Sunday, August 30, 2009

Improvisational Quilts

My scrappy quilt has a newly titled category: The Improv Quilt.I didn't realize it, but there's a name for it - The Improvisational Quilt. I've done this type of quilting for years without knowing it was a style of quilting. I always looked upon it as Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - scrap quilts. Here's a few more links to my crumb quilting and scrappy quilting. A way to make-do with what is on hand. The Ah-Ha moment clicked when I was visiting this blog: Tallgrass Prairie Studio. I followed Jacquie's links to her Improv Flicker Group and low and behold, the type of quilts I've made for a long time. Cool. I just had to check if this blogger was from 'my neck of the woods' with a name that includes 'tall grass' and 'prairie' in the title. Alas, not from North Dakota, but from Kansas. A bit of a distance from here. Man, these central plains prairies go on for miles. It's a great blog, go check her out, and the flicker pages, too. While you're there, be sure to read her blog Stupid Is As Stupid Does. It's funny - and a great writing style. We all do this kind of thing from time-to-time so I can really relate.

Just wanted to share. Now . . .

Cheerio . . . off to sew!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Another Give-away and a Ride

Cart Before The Horse Doll GiveAwayI happened upon a website today where a talented doll artist is offering a giveaway. The painting on these dolls is beautiful so thought I'd share the link. The prizes consist of a doll like this or your choice of five quilt patterns. I'd choose the doll, they are quite unique. Check out the Cart Before The Horse website for info.

It has been quite some time since I created one of my cloth dolls. Seeing these pictures makes me want to sew up a doll and start painting. With all the moving around of things in my sewing studio I'd have to do a bit of looking to remember just exactly where I moved my doll patterns. I have an idea . . . just have to check if I'm right.

I ran across a few dolls that I had already sewn and stuffed, then abandoned them to work on other projects. Perhaps this would be a good time to retrieve those unfinished dolls and get to painting. It would be fun to get those completed and get in some practice painting while doing it. Who knows? I might have lost my touch and need to get in some more practice to renew my painting skills. Hopefully it's like getting back on a bike . . . it'll probably all come back to me once I start in on it again.

Speaking about getting back on a bike . . . my dh and I went on a nice, long motorcycle ride this afternoon. We headed east out of Bismarck through Menoken and Sterling. Then at Sterling we headed south. After a bit more riding we circled back west and came back to Bismarck via the Lewis & Clark trail (ND Hwy 1804) past the University of Mary and the Airport. It was a great ride - kind of tired me out actually. We got lots of sun . . . and wind. Later when we got back home it was burgers on the grill and chips to go along with them. We've both been kicking back, relaxing, ever since. Aaah . . . what a great summer day.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Cutecase Giveaway and Fat Quarter Drawing

A 'cutecase' giveaway at twiddletails blogHey everyone, I just thought I'd pop in for a few moments while I'm surfing the net to let you know about a 'cutecase' giveaway. That's my name for this little suitcase that opens to store all your art goodies, or fishing goodies, or make-up goodies, etc. I'm hoping I'm the winner of this little beauty, but one never knows. Go over there to the Twiddletails blog and leave a comment for your entry to the contest. If you win through seeing it on this blog, let me know . . . I'll throw in an extra prize of three fat quarters from my stash if you won because you read it here from me AND if you post my link to your own blog. What comes around goes around, eh? (Let me know if you won so I can celebrate with you!!)And if you don't win the 'cutecase', but list my blog link on your blog, I'll give away three fat quarters in a random drawing for someone who mentions my blog on their blog. List your link then comment back to let me know you did so. And thanks! I love sharing links and finding great new sites.

Cheerio . . . off to sew!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Yum! Pizza Night

One pan of pizza assembled and ready for baking.Ooh my, Yum! Yum! This home made pizza was absolutely perfect. The house smelled so good while it was baking in the oven. And it tasted divine! I haven't made home made pizza for awhile. Store bought and those take-and-bake pizzas just don't compare.

I found this pizza recipe years ago - had to be 15-20 years ago! It was from a cookbook at the library way back in the days when the kids were little and I used to search recipes there rather than buying cookbooks. Had to save money back then, don't ya know. The library was a great resource for free recipes. Now days all you have to do is a computer search and you're bound to find all kinds of recipes.

The book I found these in was a book all completely filled with a huge variety of pizza recipes. The recipe was originally call "Black Pepper Lard Dough Pizza". I don't remember the name or the author of the book. The recipe I use nowadays is in my head and I just mix it from scratch without looking. I've made some changes along the way to make it my own. I don't use lard, but olive oil instead. I remember the author saying the lard produces a totally different type of crust, but I don't usually keep this on hand. Years ago you could buy lard in the meat section in small tubs. I haven't seen it in the store for years, but you could probably locate it at a specialty store or even a local butcher would get some for you. The lard was rendered something like Crisco so you could use it right from the tub.

I do put lots of black pepper in the dough like the recipe calls for when it is mixed. There's good flavor in this crust. Over the years I've tried mixing the dough in a variety of ways: sometimes adding a bit of sugar to give the yeast something to eat as it rises, sometimes adding wheat flour or oatmeal for a slightly different taste, sometimes bread flour, but mostly just plain old all-purpose flour.

I cut my pizza on an extra large cutting board so my pans do not get marred up.Like I said, the recipe is in my head, but it basically goes like this.

In a large mixing bowl mix together with a wire whisk: 1 1/2 cups warm-hot water, 2 1/2 tsp. baker's yeast, 1 cup flour, 1/2 - 1 tsp salt, 1 - 1 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/4 cup olive oil. (These are actually approximations since I no longer measure anything but the water and the yeast - bread dough is pretty forgiving. I usually just guesstimate when I make dough.) Once you've whisked these things all together, allow it to rest a few minutes so the yeast can start to bubble and rise.

