Thursday, December 27, 2007

It's over-finally!!

Christmas, that is. The big holiday is over and the living room is full of toys and empty boxes. Today I'm throwing out all the empty boxes and throwing the toys in the kids' rooms so we can walk around again. Here is what everyone got:
Steve got a tool set, back massager thing that sits in a chair, calendar, jeans and socks (he's not easy to buy for). I got a cd, brain age (I have no nintendo ds but hey, that's a minor detail. I just use the kids' ds units), cricut cartridge (cuttin' up), 3 books, 2 applique books and we got a gift card and some money from his brother to share (but I probably won't share). Jenny got an American Girl doll, hawaiian doll outfit, cooking mama 2 ds game, build a bear ds game, 3 books, jibbitz, sweatshirt, discovery channel living with tigers dvd, American Girl get better set (has all the supplies for the injured American girl doll), 3 die cast Disney cars, American Girl hair care set, and bunch of gift cards and cash. Sammy got an American Girl doll, Littlest Pet Shop Biggest Littlest Pet Shop, 3 littlest pet shop toys in her stocking, 3 books, puppy bowl dvd, mario party ds game, jibbitz, sweatshirt, American Girl doll ballet outfit, LPS (littlest pet shop) Whirl Around Playground and Leapin' Lagoon, and bunch of gift cards and cash. Jake got a Science Lab kit complete with personalized lab coat, remote control helicopter (this is really fun), tshirt, 3 books, mario party ds game, mario kart ds game, Discovery Channel Chased By Sea Monsters dvd, jibbitz, 3 die cast Disney cars, Monopoly and Sorry Express, Nintendo Monopoly, and bunch of gift cards and cash. The family got the first season of Meerkat Manor and a set of Discovery Channel "best of" dvds. Santa is sending a Wii for the whole family but it is going to be about a week late. That means we get to listen to a whole week of "IS IT HERE YET???" Daisy (the puppy) got a bratty cat seen here:

and the cat got a pouch of tuna fish (much better than a toy, for him).
I think everyone made out pretty good this year. Santa even left this picture of Rudolph for the kids:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The cricut (cricket)

I bought a new cricut at walmart on black friday. I always thought I would never get one since I have the craft robo. I never use the craft robo though. My computer isn't in my scrap room and when I'm in there scrapping, someone else is on the computer. I never wanted to kick someone off only to take an hour or more trying to find the file I wanted to cut, figure out size, placement, etc, dig out the machine, cut (usually took a couple of tries because the settings needed adjusting), etc. So when I read that the cricut was going to be cheap (compared to full price) at walmart I jumped on it. It came with two cartridges and I thought-oh that's plenty for now. WRONG. I ended up ordering (at very good prices) several cartridges. The cricut is SO easy to use and fast too! I don't mind having only the cartridge shapes/letters to choose from because, frankly, I'm better with less to choose from. It would take me forever to pick something to cut with the craft robo-in fact I would just give up sometimes and not bother to use it at all. So anyway we've been cricutting a lot of stuff but nothing had been scanned. Sammy made this card today for her dance teacher using the paper dolls cartridge. It has glitter on it but the scanner makes the glitter look funny. It is cute in real life and Sammy is so excited to give it to her teacher.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Switched emails

I switched my yahoo groups that were on my other gmail account to my stampsandstitches account. This way I'll be logged in all the time (except the occasional logout by google) and it will be easier to log in to blog. I do have to keep logging in to blog but it's not as slow when I'm logged into gmail. Hopefully this will keep me blogging more often.

Also here's a recipe that is Sammy's favorite. She would eat this every day if I let her.

Easy Chicken A'La King

this is the lower fat version. I will post the original version but not today.

2 tbs butter (I use smart balance buttery spread)
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 large can chicken (about 12 oz) or the same amt of leftover cut up chicken
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1 small can mushrooms cut up (optional)
1 small jar pimientos (optional)
rice or toast or biscuits or whatever you want underneath the sauce

Melt butter and cook onion in it until it's done. Put milk in a shaker cup and add flour. Shake for about 30 seconds. I have to time myself because I was actually shaking it for about 5 seconds and wondering why it wasn't all mixed. You have to shake it for a long time (to me, 30 seconds is a 'long time'). Add some of the chicken broth if necessary, to make it easier to shake up. Add flour mixture and chicken broth to the onion/butter in the pan, stirring with a whisk to avoid lumps. Keep stirring and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for a minute or two, stirring constantly. Add cooked chicken, peas and mushrooms and stir. Heat through. Stir in pimientos (or don't-I don't use them). Serve over rice or toast or biscuits or whatever. We use rice and call it "chicken-rice-peas" or just CRP when we're too lazy to say the whole name.

Daisy update

I'm blogging twice in the same day! I get extra credit for that! Anyway update on Daisy. Last week we weighed her and she was 27 lbs. Wow they really grow like weeds! When we got her, on August 27th, she weighed a mere 10 lbs. She has lost her 'puppy look'. She has one week left of obedience class and I suspect she'll be getting a big fat F when she graduates. Well to be fair she is the only puppy in the class and all those other dogs just get her all riled up. She pulls horribly during the heeling part. She is terrible about sitting when we stop. However she is very good at the sit/stay and down/stay as long as it isn't for too much time. At home she does much better. She is made to sit for everything-feeding, letting out, throwing a toy, everything. Petting is something she doesn't get much of because she bites too much. She is teething, complete with bleeding gums, so I guess that's why. It's very annoying. We just try to keep her busy chasing toys and chewing on them instead of us. She will be 5 months old next sunday so I know we have a long time before she's out of that chewing-on-people stage. She got a brand spankin' new doghouse yesterday-it looks like an igloo and is supposed to be very warm. She seems to like it a lot. Here are a couple of pictures. The first is just the face shot. The second she's carrying one of her beloved squeaky stuffies. She LOVES to squeak her toys.






She is getting a couple teaspoons of pumpkin in her food every day and doesn't go through a whole can in a week-so I have been on the hunt for low-fat pumpkin bread and muffin recipes and will try to post them as I try them out. I will have at least a cup or so each week to use up. Thank goodness pumpkin is healthy. Who would have ever guessed it's good for dogs and that they like it so much.

Halloween catch-up

I know, it's 2 weeks past halloween (almost). I need to blog more but I'm going to make a big excuse here-I hate logging onto blogger. It takes forever. Apparently google hates me now because it takes about 10 tries to log into gmail or blogger and when I finally do, they insult me with the "this is taking way too long-perhaps you'd like to use our option for ultra slow connections-the dreaded html mode". I don't like html mode-I'm not used to it. Anyway that's my excuse. And I have no idea why I made two different google accounts (one for gmail and one for blogger) because if I used the same account, I could just stay logged in.

Halloween was pretty much the same as every other halloween. We went to some friends' houses and grandmas where the kids got candy, soda and money. I am adding a picture of all three kids in their costumes. Jenny insisted on being a tiger. Guess what-there is no such thing as a big-kid tiger costume. Anywhere. I could not talk her into being something else so I had to MAKE her costume. I bought the amount of fabric on the pattern because I didn't want to run short. I only used half of it. I guess we'll have a few tiger striped pillows around the house now. And she has some spiffy new tiger striped pajamas. The paint is regular halloween face paint and I found a site online that showed how to apply it. It looked better in real life-the camera flash made the white part look whiter than it really is. Sammy was easy-she was a ballerina/bunny. She already has all the ballet paraphernalia so I just had to shell out $4 for bunny ears, tail and bowtie. She didn't want her face painted, which is a shame because it would have been much easier than the tiger face. Jake loves ready-made costumes, thank goodness. He was the blue power ranger and he also had a gen-yoo-wine power rangers gun/sword weapon. Cool! I added a picture of Jake by himself since he didn't have his mask on when I took the group picture (how did I not notice that??)





