Saturday, January 30, 2016

Lately

Besides being in a prolonged sewing slump, it seems as if I have also been neglecting my blog. I don't know what's come over me.

Today it's been 6 weeks since our 2' of snow and there's still a little bit of it that refuses to melt:

                  

But the weather's been absolutely beautiful - 50's - 60's - and 75° forecasted for today. I've been spending a lot of our time bouncing over ranch roads in the feed truck with this guy who keeps me laughing:

                                      

I think everyone's grateful to see sunshine and be rid of the snow:

                       

The bulls are so gentle that they will saunter up to sniff your fingers and grace you with bull slobber:

                      

And the babies are hitting the ground!

                        

In the kitchen, I've been on a bit of a Pico roll. Seems I want to eat it on everything including breakfast:

                                 

And my poor sewing machine continues to sit. Forlorn and neglected. I figured if I wrote about it, maybe it would spur me into action.

I finished 12 quilts in 2015 and made a good dent in my UFO pile.
                               

The remaining UFO's are all at the quilter's and will only require binding so I am free to make a new list. This fall, I already started 5 projects and I hope to focus on those in an attempt to tame the UFO beast before it gets out of hand again.

I think I have 7 quilts at the quilter's and with the 5 I've started, that makes 12, meaning that may be the 12 quilts I finish this year. However, seeing as I haven't sewn a stitch since about 2 weeks before Christmas, I'll be lucky if I even get ONE finish this year. Surely I can finish one, but don't hold your breath - at this rate, it may be June.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Coming Up For Air

 I've been reading... voraciously, and I've checked 4 titles off of that reading list I posted a few weeks ago.

1. Married and How To Stay That Way - I finished my book I'd abandoned first. I highly recommend it for a Biblical view on marriage. So much of it is common sense to me, but it's good for me to be reminded of God's design for marriage. I'm thankful each and every day for His bringing DH and I together and I don't ever want to take that for granted.

2. The Picture of Dorian Gray. I did not enjoy this one at all. It's dark and strange and filled with sentences that go on for an entire page. I tried to like it, but was just glad to get through it.

3. Wuthering Heights. Another dark, twisted story that just left me feeling disgruntled with selfish characters. I may look back later and recognize it for the brilliant work of literature it is considered to be, but presently I am left feeling annoyed.

4. Whistling Past the Graveyard. And we have a winner! Loved this. No, it's not considered classic literature and perhaps I was just ready for something less...dreary. I loved the story and the author's voice and fell in love with Starla, the spunky protagonist.

 I went by the library on Monday after work to check out The Great Gatsby, but it was closed so I fired up my Kindle, took a deep breath... and started War and Peace.

So now you know why there hasn't been any sewing going on! I'm still spending lots of time with fabric though...if you peek into my house you'll find me curled up with a quilt... nose firmly planted between the pages of a book.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Holly and Vine Quilt Finished

I was hoping to squeeze in one more finished quilt before the end of the year, but just could not get a photo so  you get a Christmas quilt in January:


And yes, the kids are standing in the back of the truck in order to hold it up high enough. :)

This quilt was on the cover of Quilters Newsletter's Best Christmas Quilts 2013 and I started pulling scraps as soon as I saw it.

                                                          

I hadn't made a Christmas quilt yet, but I was determined to have one on the bed this year. I pieced a little here and there

                                    

in between other projects and appliqued all the holly leaves one rainy weekend:


                                                            

The original quilt is 77" x 86", but I added a few more blocks and made it 86" x 104". I chose to add a scrappy green binding and happily stitched away for a week in the evenings. I found the backing on sale and knew it was going to be perfect:


I finished it this fall when the temperature was 100°, but it's been in regular rotation since the blizzard hit the day after Christmas. I will fold it away today in the armoire where it will patiently wait for the first sign of Christmas... which seems far, far away, but we all know better!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

It's a Small World

Meet Coalson.

                              

There's a story to Coalson. He and our girl met in college. She was a senior and he was a freshman. They became instant friends. And there's a funny story behind that friendship.

Coalson was showing our girl a video about catching Audad with net guns in Del Rio , Coalson's home town. Our girl told her Daddy about it and he said, "Ask Coalson what his last name is." It is B****. So DH said, "Ask him if his Dad's name is Wayne. Yes, it is...Coalson asked our girl if she was a stalker and a friendship began.

Here's the funny part. Coalson's Dad, Wayne, was our Best Man at our wedding almost 30 years ago. Small world! Our kids have heard 'Wayne' stories since they can remember.

He has his Dad's laugh and they have the same mannerisms and it took me back 30 years, but felt like last month:

                                                

Not only was Wayne our best man - he introduced DH and I to each other and during the wedding toast, he talked about that and ended his toast with, "...so I guess this is all my fault!"

So the two of them have been missing each other since our girl graduated and moved to another school in order to pursue her Graduate studies. Coaslon asked if he could make a detour and come visit at the end of the Christmas Holidays. Of course! Wish he could have brought his folks. We've got lots of catching up to do!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

My Maiden Voyage with the Insta-Pot

I found an Insta-Pot under the tree this year from my mom. Judy, over at Patchwork Times clued us in on the Black Friday deal on Amazon and folks had been bugging me about what I wanted and the price was hard to pass up. Thanks Judy! I've been so busy that this is the first chance I've had to even look at it.

