Saturday, November 25, 2017

Sunday Sundry 11-26-17

I finished this little table topper today.  The hand appliqued basket on blue background square was a pretty surprise sent to me by Audrey of Quilty Folk along with a giveaway I'd won several months ago.  She does such lovely work!  Thanks again, Audrey!
My addition to the piece was a scrappy gold piano key border on two sides. Sometimes you roll with what's in the scrap pile on the cutting table and hope it works.  I think it did!
To be honest, I felt a little guilty machine quilting the basket block.  But hand quilting is not my forte, and I wanted to finish this up and get to using it (on my bedside table), so I went with my instincts.
 * * * * *
November has been quite a month.  My dad has not been feeling well, and we've made three visits to the ER in the past four weeks, resulting in two extended hospitalizations.  
(November sunrise over the neighborhood)
As far as the doctors have determined, he developed pneumonia, triggered by an allergic reaction to one of the strong antibiotics he had been receiving for several weeks to treat a bone infection (in the ankle he fractured way back in January; it's been a long, drawn out healing process for that orthopedic injury).  
(Stone bridge over duck pond in the park)
So it's been up and down, to say the least.  The good news coming out of the ordeal is that his ankle seems to be finally healed.  Now to address the other issues that have arisen as a result of the pneumonia, with the goal of his further recovery and regaining of strength.
* * * * *
Somewhere in there, I finished the baby quilt for my niece's new baby boy.  

(Maverick's baby quilt)
(Baby quilt back)
I look forward to meeting the little guy for the first time on Sunday and giving him and his family this quilt!
* * * * * 
I also finished a quilt for the animal surgery.  This is yet another kennel quilt made from repurposed scrubs.

(Kennel quilt from repurposed scrubs)
I got to use up a lot of the Halloween themed scrubs that were in the pile.  The sweet Rottweiler I saw cuddled in it post-surgery (and after Halloween) didn't seem to mind all those witches!
* * * * *
We stopped at Goodwill for the first time in a few months, and lo and behold there was a vintage paint-by-number!  
They seem to be more elusive and harder to find these days, but it happened to be our lucky day.
Not your typical framed PBN painting, though.  It was painted on a large metal tray.  The first metal item in my collection.

And signed!  "Sis", whoever she was, did a great job!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Two Weeks from Everywhere

I am without running water in the kitchen at the moment, due to a leaky faucet.  This is one of those faucets that doubles as a sprayer with a removable handle and telescoping hose.  The faucet itself is fine, but the hose developed a leak, resulting in a minor flood under the sink that was, thankfully, caught early.

The plumber was out last week to address the situation.  He said it'd be a matter of replacing a) the hose, at a cost of $$ plus a half hour's labor, or b) the entire faucet, at a cost of $$$ plus two hours' labor.  We chose a).

The problem, however, was finding the replacement hose.  A large plumbing supply store failed to have one available, so the plumber called the manufacturer, Delta, and was advised it could be ordered.

"It'll be here in about two weeks," he said.

Which made me laugh.  Not the reaction one might expect, faced with the reality of being without water in the kitchen for that long.  But I was thinking of the scene from one of my favorite movies, O'Brother Where Art Thou, where George Clooney's character goes into the general store in Middle of Nowhere to get a part for his truck...and some hair pomade (see clip here).

So we're toting water in buckets from the nearest working faucet (which happens to be in the basement) to cook, clean counter tops, and rinse dishes.  In other words, multitasking, getting some exercise in with the usual kitchen chores. Thankfully, the dishwasher still works.

* * * * *
While we're in the kitchen, I thought I'd share a recipe I came up with recently, when the idea of reheating some leftover plain rice to have alongside supper one night seemed ho-hum.

It turned out tasting like something I'd want to remember how to make again, so I jotted down how it went together and titled it Carrot Rice Pilaf.  Maybe a better name for it would be Golden Rice, because of its lovely color due to the turmeric. 

It is baked it in a covered dish in the oven, but I've also made it from scratch with raw rice on the stove top (following the usual method of making rice, but tossing in the other ingredients with the raw rice).  Honestly, I prefer the baked version.

