Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Slight progress

Last night I trimmed the edges of the main portion of the quilt. It is now ready for sub-border and border attachment.

I didn't get too much done last night since The Boy is sick. Thankfully my Dad was able to come over and watch him during the day today. The Girl went to daycare so that she could avoid germs. Also the two of them together are kind of a handful at this age, and isn't it enough to ask your dad to be a potential barf target?

Also in the past few days I have been imagining a quilt I'd like to make for my mom. Her favorite flowers are lilacs and I've always associated them with her. By now she might hate them but too bad...I've already made the association. Anyways. I'm thinking I'd like to make a baltimore medallion style quilt. It would have a central appliqued jar/vase/basket holding a bunch of flowers. Then most of the rest of the decoration on the quilt is quilting itself, possibly accentuated with a technique called trapunto, where you stuff extra batting in there to make portions extra-fluffy looking. The other decoration would be the border, which will have color in it because otherwise it would be totally boring.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Maybe next time...

Well, it's official. The Olympics are over and I only earned one quilting gold medal. And to add insult to injury, I was at the bookstore the other day browsing a quilt book and I noticed it said you shouldn't hand-sew over the seam allowance when joining more than two pieces. Dang. I did that.

But it's only one block. And my first hand-sewn block at that. I think I can forgive myself.

I did make progress on the quilt top. It's just not done. I have all of the border pieces pressed and ready to go. The main area of the top needs to be trimmed. Also there is a skinny strip that seperates the border from the main area that needs to be added. All in all I'd say I have eight more seams to go to finish the top. Then it is on to the quilting of the layers.

Chalicat and I managed to make two different batches of amaretto truffles yesterday. They turned out very tasty I think but we had trouble with bloom. That's when the crystals in the chocolate get out of whack and the chocolate develops a sort of mottled and, well, ugly surface. It looks yucky but still tastes good. I have subjected many coworkers to a taste test. The current preference seems to be for the dark chocolate centers with dark coating (versus the bittersweet centers with dark coating.)

So I need to practice tempering the chocolate. That is not going to be easy.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Olympic Update: Disaster Thwarted

Last night I was working on the remaining side border for The Girl’s quilt. I finished it (hurray for me) but in my casual observance of the two piles of fabric for the stripes, I found myself thinking: hey, it looks like there are a lot more white strips than mauve strips. (Remember I still have to complete the top and bottom borders.)


Out came the pattern book. According to that I needed 16 more mauve stripes to make my border look like the border in the picture. Ok, no problem. All I had to do was count the mauve strips. I must have just made way more white strips. Right?

Wrong! I only have 14 remaining mauve strips. Two short. Two! As The Boy would say, What the heck?! I ran to the closet where I’ve been storing the fabric bits for the quilt and started painstakingly pulling out fabric, piece by piece. I never found two more strips, but I found enough left over mauve to cut two more strips.

Whoo! I thought for a moment I risked scrapping the entire project, and not just the gold medal. But no, I am still in the running for gold.

Yeah, baby. I’m that good. Or that lucky.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

It's here, it's here!

Twenty glorious pounds of good-quality chocolate are gracing my dining room table. Hopefully Chalicat and I can get together this weekend to start spinning delightful bits of chocolate into reality.

Quilt Olympic update: I neglected to mention that Sunday I finished the corner blocks of the border. Last night I finished one side border. Tonight I hope to get the other side done, as well as possibly getting the top and bottom border in sub-assembled order.

Last night I switched off from Coats and Clark thread to the stuff I bought at the quilt shop. It’s some German sounding name of thread that I’ve seen other places as well. Gutterburg or something. I can see that it has a smoother and more tightly twisted look than the C&C. So far it seems to be working fine. The true test will be when the bobbin runs out, though.

