Saturday, March 25, 2017

{I've Been Cooking} Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Chicken

Forgive the picture. I'm obviously not a food blogger and haven't figured out how to get a good shot without steaming up my camera lens. 

I do cook most nights. It's the only way to get the hungry family fed. But lately I've been trying some of those yummy things I've saved on Pinterest. 

Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Chicken

This was actually as easy to make as the website promised, and it turned out, and it tasted good. I'll be making it again and seeing what variations I can find.

I sort of kind of almost made Salted Caramel Pretzel Chocolate Chip crushing the pretzels I'd bought and mixing them in with a package of Betty Crocker salted caramel cookie mix. It worked! And it was tasty enough that I plan on trying the real thing sometime soon.

The Bubble Up Enchilada Bake wasn't a hit at my house. It was quick and easy and I thought it tasted just fine, but the men folk disagreed. Have I mentioned that they're picky?

How about you? Have you made anything new lately? Got any suggestions for a pack of hungry boys?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {3/24/17}

Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules: 
Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned,  as long as it's about baby quilts. You're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Longing for Spring

Longing for Spring Socks - Drops Fabel (Sunset)
Yarn: Drops Fabel (Sunset) 

A couple of weeks ago, I showed you three half knit pairs of socks. Those are all  finished and now I'm casting on for three brand new pairs, because different knitting times call for different types of knitting. No more Second Sock Syndrome at my house, at least for now!

This was my third attempt at knitting with Drops Fabel Sunset. First, I cast on for a plain stockinette pair and decided that they needed some texture. I ripped that out and tried Laburnum Stitch. It was pretty, but a couple of inches into the foot I saw the Longing for Spring pattern and wished I was working on that one instead. One of my needles got pulled loose, so I cast on again.

Now that the socks are done, I can see that they would have looked just fine if I'd continued in the plain stockinette. The stitch pattern is there, but it's subtle. I can see myself doing it again in a solid color. Maybe. It was a fun knit and an easy pattern to follow, but there are lots of others in my queue right now.

Note: I used my favorite toe and heel methods instead of following the pattern exactly as written, because they're my socks and I can do that.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

{Yarn Along} New Toes

I gave up. I quit. I said that I couldn't do it. Basically, I did all of those things we're told not to let our kids do. And I'm much happier as a result. I think. After so many months of waiting for Sock Madness, I wish I'd made it farther than the warm up round.

Maybe I could have finished the Twisted Madness socks. Hundreds and hundreds of other knitters did finish theirs. Instead, I made the decision to rip out hours of work and cast on for something new. And to cast on another pair of socks. And to finish those second socks I posted about earlier this month.

Like I said, I think I'm happier as a result. And even if I didn't make it far enough to get assigned to a team, I did manage to do colorwork.

For Whom the Bread Rolls by Sarah Fox

When the Flip Side pancake house is targeted by vandalism and prank calls, new owner Marley McKinney decides to confront the woman responsible. Instead of the peaceful resolution she hoped for, she finds the older woman's body and becomes a suspect herself. My reaction to this one was kind of lukewarm. The vandalism was intriguing, but the other elements of the mystery weren't. Or maybe it's just because I live in the neck of the woods were that sort of thing is more expected than surprising.

Disclosure -- I was provided with an advance review copies by the publishers. All opinions are my own. This post is linked to Patchwork Times, Yarn Along, Crazy Mom Quilts , Wrap up Friday  

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

{Estate Auction Temptations} We Went on an Adventure

Many years ago, someone told me that estate auctions were off limits. I don't even know what the context of the conversation was, but I've had that bit of information stuck in my head ever since. I've also been reading Jo's posts about all of her great auction finds and getting jealous. 

On Sunday there was an auction less than half a mile down the highway from our house. I sort of knew where the place was, and I knew that parking would be truly awful. We'd had a bad experience with estate sale parking on Friday and I wasn't going to do that again, so Teenage Son and I hiked down the highway, just to watch. And I signed up for a number, just in case. 