If you're sensitive to gluten and/or FODMAPs, this fits the bill.  It can be dairy-free as well if you use a nondairy butter substitute. 

Carrot Rice Pilaf (Golden Rice)

2 cups of cooked (leftover) rice
1/2 carrot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon Tajin seasoning (or regular salt)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh chives (or 1 teaspoon dry chives)
2 Tablespoons melted butter (I used ghee, or clarified butter)
2 Tablespoons slivered almonds
1/4 cup water

Combine everything in a baking dish.  Cover and bake 20-30 minutes at 400 degrees.

Optional:  We splashed on some Bragg Liquid Aminos (or you could use soy sauce) and chopped cilantro, and it took it to another level.  Next time, I am going to try adding the Bragg's (about 1 Tablespoon, I'm guessing) right into to the mix before it goes into the oven.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sunday Sundry 10-29-17

We didn't have many trick-or-treaters this evening, maybe only a couple dozen in total.  It was pretty cold, in the mid-40s, so that may have been a factor.

When I was a kid, I remember trick-or-treating in all sorts of weather.  The most extreme was during a sleet storm.  But no amount of stinging ice pellets was going to prevent me from crunching across the frozen lawns, half-suffocating behind a plastic princess mask, and opening the soggy maw of my pillowcase on the neighbors' porches.

Did you come home and sort your candy stash like we did?  Sweet-Tarts, Smarties and Pixie Stix in one pile, fake banana flavored chewies, Bit-O-Honey, Tootsie Rolls and Milk Duds in another.  Suckers, Tootsie Pops and Slo Pokes over here, gumballs and bubblegum cigars there.  Finally, closest to me—my precious—went the candy bars and M&Ms, to be hoarded and protected from my siblings at all costs.  Once in a while, a random apple made it home in the bag.  More often than not, though, they were employed as organic missiles along the route from house to house.

One year my mom had the idea of making popcorn balls for Halloween.  This sounded good, in theory, but you'd have to know my mom to appreciate the anxiety this triggered.  She was an inspired cook, yes, but also a master procrastinator with an internal clock seemingly set a couple time zones behind.  What could go wrong?

I remember the doorbell ringing with the first trick-or-treaters before her sugar syrup had even reached the soft-ball phase.  Then pandemonium ensued, and my dad was sharply commanded to assist as emergency sous-chef, all voices escalating to near-panic levels.
Meanwhile, knowing some of the kids on the porch were likely friends, I wanted nothing more than to melt straight into the floor.  Since that wasn't a viable option, the second best thing to do was don my mask and loot bag and skedaddle out the back door on my own personal candy quest.

Well after trick-or-treat hours, I returned home to a kitchen full of popcorn balls.  And I'm pretty sure that what I sensed in the air, aside from the lingering aroma of popped corn and sticky sugar, was the forswearing of any such artisanal creations ever again!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Internet Thinks I'm Elderly...and a Badass

You know how when you're on a website, be it Facebook or any number of other places, and you get served ads?  And those ads are supposedly for items that somebody somewhere has decided may be relevant to you?

Well, apparently the internet thinks I'm elderly...but also kind of a badass.

The number of decades I have been lucky to walk this earth can still be counted on one hand (and, okay, up to the first joint of another finger on the other), so I hardly feel elderly. 

The ads are based on my browsing or shopping history, I'm sure, but orthopedic shoes?  

My feet may be the size of small kayaks, but I just want a supportive walking shoe, is all.  I walk a couple miles a day for health and enjoyment (and to re-listen to all the Outlander books along the way).  Can I help it that I have to wind my way through the narrow alleyways of a half dozen online vendors in search of a decent shoe in my size—available in white only, of course—to find what I need?

Now I'm also seeing a lot of floral polyester blouses being marketed to me.  Which might be okay if I were an extra on the set of Maude.

(I kind of dig her outfit, actually.)