While it's resting this would be a good time to get out your supplies to make the pizza sauce. Sauce is really easy to make. In a medium size saucepan pour 1 - 15 oz. can tomato sauce and 1 - 6 oz. can tomato paste. Add 1/2 - 1 tsp basil, a liberal dash of garlic powder, a liberal dash of onion powder OR 1 tsp dried minced onion, 1/2 tsp salt (optional) and 1/2 tsp pepper. (Can you tell we like flavor - adding more pepper here!) Stir all together and set to simmer on low heat. Stir occasionally. --{By the way, if you want to use a larger can of tomato sauce you can, or double the sauce recipe so you have extra for another meal. See my note below.}--

About this time you should be turning on your oven to its lowest setting. My oven has a 'warm' setting . I would guess it is not more than 100 degrees judging by the other numbers on the dial. This is what I use. Now go back to your dough and add another cup of flour. Whisk it in well. Your dough should be getting thicker by now, so abandon the whisk (Fill your sink with hot soapy water and start throwing your used utensils in to soak. It makes it easier to get the dough off the whisk before it dries hard. Whisk it around a bit and voila, it's clean!) Grab a fork to stir in more flour, half a cup at a time, till the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. When it starts to form a ball, sprinkle a generous amount of flour on your counter top and dump the dough out onto the flour. Hang onto that bowl! Scrape any remaining dough out then pour approximately a tablespoon of oil into the bowl. We'll use this in a moment, set it aside.

Go back to your dough and begin to push and knead the dough. Continue adding flour a bit at a time onto your counter top and knead the flour into the dough. When the dough no longer sticks to your hands you've added enough flour. Form a ball of the dough and roll it around in the oil in the bottom of your bowl till all sides of the dough are covered and oil covers the whole interior of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Turn off the oven and place the bowl on the middle rack to allow the dough to rise. The oven should be warm enough to 'proof' the dough. That is what it is called when the dough rises. If it is the wintertime, or cold in your house, I've heard you can place a pan of water on the bottom shelf. The water gets hot when the oven is initially heated and holds a more even temperature as the oven cools off while the dough rises. Keep the oven door shut to maintain an even temperature for the dough to rise. This also makes it a moist climate to rise in, but since we've covered the bowl with plastic wrap the moisture stays in the bowl. The old fashioned way of raising dough was to place a damp cloth over the bowl and provide a moist oven with the hot water on the lower shelf. I quit doing it the old fashioned way when my towel dried out and the dough stuck to it causing me to lose a large chunk of my dough and end up with an ooey-gooey mess on my flour-sack kitchen towel. Plastic wrap works just as well since the oven is turned off and it's not hot enough to melt.

These two pizzas are pepperoni and Italian sausage. Mmmmn!While the dough rises you can be prepping your pizza topping items. You can do things like: brown the sausage, chop some green peppers and/or onions, grate your cheese (or easier still - buy it already grated), search your cupboards for a can of black olives, plus prep any other veggies or meats you want. While you're prepping, stir the sauce occasionally. Once the sauce has simmered 15-20 minutes, take it off the heat and allow it to cool. Set aside your toppings and wait till your dough is done rising. Maybe you'll want to get in some sewing action while you wait? :)

When the dough has doubled in size it is done rising. At this time you can get out your pizza pans. I use three pans. Use two pans for really thick crusts, or four pans for extra thin crusts. Even if they are Teflon coated I use Crisco to grease the the pans. I always get better results this way. After greasing the pans, wipe some extra grease/oil on your hands and push/punch down the dough. I divide the dough into three balls and place each ball on a pan. (Put your dirty bowl in your soapy water to soak.) Use your hands to gently spread the dough out across each pan. The dough won't stick to your oily hands so this will be easy. Let the dough rest a bit while you go wash your hands and that bowl. I find keeping up with the dirty dishes when I make pizza in my small kitchen gives me more counter space to work on since my dishes are in the sink or the drying rack and not taking up counter space. And there's less to clean up later.

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Ladle one or two large spoonfuls of sauce onto each pizza and spread evenly around. Note: You may have extra sauce left over. If you do, put a spoonful of sausage or pepperoni and a dab of your green peppers and onion into it, cover and refrigerate. You can boil up some pasta within the next day or two and have a nice pasta side-dish for another meal. Or save it in your freezer for a quick-to-make dinner next time you're in a hurry.

Add whatever toppings you desire to your pizzas then sprinkle with cheese.

By now your oven should be hot enough. Bake the pizzas on the lowest rack (for a nicely browned, crispy crust) for 10-15 minutes. You will want to keep an eye on them and remove the pizzas when browned to your liking. Since I usually make three pizzas I will place two of them in the oven at the same time. I alternate them between the middle and lowest rack levels allowing the crusts to brown from the bottom and the cheese to brown from the top. This is not ideal, but then we have two pizzas coming out of the oven at the same time. Pizza usually tastes best if baked on the lowest rack.

If you are fortunate enough to have one of those pizza stones place your pan directly onto that in the oven. The pizza stones simulate old-style traditional pizza oven cooking where the crust is cooked from the bottom up so it gets nicely browned and crispy.

So . . . enjoy! Home made pizza is yummy . . . and good for you food when you add lots of veggies!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Virtual Model

mini me via a virtual modelmeme througha virtual modelmaxi me through a virtual modelHave you ever used one of those virtual model sites to try on different garments - to go virtual shopping? I did that for awhile today. I set my model up with all my current stats, then thought I'd play around with my model at different body weights. These are pics of my favorite fall outfit - a pumpkin colored pull-over top with embroidery around the neckline, a pair of dark brown trousers and black mid-high heels. This is the closest hairstyle I could find from the choices provided. The color is more of a reddish tint than what I currently have. Too bad there were not more colors to choose from. Maybe I should go with a touch more red? I doesn't look too bad here. Hmmmn . . .

This is a great visual to see I'd definitely look better if I dropped some weight. Hmmmn . . . that's something else to put on my goal sheet. The site I used to create these images was My Virtual Model Community. There are garments to try on that allow you to see what lines look better than others and resource info to click onto if you want to shop for real. It's kind of fun. It also allows you to try on a few different hairstyles and really see how it changes the look and shape of your appearance. That's pretty cool to see what looks good before you get it cut for real, or change the color, etc.

