Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Brenda's Mexican Bean Soup

Sue- Glad to hear the weather has let up some for you. It is warm in Texas. The high was 70 degrees. I can't cook a good chili, but I do have a quick and hardy soup recipe.

Mexican Bean Soup
1lb ground beef
1 can pinto beans
1pkg taco seasoning mix
1 can black beans
1pkg dry ranch salad dressing
1 can whole corn
3 cans diced tomatoes
2 cups water
1 can Rotel tomatoes
(you can use 1 small jar mild salsa instead of Rotel tomatoes- same flavor no heat)

Brown meat in large pot. Drain. Add remaining ingredients, stirring well. Simmer for 30 minutes. Serve with cornbread or corn chips and grated cheddar cheese on top. Freezes well

Recipe sent by Brenda Mauck of Marion Texas. Brenda is a super friendly customer of mine and she is a brand new quilter! She just finished her first quilt. She machine quilted it herself. Way to go, Brenda- and thanks for the recipe!

Tamara's Chili

2 lbs ground beef, browned with
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped

drain fat

Add 14 oz cans of
chili beans (2 cans)
dark kidney beans
chili ready tomatoes
and a 32 oz can tomato juice

Add 1 T. chili powder to start, and add one more T. chili powder every hour for 4 hrs (4 T total, or more or less to taste)

recipe sent by Tamara Sandwisch
(Tamara is an Independent Close to my Heart Consultant and a great quilter)

Melting snow and projects galore!

It's been raining for days and the record breaking snow is just a memory for most of the Portland area. I measured 8 inches on our hot tub cover tonight. Snow was sliding off the roves our our house and barn today, but we still have a lot on the ground. We had our family Christmas last night. It was a little delayed, thanks to Jack Frost, but it was a wonderful evening.

I've received 2 yummy recipes. I'm going to post them, and 2 of my own. Let's keep this going. You send me a recipe, and I'll post your recipe and one of mine.

I have several fat quarters ready to mail out. There's still time- all you have to do is reply to a post of sent me an email and I'll send you a fat quarter. I just wanted to know who was out there and this has been a lot of fun. I'm "met" some nice blogging friends this week. At midnight on New Years Eve, I'll draw one name and send the lucky blogger a free book.

Sorry I haven't posted many pictures lately. This past week has been one of the craziest in recent memory. I'm still working on the December/winter project, I've got 3 knitting projects going (at the same time), and I'm getting a Viking Mega Quilter tomorrow! You'll be seeing lots of photos soon!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

WE HAVE POWER! Wow- what a difference a day makes! PGE gave us the best Christmas gift yet- they restored our power! Nothing like electricity and running water to make a holiday bright!

On this glorious Christmas morning, I am thankful....
... that the tree that fell landed on our front lawn and missed the house and cars (and people)
... that I can take a warm shower in my own bathroom this morning.
... that I can now see the beautiful lights on our Christmas tree.
... that I can flush my toilet without melting snow to do so (just had to throw that one in here).
... that I have a car with 4-wheel drive and a good set of chains (from Les Schwab, of course- my son works there).
... that the birds came to visit the suet feeder by my kitchen window every day during the storm and made me smile.
... that I am blessed with hobbies and interests that keep me excited and give me a great deal of pleasure.
... that I have met so many neighbors during the storm. (We've only lived here a year and a half). What wonderful people! People I never met came to the front door with storm-related news or questions. One even brought us cookies and treats on an ATV!
... that I have "met" dozens of wonderful customers this year through my business. I consider them new friends and I'm grateful that they have entered my life.
... that, even though we have been without power for 4 days, we had the shelter of a home and resources to weather the inconvenience. A little adversity makes one reflect on the abundance in our lives. I'm thankful for adversity- it makes the blessings glow even brighter.
... that my husband has a sense of humor. Believe me-- that was a gift this week!
... that I have so many friends. I couldn't begin to mention them all here- but I have to mention Sandy- the "sister" I never had.
... that I have been blessed with 2 wonderful sons, the 2 women they love, and the best husband in the whole world. All are healthy and happy.


Merry Christmas to all of you. I wish you all the good in life, all the happiness and joy that life can bring, and all that you seek in the following year. Thank you for reading my blog- I hope to write something that will cause you to smile in 2009.

Holiday giveaway!

Thanks to Susan. Ikkinlala, Tamara and Diane for posts and emails. You all have a fat quarter coming in January! Susan and Ikkinlala- please send me an email (sue@alderwoodquilts.com) with your mailing address.

There's still plenty of time! Just reply to ANY post on my blog, send a recipe, or tell me what project you're working on- whatever- and you'll receive a free fat quarter. AND... you'll all be in a drawing for a free book. The fun ends at midnight on December 31st. I'll mail the book and FQ's the first week of January.

