Monday, November 23, 2009

Tonight's Post

Is brought to you by the colors red and white and the numbers 8 and 27. Red and white seem to be the theme for the past weekend. Months ago I cut out lots of red and white squares with the intention of making a quilt for my bed. I cut them out and left them to sit and sit and sit. I thought I could turn them into a quilt top by astral projection but apparently it doesn't work that way.

White iPod = 35 hours of Stephen King's Under the Dome. King rarely lets me down and I enjoyed Under the Dome, I have the sore ears to prove it.

Spaghetti with meat sauce, courtesy of Real Simple's Easy Delicious Meals special issue. White plate part of my original every day dishes set when I got married, Sears Federalist, if I'm not mistaken.

Why #8? Well this is the 8th day my kitchen table has been laundry free. My family is shocked and falling into the routine of looking for their clean clothes in their rooms. No more half asleep staggering into the kitchen searching for jeans or t-shirts or work clothes, no more drips of water creating a trail from the bathroom to the kitchen in search of underwear. We are almost a normal family.

The spousal unit wants to know when the Mothership will be beaming the real Missy home. (Yes if you're my friend on Facebook you've heard that one before but it's no less true.)

Why #27? Well that's how many quilt blocks I pieced over the weekend. Yes, it's true, and I would say that I was channeling Kwilty Kim but my piecing is quite naieve compared to the quilt tops she makes so I'll just say I pieced in the spirit of Kim.
These blocks were pieced courtesy of Stephen King. I wanted to listen to my book and when the sewing machine was humming no one talked to me, I could plug up my ears and disappear to the Dome in Maine and before I knew it I had pieced all the little squares I cut out so many months ago. Not all my corners matched, but in my defense more seams lined up than didn't, and I'm quite proud of that accomplishment. I ripped back a few blocks and resewed and others that weren't too far off the mark, I left as they were.
This quilt top is handmade, it's homemade, and well it's going to look it. It's taken me a very long time let go of my desire to piece perfect quilt tops. That's what was taking the joy out of the process for me. If it wasn't perfect it wasn't worth doing. Don't get me wrong, I don't want tacky ass quilt tops but at the same time I want to enjoy what I'm doing and how many people are going to look at my quilt top on my bed and say "OMFG did you see that five of those blocks had seams that didn't quite meet up?" Yeah, I don't think anyone will notice but me. Although if I'm honest there are two blocks that are probably not so good but still it's not that noticeable unless you are looking for flaws and if you are looking at my quilt on my bed and wanting to see flaws, well you will be rewarded.
So this is where I've been the last few days, virtually under the dome in Maine, physically in front of my sewing machine or stove depending on the time of day, and mentally in a very good place in regards to the never ending laundry.
I think I'm seriously going to shoot for 365 days of no laundry on my kitchen table in 2010. I think that is one goal that is seriously doable and this is from someone who hasn't seen the top of her kitchen table since last Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Proof

That I am on Day 4 of a kitchen table that is no longer covered in people's underwear, socks and t-shirts. This is a remarkable thing around here because it really doesn't take much to lure me back to my lazy, slacker ways. It's so easy to pile up laundry on the table and go about my business, but now, after four solid days of a cleaned off table, having laundry on it seems wrong. I do fold clothes here but they are put away immediately because leaving them there would be wrong. I never wanted to become that person, but where laundry is concerned, it feels pretty good. I'm not obsessed, I do my one load a day, I put the stuff away, and it's done. Not piled there waiting on me to do something with it. I hate that it feels so good and that maybe my mother was right. I really hate admitting that. You see my mother has a laundry obsession. Laundry must be placed in the washer just so, whites must go it alone. You have to use Tide and Downey. You must remove the clothes from the dryer and fold them or hang them up immediately(I am still not there, we are so very much that wrinkled family from the Lowe's or Home Depot commercial. I may have changed a few bad habits but I have not lost my mind, yet!) So I don't know if I have spent the last 25 years of doing my laundry my way to show my mother that it doesn't have to be that way. So what if all our white underwear and t-shirts are gray. Gray is a good neutral color. Take that mom! And Tide, that is not always in the budget, Arm & Hammer and Publix laundry detergent are just fine thank you very much--or even homemade with Washing soda, Borax and Fels Naptha. (Ok I've been buying Tide with Bleach Alternative lately but I do not do whites in a separate load, it's just wasteful--unless it's something red or something I absolutely know will bleed on the whites) oh and I do not wash whites in hot water, all my laundry is done in cold water. My mother would cringe at that.