But the kicker came last week when Facebook served up an ad for a 10-pound steel mace.  Because?
Beats me (pun!).  Because a gal needs an outlet for that pent up, middle-age rage, I guess. 

And a kettlebell looks too much like an old lady purse!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sunday Sundry 10-22-17

Let's see if I remember how to do this blogging thing.  Were you wondering whether I'd R-U-N-N-O-F-T?  Nope, still hanging in there.  It's been a pretty nice couple of months, actually, what with hugging all the goodness out of summer and all.  I don't even know if that is a meaningful metaphor, but you get the idea.
(Beautiful bike trail.)

There have been birthdays to celebrate, a wedding, a retirement, a funeral, pretty much the full gamut of life's milestones.
(An early fall boat tour.)
Art galleries and museums to visit.  Bike trails, waterways, and nature to explore and enjoy.

(My sister, in red, and my niece at the Kirsty Mitchell "Wonderland" exhibit.)
(My sister and I on a lovely September day at The Paine Art Center and Gardens.)
Recipes to try and flavors to savor.
(New gluten-free, dairy-free pumpkin pie recipe was a winner!)
There's been some sewing, too.  Not a whole lot, but some.  I finished the string quilt top I'd started piecing in August.
(My String-X)
Friend and fellow quilter Marei and I did a two-person quilt along.  We love Bonnie Hunter's quilts, and you may recall we did a similar thing a couple years ago when we each made a Scrappy Mountain Majesties quilt.  That one is currently on my bed, in fact, at this in-between time of year.  We've had a mild fall so far, and sometimes the AC still comes on; other times it's a little chilly in the house.

Anyway, Marei let me pick the pattern we were going to make this time, and I chose String-X.  Above is my flimsy in the fall colors, and below is Marei's.  I really like her background fabrics!

(Marei's String-X)
It always feels good to use up some of those scraps and strings.  When it came time for the border on my String-X, Marei happened to have just bought some lovely fabrics and offered to share a piece.  And that gorgeous green and purple batik looked marvelous!
Now I'm working on a baby quilt for my niece, a herringbone pattern made with half-square triangles.  It went up on the design wall this week. 
(Baby quilt on design wall.)
I procrastinated on starting it a little too long, because, as it happened, the baby arrived a bit early.  All is well, though, and I'm hoping to finish it up soon.

Lastly, here's a funny sight from along a bike trail a couple weeks ago. (And no, they're not mine!)

I bet there's a good story there, don't you think? ;)

Friday, August 18, 2017

Out of the Weeds

It looks like I've let the weeds grow here on the blog over the last six weeks.  Hopefully not as bad as they've grown in real life in my dad's garden this summer.  They are ruling the world over there, let me tell you.  More about that in a bit, but for now I'm here with virtual hoe in hand to make amends for this neglected space on the Interweb. 

Working on machine applique.
Behind the hedges, so to speak, I've been doing a few things.  Finished a quilt, made a bag, fixed some "not-shoes" that my niece is going to wear for her wedding, and started a string quilt. 

Hobo bag commissioned by my niece.
Quilt finish - made from bonus Christmas fabric HSTs.
String-X quilt pieces, string pieced on phone book pages.
I've also been enjoying the summer in other ways—biking, walking, reading, etc.  
One of the many bike rides we've enjoyed.
I would add gardening, but that's been a bit of a failure, it seems.  Turns out gardens are a lot of work. Not just requiring outright sweaty labor, but consistency.  I'm not able to get over there daily and tend it, and I swear it knows.  It knows.  Nature knows the shopkeeper isn't minding the till(er). 

Dad has been the master gardener in the family through the years, until the present one.  But he's still laid up with his broken ankle from January and some healing complications from that.  So with the help of a couple other family members, we got his garden planted (in some pretty boggy soil), but the crops haven't done very well.  The radishes and parsnips washed out.  About a third of the onions came up, about a dozen beets are still thinking about it, and a handful of green bean plants are struggling to push out some pods.  The peppers, nada.  The tomatoes?  They may be okay eventually, barring an early frost.
Wildflowers (grown by Nature, not me)
The weeds, however, are THRIVING.

