Monday, October 31, 2011


It’s Halloween and I’ve got nothing. No costume, no ideas, nothing.

This isn’t at all surprising that I have no costume ideas or plans since all of my costume stuff was still at the old house when they took it back. My fault, yes, for leaving it all there. We still have all the makeup so perhaps I will be able to throw something together, just not exactly sure what.

Anyway, I don’t know why but I’m just not in the Halloween spirit this year. I tried. Honestly I tried. I even decorated the front porch with lights and cobwebs before bed last night hoping that would get me in the mood, but alas it has just made me tired this morning. Maybe after my coffee kicks in and I’ve showered my mood will be different and I’ll be inspired. If not, I guess I can always wear my Mickey Mouse Halloween scrubs again to work. Oy.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ode to Rain

Oh, Pacific Northwest
With thy watery skies
That leak so…

Thanks Dexter, for choosing now to cough up hairballs all over the house. Bastard.


Why must thou drench
The earth below
So abundantly?

Oh, Precipitation!
I plead with thee
To halt thy incessant cry

And allow us just
A few more days
To enjoy sunshine and dry!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Shakespeare Plays

Watching Ridgefield High School put on a production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night made me remember how much I love that play. There aren’t many I can say that about.

While some would argue that Shakespeare was the greatest playwright of all time, others still would counter that it is doubtful he even wrote any of the plays. However, be what may be, there are only a small handful of his plays that I’ve enjoyed. Let me just go ahead and say that The Tragedy of Julius Caesar is not among them. It is boring as all get out and having to listen to our tenth grade English teacher read it from a prerecorded tape because, well, that’s just how she was, didn’t help matters as her monotonous tone simply seemed to drone on and on and on and…

However, Twelfth Night is among one that I’ve seen performed and enjoyed a few times now and never tire of it. Romeo and Juliet on the other hand I believe has been overdone. But I must admit that I really liked the 1996 movie with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. A fresh approach to an exhausted play can breathe new life and interest into it. And a really good soundtrack helps too. It was in this fresh approach that I was glad to see that costumes were not bogged down to period pieces. They utilized an eclectic mix of modern, traditional and cultural costumes to portray the various sects and it worked beautifully. Also the fact that the cast consisted of mostly female actors playing what were written as male roles still made the homosexual undertones of the play that much more hilarious.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Cat Hair

Life with cats also means living with their hair. Why not do something creative with it?

One of the girls I work with at the animal hospital has an obsession with cats. I seriously think she must have the toxoplasma parasite firmly attached to her brain to make attracted to cats in this quite unhealthy way. Don’t worry, if you have cats you probably have it too. Actually a lot of people have it and don’t even know they do. Other people are schizophrenic. Blame cats for that, as it is probably their fault too.

Anyway, back to cat hair. We have a clinic cat who sheds a lot. I mean so much so that you’d find entire tribble populations some days in random places he has been lounging around. So at some point she decided to start saving his fur after brushing him, rolling it into balls, and letting him play with them as if they were toys. He loves knocking them off the counter and rolling them all over the floor. He loves his furry balls.

Then one day our doctor tells her about this new book coming out that had just been translated from Japanese called Crafting with Cat Hair by Kaori Tsutaya. Within a couple days she had the book in hand and was already concocting what projects she was going to tackle first. I must admit that after casually perusing the book there are some projects that definitely sound like they’d be fun to make if one were inclined to further perpetuate the fact that they indeed are the crazy cat lady everyone is already thinking. However, it also looks like it’d be fun to do just because crafters always seem to be looking for something new to craft. And hey, if life gives you cat hair, why not make a finger puppet?

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Do you ever watch something on television or a movie and ask yourself, “Is that any good?” I assure you, ratatouille is.

The first time I made ratatouille it was the grilled version. Grilling the tomatoes, red bell pepper, eggplant and zucchini brought out a lot of flavor for the dish. Of course, the bulb of garlic I roasted along with it didn’t hurt either. But a couple nights ago I wanted to make ratatouille like Remy did in the Disney/Pixar movie. However, because it is well into the autumnal season, my eggplant was frozen (side note: eggplant freezes quite well when sliced thickly and tossed into a Ziploc bag) and I decided to add a little more substance. Internet research led to a multitude of variations of the dish and a little history. As a typical peasant dish from the south of France, the main ingredients haven’t changed since they are all late summer vegetables, but depending on what was available at the time, substitutions or additions could be made. I decided to add some potatoes to the mix. And then the next Google search option was Rachel Ray’s version which included potatoes. Go figure.

For the sauce I decided to go chunky rather than smooth, but if you feel like a puree, go for it. Or, if you feel like using a premade pasta sauce that will work too. Personally, I felt that I wanted to go somewhere between traditional and trendy so I kept the sauce rustic and sliced all the veggies thin for the roasting process.

Cory’s Ratatouille

1 to 2 medium eggplants, thinly sliced
1 to 2 medium zucchinis, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
3 to 4 small red potatoes, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons olive oil, separated
1 small onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can petite diced tomatoes, 14.5 oz
2 to 3 teaspoons Herbes de Provence
4 sprigs fresh thyme, stems discarded
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In a sauce pan over medium heat, pour in two tablespoons olive oil. Add the onions and cook until slightly translucent, about five minutes. Add the finely diced bell pepper and garlic and continue to cook until everything starts to turn golden brown. Pour in the can of tomatoes or if using fresh about one pound. Next, add the Herbes de Provence, salt and pepper and allow sauce to cook down slightly, letting the flavors mingle together, about 5 minutes. Don’t have Herbes de Provence? Use equal parts basil and thyme. Not the same, but it will do.