Okay, enough playing around on the computer. We're having home-made pizza tonight and I've got to mix up the dough and start prepping my toppings. More next time . . .

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fabric Color Swatch Organizer

I thought I would share an idea I came up with years ago. Some of the fabric tags are dated 1994. That was a long, long time ago. Wow, 15 years ago! This is the way I could track the fabric in my stash and do some color matching when I needed to shop for more coordinating fabric. Here's a brief description of how I would organize my fabric stash info.

Take your fabric sample with to shop for matching colors.Years ago I started clipping a corner from each piece of fabric I purchased. I trimmed them with a pinking scissor so they wouldn't unravel and get messy. Then I used half of an index card to write all the pertinent information about the fabric sample. I typically wrote the size of the piece, the date of purchase, and the fabric content. Usually the fabric was all cotton for quilting, but fashion fabric content varied and was important to know later when I sewed a garment. It would have been nice to have noted the price per yard, but I did not record the price info on most of the cards. That info would have been handy for figuring price of fabrics used to create items for sale. I could have had a more accurate price for my cost of goods manufactured or sold.

A closer view of some of my fabric samples for color matching.This view is just a little bit of a closer look. When I first started tracking the info I used straight pins or safety pins to attach the fabric to the index cards. Later I found it easier (and safer) to just staple the fabric between an index card than was folded in half. The info can be recorded on both sides of the card as needed. Just hole punch near the top folded edge and slide it onto your storage wire or locking ring.

The wire holding these snippets of fabric all together is actually just a coat hanger. I clipped the hook (for hanging) off with a wire cutter and bent the ends to enable them to hook together. It is an inexpensive way to wire them together. Now days there are rings available at hobby and fabric stores that would look prettier and serve the purpose better. The rings that are used to hold embroidery floss cards together would work perfectly for this purpose. You might also want to check an office supply store for loose leaf rings up to 2"-3" diameter. If you look around you can find larger rings also. I checked on-line searching "loose leaf rings" in my search engine and found a site that had screw rings from 3" up to 10" in diameter.

When you are ready to go fabric shopping and need to color coordinate your new purchases with your stash at home, just throw your color swatch ring into your bag and go shopping. Or pull off only the ones you need at the moment and put them together with a smaller ring to fit your bag better.

At the beginning of this blog I mentioned I started doing this fifteen years ago. I don't know when I quit adding new fabrics to my ring. It has been some time since I last added any swatches. Meanwhile I didn't stop adding to my stash. This is one thing I would like to catch up on. Having a sample on hand with some of the accompanying info would be a beneficial. As I work at organizing my sewing studio I will continue to clear through my stash to decide what's a keeper and what's not. I plan to update my swatches as I go.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Garden Visitors

Dragonfly sunning itself in the garden.I went out to check on the progress of our grapes in the garden a few days ago and found lots of garden visitors. The insects have certainly found a safe haven back there. It's fairly quiet and undisturbed back in the garden since we've hardly made use of the patio for eating outdoors at all this year. A few days ago I noticed a young dragonfly under some lilac leaves. It looked a bit bent out of shape like it might have just hatched and was trying to stretch out a bit. I don't know if they hatch this time of year, so cannot say if that was really the case. Seems kind of late in the year to be hatching now. Perhaps it was some other kind of insect. Anyway, I caught this dragonfly on camera and it is quite a bit larger than the one I saw a few days ago.

Dragonfly up close and interesting.I caught it clinging to one of our tiki torches sunning itself. Thankfully it hung around long enough for me to run back into the house to grab my camera. I was glad to get such good shots of it. Later when I started photographing the bees it took off . . . obviously it knew I'd lost interest in it and I had moved onto other winged creatures. Fickle paparazzi - LOL!

You can click on the photo to see it just a bit larger. You'll be able to see the details of those wings nice and close. What vibrant colors these guys have with their body markings.

One of my coneflowers hosts a bee for dinner.The thyme in our garden is growing out of control this year. I haven't harvested any of it for cooking, we just let it grow every year. This year it is going crazy and sprouting up all over. I'll have to pull some of it out this fall or that's all we're likely to have next year. The bees really love those dainty little flowers. Earlier in the afternoon I was seeing lots of these bigger bees and bumble bees. Later in the evening I went out to look again and it was lots of little tiny bees . . . the ones we used to call 'sweat bees' when I was little. Strange they're out at different times like that.

A closer view of this bee as it collects pollen.The bees I saw were different sizes and had different markings and body shapes. This one had some reddish color along with the yellow. Others were yellow and black.

I have a few cone flowers that made good perches for the bees. I just love cone flowers. They strike me as an interesting mixture of shapes and textures with their large pink petals surrounding a big protruding spiky center. They are a pretty and unusual looking flower. I like that they're so very different from other flowers like roses and such. I've got yellow daisies in the front yard. Those are equally as fun to look at with their yellow petals and velvety/furry centers. They're a fun, friendly kind of flower.

The thyme has done really well this year and is a hotspot of bee activity in our garden.Here's a great close up of a bumble bee in the thyme. One would think the flowers are too delicate to hold their weight, but these bees still manage to do their work even hanging upside down at times.

This year the grapes grew to mingle with the honeysuckle vines.I planted some sweet green seedless grapes for eating a few years ago. Last year was the first year of grapes for those vines. We lost the whole crop to the birds so I'm trying to keep a better eye on them this year. It will be great to get out there and pick these when they're ready. They're still fairly small and hard. They need a little more time to ripen and fill out a bit. There are lots of grapes hidden under those leaves.

I also planted honeysuckle on this fence so it would fill in and create more privacy between us and the neighbors. The grapes seem to be overtaking the honeysuckle now. They will need to be cut back this fall. Hopefully it won't do too much damage to the honeysuckle vines to rip the excess grape vines out later after we harvest them.

