Sunday, August 15, 2010

2 Times in 23 Years with some Quilting Thrown in for Good Measure

I'm a bit bleary eyed this morning. Well, a lot bleary eyed. I stayed up until 4 this morning...willingly.

Many moons ago, I used to be a night owl. Being married to an early bird rancher for over 23 years has cured me of that! However, last night I did something I haven't done in 23 years with the exception of 1 other time since we were married. It's nothing earth shattering. I didn't skydive. Or swim the English Channel. Or sail down the Nile. I stayed alone. LOL.

5 years ago I traveled for a funeral and stayed in a hotel alone, but other than that, I have ALWAYS had someone in the house. Every single night.

I know, not a big deal, but it's a strange sensation and the house suddenly gets really enormous when you're in it alone. My family isn't loud, but it sure did get quiet last night! I think I could hear the roping steers snoring out in the lot.

DD and DH were spending the weekend in the mountains, scouting in the area DH drew for his elk hunt this fall. They spent 2 days riding horses through the wilderness and hiking up peaks. I sent a camera along, but we'll see if they come back with any photos.

DS was packing to head back to college and mucking out his room that morphed into a dorm room while he was here this summer. My children (both of them) are pack rats. It's not genetic... or maybe I'm just in denial. So he pulled out on Saturday, loaded with everything a college boy will ever need. Hopefully that includes the brain cells to bring back the good grades that he is more than capable of producing! I didn't find any lingering in his room, so he should have them with him.

As for me, I dried my tears and headed for the quilt shop about 75 miles away. It really is the best therapy and after a couple of hours, I emerged with a couple of fat sacks, and a skinny wallet.

I like to have a plan when I go to the quilt store because if I don't, I end up with all kinds of purchases that add up to a whole lot of "Ooohh...I need that, but I have no idea what I'm going to do with it", not to mention a whole lot of money.

That's not to say that I won't peek into a fabric shop just to see what there is to see (my truck is programmed to automatically stop at each and every one. Heck, I didn't even know it came with that option! Nice perk!), or wander off and let fabrics just jump onto the cutting table, but a plan is always preferred.

So yesterday my plan was to find a couple of backings for both the hexagon quilt top and the 30's top, along with some fabrics for a baby quilt, and some background fabric for another quilt.

Quilters are so friendly, but I'm sure if you're a quilter, you already know that. The ladies that own this particular quilt shop are no exception. DH says that they're just friendly because they see dollar signs when I walk through the door, but what does he know?

They always ooh and awe over my quilts and are very helpful in helping me make my selections. I wonder if that's a prerequisite for working in a quilt store, even if it's an ugly quilt. Honestly, though, I don't know if there is such a thing as an ugly quilt ( well, with the exception of my hexagon quilt before I ripped it apart - ugh! That was a sad, sad, little quilt!). So anyway, a trip to the quilt shop is good for my ego. My bank account, not so much.

So I found a backing for the hexagon quilt and it's 108" so no piecing required! Nothing jumped out at me for the 30's quilt so it remains backless, but I found wonderful pinks and brown cowgirl prints for the baby quilt. I went in there thinking greens and pinks and purples, but quickly fell in love with this new selection. It was one of the reasons I was up all night because I cut and pieced most of it as soon as I got home. I dug through my stash in search of horsey colors, but still need to pick up some odds and ends for the applique part.

At the last minute, 2 jelly rolls of a Hill Country Wildflower line from a few years ago begged and pleaded to come home with me and who was I to deny them. I miss the Texas Hill Country and I've often fawned over these fabrics and they are fast becoming extinct. I have no idea what they will grow up to be, but I'll just enjoy their little jelly roll-ness (yes, that is now a word) for a while before I chop them up. Oh, sorry, that sounds violent.

How about... before they are re-configured into a warm, snuggly, comforting design of quilty goodness. Much better... or perhaps my lack of sleep is becoming apparent.

I know. I know. You're wondering where the pictures are, but I sent the camera with DH so you're out of luck today.

I found what I needed for the new quilt I want to make and cut all of that out as well. I already had the layer cake for it so I only needed something for the background and once I made the first block, I HAD to make more. Thus, my all night sewing marathon.

I have to laugh though. I was kind of wandering how I would handle an empty house and God must have thought I wasn't ready because he sent over the sweet, young Mom from North Camp and her 3 little (2-yr old twins and a 4-yr old), darling kids not long after DS pulled out of the drive. We had a really nice visit and some adventures with cat food. They are the neatest family.

