Monday, March 14, 2011

Peel a Potato without a peeler


Remember MaryAnne from Gilligan's Island?  Evidently, she knows more about how to peel potatoes than she does about how to get of a deserted island.  :-)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Awesome Sloppy Joe's

I came across this recipe a few years ago and haven't bought any packaged Sloppy Joe mixes since. They taste SOOO good, and I think they're cheaper, or at least around the same cost as purchasing the seasoning packets.  Give it a try--- if you like sloppy joe's, you'll LOVE these!

1 pound ground beef
1 cup ketchup
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

4 hamburger buns (we like onion buns)
shredded Parmesan cheese

Brown and drain fat from ground beef
While meat is browning, combine all remaining ingredients except buns and cheese.
After draining fat from meat, add the sauce ingredients.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  If mixture starts to dry out, add a little water.

Serve on rolls topped with Parmesan cheese.  ENJOY!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sewing & Stitchery Expo 2011

I took a little trip to Puyallup, Washington last weekend. Every year, they have a sewing and stitchery expo- a smorgasbord of all things fiber.  It's a few hours north of the Portland area and I try to attend most years.  This year, I drove up with my friend, Jean.  She was sweet enough to drive so I could knit in the car. :-)     The show is held at the fairgrounds, and is a very nice facility.

They had about 200 vendors- quite a bit to get through in a day!  Most were fabric and sewing related.  A few sold yarn or beads.  They also had classes and trunk shows and a few other events.  I've taken classes in past years, but this year I just browsed through the marketplace.

One of my favorite vendors is always the Pendleton Wool Store.  Pendleton wool is made in Pendleton, Oregon and has a history that goes back to the early days of settlement in the northwest.  We have a few of their blankets and I treasure them.  They also sell the wool by the yard.  I just DROOLED over this coat!  The little pin that matches is a flower made from a twisted zipper.  Zippers were big at the show--- fashion zippers sewn into garments and zippers used to make jewelry.

Those of you who are familiar with my website know that I carry a lot of patterns and kits from Bigfork Bay Cotton Company.  They use the fusible applique technique.  Of course, I HAD to spend some time looking at samples from Bigfork and stop to chat with my sales rep who was helping in one of the booths. (Hi, Tracy!)  Check out the elephant!  His ears are 3 dimensional- flopping in the breeze.  So cute!

This little guy has always been one of my favorites.  I guess you have to like contemporary interpretations of dogs to appreciate this--- but this guy reminds me of my Golden Retriever (who is feeling better, by the way).  The pattern name is Sundance.  Anyway- I think he's a cutie.

I stopped to chat a bit with Lorraine Torrance.  I carry some of her patterns.  She only has a few quilt patterns.  Most are by other designers that are published by her company.  Lorraine's specialty is designing clothing patterns.  She does gorgeous work.

I love the vest on the left.  It's like a quilt that you wear, isn't it?

This is the Sunspots pattern.  This sample looks so different from the pattern cover!  I've seen it done by several quilters and I'm always amazed at how each quilter interprets this design.

This made me chuckle.  I love feathers.  The above sample was in a thread company booth.  I wish I remembered the name of the thread (sorry!).  Anyway- the embroidery designs are really cool and the threads really bring them to life.  But what made me chuckle was remembering a shirt I used to own.  It was a white shirt, and had a feather embroidered on the back shoulder.  Everybody kept trying to pick it off!  It looked like something was on my shirt.  No more embroidered feathers on my shirts!

And finally.... no event at a fairgrounds is complete without funky farm animal art.  I'm guessing this mosaic tile animal is supposed to be a cow. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

March Giveaway

The March giveaway is WEEKEND WONDERS.

This is a 16-page pattern booklet with instructions for 5 beginner-level quilts along with quilting basics. Great book for the new quilter or for an experienced quilter who is looking for a quick project that looks great.

To enter, all you have to do is COMMENT TO THIS BLOG POST and ask for a chance to win.  It's that easy!
For a second entry, if you are a follower of this blog,  post a SECOND COMMENT  to THIS POST and let me know that you are a follower.  It doesn't matter if you are a long-time follower or if you just signed up 2 minutes ago.
For a third entry, if you have a blog of your own, do a blog post about this giveaway, or put it on your sidebar... whatever you like.  Just tell your readers about this giveaway somehow, and do a THIRD COMMENT to THIS POST and let me know that you told your readers about the giveaway.

I'll select a winner at random on April 1st.  Good luck!

I try to reply to most comments to my blog posts.  If you are only commenting to enter the giveaway, I probably won't send you a personal reply.  If your comments show up at the end of this post, then you're entered.  If you've made other comments to my blog posts and have never heard from me, it probably means that you are a "no reply" commenter.  That means you have chosen to keep your email address private.  That's fine, but it means I can't contact you to chat or to let you know if you have won.  If you wish to remain anonymous, be sure to check back on April 1st or 2nd and see if you've won.  If I can't connect with the winner, I'll have to draw another name.