Concord grapes are just turning purple.On the side of the 'lodge' we have grapes for cooking. The concord grapes are just turning purple now. They a kind of small compared to last year. Usually we get a huge crop to cook down and make into grape juice or grape jelly. Yummy. The birds don't go so crazy over these since they are not as naturally sweet like the green grapes. A few jars of juice or jelly will taste scrumptious this fall.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Walking The Dogs

We got an invite from our our son and his new wife to come to supper at their house today. They did a fish fry and cook out. Walleye was pan fried inside (very tasty, Sam) and pike and burgers were grilled outside (yummy, yummy, Josh). There were other goodies like chips and dip, corn and rice followed up with tasty dessert.

I made two Sour Cream Apple Pies to take along with us. It was my first time trying the pie recipe from Gooseberry Patch's Made From Scratch Cookbook (page 105). I was taking it out of the oven just before we drove over to their house. By the time we were finished with our main dish the pies had cooled off enough to eat but were still a bit warm. Mmmmn! Yummy. I will likely be making this recipe again. It was a fun visit with the family including both sets of parents and Sam's grandparents and one of her brothers. We didn't have an opportunity to stay long as there were things we wanted to finish before the end of the weekend. It was a fun visit.

An expansive view of the Capiol LawnWhen we got home this evening, I took the dogs out for a nice long walk. They always love to go on walks. We headed toward the capitol and made our trek down the sidewalk adjacent to this long stretch of lawn and around the neighborhood before heading home. We made lots of rest stops for Sugar who seems to get winded easily these days. She still loves to walk, though. She hasn't grown too old for that.

The clouds allowed a little sun to shine on the capitol building long enough to snap this shot.I brought the camera along during our walk thinking I might get a few good photos showing off this time of year. It was nice and cool outside with a fairly good breeze going. There were a few other pedestrians out this evening, but really only a small number - overall it was a quiet, peaceful walk on a quiet evening.

It was partly cloudy as you can see from the photo. I happened to capture this shot as the clouds moved out of the way to allow the sun to shine brightly on the scene. Just prior to this it was cloudy and overcast with lots of dark shadows. Much better with the sunlight. The dogs were patient as I snapped pictures, and Sugar got a bit of a rest to catch her breath.

Every year the flowers are planted in in such a way that the different colors spell out 'North Dakota' in front of the building.This view of the flowers out in front of the capitol is better from a distance, or even from the air. The flowers are planted so the different color varieties spell out the name 'North Dakota'. Here I managed to just get the 'N' and 'O' . . . 'no' . . . ummm. Okay, so it looks better from a distance, but a cool idea. I should try to hang around some time in the spring when they do the planting to see if they use some sort of template or something to get the arrangement just right. Wait, let me search the net to see if there's something posted on that . . . No, I didn't find that exactly, but found some better views of the flowers and a bit of info about it.

Here's OMB's page that talks about planting the 5,000 petunias that make up the name North Dakota and a better view of the words.

Here's a link that shows a 360 degree view of the flowers and lawn area.

Evidence that it will soon be fall. This is just the start of the leaves falling from the trees.A short distance from where I was standing to take the previous photo there is this group of trees. Already we are seeing some leaves falling. Autumn is on the way. Some of the leaves are changing colors and others are falling. This is the time of year I love the most, when it starts to turn cooler and we have the changing of the seasons.

I'm looking forward to fall. And I hope fall lasts for a long, long time before the snow comes.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Busy, Busy Day

Pancakes for breakfast - quick and easy with a mix.It was a very busy day for me. I started with a yummy pancake breakfast. I use Crusteaz Mix. It's so easy, just pour a bit of mix into a measuring cup, add water and stir with a fork. I ended up being too full in the middle of my second pancake. No fear of wasting food around here. I've got three furry kids who are always more than willing to help me clean my plate. The dogs loved it.

Lots of boxes for packing and sorting.Now that our boys have moved out of the house again I will be going through their old bedrooms and clearing out stuff, sorting, organizing then do some re-decorating. We're planning on making the larger bedroom a guest room in the event we have company sometime. I might still make use of a portion of this room for some sewing or craft activity. I'll have to see how things develop. The other bedroom currently houses our treadmill, weights and a weight bench. My husband wants to keep this as a Workout Room so we'll be removing all the extra 'stuff' that has accumulated over time in there. We're currently storing some stuff that belongs to the boys. That's about to change. Anything I cannot send on to them or that they do not come to claim is going to be sold in an upcoming yard sale this month or next.

Assorted boxes for sorting.Thus the collection of boxes. I need to go through all the stuff in those rooms and sort into boxes for the yard sale - or they will go into boxes to be sent on to the boy's new homes. We've decided we're not going to be the free storage facility any more. I've got quite a bit of my own stuff I want to go through and thin down 'stuff' as well. I'm hoping to make more room for actual living space. Right now there's so much stuff it's hard to move around in the Workout Room and a bit crowded in some other rooms.

I found most of the boxes at McDonald's and the grocery store. Don't know how sturdy they are, but they'll do for what I need. Then my husband called to say they were throwing out file boxes at work and did I want some? You bet. Those are always a nice size to work with and they're pretty sturdy since they have to hold lots of heavy papers. I see I'll have to re-assemble them. They look like they're still in good shape. Yeah, free boxes . . . and recycling to boot!

My favorite stand-by: Better Homes and Garden Cookbook and a favorite Gooseberry Patch cookbook.After lunch I took a peek at a few of my favorite blogs and found a recipe for Italian Flat Beans that sounded really good on Rebekah Teal's Mary Janes Farm City Farmgirl blog. We love these beans as served at our local Carino's Restaurant. The recipe called for Italian flat beans. I looked around a short bit. I first tried the Farmer's Market but since it's Wednesday I missed their schedule (Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays). Then I swung over to the local grocery store. I found the long, skinny green beans. That was all the fresh beans they stocked. I know what I'm going to try growing next year. They were expensive! Along with them I picked up two small tomatoes and fresh garlic. Man! Talk about a heavenly scent once they started cooking. And I learned to easily skin the tomatoes by boiling them for 30 seconds in with the beans then plunging them into ice water. The skins just slipped right off. Very quick and easy.