If you can't beat 'em - eat 'em?

After whacking at the thousandth specimen of one weed, in particular, I got curious about it.  So I asked Google what the heck it was and ultimately identified it as purslane.  That's not what Dad called it, but we won't go there.

A little more investigating revealed it was edible.  Not only edible but very nutritious and supposedly good tasting.  Apparently, various cultures actually enjoy eating the stuff and even pay money for it!

And here it was in spades.  I won't go so far as to say manna from heaven, but Nature's gift, at any rate, or consolation prize.  A veritable and vegetative "participation trophy" for us amateurs.

You think you can grow peppers?  Not this year, lady.  But have some purslane.

So I ate it.  And it was good!

It tastes like baby spinach, only better.  Brighter tasting, a little lemony.  I chopped some up and sprinkled it in a salad.  I added it to soft tacos for a tasty crunch. 

I didn't eat a ton of it—you never know when my touchy stomach will decide that everything must go—but I gave it a fair shot and enjoyed it, and it didn't cause me any grief.  So there's that.

What kind of adventures have you had this summer—gardening, gastronomic, or otherwise?

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sunday Sundry 7-9-17

I'm back home with my feet up after spending a couple hours on a beautiful bike trail earlier today.  Should really have some ice on my knees, but I guess that can wait a bit longer.
It was as close to perfect a summer day as there can be, and I'm glad we were able to get out and enjoy it.
We've had a good amount of rain so far this summer, and everything is looking lush and green.  The tiger lilies were in bloom along the trail.
Marsh asters and Queen Anne's lace.  Afterwards, we had a picnic by the river.  A very picturesque little spot.
I have a thing for water lilies.
Which is why I picked up a water lily art print at the thrift store last weekend.  It joins, on the wall, my other thrifted water lily print found a few years ago.
 These are signed and numbered prints and professionally framed.  I don't think either one cost me more than five bucks.  Wish I knew more about the artists. 

Last week's bike trail ride was cut short due to Norm getting a flat tire.  Since it was a holiday weekend, the bike shop was closed.

The thrift store, however, was not!  It had been a while since we went junkin', as I'm more of a mind to get rid of excess than accumulate it these days.  But I have a place or purpose for all of the things I brought home.

I've been needing a lasagna pan since my old stoneware one cracked last year and I had to toss it.  I found a large 13x10-inch (or thereabouts) Corning Ware baking dish that will do just fine.
Zippers are always handy to have in the stash.  I used up a lot of my supply when I was making gift zipper pouches last year.
The Love Letters book might not have been a necessity, but at 69 cents, it was worth it for the beautiful illustrations and words.  And that's my very first "barn quilt" for the porch, from a local store that had them on clearance for half off, can you believe it?  It's a 12-inch metal Thistle Bloom block.

I did get a quilt basted yesterday.  This one's from bonus half-square triangles from a Christmas quilt I made last fall from an Aspen Frost layer cake.
The flimsy has been done for a while but I wasn't in a mood to work on it until now.  My HSTs only went so far, so I added a wide border all the way around to get it to lap quilt size. The blue thing at the bottom of the picture is a foam gardening mat from the dollar store.  It's a knee saver!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Inspector Gadget

Guys and gals, I've been dropped.  At least my blog has been, from my own Feedly reader feed.  The nerve!

I have been investigating, but turning up very few clues as to why.  I unfollowed my blog, then added it back.  Still can't see the latest post.  It shows up as a blog I follow, but isn't updated by Feedly to current.  I tried adding it to the "Favorites" list within Feedly, and it appeared (and current) for a brief few minutes, then disappeared again!
Then I started to wonder about all the many quilt (and other) blogs I follow.  Could it be that I have not been seeing their updates in Feedly either?  So I started looking closer, and although Feedly was telling me some hadn't updated in months, if I clicked through to the blog itself, they were, in fact, staying current.  Curiouser and curiouser.

I began to wonder how many people might be having the same issue with Feedly, and may assume I dropped out of the blogosphere?