Pour the sauce into the bottom of a casserole dish. Yes, it is supposed to be chunky. Don’t like chunks? Puree it then. Anyway, with the sauce as the base, begin arranging the thinly sliced vegetables in a circular motion around the pan and then into the center by alternating. By alternating, I mean zucchini, eggplant, red bell pepper, potato, repeat. Did you see the Disney/Pixar movie Ratatouille? Do it like that. When the pan is full or you run out of veggies, top with the remaining extra virgin olive oil and season with salt, pepper and fresh thyme leaves. Don’t have fresh thyme? Use about ½ teaspoon dried.

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit over the top of the ratatouille and bake 50 to 60 minutes or until everything looks nicely roasted. Serve right away with French bread for a vegetarian meal, or as a side dish. Can also be eaten at room temperature or cold. Leftovers actually taste better so don’t be afraid to make a big batch of it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Husband

Today is my husband’s birthday. Unfortunately we are too poor to do anything to celebrate it.

Actually the us being poor thing isn’t anything new. I mean, after years and years and years of it we should be used to it by now. However, it still comes as a shock when the bank account approaches single digits towards the end of the month. Let’s just say neither of us are competent budgeters. Alas, this post isn’t about budgets or competency or tiny available balances, it’s about my husband and today is his birthday.

We met in 1995 in a 7AM Psychology class in college. It was my first college course, and only God knows why I chose that time. But if I didn’t I wouldn’t have met the man I would eventually marry (only recognized by our church, mind you) and embark on the adventure known as life. Fortunately we have just enough in common to keep us interested and just the right amount of separate interests to keep us from tearing each other apart. We’ve dabbled into each other’s separate interests without any success, but I don’t regret trying them out and I doubt he does either. Well, maybe a little. I’ve still got fabric for a couple different quilts he wanted to make.

Throughout the years, he has been the one to take charge in the relationship. He took care of the bills, the decisions, the everything. Until one day he had enough and made me make a decision. I don’t know if he regrets the fact that I’m much more opinionated and speak my mind more than, well, I never really did before, but I know that I am grateful for him for bringing out those aspects. Being complacent does, after all, become quite frustrating after a while. I have taken on bill paying and have always done most of the cleaning and cooking, but I still let him talk on the phone with practically anyone. I hate talking on the phone. Partly because I’m deaf and can’t understand half the words people say, and partly because my visual brain prefers visual contact either in words or being able to see the person to account for body language and attempt to read their lips. Okay, so these are mostly excuses. I just really don’t like talking on the phone. Never have. Probably never will.

So today being his birthday, and my day off, I’m not exactly sure what we’ll do. I’m not sure if we’ll take advantage of this gorgeous weather we’ve had the past couple days (albeit cold mornings) or if I will instead get the house cleaned and ready for a small party we’re planning for Friday night after the play he’s been helping with like I had originally planned. I wish we could afford to take a trip or even just take him to buy new clothes or be able to have a real birthday party instead of a small get-together for cupcakes and drinks. I don’t know if some day this will ever be able to happen, but I hope it will. I do know, however, that I would be lost without him.

Happy Birthday Greggy! May your dreams never fade and your hope for a better tomorrow never waive.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Embroidering is a work of love. And pricked fingers.

I have completed the embroidery work on two of the four feature panels, I feel like this quilt is finally coming together. With any luck the Fall Quilt just might be finished while it is still autumn! Of course this will require dedication and determination and I severely lack those qualities.

For the feature panels I decided to use embroidery to bring out the features to make the basic shapes of the appliqués be more recognizable. While these two are fairly obvious what they are supposed to represent because of what they are, the other two panels may not be as easy to figure out. However, I am confident that once all four panels are done, the rest of the quilt will come together quite quickly. Now I suppose the only other question to ask myself is if I want to do any fancy scrollwork embroidery on the background of each of the feature panels or simply utilize the blank space for the quilting?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Herbed Chicken with Balsamic Onions

Do you ever have one of those old standby recipes you haven’t made in years? Herbed Chicken with Balsamic Onions is one for me.

Last night I was struggling with what to make for dinner. Just for fun I decided to flip through a cookbook I made for family and friends years ago and stumbled upon a recipe I used to make quite often. That was it. I was making Herbed Chicken with Balsamic Onions. The recipe itself is simple and can easily be changed to accommodate other cuts of chicken or varying the herbs depending on what you have on hand. I decided to go with fresh herbs and used a combination of rosemary, thyme and oregano from the garden. I debated over whether to include sage and am kicking myself for deciding not to, but alas, the final product was still delicious. But then again, it is my recipe so, well, my opinion might be slightly askew.

Herbed Chicken with Balsamic Onions

1½ to 2 pounds chicken, breasts or thighs
1 large onion, cut in half and sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, separated
1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
2 tablespoons oregano (2 teaspoons dried)
1 tablespoon thyme (1 teaspoon dried)
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
lemon slices
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In an oven-safe pan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat, put one tablespoon olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan and slowly cook the onions until they begin to soften, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes until everything starts to turn golden. Mix up your herbs and put about half into the pan with the onions and garlic, stirring them in for about 30 seconds. Stand as far away from the pan as you can and pour in the Balsamic vinegar, stirring it to coat the onions well. Turn off heat on the stove. Evenly distribute the onions on the bottom of the pan and place the chicken on top, leaving a little room between each piece. Drizzle remaining olive oil and season with remaining herbs, salt and pepper. Drizzle honey over the top of the chicken and top each piece with a lemon slice. I didn’t have any lemons so I didn’t. Bake for 20-35 minutes, depending on size and cuts (breasts cook faster than thighs.) Test for doneness by selecting the thickest part of the largest piece, and piercing it with a sharp knife. Clear juices mean done, pink means possible salmonella poisoning so keep cooking. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

This recipe goes great with a nice rice pilaf and a mixed green salad or pretty much any vegetable dish. I’m sure it would also go well with ratatouille, which I have been craving for weeks now so I may just have to make some this week for dinner.