I've been craving meatloaf lately. Usually when I get a desire for meatloaf we head on over to Cracker Barrel. They've got that good old-fashioned down home cooking going on over there and their meatloaf is yummy. I knew I had some recipes for meatloaf so I dug out all my Gooseberry Patch cookbooks and found one in the first book I started flipping through. It is called 'A Pinch of This, A Dash of That'. I happened to get a call from my husband about this time so I mentioned I was going to make meatloaf for supper to see if that suited him. "If you're going to have the oven going on one of the hottest days of the year (98 degrees today), stick that lasagna in with it." I recently made up lasagna and decided to double it for two pans. I stored one in the freezer for a later date. Objecting that is would be too much food at one time to sit in the fridge for just the two of us, my husband responded that we could divy it up in plastic containers and refreeze it if we couldn't eat it fast enough. And it would be cooked so he could take them with for his break at work. Okie dokie, meatloaf and lasagna it is. Then I thought, well if I'm going to have the oven going anyway how about a touch of something sweet for my sweet tooth. The perfect thing to slide next to the loaf pan of meatloaf would be another loaf pan for a pound cake. I have always loved the pound cake recipe in the Betty Crocker Better Homes and Garden cookbook.

You can see in the picture my pound cake didn't rise very well. The recipe called for lemon zest which I didn't have on hand. I did have lemon juice so poured a splash of that instead. Then it called for sifted flour. I do not have a sifter. My mom had a cool one when we were growing up, but I've never seen one in any of the stores around here like that. So I guesstimated on the flour. I think I got too much and the batter was too heavy to rise - or I need to replace my baking powder for some new fresher stuff. It's tasty as it is. A bit on the lemony side but still yummy. Just not as light and fluffy as it could have been.

Some of my cookbook collection.Mmmmn! Our house was a sensory delight this afternoon. Everything smelled so good! When my hubby got in after work it was only about 20 minutes or so before we could eat. My tummy was really growling with all the baking and cooking. And of course our furry kids always have their ears and noses perked up when I start to cook or bake something. As usual I had leftovers on my plate after supper and they were more than willing to help me out with them. So now there's leftovers enough for a couple days in the fridge. This means I won't have to cook for awhile. Yum and Yeah!

After supper I asked my husband if he wanted to accompany me outside to check the progress on our grapes. Last year we lost nearly every one of them to the birds. I'm determined to be checking them often so we can be the ones to benefit from them this year. They're not ready for picking yet. There's certainly LOTS of them this year. We've got concord grapes we usually make into juice. And a few years ago I planted two vines of seedless green eating grapes. I'm looking forward to those especially. I love sweet green grapes. I might even try grape jelly with the purple concord grapes as well as juice.

While outside we decided to tackle some of the humongous weeds that have grown up while we were out of town. It's like a jungle out there where everything just grew like crazy and turned wild. He pulled weeds, I pulled weeds, then he had to take off to his men's group meeting at church. So I continued pulling weeds. After nearly an hour I was getting over heated, dripping sweat and all grungy and thirsty. Decided to go inside and cool off with some ice water. What! Both the front and back doors were locked and I didn't have my key. By now the dogs were barking like crazy with me rattling the doors trying to get in . . . and the lasagna was still in the oven as it needed extra time to cook from starting out frozen solid. Hmmmn. What to do? Thankfully the neighbor across the street was outside in his yard and let me use his phone. And he even got me some ice water. I know I must have looked atrocious - all grungy and sweaty from pulling weeds on the hottest day of the year. Oh well.

My hubby soon was home and I got another tall glass of water and sat in a lawn chair while he bagged up all the weeds I pulled. I propped my feet up on another lawn chair and by this time there was a gentle breeze as things were cooling down. It was about 8:30 by this time and I'd been running nearly all day with shopping, cooking and baking, gardening. Whew! Just the few times I've gotten up to walk around tonight I can tell already I'm sore. I just might relax and sew tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

First the Movie, Then the Book

A new book release: Julie & Julia. The dual true stories of Julia Child and Julie Powell.I ran some errands today and while I was out I stopped at a favorite local bookstore. This book, 'Julie & Julia' by Julie Powell, is now out; released in conjunction with the movie. I picked it up to see how closely the movie follows the book. I thought the movie was good, so I am sure I'll enjoy the book. It should make for good, relaxing reading. I guess I'm kind of doing the order of these things backwards. Usually someone reads the book and then goes to see the movie. I did this backwards when 'Devil Wears Prada' came out also. That movie and book didn't really follow each other very closely.

At the bookstore there was an endcap with several other Julia Child books. I picked up a few and glimpsed through them. The thing that holds my interest though is the view from the blogger's side of things. I can remember when Julia Child was on television when I was young. She seemed so goofy to me, with an odd sense of humor, always seemed to be spilling something, tossing salt and spices over her shoulder and food around, and being very laid back in the kitchen. I remember thinking, "Man, I'm glad I don't have to clean up that kitchen." It was different from anything else on television. The Saturday Night Live parody of her that is portrayed in the movie is also something I actually saw when it was broadcast on SNL. It will be interesting to read more about her life in this book. Now to wait for the DVD to come out so I can watch the movie again - and again. I love letting movies play as I sew.

It turned out to be a very warm day - in the 90's. I have not taken the dogs out for their walk yet. Perhaps we'll still do that later as it cools off into the evening. Meanwhile I've got a few more errands to run and then down to the sewing room to work on some projects.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday as Movie Day

When my husband asked me the other day what I wanted to do with the afternoon I asked him if he was interested in seeing a movie. I've had my eye on 'Julie & Julia' since I saw the previews at the last show I saw at the movie theater. When he asked what it was about and I told him what I knew of the plot line his response was that it sounded like a movie to see with my friend. That translates to, "No I don't want to see the show." I almost decided to go by myself yesterday when he was off playing tennis in the Bismarck Open. He's been busy playing tennis so much lately and I've been kind of bored by myself photoshopping wedding pictures for hours on end. My sewing friend is away from home today, our usual Monday Sewing Day. I decided to just go see the movie on my own after lunch for the matinee.

