Tuesday, March 28, 2017

New Quilt Project

I've been on the lookout for years for a special project. I've been wanting to make a quilt for a remarkable couple, but hadn't ever found the perfect pattern for them....until now. When I stumbled upon this one, I knew I had found it:

It came in a kit and I'm not a big fan of kits. I've only made one other quilt using a kit so that's probably not a fair assessment, but I cut carefully and it was a still a very close call as to whether I'd have enough fabric. I squeaked by, but my SIL said the same thing about kits she has ordered. Still, this was perfect so I bit the bullet.The fabric is still available so I am going to play it safe and order some extra.

Then I became incredibly intimidated when I opened up the pattern:

There are 28 pages of instructions! Good gravy!! I am nothing if not determined though, but I am going to take precautions and make the accompanying table runner with some fabric in my stash first just to give me a little insight into the construction. And if I want this finished by Christmas, I had better get started!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Why I'm Not Sewing

Last Tuesday we made our annual trek to the Manzano Angus Bull Sale, 3 hours from here. DH's back is slowly getting better, but he still can't sit much or bend and pick things up. It's just going to take time and prayer and he's still got his sense of humor so we're muddling through. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers and for asking about him.

We had to pick up some bulls on the 16th so he did saddle up:

I hauled the boys to the east side of El Tank and took a different route home where I stumbled upon a lone baby calf bawling for it's mama:

He had crawled through a couple of fences in search of adventure and his mama was bawling for him to return so I just circled around him and walked him down the fence a piece after I opened some gates and soon they were reunited:

Then calf #2 was spotted. He had penned himself off from his mama too:

A few more gates were opened and another reunion took place:

And for those of you wondering about DH being horseback, riding a horse isn't like sitting. You use your thigh muscles to ride and your legs are almost fully extended. Still, he's taking it slow, although he did ride again on Thursday. We had to move some cattle off of Shinnery which is a shrub that becomes toxic to livestock when it begins to bloom. Thankfully, we don't have much of it and the boys only had to move off of one pasture.

So, back to the bull sale - it has been notoriously cold and incredibly windy every time we've been to the sale in the past 10 years, but this year they had the prettiest weather you could imagine. We spend a couple of hours meandering through the pens, coordinating what we see,

with the statistics in the catalog, and matching them to what we need:

And then hope that someone else with deeper pockets isn't set on taking him home. :) This year we picked up 12 handsome bulls, pulling in after 8 p.m., unloading in the dark. Then, as the sun rose the next morning,

We ran them through the chute and branded them:

And let them settle in for a few days with all the hay they could eat:

And now Skeet and I are back to making our daily feed runs.

He's just like a little kid and finds incredible joy in the everyday tasks:

This is how we entertain ourselves while we wait for the rest of the crew to arrive at the feed wagon:

It's a pretty good way to spend the afternoons and Thursday was especially nice because with the aid of a couple of lumbar supports, DH made the feed run with us:

I didn't think he should, but we had to move some steers into another pasture by the house. They brought them up to the pens to weigh 3 bunches to get an average weight on them. They need to be sold and their weight will determine how much they will bring.

So this explains why I haven't been doing any sewing this week, but I'm not complaining. As much as I like making quilts, I love being out and spending time with DH more. And as he continues to heal, he's just going to have to get used to me being his shadow.After 30 years, he should be used to it by now. :)

Friday, March 24, 2017

HST Rodeo Rider Baby Quit

I haven't been doing any sewing this past month, but I have had a couple of quilts to bind and I've worked on those a little bit off and on:

This little quilt top came together awfully fast last year. I had 2 charm packs of a Riley Bake line called Rodeo Rider, but I didn't have a clue as to what pattern to use until I ran across a HST layout on Pinterest that originated here

Perfect. This is also the photo I showed a friend when she was looking for a pattern. She made it in turquoise and grays and it is beautiful. I used a navy that I had in my stash from Connecting Threads and set to stitching. The Riley Blake charm packs only have 22 squares and once I used the 2 packs I had, I picked up a third in order to make it a little larger. This one is going to our girl's best friend from childhood. She is a barrel racer and they are expecting their first baby, a girl.