There were clocks. So, so, so many clocks....and pictures....and cars and other stuff we had no interest in....  We watched them auction off some furniture and then headed back to the house. I talked to Hubby about the clocks, specifically the cuckoo clock in pieces in a box, and headed back down the highway to the auction. 

Look what's hanging on my living room wall, where the purple cow head once hung... 

vintage cuckoo clock

I got it for twenty bucks, figuring that even if it didn't work it would look pretty hanging there on the wall. But it does work! It's not nearly as neat as the one Jo's husband found, but I'm happy with it. And proud of myself for getting it back together myself. The top piece had been removed and the weights were off, so it wasn't a great accomplishment, but I found it.

I got this one, too...

It turns out that the batteries were corroded, but I still like it.

There's a larger fourth picture that goes with these three. They're in awful shape, but I got the entire set for five bucks, along with a few "What is that woman thinking?" looks. I'm not sure quite what I'll do with them now that I have them, but it's a challenge I'm willing to face.  (Edited to add:  Adult Daughter saw them and loves them and has space on her wall. So they're going to her place. I knew there was a reason I rescued them.)

Those are the temptations I couldn't resist. These are some that I did resist, mostly because I was still waiting for the cuckoo clock to come up and knew I couldn't possibly afford everything I loved, let alone carry it home.

The lines across her face are dirt. Really obvious, really unmistakable dirt.

These would have been great to display next to our big old fireplace, but it wasn't meant to be.

I liked this couple, too, but someone else liked them a lot more.

Giuseppe Marastoni - The Drunken Monk

This is the one that Teenage Son wanted. It's massive, and went for a price that boggled my mind considering its condition and lack of a frame. Apparently, The Drunken Monk is a famous painting, so maybe we'll find a cheaper one someday.

I don't know if this was a once in a lifetime auction or if we can hope to find stuff this neat ever again, but it was a fun way to spend the morning.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Smaller Squares are Better

Give me a big stack of 4" squares to use for a baby quilt and I'll happily cut them into 2" squares before putting them back together.

They'll look better this way. I'm sure of it!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Another Box in the Mail

While I was waiting for the wonderful box of yarn, and my son was waiting for a video game he'd ordered, and Adult Daughter was waiting for a heating lamp for her new hedgehog, another box was on its way to me from Ila.

There's a bunch of pretty ribbon.... 

The leopard print couldn't be more perfect. Over the years, my husband has bought me lots and lots and lots of animal print stuff, so I know there's something wonderful I can make with this. I just don't know quite what it is yet. 

And there's fabric...

I'm giddy about the black and white prints and the pinks. Hand me a stack of fabric and I'll immediately start figuring out what to do with it -- especially if the fabrics go together like these do! It's part of a UFO. I don't know if I want to figure out what Ila's original intent was, or to start on one of the project that's racing around in my own imagination.

Weekly Stash Report

Fabric used this week: 0 yards
Fabric used year to date: 2 yards
Fabric added this week:  5 yards
Fabric added year  to date: 5
Net used for 2017: 3 yards

Yarn used this Week:  400  yards
Yarn used year to Date: 2500 yards
Yarn added this Week: 8800 yards
Yarn added Year to Date: 8800 yards
Net used for 2017: 6300 yards

This post is linked to Patchwork Times.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

{I've Been Reading} What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

First, my husband and I watched the movie, then we started watching Feud: Bette and Joan and I realized that there was a book... 

Just look at what showed up on the reserve shelf at the library!  

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? movie tie-in edition

When is the lat time you saw a book with a fifty cent cover price? I'm absolutely tickled that this book is still in the library collection after so many years and that the date due stamps in the back show it's been checked out pretty regularly over that time.  The binding is starting to show its age, so I don't think I've ever been quite so careful turning pages. I don't want to be the one responsible for this book's demise.