On top of my ambitious quilting goal for this evening, The Husband and I will be making a side trip to Sam’s Club to look at their laminate flooring. We're thinking of doing that in our dining room, since it will most likely be the most inexpensive but nice-looking solution. We might be able to carpet it for the same price but I think the kids have already demonstrated that carpet doesn't work out well in the dining area.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


And the Quilting Gold goes to…Me! That’s right folks. I finished my first ever hand-sewn block for The Boy’s quilt on Saturday. Maybe soon I’ll post a picture. I have now turned my time and energies to The Girl’s quilt top. I am making progress but there is much to do. I must maintain my focus and keep a steady pressure on my sewing machine pedal. Hopefully I’ll have my second gold before the end of closing ceremonies.

Huh. That means I will be two months behind on The Girl’s quilt. I have got to get my patoot in gear.

Chocolate update: I have not yet received the twenty glorious pounds of chocolate I ordered the other day. Which is good, because its creamy chocolateness would distract me from my vision of winning two gold medals.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Some like it HOT

Hot Chocolate, that is. Here is a recipe I just made up for dark hot chocolate. It may or may not be similar to the actual recipe that Hershey's provides, but my box of dark cocoa does not have a recipe on it. So I did this, and it was awesome:

Dark Hot Chocolate

2 cups of milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 TBSP Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder
2 small pieces of dark chocolate

Pour 1-1/2 cups of milk in a sauce pan to warm over low heat. In the liquid measuring cup, pour the (already measured) dry ingredients and stir. Then pour the remaining half cup of milk on top of the dry ingredients slowly, blending with a fork or wisk. When it is all combined, pour it into the warming pan and stir. Drop the chocolate into two mugs, then pour the liquid over top when it is the desired temperature.

Don't be afraid of the color. It will not be chocolatey brown. It has more of a purplish cast. Don't despair. It tastes awesome enough to make up for it.

The Husband regarded this as better than hot chocolate made with regular cocoa. It would be really awesome with whipped cream on top.

Friday, February 17, 2006

And the gold goes to...

Well it is hard to tell who the quilting gold should go to since I am the only competitor. I guess I win by default. Do I get the silver and bronze, too?

Though I am ahead of myself. I still have one more seam to sew for The Boy's event. Then it is time to really turn it on so I can accomplish The Girl's event as well.

Hey. You know what that means? I could get two gold medals.

Not much new today. We watched Survivor last night. I really do not care much for Shane. Other than that they all still seem pretty neutral. Bruce does seem a little full of himself but I missed most of his segment, that is all heresay from The Husband.

Boy I am hungry. I may have to supplement my pb&j sandwich with a cup of soup or something.

Oh, and to NeonApple & LogoAnn: you are more than welcome to sample the truffles. I imagine 20 pounds of chocolate will make quite a few of them, and we'll hopefully be experimenting a bit and will need feedback. Though I can't guarantee my ability to get off my butt and take samples to the post office.

Bad Day Oatmeal

Bad Day Oatmeal

½ cup quick cooking oats
2 TBSP shredded coconut
1 TBSP coconut flavored rum
small handful of dried or fresh chopped pineapple
Water, milk, or soy milk to cover

Mix first four ingredients together in a bowl. Pour your liquid of choice over the oatmeal slowly. Stop when the liquid starts to pool and cover the oatmeal. Microwave the mixture on high for a minute and a half. Stir it up and enjoy!

This is my favorite when I’m expecting a killer day on the horizon. You might think the rum is a bad idea. Don’t worry. Microwaving it will evaporate a good portion of the alcohol and you’ll be left with the yummy flavoring. Even if it didn’t, could you really get dopey drunk on a tablespoon of liquor?

Of course, if you do happen to get drunk on my concoction, I am at this point stating: you eat this at your risk. I am not responsible for any stupid stuff you might do after eating this recipe. Your use of this recipe implies your agreement to the previous statement.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Another day late post

Quilt Olympics update: in The Boy’s event: there are two more seams to sew to get a complete block. The Girl’s event is scheduled for later in the week. Hopefully.