Jackie quilted this wonderful paisley across it to echo the paisley found in some of the prints and I love the way it shows up on the pink polka dotted fabric I used for a backing:

This measures 40" x 48" and I'm just waiting for the arrival of the sweet child to add the label and send it on it's way to Texas.

I really like this layout for HSTs and I think I'll be making it again...soon. I'm trying to get ahead by stashing a couple of baby quilts, but I'm giving them away as fast as I can make them. :)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches

I love Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches and I will order them every time I see them on a menu. We seldom go out, but everyone in my family knows that's what I'm going to order if it is available and if it isn't, I also love a good quesadilla. However, I order with trepidation. It's hit and miss as to whether or not it's going to be good or not.

When we were in Vegas a few years ago, the hotel/casino had Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches and they were SO good! I had them twice and then I discovered a little hole in the wall place in town and a couple of friends told me that their Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches were amazing. They were right. As good as the ones in Vegas.

So I decided I'd try to recreate them at home and DH said I nailed it. The thing I don't like about most of them is soggy bread. I wanted something that would hold up to the filling so I went with a Ciabatta bread, slightly toasted...Yum! I've never found one served on Ciabatta. Sometimes I buy the Ciabatta bread and sometimes I make it. And the addition of the jalapeno gives it that extra zip that really makes my mouth happy.

Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich

Ciabatta Bread - we like ours toasted
1 lb good quality deli roast beef (Yes, I know it's expensive)
a few shakes of Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 onion, sliced
1/2 green pepper, sliced
Sliced mushrooms
1 sliced jalapeno
Cheese slices - Swiss or Provolone or Pepper Jack - these have all worked well for us

*Saute onions, green pepper, mushrooms and jalapeno in a Tbsp of olive oil and a little butter for 5-10 minutes We like a little char on ours. Slice roast beef into thin ribbons and add to skillet with a few shakes of Worcestershire Sauce, sauteing until warmed through and a little browned on the edges. Pile onto Ciabatta bread and add 2 slices of cheese. Top with second piece of toasted bread and dig in!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Putting Her to Work

Our girl was home for a short visit last week. The university sent her to our nearest town to pick up a truckload of feed and she finagled a way to spend a few days with her old folks. That always makes the old folks happy!

And as is par for the course, she gets put to work. :) Truth be told, she said she was coming to help with whatever needed doing. When our kids left home and ventured out into the world, they often remarked on the lack of work ethic they encountered. Few people were willing to put in extra effort or they expected compensation for a little additional labor. I understand the concept of overtime, but in a rural capacity, it does not exist. You just work until the work is finished and in farming and ranching, it's never finished. You don't get paid extra and there are no bonuses.Thus, we raised 2 children who were taken aback when faced with peers who balked at putting forth extra effort when manual labor was involved.

We had a big area of 6' tall weeds that needed whacking and burning between the barn and the round pen. I spent 2 mornings fighting my way through them with a heavy metal rake until I thought my arms were going to fall off. And I realized that I am no longer 25. :) But I managed to get through 90% of it in 2 days.

When our girl arrived, she joined me and we finished clearing the area as DH began to burn the dried weeds on Friday morning.

It did not escape our notice that fires were causing terrible destruction in the plains as we worked. We were all mindful of our rural friends and firefighters and silent prayers were whispered as we kept a watchful eye on the flames.

The pitchfork and I have also forged a meaningful relationship these past few weeks as I've been pitching hay to the beef from a large bale that broke. Another reminder that I am no longer a spring chicken.

However, on a positive note, my old lady arms are getting toned! Well, perhaps toned is a bit far fetched, but they are less flabby. :) Our girl accompanied me as we put out mineral in pastures other than the ones I feed on a regular basis. She scurried up top to check the storage tank in Red and White:

She tossed 50# sacks of mineral into the back of the feed truck with her 23 yr old arms as if they weighed nothing. I told her that when you are my age, the first 3 weigh 50# and then they get progressively heavier. By the time I have handled the 10th sack of feed or mineral, they have doubled in weight. :)

And she snapped sneaky pictures of her Mama, posting them online:

Yes, tis' the season for babies! Stay tuned for my annual baby bovine photo shoot. :)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Oven Lovin'

I've had a Frigidaire gas stove for 22 years and as much cooking and baking as I do, I think I finally wore it out. Through the years, DH has replaced parts on multiple occasions and in the past 6 months or so, it has been  a crap shoot as to if it felt like baking or not. It was finally time for a new stove. It completely quit 2 weeks  ago and I can tell you that it's been no fun. In the big scheme of things, it's not a big deal. Others are dealing with much bigger issues, but I sure do miss my oven.

