Monday, November 26, 2007

Apple pie time

I used to make pies all the time, especially in the summer when our cherry tree was covered with pie cherries, and then later when the apple tree was full of apples. Now the birds get the cherries and the apples are few and far between. I think it's been at least a year or more since I baked a pie, and longer than that since I baked one from our own fruit.

I rashly - on the spur of the moment - promised some friends a few weeks ago that I'd bake them an apple pie. They've been hinting broadly every time we see them, so I figured I'd better come through. I hoped to get it made so I could give it to them the Tuesday before Thanksgiving as I knew we would be seeing all of them that evening. I bought the apples but didn't get any farther than that. As we are seeing them again tomorrow I decided I'd better bake tonight instead of doing my appliqué.

I have a marvelous no-fail pie crust recipe that always turns out perfectly. And I love to decorate the top of my pies with leftover pieces of the pie dough. To avoid having a soggy bottom crust you need to bake your pie in either a glass pie plate or a dark dull metal pie pan. I have my mothers pie pans that are wonderfully dark and dull - they must be well over 50 years old because I remember her making pies in them when I was very small. My crust recipe makes enough for a double crust and a single crust pie, so this time I made two apple pies, and put a crumb topping on the second one.

No Fail Pie Crust

3 cups stirred but unsifted flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups shortening

Stir the salt into the flour so it is distributed well. Cut the shortening into the flour-salt mixture

Mix together:

1 beaten egg
1 tsp white vinegar
5 tbsp. cold water

Add the above mixture to the flour-shortening mixture slowly, stirring with a fork while adding. Continue to mix until the dough forms a ball. I usually finish up with my hands in order to gather all the flour-shortening crumbs.

This dough rolls out nicely, doesn't tear when putting it into the pan, and the second roll out of the scraps is almost as tender and flaky as the first roll out.

Another secret to great pies - breads too - is to use a pastry cloth cover on your breadboard and a pastry sock on your rolling pin. You need much less flour this way so the dough picks up way less flour as you are rolling it out. It's easy to clean the board also - just remove the pastry cloth, shake the crumbs of flour and dough into the garbage, and then toss in the wash. My pastry cloth is sewn into a tube that fits exactly around my breadboard so I don't have any trouble with it moving.

Oh boy - I can smell those pies cooking. Bring on the vanilla ice cream - I'm ready to dig in!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Another block - and a tasty dinner

I decided to allow myself a lazy day today. The last four have been wonderfully busy - so today I decided to rest. Instead of quilting my next project I sat in the sewing room and finished another block for my mid-century Album quilt while watching episodes of Little House on the Prairie. I always loved that show - and still do all these years later.

I have a pot of turkey frame soup almost finished on the stove for dinner - the one thing I did today other than sewing - and a loaf of honey wheat berry bread rising in the bread maker. Soup, fresh bread and leftover Thanksgiving fruit salad will make us a very tasty dinner.

Back to work tomorrow - for a full week. It's been some time since I worked five straight days in a row!

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Eighteen pin cushions ready and waiting for the December guild meeting. I hope all the officers and committee chairs like these. They were lots of fun to make and I like how they turned out. All out of stash also! Except for a the crushed walnut shells that I finally found at the feed store. I'm not sure whether anyone in the guild reads my blog or not - hopefully not, so the surprise won't be spoiled.

Sure feels good to have this commitment completed!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all

Today we will have both sets of kids here all day plus Sophie of course - I can't wait! People should start to arrive during the next hour or so but I wanted to post this quickly before they get here.

I've completely finished the two quilts that I quilted last Thursday - hooray! And I used up lots of short pieces of leftover binding so my drawer of bindings is empty except for a couple that are waiting for a specific project to be quilted. This means all my Hotel Hope contributions are finished and ready to turn in on December 6th. It gave me great satisfaction to cross these two off the list on my sidebar and add them to the completed total for the year.

In analyzing how I'm doing - now that the end of the year is drawing close - I've decided that I've done well and not so well at the same time LOL!

I've finished all but two of the new projects I started this year. That means I'll be adding only one new project to the list of UFO's for next year - the mid-century Album Quilt. I knew that would be a long term project since class goes through next March, so that is OK. The other one is Joseph's quilt, which will be quilted, bound, and labeled by the end of the year. This is what I count as successful - as most other years I've added considerably more to the UFO list.

