Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Under the Needle: January

 Time in my sewing room has been scarce this month - I think I've misplaced my sewing mojo, but I did manage to make a little progress.

I finished binding this quilt that I started last summer

And I made a binding for this quilt that I'm taking to Jackie's as soon as she calls and let's me know the 2 quilts I left with her last month are ready

I am currently binding the 2nd blue-green quilt 

And I really want to make a Kaleidoscope quilt like this one from Kitchen Table Quilting

I didn't even put it on my 2024 quilt list, but whenever I get a little time, I'm trying to spend a few minutes cutting down scraps and I'm making a pile for these blocks 

- I'm using a Kaleido-ruler instead of templates and I made 2 blocks (6"). 

I'm not very  happy with those intersections. I may try an 8" block later, but I cut out a quilt for our son and daughter-in-law and this one is a priority this year so I'm currently piecing these blocks

And while I was on a cutting spree, I cut out squares for yet another gingham quilt 

Lastly, I cut and sent out 5 yards of red fabric for a Red & White Fabric Swap. I posted about that here

I usually work like this. I have multiple projects in various stages going on at once. I know that's not everyone's cup of tea, but it works well for me. It's not often that I have large chunks of time in my sewing room, but with 15-30 minutes of time; I can pull fabrics for a new project, or cut or press or stitch or quilt or bind a little and everything moves forward just a bit closer towards a finish. 

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Red & White Fabric Swap

 Besides this blog, an occasional peek on Instagram (I used to post there, but stopped years ago - I just felt like it took up too much time for me), and just recently I've watched a few pieces on You Tube, I don't participate in Social Media. It wears me out. I probably miss a lot, but my hermit personality just needs less information. The kids usually reach out if there's something I need to know and phone calls and texts are good too. 

That being said, a post popped up on Instagram (Julia @Redrainboots) late last year for a Red & White Fabric Swap and it caught my eye. I've been wanting to make a red & white quilt for a long time and I've been collecting fabrics for 5 or 6 years, adding them to a bin so I added my name to 5 of the groups. 1 yard of fabric, cut into 5" squares per group.

These were my contribution

1. Faye Burgos - Marcos Fabrics 

2. Tidings of Great Joy - J. Wecker Frisch - Quilting Treasures

3. Gingham Picnic - Poppy Cotton

4. Sunshine Chamomile - Poppy Cotton

5. Sunshine Chamomile - Poppy Cotton

So many fun fabrics arrived! I have a lot of that white on white plaid that I think I'll use as a background. It's been a while since I've used a single fabric for a background - I don't know if I can do it. LOL.

There are 4 (5") squares of 70 different fabrics. Who knew there were so many different red fabrics! I've started pulling a few reds from my stash as well and cutting squares to add.

 Julia has 3 children and the 4 of them worked together and I was so impressed with their organization and implementation of everything related to the swap. Well done!

Julia is also hosting a quilt-along for this quilt

 but I'm probably not going to be able to stay on schedule. I may just make HSTs as leader enders and settle on a layout later. There is no shortage of  red fabric here so I'm leaning towards a classic hourglass quilt too. I like the variation of low volume prints in this one

or I may just piece a simple patchwork quilt like this one although that much white probably isn't a good match for our dirt road lifestyle.

Or maybe I'll just make them all! 😉

Monday, January 22, 2024

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch

 I haven't been posting much about ranch life because we've pretty much been spending our days doing this

Still no help at North Camp so feeding 700 hd of cattle on 128,000 acres means DH is in the feed truck every day for 6-8 hours. I wish we had another feed truck because then we could divide and conquer. We had a load of cubes delivered on Monday. It arrived at night and the next morning we found this at the bulk bins

Not good. I don't know if the driver overfilled the bins and didn't get his auger turned off in time or exactly what happened. We keep our bulls in this pasture and if they had access to that pile of cake, they'd probably bloat and die. 

Very grateful we were home. 15° or not, we had to get that cleaned up so I loaded up buckets 

and shovels and DH brought the skid steer over. We shoveled cubes into the skid steer bucket until we got down close to the ground

Then DH shoveled them into the bin of the feeder

While I picked up more loose cake by hand in order to keep from shoveling up gravel and filled buckets

Crisis averted. 

