the roof or the fact that it is right next to the bathroom, but our bedroom has that cold, wet feeling all the time. Quite romantic, isn’t it? I think we seriously need to invest in a dehumidifier or at the very least get a package or two of Dri-Z-Air to prevent any further damage to the walls or our health.

However, once cleaned, the room actually appears larger, mostly due to piles of stuff not being in the way. I suppose this means that I’ll have to start work on my craft room next. But I must warn you, if I don’t come back, please don’t come in after me or you may be trapped in there too!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Operation Fall Pet Blanket: Complete

So finally, after months of delays and deliberations, I finished the fall pet blanket for the sofa. Of course, Thanksgiving weekend it’ll be switched over to a Christmas one.

After the leaves were raked and the vegetable gardens emptied and then filled with some mulched leaves to decompose over the winter, I finally had some time to work on the pet blanket I’ve been wanting to complete for some time now. Of course, it probably would’ve gone by quicker had I done a little planning or made sure that the polar fleece I had decided upon was large enough or, I don’t know, maybe had a filler fabric I liked. What instead happened was while I was rummaging around my stashes which are all kept in environmentally unfriendly plastic bags under a couple card tables in my craft room, I came upon one of my 2006 finds I purchased while redoing the craft room and our bedroom. It never got used, and it was only $2 a yard, so I got five or six yards of the stuff. As it turned out, the colors played well, giving just enough contrast with the Gobble Gobble fabrics while not being overpowering. I’m actually well pleased with the results, and definitely more so than I would’ve been had I gone with my original idea of using tea stained muslin, which, by the way I love, just wasn’t thrilled about using it on this project.

Utilizing the same technique I had come up with on the first pet blankets, I measured the sofa to get an idea of how large this one should be to cover the entire seat area, which ended up being 72x32 inches. Basically it’s half a full-sized quilt. Not bad for a Charm pack and a yard of fabric. For the polar fleece I used on the back, it was leftover from a puppet project I had done earlier this year, and in order to make it large enough I had to do some piecing. Fortunately I had just enough of it with only a couple small few inch sections remaining. Yeah, sometimes I cut just a little too close! And that reminds me, I need to take that puppet to church for an announcement I’m making today!

The best part was that it felt great to sew again and I can’t wait to start the fall quilt after my partner’s dad and step-mom leave this afternoon. I figure even if all I do is get the four feature panels done that is one less thing to work on for it. Of course, with the way the cutting for the quilt blocks is, I could easily get it all out of the way so that when I have a few minutes here and there I could simply piece together a block at a time, or since I’m a chain-stitcher, a portion of the blocks at a time. Now, if only I could motivate myself to vacuum and do the dishes before they get here?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Change of Plans

Okay, so my plans this weekend were to finally get some sewing in. Apparently my partner has made plans for us with friends on Saturday and family on Sunday, so sewing has been replaced with cleaning.

I’m not going to complain about this change of plans because I’m really looking forward to hanging out with a couple from church we rarely see outside of Sunday service, and my partner’s dad and step-mom have been out of town for what seems like months so it’ll be great to catch up with them and their most recent RV adventure. However, I must admit, I really wanted to rake the leaves and get my fall quilt and pet blanket done this weekend, or at least the top of the quilt pieced together. Perhaps, with a little time management, something that as of late I’ve not been so good at, I can fandangle this somehow.

I also think that since we’ll be in the yard anyway, which after this morning’s drizzle it’s supposed to be dry until tonight, I should go ahead and clean out the vegetable boxes of anything that won’t overwinter. It’ll be a good time to trim the strawberries of the suckers (and maybe plant those elsewhere for the birds to enjoy) and pull any remaining fruits from the zucchini and sugar pumpkins. I can’t imagine this will take all too long, but will be a great place to dump the mulched leaves right into the garden boxes and squash patches to decompose for next year’s plantings. Oh, and bring in my Greek Basil for the winter so it doesn’t die, I just need to find a good place for it. I still don’t know if my Cuban Basil will make it through the winter, but since I planted it in the box and not in a pot I guess I’ll just see how it fares outside. A couple of the other Basils have pretty much died off, but the African basil, with its luscious deep purple leaves, is still going strong. Perhaps I should make and freeze a few batches of purple pesto since it probably won’t make it through the first freeze.

Oh, my poor fall projects, still awaiting the time I can devote to them! But I will have to say that while writing this blog post I’ve already decided on a few changes I’m going to make to the quilt which will make it look way better than my original plan. Perhaps that was what the universe had in store for me all along. Or perhaps I’m just making excuses for my procrastination.

Friday, November 5, 2010


With the wind we’ve had the last couple days there has been an explosion of leaves fall from our trees. Unfortunately it’s supposed to start raining before we’d be able to get to them.

Some years our weather is so rainy and gross the leaves never really change to their pretty autumnal colors, they just simply go from green to brown. But this year, funnily after a wet and cold summer which followed a warm and dry spring, we’ve had a fairly warm fall with just a few days of rain. This has allowed the leaves to change into the gorgeous fall display most other parts of the country get to see, with yellows, oranges and reds gracing peoples yards. Of course, the downside is that they all have to be raked up before they kill the grass beneath.

One thing we’ve done this year is mow over the leaves with our lawnmower to mulch them, however the last time left quite a bit of mulched leaves which, hopefully, will start to break down before it kills the grass and turns our front yard into a swamp. I’m thinking it might be a better idea to use the mulcher on the leaf blower in vacuum mode and dump the rest of the leaves in the vegetable gardens to compost for next year. Of course, that means I have to clean out the gardens, which honestly, I’m pissed off at my tomatoes anyway so perhaps this will be quite therapeutic.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Balancing Act

Oh Mylanta, trying to balance work and home is, well, difficult. I don’t remember it being so before.