The part that wasn't so successful was completing projects that were already UFO's at the beginning of the year. I finished only 6 of the projects that have been hanging around for several years, and gave another one away. That makes a total of seven - I was hoping to do at least twice that many! It's OK though - I spent time finishing what I started during the year and that's OK. There is always next year - when I should have LOTS more time - to finish more of these old UFO's.

For those of you who celebrate today - have a wonderful holiday!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I should have listened

So many of you told me to take it easy on my shoulder even though the doctor gave me the go ahead to get back to normal activities. I should have listened! Since quilting a couple quilts on Wednesday didn't bother me much at all I figured I could do two more this weekend. So yesterday I quilted my two other string quilts for Hotel Hope. I started pinning the first one on the machine about 7:30 or so yesterday morning, and took the second one off the machine about 8:45 last night. These two seemed to take much longer than the first two - I guess the pantograph I chose was more complicated than the one I used on the first two quilts. I didn't think it was, but it certainly took longer. I had one break when I went to coffee with my daughter about 10:30, and another of a couple hours when I went grocery shopping and fixed dinner. By the time I crawled into bed I was wiped out, and my shoulder, back and feet were aching. So I took the last of my Vicodin along with a couple Tylenol PM's.
I remember talking to Fred a couple times this morning - once when the dog wanted back off the bed and once when he told me he was going to the gym to work out. I remember commenting that it must be raining too hard for golf and he confirmed that. Next thing I know I was waking up because I needed to head to the bathroom. I could believe it when I looked at the clock and it said 10:33! I guess that Vicodin really knocked me out last night! I absolutely hate it when I sleep that late - which is why it very rarely happens. Besides the fact that I slept away at least 3 good hours of the morning, it takes me another couple hours to really wake up once I get up. I'm definitely a morning person - and don't do at all well when I sleep in.

Today I made binding for the last two string quilts and finished machine stitching it on. I used up the rest of my binding scraps, plus cut binding pieces from all the edges of the backing that I trimmed off after the quilting. One nice thing is that I'm really going through the stash making backings and bindings for these charity quilts - that will make room on my shelves for the fabric that's waiting to be prewashed before being put away. I made a stir fry for dinner since peppers of all colors were on sale at the grocery store and I had leftover steak to use. Now I'm going to spend the evening relaxing and hand stitching bindings.

I'll post pictures of these last two string quilts as soon as they are finished. In the meantime I'm illustrating this post with a few quilts from the show that was part of September Quilt Fest in Portland.
1. Four more flimsies quilted
2. Fresh fall vegetables
3. Two, two-day work weeks
4. A clean kitchen - thanks to Fred's doing the dishes
5. New pink plaid flannel pajama pants and a fluffy, soft bathrobe

Friday, November 16, 2007

When it rains it pours - and a big announcement!

That's what happens when I don't blog for awhile - I have just too much to say LOL!

One more piece of news - one of the biggest, in fact. Yesterday I gave my official retirement notice at work - letter of resignation and everything else. My last day is January 4th - a little over six months early. When I take into account the vacation days I have scheduled between now and then I have only 25 more working days left.

You can't begin to imagine how completely excited I am about this. I have so many plans! Grandchildren, quilting, reading, gardening volunteering, learning to knit socks - those are only a few of my ideas. I think I'll be busier than I've been when I've been working!

A new puppy - oh, it's Sophie!

It wouldn't be fair to give so much blog space to our new grandson without including an update on Sophie. Here are a few of the latest pictures we received a couple days ago, including a Halloween picture.

Introducing Joseph Logan

Our daughter and son-in-law received word a couple days ago that little Diogenes Santiago is now legally theirs. His name is now Joseph Logan - Joseph for my father Logan for Logan Pass in Glacier National Park. Joseph is also Fred's middle name, and was his father's middle name, and Jo (after my dad) is my middle name. Finally Joseph was picked because it is the name of Christ's earthly father, and is a favorite name of Rick's. So Joseph is a very meaningful name in both families.

The final steps involve getting a new birth certificate containing his new name and new nationality, which is now a 4 week process due to all the red tape - and then getting his American passport and visa, which will take another week or so. However, as of Wednesday he is legally theirs, so I can finally post pictures. I've waited such a long time to be able to do this!

At birth

Three weeks old

Two months old

Four months old

Five months old

Seven months old

The last picture is from their October update. A November update should be coming any time now. He's a very happy baby who hardly ever cries. This grandma can hardly wait to get her arms around him!

Once I was allowed to sew again . . .