It was a great show. I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in blogging, writing, cooking, etc. Actually anyone who just likes a good story. It's based on two true stories. First a portion of Julia Child's life and how she got started with French cooking and wrote her now famous cookbook. Second the story of Julie Powell and her year long task of blogging about 365 days to cook every one of Julia Child's recipes from the cookbook.

Here's a link to see a trailer of this movie. It's quite charming.

And I found a link to the Julie/Julia Project blog that is referenced in the movie. Sure she quit writing this blog years ago, but there it is if you're curious about it. And here's Julie Powell's current blog.

I did a quick search of photos on-line. If you want to see some still photos from the movie there are some great ones out there. This one will definitely be in my movie library when it comes out on DVD.

The rest of the day went by quickly. Got home from the movie and was only here a short while when I got a phone call from dh that the chihuahuas needed their rabies shots. So I leashed them up, put them in the car and met my hubby on his way home from work as we headed off to the vet. A quick in and out over there and we were back home. Afterwards, all three dogs and I went out for a walk. While we were heading out my son and his new wife drove up. They accompanied us on our walk. It was a warm walk. As has become typical, Sugar is slowing down considerably on her walks now. I know the warm weather didn't help her much. She was panting quite a lot. Of course if I were close to 100 doggie years old I'd be panting, too. She's a trooper. With lots of stops for rest to catch her breath she made it around several blocks of the neighborhood.

It was a good day today -- I got to see a fun movie, had a nice walk around with the dogs and a short visit with the kids while doing so. We did breakfast for supper - bacon , eggs and pancakes - had a bit of a nap in the late afternoon to rid myself of a caffeine headache (too much iced tea) and then had a great visit by phone with my folks. I don't do that much; it was good to hear there voices.

I think tomorrow I will go snap a photo of the movie theater poster for this film so I have a better photo for this blog entry. It's always good to have a photo . . . much more attractive to the eye. There, a new photo has been added: taken at the Grand Theatre in Bismarck on a hot, bright sunny day -- thus all the reflections. But at least now I'm not 'borrowing' a photo I lifted from a website. (Naughty, naughty, that is) Now it's my own photo, taken by me, no matter how bad it is. Perhaps I'll try for a better one later one evening when there's not so many reflections to contend with.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

More About the Wedding

I worked for hours on more of the wedding photos today. There are still a lot left to open, crop and convert to .jpg for Josh and Sam. Josh was over at our house for a while today testing if the DVD I made for him would open in his computer. There are still at least 200 photos left to work on. I tried to burn a DVD with all of the original photos in the .NEF format as well as the .xmp and .jpg files from the wedding. They wouldn't all fit onto one DVD. That's a lot of photos! I will probably be sorting them so just the .jpg files go on the DVD and save the original raw photos from Ben's camera on a separate DVD.

Well anyway . . . here are some more photos for your viewing pleasure. First one up is of the guys.

Listen up guys! Receiving words of wisdom before the big event.The groom with his groomsmen -- a candid moment. Looks like the photographer is dishing out some good info there. Maybe sage words of wisdom for the young men to take to heart?

The on-lookers.Then of course there's this photo of some on-lookers. Two seasoned gentlemen who already know all about those words of wisdom? Looks like they've maybe got some inside information of their own from those expressions.

The groom with his groomsmen.Here we are again with the groomsmen. What a good looking group. Oh . . . take it easy there Michael. Deep breath. Those words of wisdom must have really touched home! (Sorry Mike, smile ;)

This photo was taken midmorning as we were getting started. I was standing several pews back and off to the side when I first started taking photos so you don't see the crispness evidenced in later shots. That's from being too far back. There's a lot of graininess to the first photos. I'm sure the professional photos of these shots will be excellent. The photographer invited me to come forward to take my photos some time after these were taken thus allowing some later shots to turn out better. But anyway, here's to candid shots worked in amongst the professional ones.

'One ring to bind them' - the ringbearer and groom.The ring bearer was a good looking boy who seemed to look so serious and filled woth concentration as he observed everything going on. This is how he looked in many of the photos I captured. I have to say he did a great job that day. I know long days of standing around with all the grown-ups probably wouldn't be listed as one of the top days on his 'what I did for fun this summer' list. I like this photo of him most of all of those on my computer since he is relaxed and smiling here.

Ringbearer so intent on watching the proceedings.Lots of concentration going on here. The ringbearer is so intent on watching everything that's happening around him.

Ringbearer beams a nice, big, gorgeous smile.Here's another good shot of our young ringbearer. Nice big, beautiful smile!

Josh and the bridesmaids.I got several shots of Josh and the bridesmaids seated on the floor like this and only two of them standing together. I would have liked to see more of the standing ones. The dresses are so pretty they show off so much better standing. I got lots of candid shots with everyone looking different directions or with odd expressions; this is one of the better ones with everyone looking forward.

Oh dear, I feel a swoon coming on!I'm taking suggestions for possible caption titles on this one. Please leave a comment below on what you think this caption should read.

Could it be, "Oooh dear, I feel a swoon coming on!"

Or maybe, "Goodness me, being the bride is such hard work, but someone's got to do it."

Okay, I'm open for suggestions in the comments section. Please post your suggested caption.

Josh and Sam dancing the night away at their wedding reception.The newly wedded couple dancing at their wedding reception. This is early in the evening (might even be the couple's first dance) while the jacket was still on. Later as they get warmed up and the evening progresses you'll notice most all the guys have shed their jackets, some even shed their vests and ties.

