Monday, August 31, 2015

Monday morning quarterbacking of Sunday's dessert...

I took this for Sunday dinner dessert about a month ago, and happy faces met me at the door and happily scarfed it down after dinner.  I thought it was something that they could take leftovers in school lunches, so I took it again yesterday.

I think it was too soon, as the door greeters looked a bit disappointed when I walked in.  They really do like being surprised by new choices each week.  I'm not sure I've ever done any repeats before, come to think of it.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

New Life for an old table...

I'm about to make a recommendation, but it is for a product I have been buying for decades, not for any freebies, as I have never received any.  

I'm still working on my list.  Since the promised delivery date of the glass top I ordered for the kitchen island/table is almost here, I decided to tackle cleaning the finish on the table top so it's ready.  I don't want to have to move the glass any time soon after it is in place.

I can't remember exactly when I found New Life Furniture Masque, but it was probably almost three decades ago.  I used it on the custom built cabinet fronts in the entire kitchen of a previous house to try to clean off twenty years of use and second-hand smoke build up of the former owners.  The cabinets looked FABULOUS when I finished.

It is more of a liquid than what one would expect of a masque.  It has a pleasant orange scent, and says you can apply it with your fingertips.  When I did the entire kitchen job, I did not think about ventilation or wearing gloves, and I think my hands were in it so much that some was absorbed through my skin.  I felt rather nauseous the next day, though quite possibly that was from absorbing nicotine from the smoke stain build up that I was cleaning off and not from the product itself.  (No kidding.  All surfaces in the house looked so bad that my Avon lady couldn't be budged from her opinion that there must have been a fire in the house at some time.  There wasn't, but that's how bad the smoke stains were.  That's what three adult chain smokers can do by not taking their smokes outside.)

Anyway, today I wore gloves since this was kind of a big job.  

This table is one that was my parents' when I was growing up, and it belonged to my great aunt and uncle before that.  Carey and I have had it and used it since our kids were little.  It has also been in storage some over the years.  See the dirt and grime that started being dissolved immediately?

I used an old diaper to wipe the masque off after five minutes.  (Yes, these are the diapers my children wore as babies.  I've still got a stack of them in the linen closet.  Nothing's better for cleaning.)

After the first application, I repeated the process.

 These photos were taken from one angle.

And these photos were taken from the opposite angle.  

Does it look perfect now?  No, it looks like the antique that it is.  But now it looks like a much cleaner antique.  I'm thinking I may go pick up some very fine steel wool and go over it (as recommended on the product container for heavy build up) one more time, as there is still some build up in places.

I didn't do the legs as they don't have the damage that the top did.  I probably will use a wood moisturizer made by the same company to go over the legs.

Ahhhh.  Another chore marked off the list!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Today is Thursday...

I picked up another quilt from the longarm quilter.  This is one my mother-in-law made.  I'm hoping to get the binding on it before she comes.

While I was out, I went to Trader Joe's and found figs!  I don't think I've ever seen figs in the supermarket before.  I bought 3 containers, and plan to make preserves this weekend.  I'm not sure how they will turn out, as these aren't as flavorful as last year's were from my sister-in-law's trees.

I also picked up several bottles of their French Berry Lemonade.  I love it, but it has a pretty high sugar content.  To cut back on the calories without losing any of the bubbles, I cut it with some of their Sparkling Mixed Berry Mineral Water.

When I was checking out, the cashier didn't want to put all the heavy bottles in a paper bag, so he gave me two reusable shopping!

I work tomorrow, so I thought I'd do a make-ahead, portable, healthy breakfast to grab on my way out the door.  Overnight No-Cook Refrigerator Oatmeal from The Yummy Life

I made one with figs, one with banana, and one with banana and figs.  I'm set for the next few days.

But the thing that absolutely made my day was when I stopped by Sonic on my way home to pick up some magic ice.  I had just pulled in, rolled down my window, and was about to order, when I began a sneezing fit.  A mustachioed young man was walking down the sidewalk...wearing a t-shirt, a bandana on his head, big dark sunglasses, and a tough-looking swagger.  Without breaking the swagger he turns my way and says, "Bless you."  :)  Oh how I love it when someone snaps me out of conclusion-jumping stereotypes in a good way.  I think I smiled for at least an hour.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

We're going to miss you, dammit...

