Saturday, July 5, 2014

Too Hot for Anything

Except sewing and drinking iced coffee.

I only allow myself 2 coffees a day, but I've been sewing more than usual this week.

I finally finished the sew-along sunsuit.




I don't know how much it will get worn in WA.  It may not hit that narrow window of summer at exactly the right size!

I did learn a lot though.  I made some mistakes, but I did some things I didn't know how to do before, so it was good experience.  

The green apple top turned out nice too, and Emily actually likes the fabric.  I'll send it on for sizing and plan to make more of these.

Once I determine the fit, I'll do a dress with piping all the way down the front.  This has been good for my self-confidence on the piping because it's been one of my hit-and-miss things.

This time I used my zipper foot and a skewer to push the fabric against the cording and went VERY slowly.  Having something work out so nicely is a thrill.

And I did a whole dress in 2 days - except for the buttons and that only because I didn't have any the right shade of orange.

I used Children's Corner William and Winnie.  



I've had it for some time and never used it, but I will use it a lot more - in fact maybe this afternoon for a gingham one with a monogram or some embroidery.

It's lined and piped, and I was pretty pleased with the results.  Just one place where I maybe should have gone back over - but not enough to do it!


The only thing that slowed me down was the ruffle I decided to add.  Again on second thought, I would have made it narrower or left it off completely.

It took me as long to figure out the ruffler foot and get the measurments right as it did for the whole rest of the dress.

It's a pretty ominous-looking thing, but I've got it figured out, and it won't scare me any more.  

I did more of a pleated look than a ruffle, but its a lot of fun to do and took me only about 10 minutes to do all this - and only because I was scared to go too fast.

So this is the almost finished product.  

I'll go try to match some buttons this afternoon or tomorrow.  One of the fabric shops has notions 60% off tomorrow, so it might be worth the wait.  I'm not sure buttons are notions, but I need needles and lots of other things I'm sure I can't live without.

No, Hancock has buttons 50% off and my embroidery thread 40% off, so it looks like a trip today for that and tomorrow for the 60% notions.

I had a little leftover piping, so I tried it out with some brown fine wale corduroy that I've been saving.  I think a pumpkin will look good on it - or maybe a squirrel or a fox for the fall.  



Saturday, June 28, 2014

Farmer's Market

I forgot to post this yesterday.  Not very interesting but it's good to remember a day when I cooked.

Whoever takes Mama to the beauty shop on Friday morning has about an hour to kill.  It's not worth it to come back home.  So this morning I thought it would be a good idea to go to the City of Montgomery Farmer's Market.

It's close to downtown, and we don't venture down that way much, so it was trial and error finding it, although it sits right there on Madison Avenue next to Crampton Bowl - like people told me. It was a madhouse of people and cars, though, and police had roads blocked off.  We just happened to run into the first day of filming of the movie, "Selma."  We saw the place where extras were directed to go, and we kind of thought about going there and checking on a role.  We saw what looked like extras walking down the streets.  We saw one young girl with big pink foam rollers in her hair and cowboy boots, and we figured she must be in the movie as an extra or was trying for a certain hairdo.  Not a look we see much anymore.

Apparently, no one told us that's it not open on Friday, and we didn't think to check the web site before we went, and it was closed.  But we did find it, and it looks nice, so we'll go back on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday.

We used our time to go to the farmer's market near the coliseum, and that was a good trip.  We found lots of friendly people and some good-looking fruits and vegetables as well as plants, which we didn't look at this time.

We found peaches, rattlesnake beans, and a seedless watermelon as well as some already shelled cream white peas and butterbeans.




We were gifted by our neighbor Gene across the street with nearly a dozen ears of corn - already shucked - is that the word?


I made creamed corn for Mama with 3 ears, but Mike might not have left her much.  It might be more chunked that creamed, but it tasted pretty good.



The rest he boiled for corn on the cob.



I had never heard of "rattlesnake" beans and don't much like the name, but they were delicious.