As for the story itself, I enjoyed it just as much as I enjoyed the movie. Some plots elements that I questioned are easier to understand now that I've had a better glimpse into the minds of Jane and Blanche. The horror builds up more slowly and intensely.

I'd love to get my hands on this author's other books, but the library doesn't have them and I'm guessing my chance of finding them at the local thrift shop is pretty slim.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {3/17/17}

Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules: 
Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned,  as long as it's about baby quilts. You're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Vintage Dish Towels -- I Cheated With a Sharpie

Vintage Embroidery on a Flour Sack Towel with Sharpie

When I was deep in my obsession with dish towels that won't fall off of the stove rail, I saw that Target had flour sack towels for much less than the craft stores were charging. It's not often that I agree you get what you pay for, but these are a very low thread count that doesn't seem well suited for embroidery. (I'm sure they're fine for their intended purpose of drying actual dishes.)

I'd seen on Pinterest where bloggers were using Sharpies to decorate their dish towels, so I decided that I had nothing to lose. If the colors fade in the wash, I'll still be able to use them in the kitchen.

So I printed a couple of simple vintage designs from Flickr and got out my light box and sharpies. The qualities that make this fabric awful for stitching on also make it hard to draw on with markers. Maybe if I stabilized it on freezer paper first...but I wasn't feeling that patient.

I'll let you know how these hold up, and if I decide to try it again with the freezer paper.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

{Yarn Along} Incan Clay Socks

Hand Knit Socks - Elann Esprit Incan Clay
Yarn: Elann Esprit - Incan Clay 

There's not much to say about these socks and this yarn that I didn't say about the Indigo Gold Socks. It's the same project in a different color. It kept my fingers busy, they'll be cozy to wear, and they've got colors that remind me of our favorite vacation destination. They also gave me something easier to work on than those twisted stitches. 

Since Jo blogged about Still Missing, I've read every last one of Chevy Stevens's books. The latest, Never Let You Go, is just as good as the rest.  Lindsey Nash's abusive ex-husband has been released from jail and she knows that, despite the restraining orders, he's been in her house, watching her and going through her things. What I love so much about this author's books is that things are never as straight forward as they seem and I can't stop turning pages until I figure out what's really going on.

Trust Me by Gemma Metcalfe  is a fast paced thriller.  Lana's job is on the line if she doesn't sell a vacation package within the next couple of hours. She's been warned not to accept any excuses, not to believe what the prospects on the other end of the phone line tell her...then her next outgoing call is answered by a man who is about to end his own life. As he tells her what led to his decision, she begins to reveal her own secrets. The story is told in alternating first person chapters, both building up to the moment of the call. The characters  seemed more desperate than sympathetic, and there were a couple of twists that I couldn't suspend my disbelief enough to accept, but their lives were interesting enough to keep me reading.

Pressed to Death, the second book in the Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum series  by Kirsten Weiss, is fun and slightly spooky. Museum owner Maddie Kosloski is stretched thin. The centerpiece of her harvest festival, a haunted wine press, has been reported stolen by its previous owner, even though Maddie  has a signed receipt. The Ladies Aid Society has bullied her into setting up a room at the annual haunted house. Her mother wants her to investigate a murder. Maddie is clever and resourceful and a lot of fun to read about. I also enjoyed the way the book includes both a historic mystery (the deaths connected to the wine press) and the present day one.

Disclosure -- I was provided with  advance review copies by the publishers. All opinions are my own. This post is linked to Patchwork Times, Yarn Along, Crazy Mom Quilts , Wrap up Friday  

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

I Needed Pinking Shears

There was a project I wanted to make that required pinking shears. So I headed to Joann's with a coupon and bought myself a pair. I still haven't made that stuffed hedgehog, but a pair of pinking shears seems like something a well-stocked sewing room should have...

Since then, I've inherited Great-Grandma's pair, which I know for sure because her name is on the box.  She put her name on lots of things...maybe when she was sewing at the senior center... I'm assuming the other pair was Grandma's since they came from her house.