On a sidenote, this is my 666th post. Just saying.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Desperate Housewife's Quilt: Block Thirteen

When the rain comes you’ll need an umbrella. What perfect time to make a quilt block to represent this.

I’ve been looking forward to making the thirteenth block in The Desperate Housewife’s Quilt series being hosted by Jane over at Want it, Need it, Quilt! ( since I first saw it. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. One thing I’ve enjoyed is being pushed to learn new techniques, and the one employed in this block utilizes something I bought years ago with this purpose in mind, along with a few others, and that is freezer paper. Building appliqué shapes and piecing them together before actually appliquéing them onto the quilt is quite easy with the use of freezer paper cut to size and lightly ironed onto the wrong side of the fabric.

Another thing about this block is that there is a lot of hand stitching, something I’ve gotten away from in the last decade or so. I’m not sure if it was just laziness or me feeling more confident with the sewing machine to piece my appliqué work, but there is something quite meditative about hand stitching something. Albeit, there is also the frustration of the block not wanting to stay in place because you are sitting on the sofa and watching television at the same time rather than using a table to keep the block composed correctly for stitching. Alas, it all worked out in the end.

I will say this, and that is with all of the hand stitching this and other blocks required, along with the feature panels I’m working on for the Fall Quilt, I think I may just be ready to tackle a full sized hand quilted quilt. For the Fall Quilt I want a simple design anyway to not detract from all of the embroidery work I’m putting into those four feature panels. I hope I know what I’m getting myself into!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Haste and Forgetfulness

Do you ever have days where you just want to kick yourself? I’m having one right now.

Months ago I finished a baby blanket for my newest nephew. In my haste to send it off last week I apparently also forgot to take any pictures of it completed. Balls. Somehow it managed to slip my mind to, oh, I don’t know, take a few pictures of the finished product any time during the interim that it was here before I mailed it. I’ve gone back and forth now a dozen times trying to find out if maybe the pictures got downloaded into a different folder, but alas, I don’t even remember taking pictures of it.

And so instead of this being a post about how cute the quilt is or how I managed to make yet another baby blanket for other peoples kids, it’s going to be about getting older, forgetting, and then the mad rush to finish everything up. I mean, I know I’ve been in quite the funk for the past year photo-taking-wise, but still, that is no excuse for not taking pictures anyway. I also know part of it is that I don’t have the time I once had (back when I was unemployed) to devote to getting the shot just right and then editing it. I’m sure if I really wanted to I could, but part of the reason I significantly lowered the amount of pictures I post is because I started using the laptop instead of the desktop to blog. With my Wacom Tablet and Pen on the desktop along with all of my photo editing software, most of the pictures I’ve posted on here lately are, well, straight out of the camera and hastily taken without composing the shot first. Basically, the kind that should be edited the most, especially since these are also taken pre-coffee.

Maybe I can ask my brother to take a few pictures and send them to me so I can both have a picture of the quilt and be able to post it on here. Okay, there really is no maybe about it. I think I’ll go ahead and ask him to take a picture of the front full-on, a picture of the back embroidery work close-up, and just for shits and giggles, one of my nephew wrapped in it. Perhaps this is the way it should be anyway. However, I’m still kicking myself.

Holy crap! I just realized I DID take a picture of the top before putting the backing on! It was on my cell phone, which means it really looks awful, but alas, it will give you an idea. I’m still going to ask my brother to take pictures and send them to me. And after looking at them I’m also going to edit them on the other computer first.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Simultaneous Projects

Working on multiple projects can be rewarding. It can also be mind boggling.

While on my break yesterday at work I started embroidering the feature panels. Free flowing embroidery is one of my favorite things to do as it adds a new level of dimension and texture to a quilt. Deciding on where lines should be flowing and color choosing are the only hard parts, but pushing the boundaries between reality and fantasy are part of the fun. I use the same approach when illustrating a children’s book or painting in that I will sometimes put shadows and highlights in places they wouldn’t normally occur. I’m not sure why I do this, I just like the look.

After getting home and reheating some delicious Chicken and Corn Chowder I made a few nights ago for dinner, I continued working on Block Thirteen of The Desperate Housewife’s Quilt. This block is taking a little longer than most in that there is a lot of hand stitching. Must be because Block Twelve went together so quickly! I should be finished with it tonight, assuming I don’t run into any obstacles.

Sometimes it is best to have multiple projects going on at the same time when there are tedious and repetitious tasks to perform. That way when you inevitably get bored, you can always switch to another one.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Desperate Housewife's Quilt: Block Twelve

When there is so much to do, sometimes a little me time is in order. After finishing up some chores I decided to quilt.

My week’s list is, well, stalled for the moment. I decided not to clean out the garden boxes just yet, which in turn means I didn’t clean out the coop, which because of that I didn’t bother cleaning the bathrooms. Please don’t ask how that last one falls into place. Okay, fine ask, and I’ll tell you I just didn’t want to. Instead I rescrubbed the outdoor cushions for about an hour, did laundry, managed to bathe the dog and deodorize and vacuum the carpet, sofa and chair-and-a-half. I also researched what classes I still need to take for college and found out it will cost twenty bucks to replace the financial aid debit card I didn’t get. Shoot.