When I think of all the meals I've cooked and baked through the years, it makes me a little nostalgic and I kind of hate to see it go. Is it odd to become attached to an appliance? It has served us well through the years and I guess it's earned it's retirement.

So last week, I made a trip to town to scout out the possibilities. There's a Home Depot in town, but 95% of what they carry is glass top stoves and that just does not work with my cast iron collection. Besides, I'm a gas stove girl. In a perfect world, my dream stove would be one of those commercial 6 burner stoves and I'd have double ovens, but alas, that's not going to happen. My little kitchen is already cramped.

Then there are 2 local appliance stores so I popped in to each of those. We used to have a teeny, tiny Sears store, but it closed so the pickings are pretty slim when it comes to selection. Still, I think I hit the jackpot at store #1. I found this GE stove:

5 burners. Double oven. Gas. In the scratch and dent section. Yes, please!

There was only one itty bitty ding on one side that I couldn't even see when I tried to take  a picture. The delivery man's name is Magoo. How fun is that and he was a very sweet man. Had to take a farewell shot of my old stove as Magoo carted it off:

The bottom oven has a convection mode. I wan't looking for that, but I hear about them a lot. It came with the middle griddle and I added a center grate, but they sent the wrong grate so when I called and asked about it and a manual, Kent said, " Look in the bottom drawer." I told him it was a double oven and he told me to look there. I said, "No manual, but there's a pie and cookies in there." He laughed and said, "Already?!" Yes, sir, already!

 I am celebrating! I am baking! Pie is on the menu!

Pie AND cookies!

Because I have 2 ovens!

Cue the Snoopy happy dance!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Bringing Home the Tree Quilt

Yes, I know it's March, but our girl was home for a few days and I finally had an extra quilt holder to get a picture of this quilt so you get a Christmas quilt post in March, plus the story of why I made it.

It all started 30 years ago. :) Cutting a tree for Christmas has always been a family tradition. When we were first married, we ran a ranch that didn't have many trees so sometimes we had a Christmas bush. :) One year we kept procrastinating and when we finally cleared some time to get a tree, we had a blizzard. Christmas has never been about the presents. I don't need presents and it's not about the tree either, but I need a tree. :) So we shoveled through cattle guards with fence high snow

to fetch a tree:

When we lived in West Texas, we lived and ranched in the mountains. Yes, Texas has mountains. And when December rolled around, we always looked forward to trekking up Mount Annie which was on the ranch:

and choosing the family tree.

I was always thankful that DH was at the wheel because it was a precarious climb: It was one of our favorite traditions and even in July, we would spot a beautiful tree and exclaim that it was perfect for our next Christmas tree.

Those are treasured memories

When we moved from Texas and left our dear mountains, we were devastated. And that's not an understatement. It was a hard transition and we missed our mountains.

We were loath to leave behind our Christmas tree tradition so we drove to the nearest mountains, 2 hours away, and continued our old tradition in a new place:


Bonus: my in-laws live there and we get to descend upon them and raid Granny's kitchen that always includes something delicious from the oven!

And I discovered that those new memories are just as precious as the old ones! So this quilt is a reminder of those special times and I knew I wanted to make it the minute I saw it online:

It's in this book:

I pulled all the reds and greens from my stash that felt like they belonged in this quilt in 2012. The stack on the right is also for a project I haven't started yet. :)

And enjoyed piecing each and every tree

Jackie's daughter, Sandy, quilted this pretty holly motif in all the trees:

And the Puss n' Boots blocks were stitched with a gorgeous snowflake:

I loved the plaid for the border when I found it and Sandy added these fun stars:

It finishes at 80" x 94". She did a beautiful job on it and finally it is finished!

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