Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Table Full of Limes?

Is there a tequila party in the works? Well, actually, how about a cutting board full of Key limes. Very small Key limes. Dozens of them. Two pounds, to be exact. You see fewer than half of them here...

And by the time I got done rolling, slicing and hand juicing all of them I was tuckered out. Note to self, when the recipe calls for 1/3 cup Key lime juice, you do NOT need two pounds of limes. 1# Key limes = 1 cup juice. So, I made a double batch of Key Lime Bars and still had four containers with 1/3 cup each to put in the freezer for future treats. And they sure are tasty!

It's a Rainbow World

I'm taking a "Baltimore Album" Quilt class. It's a lot of fun so far. There are seemingly endless patterns to choose from, rich with meaning. Here is a sample of a Baltimore Album style quilte. Not mine. They are typically done on white or cream backgrounds and the originals had two main colors - Victoria Green and Turkey Red. Victoria Green was a pea green so named because it was Queen Victoria's favorite color. And Turkey Red? No, it has nothing to do with turkeys or feathers. It was called that because there was a time when fabric dyed red came from Turkey.

There's just one thing. I love color. I love bright colors. I'm likely going to put hundreds of hours into my quilt. You see, each square and the borders are hand-appliqued. With tiny needles and tinier stitches. So I figure I'd better really love the fabric I'm working with. And it turns out that batik is a great fabric to use because it is very tightly woven. So here is my selection of fabrics for my "Baltimore Album" quilt. I'll post pics of the squares as I complete them. I'm working on one right now that is a repeating fleur de lis type design in the bright gold on the red/black background.
And while Valerie was here she gave me a lesson in foundation piecing, which I was quite taken with after seeing the Christmas stocking she made for Sam. I incorporated the technique into a scissor case that Val and I designed for me to use when I go to my quilting classes. Turns out I need at least four different pair of scissors on me... small fabric, large fabric, small paper, large paper, might as well throw the rotary cutter and spare blades in for good measure...
Here's the front up close:

And here it is with the inside liner for organizing and protecting my shears:

I hope my classmates aren't jealous!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Welcome Visitors

Around here we like to encourage visitors to drop by. We do that with seeds, nuts, suet and bread crusts. Here we have a bird feeder with... a squirrel. Lucky for them they are so cute. Actually I don't mind if he eats out of this feeder which is mostly filled with black sunflower seeds and the occasional bit of corn or peanut.

One day last week I had just cleaned the kitchen window when I decided to set up my camera to catch some of our visitors. I put the camera on a tripod just inside the window. The only problem with a clean window is that you can see in as easily as you can see out. So every time I stepped up to the camera to get a picture, the visitors hurried away. I ended up putting up a blind of houseplants, a poinsettia, and a dishtowel in order to take my photographs. It might have been easier to dress up like a very large bird...

It also attracts the very large, colorful and extremely shy Stellar's Jays. Who sometimes brave the scary finches and other, similar large predators. Really, you'd think a jay would be obnoxious and pushy. These guys are the most timid ones in our yard. I love their fraggle action with the bobbing feathers on top of their heads and the rich blue of their tails. They are among my favorites. I try to make sure there's plenty of peanuts on the ground for them to snag, away from the bustling crowds.

Oh yes, there are also lots of other birds... Pine Siskin, Pine Grosbeak, Evening Grosbeak, Mountain Chickadee, Nuthatch, Hairy Woodpeckers... everyone loves to come hang out at our house!
And what, you may ask, is that large item in the middle of the feeder. You might ask that if you didn't live in the mountains of Colorado. That, my friends, is a brick to help keep the feeder from blowing away on a daily basis.
When I go out to fill the feeders, I make a certain call and I'm quite convinced that the chickadees, at least, know what it means. They land around me and wait for the feeder to fill. Sometimes they are landing on the feeder as I'm still hanging it back up. I like that they trust me.

Family Traditions

I had to include this shot of Grandma Kathy bathing Sammy in the kitchen sink. I have a great shot of Grandma Ginger giving Steph a bath in the kitchen sink. Somewhere there is probably a picture of Grandma Erma giving Kristine a bath in the kitchen sink. I'm sure that we can trace this tradition back to as long as there have been kitchen sinks...

Where to start?

Let's begin with Sammy, my favorite nephew in the whole world. I cannot express how much it meant to me to get to hold him and see him. To get to know him a little bit while he is still so young.