Saturday, October 13, 2007

Still alive...

I made a roast in the crock pot today. I made mashed potatoes to go with it and I wanted to make gravy but I hate trying to dip the juice out of the crock pot (without getting all the fat) so I made this other gravy. It's very easy to make although not as easy as gravy from a jar. Not that there's anything wrong with jarred/canned gravy.

3 tbs oil (use olive oil and you can tell yourself the gravy is healthy)
5 tbs flour
2 cups beef broth
1/8 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Put oil in a medium pan. Add flour slowly and whisk to mix until dissolved. Heat on med-high for a minute or so, stirring constantly. Add broth, stirring well so it's not lumpy. Add paprika, salt and pepper and stir. Heat to boiling, reduce to a simmer, and let it simmer for 5-10 min or so, stirring often. Easy.

We are taking Daisy to obedience classes every sunday. I will try to get pics tomorrow but it is really dusty there and I hate to take my camera. I need to take some though-she is really growing (18.5 lbs last week) and doesn't really even look like a puppy anymore.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

More puppy pictures

First of all I didn't realize that I didn't even mention our new puppy's name in my other blog post. Oops! thanks to my friend Krista for pointing that out to me. Anyway her name is Daisy. Not terribly original but it's a cute name and we all agreed on it (unlike the other 30 something names the kids picked out). We took her to Jake's football practice on Thursday and I took a few pictures. I am finding that the only way to get a decent picture is to use the continuous mode on my camera (which still isn't foolproof).

These first two were taken when we first got there. She seemed very fascinated by the clicking of the shutter.



Here she is with a big stick she found. Like most puppies she picks up and chews everything she sees.


And here she is looking very entranced by the kids practicing football.


We are also in the process of switching her off of Purina Puppy Chow and onto something better. I always thought Purina was pretty good food. After doing a ton of research (I was actually trying to find out exactly how much to feed her since the bag says 1-2/3 cups to 5 cups for her size/age. That is a pretty big range) I found that brands like Purina, Hills (Science Diet), Iams, even Eukanuba have a lot of fillers in them. Puppy Chow's first ingredient is corn and it should be some kind of meat. We first started to switch to Nutro Natural Choice but then I found out they use peanut flour in some of their biscuits. We don't need Jenny having a contact reaction from handling the food (possibly cross contaminated at the factory) or the puppy so we are switching again to Canidae. The bad thing about all this is that none of the decent foods are available nearby. Thank goodness for the internet! Oh and the better foods seem to cost more but they actually aren't that much, if any, more expensive. You feed less because less of it goes straight through the dog (I have proof if anyone wants to see it. ugh). So in the long run it is not that expensive. Now we just have to teach her some manners-mainly not nipping everyone and everything in sight and not jumping up on people.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A New Family Member

We decided that when we got back from our vacation we would start looking for a new dog. We didn't want to right away, because of the cat. He was boarded at the vet during our vacation and we didn't think he'd want to come home and immediately have to deal with a puppy (we decided to get a puppy since the kids had never had a puppy before). So yesterday I checked all of the classifieds of all of the closest papers. I called on all of the free and inexpensive puppies and they were all gone. It seems that free/cheap puppies go fast around here! There was one place that was over an hour away. I called and it was a recording for a vet's office. I got up early this morning and gave them a call and they had a few left. I got the kids up and ready and we were on our way. It took an hour and a half to get there. They still had the pups so we picked out a cute little girl. She is half Australian Shepherd and half Lab. I'm assuming black Lab since she is almost all black. She's 10 weeks old and seems very smart already. We put her in a crate for the long ride home and she was so good. Just a little bit of whimpering and she didn't throw up in the car (didn't poop either). On the way home we stopped at Petsmart for some supplies and she was so good in there. We had bought a collar from the vet so we just grabbed a leash and put it on her (pets are supposed to be leashed in there, but we've seen plenty without) and she was pretty good with it. Considering she'd probably never had a leash or collar on before. We picked out a few dog toys (one of which she carried proudly through the store), some puppy chow and some puppy biscuits. She was great for the rest of the ride home. She seems to have a little habit of nipping but after just a few corrections she was barely nipping at all. I'm sure she'll forget by tomorrow but we'll just keep reminding her. Her teeth are really sharp and they hurt! I guess that's the herding dog in her-she has the urge to nip our ankles and herd us into a group. Here are a couple of pictures, but it is really hard to get good pictures of a busy puppy. We'll probably be taking her to the park tomorrow so I'll try to get some better pics. We're supposed to take her back in 2 weeks to be spayed. That seems young but I looked around online and apparently it is ok, and even better, to have them done younger these days.




Isn't that collar cute? Collar design has come a long way. Unfortunately the only small leashes they had were black and red. I picked red and it really clashes with her collar.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Post Traumatic Vacation Stress Disorder

We got back from our long vacation about a week ago. I've had a headache most of that week-mostly mild but a couple of days it was bad. I'm sure I'm suffering from PTVSD (see my post title-I can't type it all out again). Our vacation was great overall. But the first day out (for the record we drove across the country, up the country, and then back across the country, for a total of about 6000 miles once we did all of our activities) our transmission light came on. Crap. We stopped for the night and learned the next day that we needed it rebuilt. Another day and a half and almost 3K later we were back on our way. The rest of the trip was blissfully uneventful but we did have this expense hanging over our heads the whole time. The rest was actually pretty fun. We went to Disneyland for a day, relaxed on the beach for a day, and spent another day at the San Diego Zoo. We visited with family and threw my parents a surprise anniversary party. Then we drove to Vegas and saw lots of sharks (the kind that swim in the ocean) and went to my sister's wedding. We drove north to Oregon and visited Crater Lake and a fish hatchery (and some more family) and then headed back home. The worst part was riding in the car for so many hours. I was sore from sitting for so long and it was boring at times. I can't do anything in the car or else I'll get sick so I'm stuck just staring out the windows. The kids fought like cats and dogs even though they had books, video games, dvds and more to keep them busy. We ate so much fast food I was sure I gained twenty pounds (but I actually lost a pound-go figure). But we all had a great time. Now we're back to reality. I'll post pictures from our vacation later this week.

This is one of my go-to recipes when I'm feeling like crap. I made this last week.

Super Easy Ground Beef Stroganoff

1 lb ground beef
2 tbs flour
1 envelope onion soup mix (or use my homemade version posted here)
1 cup water
1 cup sour cream
Egg noodles, cooked (we use the ronzoni whole wheat kind)

While noodles are cooking brown ground beef and drain well. Sprinkle flour on top and then stir until the flour disappears. Add onion soup mix and water and stir well. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 min. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream. Serve over egg noodles.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Easy baked pasta

I got this recipe many moons ago from a magazine. I've changed it a little to make it easier to make. Originally it was called Cavatelli but I think that is a certain type of pasta and I don't use that type so I will just call it baked pasta.

Easy Baked Pasta

2 cups (dry) rotini or other interesting shape pasta
1 lb ground beef or pork sausage
1 chopped onion
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can (about 14 oz I think) diced tomato
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley
1 cup shredded mozarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350°. Boil pasta as directed on package. While pasta is boiling, brown meat (and drain it), then add onion and garlic and cook until they're done (or do what I do and use 2 tbs dried minced onion and 1/2 to 1 tsp garlic powder). Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and spices. When the pasta is done, drain it and add it to the meat mixture. Mix well. Add 1/2 of the cheese and mix. Put in a 2 qt baking dish (I line mine with foil because I hate soaking it for days to get all that stuck on food to come off). Cover with foil and bake at 350° for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, remove foil, and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Return to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes.