This morning I remembered why the night owl life doesn't suit me anymore. I am dragging. I feel a nap coming on... after I sew some more.

So even though I was able to wallow in fabric and thread and all things quilty this weekend, I miss my family and 2 times in 23 years is enough for me. I'll save the trip down the Nile for another time.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

This and That and I Don't Like Change

This afternoon we're being blessed with yet another incredible summer rain shower! What a summer we've had! The pastures are green and filled with thick, tall grass. The cattle are belly deep in grass and that's an unusual site around here in the desert and we're thankful for every green blade.

Alas, all this rain means that I'm spending an inordinate amount of time behind the mower. I'm thinking about putting in a request for a riding mower next year. We've got a pretty big yard and then when you add in everything around the headquarters, you're looking at about 5 acres. With everyone else covered up in ranch work, this chore falls to me so I generally trudge out about 6 in an attempt to beat the heat and put in a couple of hours as the resident yard slave before turning into the kitchen fairy and heading in to whip up something for dinner. Between baking bread, or making pickles, and heaven forbid I don't pop something in for dessert, the mornings just evaporate.

However, I still fall into the very spoiled category because come the afternoon, I do have the opportunity for a short nap, or to flip a few pages in the latest book I'm reading, or to clean the bathroom,
... or to play with fabric.

Quilting has been a slow process lately because I'm hand sewing 31 hexagon flowers onto my latest project. I did finish piecing the top for the hexagon quilt-a-long, but I'm in need of some material for the backing. Guess I have no choice but to make a trip to my favorite quilt shop. I'll tell you - the things we HAVE to do sometimes! I might need someone to twist my arm. However, I have to say that spending all that extra time ripping apart those hexagons was worth it! I actually really like the finished top! Just boggles my mind how the exact same fabric can come alive by simply placing it in a different position.

I am also finishing the top to my 30's quilt so I'm hoping to have 2 completed projects to share soon!

Then its on to something new! I'm still deciding. I'm thinking I'm ready for something quick and easy.

On the home front - Camp wrangler kid came home on Saturday. Gosh I missed that kid and she's already gone again! She was here long enough for me to get her into the dentist for a cleaning and then she left again this morning. Headed back to the camp for a 2 day retreat and then she's meeting up with her Daddy for a weekend of scouting and packing back into the mountains with horses. DH drew an elk tag this year and he's trying to become acclimated with the area.

DS is pulling out this weekend and heading back to college. Loved having him home for the summer, but it sure is different once they go away to college. Seems like everyone's coming and going and I'm just trying to keep track of where everyone is.

I've actually been kind of sad this summer. Too many transitions all at once and I'm not very good at embracing change. The changes are exciting for the kids so that makes it easier, but gosh it sure keeps a Mama on her knees.

The next day or two I'll be fixing up some goodies for DS to take back to college. He's getting a batch of spicy pickles that I make, his favorite cookies, some homemade rolls, and part of a pound cake that he loves. Then once he pulls out, I think that'll be the perfect time to drown my sorrows amidst the bolts of quilting fabric at the quilt shop.

Wonder if they'll welcome a teary-eyed Mama.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Prize-Winning Blueberry Muffins

I made these yesterday morning and since they were practically devoured, I thought they deserved to be shared. Next week I'll make them up using cranberries!

Blueberry Muffins

1/2 c sugar
1/4 c butter, softened
1 c sour cream
1 egg
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp freshly grated lemon peel
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 c fresh or frozen (do not thaw) blueberries

1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp freshly grated lemon peel

*Preheat oven to 375°. Place paper baking cups into muffin tins. Set aside,

Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup of butter in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often until creamy. Add sour cream, egg, lemon juice, and 1 tsp lemon peel. Continue beating until well mixed.

Add 1 1/2 c flour and 1 tsp baking soda to sour cream mixture until just moistened. Over mixing will cause them to loose their fluffiness and we all know that fluffy muffins are better! Gently stir in blueberries. Spoon batter into muffin cups.

Combine 1 Tbsp of sugar and 1 tsp of lemon peel in small bowl. Sprinkle over each muffin and pop into the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned.

We're having another round of crazy, hot weather and my baking has pretty much dwindled down to nothing, but I braved the pre-dawn hours and turned on the oven to make these. It was worth it!
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