So anyway, after all the hullabaloo I received from bathing the dog from the dog, I decided to spend a little time quilting while waiting for the sofa quilts and pet bed to dry before letting her back out into the living room. I didn’t. Instead I opted to try figuring out how best to make our church’s stewardship campaign letters we’ll be sending out look like scrapbook pages. Of course the program I was planning on using doesn’t have that section loaded onto the computer and the disc is nowhere to be found, which means somewhere in the garage, so I tried another one and was barely satisfied with the look. Okay, it sucked, but I sent it off anyway to our pastor. He agreed, it wasn’t anything like what we wanted. If I can’t find the disc, I suppose I could always either dig out my scrapbook stuff or use Photoshop to cut and paste shapes and textures to recreate the look of a traditional scrapbook page.

And so that leads me to after I had dinner... alone… because my husband was going to a workshop with the Ridgefield High School theater kids. I pulled out the Jelly Roll of Sandy Gervais’s Mix & Mingle I’m going to use for the Fall Quilt and grabbed the book Material Obsession to find out the measurements of all the cuts that are needed to make the blocks I’m using for the quilt. Then my eye caught my stack of Desperate Housewife’s Quilt blocks sitting next to my sewing machine and I decided to put the Jelly Roll away and grab the next block in the series. I then put it aside and grabbed the one after and started cutting, piecing and in no time at all had the block done. So I started block thirteen, which is a beautiful design that I can see using for an entire quilt. However, about halfway through it was time for my Wednesday night television lineup, so it will have to wait until tonight after work.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Do you ever have days where you feel like an absolute moron? I had one yesterday.

After months of thinking that there was still missing paperwork on my financial aid, albeit, getting an email from the Financial Aid Department saying such is probably what led me to believe it, even though I know I had turned in everything at least once, I found out what the problem was. Apparently they send you a debit card now, and when that debit card was returned by post office because we had just moved from that house into the one we are currently in, there was a holdup. A quick change of address online took care of that part, but today I am going to go down to the school to get the rest figured out and also decide what classes to take for winter quarter.

My initial thought was to finish my Associates in Arts Degree, but then I started thinking it might be a good idea to get a degree in something I can use to build my skills. This led me to ponder just what skills I’d like to acquire. Welding? Diesel Technology? Graphic Design? So many options and so many things that just aren’t me. Well, except for the Graphic Design one. I can see myself doing that. Actually, I can really see myself doing that. However, where can that degree take me career-wise? Perhaps it would be best to stick with my original plan. Or perhaps I need to talk with an advisor about what I had originally wanted to do the first time I went to college back in 1995… how to become a teacher.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

This Week's List

Today I am making a list of things I want to complete before week’s end. Tomorrow I will probably regret it.

With so much to prepare for the coming change in weather, and today probably going to be the last warm day to do most of it, my goal is to accomplish as much outdoor stuff today as I can. So with that, I am going to attempt at making a list of all things I want to get done over the coming week as well. Don’t worry, I’m scheduling in some me time too. After all, if your list is full of work, who would want to do it?

First on that list is cleaning up the backyard. This includes hosing off the deck, cleaning and storing the seat cushions on the patio furniture, emptying the spent flowers from the containers (the dahlias and cosmos are staying as they’ll bloom until December), cleaning out the old dog kennel we used to transport the chickens from the old house to here back in May, and general picking up of stuff we randomly have along the back of the house.

Second is to clean out the garden boxes. While technically this could be included in the backyard cleanup portion, it really does need to be a separate spot on the list for various reasons. My plan is to move them around and stack two of them together to form a deeper planting box. I figure since we only used two this year anyway, having three will work out fine. But this also means harvesting everything that is harvestable and tossing the rest over the fence. Literally.

Third down is cleaning out the chicken coop. Why do this after cleaning out the garden boxes? So that I can use their chicken poop covered bedding in the boxes and let the girls dig it all in for me. This worked out well last year, though I must admit I was a little sad I wasn’t able to reap the rewards since we had to move before planting season.

Fourth: Start cutting the Jelly Roll I’m using for the Fall Quilt.

Fifth: Sprinkle carpet powder on the furniture and living room carpet.

Sixth: Bathe the dog.

Seventh: Vacuum the entire house.

Eighth: Clean the bathrooms.

Ninth: Start piecing together blocks for the Fall Quilt.

It appears my list might be a little ambitious for someone like me who, well, isn’t so much. However, I know that if I can squeeze grocery shopping in after getting off work this morning before heading home I should be able to manage a majority of it before I go back to work on Thursday. Of course, this also is assuming I don’t skip down to the fourth item on my list then skip again to the ninth.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Multiple Projects

For a while I’ve been bogged down in the quilting world. Thanks to The Desperate Housewife’s Quilt blocks, I’ve been inspired to finish long abandoned projects.

Since I started up my Fall Quilt again, I’ve been wanting to get ideas on how best to utilize the Alexander Henry Fabrics. I wanted to find a pattern that will allow the larger print fabrics to stand out but couldn’t decide on any one way of going about this. Eventually I decided on nine-patches in coordinating solids with alternating blocks of the five patterns I picked out. Simple, yes… but a four-patch would be simpler!

Even after deciding on a pattern for the In The Kitchen line, which I am currently dubbing That 70s Quilt, I was perusing my quilt books just to make sure there wasn’t anything I was missing. A few patterns really struck me as ones that would work well with the fabric, so perhaps I won’t allow myself to be so rigid. However, I did figure out how I want to make the stars for the Christmas Quilt using my Figgy Pudding charm packs, so that’s a bonus!

I’m also tempted to either find a pattern for some fat quarters I picked up a few months ago or use them as filler for That 70s Quilt, as the colors go well with the Spotted Owls print. However, I suppose with four current projects going on at once I can ponder this question for a little while longer.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Why Am I a Sunday School Teacher?

Why am I a Sunday School Teacher? This is a question I have been pondering throughout the week. The answer was not as readily available as I was expecting it to be when I agreed to speak about it.