Monday, July 2, 2007

The search for sunblock

Well the summer weather has been here a while but it's just now getting really hot. I'm on my annual quest for the best sunblock again. We have to find something that won't bother sensitive skin, has no nut oils in it, won't stain our clothes, yet will protect the kids' skin. If they, God forbid, get skin cancer someday, I will at least know I did my best to protect them.

So we tried Coppertone Sport Spray spf 50, now with Avobenzone (parsol 1789 or something like that) and oxybenzone, which is supposed to be broad spectrum. It stained horribly, and I found out all sunscreens with avobenzone will stain if you have iron in your water. We have well water and even though we do have a water softener, it is not a miracle worker and iron is still in our water. So we are going to avoid anything with avobenzone in it. So that means we had to find one with a physical block like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (both of which hopefully don't stain). Apparently avobenzone/oxybenzone, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the only things that protect against pesky UVA rays.

I read about Rocky Mountain sunscreen on the peanutallergy.com board. I ordered samples for patch tests and everyone tolerated it well. I went ahead and bought a bunch of the spf-50 which has titanium dioxide. It's hard to apply-not nearly as easy a spray-but it will have to do (the kids can do most of their bodies by themselves). I refuse to ruin any more clothes with sunscreen stains (like I did 3 yrs or so back with Loreal Ombrelle) and I want my kids skin to be well protected. Especially since Sammy has freckles and fair skin and burns easily, and Jake has a few moles. Jenny has a couple too. The other advantage to this sunscreen (which I think is technically a sunblock) is that you don't have to wait 30 minutes before going out or in the water, plus it is very waterproof and doesn't need to be reapplied as often. They cited tests on their website where they applied once, did not reapply, and sent people out in the sun all day. No one burned. It was originally formulated for skiers who are in intense sun in the mountains.

The Rocky Mountain sunscreen has to be ordered online so I might try Blue Lizard too, if I can find it locally.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sad week

We lost our dog this past week. :( She would have been 14 in August. She still tried to act like a puppy but was slowing down so much. Sometimes her legs would just give out, poor girl. We'd had her since she was a puppy and the kids have had her for their entire lives-she was definitely a member of the family. She was so good with the kids, always gentle. We miss her so much. Steve buried her in the yard and we are going to make a little cross and plant lots of flowers on her grave. There have been a LOT of tears this week and I'm sure there will be more.




Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Nothing at all

That's what I've been doing. Nothing. Well maybe something but nothing creative. I've been doing a lot of thinking about creating something. But no action.

I am going to share a couple more recipes since I've not been sharing much of anything else.

This recipe is directly from the Kraft website (is that legal? I hope so). I changed it just a little. I used the deluxe mac & cheese (with the squeezy cheese) instead of the regular. Partly because all of our regular mac & cheese are cartoon characters and just didn't seem dinner-like. The mac & cheese was the 2% variety. I also didn't put the cheese and sour cream on at the end and I left out the kidney beans because I didn't have any. My kids liked it a lot-even my picky one. And it is incredibly easy to make.

Chuckwagon Chili Mac

1 pkg. (7-1/4 oz.) KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese Dinner
1 lb. extra lean ground beef
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 can (16 oz.) kidney beans, drained
1/3 cup BREAKSTONE'S Reduced Fat or KNUDSEN Light Sour Cream
1/3 cup KRAFT 2% Milk Reduced Fat Sharp Cheddar Cheese

PREPARE Dinner as directed on package, using Light Preparation directions.
MEANWHILE, brown meat with chili powder and cumin in large nonstick skillet on medium heat. tomatoes with their liquid and the beans; simmer 3 min., stirring occasionally.
STIR in prepared dinner; cook 3 to 5 min. or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Top with sour cream and cheese.

The next one is a low fat bread pudding. I think you're supposed to eat sauce or something over bread pudding but this one doesn't include any sauce. I have so much bread in my freezer because no one seems to want to eat the ends (bread machine bread). I had to do something with them so I found this online and changed it a bit. It didn't use up much of my bread stash but it was good.

Low Fat Bread Pudding

4 cups bread cubes (I probably used more. I filled up my 2 qt round casserole somewhat level with large (1" or so) cubes, not pressed down).
1.5 cups applesauce
2 eggs or use 1/2 cup egg beaters
2 cups 1% milk (I didn't have 1% so I used half skim and half 2%. That averages to 1%)
1/3 cup sugar (it could have used more sugar, in my opinion)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg (I buy whole ones from penzeys and grate only the amt I need)

Heat oven to 350°. Mix bread cubes with applesauce. Put in greased casserole dish. In a bowl, mix remaining ingredients with a whisk. Pour over bread cubes. Let sit 10 minutes. Bake at 350° for 40-50 minutes. If you don't want the top crispy you can put foil on it and then take it off the last 10-15 min. It still stuck to the dish so next time I might line it with foil first.

Monday, June 11, 2007

more ribbon-ack!

I was looking for something today and found 26 more rolls and 4 more loose lengths of ribbon. I hope I don't find anymore or I won't be able to fit it all in the basket!

On another note I have been cleaning out my craft room and hopefully can get some pictures taken soon. I still need to paint my desks (stamping and sewing) but that might take a while. I have decided that I have to make at least 2 cards from every new set I've bought this year so far so I'll be busy with that. I'm also going to go through my older sets and get rid of a lot of them. I have a hard time parting with older sets but they have to go!

Stampin Up demos got to see the new demo magazine today. There are going to be some amazing things in the new catalog! Some sneak peeks are...(don't read further if you don't want to know)...




scalloped punches
other new punches
chipboard clipboards
paper flowers (in a kit)
and of course, new ribbon (which I am NOT buying! I'm NOT!!)
and more!!

Ribbon storage

I've been working on a top secret project, so that's why I haven't been doing much else. I'll post about that eventually but not for a while. I did almost finish one curtain top so I'll post that when it's done. The last couple of days I've been working on getting all of my ribbon stored in one place. Before, I had it stored in no less than 4 different places. I didn't even remember all the ribbon I had because I couldn't look at all of it at once. I tried several different methods but none worked. Either it didn't all fit, or it wasn't practical (aka easy to get at). I saw this idea on the 2peas message board so I thought I'd give it a try. ALL of my ribbon (except for my doodlebug ric rac and all of the pieces of ribbon shorter than 15" or so) is on these cards. The cards are made from foam core board and the ribbon is wrapped around and then pinned to the card. I bought a pack of 300 pins to do this project and it wasn't enough. I have too much ribbon. My only beef with this method is that my ribbon might get more creases in it due to being around the foam core. If that happens I can use my chi (straight iron) to smooth it or if it's sensitive to heat I can use a warm-ish iron or my little mini iron (that I had to have but never even use). Here's a pic of it. I sorted it all according to the rainbow with the brown/black/gray/metallic/white/cream in the back along with the multicolor stuff. I put it in a cute basket I bought at Alco.

So...anyone have any ideas for using up lots of ribbon?

Saturday, June 2, 2007

New blog to share

Since I have nothing else to share I'll share this site I found. I have been working on my stuff, but only sporadically. We had a pretty busy week. We did go shopping yesterday which was nice-the kids all behaved pretty well, considering. We went to find dance shoes for Sammy. We didn't find any-the store didn't have the right color ballet shoes and they didn't have the right size tap shoes. Suprisingly Sammy didn't cry-she was really looking forward to getting those shoes. Maybe it was because she got a brand new Arielle swimsuit from the disney store, complete with matching towel. She's been wearing that suit since we got home yesterday and no, we don't have a pool set up. She has barely even been outside. She just simply loves the suit. I also got a new swivel sweeper, which works great.