Now that I've got three pairs and a very well stocked sewing room, I'm seeing them at every single thrift shop. Were they that common before -- or was I just not paying attention?

Monday, March 13, 2017

A Full Day of Sewing

Bright and early Saturday morning, I packed up my sewing machine and drove to Salem to sew with a group of quilters who make blankets for youth and families in need. They were such a welcoming and enthusiastic group. It was just what I needed to get my motivation back.  

I didn't get a picture of the quilt top that I put together because I was racing the clock to get the last rows assembled before it was time to pack up my sewing machine.  Instead of choosing and cutting my own fabric, I used a precut kit. Whoever selected and combined those fabrics had a different vision of  a successful scrap quilt than I have. (I'm kind of suspecting that they took squares left over from a couple of different projects and put them in the same bag.)

The gal across from me had chosen her own fabrics and was making an absolutely gorgeous rail fence quilt. I kept thinking of the yardage in the other room and what I could have done with some of that.

The kit is now a top and someone else will layer and tie it. With my current free motion issues I decided against bringing it home to quilt myself.

At the end of the day, they asked who wanted to take some kits home to work on and I heard another gal comment that she'd had problems with them before. So I guess it's not just me. I did take home a pack of 4" squares that I plan on turning into something wonderful.

The first step will be to cut them into 2" squares.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Yarn is Here!

Drops Fabel Sock Yarn

The picture doesn't capture all of the gorgeous possibilities that I see when I look at these skeins. Twenty two pairs of pretty new socks, unless I decide to use some for a shawl or two. AND not counting leftover socks or Frankensocks!  I'm in love with all of it.

Nordic Mart has Drops Fabel and Drops Delight for 25% off all month long. No affiliation, no connection between me and the company, I just love their yarn and the fact that I can knit up so much of it without breaking the bank.

Weekly Stash Report

Fabric used this week: 0 yards
Fabric used year to date: 2 yards
Fabric added this week:  0 yards
Fabric added year  to date: 0
Net used for 2017: 2 yards

Yarn used this Week:  300  yards
Yarn used year to Date: 2100 yards
Yarn added this Week: 8800 yards
Yarn added Year to Date: 0 yards
Net used for 2017: 6700 yards

This post is linked to Patchwork Times.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Planner Update

A couple of months into the new year and I think I've finally come up with a planner system that fits my life. I don't think I can call this thing a bullet journal, since I'm not following the rules for  that. 

My husband works a rotating eight day schedule that defies explanation. Setting up my planner around those eight days makes the schedule so much more clearer than it would be if I tried to follow the actual calendar. 

I keep track of my blog post for the day, and what we had for dinner (after it's actually eaten -- it's not an advance plan, it's a way to figure out if we've already had spaghetti this week and how old those leftovers that just turned up in the fridge are) and whether we've got any classes or appointments that day. In the blank spot below the days, I keep track of stash bought/used and finished projects. 

I could have kept doing this with a composition book I pulled out of our school stuff and a random ball point pen, but I'm having too much fun with my pretty supplies.

The notebook I wound up buying is a Leuchtturm 1917. The link is just to help you find the specifics -- I only paid about twenty dollars for mine at Craft Warehouse, a local chain of craft stores. They had a huge display of them with samples to show different layouts and lettering styles, and how much different markers and pens would show through the back of the page. Now that I've fallen thoroughly in love, I'm wishing I'd bought a red one when they had the 40% off sale. I'm sure I'll want another one for next year.

The binding is sturdy and slim enough to slip into my purse or tote bag. Unlike those spiral bound planners I've been using for the past few years, I don't have pages tearing loose and falling out. The dots are just visible enough to keep my lines of righting sort of straight. (Neatness is not one of my obsessions, in case you hadn't noticed that already.)