Tamara sent me her favorite chili recipe. I'll post it and one of my recipes as I promised. That offer still stands, too! Send me one of your recipes and I'll post yours and one of mine. I'll tag them all with the key word "recipe" so you can easily search for recipes on the site.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

December project, and my Christmas giveaway

Needless to say, the December project is stalled. Sewing machines need electricity. I do have my great grandmother's treadle machine, but I'm not quite that motivated. Melting snow to flush the toilet is my limit right now. I have done a lot of cutting for my December project. It is now re-named. It's my "Winter Project". I had good intentions when I had electricity.

I just called the electric company for an update. The recording said that our power had been restored. We told them that wasn't accurate. We were even nice about it.

I'm still knitting.... and knitting.... and knitting. I started a knitted handbag and I'm having trouble with it. I'm not sure if my brain is frozen or if there is a mistake in the pattern.

I want to give all of my blog readers a Christmas gift. All you have to do is reply to any post on the blog. You can post a recipe, a comment on a picture, or whatever. Just reply to anything. Everyone who replies will receive a gift from me. Everyone will get a fat quarter, and one lucky person, chosen at random on December 31st, will receive a book from my website. Come on... don't be bashful! Just let me know you're out there and I'll spread some holiday cheer in your direction. Look- if I can sit here with no electricity and no running water, melting snow to flush my toilet and grilling hot dogs on the BBQ grill in the snow on December 23rd.... and STILL be in the Christmas Spirit..... the least you can do is sent me a few lines. I'd love to know who all is out there!

In a few hours it will be Christmas Eve. This is one I will always remember. That's a gift in itself. Some of the best memories come out of adversity. I hope you are all making wonderful memories of your own right now. Remember- life is all about attitude. And it's your choice. Merry Christmas Eve Eve!


I'm sorry I haven't added any entries to the blog in a few days but I have a good excuse. We lost power the day before yesterday. Life without power or running water (we have a well and the pump is electric) is very interesting. I feel like a pioneer woman. I have buckets of snow in the bathtub melting so we can use them to flush the toilet. Did you know that a little aluminum foil behind a lantern reflects the light and makes it brighter? At the deepest spot on our front lawn, we have 27 inches. They predict more snow tonight and tomorrow. The temps have been hovering in the 20's, for the most part, for over a week. I have been conserving the battery in my laptop but Wayne hooked me up to a car battery and I now have a little more air time. Just keeping our cell phones and laptops charged is a job!
Thi is the view out back. The mounded snow in the bottom of the photo is a raised bed. You can no longer see it--- it's just a little rise in the snow. To the left is the lavender field. At least I THINK it's still a lavender field. You can't see any lavender. I don't want anyone walking out there so the lavender doesn't accidentally get trampled. The deer didn't get that memo, though.
Poor birds- the feeders and bath are under snow. I hung suet feeders for them, though.
My poor butterfly bush! In it's glory last summer, this was 9 feet tall! We've lost a few trees and lots of branches are down. Oh, well--- it's nature's way of helping us re-landscape!
And we dug these cars out twice already! We have been fortunate enough to be able to dig out and get to the road every day. They plow highway 26 and sand it, and with chains, we can get into town. We've actually made it to the post office to ship orders on our website every day!

This really is an amazing storm. They weather folks tell us that it is the worst storm in this area in 50 years. Most years, around here, it makes news if we get 2 inches of snow. Last year we got the second supposed "hundred year flood" in 5 years. So, does this mean that we'll get another
"50 year snow storm" again in a few years?

Enough weather blogging- I need to post this and start talking about quilting! Stay warm!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Purple hat and fingerless mittens

OK- here's a post NOT related to the weather. No- wait- it IS related to the weather! All of this snow has inspired me to knit. On these cold winter days when I go down to my business/sewing studio area, it's COLD! It takes a while for the heater to warm things up and if I'm in a hurry to start sewing or cutting fabric, I wear fingerless gloves. I'm not a "hat person", but a friend of mine who is a doctor (Hi, Jeff!) keeps telling me to wear a hat to stay warm. He's right- it works. So I just wear a nice, warm sweater, a hat and fingerless gloves and I stay nice and toasty.