Anyway I wanted to share this blog. I found it a long time ago through an email or something, and downloaded one of the free patterns. I never really explored it much and never went back to it until tonight, when I was looking for the address for someone else. After looking through the tutorials and a few of the posts I bookmarked it. The lady who owns this blog designs fabric for Free Spirit Fabrics. She has some really cute pincushion patterns in the current issue of Quilts and More that I'm going to try to make. Here is the site: Heather Bailey Designs. Once I'm allowed to buy fabric again, I think I'm going to get some of her Fresh Cut line.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Trip to the zoo

We went to the zoo today-in the past year or so, they've been renovating their waters building (which housed all the watery animals like fish, penguins, etc) and renamed it the Oceans. Today they were having a special preview for zoo members only so we went. We figured it would be a lot more crowded when it was open to the public. They really did improve it as well as adding some neat stuff. They have these cute (??) little hammerhead sharks. I'm not sure if they're babies or just small but they were probably no more than 2 feet long. More like 18 inches. Plus they have a petting pool with dogfish sharks. They added jellyfish, plus some touchable creatures like urchins and starfish (and snails, hermit crabs...that might have been all). They kept some of the old stuff but put it in better tanks. They added a bunch of eels-they had one and now they have too many to count. They're ugly (no pics-I took some but didn't post them). They made the floor between the penguin enclosures clear so that you can see the penguins swimming from one side to the other. Here are some pictures. If you can't tell, my favorite part of the zoo is the marine part and when it wasn't open (when they were renovating) I didn't even want to go to the zoo. I do have some pictures of land dwelling animals too.

Camera info: Most of the Oceans pictures were taken with my 50mm F1.8 lens with an ISO of 1600 and aperture of 1.8. I thought they came out pretty nice for such a high ISO and short focus depth. The first picture (the hammerhead) was taken with my 28-105 and flash. That was before I switched lenses. The outdoor pics were taken with my 28-105 lens on ISO 200 on the TV setting at 1/200 second. I used Auto White Balance for all of them. I always forget to change that for the different conditions so I find that leaving it on Auto works best for me.

This is a picture of the hammerhead sharks. There were a lot of them in the tank and the swam pretty quickly so I was lucky to get a decent shot.


This one is a pretty pink anemone. They are so neat to watch.


This is a jellyfish. According to my kids, they have no brain (the jellyfish, that is).


This is a starfish that they were letting kids touch (gently). That is Jake's hand touching it. They also touched a sea urchin but I didn't get a picture of that.


This is the dogfish shark-one of the ones the kids were able to pet. It took a while to get them to come close enough, and it was really crowded. I didn't get any pictures of the kids actually petting one because I had to be watching so that I could yell "here it comes-pet it!". Notice how big the eye is. They looked like human eyes.


This is a baby giraffe that was born about a month ago. It was hard to get a picture of it because it stayed over by that fence. I think they just recently put the mom and baby in with the bigger giraffes and it was probably wanting back into the nice little safe pen. You can sort of see the size of the baby by looking at the part of the mom giraffe in the corner of the picture. At least I think that was the mom-it was staying with the baby the entire time.


This is a meerkat. They look like big rodents so we (Steve and I-the kids don't know this) call them meer-rats.


There was another amazing thing about this trip to the zoo. Jake didn't have a meltdown. It was so amazing that I wasn't quite sure if someone had swapped my kid. And we didn't even go into the gift shop which makes it doubly amazing. Jenny did look mad all the way home, so I have a feeling that was all about not going into the gift shop (which she was warned about before we went).

Thursday, May 24, 2007

doing absolutely nothing...

...in the crafts department. I'm working on my curtains, but there's really nothing to show or report. Only that I'm bored to death with them. I wonder if the assembly line method is really a good idea. I seem to get really bored sewing the same seam dozens of times and pressing the same shape pieces over and over. I'm pluggin' away at them though, because this summer I really need to have some curtains up in my craft room.

Even though I'm doing nothing, I did buy some stamps. Yes, even though I do nothing, I still buy. I bought some of the clear doodlebug stamps at my friend's webstore, A Walk Down Memory Lane. I ordered them on the 21st and they arrived today, the 23rd (yes I know it's actually the 24th-it's late). That is probably the fastest service ever (and I'm pretty sure it's not just because we're friends). Anyway I recommend checking out her store-she has a ton of neat new stuff. She also sells the Bind-it-All that I posted about before.

Even though I'm not making any craft stuff, I'm still cooking just about every day. So here is my easy peasy spaghetti recipe, which is what we had tonight:

Easy Spaghetti (yes, I realize a jar is easier. But this is better °Ü°)

note: all herbs/spices are dried. If you use fresh, I think it's 3 times the amount. I don't use fresh-I'm not that good of a cook.

1 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp rosemary
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
2 tsp basil
2 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder (I reconstitute it with water before adding it to the sauce. If you want, use real garlic.)
1/2 to 1 tsp salt
1 tbs sugar
2 cans (I think 14 oz or so) diced tomatoes
1 can (same size) tomato sauce
1 small can tomato paste (those really skinny cans)
3 bay leaves

Brown beef w/ onion. Drain well. Add everything else except the bay leaves. Stir well. Add bay leaves and stir gently. If you break a bay leaf, it might be a pain to find all the pieces, so I add them last and stir gently. I haven't broken any yet so I can't say for sure if it's a pain. But it's a pain just to find the whole ones so I'm assuming it's a bigger pain to find pieces of them. Anyway, once it's all combined, bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let it simmer until the noodles are done cooking. I cover it because otherwise, it pops little spots of sauce all over the place.

Serve the sauce over spaghetti noodles. We use Hodgson Mills whole wheat spaghetti. I love whole wheat pasta-it's yummy. If you want to, sprinkle on some parmesan cheese. We just started using the Kraft kind that you grate yourself. It's in a neat grater type container. I think it's probably not as good as the real parmesan cheese in the blocks but we haven't found one locally that is considered safe for Jenny's nut allergies (who would think parmesan cheese could have nut traces in it. Anyway that's what the companies have told me-that we should avoid it).

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Cutting....

I finally got all of the pieces cut out for my curtains. Yowza that was a lot of pieces! I think it was the most boring part too-I had to cut a total of over 400 pieces out. Then I had to cut a bunch of those in half diagonally. I used my paper cutter (Carl cutter) which made it SO easy. Most of the pieces were from the white and frankly, I was pretty sick of the white by the time I was about halfway through. I don't know how people can make a quilt in a weekend-I guess they have more ambition than I do. I think if I could actually work on it every day, and for more than a couple of hours at a time, I could do it faster. Here are all the pieces, not counting the flying geese units I posted a picture of a few days ago.


So now the sewing begins. I have all of the flying geese units already sewed. Just need to do the inside pinwheels, then put the whole thing together. Then stitch the sashings and cornerstones to the blocks and get a sheet for the backing and put that on.

So then while I was in the shower today I decided it would be neat to make a shower curtain out of blocks. For those I'll use plain blocks-I saw the idea in the newest issue of Quilts & More. I love my cute froggy shower curtain from Target but it has already busted through two of the holes and rather than fix those, I'll just make one. I guess I'll have to back it with a sheet like the curtains and then get a shower curtain liner to put on the inside so that the liner goes in the tub and the actual curtain stays on the outside.