Nice supper and healthy too.  We had our meat for lunch, so this was strictly a veggie plate.
Funny our choice of plates.  I got the little one so it looks like I have more.  Mike got the big one - and did get more if you add a corn-on-the cob to the plate.




Debby and Tom came by for a visit yesterday and brought us a big bag of goodies from Panera for lunch - Italian sandwiches, roast beef, and flatbread with some macaroni and cheese for Mama.  They were on their way to a doctor's visit and didn't get to stay long, but we had such a good time.  We need to do that more often.




Success

I decided to do the buttonholes after all.  Mainly because I needed to change from the buttonhole foot to a zipper foot, and I didn't want to do it twice.

And this time my machine worked perfectly. I don't love the buttonholes the Symphony makes, but these are fine.  And this time I measured better.  Once those cute little yellow buttons are sewed on, it will be perfect!


Then I got to have fun with the new sewing.  

I love piping.  It's lovely when it's done right, and I have struggled some, but I took my time and got this one done the way I wanted it.


Well, except it seems gathered more on the right than the left.  I probably won't take it out and do it again since it's a practice one, but I think I'll just put a few pleats in the next one.  They're supposed to be concentrated in the front anyway and left straight on the sides.  That's why it's practice, I guess.

We're missing a little Graysen time this weekend, but I don't mind.  She has South Dakota relatives visiting.  Ryan's brother and sister-in-law, Shane and Paula and the 3 BIG cousins, Isaac, Lizzy, and Becca.  When I first met them, they were just little kids, and they they're in high school or junior high.  

Yesterday they went to Seattle and went to Pike Place Market where Isacc got to catch a salmon - literally catch  - to bring home and smoke.  This is not him, but I found some random video of the fish-tossing ceremony.
  

They went down to the waterfront and to the Space Needle and I'm not sure where else - all the sites.  I've asked for pictures, but they'll probably be too busy to send any.  It's Snoqualmie Falls tomorrow and I think a ferry trip.  I'm a little jealous and ready to go back.

Obsession!

The latest ones, that is.  I seem to find new things to go crazy over and then gradually grow tired of them.

My latest 2 are drinks.  Debby and Mike can go away because they hate both of these!  More for me!


I had to experiment a few times until I got it just right, and it was worth it.  I tried a few times to add ice cubes to warm coffee, and it was less than delicious.  The trick for me is to make a cup/glass at breakfast and put it in the freezer.  When you take it out a couple of hours later, it has ice crystals.


I love knowing I have some in the freezer waiting for me.


The other drink obsession is La Croix.  There are differing opinions on how to pronounce it - La Croy or La Kwah.  I think it makes it more special to say La Kwah.  It's carbonated water with a little (teeny) bit of flavor.  Lime is my favorite, and Emily and I decided we hated the raspberry flavor.  Mike thinks it tastes like Alka-Selter.


These are nice to have to alternate with water since I'm trying (one again) to give up Diet Coke.  I don't miss them, but since we still have some around, I'll drink maybe one a week.

In addition to the vegetable we got at the farmer's market yesterday, I picked out this seedless watermelon - with absolutely no expertise at all on knowing a good one from a bad one.

Not bad. 


  I hate dealing with them, all the mess and dripping and finding room in the refrigerator - because it has to be cold - but that 15 minutes or so is well worth the pleasure of having a piece any time you want one.  Not bad at all.


I haven't given up sewing, just don't seem to have a lot of time to devote to it.  I did get bogged down with those buttonholes on this blue sunsuit and did them wrong twice - or the machine bunched up on me twice.


So I've abandoned it for a few days to try something else.  I bought this pattern for both a dress and top. 


I'm not crazy about the two-fabric look, but I do like that you can put piping down the front and under the yoke to make one fabric look good.

Instead of spending a lot of time on something and then having it not fit, I decided to take some old fabric and make one to send to Graysen and let Emily try it out.