                            

I chose BBQ beef short ribs as my first recipe and combined these two recipes -
BBQ Short Ribs    Bone-In Beef Short Ribs  - as I wanted to brown the ribs first, but also make the BBQ ribs. I used our favorite BBQ rub and sauce:


Browned ribs:


I cooked them for 40 minutes and they were fall-off-the-bone perfect. I made fresh green beans and sweet potatoes for DH and our girl and a baked potato for me. I wish I liked sweet potatoes. The result? I was yummy! However, I was so excited...and hungry, that I forgot to take a picture of my plate.                      

So next up was a roast. I love that the Insta-Pot allows me to brown the meat, I only wish it was bigger because we have big roasts cut when we process our beef. I used a homemade Montreal Steak Seasoning on it, added some onion, and Rooster juice (Worchestershire Sauce) and cooked it for 90 minutes. It was just right and fell apart when I removed it from the pot. I made roasted potatoes and we finished up the green beans and the roast was incredibly tender. This is now my go-to way to cook roasts.


We like roast around here...with horseradish please. We shred the leftovers and add green chile to it for burritos and I also make a roast beef sandwich concoction that is like tuna fish, but with beef.

So even though I did not need an Insta-Pot, and I am having a hard time finding room to store it in my itty-bitty kitchen, I love it and it's going to be used often! Next up is Steel Cut Oats.

My birthday is right around the corner and DH grinned and asked me, "So, what does Judy say you need for your birthday?" :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Stitches for a Hedgehog

I never seem to be able to sew a stitch for about 3 or 4 weeks around  Christmas. I must be doing something wrong because I see others stitching up a storm. You would think the big storm we had would give me some sewing time. I always hear people get to sew when a storm is brewing. That's rarely the case around here. Don't get me wrong though - I'm not complaining. Actually I DID sew a few stitches. My first of the New Year:


Harvey's hedgehog was in need of a bit of minor surgery, but he fared well and they were soon reunited:


My mom thinks we lead such a hard life, but I just laugh because I think we have it made! Isn't perspective a funny thing?

I've just been spending lots of time savoring moments with our chiddlers. It's so nice when you enjoy being around your grown up children..and they enjoy being around you!

                                               

Cribbage is always a favorite around here in the evenings


We're outdoors a lot. Our girl said I looked like an extra from The Revenant in this shot, but hey! At least my ears weren't cold! I've confiscated an old trapper hat that belongs to our boy.

                                                 

When we're inside, someone's probably in the kitchen making something to eat. My kitchen is pretty small, but I love it when it's filled with friends and family:

                           

Our girl is still here for a few days and while she was out with her Daddy, and I had leftovers for dinner...and supper...I sat down behind my sewing machine for about 15 minutes and it felt odd. I couldn't even remember what I'd been working on before the holidays. I made a table runner before Christmas


 for a sweet lady using wine fabrics:                                                            


And more gift bags using Jenny's Lined Drawstring Bag Tutorial:

                               

I love these bags! And my MIL made me a quilt for Christmas!

                                      

How great is that?! It's machine appliqued and hand quilted and I treasure it! Isn't that plaid border perfect? I can't imagine all the time that went into each stitch. I'm rather honored that she felt I was worthy of such a wonderful gift.

At one point, before Christmas, I had been working on my floral patchwork quilt. It only lacks a couple of rows before it becomes a flimsy so I stitched a couple of those squares together. It's kind of nice to be stitching a flower garden when there is a blanket of snow outside:

                                  

When our boy left, I took down the Christmas decorations, but they're all stacked in his room because I can't get to the shed. We still have at 2-3' of snow in the yard where it drifted. So, I really don't have a lot of room to dig into a big sewing project right now, but it's a start!

Monday, January 4, 2016

2016 Reading Challenge

If you're a regular reader here, you know that I am an avid bookworm. All of us are. There is never enough time to read. That's probably why I have fallen into the world of audio books, but there still is no substitute for curling up with a real book. Put me in a room full of books and I will get lost and lose track of time until someone comes to drag me out.

The other day, our girl ran across the 2016 Reading Challenge and we immediately began making our lists. we always have a long list of books we want to read, but this will be a fun challenge and we spent a couple of evenings working on our respective lists and yes, we are reading a few of the same books.




                                           

This list is subject to change as I am highly influenced by recommendations from other lovers of the written word. Here's a link to our girl's list: The Desert Rat Philosopher . I may be a tad biased, but I think this kid's got a way with words and a unique way of viewing the world. She's bright and clever and fiercely passionate in her convictions. I'm glad she's started blogging again.

And here's my list:

A book published this year: Yet to be determined, but I'm keeping a keen eye on new releases
A book you can finish in a day: The Great Gatsby
A book you've been meaning to read: Go Set a Watchman
A book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller: This House of Sky
A book you should have read in school: The Picture of Dorian Gray
A book chosen for you by your spouse, sibling, child, or BFF: Wuthering Heights
A book published before you were born: Of Mice and Men
A book that was banned at some point: The Heart of India
A book you previously abandoned: Married and How to Stay That Way ...I didn't think I had ever abandoned a book until I cleaned out my nightstand the other day and found this one with the bookmark in it. And yes, all is well with DH and I. I just believe that it is always beneficial to not become complacent and to to continue to work on our marriage covenant with Christ.
A book you own but have never read: Whistling Past the Graveyard
A book that intimidates you: War and Peace ...this one may take me all year.
A book you've already read at least once: To Kill a Mockingbird ...life is too short to read the same book twice, but I haven't read this one in 20+ years and I wanted to re-read it before reading Go Set a Watchman.

Anyone else up for the challenge?
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