I sort of broke my vow not to buy more fabric until I got these two projects finished. My ironing board cover is ripped so I need to replace it. But my ironing board is not a normal one-it's an antique one I bought at a yard sale. Not a standard size. Currently it has a cut up mattress pad for padding and some UGLY orange fabric that I had so much of I didn't know what else to do with it (someone gave it to me). I decided to go all out and got some insul-brite (some padding stuff for ironing boards, hot pads, etc) and some cute bright fabric for the cover. Another problem with my ironing board is that I used it to iron my kids' perler bead creations. The way I do that is to put the paper on top, iron, immediately flip it over with the paper still on it (now on the bottom), put another paper on top, and iron again. I guess that's a bad idea-the paper got used so much (my kids really really love making perler bead creations) that it got sort of burned. Well not really burned but nicely browned. And apparently when I flipped it over it transferred that nicely browned stuff to my ironing board. Not a problem until I was ironing blocks and sprayed water and the brown stuff transferred to my blocks. Thankfully it came right out with a quick wash in cold water and woolite but it was scary. I put an old pillowcase on it for now but every time I shift my fabric, it shifts the pillowcase too.

So there are two good reasons I needed a new ironing board cover (and padding-might as well do it right this time).

Friday, May 11, 2007

Not doing much

I've been sick with a cold so I've been doing a whole lot of nothing. I did want to share this website though, for using Glad Press & Seal for quilting. Another way to do it instead of the method shown on that site is to draw the lines on the press & seal and quilt right over that, and then tear off the plastic. Since I don't have a chalk pouncer I might try that method first, but I like the idea of not having to pick out all those pieces of press & seal.

Update on the Stampin' Up wheels. They are now available again. After throwing everyone into a panic and telling us all that the sold out wheels are gone forever, they've decided to change their minds and now they'll *supposedly* be available until June 30th. The retired accessories list comes out in June 20th so I guess I'll wait until then to order the last minute stuff I "need".

I did get some sets in the mail today so I'll try to make something with them and post it. I'm just not in the mood lately. Plus it's so hot in this house. Maybe I'll drag a big fan into my craft room. I'm just imagining all my craft junk blowing all over the place. eek.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Fabriholics anonymous

Here's a picture of the fabrics I've bought just in the PAST COUPLE OF WEEKS.

Yes I have a problem. The good news is that most of it (all but the bottom two) were bought on sale for really cheap at Joann's or Alco. The bottom two were bought to go with some that I bought a while back at a quilt shop and neither one was cheap. Those two are the only ones I have real plans for. I had no idea how much I'd bought until I had it all washed and was folding it all up and putting it in a pile. Granted, my stash is nothing compared to a lot of other quilters (not that I even call myself a quilter-yet) but I haven't even been buying for very long yet. So I vow not to buy any more until I finish my curtains and one other big (lap size) project. Probably not the one with the expensive fabric because I have been discovering that I don't even have any business buying expensive fabric yet-not until I get a LOT more practice.

So speaking of my curtains, here are the flying geese units I had to make for it.

I had to make 96 of them but it didn't take that long because I used the fast flying geese method on this website. Note that there is a typo there. Where it says that 1 large and 4 small squares will make 2 flying geese units it should say that they make 4 units. I'm not completely sure I like this method better than the one where you put the squares on the ends of the one rectangle, stitch the diagonal, and then trim off the excess, but I do think it's quicker.

Friday, May 4, 2007

No-bake cookies

I didn't get a chance to work on my curtains at all and didn't get any pictures yet. So I'll just post the cookie recipe. These are pretty classic and I think just about everyone already has this recipe but just in case, I'm posting it.

No Bake Cookies

note: we have nut allergies in our family so we don't use the peanut butter. Instead, I substitute soy butter or sunbutter should also work. Also, this recipe makes a ton of cookies. I think it's actually doubled.

2 sticks butter
4 cups sugar
1 cup milk
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
3/4 cup peanut butter (see note above)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 cups quick oats (edited for typos-sorry!)

Line several cookie sheets with waxed paper. We usually end up using 3 cookie sheets with the cookies pretty close together. Melt butter in a heavy saucepan. Add sugar and milk. Stir well. Add cocoa powder. I sift it through a strainer so that it has no lumps. Stirring constantly, bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat. Allow to boil for ONE MINUTE. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and peanut butter. Stir until peanut butter is completely melted. Add oats and stir well. Drop by tablespoons onto waxed paper lined cookie sheets. I have the three different size cookie scoops that I *believe* pampered chef sells and I use the smallest one. Allow to set up-it takes a while depending on the room temperature and humidity. I always think they'll never set up but they always do.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Stampin Up retired list

The Stampin' Up retired list is out. You can see it by going here and downloading it. The wheels are going fast! They're made by a 3rd party so when they're gone, they're gone. I had to go order a couple this afternoon. Funny, I didn't really want any wheels until I found out they might be going out of stock. Typical. While I was at it I ordered 2 sets that were also going to be retiring. I need to get some stamping done-I haven't done any for way too long. I have been working on my quilted curtains though. I'll post about that tonight when I get some pictures of my progress so far.

Homemade vanilla

If you use a lot of vanilla it's worth it to make your own. I've always bought my vanilla from Penzey's. A few years ago the price of vanilla skyrocketed-it was so high that there was no way I was buying it. I think it was about 4 times the normal price. So I read up on it and decided to make my own. The price has since come back down but we still make our own. Here's the recipe:

1 bottle of vodka (I think it's a 5th? I'm not a drinker so I'm not well versed on alcohol)
3 vanilla beans (these were from Penzey's. They weren't cheap either but they were much cheaper than buying the bottle of vanilla and you get a lot more vanilla from 3 beans than you do from a 4 oz bottle)

Cut the vanilla beans into 1" pieces and split each piece (or you could split each bean and then cut into 1" pieces). Pour a couple of inches of the vodka out to make room for shaking. I just pour out an inch or two from the neck of the bottle, which isn't much at all. Probably not even enough to get a buzz. hehe. Anyway. Put all of the vanilla bean pieces in the bottle. Put on the lid and shake. Shake the bottle at least a couple times a day every day for 2 weeks. You can keep shaking it past the 2 weeks if you want-it won't hurt it. If you don't like the beans or seeds in it, you can strain it through a coffee filter, but the beans and seeds keep releasing flavor to make it even better. So we leave it all in until the bottle is nearly gone. I put a label on the bottle so I can keep track of when I started it. I just started a new bottle-this one has been going for 4 days and you can see how it's already brown and vanilla-looking.



When I use it, I sometimes put 1-1/2 or 2 times as much as the recipe calls for, just because we like a lot of vanilla flavor. In a few days I'll have to make No-bake cookies for Sammy's birthday. I'll post that recipe tonight-it uses vanilla.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Chili and cornbread

This is what we had tonight-chili and cornbread. Jake picked it out for his birthday supper (even though today wasn't really his birthday). Here are the recipes

Chili (this is an unusual recipe for chili but my clan loves it)

1 lb ground beef
1 onion chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 can water
2-3 tablespoons chili powder
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1 cup elbow macaroni (we use Hodgson Mills whole wheat)

Brown beef and saute onion. Drain well. Add everything else except the macaroni and stir. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni, reduce heat to just above a simmer, and cook until the macaroni is done, stirring often. I usually let it cook for about 10 minutes. Serve w/ cheese if desired, and cornbread.

Cornbread-this one is unusual too. I think it's pretty moist (in my experience-I'm no cornbread expert though) and since it's made with whole wheat flour it's really dense and sort of heavy. Hard to describe. Anyway it's got whole grains so it must be good for you right?

1 cup whole wheat flour (or you can use white flour for a lighter corn bread)
1 cup corn meal (we use the Hodgson Mills corn meal-it's not degerminated which I guess is a good thing)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tablespoons butter (I use smart balance buttery spread)
1 egg (I use egg beaters)
1 cup milk (I use skim milk)

Heat oven to 350°. Grease a 9x9 or 8x8 square baking pan. Mix flour, corn meal, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Cut in butter until mixture looks like coarse corn meal. Add egg and milk and stir just until mixed. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Sparky's cat house

Sparky is our very sweet, very spoiled cat. Here's a picture of him from last summer-as you can see he's very mellow and tolerant.