My Pistoulet Chicken makes me happier than it should. Granny Smith apples, buy a bag, get a bag free at Winn Dixie, also have two bags of Red Delicious, same deal. I see apple pie in our future.
I'm currently coveting Amanda's new breadmachine. It looks awesome on Amazon.
I did two batches of pizza dough in mine yesterday and I think the motor was about to give up, it was hot, hot, hot and that was just on the dough cycle. I like that the Cuisinart makes long regular loaves. Very cool.
I made these cookies this morning:
Not bad but do not in any way overcook them. I did my first batch, decided to let them go another two minutes and that was a mistake. I also think I went a little too heavy on the cardamom and I tried to be careful to use the exact amount but it's a pretty strong spice and mine was from a freshly opened jar.
I've read a few reviews of this book and had hoped my library would have it but they don't:
The reviews I've read have all been positive. Although one person does point out that girls get hungry too, yes we do! And the text is a bit annoying about cooking for men and boys but that is the point of the book, but we girls we like us some food too! But reviews of the recipes I've read on various blogs have all been good.
I've also been wanting this cookbook for a while:
And my library hasn't gotten it in either. Another book where the reviews have all been good.
Something about the holidays and a bit of a chill in the air that really gets me in a cooking mood.
Seeing Knitting Iris photos of recent meals really makes me long for wide open spaces, a large garden and cabin in the wilds of Montana. Although I don't think I could eat a heart sandwich. It looks good in the picture, but I'm not a vital organs consuming kind of girl. My friend Cassie used to force me to eat liver and onions once a month because it was good for me. Hard to believe we're still friends after that gastronomical torture.
Recently I rearranged the living room. I set up a new stitching area and once I get the Rubbermaid bucket out from under the table and replace it with a basket of some sort with a lid to keep the cats out of the yarn I'll take a picture of the whole corner but for now you get Sabrina:

She took my spot. She likes curling up on the unfinished Vintage Vertical Strip blanket that I folded up and use for a cushion.

She is annoyed that I interrupted her bath and she's not impressed. The Breeze as we call her runs the house. She terrorizes Pineapple and Naomi the two other cats and pretty much scares my Polly Prissypants too.

Here's the queen telling me to go away, leave her alone, let her cuddle up and lay in the afternoon sun.
I am currently listening to Stephen King's Under the Dome. I love it. I am up to hour twenty something of thirty five and I don't want to stop listening. I think that's what has aided my cleaning mojo.
The Spousal Unit says I will not be able to stay up until midnight to see New Moon tonight. It's going to be hard, I'm usually asleep by ten, I hope I can get a nap in today.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

You Are Going to Want to Kiss Me Right on my Mouth

When you make these cookies:

They are Surprise Cookies from Martha Stewart's Cookies cookbook. The recipe is also online. It can be found here:
Don't the cookies look like they are bathed in celestial light?(works for me, much better than saying my photography sucks, doncha think?) But they do taste heavenly. Trust me on this.

Even Rachel Holmes wanted a piece of this action. My fabric is not touching the chocolate I promise, but come to think of it that might add to it's aged appearance.

Speaking of Rachel, here's a current pic. Yes it's washed out, I tried several different spots outside and this was the best. Click the pic to enlarge.
In other late-breaking news, I am on day three of absolutely no laundry on the kitchen table. People wander through the house towards the kitchen searching for shirts, underwear, socks, then they remember, "my clothes are in my room". Twilight Zone music then begins to play because they have obviously been transported to some bizarro land where clean clothes are exactly where they are supposed to be. It's difficult not to take the stuff from the dryer and toss it on the table and move on to the next load, but I'm slowing down, folding, hanging and putting things away. This is huge for me. All the laundry put away, freakin' awesome!
In Thanksgiving news, the turkey is purchased and in the freezer temporarily, got a 20 pounder. Started to go for something a bit larger but good grief we don't need that much turkey. I already see a couple of turkey pot pies in our future and I'm pretty sure this year I'm going to toss the carcass in a pot with some water and make turkey broth to freeze for the Yule bird. We do a ham on Christmas Eve and have a turkey on the big day.
I'm pretty stoked about the new more organized me. Never fear, Casa de Dog Hair is still alive and well but there is not one single piece of laundry on the kitchen table. I'm super serial.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I Got Excited

And made this:

Ever since I saw this poster project this has become my life's philosophy.
Sure I could probably pursue something more profound but this is way more "me".
Stitched 2x2 on 28ct antique white lugana with DMC 4210.
Charted by Pam and me using my Patternmaker software.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