Here I am sacked out with him while Val was packing. I loved feeling his warm weight against me and his deep, even breathing. It nearly put me to sleep to. And it was the middle of the morning.
I got Val to take a photo of me in the mei tai wearing Sam. I so wish I'd had one of these when Steph was little. How comforting for them and how freeing for mom. Good job, Val!

Sam is quite the little camera ham... Here he is standing in his PlayYard. He really preferred to be standing up and one evening he made about 6 laps around the kitchen island while Perla held his hands. Then he walked on into the bedroom where his mom was. He's going to be into everything in no time at all!

And here I am with him on my lap. You'll notice the table is empty in front of us. He has quite a long reach and insatiable curiousity.

Since there is so much catching up to do, I'll try and break it into several posts with individual themes.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A couple more

Thanks to Shannon and Perla, we have family photos to treasure from our time together. Above, Counter-clockwise: Perla, Kristine, Karen, Shannon, Kathy, Brian, Stephanie, Kent, Valerie, Sam and Ken.

And the siblings - we sure miss you Kevin!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Family Photos

Here we are behaving... Back row: Stephanie, Kathy, Kristine, Karen; Front row: Shannon and Valerie

And here we are being silly...

Karen, Shannon and Brian

Kristine, Stepanie and Kent

The cousins... Shannon, Stephanie and Valerie (we miss you Sarah)

My beautiful daughter...

Christmas 2009

These pictures aren't necessarily in chronological order. I still haven't figured out how all that works when I upload.

A recent Christmas tradition involves eating fresh, hot donuts on Christmas morning. I start the dough the night before and then roll them out and fry them fresh. Karen and Val took care of the sugaring and frosting this year. Last time it was Shannon and Stephanie. I must say that the maple glazed with toasted crushed nuts were the most popular.

Here we are with some of the goodies. You may note that Valerie has used toothpicks to create some sort of molecular looking structure out of the donut holes. The donuts were great with morning coffee.

What fun for Kathy to enjoy Sam's first Christmas with him. I think she may have had more fun opening his gifts that he did. Of course, like any small child or pet, he preferred the packaging over most of the contents.

Kent and I. I was glad to get a nice picture of us together. It's been a few years since we've been cleaned up and had our picture taken.

My beautiful niece, Valerie. So glad to have her here where we can put our arms around her for a hug and spend time together.

Four sisters - we're just missing Beth. Here we have me (Kristine), Kathy, Karen and Perla.

Shannon spent most of her time behind the camera in the pics we have. Here's a candid one I took of her relaxing, camera in hand.

Kathy put up the tree but waited to decorate until after Val arrived. She reminisced as she pulled out ornaments rich with memories.

Shannon, helping with the tree...

And here's the rest of the tree crew... Kathy, Val and Stephanie. The rest of us sat around and watched. It's the most fun I've had decorating a tree in years. : )

The house was looking pretty and we all enjoyed the tree. It was fun to pile our combined gifts underneath. Kathy made jams and biscottis for us. Ken and Perla made beef jerky for everyone. Stephanie made apple butter in pretty jars. Valerie brought soap powders and other great products from India that we can't get here. Shannon gave us treats and the promise of family photos. Karen and Brian provided the frames for the photos as well as candles and other treats. I made everyone reusable fabric shopping bags. It was really neat how everything worked out.

I'll post more pics later if I get time. You know how it marches on.

Catching up...

It was a wonderful Christmas together. We were grateful for everyone who was there and missed those who couldn't be. On Christmas we had a gathering of Kathy, Valerie, Sam, Ken, Perla, Karen, Brian, Shannon, Kristine, Kent and Stephanie. We missed Dad, Kevin, Beth and Sarah as well as Josh, Jessie, Hannah, Mikayla and Esther. Still, it was the biggest family Christmas in years and we savored every moment.
Dad had planned to come but found out the week before Christmas that he had heart problems and pneumonia. He has been recieving excellent medical care and had successful surgery on Tuesday.
It was great to finally meet Samuel - the most beautiful baby I know. He's been a real delight, as his mother always has been. And it was so great to spend time with Shannon, visiting and getting to know her even better. I'm so proud to call her my friend as well as my niece.
Well, I have plenty of pics to post... I'd better get to it. Thanks to Shannon and her excellent photography skills for the wonderful photo documentation. And thanks to Perla for her gift of making us look good. Thanks ladies!