Anyway, Sparky has plenty of places to go when it rains-we have several buildings here. But he prefers to stay up at the house, waiting for the kids to come outside (and feed him). Even if it's raining, windy, snowy, freezing, etc he sits out there right in it so we decided to build him a little cat house. Steve did all the work on it, mostly with stuff found around here from older projects. The kids are going to paint it this summer when the weather is nicer so for now, it's all white. Here's a picture of Sparky taking a nap in it-he seems to like it so far. It's only been out there a few days.

SPOILED.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

First binding project

I got this new gadget a while back but I haven't had a chance yet to play with it. I decided to make a 2006 scrapbook for my Mom's birthday so I made this little album.


I used some old Deja Views fresh prints 6x6 papers I had been hoarding. I stuck each page to some cardstock (front and back) and then put a tab on each to make turning the pages easier. Here is a picture of the inside to show how I used the tabs. I used the Stampin Up tab punch to make the tabs. I love this punch.


For the covers, I used some matboard covered with some fresh prints papers I had in 12x12 size. I used a 7/8" binding coil and it seems to be just the right size for this. That's the bad thing about having a binding machine-you don't know which size coils you'll need. I only had two 7/8" and two 5/8" so I'll have to get more coils eventually. Anyway the flower on the front is from Prima, the button is (I think) from Bazzill, the little frame thingy is from Stampin Up, the brads are from Queen and Co. and the ribbons are from all different places. The numbers were cut out of Stampin Up cardstock with the Craft Robo.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

New quilt block

I've decided to make quilt curtains for my sewing/scrapping room. Not exactly quilted but made from quilt blocks. I'll back it with a sheet and no batting in between. Anyway I picked out my block and had read in several places that you should always do a test block before cutting all of the pieces out. I figured that might be a good idea since I've never done anything more complicated than a nine patch (other than those Debbie Mumm blocks and those don't count since I only did one of each). I decided to do the test block out of different fabric. Good thing I did do the test block because I messed up on part of it and had to rip out a few seams. Anyway this is my first test block. The second one went together more easily but the colors were hideous so I didn't take a picture of it.



The curtains won't be this color-in place of the red they'll be a very light pink and in place of the blue they'll be a very light green. The white will be all white (there is a white-on-white pattern on it but it's very subtle). I found the block in a Better Homes and Gardens 100 Quilt Blocks magazine that's out right now and I planned the colors and stuff in Electric Quilt 5.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Mystery stuff challenge

My friend Terri M has a craft yahoo group. She sent the members some miscellaneous embellishments out with the instructions that we're supposed to make something from it. I got my envelope of embellishments today and in it was a chipboard circle with a Y on it, 2 burgundy silk flowers, some eyelash fiber, some white fiber, and some flowery trim. Quite a challenge since my usual comfort zone is pastels or brights. So anyway earlier today my friend Colleen sent me a link to this blog where I found the cutest post it notepad holder. I decided I would case that for my project (case means copy and steal exactly or something like that. I didn't do it exactly the same...but close). So this is what I came up with.



The diamond and french script paper is from Scenic Route. The pink is from Pebbles in my Pocket. The pen loops are made with Baroque Burgundy cardstock from Stampin Up (it's retired). The same cardstock lines the inside of the covers but I forgot to take a picture of that. The pen is an RSVP pen and I put pink paper in it (RSVP pens are neat-you can put a strip of paper inside the barrel to decorate them). I put a big fat button on the flower with some pink fibers from Bazzill threaded through the holes. The eyelash fiber is behind the flower and the flowery trim is on the front. I love that trim-I'll have to find out where Terri got it. The chipboard circle was cut to sort of a label shape and covered with the pink paper. I inked the edges with baroque burgundy ink. I stamped NOTES on it with baroque burgundy ink using Ma Vinci Harting Small letter stamps, then I punched holes and put some Bazzill brads in them. Inside is a post it pad about 4x6. The original project used a 3x5 post it pad so I had to fix the dimensions a little. I made the spine too narrow (forgot to compensate for the thickness of mat board vs chipboard) so I had to take a few pages off the post it pad. Something to remember for next time I guess. I thought it turned out kinda cute. Thanks Terri, for the fun challenge!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Easter food

On Saturday when we dyed eggs (complete with tattoos), we also made cupcakes. Walmart was all out of the Easter sugar decorations so I bought some icing in a tube and the kids decorated them with that stuff. I used a cake mix for the cupcakes (I was going to make them from scratch but with all the things we did that day (Sammy's dancing, walmart, cupcakes, eggs, etc) I decided to just use a mix). I did make the icing though-here's the recipe. It frosted 24 cupcakes and there was about 1/2 to 3/4 cup leftover.

1 stick butter, softened
4 tablespoons milk (or use whipping cream to make it extra creamy)
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar (more or less)

In a bowl, beat the butter, milk and vanilla until smooth. Add sugar about 1/2 cup at a time. Make sure the mixer is on low when you add it or you'll get a cloud of powdered sugar. Experience speaking here. Keep beating until it's all smooth. You may need a bit more or less sugar depending on how you like your icing. I am not picky about it so for me, it's easier to just add the 4 cups and be done with it.

Another recipe-this is not Easter related but it is food. I made this on Saturday and it was really good.

6 pork chops
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 packet onion soup mix (I used one I bought but after this I'll be making my own-I'll post the recipe for that after this one)
2 cans cream of whatever soup (I used one chicken and one mushroom)
one soup can full of milk

Heat oven to 375° F. Brown pork chops in olive oil and transfer to a baking dish. It's ok if they overlap. Sprinkle with onion soup mix. Pour the soups over the top and then pour the milk over that. You don't need to mix it-somehow it mixes up in the oven. Cover tightly with foil and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Serve with something that goes with gravy, like rice, mashed potatoes, or plain noodles because this recipe makes plenty of gravy.

Onion soup mix (makes enough to equal 1 envelope)

4 teaspoons instant beef bouillon granules
3 tablespoons dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon onion powder
heavy pinch of ground celery seed or celery salt

Mix up and use like you would an envelope of onion soup (does anyone actually make onion soup with it?).

My quilt back

Here is the back of my cat quilt. I did the pieced back to save money but I hated it.



It does look neat though-like a whole 'nother quilt. Here's how I did it: I took all of the pieces leftover from the fat quarters I used on the quilt and cut them into 4.5" strips of random lengths. I tried to keep the lengths between 6" and 12". I cut all of those up and needed a few more so I picked out a few fat quarters that I didn't think I'd use on anything else and cut those too. I was aiming to make the back about 2" or more bigger than the quilt all around. I wrote all the sizes on a piece of paper so that I could figure out which lengths to put in each long row so that they would be fairly even. I sewed each row together and pressed the seams open to reduce the bulk. Then I laid out all the rows on the floor and rearranged them (multiple times) so that I wouldn't have the same fabrics next to each other (I did a little though-on the green) and no seams matching up-I wanted the pieces in a sort of staggered pattern. I sewed the rows together and pressed those seams open. It sounds a lot easier than it really was. I do like the sewing part of making a quilt but I didn't like sewing this backing together.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Perfect Chocolate Brownies

These really are perfect. They're easy to make and yummy. That's perfection in my book. I found this recipe on recipezaar which is probably my current favorite recipe site.