I really went to town! I didn't want to waste a single minute of my sewing time. I even got to do some machine quilting - the first time I've touched the longarm since I fell that fateful night in September. Here is what I've been up to . . .

Laurel Wreath block for my mid-century album quilt

Rose Tree block for the mid-century album quilt

Fireworks Quilt completed

Close-up of quilting

Latest string quilt for Hotel Hope - quilted, bound and labeled

Tomorrow I hope to quilt the other two string quilts for Hotel Hope. All of them are due at the guild meeting on December 6th, as a representative from Hotel Hope will be there to receive the 16 quilts.

I also have to get working on making gifts for my board. Traditionally the outgoing president makes a pin cushion or something similar for every officer and committee chair on her board. I've chosen what I'm going to make - now I just need to get started. Installation of new officers also happens on December 6th, so I must have the gifts completed by then. Nothing like waiting until the last minute!

Retreat report

Oh what a bad blogger I've been! I can't believe it's been another week since I posted. And I can't claim to have nothing to write about either. Maybe that's the problem - so much "life" has been happening that I've had very little computer time!

Last weekend's retreat was marvelous. Twenty-three of us had a great time sewing, chatting, laughing and eating together. This year we had a extra room - the camp dining room - which is in a separate building from the lodge. The light in that room was much better so all we did in the lodge was sleep - some a little more than others LOL! We reserved 2/3 of the dining room for the sewing tables and the other 1/3 for eating. Plus we had a nice semi-circle of chairs and a loveseat for us hand stitchers. I think everyone got a great deal accomplished, and as usual the retreat committee went all out on door prizes, table favors, decorations, and more. This time I didn't come home empty handed - I "won" enough tokens to bid the top bid on a "little quilts package" - a Jo Morton book, a bunch of fat quarters tied with a ribbon, and a tiny little iron. What fun! There was also a silent auction with hidden prizes - you took your chance bidding on these. $38 for a bookmark and a little rotary ruler sounds like a lot - until one remembers that the bidding is being done with "money tokens" earned during the weekend.

Friday night I stitched the binding and label on my Fireworks quilt. It was so good to be stitching again! That was one of my oldest UFO's. I finished it in time to sleep under it both Friday and Saturday night. Saturday I did some hand appliqué - finished a large block for the mid-century medallion quilt, and then hand quilted on another hand quilting project that I started years ago. This is a double Irish Chain that was also a class sample from the early 90's Daisy Kingdom class days. Years ago I quilted a fancy design in three of the white squares using a dark raspberry colored quilting thread, and then stopped. When I started working on it again on Saturday I quickly remembered why I'd stopped. The white is some of the first white-on-white fabric that was available, and feels like the design is painted onto the fabric. Not fun to quilt through! I stuck with it and quilted three more of the designs. Once I finish those I'll load it onto the longarm and machine stitch the rest of it. Hopefully I can get that UFO finished by early next year if not this year.

I also took along some stitchery - a few stamped dish towels and embroidery thread. As soon as I started the first one I knew it wasn't going to work. What was advertised in the catalog as a flour sack towel is more like a cheesecloth towel. I can see my hand through the fabric! Really irritates me as I bought a whole bunch of these towels but can't return them. Anyone know of a great place to order quality flour sack towels for embroidery?

Even the weather cooperated with us for the weekend. It rained on Friday during unloading but cleared up by evening and then was sunny for the rest of the weekend. The camp is in a beautiful setting on the Lewis River in southwest Washington, and there was still much color to be seen in all the leaves. It was so very hard to go home on Sunday afternoon! The last thing we did was pose for a group picture outside. Unfortunately the camp caretaker wasn't familiar enough with cameras and photography to know that he should zoom in on the group!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Checking in . . .

Sorry for the lack of posts. There isn't a whole lot to tell when I'm not allowed to do much!

I have done a bunch of reading ever since I hurt my arm, as I'm not restricted from turning pages. I finished reading all the way through the Tony Hillerman "Jim Chee" and "Joe Leaphorn" mystery novels. If you like mysteries and have never read Hillerman I suggest you run right out to the store or library and find one or two. The main characters are two Navajo tribal policemen. Many of the stories weave Navajo folklore and religion throughout the plot - a fascinating view into a culture and society that most of us know little or nothing about. Hillerman is not a Navajo, but has received awards from the Navajo nation for his portrayals in his novels.