I got everything cut out and the piping glued to the yoke.


But when it was time to sew it down, I found my sewing chair was taken.  Speaking of obsessions, you can usually find her there if I'm not in it.  It doesn't work for long to put covers there because she just wiggles them off.


I decided to go outside and check on things.  I've been seeing this for a few days on my lovely sweet potato vine.  Holes  everywhere.  I did a Google search and got a few answers.  Not Japanese beetles but flea beetles.  When I've looked closely, I have seen some tiny black bugs - not many though, and they always disappear.  I guess I'll try to find something to get rid of them.


One answer I saw was that wasps eat leaves and make their nests from the chewed up leaves.  I would have thought that was far-fetched, but just this morning I found this on the underside of one of the cucumber leaves.


Looks like a wasp nest to me!

Next time I plant seeds, I'll try to space them better.  I knew I was getting them too close but didn't figure on every seed coming up, and that's what it looks like now.
This cosmos is the tallest I've ever seen.  I would think it was a weed except that I know I planted it, and I see one little bloom on it.


The equally crowded one in front of them are marigolds, and there are asters kind of hidden between them.  I looked really hard and found a marigold bloom.  If they do all bloom, it's going to be beautiful.


And--

I have a dog that I'll give any to anyone who wants her.  I'll even throw in food and toys.

This is a bed where I've been babying a clematis.  She dug up one earlier but didn't get the message I didn't like it.  I don't think she got it this time either.  She looked proud of herself and kept looking at those rocks like she knew something dangerous was hiding in them that she needed to protect me from.

I might keep her if she's as dedicated to hunting down legless things as she is hunting lizards and bugs.  

Friday, June 27, 2014

Cucumber Thief

Mike has been convinced we have an armadillo visiting our back yard at night because of some sudden new holes in the grass.

Our first notice of veggie stealing was what seemed bites out of tomatoes, and then one morning I went to pick the cucumber I KNEW was going to be ready - and no sign of it.  Just gone.  Cucumber leaves are big and hide a lot, but I looked and looked for it and never found it.  Armadillo or something.  I decided we needed to let Darby sleep outside and keep watch, but then we knew from experience with a possum in a tree that she would only bark all night long, keep the neighors awake, and refuse to come in.

Then Wednesday I was having a good time cutting some zinnias and cosmos for a bouquet and found 2 banana peppers and 2 cucumbers just right for picking along with more tomatoes.


As I leaned over to cut one more flower, I dropped the green vegetables into the flower bed.  When I started to pick them up, I found the 2 peppers but only 1 cucumber.  What?!  I retraced my steps - twice - back to the vegetable bed and looked again in the flower bed but still no cucumber.  I figured I would chalk it up to old age - or something.

Then later that day Mike came in with this.



He had found Darby with it in her mouth refusing to give it up.  He popped her under the chin a few times and finally she dropped it.  She refuses anything to eat but meat and dogfood, but she'll chomp on vegetables.  I then remembered that she had been with me during my harvesting but all of a sudden had business to tend to in the far corner of the yard.  Mike also found a few tomatoes scattered around the area with bite marks in them.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised.  I found this picture of her 7 years ago in Columbus when she was just a puppy.  That's a yellow squash that she found and carried around for days.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Indulgence

Or maybe gluttony.  At the very least, fried green tomato OVER-indulgence.

Mike and I worked in the flower and vegetable beds this morning, planting, snipping, pulling up things, and weeding.

At one point, I saw that I had to sacrifice several branches of the Roma tomato plant since I had not tied it up, and it was choking out everything in its path.  It may have even killed a squash twice its size.


The branches unfortunately were full of green tomatoes, and I had the bright idea to make fried green tomatoes.  I not only had the idea, I brooded about it, looked up a wonderful recipe just to make sure they were perfect, and planned how we would each them.