Perfect Chocolate Brownies

3/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup shortening (I used butter)
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs (I use egg beaters for anything I bake)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (I left these out, obviously)


1. Preheat oven to 350 ° F (my friend Krista just told me how to make that degree mark. yay! thanks Krista! )
2. Grease a 9x13" pan. (Apparently someone posted a review that they stuck to the pan or something because the recipe author posted another step that she would line her pan w/ parchment or foil next time. I used reynolds non stick foil and the brownies fell right out.)
3. Melt shortening (butter) in a large saucepan over low heat, then stir in cocoa.
4. Remove from heat.
5. Mix in sugar and vanilla then mix in eggs one at a time.
6. Stir in remaining ingredients then stir in nuts if using them.
7. Bake for 30 minutes.
8. Cool completely, before cutting into 2x2" squares.


Wednesday, April 4, 2007

My quilt

I finally got this done! Well pretty much done. I should probably put some eyes on it (although it looks ok without the eyes to me) and I need to figure out how I want to hang it. This is my first pieced top-it's called "Cat on a Nine Patch". I actually did a pieced doll quilt about 12 yrs ago but it was so small that I'm not counting it. This one seemed to take a long time although I guess a month or so isn't that long in quilting. It's not very big though-only about 37 x 43 inches. I'm doing more small quilts for practice before I tackle a big one, but I'm hoping to do them bigger than this one. I didn't take a picture of the back yet. I forgot. But here's the front:



the quilting is done in the ditch on most of it, with clear thread. The quilting on the cat is just 3" wide stitching in black thread-you can't really see it I guess. I decided not to quilt in the borders since they're not that wide anyway. The heart was done with freezer paper applique. Not much fun if you ask me-I'll stick with the fusible kind for most projects. I did the continuous method for the binding and I'm not sure if I'll attempt that again. It wasn't so bad except that the seams (I had to piece the fabrics for the binding) fell right at the corners. The fabrics are the 30's reproduction fabrics. I love them-they're so colorful and cheerful. A lady at the quilts your way message board gave me the magazine that had this pattern-I had seen hers posted at the board and asked her where she found the pattern. She told me it was in a magazine and offered to send it to me. People can be so nice.

I'm already planning my next quilt project. I haven't really been in the mood to stamp lately but I do need to at least make my 10 christmas cards for March and now April.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Quilting

I've been working on my quilt. You know, that same one I've been working on for what seems like forever? Well I did a pieced back on it and I will NEVER do that again. I hated sewing all those strips together and I hated pressing all those seams open (so many seams..) and then when I sandwiched my backing, batting and top I had trouble getting the backing to be nice and flat. Then I had no idea what color thread to use in the bobbin since there are so many now on the backing.

When I did the sandwiching I was about to scream and throw this thing out the window. First I taped the backing to my kitchen floor, smoothed on the batting, and then the top. I started pinning and realized it was really hard to pin without scratching up my floor. Plus about halfway through, I realized my batting wasn't smoothed enough. So I took it all out. I decided to use my cutting table so I set that up, taped and clamped the backing onto it (it's not big enough so I had to do it in a couple of sections-it was only about 6-8" too narrow so it wasn't a huge deal). I had trouble with the clamps, which seemed to be JUST exactly the size of the table when fully opened. I finally got it on all smooth, put on the batting making extra sure it was smooth, and started pinning. I was about 99.9% done when I noticed in one spot that the top was over the edge of the backing. If I hadn't done a %@#@# pieced backing this wouldn't have happened-my backing wasn't a straight line at the ends so it was harder to see that the top wasn't exactly in the right place. Then I noticed that if I had only paid attention, it was obvious that the top was waaaaay over on the other end and I had a ton of extra space. It just needed to be shifted of course. So I took out all the pins again (did I mention these are SAFETY pins??) and finally did it right. My fingers were sore.

That night I did some practicing with a fabric samwich and monofilament. First there was gray thread in the bobbin. I had to figure out the correct tension so the bottom thread didn't show between the stitches on the top. Guess what-the holes between the stitches look gray so it was impossible to tell. So I switched to dark blue. Not much better, actually. Finally I realized that a dark color was just a bad idea all around so I used pink. Much easier-figured out the tension.

Today I did some of the quilting. Let's just say I need a lot more practice stitching in the ditch. But the monofilament is clear so it didn't show a whole lot. I did all of the longer seams so tomorrow (which is actually today since it's so late) I will do the across seams. That will be the real test of my patience-to see how many puckers I get going cross-wise. I'll try to post a picture of the backing tomorrow but I don't want to post the front until it's all done. Once I get the quilting done I need to put on the binding. I also want to free-motion quilt in the borders so I'm sure that'll be a trial.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Slow around here

Nothing has been happening lately. My headaches are back-they seemed to get better when I got new glasses but now I've had one for a few days again so apparently that wasn't the whole problem. I guess it's time to call the doctor. ugh. So as a result I haven't been doing any crafts or anything. I have been shopping still though. Seems nothing can stop that. I ordered some crocs for all 3 kids (disney for Sammy and Jenny and plain for Jake-he wants to use jibbitz in his). If you need crocs or any other shoes Shoebuy.com has coupons right now. $10 off 1 pair or $20 off 2 pairs. If you're new to shoebuy you also get a 10% additional discount. The codes are: 1 pair of shoes use 1springfl07 = 10.00 off and for 2 pair of shoes use 2springfl07 = 20.00 off. I ordered Jenny's yesterday afternoon and within 4 hours I had a ship notice. They're due to arrive tomorrow. They are the same as mine (even the same size) so we'll have to mark them somehow to keep them straight. Otherwise she might accidentally wear mine and then they'll be trashed. She's hard on everything.

I posted a while back, in my old blog, about the dishwasher we got. I hated it. Not only did it do a crappy job of cleaning, it took two and a half hours to clean crappily. After I complained every single night about it (sorry couldn't help it) Steve told me to pick out a different one and we would return the first one. There was one in the Sears ad that looked promising so I went in to check it out. They didn't have one in stock or on display but they could still tell me about it right? Wrong. They knew nothing about it. It wasn't online either. So the salesman said he would find out and call me. He did call but still didn't know anything. He had called all of his resources and no one knew about this dishwasher. It was in the Sunday AD for God's sake. Shouldn't SOMEONE know something? He kept at it though, and finally got some information for me (after over a week-good thing it was still on sale). It sounded like it had all the features I wanted so we ordered it. It was in yesterday so we took the old one back and picked up the new. It's getting hooked up right now as I type so I'm looking forward to trying it out. I have dishes that have sat since Monday night. Go ahead and call me a spoiled brat. It won't hurt my feelings-I swear. Because it's true.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Easy as apple pie

I haven't made any crafts to post lately. I'm still working on the pieced backing of the quilt I'm making and I haven't even looked at the new block of the month I'm supposed to be doing. I did make apple pie though. The other day Jake decided it's been too long since we had apple pie. So I asked Steve to pick up some apples when he was at the store (getting milk) and he did. We're avoiding trans fats so I quit using store bought pie crusts. I don't like going to the trouble of rolling them out either, because I'm lazy that way. So I use this recipe for a press-in-place pie crust. It's actually pretty tasty.

Press-in-place Pie Crust

1/2 cup oil (I use canola)
1-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Put everything in the pie pan. Mix with a fork as much as possible, then finish mixing with your hands. I don't like touching stuff like that so I use a plastic glove on my hand. Pull off pieces of the dough and press them to the sides first. Once all the sides are done, press onto the bottom. Once it's all evenly coated with pie dough you're ready to add the filling. It's not the prettiest pie crust in the world but hey, I'm not entering any contests and it all eats the same. When I make a fruit pie I always use a streusel topping so I don't need to worry about a top crust. For the apple pie I just used about 4 golden delicious apples (peeled and sliced), 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 tsp cinnamon. Mix it up and put it in the crust. Then for the topping mix 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Cut in 2 tablespoons butter (I use smart balance buttery spread) until it's all crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the pie. Bake at 350 for about an hour. I put strips of foil around the edges before I bake, and then take them off after about the first 20 minutes. It helps keep the pie crust from getting too dark around the edges.