While we're on this subject... I have a suggestion for those of you who want to keep your email private, but would like to comment and play along with various activities on the internet.  Consider opening another email account.... a free one with yahoo or gmail, or hotmail... or many others.  Keep that email address for receiving newsletters, entering contests, posting on blogs, etc.  You can even use it when you order things online or for a facebook account.  This keeps your personal email pretty clear of junk mail and keeps spam way down.  You should check it from time to time to see if you've received any emails from actual people (like me!), but most of the email you really want will be in your clutter-free personal in-box.

I'm always sad when I receive a nice comment or a question from a reader and I can't reply.  Often, the person doesn't even realize that I can't reply.  Many people who show up as "no reply" don't know it. 

While I'm on a roll here.....
In the past week, several people have asked me how to reply.  I don't have one answer because everybody has different accounts and settings and what-have-you.  But I think the most helpful thing for most people is to get a google ID.  I think if you try to reply and don't have one, it will ask you if you want one.  If you're having particular problems commenting, send me a private email and I'll see if I can help.

Good luck to all...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Glass Blowing

This is another "catch up post".  I still have a lot of things I never got around to blogging about.  I'll pop them in here and there.

A few months ago, I spent some time on the Oregon Coast with my friends, Liz and Diane.  Liz surprised us with the trip, and took us to a glass blowers in Lincoln City, Oregon.  While Liz took these photos, Diane and I took turns working alongside a professional glass blower who helped us to make our own glass bowls.  Can you believe it?  I was a glass blower for a day!  Well... sort of.  I did it, but I was expertly guided every step of the way. 

In case you're ever in the northwest and want to try this, the studio is called the Jennifer Sears Glass Art Studio.  You can make all kinds of things- not just bowls.  You should see their gallery--- WOW!

 Here's where it all started.  This is a pile of various shades of green glass pieces.

I have no idea what all this stuff is called, so if you know anything about glass blowing- forgive me and just chuckle as I try to describe this.

Here we are, dipping into the big oven full of molten glass for a starter "blob" of molten glass.  (See... I told you I don't know what this stuff is called).

 Now the blob of molten glass, which is pretty much colorless (I think) gets rolled in the green pieces.

I felt like I was rolling snickerdoodle dough in cinnamon sugar.... only the dough was a bazillion degrees and heavy.

 We went through several rounds of heating and shaping, heating and shaping.  The green glass is there.... it really is.... it's just really hot and looks orange.

Here I have a tool that sort of looks like tweezers and I'm taking bites out of the glass and twisting my wrist.  This makes the green go all swirly.  You'll see later.

 Back into the oven.  There's a stand that I am resting the rod onto as I keep rotating the glass.  This is really work!  The long metal rod is heavy enough, and there's a big chunk of glass waaaaaay on the other end that wants to drip to the floor if I don't keep rotating it.

 Here the guy who actually knows what he's doing is shaping the glass in this rubber cup thing.  I'm standing there with my big yellow gloves in awe of his skill.

Then he attached a long tube to the end of the rod that has the glass on it.and told me to gently blow into it.
I kept blowing into the tube and then I heard a POP.  The glass blew a little hole at the end.

 Then back into the oven.....

 And now we take the tweezer thingies again and start opening up the hole.

Back into the oven.... open it up a little more.... back into the oven....

 And now the real magic begins.  I kept swirling it and opening it as the weight of the glass started to fold back onto itself and create ripples.

You can see that he is allowing it to cool and it's starting to look green.

 Is this cool, or what?

To get it off the rod, he's using a sawing motion to cut the base.  The highly specialized tool he's using is a kitchen knife.  (I know what that's called)

I don't have a picture of it, but he turned it upside down on a towel, and popped the rod with a hammer (maybe it was a mallet) and the rod separated from the glass.
 He took a small piece of molten glass and applied it to the base.  He's using what looks like some kind of trowel to shape the foot of the bowl.

Then he put it right into an oven which was really hot, but not hot enough to melt the glass again.  The bowl had to stay there overnight as the oven lowered temperature very slowly.  This creates a stronger glass piece without hairline cracks.  We had to come back the next afternoon to get our bowls.
Diane went through the same process and made a purple bowl.  When we returned home, Liz took this picture of us in front of her dahlia garden.... nice backdrop for our colorful bowls!

I still can't believe I made a glass bowl!

Thanks, Liz and Diane.  I had a memorable trip to the beach... and I have a bowl to remind me of it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Learn to Knit Socks

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that I'm completely addicted to knitting socks.I frequently get comments from readers that they wished they knew how to knit or that they would love to learn to knit socks.  Well here's your chance!

