Friday, October 31, 2014

Talking fireplaces....

Ok, so let's talk fireplaces and you give me some input.
Here is our present fireplace. It isn't bad, but I want (have for quite sometime) a surround, not just a mantel. I don't dislike the brick, it fits the house and area, so that isn't it. It's the fact the mantel basically "floats" on top. Now when we moved in there was no mantel at all. None. Zip.
We had a friend who mounted the inexpensive mantel we bought from Home Depot some 24 years ago. He had to use a type of nail gun thingy, literally as it is all brick on the side of the wall....(don't you love my techno savy??)

So, here is what I am thinking....just add some side elements, nothing too formal and paint the woodwork gray (probably French Linen by ASCP)...
So following are beautiful ideas I got from Pinterest....

 This one is my favorite...minus the dental moulding...but the gray "sends" me...
And I love this room too, though it doesn't help me...We don't have high ceilings or would push for the chandelier....Love the print too.....and the beams...and this fireplace, but that is a whole different ballgame....
So, what do you think??
To get a simple fireplace surround to add to the mantel presently there....
like this from Pinterest...
Of course this is green and I want gray.....but see how simple the lines of it are? That is more what I am thinking....
Let me know what you are thinking....
Happy Halloween.....
Nancy

Monday, October 27, 2014

Rooster Table Runner

I am taking a craftsy class, working on different border techniques...and although I don't have any quilts at the moment, I wanted something to work on to use some of the methods she introduced. Isn't interesting how easy they make it look?? "Just do this and this....."
Yeah...I am still learning to perfect the craft....
Anyway, I had some fabric to play with, so this is what I made....
 I am having the most fun quilting vines this year on the borders, and using two colors of thread....I used a red thread for the back and a dark grey on the front.....
 It was a meandering design for the main body of the runner.....
 And overall it turned out pretty cute....it is 34L"x 15 1/2w"...a good day's work.....
Here is the back, it shows the stitching used on the front and I used red here. It is a quaint cotton "faux" ticking print that I picked up at the thrift store....
Hope you have happy creations!
Nancy

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Cozy Up!

Ah, Autumn! Cooler weather, shorter days create a need to make cozy spaces everywhere, and most of all in the bedroom.
Our bed was originally a canopy bed. Several years ago, I stashed the pieces, leaving it a four poster.
Then, about three or so years ago, I painted it French Linen, not liking the cherry color that always felt like it was fighting with the other things going on in the room. And, for a while that was fine. But recently, I have been exploring canopies again and thinking with the cooler weather, that it was time to bring those pieces out and paint them and create a canopy. Hubby said it was ok with him....
So, out came the paint and the pieces.....

 I almost forgot to take pictures for you.....see the cherry?? Yeah, I know there are some of you cringing right now....but seriously, it wasn't and antique or anything....
 this is after the first coat.....
I did actually have to buy another quart of paint after painting the toy box the other day....
 I used both clear wax and dark....
 Did you know about putting brushes in a ziploc between coats?? Yeah, it saves the brush from drying out and can keep it that way for a couple of days.....(this is also a good thing to do for latex painting as well....)
 And, here it is.....
So, what do you think??
The drapes on the side when not swagged can reach three quarters of the way down the bedside, if needed....
Now, here is a question.
Should I have a fabric swag across the top too?? Let me know...
Nancy

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Oh, my aching back!

Ever get a hair brained idea? One you just had to do, right then?? You had been thinking about it for a while, and now, right now, was the time??
Yeah, that was me today.
I decided that my daughter's old toy box, still loaded with toys, needed to be cleaned out and painted so I could store blankets and pillows. That was the plan.
So, I emptied it out, daughter said certain things had to be kept (for her someday children)......
Next thing Hubby knows, I am lifting from out of the corner the old toy box...which I might add was not light. It was trapped into the corner and the only way out was up and out.....
Hubby heard me as I became trapped myself with it halfway out, wedged between the armoire and the bed. He quickly came to my rescue and helped me move it out.....oh the glee!
I went to the hardware store and bought casters for it....don't know why we didn't put those on to begin with, some 30 years ago......
Now, it was painted in the '80s with a stencil and was cute and sweet back then, but I was ready for a change.....
So.....