I love these mittens- I've made several pair. I got the pattern on Ravelry. I think I got the hat pattern on Ravelry, too. If you like to knit or crochet, and haven't yet discovered Ravelry, you're really missing a great resource. They have TONS of patterns for purchase and for free. The site also has wonderful people who will help and answer questions, as well as lots of amazing resources. What could be better on a winter afternoon than a cup of tea, a laptop, and a leisurly browse through a few hundred knitting patterns!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sue, the weather blogger, here... reporting to you from Banks, Oregon. The photos I posted a few days ago were just a glimpse of things to come. We now have 10 inches on the ground and they are forecasting record snow over the weekend. I know a lot of people reading this are wondering why snow is "news". Well, it's BIG news around here! Other parts of Oregon get lots of snow (hence all the ski resorts), but I've lived here for 24 years and I have NEVER seen this much snow! I grew up in Pennsylvania and this looks more like central PA than Portland, OR.

I made chili and cornbread tonight for dinner. It seemed like a wintery thing to do. It was ok, but nothing to write home about. Does anyone out there have a killer chili recipe?

I've been working on my "December Project" but haven't taken any photos lately. I'll try to post some tomorrow. I think I'm on track to get the top done before we ring in 2009, but it will have to wait for January to get quilted. I'm getting a quilting machine and it is due to take up residence in my sewing studio in January. You'll be reading a lot about that when the time comes!

I've also been knitting a lot this week. I had the urge to make some new hats, mittens and scarves. Must be all the snow. I like to quilt whenever I can, and knit in the car and when I'm watching TV. I'll take some pictures of some knitting tomorrow, too. I'm promising a lot of photos- I guess I'd better plug the camera charger in tonight!

Remember- send me a recipe (reply to this blog post or send me an email) and I'll post YOUR recipe as well as one of MINE.

AND... I'm doing a give-away next week. Be sure to check in to see what it is.

Stay warm and take time to enjoy this wonderful time of year.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


I was just watching TV and the weather reporter showed some photos sent in from a "weather blogger". I never knew there were weather bloggers! But then again, the weather blogger probably doesn't know there are quilt bloggers, so I guess we're even. Well... not to be outdone by the weather bloggers, here are some photos of our place. Bear in mind that we don't get much snow in the Portland, Oregon area. We're about 25 miles west of Portland in the foothills of the Oregon coast range. Parts of Oregon get a lot, but we just get a dusting here and there but we rarely get the big stuff. The big weather news this week is that we are predicted to have record low temperatures, so we have lots of wood pellets stocked up! I don't have all of my Christmas shopping done yet, but it'll just have to wait a little while longer. I'm snuggled on the sofa under a quilt right now and that's RIGHT where I'm gonna stay!

My lavender field. I have about 300 plants. Fortunately, lavender are pretty hardy plants.

This is out by the pump house. Wayne took it this morning right after the snow started.

Wayne took this right after the snow started this morning. You can't see the decal on my car any more.

Wayne just had to take a picture of his tractor with a wreath on it. My son and daughter-in-law gave us the wreath when they came to dinner on Thanksgiving. I'm sure they envisioned it on the front door- not the tractor. The next time I venture outside, the wreath will find its way back on the front door.

So take THAT, all you weather bloggers! I'll bet you don't have any pictures of quilts on your weather blogs!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Snow People

They're predicting snow in our area this weekend so I brought out all my snowman pins and put them on my handbag. This is one of my fav bags. I love to knit and this Booga Bag is the first thing I ever felted. Now it's even better 'cause it's covered with the little snow guys.

I haven't done much quilting for a few days. I cut a BUNCH of kits for the website today. I'll have some new ones to add as new products soon.

I'm generally finished with my Christmas shopping by this time, but I'm WAY behind this year. Maybe when I get a few things done, I'll have more time to post longer blogs!

Don't forget to send me a recipe-

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Taming the pile!

I wrote my monthly newsletter for Alderwood Quilts this week. (You can sign up by logging onto the website- www.alderwoodquilts.com- and go to "for you" and click on "newsletter"). I always include a tip at the end of the newsletter. I was thinking hard for a good tip to include this month (envision little puffs of smoke coming out of my ears and my forhead all scrunched up). I went to my sewing area and just looked around. There it was- right under my nose- the PERFECT tip! OK- this one isn't rocket science- but it really changed my quilting world. I am a "piler" by nature. Left unchecked, I end up with piles all over the place. I don't see it as unorganized because I can (usually) find things pretty quickly since my piles (usually) contain one category of flat paper stuff. It's sort of a filing cabinet without the cabinet. For instance- I have a pile of recipes, a pile of mail to deal with, a pile of gardening ideas, and... you guessed it.... a pile of quilting patterns and ideas. Well... I've tamed the pattern pile. I'm not talking about the commercial patterns in the little plastic sleeves. I have them in an "actual" file. I'm talking about the patterns I print off the internet, the patterns I get from shop hops, the ideas I clip from magazines, etc. Several years ago, I was quilting with my good friend and longarm quilter, Diane Bohan, and saw her 3 ring binder of quilt patterns and ideas. I played kopykat and did the same. OK- not a terribly creative tip- but honestly, it's a great idea! What I like about it is not only that I can FIND things, but I can flip through it like a book and it protects (hence the name sheet PROTECTORS) the pattern. I just slip all of the pages for a particular pattern or idea into one sheet protector and they all go in a 3 ring binder. I've also done this with my knitting patterns, and I've put dividers in that to sort the gloves, hats, sweaters, etc.