Then  I ran into the house and threw together a pot of potato soup for dinner and DH brought up 30 calves that we weaned and brought over from Devil's Tank the other day and we ran them through the chute 


They were branded 


And poured with Cydectin

DH unloaded a load of mineral tubs

And then it was off to make another feed run

And that's why it takes me a month to bind a quilt - I can't keep my eyes open at night. LOL.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Best Ever Potato Soup

 Today I'm sharing another recipe from my favorites file. I found this in Taste of Home in 1999 and I've been making it ever since. I only make it once a year and it seems it's always the week before Christmas. This soup is quick to pull together during the busy holiday season. Served with a good, crusty bread, it always hits the spot and I love having it as a part of my soup collection. After spending the day bouncing over ranch roads, feeding cattle, trying to stay warm, it's comforting to come home to a hot bowl of homemade soup.

Best Ever Potato Soup

4 Tbsp butter

8 bacon strips, diced

1/2 C chopped onion

1 large carrot, grated

5 C cubed potatoes

16 oz chicken broth

1 Tbsp parsley flakes

1/2 tsp each celery seed, salt, and pepper

3 Tbsp tapioca flour (or all purpose flour)

3 C milk

8 oz Velveeta

1 C grated sharp cheddar cheese

green onions

red pepper flakes

*In a large soup pot, saute butter, bacon and onion for about 5 minutes. Stir in grated carrot. Add potatoes, broth, parsley, celery seed, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender - about 15 minutes. Make a slurry with tapioca flour and a little bit of milk. Add slurry, plus additional milk to soup. Simmer for a few minutes. Add cheese; stir until cheese is melted and soup is heated through. Garnish each bowl with chopped green onions, grated sharp cheddar cheese, red pepper flakes, and additional chopped bacon..

*I know Velveeta's not 'real' cheese, but it has it's place in my queso and this soup. I also grate my own cheddar cheese for the garnish. We love cheese and just think grating our own from a block, gives recipes a better taste than the pre-packaged grated cheeses.

So dish up a bowl and come join us at the table!

Monday, January 15, 2024

Mountain Lake Quilt

 I keep a lot of my fabrics sorted by color and last year my blue and green bins would no longer close so I came up with a plan that would hopefully make a dent and leave me with bins that would close. Since I was pulling and cutting a lot of fabrics, I decided to make a couple quilts and 2 quilts turned into 3. This is the first one. I didn't use a pattern, but this quilt, that I saw on Pinterest, was my inspiration - it doesn't have a link associated with it so I can't give credit to the source

 I settled on 6 1/2" blocks (unfinished). That translated to LOTS of HSTs, but I loved pulling fabrics and matching them up for each block. 

I like the versatility of HSTs. There are endless options and although I really don't enjoy piecing tops that are on point and that require a diagonal setting, it just adds a whole different dynamic to the quilt and this one was worth it. I love the end result.

I made the first 2 test blocks back in July


For some reason, I didn't take many progress photos - I guess I just got caught up in the process and sewed with reckless abandon. 😉 And I sewed a lot because the quilt is 88" x 88".

I love the scrappiness of this quilt - I really did throw anything and everything in there yet keeping the colors to blue and green kept everything from becoming too chaotic - I didn't really worry about placement - just sewed for the most part and tried not to have too many blues or greens all bunched up together. Other than that, I just let the blocks land where they landed.

Sandy used a lime green thread and quilted a design called Bora Bora. It's hard to see the quilting across the fabrics, but here's a shot in the sun that shows it a bit better.

And I backed it with this print.

I pulled a blue from my stash for the binding 


and worked on it during the National Finals Rodeo, putting it away during Christmas, and pulling it out again after the New Year.

The first finish of the New Year - 15° - waiting for the sun to climb up over the barn to warm things up a bit

Soaking up that Southwest Sunshine!

If you turn it the other way, it reminds me of mountains, thus, it has been coined Mountain Lake

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Blast From the Past

 If you'll indulge me a little this morning, I have a little bit of a backstory to this post. My mom was from Vienna, Austria and she married a young Air Force GI in 1963. My Daddy was from Ulm, Germany but he joined the Air Force and they were sent to Aurora, Colorado in 1965. My mom couldn't speak English or drive a car and one of these days, I'll post about their story, but it's not pertinent to today's post.

