Saturday, January 30, 2010

Block 4 Done!

I am so proud of myself- I am actually still on schedule, 4 months after my Block of the Month project began....

I managed to get a large portion of this block done in the car when we went away for the weekend last week. But I have to admit- when the envelope comes in the mail every month, I start to sweat a little....

I don't want to fall behind! Because I know that if I fall behind just one month, I will be overwhelmed and it will be hard for me to get back on track (in case you can't tell- I am an all-or-nothing kind of personality- moderation is not in my vocabulary.) But I guess that's what good about Block of Month- I just have to take it one month at a time!
 (This is Settler's Pride by Maggie Bonanomi. See Block 1, Block 2, Block 3.)

Hope you are doing something fun this weekend! (I am planning on cleaning the house and catching up on laundry.....)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Makin' Do in the Kitchen- Mashed Butternut Squash

For a long time, I wondered what to do with those pretty and oh-so rustic-looking butternut squashes that are always in the grocery stores and farm stands all autumn and winter long. Then I figured out a super simple way to prepare it.

Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil (the squash is full of sugar, and you don't want it burning onto your tray, that would be a mess.)  Place the squash on the tray and cut a couple of slits into it with a sharp knife (be careful, the squash are very hard.)

Bake at 350 degrees until a knife can be easily inserted into the "neck" of the squash (about 60-90 minutes, depending on the size of the squash.)

Look at the sugar running out of slits that were cut into it. Cut the squash in half lengthwise to allow some of the heat to escape ('cause it will be HOT HOT HOT).
When cool enough to handle, scoop out the seeds and fibers with a spoon. Peel away the skin. Cube it up and place in a large bowl. Season with salt, cinnamon, and brown sugar, and mash with a couple of tablespoons of butter. Serve immediately, or place in a buttered casserole, cover and place in oven to reheat.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Visit to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Hubby and I managed to "run away" this past weekend for a much needed relaxing get away. We stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast called The Brafferton in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. We were treated to delicious breakfasts.

Our room was quite nice and very comfortable.

There were plenty of historical sites to see- and hearing the personal stories of Civil War soldiers and their families was very moving. We saw a film about the Battle of Gettysburg (fought July 1-3, 1863) which was extremely well done, and the almost brand new (opened 2008) museum was extremely interesting. I highly recommend visiting the area, especially if your child(ren) happen to be studying the Civil War.

The casualties for the 3 day battle were about 50,000. Almost 150 years later, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is still moving and thought provoking, a reminder of the resilience of our Great Nation.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that this nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate...we can not consecrate...we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government: of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Makin' Do in the Kitchen- Homemade Croutons

I like to buy fresh Italian and French bread, but we rarely finish it before it goes bad. Also, I often buy torpedo or kaiser rolls for parties, and of course I always end up with too many because I don't want to run out. These fresh breads and rolls tend to go bad very quickly. And with prices the way they are nowadays, it even seems a shame to throw away those dry crusty end pieces from the loaf of sliced bread we use for sandwiches and toast. So what to do with all of those bread scraps?

I throw them in a bag and stick it in the freezer. Any leftover pieces of bread that would normally get thrown out go in the bag. When I get a nice "collection," I make homemade croutons.

Cube up the bread and throw it in a big bowl.

(There's those whole wheat crusts that no one wants to make a sandwich out of....)

Drizzle the bread cubes with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and dried Italian seasoning. Toss to coat the bread cubes. (At this point you will be tempted to sample- they smell and taste like the bread that you dip in seasoned olive oil at the Italian restaurant.)

Place in a single layer on a sheet pan. Bake at 350 degrees about 10 minutes, stir, then continue baking until they are toasted (another 10 or 15 minutes.)

These actually got a little too brown. But they are still yummy. We put them on salads and float them on bowls of soup. We have also been known to eat them by the handful as a crunchy snack. Store them in a sealed plastic container, they will keep in a cool dark place (not the refrigerator) for a week or 2. They are a thousand times better than the croutons that you buy in a box at the grocery store.

Not bad for something that you were probably going to toss in the trash anyway, don't you think?

P.S. I know she doesn't read the blog (afterall, she still has trouble with the TV remote, God bless her, and I'm sure she has never even heard of a blog),  but
Happy 84th Birthday to my Grandma today!
(And thanks Grandma, for teaching me how to sew.... and crochet.... and paint ceramics....)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Fine Feathered Friends....

During our last big snow storm, we made sure to put plenty of birdseed out for our little friends. It makes the birds happy, and we really enjoy seeing the great variety of birds who come to visit. Perhaps most importantly, though, it keeps the cat occupied, so she doesn't do naughty things like pull down the entire Christmas tree (again.) She spent almost all of her waking hours by this window, wanting to "meet and greet" all of the feathered visitors.

(This one is fuzzy because it was taken through the screen.)

The blue jay is impressive (and I think he knows it!)

Oops, how in the world did that picture get in here???

We had plenty of mourning doves come to call...

And finally, this very fine woodpecker paid a visit.... the first and only time he has visited this particular tree as far as I know (these photos were also taken through the screen- such a shame, because he was only about 2 feet from the window.)

We also had a few starlings come by, but I didn't get any photos.

As I write this, I can hear the call of 2 red-tail hawks who have recently set up housekeeping in a tree right next to our drive way. They are quite loud, and gorgeous, and magnificent!

So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth." Genesis 1:21,22

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sending a Little Love Your Way.....