My Paper Mate Flair felt tip pens make me smile. I don't know why I'm loving the felt tip pen idea so much, but it's a thing and I bought a big pack of them when they were on sale at Target...and my sons don't like them, which is another big plus.

It would be soooo easy to go overboard on pretty supplies. Michaels has aisles of stickers and washi tape and different planners. This box has forty different rolls for $10.00. They're only five yards each, instead of the usual ten, but they also only cost quarter each. There's a new collection out, but I haven't been able to find that one in our local stores.

Washi Tape from Target, Joann's, Dollar Tree

The tapes on the lefter are from the Target Dollar Spot, the ones in the middle are from the new ms. sparkle & co. bins at Joann's ($1.99 for a package of two rolls...and 40% off when I bought mine), and the ones on the right are from the Dollar Tree.

Have you been bitten by the planner bug? What are your favorite pretty toys?

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {3/10/17}

Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules: 
Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned,  as long as it's about baby quilts. You're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Thrift Store Shopping With Hubby

Over the past few weeks, my husband has been going to thrift shops with me. We visited the first one to look for luggage for an upcoming trip because I'm convinced that we can find something like new, or close enough to "like new," for way cheaper than the ones we saw at Costco. Since then, there's been another and another.

I've never been able to figure out what my husband, who loves barn sales and antique shops and estate sales and some junk shops that I find just plain scary, has against plain old thrift shops. (It's not that the stuff is used.) Years ago, I took him to Red White and Blue -- which is probably the least icky thrift shop I know. He couldn't stand the place. 

Value Village and Goodwill have been new experiences for him, with the whole colored tag (or tags) of the day thing. The kids and I have always taken it for granted. You figure out what color tag is the right one and whether it's 50% off or everything for $2.  I know there's got to be a system to the color changes, but I'm not in town enough to worry about it.

I'm just happy that he's willing to go with me. There's a St. Vincent's next to the Costco in Eugene that I've never had time to check out because I'm usually not down there without him.  

We stopped and it wasn't the best or worst thrift shop I've been in. Hubby had just commented that everything was kind of old and beat up... 

And then he saw this and was happy as a clam:  

Honestly, I wasn't sure what the difference was between this one and the one we found in the garage. Except this one seems to be much newer and has a box and more parts.

I know some of you have and use these. Is this rectangular bit part of the chopper, or some random bit that found its way into the box? I'm not seeing it in any of my online searches.

Now we're searching for a No. 1 food chopper. Because he wants one. And if that search gets me into more thrift shops, I'm not complaining!

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Plenty of Time...

I keep hearing that we've got plenty of time to knit this pair of socks before the deadline, but each round takes absolutely forever. I've got it down from twenty minutes a round to a little over ten minutes. That's an improvement, but I'm not sure it's enough of one.

On the bright side, I'm loving this yarn -- Knitpicks Hawthorne, Sauvie Island. It looks questionable in the skein but in this stitch pattern it's gorgeous and completely lives up to the manufacturer's description of "woodsmoke drifting over a pumpkin patch."

And speaking of green trees and pumpkin patches, if I was trying to match up yarn and a book I couldn't do any better than combing this one with Bitter Harvest by Wendy Tyson.

I picked this book to read because of its gorgeous cover. The first few paragraphs immediately pulled me into the world of Megan Sawyer and her farm, Washington Acres, and I didn't read the rest almost straight through. The characters are fully developed and their conflicts are believable. I haven't read the first book in the series (yet), but I didn't feel at all lost.  There's one reference to Megan's land that's obviously from the first book, but not knowing what was going on there didn't detract at all from my enjoyment of this one. I highly recommend Bitter Harvest.

The Trophy Child by Paula Daly promises a glimpse behind the scenes in a family dominated by an obsessive tiger mother type. But Karen Bloom is really only focused on the success of one of her children. Even before tragedy strikes, things in the Bloom household aren't as perfect as they appear on the surface. The plot twists and turns in some mildly entertaining but improbable ways, concluding with a revelation that still has me puzzled. I enjoyed the author's previous book, Just What Kind of Mother Are You? more.

