Sunday, November 29, 2009

Saturday's accomplishments

Well, I had planned to get a lot done yesterday. I was going to make a bunch of Christmas fabric postcards and start a Quilt of Valor (QOV). I bought some new embroidery designs and used one of those to make a grand total of one Christmas postcard. - this design is Stella from The Country Needle.

Of course, the one postcard required a trip to the LQS to get some thread, and while I was there I got the green background fabric, and some red as well. Then I found a bolt of red with stars and a bolt of blue with a small dark print on the sale rack, so bought the rest of the bolts for those (40% off if you finish the bolt) and got some Kona white to go with, so now I have a simple plan for my QOV. I surfed my saved patterns to find something relatively simple to piece for the QOV. I picked a mystery pattern I had saved that uses three fabrics - that will be today's project, I think.

I have also been in the mood to bake for the last couple of weeks. Yesterday, while blog surfing, I found a recipe at bake at 350 for toffee blondies. I made a batch of those, and a batch of cinnabon-clone cinnamon rolls.

Friday, November 27, 2009


We had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday with family. Everyone brought something for dinner, and we had WAY too much food. With about 10 of us there, we barely touched most of the side dishes. Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing with onion and celery, dressing with cranberries and pecans, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato casserole, corn pudding, apple and cranberry compote, tomato soup salad, green bean casserole, yeast rolls and cranberry/orange muffins. Dessert was pumpkin pie, pecan pie, pound cake and rum cake. It was all delicious. Hosted by my wonderful sister-in-law Kathy.

I have been thinking this past month of all of the things for which I am grateful. I have a husband I love and who loves me. I have three healthy children. I have two adorable grandchildren. DH and I have secure jobs. We have funds enough to have a comfortable life and to be able to help our adult children when needed. We have family who are there when we need them. We have friends we enjoy. Even though there are concerns and troubles, we are blessed with a good life and support. I am grateful for all of these things.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Looking ahead to 2010

I'm thinking about quilting goals for next year already. Do I want to try to concentrate on completing UFOs? Do I want to focus on stashbusting? Is that really a goal for me? Do I want to set a number of yards to use? Should I at least try to use more than I buy? I know I don't want to do a "no buy" challenge - I like to get some new fabric now and again at least. I have been finding that I'll go into the LQS and come out without buying anything as often as not anymore. I will tend to buy at least something when I go to a quilt shop that isn't my usual store. Maybe since I see things that are different than what my local store carries.

Back to my original question:
I like to plan to work on UFOs. It makes me feel good to finish something that's in the stack. And I have so many things that just need quilting, or borders and quilting - they're almost done. I at least want to focus on those things. And I want to make sure that anything new I start gets finished.

Maybe my first goal should be to try to carve more hours out of every day.....hmmmm.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Go Dukes!

The second JMU Women's basketball game was this afternoon. They played Virginia Tech at home. After spending most of the day down by as much as 11 points, they made their final run in the last 6:11 of the game to win by 7. The Convo was rocking today! This makes two games where they have looked like they were out of the game several times, and came back at the end to win. There is no quit in these young ladies.


We're having Thanksgiving dinner with my sister-in-law. She has hosted for Thanksgiving for several years now. I'm taking the bread, so I baked my rolls today. I have a wonderful recipe for brown-and-serve rolls - it's from an old Fleishman's recipe book. This makes 4 dozen rolls, so there are always plenty.

Some in-progress pictures.
I mixed up and kneaded the dough, then DH and I went in town for breakfast. When we returned, my dough was ready:

I got them all shaped, and let them rise again. These are then baked in a slow oven just until they start to turn color, and can be kept in the refrigerator for a week or more. Brown in a hot oven before serving, and you have hot bread with your meal. Four dozen rolls ready for taking to Thanksgiving dinner. Yum! And one of the best parts is that the kitchen smelled like baking bread.

I'm also looking for some other interesting bread recipes to take a variety. Maybe something whole-wheat? That will wait for later in the week.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday morning progress report

Not a whole lot of progress for the weekend. I did get some small gifts made for my two Secret Santa swaps. I'm pleased with how those turned out. No pictures yet. I keep getting distracted with the computer. I start following links to blogs and just keep going. There are so many fun things that people are doing and writing about!