We lost our Minne today.  I was going through photos to post, and realized that the one above is the earliest I could find, and she was about seven years old in it.  Which made me smile, because I realized she never held still long enough for photos before that.  She was the most hyper puppy and young adult dog we've ever had...and that is saying something, because we had a Jack Russell, but his energy level couldn't hold a candle to hers.

I used to tell the vet that he would either need to put her on a hyperactivity med, or I would have to go on an anti-anxiety med.  He would smile and shake his head and tell me to give her two years.  Well, it took at least three.  I'm sure she thought her name was Dammit for those years of her life...always, ALWAYS into something or underfoot.  Oh, the tiny pieces of foam and fabric dog beds strewn all over.  Oh, the garden hoses that were chewed to bits.

She was worth the wait.  She matured into such a good girl.  She had a long life for a big dog.  She was thirteen.  Now she doesn't have arthritis slowing her down.  Now she doesn't fear thunder and fireworks.

Yesterday I surreptitiously took a photo of her and Carey sitting in the front yard.  We knew the time to say goodbye was drawing near.  

We're going to miss her.  Damn it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Modern problems...

Victoria Pearson, photographer.  "Deep in the Heart of Texas."  Country Living.
September 2013. page 101.  Print.

I spent part of today working on my list...going through magazines...winnowing out the chaff to recycle.  The danger there is that I get sidetracked so easily.  Like when I saw this quilt in a back issue of Country Living (Sept. 2013).

I'm very attracted to the graphic nature of this antique quilt.  And I immediately squinted closely to see how it was put together.  I think it's manageable to figure it out...even for me.

In the past, I would have torn out the page and dropped it in my old-school manila inspiration file, but it has been ages since I've even seen that file.  I have no idea where it might be.  These days I just "pin" my inspiration images.  But an image has to be online in order to "pin" it, and try as I might (and I spent an inordinate amount of time trying) I couldn't find this photo online anywhere.  I finally decided that if I scanned the photo and put it on my blog, I could then "pin" it to my quilting board on Pinterest.

So here it is.

But then, of course, I had to look up how to cite the photo, article, and magazine (because that's just how I am), so there went more time searching the Web.  

Needless to say, there are not a lot of magazines in the recycle bin...yet.

Monday, August 24, 2015

T minus and counting...

this photo is here for lack of a better post illustration  :)

You may or may have not noticed the countdown widget on the right side of the page.  It is my reminder to get off of the computer, because I have a lot of work to do before my mother-in-law arrives for a visit.  The countdown days have been fluctuating, because I didn't have an exact date of arrival.  She is making a sort of round robin of sibling visits, and so there were a lot of households' plans to consider and schedule around.  Her arrival date here is pretty firmly set at Sept 17th now.

I really have been doing things to get ready...probably nobody but me could possibly tell by looking.  But maybe soon.  

We've been using an antique headboard in our room, but I want to move it to the guest room.  The round mirror in the photo above (which has been sitting on the floor for about a year and a half) is going to go over our bed, and eventually I would like to make an upholstered headboard for us.

The guest room was freshly painted right before we started on the kitchen remodel, and I never got around to adding the finishing touches, so there's a lot of that to do.

Here's a partial accountability list:

put Goodwill donation box near back door
put library donation box near back door
     fill and replace above as necessary
order bed
assemble bed
attach headboard
find side rails and foot board
make up the bed
finish quilt for bed?
hang art
hang vintage towel rack
stock medicine cabinet
order shower bench
assemble shower bench
*clean shower/bath surround
put up hand held shower head
put up new shower curtain rod
pumice hard water deposits on toilet
clean office desk
organize office
organize fabric
move sewing machine into office
   (need to retreat while m-i-l & dh watch baseball every night)
make template for kitchen table/island to take to glass shop
order glass top for kitchen table/island delivered
clean finish on kitchen table/island
change mantel decorations
dispose of old rid of some
shred/file/recycle paper clutter
refresh window seat
go through makeup and discard unused
straighten my bathroom vanity
caulk kitchen seams I missed previously
plan menus
prepare some menu items ahead
move in counter-top microwave temporarily
    (m-i-l won't be able to reach built in)
*window sills
schedule maid service for '*' items?

Yeah.  That should keep me busy for the next three weeks.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Hot off the longarm...

I picked up this Jelly Roll Race II from the professional longarm quilter today.  The fabric used was a precut jelly roll called Bobbins and Bits by designer Pat Sloan for Moda fabrics.  It's the first quilt top I made with my new quilt group...that was back in November of last year...and it has been awaiting quilting since.  Let's see if I can get some binding on it in a reasonable amount of time.