The first week they were in Aurora, she packed me in a stroller and took me to a nearby park where she met another young German mom who had a toddler son and they became instant best friends for life. A few months later, my mom got very sick and ended up in the hospital with a collapsed lung. I stayed with Tante (Aunt in German) Frieda during the day, while my Daddy was at work, until my mom came home. On a side note - my mom's name was Elfriede too.

My mom passed away 3 years ago, but I am still in touch with Tante Frieda. We visited over the phone at Christmas and she said she was going to send me something that would make me laugh. This, along with some Christmas Stollen arrived

42 years ago today, I was on the front page of the San Antonio, Texas paper and Tante Frieda kept the page my mom sent her...for 42 YEARS! She also sent me the announcement I sent her when our son was born eight years later. I love that she still had these and sent them to me. 

My parents had that picture framed and on the wall in their home. I remember that day as if it were yesterday.

It was January 13, 1982. I was a senior in high school and such a tomboy. I was just huddled in a pen, waiting to weigh my lamb (JD) for the Stock Show. It was so cold and a guy walked by and just snapped a picture. He then told me he was a reporter for the paper and he asked my name. Never dreamed I'd be a covergirl. 😂😂 

Thanks for the walk down memory lane, Tante Frieda! I'm trying to reconcile the fact that that high school senior is turning 60 in 9 days! Don't blink!

Monday, January 8, 2024

Posole (Pozole)

Last winter, DH asked if I would make Posole. This is a traditional Mexican dish. I'd never made it before, but it's a staple here in New Mexico, often served on New Years. Surely, I could figure something out. I mentioned it to my hair dresser and she told me how she makes it so I started there. I wanted to document how I made it because DH loved it and if I don't write it down, I won't remember the next time he asks for it. And the next time is now. I forgot to post this last year so I'm sure glad I wrote it down. 

I did watch some videos, but I just wasn't willing to cook pig's feet and I couldn't find any dried, whole Hominy so I used canned. It's still a little involved, but it's hard to beat a warm bowl of Posole when you've been out feeding cattle in the brutal New Mexico winter. 


Bone in Pork Shoulder

5 cans Hominy

Dried Red Chili Pods

A few Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce

5 C Low Sodium Chicken Broth

5 C water

3 minced garlic cloves


Mexican Oregano


1/2 C finely diced onion

I started with a 3.5#  bone-in pork shoulder. My hair dresser makes hers in the oven, but I chose to smoke mine. I seasoned it simply, with salt and pepper and some Big Ron's Seasoning that we keep around.

I smoked it at 250° until it reached an internal temperature of 165°, which took  about 3 hours. I sprayed it a few times with water as it cooked. Then I wrapped it and cooked it another couple of hours until it hit 205°. Then I let it rest, still wrapped, for about an hour before shredding it. 

While it smoked, I made the red sauce. I bought a bag of mild dried red chile pods, cut off the stems and cleaned out the seeds. Then I cooked them in a big pot of water with garlic cloves. Once they were soft, I drained the water and threw it all into the blender. Then I ran them through a fine meshed strainer, adding the sauce to a large pot. I added a tablespoon or so of Cumin, about the same or maybe a little more of Mexican Oregano, a little bit of Thyme, some finely diced, onion and about 5 C of low sodium chicken broth, along with another 5 C of water. I also added a little Chipotle Pepper in Adobo Sauce from a can for a little heat.

I simmered that for about an hour and then added 5 cans of drained Hominy along with the smoked, shredded pork. Simmer another 30 minutes or so and let cool before placing in fridge. This soup really does benefit from sitting overnight and reheating the next day and it seems to get better with each day. The flavors intensify and deepen with time. This freezes beautifully and I like serving it with cheese quesadillas.

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Quilts on the Horizon for 2024

 I'm a consummate list maker. I edit them as needed, but they help me stay on track when life gets crazy and a new quilt list to kick off the new year is one of my favorites. This is a combination of UFOs, quilts that have been requested, and quilts I just hope to make. 

1. Black & Pink Spring Splash Baby Quilt - This has been on the list for a few years and it's silly because I just needed to hand it off to Jackie & Sandy, but other quilts seem to get there first.

2. Winter Blues - I don't think I touched this at all last year so we'll give it another shot this year, because making these little scrappy blocks was fun.