Once I finished those books I started the J.P Beaumont mystery novels by J.A. Jance. I've read the first three so far - what a huge contrast to the Hillerman books! J.P. Beaumont is a police detective in Seattle, and it's been a lot of fun following the action through many familiar places, as I lived in Seattle the first 22 years of my life.

I've also done a small amount of stitching. The doctor said I could start very gradually after I'd totally rested my shoulder for a week or so. Good thing, since I'm heading out to a quilt retreat in a little over an hour! I'm going to be sewing the binding and label on the Fireworks quilt - I finished the hand quilting just before I was put back on "restriction". After that I'll have the following choices - hand quilting on another quilt that I started quilting on between 5-10 years ago and never went back to it, embroidering some dish towels, hand piecing some UFO blocks, or working on various appliqué blocks for my mid-nineteenth century album quilt. As this retreat has been scheduled for months and months, I whined enough to the doctor so she'd give me permission to stitch this weekend - as long as I stopped and rested if I felt pain. It's going to be so good to stitch again!

I did a bit of machine work yesterday while I was puttering around packing - I put the borders on the third string quilt. I like how this turned out, but I'm going to go back to the square diagonal blocks for the next string quilt because I like it better. This one is a perfect size for a Hotel Hope quilt. As soon as I get the go ahead I must get back to machine quilting. I have four Hotel Hope quilts that need quilting, binding, and labeling before the December guild meeting. That's when we are presenting the quilts to the representative from Hotel Hope.

Our excitement at having a new grandson her for Christmas was short lived. The kids got a message yesterday telling them that the holidays would delay the paperwork so they won't be able to go to Guatemala for Joseph until January. When in January we don't know - and we don't know whether there will be extra problems due to the Guatemalan government adoption of the Hague adoption treaty. We are all praying very hard that there won't be complications, and that we can have our little guy here early in January.

1. Quilt retreats
2. Starbucks Christmas blend has returned.
3. Books to read
4. The gentle mist in the air today
5. Breakfast with a friend

Sunday, November 4, 2007

How quickly one forgets!

Thanks to a reader's question I realized the links to my photo tutorials were also gone. I completely forgot that I'd added those to my sidebar! I think they are all back now. If someone notices one that is missing please let me know so I can correct that.

I'm having a really rough time not sewing - my fingers are just itching to stitch!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

One more missing list

I just realized than my sidebar is still missing something - my list of HSY's (pronounced Hussies - or Haven't Started Yets). I have a spreadsheet that lists them all so it shouldn't be all that hard to add. On the other hand maybe I should wait a while to add those. Just seeing the lists of unfinished tops and flimsies waiting to be quilted and bound is scary enough!

In the meantime I've gotten all caught up with my email and the pictures posted to my various Yahoo Group lists. Tomorrow I'll start catching up on everyone's blogs.

Dont' forget to set your clock back an hour tonight. I'm so sleepy I'm going to head to bed soon even though it's lots earlier than normal. I can use that extra sleep tonight!

What goes around comes around - thank you Kristie!

A HUGE thank you to Kristie from Quilt Harvest. I helped Kristie with her blog back in August by sending her an HTML copy of my sidebar so she could substitute her info into the HTML for her side bar. I'd forgotten all about that until this morning when Kristie came to my rescue. She still had my message with all the HTML code, so she forwarded it back to me. My sidebar is now almost as good as new - all it needs is a bit of updating. What a relief - I felt like I'd lost a piece of my personal history when that disappeared. I'm way behind on backing up my blog - I guess I'd better do that right away. Thanks again Kristie!

I'm back on restricted use of my right arm and shoulder - my doctor wasn't happy with the progress of my healing. So I have two weeks off work - but can't do any quilting. Once again I'm behind on blog reading so I'll get busy getting caught up again. And I'll go back to sewing 2" squares together - I can do that with my left hand and my right fingertips. I'll still be doing quilty posts - I'll share pictures of more of my UFO's as well as pictures from the quilt show at Quilt Fest last September that I never got around to post.

Have a great weekend one and all!

1. A happy 61st birthday for my dear hubby yesterday.
2. Gathering of all the kids today for a late birthday celebration
3. Flu shots
4. A warm cinnamon roll for breakfast
5. A doggie who is feeling better after a scare earlier in the week

Thursday, November 1, 2007


I was editing a ring link in my side bar and somehow managed to delete almost everything! Certainly not what I wanted to do - I don't have a copy anywhere of what I had in that sidebar! I will try to get the ring codes back up tomorrow, but the rest may have to wait for awhile. I can't believe I did something so stupid!