This should be a short work week. I'm scheduled to take Friday as a vacation day. I may look to see if I can work out taking Thursday off, as well. I have vacation days I need to take before the end of the year, and am running out of year. The LQS is having a longarm teacher in to give classes all week. Thursday she is doing a class on ruler work - that would be fun.

Off to work to start the new week!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

At-home retreat weekend

I plan to spend most of the weekend in my sewing room as an at-home quilt retreat. I have to finish putting together two different secret Santa swaps. I may also get a chance to work on some Christmas gifts. I'll post of progress through the weekend.

Artisan bread - part 2

I baked the first loaf of my artisan bread this week. It turned out really good. I haven't gotten into the habit of taking pictures for my blog yet. Next time. I'll bake another loaf this evening. This one is a keeper.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Artisan bread

I love home-baked bread. I enjoy baking bread. But I about the only time I actually make yeast bread (other than in the bread machine) is at Thanksgiving and Christmas, when I make rolls.
I saw a book a couple of months ago for making artisan breads without all the fuss:
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. I finally decided to buy the book this week, and have read it cover-to-cover. The premise is to make a bread dough that is very wet, doesn't need kneading, and keeps well in the refrigerator. You make a batch of dough, let it rise for a couple of hours, then put it in the fridge until you're ready to bake - take out a hunk of dough, shape it, let it rest for a little while, then put it in the oven - voila, homemade bread. Sounds great to me. I need a 5-qt container that will fit in the refrigerator for storing the dough, so will have to find one of those; I threw out all the mis-matched Tupperware last time I organized the kitchen cabinets, and that's where I had some larger containers. I did find a pizza peel (for letting the dough rise) at the kitchen store in the farmer's market yesterday, and I know where my pizza stone is, so other than the container for the dough, I'm set. I plan to make a batch of dough today.

I need to be more careful

Yesterday was a good day. We picked up DH's motorcycle from its service appointment. On the way home, I went to That Little Quilt Shop in Madison to do some shopping for my Secret Santa and Flat Santa swaps. Then I stopped at the Farmer's Market. I got some tea towels to be further embellished with applique or embroidery for Christmas gifts. I also bought a pizza peel, I needed that for the artisan bread I want to bake. Stopped at the grocery store to get salad fixings for the carry-in supper we planned to attend. Then managed to cut my thumb with the paring knife while I was slicing green pepper. A trip to the emergency room later, we had missed the party, but my thumb is glued closed. I know better than to get distracted while I'm using sharp knives, but....

Today is supposed to be beautiful. DH is contemplating a motorcycle ride. I have about a week's worth of things I'd like to do today.
To do:
clean up the kitchen
clean out the refrigerator
start reorganizing the kitchen cabinets
shopping trip - container for bread dough, gift shopping
mix up a batch of artisan bread dough
make up some crocheted snowflake Christmas ornaments for the tree
work on my Shakespeare in the Park - finish cutting the pieces; decide whether or not to increase to queen size
work on my sock (I haven't knit a stitch all week.)

I'll just start at the top and work my way down, and see how far I get.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Workouts tonight

First our weekly dance lesson - but not much dancing tonight. We analyzed the videos from the competition to decide where to focus for the next couple of months. Why am I not surprised that the verdict is posture, and use of feet and legs? We keep coming back to those. I'm convinced that feet and legs and posture are much improved from, say, 6 months ago, but it's still where we need to work.

And a new group class at the studio is Zumba Gold. It's a "slowed down" version of Zumba for those of us who are "deconditioned". This version of aerobics uses some basics from different dances - represented in the things tonight were swing or samba, cha cha, and belly dancing. This will be fun, because you can vary the intensity based on how extreme you make your movements.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Home sweet home

Back from vacation. We got home, unpacked the car, then went to the studio to practice. (stay left, stay left...) Back home, pick up DS and go out to dinner.

So far, I've avoided checking work email since Monday. At this point, will wait until tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow will start a new effort to get back into the gym on a regular basis. With the time change, it should be easier to get up earlier. We'll probably alternate between the gym and the studio in the mornings.

Speaking of the studio, there are a lot of interesting group lessons on tap for November - American Tango, Zumba, Charleston. We'll have full weeks this month!