While it is certainly enjoyable to watch the children learn new things or think new thoughts, it actually is just the reverse I found most surprising. What I learn from them during the lessons is profoundly rewarding. The way their unobstructed thoughts are articulated into theories about the world around them; how they interpret stories or scripture; their unique take on an art project; it all forms an environment rich with creativity and flourishing with imagination.

To say this is inspiring would be an understatement. Every time I get to teach, a little thrill runs down my spine. This wasn’t always so. At first, I was terrified. What if the kids don’t like me? What if I screw up or say the wrong thing? What if everything gets out of control crazy? Well, sometimes these things happen. I distinctly remember, after what I was told was a particularly moving service where there was a moment of silence, the kids in my classroom all decided at that very moment to start screaming with high-pitched giggly voices as if they were trying to out-yell each other. However, instead of judgment on my class management skills (or lack thereof) I received mostly laughs from parents picking up their kids.

Bible Adventures for me isn’t just a chance to teach the kids, it’s a chance to get to know them and a chance to explore through their eyes. Of course, having an excellent curriculum helps. I remember the days of trying to come up with a lesson because either there wasn’t one or the one provided was, well, awfully vague or overly complicated. Most of those lessons were obviously meant for a much longer Sunday School session than the typical thirty to forty minutes we have during the remainder of worship. The curriculum our Christian Education Coordinator, Kristina, acquired for us to use seems like a perfect fit, not only as a way to break up the lesson into two parts when needed, but also as part of our church philosophies and values. The days of spending a week or two trying to build a lesson are a thing of the past, and for me at least on a recent Sunday, asking for a printout of the lesson I was teaching that morning because, in typical Cory fashion, I didn’t check my email to look at the lesson until late the night before and found that the file wouldn’t open on my computer because it wasn’t in PDF format like it usually is. Funnily this was probably one of my favorite lessons, where after reading the story we gathered in a circle on the floor and filled a glass jar with glass pebbles, one at a time, saying what we were thankful for. Sometimes it really is just the simple things in life that bring about the greatest joy.

So again I ask myself, why am I a Sunday School Teacher? Quite simply put it is because I have a thirst for knowledge, and sometimes that knowledge is only accessible from a child’s point of view.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fall Quilt

Seasons are funny things. Even though I know I won’t get my Fall Quilt done before autumn is over, I still am suddenly interested in working on it.

It has been nearly a year since I’ve even touched this thing, but figured I did enough blogging about it last year that I should probably start doing something with it this year. Apparently saying and doing really are two different things. Go figure. Anyway, with Fall here, and me no closer to figuring out a pattern for my Christmas Quilt, I decided to take the feature panels I’m making for the quilt to work and appliqué them on my lunch break. Of course, after I was about halfway through appliquéing the next panel (I’d already done two last year) I realized I was using the wrong thread. Oy. Now the dilemma of either leaving it be with the brown thread or going over it with black embroidery floss comes into play. I decided to simply move on with the current thread choice and make that decision later. However, I must admit, I really like the look of the larger, more obvious embroidery floss on the other two panels so I might just end up going over it anyway. There would be no reason to unpick all that stitching as it is keeping the appliqué in place and it’ll just get covered up anyway, right?

Well, as it turns out, upon further investigation, the thread was simply a dark brown and the one I’d used for the pumpkin appliqué was a medium brown and much thinner. My hand hit my head when I realized this, walked into the craft room, and lo and behold behind the Jelly Roll of Sandy Gervais Mix & Mingle was the dark brown thread in question. Figures. Apparently frantically throwing stuff into a bag in the morning when you are already late for work doesn’t always yield the best results. Still, my verdict is final. I’m simply going to go over the stitching in the darker color rather than pick it out. Especially after looking at how much more the stitching pops with the darker thread!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Carpet Powder

When limited finances and tough odors collide, sometimes you are forced to live with the nastiness. However, it doesn’t have to be so.

I am not a big fan of smells that do nothing more than cover up other less pleasant smells. However, after living with the disgusting odor emanating from the carpet for longer than one should and after spending a ton of money having them professionally cleaned and deodorized, I decided to break down and buy a two dollar bottle of carpet powder. After sprinkling a generous amount of Glade Tough Odor Solutions on the living room and hallway carpet and letting it sit for about ten minutes, I pulled out the vacuum cleaner and started vacuuming. The smell was immediately gone and replaced by a clean scent. I even did the ultimate sniff test and dug my nose into our nasty carpets and breathed in deeply. After not detecting even a hint of grossness, and after rinsing my nostrils out completely because, ew, I think I may have found at least a cheap and temporary solution to cover our problem.

Now I suppose the next challenge I’m going to place this product under is the sofa and chair-and-a-half. I normally use Febreeze about once a week on these because, well, we have pets who use them and, even though I have pet quilts I made covering the seats and on the chair-and-a-half over the head rest where our cat Dexter likes to lay, they still smell. Hopefully it will work as well as it did on the carpet. However, the real test will be how everything holds up in a week or two.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Sometimes finding patterns is a good thing. Other times you find that the patterns you’ve formed in life are not so much.

While searching for the quilt pattern I had decided on last year for my Christmas Quilt on the Moda Bake Shop, I noticed a familiar pattern of my own. I do a lot of research with little end results. I can freely admit that I love looking at beautiful quilts and ones that catch my eye I remark that I’d like to make one similar, but when it comes down to actually making it I tend to panic. I’m not sure if it is trying to follow directions, or in my case adapting the pattern to fit the amount of fabric I have with as few cuts as humanly possible, or the act of cutting into the beautiful fabric I’d been hoarding for years, but something has got to change.