When I picked it up today, I also dropped off another pieced top.  I'm feeling a little guilty, because the one I dropped off is a hand-pieced top made by a loved one, and I feel like I should have hand quilted it as well.  I just don't foresee that happening any time soon, so...

Great experience with the quilter, and she does very nice work.  I look forward to giving her more business soon.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Q and A...

I've never been good at keeping a journal.  The closest I've come has probably been keeping fairly current on this blog for the past eight years.  But that doesn't stop me from being a complete sucker for the crisp, empty pages of bound journals.

I came across this one a few days ago on Amazon.  Since there were reasonably priced used copies available, I gave in to the urge to order.  It arrived today, and looks brand new without entries or damage of any kind.

It takes away the excuse of "I don't have anything to write about today," by giving writing prompts.  A question a day with space for short answers for five years.  As quick and easy to answer as, "What's your favorite cereal?" (December 23) to a more thought and time requirement of, "How are you?  Write it in a rhyming couplet (two lines of verse that rhyme and have the same rhythm," (October 24).

Today's question asks, "If you had to spend five years in prison, what would you finally have the chance to do?"

I puzzled over what kind of things one would be allowed to do in prison.  I'm pretty sure traveling is out, as is knitting (pointy needles), quilting (scissors), and maybe even reading  (I mean who knows what kind of library might be available).

So I guess my answer today will be, "Writing.  Maybe even in a journal."  :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Diego kind of day...

Tuesday started early and ended late.  I had to go into the city for an early appointment, run errands, be back in time to meet with a longarm quilter about some completed quilt tops.  And when all that was done I called to see if Diego wanted to come spend some time with us.  Hearing his excitement-filled 'yes' gave me such a lift.

internet photo

Dinner, television, general hanging out time, until midnight when we settled into lawn chairs in the dark to see what we could see of the Perseid meteor shower.  We were a little early, and it was a little cloudy.  Diego went inside for awhile till the clouds cleared off, and he ended up missing the best ones, but Jared and I enjoyed spending a couple of hours star gazing.

Up early enough today for lunch out and a trip to Half-Price Books.  Diego is a true reader.  I set a two-book limit, and he had no trouble picking them out.  A long stoplight a few blocks from the store found him so engrossed already that he didn't even notice me snapping a quick pic...if I hadn't had to drive I would probably have looked the same.  :)  He's my kinda kid.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Growing boys...

As summer wanes, we are trying to squeeze in more time with the kids before school starts.  It's harder with the boys since they split time between their home with their mom and their home with their dad.  It only gets more difficult as they get older and have busier schedules.

And now Bobby is starting his first job as well!  Today in fact.  So on Sunday I asked him if he wanted to come spend the night at our house before work started, and he said yes.  I'm so thankful that a junior in high school still wants to spend time with us.

We played Apples to Apples (the Disney version that his little sister had left here last time she came, which gave us a lot of silly laughs), and then a game of Scrabble.

In the morning I made him his favorite iced coffee, which is a special tradition for him at my house.

Monday we went out to lunch together, and enjoyed the scenery en route.  I coerced him into taking a photo of the old woodie station wagon driving beside us on the road.  Love the color.

We talked about inherited family traits, television, near-death experiences, his dad's parents (because I think the world of them...he and his brother really lucked out in the grandparent department, if I do say so myself), the coming school year, and a myriad of other things.

It was a day to treasure.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Pantry reorganization...

LB over at What's Cookin' with Faithy reminded me that I had yet to share the pantry before and after photos as I had threatened promised.

I emptied a shelf before I took a photo.  This was at 2:00 a.m., remember?  And if you enlarge the photo, you can see dead moth bodies and detritus covering that shelf.  Ewww.  As I found infested items, I put them in plastic bags, sealed the bags, and put them in another bag to go to the outside bin immediately.  Luckily I had a lot of things already in jars, and also more empty jars to transfer things into.

A clean slate.  I vacuumed all surfaces (not at 2:00 a.m.), then wiped them all down.  Then the vacuum was taken outside and emptied.  

Top shelf now houses empty jars and a basket of various hot chocolate mixes which will get moved down to reachable level as the weather cools.  

Second shelf down holds bags for the FoodSaver, a plastic bin full of gallon-size Ziplock bags, and paper towels to last at least the rest of the year.  (Everything on this shelf was previously housed elsewhere.)

