Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Did I Mention That I Am A Quilter? I'm starting a new log cabin quilt from my stash of shirt fabrics.

I first learned to sew using my mother's Singer treadle sewing machine. It was a gorgeous machine with gold and silver decals and was housed in an oak parlor cabinet. I don't remember my mother actually showing me how to sew. I watched over her shoulder and I read the instruction book that was in one of the drawers on the left side of the cabinet. I once sewed the needle through my thumb as I furiously treadled away.

My first garment was a red gingham shirtwaist dress. When I purchased the fabric I did not buy enough yardage and in order to make the skirt long enough I had to go back to the store, buy a bit more, and make a ruffle to the hem to add length.

For years I sewed my own garments and those for my daughter.

Then came quilting. Oh, My! It is a sewing addiction that hangs on for years and years. I've made more quilts than I can count. I have drawers and drawers full of quilt fabric.

Somehow the addiction finally ran its course and now I have to work hard at getting up enough gumption to put together a new quilt top. The Log Cabin pattern dates back to the mid to late 1800s and our great-grandmothers made it in wools, cottons, or silks. The center square is traditionally red or yellow (and who am I to break with tradition?). Photos will be posted at a later date.

Each strip is 1 inch wide after sewing. The cotton fabrics are from shirts and blouses that I've gleaned from yard sales or Goodwill. I am always watching for quality fabrics and will bypass worn garments, flimsy cottons, and (horror of horrors) stinky garments. Once the garment is home with me, it goes into the wash; then I cut off seams, cuffs, collars, etc., and press the fabric, fold it and put it in my "shirt stash".

Another day I'll add some photos of my treadle...a model almost identical to my mother's machine.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

How to Cook Up Some of Those Extra Pears

We're eating away on that box of pears I mentioned earlier. There are only two of us and you can only eat so many pears a day! But here's a recipe I tried tonight that is easy and tasty. The recipe uses minimal sugar and is actually from a pear pie recipe but I wanted to avoid eating the crust and figured, "Aha! This should work well in a casserole bowl!" And it did. I think next time I'll double the lemon juice to add a bit more tartness. Otherwise, this is a tasty pear sauce.

I called it Oven Pears.

5 or 6 pears peeled, cut into chunks.
1/3 to 2/3 cup sugar (I used 1/3)
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1-1/2 T quick-cooking tapioca
3 T orange juice
1 tsp lemon juice
1 T butter.

Put pears in pyrex baking dish.
Mix dry ingredients and sprinkle over pears.
Mix orange and lemon juice and pour over.
Stir gently with spoon to mix.
Dabble with 1 T butter, cut in pieces and placed over top of pears.

Cover with lid, bake at 350 about 1 hour.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Who Me? Use Lip Plumper? For a Plumpy Pout???

Those who willingly chase after the most recent fashion fad are currently on the Plump Lips Bandwagon and plunking down plenty of dollars for products that will zing the lips into a false foolness...ooops, I mean 'fullness'. I'm sorry, I just can't climb aboard that wagon. You see, I was born with full lips and was teased unmercifully as a child about my big mouth. Yep. I have a big mouth. Both visually and verbally. I'm not about to run out and buy some bee venom (or whatever it is that they use) to sting my lips into artificial fullness. I find it absurd that young women are so easily persuaded to secure an imitation beauty, to trade their own natural beauty for the trendy fakery, a fake image that is promoted by the cosmetic industry for $$$$. Get it? It's a Commercial Idea. That means the plump lip look is promoted by those who wish to transfer money from your pocket to their bank account. Create the demand and the people will buy.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Cooking BROWN RICE the EASY WAY without Resorting to an Electric Steamer

Here's a simple and perfect way to cook brown rice. I've tried several ways of cooking it. I've used a basic saucepan atop the stove and I once owned and used an electric steamer. The saucepan leaves too much to error for you have to simmer it on very low heat and on my electric range it is difficult to adjust to just the right heat. That method requires careful watching and its a nuisance of a way to cook the rice.

I also used to use a plastic steamer and when it quit working I decided I no longer wished to use plastic in cooking. (I don't use plastic anymore to either cook or store foods.) I purchased one of the larger units that looks somewhat like a crockpot in shape. Steam and starch fizzled up around the edges of the lid, making for a messy cleanup. Took that unit back to the store.

Then I stumbled upon this method. Its soooo easy and the rice cooks to perfection. You will need a large stainless steel pot or pan with a steam insert deep enough to place a glass pyrex bowl in the steamer and still get the lid on the pan.

Put about 1.5 inches of water in the pan and bring to a simmer. In the bowl place 1 cup of rice and about 1-1/3 cups water. Simply place that bowl in the steamer, cover with the lid. Set the timer for 45-55 minutes and let the gentle simmer produce steam that will cook that rice to perfection. Towards the end you can stir the rice with a fork.

This works also if you want to flavor your rice with chicken stock or with a few choice veggies. Or you can replace the water with canned tomatoes or salsa. Just be sure this provides enough liquid by adding water if necessary to the mix.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Bosc Pears! Great Dessert!

Friends gave me the opportunity to purchase a box of bosc pears. Yep, you read it right, an entire crate. The pears were brought direct from the State of Washington and are in beautiful condition.