My plan yesterday was to start on the Christmas Quilt and at least get most of the cuts made and piled together for easy chain piecing when it came time to sew. However, my husband couldn’t find a job for the day and it was my day off so we instead went to the post office to mail off my nephew’s baby blanket I made months ago, saw Captain America at the three dollar theater and got some goldfish at the pet store for the pond in the front yard. Alas, that meant little time to actually find the pattern and finally start on this project before my Wednesday night television lineup started.

Now, if I really wanted to I probably could’ve started the quilt after locating the pattern, but honestly, I couldn’t remember the pattern that I’d wanted to use. All I could remember was there were stars. Ugh. After searching through the various patterns my search brought up regarding “stars” I found two patterns that looked vaguely familiar and printed them off. I also decided to go ahead and print the patterns for two other projects I’d failed to start as well. However, after looking at the Figgy Pudding charms and yardage I’m planning on using for this quilt, I’m not sure if I like either of them as much as I may have before.

Does anyone else spend and incredulous amount of time overthinking a project rather than just start making it, or am I alone in this? I swear I waste more time perusing quilt books and the internet for inspiration rather than simply let the fabric inspire me to find a pattern for it. Then again, that might be the problem; it just looks so pretty up on the shelf that I’m afraid of ruining it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I Hate Carpet

There are few things in the world that I hate. Carpet is probably number one on that list.

Hate is a strong word and one that I was taught as a child never to use. We could say practically anything except, “I hate you!” to each other, which is probably why my vocabulary is, well, colorful. Let me just clarify that I am typically okay with area rugs, since these are much easier to keep clean, but carpeted floors are a different story. With two guys and three animals roaming the house, it doesn’t take long for crappy carpets to look (and smell) crappier.

Here is the deal with the carpet in our house; it’s bad. I mean really bad. Like maybe it should’ve been replaced five years ago bad. It is mostly one, large matted mess that whenever it gets a little damp a new stain appears, signs that the pad beneath is filthy. I mean, I know we had them professionally cleaned and the guy used a ton more solution than normal as well as spent about three times longer than he would on a normal job, but even he was doubtful that was enough to do the trick. It also seems to have taken on a disgusting odor as of late, one that just does not want to go away. I can handle stains, but the olfactory assault is a little too much. Okay, a lot too much.

So while I was at the grocery store yesterday I wandered into the cleaning supply aisle and decided, what the hell, I was going to get a bottle of deodorizing carpet powder. I plan on sprinkling some down today and letting it sit for a good ten minutes before vacuuming it back up. Something tells me it will be a little more difficult than that, but at the same time, even if it only helps a little bit I’m okay with that.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Grocery Lists

When I go grocery shopping I make a list, but not just any list, an organized list. Let me explain.

The dreaded grocery store. With all the rain, however, what else am I going to do? So I suppose that means I need to make a list of all the stuff we need and/or are out of. I’ve been making my grocery lists the same way for years, but it hasn’t dawned on me until recently why my organized lists are set up the way they are until recently when I sent my husband out to do the grocery shopping. You see, I write them in order of where they are located in the store starting at the entrance and ending at the checkouts. This has always seemed logical to me. However, my husband noticed that I use what is apparently called the “Racetrack” method in which I rarely veer off the perimeter of the store where it is mostly fresh and refrigerated goods. I never thought about it that way, but more in the sense that if I don’t write it down in this order the chances of me not getting it or missing it on the list increase by tenfold.

Now, this isn’t to say that I never go into the center aisles where those well preserved shelf products are, because I do. But it isn’t where a majority of my shopping is. I mean, one must gather provisions in the baking aisle every now and then! I also venture into their confines to get pasta and spaghetti sauce and cereals and such. Staying on the so-called “racetrack” also reduces my shopping time, along with having an organized list. That way, if you are like me and tend to wander into a quilt shop before going grocery shopping, you’ll have more time to drool over your latest finds.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Desperate Housewife's Quilt: Block Ten

Your eyes aren’t fooling you. I skipped Block Nine… for now.

After looking over the instructions for the ninth block in the Desperate Housewife’s Quilt series, I decided to skip it for the time being. For one, I didn’t feel like searching through the garage for my fabric glue and two, I had no idea if the glue was still any good as it is pushing a decade. I just don’t use it. So when I saw that the block called for gluing before stitching I simply set it aside for later.

Block Ten was also a little different in that it called for making two blocks then cutting them in half and sewing them together to form a completely different look. So while making Cheese Zombies and Tomato Soup (all from scratch, mind you) I cut and pieced and ripped seams and restitched correctly. I’m not very good at stopping and picking up where I left off, it is a recipe for disaster. My Cheese Zombies and even my Tomato Soup were not, so apparently this doesn’t apply to my cooking, just everything else. Maybe it is because I’m used to working on other stuff while cooking, whereas not so much when crafting.

Anyway, after making the two smaller blocks I decided I really like the look of it and may have to make it for another quilt in the future. But, I will say that once cut on the diagonal and pieced back together, I really like the look of the finished block. Maybe that means I should search the garage for that glue sometime tonight after work. Ugh.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pond Update

After much pushing and prodding, I finally got my husband outside to help with the pond. We didn’t get a lot done, but about as much as we could.

First off, let me just say that trying to buy pipes to make a waterfall system can be hazardous to your relationships. It isn’t nearly as simple as buying a pre-made waterfall, but decidedly quite less in cost. After scouring the PVC section at Home Depot for what seemed like a half an hour, somebody finally helped us figure out what we needed. However, me being me, argued that we had quite a bit at home and should just get what we need to make that work. That wasn’t going to work anyway, now that I think about it, as those pipes are indoor drain pipes and not thick enough to withstand colder weather.