Here is a free pattern that is available on my website. You can use it for whatever you want- paint it, stitch it, applique it, etc. There are also other free patterns for Valentine's Day on my site, like these:

And you still have a month until Valentine's Day- plenty of time to whip up something cute for a special friend.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7

Monday, January 11, 2010

In the Studio Today

It has been a week since my last surgery. I am feeling better everyday, but still pretty tired and sometimes short of breath- a nurse friend suggested that maybe I am anemic and in need of some iron, so I think I will give that a try.

Today in the studio, I get to paint! Yay! Well, actually, I am still sketching, but very soon I will be painting, which makes me really happy- it is really my favorite thing to do! (Did you notice all of the ! in this sentence!?! Can you tell I am excited?!?) I haven't done a lot of painting lately, so this will be a fun project for me. I can't tell you what the project is, but hopefully you will be seeing it in your local stores some time this year. In the meantime, here are some preliminary paintings I did a couple of months ago when I was working it all out in my head.

Daughter went back to college yesterday, so it is pretty quiet around here again.

Personal note to said daughter, because I know you read this: You had better not be spending all of your time on Polyvore! Make sure you study!!  :)

Sorry about that, folks, but you know, moms will be moms.

Anyway, have a great Monday. Make sure you take a little time to do something fun today. Life's too short to be too serious!

P.S. Did anyone catch the season premier of Chuck last night? Love that show- so glad they brought it back. Actually, it was on until 11 pm (too late for me) so we taped it (yes old fashioned VHS- none of that TiVo stuff for this old fashioned girl) so we will watch it tonight. Let me know if you are also a Chuck fan!!!! But don't tell me what happened last night.... oh I just can't wait... makes me want to learn KungFu and be a spy or something....

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Poly- What??

Welcome to my daughter's latest obsession- The name is weird, but it is totally fun. I found this site a couple of months ago, and I was not very good at it.... But when daughter came home on break from college, I showed it to her.... and this is now what takes up most of her time. She is really good at it.
On Polyvore, you can put together clothing and accessory collections and you can layer all kinds of cool backgrounds. These are some of the things she has been working on.

A new and totally hip art-form, don't you think?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Jacquelynne Steves is NOT in the Bahamas

Hello Everyone! I hope you are all enjoying a peaceful New Year so far..... and that you haven't fallen off the "resolution wagon" yet! I stopped making resolutions a few years ago, because, 1. I don't think I've kept a resolution past January 3 in my life, and 2. Because to me new year's resolutions are just another reason to procrastinate. If I feel that there is something I need to work on, I think there is no time like the present- why wait till January 1, or Monday, or the kids go back to school, or whatever.... I should just do it. And that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

So right now I am sitting on the sofa, recuperating from more surgery. I managed to get an appointment last week with a new doctor (I got some recommendations from a friend who is a nurse, and other doctors' first available appointments weren't until the end of January or mid-February.) So I went to this doctor, and figured that if I didn't like him, I would go to yet a different one later in January, I had nothing to lose. But as it turned out, I did really like him, and he was able to fit me in for surgery yesterday (Monday), which was OK with me because I just want all of this to be over. Based on my tests and symptoms, he thought I had endometriosis in addition to everything else, which, it turns out, I do. So I had a laparoscopy to look around my abdomen to see if there was anything else going on in there, and a D&C to remove some of the endometriosis, and he also lasered off a cyst on my ovary, among other things. Unfortunately, he was unable to remove the fibroid, because there may be some bladder involvement. I have to go back to see him in 2 to 3 weeks, and then there will probably be another surgery, with the gynecologist to remove the fibroid, and a gynourologist, in case there needs to be any repair to my bladder.

Sheesh, I am tired of being a patient, and just tired of being patient!!! But my family has been really wonderful, my oldest daughter is still home for college for another week and she cheerfully helps me around the house and brings me everything I need and drives her sister to school for me. I told her, 19 years ago I was taking care of her, and now she is taking care of me! But at least she doesn't have to change my diapers (at least for another 40 or 50 years, anyway.....)

So for now I get to lay on the sofa and be waited on hand and foot, and take some narcotics and just generally be lazy with good excuse (however, if you are interested in this lifestyle, I recommend going to the Bahamas- sans the narcotics- instead of surgery. It costs less and is slightly more pleasant. And your friends will appreciate the postcards from the Bahamas a lot more. Although, if you remember, after my last surgery, I did come home with a lovely photo of my bladder which I declined to post here. Maybe I will put it on the family Christmas card next year.)

A cheerful heart is good medicine. Proverbs 17:22

P.S. Thanks to all of you who emailed yesterday regarding the At Water's Edge fabric. I will try to email everyone back today or tomorrow.

Monday, January 4, 2010

At Water's Edge Fabric, Anyone?

A couple of projects that are underway in the design studio.....

I am hand appliqueing this one, so it is taking me some time to finish. Here are some of the fabrics I'm using...

And I could use a little help.... I need just a few inches (literally, like 4 inches, I kid you not....) of this fabric... I have contacted the company a couple of times to no avail. It is from the At Water's Edge collection by Blackbird Design from Moda, and it came out one or two years ago. I really like the colors in it (pink flowers/berries on green background), and I haven't found something that I like nearly as much to use as a substitute. So... if any of you have a little of this laying around and would like to sell it, or swap it, or whatever, please let me know!!!!! Email me here.

Here is a project I am working on for an Australian magazine. Oh I love the Australian designers, their work is so beautiful! I machine appliqued this one, so it went together quite quickly (we like that!)


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