I've cooked, canned and frozen apples and peaches but have never had the opportunity to do up a bunch of pears! Nor have I ever cooked with pears! Google to the rescue! I found a recipe for baked pears and modified it a bit. We don't like to use a lot of sugar so I just sprinkled the quartered pears with a dab of brown sugar and cinnamon. Baked at 350 for half an hour in an uncovered dish. Then added a tablespoon or two of water, covered the dish, and baked another half hour. The water and sugar formed a small amount of syrup in the bottom of the dish. Yumm!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Call him MISTER!

Every winter, if weather permits, I make a snowman. It's an opportunity to protest old age, I suppose. And to exercise my creativity! And to challenge the neighbor kids who sit all day long in front of their video games instead of enjoying that white fluff covering their front lawn.

This year's snowperson (Ms. Snow Person) is part of my profile photo and she has long since melted into the ground. You can tell by the wisp of green "hair" that Ms. SP was a garden lady. She was intent on looking at the bright side of life and recognizing that Spring will indeed arrive on the scene...even if she knew she would not be around to see it.

But the snowman in today's photo, which I've personally named MISTER Snow Person for his undoubtedly overwhelmingly robust size, greeted me as I drove to the city on Sunday. No camera with me! But I knew that I would be driving that way again on Tuesday and with temps plunging near zero I knew Mr. SP would still be standing beside the road.

I took this photo from behind the steering wheel of my car and it is NOT a trick photo. To give you an idea of his size, his smile is made up of a row of gallon tin cans. And if I am not mistaken, his orange nose is a traffic cone. Coooool. In more ways than one. LOL

Saturday, February 9, 2008

From Famine to Feast

All of a sudden, after years of Purse Famine, purses are a big thing. What I mean is that today's purse is HUGE! If you don't believe me, google something as simple as 'designer purse'. Or view this pic as seen on eBay.

It wasn't long ago, only a couple years, when I noticed that young women were avoiding even Owning a Purse! A Purse was obviously an Old Woman Thing! Never mind the fact that even young women need some way to carry a driver's license, an ATM card, credit cards, cash, and all the where-with-all that a woman needs to keep on her person. If they Did carry some semblance of a purse, it was a skimpy, skinny, tiny thing on a skimpy, skinny string that they were constantly mis-laying or leaving behind. It's as if they couldn't get a handle (pun intended) on a real, genuine purse.

The marketplace has changed that scenario. Big name designers have realized a market potential and have created a demand (sexy famous women toting their stuff!) that will ensure sales for at least the immediate couple of years.

Huge purses dominate the scene. I'm talking huge as in airline carry-on size. Even I own a very large leather purse that I purchased at a yard sale for that specific purpose...to use when I fly as a carry-all for all the stuff I don't want to put in my checked baggage. It's a handy purse and serves its purpose well. I paid $4.00 for it and by today's prices that means I've saved about $1,996.00. (I'm a savvy shopper!) My purse is Leather. Name Brand. Pocket for my cell phone and iPod. Plenty of room for a book, water bottle, camera, pens, notebook, etc. Places to hang my keys. The only thing I don't have is the big price tag. And I'm laughing myself all the way to the bank.

Let's go back to the "everyday" purse. I find it highly amusing that in photo after photo of The In Crowd (translate that "Hollywood") some fantastically rich female consumer is carrying a belted, buckled, studded, glittered bag that surely, if filled even Half Full, must cause a spinal curving pain. Surely the purse must be a one-of-a-kind. Forbid that one Hollywood dame should happen to show up carrying a duplicate of one owned by another Hollywood dame.

These fashion creations carry big price tags and while I'm laughing at the $$$ spent by these women, I'm hoping there is a silver lining in this designer-created purse-cloud. Perhaps my DDs and DGDs will learn to carry a purse and stop losing the things that purses normally carry.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Another Shirt Quilt Bedspread

Last year I made a quilt bedspread from shirt fabrics. I'm a quilter and I'm fascinated with the fabric found in quality men's shirts. Cotton fabrics only. Quality fabrics only. No wimpy low thread count fabric.
I very much dislike those poufy puffy comforters being sold as bedspreads. Oh, a poufy puff is okay in the middle of the winter but who wants to deal with that pile of fluff in the summertime!?
So last year I made a bedspread quilt and used a thin cotton batt. I machine quilted it on my vintage Singer 15-91. This year I'm making another spread in a blue/cream/green colorway. I need five more rows and then will sew a 4-inch border around the edge. I think I'll put in a slightly heavier cotton batt in this one.
This may be a pretty 'blah' quilt to some and it is certainly plain compared to quilts I've made in the past, but I like its simplicity. And I'm the one who will sleep under it so I guess it's my choice. LOL.

I'm Finally Weary

Up till this week I've been patient about enduring winter. Yes, we've had snow after snow, but each snow has been rather light. Snow has remained on the ground since mid-December and we've had a number of sub-zero nights and some very cold days. Still...we've had only one night of howling winds. Cold doesn't seem Quite so Cold if the air is still. But here it is February and we had another snowfall last evening. And the forecast is for more cold weather, so there will be no melt soon. I am grateful that it is February when we can look forward to March or April being only a few weeks away. And I've maintained a fairly decent attitude about this year's winter. Still...I am finally weary of snow and cold. Come on Spring!