I still have piles all over the place, but at least my patterns are organized. Next year, my project will be to organize my recipes so I don't have to sort through that pile to find the recipe I want. Yes- I know there is such a thing as a recipe file. I have too many recipes. I want to do a scrap book and put them in albums and "scrap" where they came from and pictures of my favorites.

That brings me to a request. Send me a favorite recipe, and I'll blog yours and one of mine. You can either reply to this post and put it on my blog yourself, or send it to me at sue@alderwoodquilts.com. If I get 10 recipes, I'll blog 10 of mine. Come on.... you can do it!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Whew! Another strip on the December Project!

Keep in mind that this is a long strip- there are 15 repeats of the basic pattern. I'm gonna be dreaming of tiny little green and purple squares tonight! The next one is more involved- I might need 2 days to get it done. Tomorrow and tomorrow night are super busy for me, too.

I put some new kits on my website, too. They were fun! I'll show you the samples one of these days. I have pillow case kits on there, too. Fun! I have too many things started right now. I just need to finish one.

I want to give a shout out to my friend, Helle, who is recovering from not one, but 2 shoulder surgeries. The worst part is that she can't sew for a while. She made the beautiful "Hanks Quilt" on the gallery on my website. Get well soon, Helle!

It's late and my pillow is calling to me. Time to dream of little green and purple squares.....

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Another strip- my December project

Not the most interesting of strips- but it's a nice color spacer... and it was a quick one! The next strip won't go so quickly....

Gotta love living in Oregon. It rained and rained and rained today. Tonight, it's so foggy at my house that I can hardly see past the front lawn.

I hope to get the house decorated this week. It's gonna be a full week, but that's the way it goes. My snowmen are begging to come out of the box and replace those turkeys!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

December project- another strip

Another strip! Three down, 9 to go! I stitched my fair share of triangles today! Bear in mind that this is just a little snippet of a long strip. I like the rich color combination of black and beige and another color. I have some dark navy, beige and maroon fabrics that I've been trying to decide for years what to do with.

I went to a local event today- a fundraiser to support maintenance of a pioneer cemetery. They had a great pot roast meal and a bazaar. I love the feeling of community spirit at an event like this. There's something special about a community coming together to support something that is important to them. Some of the headstones date back to the 1860's and mark the final resting place of Oregon pioneers. I figure the least I can do is buy a wonderful home made meal to help keep the cemetery a place of beauty and respect. Next year, I might even rent a booth and fill it with quilts and lavender!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Working on my December Project

Here's the next strip! It's a long chevron of blacks and golds.

It's been a long week, but a good one. I put a lot of new products on the website and did a lot of sewing. I'm going to spend some time tomorrow with a very good friend. I'm looking forward to it!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

December Project

I've started a strip quilt and my goal is to get it DONE in the month of December. It usually isn't a problem to get a quilt like this done in a month, but I have a bazillion other things to do and I am slipping this in as a Christmas gift to myself. I purchased a block of the month (strip on the month) program many years ago and never made it. As I recall, I had problems with my sewing machine and the blocks kept arriving in the mail... then other things happened and other projects had higher priority... and the blocks kept coming. I always loved the quilt and hoped to make it some day. I have decided that THIS is SOMEDAY! Most of the quilts I make are earmarked as gifts or they are samples for my business or prototypes for patterns I want to write. But this one is for me. This is my Christmas gift to myself. I'm not going to show you the full pattern yet. I'll just show you each strip as I make it, and you get to be surprised by the final product.

This strip was paper pieced. I love paper piecing. I also have another p.p. project going. I'll show you that when I get a little more of it done.

Oh-- I went to a Chamber of Commerce meeting today and took Nanaimo Bars. I posted that recipe a few weeks ago but didn't include a picture. I took the picture today and inserted in into the old post.

Monday, December 1, 2008


I finally got some of my lavender products on my website! We have a small lavender farm (Sunset Lavender Farm). We planted last year and had our first harvest this past summer. I sold fresh bundles, small plants and some other items at our local farmers' market in July and August. A customer asked me for some of our products and it was the nudge I needed to get some of them on the website. The category will grow over time, but for now, I have sachet, dryer bags, soap, body butter and bulk buds.