So, we had our pipes, we had our adhesive foam to make the center waterfall work where the upper pond connects to the lower pond, and it was time to get back home to finish this project once and for all. I foamed in the rocks where I wanted them after carefully wiping them off, only to have the foam ooze out from everywhere it possibly could and it got all over my hands and I couldn’t find the acetone and had gross tar-like hands until my husband pointed to the large can of acetone next to his workbench in the garage. Figures. I was looking for the fingernail polish remover… not that we keep that stuff lying around the house or anything, but I just thought we had some leftover from when my sister would come over to paint her nails and put on makeup and learn how to become a lady. Yes, from me. [sigh]

After I was fairly certain all the residue was removed, I returned to help with the waterfall wand itself. Basically a one foot by one and a half inch black PVC pipe with a cap on one end, a hose connecter on the other, and holes drilled to allow water to come out. I hope it works because I wedged that sucker in pretty good and it’ll take a miracle to get it back where it should go after all the rock finagling I had to do just to get it where we wanted it and nearly invisible too. Alas, I was far too focused on trying to get the damned thing where we wanted it, I didn’t go inside to take a picture for all you Do-It-Yourselfers out there. Maybe I’ll draw you a picture, or better yet, wait until it is all done and water flowing through it before doing so. You know, just in case this was all for naught.

However, one good thing came from all of this so far, and that is that the neighbor loves our progress and offered up her plants by her backyard pond for us to thin out and use. I love having awesome neighbors, and while I miss the neighbors we had at the old house, I’m equally impressed with the ones we have here. Well, most of them anyway. The ones directly across from our driveway leave a lot to be desired.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Weekend Warrior or Saturday Sloth?

I have a Saturday off this month and it is today. Should I make the most of it or do nothing and relax?

Part of me really wants to finish up the pond in the front yard and maybe harvest the rest of the tomatoes in the back garden boxes so they can be prepped for next year. However, a bigger part of me wants to simply do absolutely nothing but sit on my ass. Something tells me with this being the last not rainy day in the foreseeable future until next August I should probably get out and work on those projects that need to be completed.

First of all, the pond is practically done thanks to all the work that was already done previously, we just need to build up the center portion slightly for a more obvious waterfall and rearrange the rocks around the edges. I suppose I should also go ahead and plant the rest of the irises before they rot, if they haven’t done so already. Ugh. All this means I actually need to get out of my pajamas and into some work clothes and outside. Perhaps watching endless hours of mediocre entertainment is more appealing. Or better yet, figuring out if I want to use a pattern for the Alexander Henry prints I recently acquired or just cutting out a bunch of squares and sewing them together for a simple quilt. Hopefully this project won’t turn into another Uninspired Quilt, which, by the way, is still sitting on the shelf waiting for final sandwiching. I don’t know why, but the Uninspired Quilt is so uninspiring. Perhaps it’s the name I gave it because, well, I felt so incredibly uninspired making it.

(In case you don’t know what I’m talking about as far as the Uninspired Quilt goes, just do a search at the top of my blog page for Uninspired Quilt. A multitude of posts will pop up. It was a major topic last year and earlier this year.)

Friday, October 7, 2011


Cure for an obsession: get another one.
                                   - Mason Cooley

Ever since I purchased those five Alexander Henry prints from the quilt shop I’ve been obsessing over them. Between searching online and thumbing through quilt books for inspiration, I’m beginning to lose my mind. It’s like when I see a line of fabric I love but can’t seem to locate anywhere because it has long been out of production, even if the line was mediocre at best and I would doubtfully do anything with it, I can’t stop searching for it. Perhaps that is why I finally just caved in and bought the prints that I did. Or perhaps I’m simply becoming a hoarder.

So now the difficult part of this whole equation is what to do with it? I’m no closer to having that answer than I was when I started this game. Do I find a pattern I like and attach it to the fabric in hopes that some day after I finish my bazillion other projects I can get to it, or do I stack it away on a shelf and pretend like it doesn’t exist? Those options, at least in the current state of my mind, don’t seem like plausible options to begin with. Perhaps I need to stop obsessing over finding the perfect pattern and simply work on what I really wanted to do before all of this In The Kitchen business got in the way and start working on my Christmas Quilt. Alas, it looks good on paper, but my mind will undoubtedly play games with me and force me into a deep, dark place where instead of coughing up what sounds like Gollum I’ll cough up Alexander Henry Spotted Owls.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

New Quilt Project

After cleaning I was bored. Let’s just say that me and boredom are a dangerous combination.

I was tired of cleaning yesterday afternoon, and figured my objective of mopping the floors and laundry and dishes and vacuuming and litter box changing had been achieved, so I stopped. Oh, I could’ve continued with various other tasks, but decided against such extreme measures. After all, I can’t have everyone thinking I’m some super being, can I? In all seriousness I still had to go grocery shopping, so I gathered the bags and walked out the door and drove off. Now, here’s the thing, I decided to take the back roads and as I was doing so decided to go ahead and take a trip to my local quilt shop, The Country Manor to say hi and maybe pick up a couple more batiks for The Desperate Housewife’s Quilt.

Okay, so here is the thing… I love this shop. Besides the fact that it is filled to capacity on every shelf, bolts are also in front of the shelves on the floor as well. However, the owner was not in that day, which was a little sad for me. Apparently even she gets a day off every now and then, though this was the first time I’d been in without her. So I perused the back section where the clearance fabrics are, found quite a few adorable children’s fabrics that I passed up because the thought of even getting any of those right now is still a little painful given the uncertain circumstances involving our kids, and kept looking. I found the batiks, and found a couple that I liked, but decided to continue looking in the rest of the shop before picking up anything.