If you don't know about you really need to!  It's the most amazing resource for the knitting community!  It has tons and tons of patterns (some free, some for purchase), lots of yarns and where to get them, links to stores, and best of all.... PEOPLE  There are more chat boards than you can shake your needles at.  One board is moderated by the owner of Knitters Brewing Company.  Wendy Gaal and her friend, Kellie, hand dye the most wonderful yarn in every color imaginable.  And they have regular KAL's (Knit- alongs).  Most of her original designs are very challenging.  But this month, they are doing a KAL to teach knitters how to make basic socks.  There is the assumption that you know the basics of knitting and purling.  But there's no doubt that new sock knitters will be successful with this KAL.  The pattern has lots of pictures, and there will be videos on the chat board to show you some of the techniques.  And if you get stuck, all you have to do is ask a question on the board and you'll have answers lickety split.

There is no charge and no purchase necessary.  The pattern (photo above) will appear on the chat board mid March for free.  But if you do order the kit, you will get a commemorative stitch marker, your choice of a bazillion colors of yarn, and the pattern already printed out.  There are random prizes drawn from those who post a picture of a finished sock.  If you use Knitters Brewing yarn, you are illegible for the grand prize.  It's up to you- you can buy the kit or use yarn you have.

I've known these women for a while and they are really great.  If you've always wanted to learn to knit socks, or if you tried with less-than-great results, think about playing along!

Oh- and they also have a pod cast and a blog called Yarn on Tap.  Enjoy!

Lots of S's.... Socks, Snow and Sniffles

 I finished a pair of socks this week.  The pattern is called Monkey and the designer is Cookie A. 
 I'm working my way through Cookie's new book called Knit.Sock.Love.  The plan is to make one pair per month and finish all of the 19 patterns in the book in 19 months.  I'll also be doing some other knitting along the way.

So far... 2 pair in 2 months.  Let's see if I can keep up the pace!  I'm casting on the third pair this week.
I love these socks.  The yarn is "Punta Sock Hand Painted".  That explains why there is a slight variation in the 2 socks.  The die was slightly different as I went through the skein.  It's very soft yarn and was very nice
to work with.  Love the pattern, too!

We've had some late winter snow this week.  This is the view looking out of my kitchen window.  That's my quilt shop down the hill on the left.  And the lavender field is out there but you can't see it because it's under snow.  Pretty soon it will be waking up!

It was a heavy, wet snow... kept going between rain and snow.  The snnow was so heavy that it took down several tree limbs out back.  It was really creepy last night listening to the crack, snap of the limbs in the woods.  One big one woke me up in the middle of the night.  Ugh!

 I've had a horrible cold that kept me down for most of the past week.  I didn't feel like going down to the shop and sewing.  I just filled orders, and came back up to the house, curled up with my blankie, my knitting, and my tissues.  That is-- when I wasn't working on my taxes. 
Even our dog, Jaeger, didn't feel well this week.  We think he "pulled" a muscle in his back.  It might be a disc but we're hoping for the pulled muscle diagnosis.  He was suddenly unable to walk on Monday morning.  His wonderful vet is giving him laser treatments (3 this week) which seem to be helping.  He still limps, but he's doing much better.

I seem to be posting a lot of pathetic looking family dog pictures on this blog lately.  Our grand-dog, Cooper, is doing better- his paw is healing.  Sheesh!

I got some fabric to get started on my second double wedding ring quilt, and as I promised, I will do a very detailed tutorial for you.  I think I might try to do a weekly post on the Wedding Ring quilt as I progress.  Maybe that will keep me on track.  I was rushing so much with the other one that I didn't take a lot of pictures of the process.  I will do that with this second one. I also have some things in the works for the website- new kits and patterns and a few tutorials.  Stay tuned!  As soon as I get over this cold and find some energy, I'll get that sewing machine humming!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The February Giveaway Winner is Melissa!

Melissa whose blog is called Ardea's Nest.  is the winner this month.  Congrats, Melissa!  It's great to have you as a follower of my blog. 

Judging from her blog, it looks like Melissa is never at a loss for projects.  But now she has one more.  I think there might soon be a new little daisy quilt on her project list.  The pattern and daisy fabric will be on their way to you in a jiffy, Melissa!  Be sure to check out Melissa's blog. There's a lot of great stuff on there- I signed up to follow, too!

Thanks to all who entered the giveaway.  I'll have a new giveaway posted for March soon.

By the way- I just have a few yards of the daisy fabric left, and a few patterns.  I matched up the daisies needed with the patterns and put them on my "Last Chance" (sale) category on the website. 

We had a late winter snow storm over the past few days here in the pacific northwest.  I surely will be happy when we see real daisies growing.