Based on the book's description, I was hoping that Kneaded to Death by Winnie Archer would help me learn more about the Mexican pastries our family has been enjoying so much lately. (I probably need to find myself a cookbook.)  It's the background that motivates me to pick up a new cozy series. There is a lot of focus on the cooking classes, but it wasn't quite what I was expecting. The mystery is complicated, but it all manages to tie together. I'm hoping that a couple of characters who really intrigued me will make an appearance in future books.

Disclosure -- I was provided with an advance review copies by the publishers. All opinions are my own. This post is linked to Patchwork Times, Yarn Along, Crazy Mom Quilts , Wrap up Friday  

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Quick and Easy Library Bag from Vintage Pillowcases

I need more bags. Lots more bags. As many as I've got around this house, there are never enough empty ones handy to haul everything we need to take with us. Add the single use grocery bag bans in a couple of the larger towns near us and now I apparently need to carry empty bags in both vehicles. 

Quick and Easy Library Bag from Vintage Pillowcases

So the idea was to use existing pillowcases to make nice, sturdy bags with as little waste and extra sewing as possible. I used a lot of the same techniques as I'd use to make a bag from scratch and cut corners by using the existing seams and measurements.  Now I'm on the prowl for some pillowcases in brighter prints because I want more of these. A lot more.

Start with two pillowcases, both the same size. You're going to lose whatever pretty details are along the cuff, so save the ones with fancy embroidery or lace trim for a different project. For this bag, we want fabric with a lot of life left in it. Vintage bedding can be worn thin, so take a careful look before buying it.  

Cut each pillowcase into three pieces. Starting with the sewn together end of the pillowcase (Is there correct pillowcase terminology?) on the let and measure 17 or 18." That will be the bag itself. Now go to the other end and cut an inch and a half farther into the pillowcase than the stitching lines that form the hemmed  edge. That will become a strap.  Cut both pillowcases the same way. (That middle piece can go in your scrap bags.)

Different pillowcases have different structures. If there's a seam down one side, cut that open so that you won't have one in the middle of your strap. If there are seams down both sides, cut one open and don't worry about the other. That 1 1/2" from the seam you measured -- fold the raw edge in over the strip and then fold everything else in half lengthwise so that the raw edge is encased by the rest. You're making a strap that has at least four layers of fabric. Press the whole thing, pin if you like pins, and then sew a layer of top stitching 1/4" from each long edge. Make on strap from each pillowcase.

Now take the two bag portions and box the corners of each. Your pillowcase may or may not have seams down both sides. If there aren't seams to use as a guideline, use the existing fold.  Turn the bottom portion of your pillowcase inside out and line up the bottom seam with the side seam to form a triangle. Measure up three inches from the point and mark a line from one edge to the other. Stitch along the line.

Boxing the corners will give the bag more structure and help it stand up once it's full of library books, but you can skip this step if you'd like. I trimmed away the extra triangles, but that's another step you can get away with skipping.

Nest one bag section inside of the other, with their right sides together. You'll have visible seams on the outside of the outer section and the inside of the inner section. Match up the side seams (or folds) and pin around the raw edge. Sew around the whole bag, leaving an open space wide enough to turn it right side out. Four inches or so should be plenty

Turn the bag right side out and top stitch around the top edge, using the top stitching to close up the space you left for turning. (If I was making a bag from scratch, I'd hide that opening in a side seam of the lining, but the goal here was to use as many existing seams as possible.

Turn under the raw edges at the short end of each strap and securely sew them to the outside of the bag. (You could hide the ends in that top seam and make the bag truly reversible, but I've lost a lot of bags to torn straps over the years and want the extra layers of stitching as well as an easy way to resew them if they do come loose. After four years of carrying around my Nancy Drew Tote, which has straps attached the same way, they're showing no signs of failing.)


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