Holy cow. Have you noticed that the month of February is half over? I have got less than 28 days to figure out how to make champagne truffles for The Husband’s cousin’s wedding shower. I told The Husband’s Mom I would do that for her. I better get moving on that. I should have been looking for a way to order chocolate over my lunch break instead of surfing blogs.

I know. I take on too many projects.

I wish I had some gum to chew. I feel the need to chaw my gums.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Happy V-Day

This is yesterday's post, which I did not get around to posting:

Cupid has arrived with a dozen long-stemmed roses, a balloon, a chocolate rose, and Reese Cups. It’s nice to get them at the office where other people can ogle them. Not that I want to show off or anything.

Ok, I do. But I just want other people to know how great The Husband is. That’s all. Really.

I got something for him but just in case he happens to be checking the blog (which I don’t think he does all that often, but he might if he thinks he is getting a present) I will put it in code. I got him a weeble-snobber and a padutoot. He’ll never guess what those are. Neither will you but that’s part of my fun.

No progress on the quilt block last night. Unfortunately our children can’t write their names yet and daycare classes hand out valentines. So The Husband and I spent our Olympic-watching time dutifully filling in about eighty valentines. It seemed to take a long time. This of course made me wonder – what early elementary school age kid has the time or patience for this?

Last night we also took The Kids to Carvel’s for ice cream to celebrate The Boy’s movement to his new class. We were trying to get him psyched about it. I am not sure that it worked. When I dropped him off today he did keep his composure until I went to leave. So there was improvement. Hopefully after The Husband takes him to the room for the rest of the week he’ll have adjusted to a more comfortable level for mommy by Monday. In case you have never been to a Carvel’s – go. You must try it. It is super-dooper creamy and ooooh so sinful. I had Birthday Cake mix flavor and it was just perfect. Everyone else had chocolate, which was also incredibly creamy and good. That is a very high recommendation, because I actually do not like chocolate ice cream all that much. We filled out a form to get a free mini-ice cream cake on our anniversary. Hopefully we don’t get gobs of hateful marketing as a result of wanting a free cake.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The torch is lit

So far today is not starting off well. I’m tired and grumpy, and today was The Boy’s first full day in a pre-Kindergarten class at daycare. He did not go willingly. When I left I could still hear his petulant “no’s” down the hallway. He was up pretty late last night (we could hear him rustling around in his room, and also coughing) so I shouldn’t be surprised that it didn’t go well. I’ve just never seen him act so attached to a particular daycare class. Though The Husband has born the brunt of that, since he predominantly has performed drop-offs up until a few months ago when his work schedule changed and I had to take over the task a few days a week.

It about broke my heart, but also made me feel even grumpier. And I’ve been wondering about this. Why haven’t we figured out a way for me to stay home with the kids? It is not that we haven’t tried. We tried for a year to sell our house so we could move somewhere cheaper. We tried to work out a deal for me to work part time for my mom and job-share with my sister. Obviously neither of those things panned out. So what it comes down to is this: I believe that things always work out for the best. And what bothers me about this particular “best” is that if I choose to believe that, then by extension I have to believe that I am not what is best for my kids, or maybe they are not what is best for me.

And that bothers me. A LOT.

So WTF. Should I change my whole life philosophy or believe that somehow I would have scarred our children for life? Do I extend this into some quirky alternate reality in which some hideous accident, like tripping over a toy, falling on a kid and maiming them for life was avoided by the universe’s plot to keep me programming machines?

Enough of that depressing talk. I love my kids enormously. I have this fierce mother-lion thing about them. I guess I just have to assume someone up there knows the score better than me.

NeonApple has inspired me to create my own crafty Olympic event. She has joined up with the Knitting Olympics. I have created the Quilt Block Olympics. I have undertaken the task of hand-sewing an entire block for The Boy’s night train quilt. Yes, I know. The Girl’s quilt is not done. But I cannot work on hers in front of the television. I am probably setting myself up for enormous failure on The Girl’s quilt. But I cannot resist the Olympic challenge.