3. Follow Your Heart - I rarely buy kits, but this was a kit offered by Sweetwater that I bought years ago. I love the taupe mixed in with the red and white. I need to applique around the hearts and then piece the top. Hopefully I can move this one forward.

4. Flannel Quilt - Another one from last year's list, but not really a UFO because it's still just 2 Layer Cakes. Our girl requested this one after seeing how soft and cozy the Farmhouse Quilt was that I made for her Daddy.  


5. Scrap Baskets - yep, another leftover from last year. It's at Jackie's

6. Christmas Quilt (or 2) - technically, this isn't a UFO, but it was on last year's list and I didn't get to it so we'll shoot for this year - I'm leaning towards using an 8" economy block for one and framed squares for another. Both requests by the chiddlers.

7. Love You S'more I - Finally something new on the list. A camping quilt! I love this collection and found a Fat Quarter Pack on a great sale as well as  Layer Cakes for $15.00! 

8. Love You S'more II - I need 2 camping quilts! 😉


9. Texas Longhorn Quilt for our Son-in-law - so far it's just a pile of fabric. P.S. I wonder if there's anything in the Texas A&M bylaws that forbids me to make a Longhorn quilt. I wouldn't want to put my diploma at risk of being revoked, but I love Kenny so I'll chance it. 😉

10. Americana Quilt - pieced and in line to hand off to Jackie

11. Meet Me in Margaritaville - partially pieced and stashed away in a bin waiting it's turn. This is the third of my blue-green quilt trilogy.

12. Pooh's Corner - I have always had a soft spot for Winnie the Pooh and it was passed down to the chiddlers and now to the grandchildren so a Pooh quilt is a given. Another project that's just a pile of fabric at the moment.

13. Unicorn Quilt - our granddaughter is enamored with 'Corns' and I've had this fabric in my stash for years for such a time as this. I'd better get to this one before the Corn phase passes.😉

14. Meadow Friends - I bought this fabric years ago when it was on clearance for $5.00 and I've always wanted to make a quilt using it. I have enough fabric for numerous quilts, but 1 quilt is a good start. After all these years, I still love this fabric.

15.  S'mores Quilt - made the first block for this one in 2013 and just picked it back up in November of last year. 

16. Farmhouse Chic Quilt - saw this in a local quilt shop a few years ago and loved the faded, shabby look of it. 

17. Adventure Lies Ahead (Tyler & Steph) - the kids asked for a couch quilt and I pulled everything together last fall, but never got it made. It's a priority this year.

18. Last October I received a text from our girl with a link to this fabric from the Line Snuggle Season. It made me smile - reading between the lines and after a series of texts, a fall cuddle quilt has now been added to the list.

19. The Old Dirt Road - This isn't a UFO yet, but I've had this pattern and fabric in a bin for several years - unlike so many folks, I love brown and with a name like Old Dirt road I HAVE to make it! Last November I pilfered a few strips of some of the prints for my S'mores quilt and it renewed my desire to make this one. Mine will be more scrappy.

20. Out to Sea - this is one of 3 blue-green quilts I started in an attempt to whittle away at my blue and green bins because they were too full to close. I'm currently working on the binding.

21. Framed Squares - this is the 2nd blue-green quilt. It's been pieced and is up next in the binding que.

22. Another Bunny Hill - This is one of the first collections I bought and I've made 3 or 4 quilts with it. Apparently, I overbought. LOL. Using the leftovers in the bin, I made a row quilt and it's at Jackie's waiting to be quilted and yes, I pressed it before I handed it over to her. 😉

23. Ranch Life - This one was started in May of 2018. It was a fun way to use up leftovers from another quilt and it's time to get it finished - it's at Jackie's as well.

24. Songbook - This is pieced and waiting for me to cut the backing and hand it off to Jackie & Sandy (our girl claimed it when she was visiting and saw it pieced).

25. Pink Gingham - I'm still smitten with gingham quilts so it's a given this list would include at least one. This is pieced and ready to hand off to Jackie & Sandy

I honestly did not expect this list to be so long! And I am under no illusions -  there is no way these will all be finished by the end of the year! I'll just take one stitch at a time and focus on the quilts the chiddlers have requested. I love that they want quilts in their lives and ask for them. Good thing we just have 2 though because between the two of them and grandbabies, 11 of the quilts on this list are for them! 😂

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