I’m still not adjusting to having a work schedule and household chores, so you can bet that there are a few things unattended to in the home right now. Fortunately my partner has been helping out more by doing the dishes and some laundry. I just wish that I had a little more energy after work to do more than make dinner.

Eventually this routine will flow better and become more productive but in the mean time I’m noticing more dust than usual pop up. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m going to dust, just that I now seem to notice it more, probably due to the fact that I’m not looking at it all the time. I abhor dusting. With a passion.

Perhaps what I really need to do is make a chore chart, something that I probably should’ve had in place years ago. That way I can map out daily, weekly and monthly chores and schedule them in a way that they get done. Hmmm… this really isn’t a bad idea. Funny how things just pop into your head while writing. I’m thinking this weekend I’ll go ahead and work on that, taking note especially of the monthly chores that seem to get put on the back burner. Okay, so honestly everything has been on the back burner, but if I get a plan in place it’ll be easier to follow rather than just knowing that the toilet needs to be scrubbed.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I Miss Sewing

I find it humorous that when I have the least amount of time to sew, that is when I want to do it the most. Then again, it seems to be a common theme in life.

For me, I’ve been wanting to get my fall projects done and over with before fall is over, but now I’m thinking that I should start my Christmas projects so they’ll be able to get used this year. Or perhaps since birthday and Halloween parties are over with, I’ll get some time this weekend to work on the quilt and pet blanket. Perhaps.

I am also uncertain what I am going to do for Christmas presents this year, but am thinking that the minimalist Christmases we’ve had the last couple years will be just fine again. I’d like to at least make sure our nieces and nephews are covered, but alas, also don’t want to go shopping for stuff. Then again we already have some purchases that will make great gifts for a couple of the younger ones, so we’ll see where we go with the rest of the munchkins.

Hopefully I’ll be able to get my crap together so that I can push these two fall projects out by the weekend, which for the what I’m making is completely doable. I’ve already started the pet blanket and only have to sew the border fabric for the top and sew it onto some polar fleece with straight line quilting to keep it all together. I know the two small ones I made earlier this summer went together rather quickly, so I can’t imagine it will take that long to do. The quilt on the other hand has a lot of cutting and piecing and may take a bit longer, but I’m confident that once I start working on it the rest will come together fast.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

When I Grow Up...

Last night my partner and I were discussing life goals we have. Sadly, I think I’ve given up on most of mine.

You know when you were a kid and a parent or teacher asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up and your response was either a doctor or fireman or whatever respectable career choice. My response was an artist… or a writer, or a painter, or a cartoon animator, or a movie director, or an actor, or a puppeteer, or… Even from a young age I couldn’t make a decision about what I wanted to be, and now at 33 years old I’m no better off.

As a creative-type, I find it difficult to box myself into one career category because I have too many passions. If, say, I only had one or two that would be different as I could probably integrate them or go from one to the other, something the wide-spectrum of creative arts doesn’t necessarily allow for. Also, my lack of education seems to be a stumbling block. Sometimes I wished I had saved up a little more money before moving out of my parent’s house and in with my partner so I at least could’ve finished up my Associates Degree, because, even as a generic degree, it would have been a stepping stone into a better paying job and higher education which, even if it didn’t propel me toward a career I wanted would land me a well-paying job that I’d be able to explore some of those options without worrying about finances. However, that is the past and I must think about the future, and the future is telling me to go back to school.

I still don’t exactly know what I want to be when I grow up, even as other people seem to think they do. I mean, just because I’m good at something doesn’t mean that is what I want to do with the rest of my life, but at the same time barely scraping by at a job that pays just above minimum wage isn’t exactly a dream either. During the past couple years I squandered any opportunities to explore any creative outlets I may have been able to do in exchange for the security of an unemployment check. That isn’t to say that I didn’t apply to positions that would’ve allowed me to utilize my talents, because I did, but without the education or work history in those fields it’s damn near impossible to even land an interview. Sometimes I wish I had my own DeLorean Time Machine to go back into the past and kick my younger self in the ass.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween: The Day After

With Halloween and trick-or-treaters behind us, the day after is here, which means clean up time. I know what I’ll be doing after work tonight.

It never ceases to amaze me just how many trick-or-treaters we get, especially living on a busy road with no sidewalks or streetlights. This year the count was 27, with surprisingly less than half teenagers, our usual candy grabbers. Of course, we had to take the dog we’ve been watching, Otto, back to his family at 9 o’clock that night, so we left a box with the rest of the candy on the front porch and by the time we got home both the box and the candy had disappeared. Not surprising, but I suspect teenagers had something to do with it since the box went missing too. Good thing my partner transferred the candy to it instead of leaving our Halloween candy bowl!

So before the trick-or-treaters arrived I made sure that all of the electronics and lights were in working order, which they were. I suppose it should come as no surprise that our “greeter” a talking ghoul I hung next to the front door, decided to stop working properly right before any trick-or-treaters arrived. Also not surprising was that the pumpkin lights went out too, again, right before anyone showed up. Oh well, they served a purpose, they just weren’t serving the purpose I had originally intended.

And now with it being November already the decorations need to all come down and be packed away until next year. It’s sad, yes, but then there is always the following year to look forward to. Perhaps then I’ll figure out why our “greeter” only works during the day, especially since it is a Halloween decorations and most Halloween stuff is done during the night.