If you make this crust for a pie that doesn't get baked, just bake it first at 400 for about 15-20 minutes or until it's lightly browned. I actually have never done this-I guess I always make baked pies.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Last night's supper

This is one of my favorite quick-to-fix dishes. It is super easy to make. Plus the best bonus of all-all 3 of my kids love it!

Garlic chicken pasta

6-8 oz rotini pasta (I use ronzoni healthy harvest-it's a whole wheat blend)
1.5 tablespoons butter (I actually use smart balance buttery spready-it's better for you than butter)
1-2 cloves garlic
1.5 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chicken broth (I use water and chicken bouillon granules)
1 can chicken (about 12 oz) or use 1 to 1.5 cups cooked chicken or turkey
1.5 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta as directed. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a 10" skillet. Add garlic and cook for about 1 min (medium heat). Stir in flour and cook for about 1 more minute. Add broth and milk all at once. Using a whisk, stir until smooth. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and cook for another minute or so. Add chicken and heat through. Add parsley, salt, pepper (I add about 1/2 tsp salt. No pepper) and parmesan cheese and stir until cheese is melted. Add hot drained pasta and stir.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Baby stuff

A friend on a shopping board just had a baby. I always have a frog avatar on that board and my username is frogger there, so when I saw a cute frog sleeper at Old Navy I decided I had to get it for her. She'll get a kick out of it! So anyway I rolled up the sleeper jelly roll style and tied a ribbon around it. Then I made this box from cardstock (bazzill for the bottom, stampin up for the top) and decorated the top. The frog stamp is from the Toybox set from Stampin' Up and the sentiment is from Mini Mates (also from Stampin' Up). The background on the blue paper on the top, which is hard to see, is stamped with the background stamp from Delight in Life (also from Stampin' Up of course). I colored the frog with the Watercolor Wonder Crayons (guess who makes those) and the blue ribbon is from...Making Memories. The card is stamped with a stamp from A Little Love (SU) and colored with the Watercolor Wonder Crayons. The paisley background is a stamp from Hero Arts stamped with SU Whisper White craft ink. The light blue cardstock is the same bazzill cardstock I used for the box bottom. The rest is from Stampin Up. The lighter is Brocade Blue and the darker is Buckaroo Blue. The rick rack is from Doodlebug. I don't know who makes that square button. Oh the tag is from Making Memories. I got the general layout of the card from a Stampin' Up demo publication, Stampin' Success. I like the blue/green combo.

click on the picture if you want to see it bigger. It'll open up in a new window-just close that window when you're done.


Monday, March 12, 2007

Some craft stuff

I posted these wallhangings on my old blog but I figured maybe different people are reading this one, and I'm kinda proud of myself for actually finishing them, so I'm posting them again. If you've seen them already, ignore. Actually if you've seen them scroll way down because at the bottom of this post will be a picture of my debbie mumm blocks I've done so far. Anyway the two are both from books by Nancy Halvorsen. The first one is the "bless this home" wallhanging. I used the "birthing" method rather than binding it, which to me, sounds kinda gross. Plus I didn't much like it. Basically you make the top like normal, then when you put on the batting and backing you do it kind of like a pillow where the right sides are together (batting on the outside), stitch all around leaving an opening to turn it, and then turn, press and hand stitch the opening closed. There's a lot less hand stitching than the regular binding method but for some reason I just prefer binding.



The next one is one that I did blocks from a book, and put them together. The book is really alphabet blocks with a few angel blocks for accents and I just made the angel blocks and put in some sashing and a border. I did regular binding on this one and I like that much better. I used mostly 30's fabrics which I absolutely love. They're so cheerful and bright plus I love anything with a retro look about it.



These are the January and February blocks from the Debbie Mumm Block of the Month project. I'm not doing it with all matchy matchy fabrics like she did so mine will be somewhat scrappy looking. So far I'm pretty happy with it (but after only 2 blocks it's hard to tell what I'll think later). I have yet to do the March block. I'll probably wait until the 31st of March to start on it. HA! Oh, if these blocks look like something's missing, well that's because it is. I'll do the embroidery stitches and buttons for the frog's eyes after the batting is on (or maybe after the whole thing is done). I just like doing it that way rather than stitching through the single layer of fabric.





I also bought some cute Serendipity fabric (I think by P&B Textiles, not sure) and some Spring Fling fabrics by Moda. The fabrics are too cute to cut them up into little pieces so I'm going to do a simple big block lap quilt (one with each line since they don't go together) with some sashing and probably cornerstones and borders. I'll post them when I get them done. I actually have a large pieced wallhanging I'm still working on-I'm doing a pieced backing for it so when I get that done I'll post a picture of it too.

Amazing Race

We have not been watching The Amazing Race this season because, well, we hate Rob and Amber. Sorry, I know we shouldn't hate. We always tell the kids not to hate. But how can we not? They're so overexposed it's sickening. And we've been consistent; we've hated them both from the very first time we saw them (and every stinkin' time after). So when we heard that TAR was going to be an all-stars edition we hoped that Romber would not be invited. When we found out they were, we vowed not to watch the show until they were GONE. I read the spoilers online and when they came in first place 3 times in a row (FIX!!) we figured we'd end up missing most, if not all, of the season. Well tonight I read the sweetest spoiler of all-Rob and Amber are GONE GONE GONE!! I only wish we'd watched it or taped it now. It would have been nice to actually watch their misery. So starting next Sunday we'll be watching TAR once again. Hallelujah!!

How cute is that dancing broccoli? Hmm he'd be cuter if he wasn't in a cage. Need to read up on how to fix that.

edit: I figured out how to release the broccoli from his cage. Sort of. I made the border the same color as the background page. Ahh genius!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Children's Museum

We went to the Children's Museum today. It was a lot of fun, but it takes so long to get there, and we never get going as early as we'd like, so we don't get as much time there as we'd like. And as usual the kids fought all the way there, then while we were there Jake decided about 90% of it was 'boring and mostly for grownups'. He changed his mind after a while though-he actually had fun (imagine!). We saw the neatest movie about how glass blowers make glass shapes. They have a big display of blown glass and it's so neat. Then when they were closing in about 15 minutes we told the kids it was time to get going. Jenny was mad that they close 'too early' and she stayed mad the entire way home-almost 2 hours. Finally she said she was sorry for acting that way but it was a little late for that by then. It really makes me NOT want to go anywhere fun with them.

Speaking of going anywhere, we went shopping on Friday (about an hour away from home) and Jake was a monster the entire time. Steve said next time he would keep Jake with him and the girls and I could go alone. That is something to look forward to! Anyway we went to Kohls (among many other stores) to get dancing clothes for Sammy. While there we got a shirt for Jenny. When Sammy put on her new leotard it had a little hole in the shoulder. When Jenny put on her new shirt, it had a slice down the front of it (about 1" long). It's getting really sad when you have to inspect every square inch of an article of clothing to make sure it's not holey or ripped. I doubt we'll have time to drive all the way back to return/exchange them so I guess I'll just do my best to fix them. I'm not as worried about the leotard since it's just for dance classes but Jenny's shirt is really cute and I am so not happy about a big cut right in the front of it. And this was from Kohls, which I always thought of as having good quality clothes. Maybe there's no such thing anymore.

We also went to a quilt shop there. I haven't been to any quilt shop in years and years (there isn't one near us) and it was fun. It would have been more fun without the constant "are we done here yet" comments but I managed to spend a bunch of $$ on some cute cute fabric. Now I need to sew it into something.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Testing the new blog

Trying out something new. Since my old blog is so indundated with spam that I had to turn off comments (and that's no fun). Testing...testing...
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