Siblings with attitude.Here's a shot of Aunt Sue taking a photo of Sam and her brothers - with attitude. Looks like they're well practiced and might have taken this stance before.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Short One About the Wedding

The wedding party.
Well the day has just spend on past. I didn't actually work on photoshopping any more of the wedding photos today. Yes, I'm easily side-tracked. I went out shopping with the newly wedded couple today. We managed to while away the hours at Hobby Lobby in the morning, get a bite of lunch together, then spent several more hours at JoAnn Fabric and window shopping at the mall. Later, after getting home, this evening the time just flashed by as well. 'Wall-E' was showing on cable. Since I never watched that show before I chose to do that instead of accomplishing anything more substantial. My dh was busy playing tennis in the Bismarck Open most of the day. He came home during the last half of 'Wall-E' and we spent the rest of the night as it finished, watching it together. Cute movie, very entertaining. I just love watching those digitally animated shows from Pixar.

Here's a look at Josh's side of the family.
But I promised to share some photos of the wedding and so I shall. These were taken at the church - some prior to the ceremony, some afterwards. The bride and groom chose not to see each other prior to the ceremony. They each were secluded in different parts of the church so their first views of each other that day were when the bride walked down the aisle.

A peek at Sam's family.
It was a very lovely ceremony. There were a lot of tender, touching moments. It was also fun to snap the photos of the wedding party and others involved right alongside their professional wedding photographer. I got quite a few nice candid shots as we all hovered around watching the proceedings.

The cute little flowergirl.It was a warm day in the church that day as evidenced by this big fan. It stands out somewhat awkwardly in this photo, but I left it in the shot rather than photoshopping it out. It tells part of the story. The flower girl was a good sport for most of the photos. I know it's hard for little ones to have the patience it takes to participate for hours at this type of event. She did an great job and was a cute highlight for the day. I know the professional photographer had more straight-on shots while I switched positions and angles taking shots from various location on either side of her and in and out the the church pews. Most were candid shots as everyone watched.

Sam laughing it up with the groomsmen.
Here's a candid shot of Sam laughing it up with these characters - the groomsmen. They were talking about doing some funny, lively action shots where she hits (or rather pretends to hit) one of the groomsmen with her boquet of flowers. I posted that shot on my facebook wall.

A Bridezilla shot of the bride going after a groomsman.
Here's another look at that shot I posted on facebook. It is a posed shot, but they were definately having fun with it and I think Sam would have actually been happy to really hit the groomsmen if it wouldn't have ruined her flowers. LOL!

Sam and her bridesmaids.
After the professional photographer finished with the photos she wanted of Sam and the bridesmaids I suggested they form a line so I could get a photo from the back with a little attitude of the girls looking over their shoulders. The idea sprang into my mind because I was thinking of the opening credits shown on the movie 'My Best Friend's Wedding' with Julia Roberts. I was trying to recall some of the shots they did there and it seemed there was one similar to this. Of course it's been awhile since I watched that show so I might be all wrong about whether it actually happened. I do like their opening song on that movie. The footage of the opening looks so vintage and fun to me.

Okay, this is just a short post since I knew so many of you were waiting to see some of the wedding photos. It's time I head off to bed now. I'll see if I can post more tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Coming Home

My husband and I have been busy these past few weeks. We had the pleasure to seeing our younger son married to his pretty new wife on the 25th of July; then we took off for a week of traveling through five western states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. Our destination was the National State Games of America in Colorado Springs. My dh qualified to play tennis against other amateur tennis players from other states across the nation. We made the trek there in one day, one long day of driving.

The entrance to the GardenAfter our arrival to Colorado Springs we decided to spend a little time as tourists. We took a drive around for a little sight seeing. We stopped here at Garden of the Gods. I loved the look of the cement made from local aggregates with its reddish hues. It looks very southwest to me, reminiscent of the pottery and all.

Amazing this rock formation remains balanced and intact. It's huge!It is beautiful countryside in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The views were spectacular. We would have done a little hiking along the trails in the Garden but from the looks of the sky it seemed we would likely get rained on. This Balanced Rock is absolutely HUGE!! I didn't get a very good photo of it myself. I was trying to look around at everything too and not just have my camera glued to block my full line of vision. Sometimes it seems I miss stuff when I'm limiting my vision through the lens. There's an even better view, more a side view as we drove past, of the Balanced Rock if you check out the photo on Wikipedia. You feel dwarfed by its huge size as you drive through these rocks. My photography just doesn't do the park justice. For even better (professional) shots check out the Garden of the Gods Website.

Look Out #3 viewpoint.We decided it would be best to just drive through the park. There were numerous lookout posts and stopping points along the way for pictures.

Garden of the Gods on a rainy day.Some of our photos were taken while stopped and just off the side of the trails. It didn't seem wise to go too far as we could hear thunder rolling above us in the clouds. At times the tops of the mountains were obscurred by the clouds.

Driving through Garden of the Gods.We exited the Garden of the Gods somewhere and ended up in Manitou Springs, got turned around while trying to find the entrance again from the other side so saw a bit more of tourist shops and such. Eventually we made our way back into the Garden of the Gods and followed the roads back out to the exit that leads toward the Colorado Springs side. By this time it was raining again with thunder and lightning. Most of my photos by this time were all taken from the car. You know you can spot a tourist when she's hanging with a camera out the side window! LOL!

At the opening ceremonies (patterned after the Olympic's opening ceremony where all the participants from around the world parade into the auditorium) there were athletes from 44 different states participating. There were only three players from North Dakota at the opening ceremony to represent our state. Compare that to 500-700 athletes from the bigger states like Texas and California, and over 6000 from the home state of Colorado. It took awhile for all those athletes to parade in. Then we enjoyed entertainment during the opening ceremony from gymnasts, break dancers, aerial acrobatics, a live band and the musical stylings of American Idol singer Carly Smithson. Carly's got a great voice and did a fantastic job with her performance. She sang three songs: two that she did on Idol and the last one she wrote herself. The 2008 Olympic gold medalist wrestler, Henry Cejudo gave an inspirational speach about his olympic training and winning gold. He was the final torch-bearer who lit the olympic flame.