By the Dawn's Early Light

I have rediscovered my love of 28ct lugana. I know, it's not fine linen, but it was my first foray into over 2 stitching, my first step out of the aida comfort zone. It was soft and silky and it was so luxurious compared to my good old Charles Craft 14ct and 18ct aida. I spent hours in my LNS, it was either Creative Critters or the name had changed to Crown Thistle Needlework, it was within walking distance of my house in North Little Rock and I'd put the kid in the stroller, we just had one kid at the time, and walk to the LNS. The shopowner promised me if I'd just give evenweave or linen a try I'd never go back to aida. I bought a piece of 28ct ivory lugana and Sheepish Designs(I am 99% sure that's the designer) Virtuous Heart Sampler(and I'm less than 20% sure that is the correct name of the sampler) and I don't have it handy because it needs to be reframed after one brother slamming another brother against the wall in a WWF moment(back when it was the WWF not the WWE) but they could have been impersonating a lion attacking a gazelle so that would fit with the WWF(World Wildlife Federation).

Yes, the DMC is wrapped around a wooden spool. How precious is that?
The spool was in a baggie with some others that my Mamaw gave me years ago for some project out of a Leisure Arts Spirit of Christmas book which apparently I never got around to actually making. I have maybe five or six and these were my great grandmother's wooden spools so I'm careful with them. But I've been stalking eBay and thrift stores hoping to score a mess of these old wooden spools for not so much money. I've developed a love for embroidery over the last couple of years, thank you Jenny Hart! And want to keep my embroidery floss separate from my cross stitch floss and I think these wooden spools are kind of funky cool for that purpose.(Dork alert! I get it)
But you ask, "If you want to keep your embroidery floss separate from your cross stitch floss why do you have floss you are obviously cross stitching with on a spool?" Well I thought it'd be different and I had the spool right there and the cardboard bobbins were in the shoebox in another room and the cross stitch only uses one color. So I thought I'd just be wild and crazy and spool it. "Spoolin' on a Wednesday afternoon". That should be a song.
The design is one that was run through Patternmaker(Thank you Pam for your technological help, ok for doing it for me because I am so incompetent) and makes me very happy. I have a companion piece already charted and it makes me even more happy! Happier than this even:
Sue Hillis Cross-Stitch Designs Blog » Final version: “Women who behave…” (although I believe the real quote is "Well behaved women seldom make history" Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
With any luck I'll have a finished project to show tomorrow.
No, that's not coffee in my cup but Adagio's Earl Grey Bravo. I feel really contintental when I drink hot tea.
Is everyone in full speed ahead holiday mode? Yesterday I cleaned out my kitchen pantry. I had a lot, A LOT of expired canned goods. I discovered maybe two years ago that canned goods actually had expiration dates. I'm pretty sure growing up my mom would occaisonally open a ten year old can of Campbells soup and not think twice about it, or maybe Dinty Moore Beef Stew. I thought canned goods were supposed to last forever, you know you fill up your 1950s bomb shelter with Mother Campbells and you can survive any catastrophe.
I'm now working out what I need to buy for Thanksgiving dinner. I've learned over the years that keeping it simple is the best thing for my family. The husband will eat anything these days, even onions as long as he doesn't know they are in the food he's consuming. For years he told me he was allergic to onions, only to find out years later he's a big fat onion hating liar! The 14 year old won't eat anything but turkey and mashed potatoes and the two older sons will eat pretty much anything, the middle son prefers pumpkin pie only but now that he's 18 if he wants pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dinner more power to him.
Tentative Thanksgiving menu:
Dressing(really bad dressing because I do not have my Mamaw's dressing making gene, my dressing sucks, major big time suckage)
Green Bean casserole(I'm southern, it's got cream of mushroom soup and french fried onions on top, it's what we eat ok?)
Swiss Vegetable Medley (great casserole, probably my all time favorite)
I may or may not make a squash casserole, maybe to spruce up the leftovers on Friday night. I use this recipe only I add a can or two of diced green chiles. It's mighty tasty:
Mashed potatoes
I want to make a sweet potato casserole but I'm the only one that eats it so like the squash casserole I might make this over the weekend to freshen up the leftovers.
Pumpkin Pie(recipe straight off the Libby's label)
I've been reading a few books and articles about survivial preparedness. I've sufficiently scared the ever lovin' pee out of myself and I think I don't want to read about that stuff so much any more. I think my goal is to keep a well stocked pantry, enough food for five for a couple of weeks and hope by then any national crisis will have worked itself out. Oh and a well stocked project pantry because the best thing to take the edge of the world as we know it ending are a few projects. I remember a time on RCTN when something bad happened and someone suggested why don't we stitch blocks for this or that and someone said, "Do you think cross stitch makes everything better, don't you think there's something better you could do for these people?" Well I didn't step into that, but trust me when I tell you when my world is crashing down around me, some needlework in hand at least makes me feel better so yeah, for me a project of some kind does make me feel better. A bit of control in the chaos around me. It's such a small, small thing but offers so much comfort.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Ida, Ida, Ida

Here are some pictures taken at various points along the Gulf this morning, around say 11 a.m.