First, I hate frying things.  Despise it.  Which is fine since nothing about fried food is healthy.  So this was a big sacrifice on my part, especially since I've been working hard on my blood pressure and have eaten only FRESH vegetables and fruit along with a little lean meat and yogurt.  But I figured it would be well worth it.  The plan was that I would eat nothing else all day and be free to eat only the tomatoes until they were gone and never make them again.

This was the harvest.


This is the recipe I planned to use and did so without any changes.  I especially like it because we had this buttermilk in the refrigerator left over from making banana bread that we hated to throw out.

This was the lineup on our ultra-modern plywood counter top:  A bowl of flour for dipping, a bowl of egg mixed with buttermilk for dredging, and a third bowl with corn meal, flour, salt, and pepper for the final dip.  



I can't say I enjoyed it after the first 10 or so were dipped - after the flour and egg started sticking to my fingers.  But I persevered and got the oil just right, and this is the result.


Perfection!

This was the first batch, and it made one more batch about this size.  The last one, I ran out of the cornmeal mix and was just tossing them with buttermilk and flower and sticking them in the hot oil.  Kind of like tomato-flavored cornbread.

We each took a plate and ate to our hearts' content.  The first 5 or 6 were the best.  After that, they were still good, but you then realized that you wouldn't be tempted to eat 3 plates of them.

We did have seconds and enjoyed every bite, but I wanted to be sure there were none left, none to tempt me, and no plans for making any more this summer.

After seeing the disaster of the counter top and the potential cleanup, I think I can safely say I won't be battering and  frying anything else.


So was it worth it?

It most certainly was, and I got it out of my system for a good while.

Counter tops will be delivered the week of July 9th and not too soon.  It's pretty rough dealing with this plywood and tape and appliances pulled out.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

I'm already tired of summer.

Is it even officially here yet?

Even inside in air conditioning, just knowing it's steamy outside drains all my energy.

Those flower beds and garden I was so excited to plant in May have lost a lot of excitement for me, although I have to admit they still look pretty good and have provided us with lots of squash and tomatoes, 1 zucchini (?) and 1 banana pepper.  I like watering in the early morning and late afternoon and checking on everything.

I'll just dump everything in my camera and see what I have.

My first and only zucchini and first Roma tomato.


I sliced them, tossed them with a little olive oil and dipped them in panko and grated Parmesan and placed on a sprayed cookie sheet.



Added the tomatoes after 20 minutes or so along with a little salt.


So good!  I had to go buy more zucchini and make more and also did the same thing with the yellow squash I picked.



Baby cucumbers coming along.



Still not sure what to do with the edamame, but it's been interesting to watch them grow.


This is from a packet of seeds I planted.  Cosmos, I think.


Our tile countertops are a thing of the past, and I can't say I will miss them.

Mike has enjoyed himself a lot once he got the proper tools and would have even more fun if he could smash with abandon and not have to try to save the backsplash - which we decided we kind of still liked.



It was a hard job picking out a a replacement countertop, and I went from black/dark brown to almost white and then came back to a neutral color that has flecks that pick up the backsplash colors.  Hope it's not TOO dull.

It Zodiaq Quartz.  Savory on the left and Caraway on the right.


Caraway was the choice until I saw a picture of it on an actual countertop and didn't like the overall look of it.

The Savory I think will be just fine and a definite improvement.  Plus a new sink on top of it.


The sewalong I started before the beach had to be put on hold.  


I was deciding between the sailboat embroidery (faux smocking) and real smocking.




I really like both of them but decided on the sailboats.  I only lack the buttons and buttonholes and the bloomers to go underneath.


I lenghtened the top part a little but maybe should have left it alone!  I think the ruffles and piping turned out good anyway.  It was a great pattern to follow.


That's most of our June after the beach.  Still miss those days of seeing what Graysen was doing to do next to entertain us.

Pictures I got last nnight.  Before, during, and after a sneeze.



 Her parents and grandparents enjoyed it more than she did, although Emily says she loves to sneeze.