Middle shelf, which is generally eye level, holds (left to right) fruit juices, peanut butter, a turntable filled with canned meats (tuna, salmon, and chicken), pickled items, curry sauces, and then another turntable with condiments.

Next down from that is (left to right) mayonnaise (3 jars...apparently I make a habit of buying another jar just in case we are running low), glass jars filled with crackers, glass jars with chocolate chips and peanut butter chips, a glass jar full of partial bags of brown sugar, and another turntable with pie fillings, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, syrups, and coconut oil.  (The baking items may get consolidated in the other pantry where I keep baking tools and spices, but I needed to concentrate on one space at a time right now.)

Bottom shelf holds (back left to right) empty jars in back that I plan on filling soon, jars of beans and lentils, cooking spirits; and in front (left to right) are jars of peppermint tea bags and another of family-size tea bags for iced tea, a plastic basket of cloth napkins that see daily use, and a plastic basket of seasoning packets.

The floor holds (left to right) folding step stool, bin for recyclables, and a bin for soiled napkins and kitchen towels.

What's gone are cardboard packaging, rarely used cloth items, and wooden baskets...all of which those pesky moths seemed to like to burrow into and build cocoons.  Boxed items have been repackaged into glass jars, and wooden baskets replaced with plastic.  Nothing new had to be purchased.  The plastic baskets and turntables had originally been used in other areas, and they were currently in the thinking-about-donating staging area.  Glad I still had them available to use here.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sunday dessert for the family...

My mother used to make pound cakes often:  plain, chocolate, coconut.  I decided to do a pound cake for family Sunday dinner this week.  I have several boxes of cream cheese in the fridge that need to be used, so I decided to look for a pound cake recipe that I could use some of it in.  I found Southern Living's Cream Cheese Pound Cake.

I started by creaming the butter, cream cheese, and sugar in my beautiful jadeite mixing bowl...a precious gift from a precious friend.  I mostly took this photo, because I knew it would make her happy to see me using it.  

When I was looking for the vanilla extract, I noticed the coconut extract.  And I knew I had part of a bag of coconut left in the fridge that needed to be used, so my cake turned into a cream cheese and coconut pound cake by changing the 1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract into 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract +1 teaspoon coconut extract, and then at the very end I folded in about a half cup of flake coconut.

Is there anything prettier than a bundt cake fresh out of the oven.  To me it says mama...especially since this one was made in her bundt pan.

It didn't really need a glaze, but this Coconut Glaze from Martha Stewart looked so easy, that I thought, why not.  It only called for powdered sugar and coconut milk, but I added a tiny bit of coconut extract as well.

And here she is...pretty enough to eat and pretty darn yummy.


Friday, August 7, 2015

Seven random thoughts on the 7th...

1.  Two o'clock in the morning found me emptying out the old pantry.  It's hasn't had a good go through since before we started the kitchen remodel.  And sometime in that period we have had a pantry-moth infestation.  I keep finding something that I think is the source, bag it and dispose of it, and then a couple of weeks later find something else full of them.  Now everything has been removed and gone through.  Twelve hours later all surfaces (ceiling, floor, walls, shelf tops and bottoms) have been vacuumed and wiped down...there were a few hours of sleep time included, but not many.  Before and after photos tomorrow.

2.  Really.  Why do I find motivation to do this kind of thing in the middle of the night instead of the middle of the day?  My poor husband never knows what he will find when he gets up in the morning.  Today he found a note of apology for my leaving him only 8 square inches of clear counter space to make his breakfast.

3.  My mother-in-law will be coming to visit in September.  I finally got around to ordering a bed for the front guest room.  We have another guest room with a bed in it, but that bed is very high, and I can't, in good conscience, expect an 85 year old to climb into it any longer.

4.  SO much I want/need to get done around here before m-i-l arrives.  Not the least of which is putting some thought into menu planning for her special needs.

5.  Oh!  I've just realized that I have plenty of bacon and eggs in the fridge!  Breakfast for dinner tonight!  Yippee! I have successfully put off the grocery store one more day.  Why can't it be open at 2:00 a.m.?  I'm sure I could work up the motivation to shop about then.

6.  I Googled a friend's name the other day and found her obituary from two years ago.  I'm not sure how I missed hearing about it, but I feel really crummy.  

7.  Just took a minute to email someone I've been meaning to contact about some quilting.  Now I can scratch that off my to-do list and conscience.
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