Rain delay at the State Games tennis courts.When it came time to play we had to wait out a rain delay. It took some time for the sky to clear, then to squee-gee off the courts and allow them to dry.

Waiting for the courts to dry.We waited in the car. Then we waited near the Director's covered table area. The delay lead to play being shortened to two matches unless there was a tie.

Here you see a picture of my dh on the left with his doubles partners. Rob, in the center, played Men's 3.5 Doubles. Sandy, on the left, played Mixed 4.0 Doubles. All three are from Bismarck.

Waiting for the courts to dry.Rain, rain, go away . . . waiting for the courts to dry.

--[By the way, if you want to see any of these photos larger, click onto them and they'll fill your screen.]--

Okay! Ready to play.Alright! This is more like it. Out on the court, we're starting the first game. But from my view through the lens I spot trouble right away. Notice the fence. Now notice my next photos. It didn't dawn on me at first that most of my shots were really good, clear, sharp images of the fence with blurry, obscurred players.

Concentrating on the game.Fence issues! Can't get a good shot of the action. I'm wasting time here trying to get some good shots and missing most of the action while trying to work out this problem. Hardly an opening in the fence at all. Only a narrow 2-3 inch area between the post and the gate. Next I look around for a visual reference to the rest of this fenced court. All sides are fully and completely fenced. Obviously there's a purpose, to keep the ball inside the court. It also manages to prevent me from getting any decent photos. Move back and all I see is fence obscurring the players too much. Gotta keep trying. I'm bound to get some good shots in if I just keep trying. It's a numbers game! The more I shoot the more likely I'll get a few good ones. Okay, think! How can I make them better shots?

Definitely fence issues! Move forward and my view from the viewfinder and the view from the lens are at two slightly different angles. It finally clicks that when I look through the viewfinder I'm actually getting the chain links blocking my picture. Okay, turn on the digital pre-image. Shooting blindly at times as the sun coming from behind the clouds blinds me or reflects off my screen making it hard to see the preview. I look up to see how much of the game I'm missing. What's the score? Are they switching sides? Who's winning? Got to find a better angle. Totally frustrated. Starting to get warmer with the sun coming out - or is it just me frustrated and all.

Pat staying focused.Sometimes I get lucky. I was trying all I could to get the viewfinder to fit between the chain links. I tried a variety of different camera settings to change the focal length so the fence will blur out and the player stays sharp and still be able to use the flash (since it is still a bit overcast and cloudy with the sun coming out from time-to-time) while holding the camera still enough and focus on a moving ball and active players running around while looking through a lens and simutaneously trying to use my peripheral vision to see which way the opponent was hitting the ball and to which of the two mixed double players will it go? (Yep! That's meant to be a run-on sentence. Artistic license in literary form to express my current frustration). Auurgh!! How do they do it? I'm definitely not a professional at this! THAT'S WHY the paparrazi take so many photos and have those fancy cameras that take multiple series of shots. It's a challenge to get that one prized shot! Okay, nice try. Now relax and watch the game for awhile.

Sandy and the fence view.Here are some more random shots. There's that fence giving me trouble again. Okay, stay optimisitc, I can do this . . .

 I love the play of those long shadows.Alright, just fooling around with some more shots. Trying for a better shot through the 2-3 inch space by the gate. Yeah, no fence, but the sun is in my eyes and I'm shooting blindly. Can I fudge after the fact and just say I was trying to get a more 'artistic' angle on it? After all, I just love the play of the light on the court from the background reflecting up. How about those long shadows. Okay. Yeah. I was really aiming at 'artistic' here all along. (Snicker, snicker, fingers crossed behind my back. LOL!)

Does this count for another artistic shot? Or just a bad photo? Drat that fence!What about this one? Does this one count for an artistic shot? Or just a bad photo? That fence!!! My arch nemesis on this day! Such a blurry look of concentration. Trust me. It's concentration. But what an 'artistic' shot that evokes feelings. What if I said it's an abstract comment on the game of tennis (or the challenges of photography). The fence . . . the barriers . . . the challenges . . . and working through them and all. It's all about staying focused . . . (huh??) Work with me here - I'm trying to make the best of it. I've got tons of horrible, out of focus photos of the players and some lovely shots of the fence. Thankfully they're all digital photos and I didn't waste a bunch of actual rolls of film!

Sandy's dog Spike greets the players upon exiting the fence.This could be the winning shot of the day. Little Spike knows how to watch a game. He had his eyes on the players most of the time - just waiting for them to come out from the fence. This pup sure loves his owner.

Patrick after the Mixed Doubles match.After the Mixed Doubles match . . . discussing the game . . . the highs and lows . . . some shots were well played, others, not so much.

Sandy after the Mixed Doubles match.Resting on the sidelines, reflecting on the game. The opposition had some better moves. They certainly have spent some time on the court. The age difference of playing this father daughter team. Come to find out later he usually practices with local players ranked at 4.0 and 5.0 and she plays in college. Both good, experienced players.

The state games are played every other year. Two years from now the games will be held in San Diego. Since my husband and his Mixed Doubles partner won the Silver medal, they qualify to go on to the 2011 State Games in California.

Prior to the state games, the other big news is my son's wedding. I'm still going through the over 1000 photos I took to photoshop, crop and fine tune them. I was going to post a few here now, but must have reached my limit as I'm currently unable to upload any more. Perhaps I can submit another post tomorrow then add more photos over the next several days. The wedding was very nice and the newlyweds say they are enjoying their time getting to know each other as a married couple. We had the pleasure of being invited for chicken supper the other day. Seems they're getting moved in just fine and getting adjusted to their new house together.

Don't mean to imply the trip to Colorado and tennis are more important than the wedding. The tennis story is just what I happened to lead off with today. Check in again. I'll try to get another post out tomorrow. More wedding photos and info coming soon.