And…I may actually finish that quilt block tonight. I’m pretty darn close. I’ve finished all the detail work and all that remains is assembly of small blocks into a bigger block. Then maybe I will drag the sewing machine into the living room regardless of noise and discomfort and try to finish The Girl’s quilt top before the end of the Olympics as well.

PLUS – working on the hand-sewn pieces gets me started for the March Tuesday night quilter club at the local quilt shop. Cool.

Friday, February 10, 2006

All things comforting

One of my favorite foods is oatmeal. Yes, you heard right folks, oatmeal. I am constantly changing up how I eat it so I don’t get tired of it. I’ve decided I’m going to start recording my oatmeal recipes for posterity or whatever.

Cranberry-vanilla oatmeal

1/2 cup of
quick cooking oatmeal
1 big handful of washed fresh or frozen
dash cinnamon
1/8 tsp vanilla
water, milk or soy
single serve container of vanilla yogurt

Mix first four ingredients together in a bowl. Slowly pour in your liquid of choice until the liquid just starts to cover the oatmeal. I prefer soy milk but usually use water since I often heat my oatmeal at work. Microwave the mixture on high for a minute and a half. Stir and then pour the vanilla yogurt over top of the oatmeal.

Ta da! You’ve got the perfect mix of tart and sweet, warm and cool, and mushy and firm all in one bowl. My gift to you.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Beware: rigid and strict interpretation below

So I got my book about fusing quilts. I still think the quilts are quite pretty, but I think there is some kind of a misnomer. Quilts aren't 18 inches by 24 and hung on a wall. A quilt is a blanket, used for warmth. I don't think throwing the word 'art' in there makes it ok to call it something that it is clearly not. Maybe I am just being stupid, but it sounds like these fused quilt tops are too fragile for use as anything other than a decorative wallhanging. I guess I am just disappointed because they didn't appeal to me the way they did when I saw them on a website. I guess after I finish my other two or three quilts maybe I'll think about learning applique for real so that I can make something as pretty and grand as the fused art wallhangings into a real live quilt.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Confessions of a nerd

Lest you forget that I am a nerd, I thought I should mention that my vacation reading of choice was "Yarn Harlot" by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. Hilarious. I heartily recommend it, even though I had no idea what she was talking about when she got all technical.

Maybe I should try to knit something. Right after I make those three quilts.

Have a Magical Day!

So. Here I am. Back fresh from a Magical vacation to Disney World with The Family. We had a GREAT time. I cannot stress how much I recommend this for people with kids. Fear of being assimilated by the Disney machine is nothing compared to the fear you should feel about not providing your kids with this special piece of magic. I mean, come on. It is just a way to lighten your wallet. But few places are designed to delight a child as this place is. Shed your commercialistic resentment and give your kids something that is the essence of childhood.

Anyways. Hints in case you ever decide to go yourself with smallish kids: the meal plan is a must if you are staying on resort, and is particularly helpful if you want to attend character meals; get your stroller tickets for all of the days you will be there the first day (it's cheaper and you don't have to wait in line to pay over and over); and of course, plan for a nap if your kids still take them. No point running them into the ground.

We went to three character meals. A princess meal at Epcot, which had really great breakfast food. Then another princess meal at Cinderella's castle, which was probably the best for the kids. The Boy actually took a liking to Princess Aurora there and got a smooch on the cheek with real lip prints to show for it. The last meal was at the Contemporary resort with Chef Mickey and was ok.

The Boy thoroughly enjoyed many rides, especially Buzz Lightyear. He didn't like Snow White's ride or Honey I shrunk the Audience, or the Barn Buster kiddie roller coaster. The Girl was unhappy with all of the movie-type experiences, and regarded all characters with either thinly veiled horror or suspicion. But she did seem to enjoy rides like the tea cups and the carousel.

Anyways. It was a grand vacation. We hope to go back in a few more years with my parents and sister (we went this time with The Husband's parents & sister's family.) That will be a nicely rounded Disney experience for the kids to keep in their childhood memories.

And now, maybe I can work on The Quilt some...