Yes this picture and the one below it look alike but they aren't the same picture I promise. The surf was really starting to kick up.

This is from a park along the beach highway, my favorite road in the world. It will be breached if it hasn't already and then be closed for the next two years because my county officials suck.

Here's one of the lifeguard stands on my local beach. You can click on any of these pictures to enlarge, or biggify as Annette would say.

These storms bring out the surfers. This guy was just sitting on the beach and then walking on the beach, I never saw him actually get in the water but trust me there are several surfers out there.

The county just recently started rebuliding our pier after picking their noses over it for quite a few years and of course that decision alone puts us in the path of a tropical storm. You see that big blob of white foamy surf? There are three or four surfers just behind it. The waves are that big.

Dinner is done, I made these:
Going to make a batch of banana bread in a few, using this recipe:
And will probably make one of these too:
Because that's just how I roll.....
Tonight's plan: stitch the night away. No school tomorrow, no where to be, the dogs have special chewy bones for later when the storm comes ashore and makes everyone a little jumpy. The rain is coming down pretty hard right now and I'm guessing the winds will pick up in a few hours. I'm one of those dorks that likes tropical storms, as long as I don't have to leave the house, and I don't so *all is good.
*that feeling is subject to change if we have a lot of tornadoes around 2a.m. and we're sleeping in the hallway.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

From the Gulf Coast Lab

Over the last few days I've become obsessed with the whole natural dyeing process. I love the idea of dyeing my own fabric and sticking it to "the man". What I mean to say, I don't always have the recommended fabric here and sometimes I want to start something right now instead of waiting to order the fabric I need. Learning how to dye my own fabric, it gives me some hand-dyed options, gets me out of the "I must absolutely use the recommended fabric" frame of mind.

Of course I have no sense of color, I have no patience, I want to dunk my fabric and call it good. I'm learning but it's a chore. That being said these berries were hanging over the fence and I thought they would make a nifty purple dye. They don't, they make an amber colored liquid. But that didn't stop me.

After simmering the Beautyberries in the pot for a while I poured off some amber colored liquid and went foraging in the freezer for a package of three year old freezer burned blackberry/blueberry mix. I dumped those in the pot and brought it back to a simmer and then let it steep over night. This morning I cut two small rectangles of white muslin and stuffed them in these jars. I decided the dye might work better if it was heated so I put each jar in the microwave for five minutes, then took them out, set them on the kitchen window sill and left them alone.
Here's the fabric soaking in it's warm dye bath. The jar to the left holds the Beautyberries and the blueberry/blackberry mix. The jar to the right is just the Beautyberries. They smell wonderful when simmering like an herbal tea. I kept having to tell people the stuff in the black pot is not edible. I was relieved after doing some research to discover the beautyberries weren't toxic and someone even made jelly from them, and they pointed out they were still alive but I'm still not so sure about that because most sites I found weren't sure if these berries were toxic or not which I thought was strange since someone did indeed make some jelly out of them.

And here are my test squares. The pink/purple hued piece is from the berry mix and the pale yellow is from the beautyberries alone. The muslin was bright white like that paper towel. I do not have a clue what I'm doing so I'm going to do more research and find out about setting the dye or using vinegar or alum as a moredant. I did add a bit of vinegar to the amber liquid just to see what it would do. It just made it smell vinegary as far as I can tell.
Today I plan on trying my hand at turning Goldenrod into a pot of yellow dye. We'll see how that goes.

Here is my start on Heartstring Primitive's Rachel Holmes. Yes the picture sucks. Click it on to enlarge and it's a bit better. The fabric is 32ct MCG white linen that I coffee dyed and baked. The threads are not the ones Beth used but my own conversion using threads I had in the stash, I was shocked to discover that I didn't have any of the called for WDWs.
I'm stitching Rachel, 1x2 and liking the look more than I expected. This is the second chart I've used stash threads for and I think I'm getting better at matching my colors. It helps that Beth had a DMC conversion on her chart. I appreciate that a lot! This is a mix of GAST, CC and DMC.
I had been charting something out by hand and my friend Pam helped me with my Patternmaker software so that I would quit banging my head on the table from the chore of charting by hand. Maybe I'll have that to show tomorrow. Ok Pam didn't "help" me, she pretty much did it all. I have so many technical issues and once again no patience.