For the last couple years I’ve had my eye on Alexander Henry’s In the Kitchen line, especially the creepy owls and mushroom prints. I don’t know why but this line brings up a flood of memories from my childhood while at the same time is comforting and cute. I decided that since we had a little extra money, and me being me can’t seem to leave well enough alone and save it for a rainy day (which, by the way, it was raining like crazy yesterday too so technically…) I picked out five of my favorite prints and got a half yard of each. Apparently this line was created to have that retro feel and is continuously adding new fabrics. I love the Brady Bunch look it evokes and can’t wait to find a retro pattern to tweak to my liking. Of course, I’ll need to add a few solids to the mix to fill in.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Time to Clean

It’s time to clean the house again. Do you think anyone will notice if I don’t?

Litter boxes need changing, floors need swept and mopped, carpets vacuumed, dishes washed, clothes washed and dried and folded and the windows wiped. This seemed so much easier when I was unemployed. I mean, I normally keep up on the dishes and laundry and general upkeep stuff, but the every week or two (or four or more) stuff gets, well, pushed by the wayside sometimes. I have nothing to blame except myself, my quilting projects, and Netflix.

Typically I try to get all my cleaning done and out of the way first thing, that way I don’t have that GUILTY sign over my head when I’m working on a quilt block or watching another episode of Dollhouse. That won’t be happening today, as I can probably get most of it done except for mopping which will have to wait until I get some cleaning solution since, well, I don’t mop very often. I think in the old house I mopped the floors once a year or so. I will have to look at our chemicals we brought with us, as we left a lot of them at the old house when we moved, to see if we even have anything. The only times I’ve mopped here was to clean up our dog’s pee puddles and for that I used half a cup of apple cider vinegar with a drop of Dawn dish soap in about a gallon of hot water. That’s called me being cheap, but it works.

I hate mopping. I hate it with a passion. It seems like one of the most pointless tasks to me for some reason and yet when I see a nice clean floor it brings a smile to my face for the fraction of a second before our Great Dane, Lucy, comes prancing in or one of the cats finishes using the litter box and twirls across the floor. Alas, me stalling is not going to make the tasks disappear. I suppose it is time to clean once more. [sigh]

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Halloween Decorations

We’ve started putting out our Halloween decorations. It’s hard to believe just how little we have left.

The other night we decided to dig out the Halloween stuff from the garage and start decorating the house. I always thought that we had quite a bit of stuff, but since we moved a good third of it was left behind either as garbage or garage sale fodder. That includes all of our costumes. Yes, I’m shedding a tear as I write this in mourning of all the lost costumes and wigs. I don’t know why I let myself believe I’d never want to see them again, but now that it is closer to Halloween I realize the error of my ways!

Anyway, back to decorations. The inside stuff was always pretty limited. However, we had enough to make it feel like Halloween was upon us. Now it just feels like, meh, there it is. Sad. I don’t know if that means I should be on the lookout for more stuff, which isn’t really an option, or if I should instead find other ways to make the house more Halloweenie. I do know, however, our current display is quite lacking.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Desperate Housewife's Quilt: Block Eight

When life gives you choices such as being outside while big floppy rain drops pound on you or staying inside and sewing, the decision can be difficult. I chose sewing.

After church yesterday the plan was to come home and work on the pond, but it was raining and neither of us wanted to work in the rain. So instead I went back inside the house and started working on the eighth block of Jane’s Desperate Housewife’s Quilt. Yes, I know I’m lagging behind, but I figure if I take my time and actually work on the blocks they might even be usable for their intended quilt.

I briefly looked over the instructions, chose my fabrics and started making cuts. I’d suggest reading the instructions all the way, as I found that simply looking at the picture with all the cutout pieces doesn’t tell the whole story. However, fortunately for me I’m not necessarily a stickler for directions and don’t mind that my four-patches are a little different. It called for eight black squares for the four-patches, the same as the background fabric, but I chose a dark blue instead. Typical of me, once I realized my mistake I’d already made my cuts and I hate waste so they stayed.

A little more than an hour after I started it was finished, which for me is a record. I also only had to rip out one stitch line because I’d decided not to pin and one of the center points wasn’t pointy, which is also a record. Besides, with me finishing the block so quickly we were able to do something else perfect for rainy days… watch Season 3 episodes of Merlin that just loaded onto Netflix’s instant view!

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Last night we went to a hockey game with a couple friends. It was awesome.

While I may not enjoy playing many sports, I do like watching live events.  So when friends of ours from church asked us if we wanted to go to a Portland Winterhawks game, we said yes. My husband had never been to a hockey game and I hadn’t been to one since I was eighteen or nineteen. The game was awesome. Of course, it helped that the Winterhawks dominated the game and won and that there was a huge fight that put seven players in the penalty box, one of whom was sent out of the game completely.

Now I’ve never really understood the rules of hockey to quite get how the game worked, but our friend was kind enough to explain the rules pretty simply and it certainly helped with why players would be moving the puck around in the fashion they were. Thanks, now I know some of the rules of hockey. Will I remember them? Doubtful, but we’ll see. My mind works in mysterious ways. Perhaps I should tell my brain to store it in the Random-Facts-To-Pull-Out-Of-My-Ass-During-Dinner-Parties file.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Working Cake In

Sometimes life makes you juggle. I’m not a very good juggler.

One of the most difficult things about working and running a business on the side is finding out a good balance between the two that satisfies your bank account and your sanity. Most small business owners lack both. I definitely fall into that category.

Anyway, so I’ve got a cake for Sunday that I’m making and of course have to work not only today but the people the cake is for are taking us to a hockey game tonight. This squeezes my window of decorating opportunity even more than normal. I suppose it doesn’t help that it is for a wedding reception either. I’m going to make it as easy as I can on myself and take any shortcuts only I would notice. Hopefully my window doesn’t come crashing down on me.