I learned that the free version of Feedly (which is what I use) is now limiting new users to 100 blogs.  Any more than that and you have to pay a monthly fee to upgrade to unlimited.  Free Feedly didn't used to be limited, and I've followed hundreds of blogs (not that I get around to reading them all).  But I wonder if some internal metric now determines which of those I get to see in the Feedly reader free version?  

I hadn't updated my own blog in over 30 days.  Perhaps 30 days is a metric by which the blog "falls off"?  In the meantime, however, I've added blogs without an issue, and I'm seeing those people's posts in Feedly; hence, I conclude they're not truly limiting me from adding new ones above the 100 mark (perhaps I'm grandfathered in?).  But maybe, instead, the less active blogs (mine included) are falling off the radar (or reader) and not showing up as having posted anything new?

Many questions, a few hunches, but no definitive answers that I've found thus far.  Guess I'll see if this post all of a sudden shows up in my Feedly feed like nothing ever happened.  Maybe the previous post exceeded some parameter (like overall size...there were a lot of pictures in the last post).  I'll let you know.  (Edited to add:  Okay, so I see this post in Feedly...that's good, but it's still weird about the previous post.  I still have questions.)

In the process of investigating and looking into options, I've started to get reacquainted with Bloglovin'.  I'm still not thrilled with it—the layout seems a bit overwhelming and less informative to me, for starters—but at least I seem to be seeing in Bloglovin' all the blogs I follow.  Things have changed since I last used it on a regular basis, and it'll take some time to get used to again.  Also, I'm having to sort through the blogs I had been following in Feedly and add them to Bloglovin'.  Good thing it's been a holiday week with available down time, ha.

In going through the Feedly blog listing one by one—wow, a lot of people I used to follow have stopped blogging.  Maybe they are connecting on a different platform (Instagram, etc.).  But I miss you guys!  It's sad to realize the extent of the exodus, and it feels like losing friends, even though most of us have never met in real life.

Has hobby blogging become a thing of the past, do you think?  I don't know, there seems to be a different vibe than just a couple short years ago.  Not sure whether readership has increased or decreased, but it seems like people commented more.  Myself included.  Just an observation.  Speaking personally, it seems sometimes like things reach a level when you just can't possibly keep up (maybe after 100 blogs? he-he), so you give up trying and just pop in here or there with a comment when you can.  Yet reading and somewhat keeping track of where people are in their lives, feels like a true connection, even if you don't engage or comment, so when those people go away, there's that pang of loss.  Still, I totally get that there are various reasons people move on, and I wish them all the best.  It may well be that I decide to do the same someday.

Anyway, back to the story.  Along the way, I decided to subscribe to my own email list.  Why I had never done that before, I don't know.  Come to find out that in the last post, the email version doesn't have the YouTube videos embedded.  Just dead space where there was something to see in the actual post.  Good to know.  I'll keep that in mind for the future.  Also, I'm not sure I like the look of the email version, but that seems beyond my grasp of how to fix at this point.

(By the way, the music in the last post under "Listening" was by Jason Isbell, and "Watching" was the Netflix series GLOW.  Maybe in the future, I'll just link versus embed stuff like that.)

Here's a question about Bloglovin':  I've been getting periodic email notifications that read, "Bloglover is now following your blog."  After about the third or fourth identical notification, I assumed this was a tactic Bloglovin' used to get users to log in after a period of time and use the site.  A kind of solicitation, like the emails Pinterest sends to get you to click over.  But I see now, in looking at my Bloglovin' followers, that there are indeed numerous "Bloglovers."  Hence, I wonder if this is how it appears if someone follows you anonymously, i.e. the generic name "Bloglover"?

I probably sound really green about this stuff, and I apologize for the technical nature of this post.  Maybe your experiences can help this dog learn some new tricks.  Do you have any insights or observations to share on the subject of your favorite feed reader?  Or on blog reading and/or commenting in general?  Do you follow your own blog to stay on top of technical issues and/or see it from a different perspective?  Do share.


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