Now, perfection was never the direction I was going, most of it will not be seen anyway, I just wanted it fresher....
Then, it was time to put it back.....so I thought I would change where it was, but after fighting with the bed....meaning I had to take the bed apart to move it and then changed my mind and moved it back, the toy box went into its corner, back where it was.....(this time Hubby helped lift it back into its spot...)

It now looks cleaner and more in the color of the rest of the room....
Now for that Advil.......
Nancy

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dinner at Ma Maison

I was cruising through the many websites last night and got inspired...and decided to make a "fancy" dinner and create as I went.
Sometimes that means something inedible....and sometimes pure genius. Last night was somewhere in between...but still closer to genius.....
Hubby has now decided he dislikes quinoa...after we bought the huge bag at Costco. After loving it, he's done. So, what to do with all that quinoa?
Well, recreate....I decided to make quinoa patties.....

I cooked the quinoa like I usually do, then took half (about a cup's worth) and added an egg, some grated cheese (about a 1/3 cup), salt, pepper, and about 1/4 cup of Pamela's baking mix and mixed it all up and made patties.
Now, it is still pretty messy, so you could use a spoon and dollop it on the pan like a pancake......
Either way, when it is fried up like this, it makes it different enough that Hubby thought  it was pretty yummy. I also added some aoli (mayo with basil and garlic) on top.....
Then, I also cooked some salmon up (fried to make it crispy) and a salad to which I added pears and the pumpkin seeds from Trader Joes....


Altogether it looked like a restaurant.
And yeah, quinoa is still available in our house.....tonight will be a quinoa salad from the leftover quinoa that I cooked (not the patties).
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is a great protein laden grain that is gluten free. You can get it at most stores, but some still charge a small fortune....if you belong to Costco you can get a big bag of the tri-color ( my favorite). The all white color quinoa is very bland indeed and not worth the fortune. The tri-color has much more flavor....
Quinoa salad is simple....treat it like a pasta....add all the goodies you want...I like bell peppers, olives, cranberries and other salad goodies in it and toss with a balsamic dressing.
Enjoy!
Nancy

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Poached Pears

One of our favorite desserts looks complicated but it isn't. It just takes a bit of time and it is delicious, sure to please guests!
Bring 1 1/2 cups of red wine (I used a Zinfandel) to a boil with 2/3 cup of sugar, 2 tsp vanilla and 2 tsp of cinnamon. When it comes to a boil, reduce temperature down to a simmer, and carefully put in your peeled and cored pears. Here are 4 halves, you can easily do 3 whole pears, 6 halves, with the same amount of wine.....cook the pears on both sides until tender and then take them out....
Continue cooking down the wine mixture until it thickens and is reduced by more than half...it makes a delightful syrup to put on top of the pears....

Now, because it isn't dessert unless there is chocolate in our house, I threw in some chocolate chips on top, just about 10 chips....although you don't have to....many people like a touch of cream on top...
You will have to try this...there are many recipes out there...try some. I prefer a red wine, many swear by a white wine....so use what you like to drink.
Have fun....and enjoy....
Nancy

Friday, October 17, 2014

Jammin

Well, it is a lovely cool FALL day!
Almost had rain (1% chance)...so my daughter and I decided we needed to make Pepper Jelly....
We were at Surfas and there was a small jar for $10! Really! Well, we have my jam/jelly maker and that is my favorite recipe....so off we went to buy some peppers (I like red peppers best) and I had some jalepenos in the garden....perfect!
The recipe that comes with the machine is so easy and in 21 mins, you have jelly!
Now, I am not in the actual canning mode, so clean jars and a fridge will do just fine.....
I use the white plastic lids to let everyone know, these are to refrigerate only.....not shelf safe....

When we were at the market, we also bought strawberries...hummm, strawberry jam anyone???
Yup, after we cleaned up from the pepper jelly and the machine cooled down while we ate lunch, we made strawberry jam....

How's that?? Too much work?? Nah, just clean the fruit (or peppers), chop lightly, pop into a food processor to really almost puree....follow the directions on the machine...and in both cases it was 21 mins to jam (and jelly)! Yup! Best small batch jam/jelly maker ever!!
Now I am asking Santa for the auto canner that Ball has......all these could be shelf safe in no time at all!! I've read reviews on the machine, people are happily canning even in summer!
Yup....good stuff!
Nancy

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Minus the binding....

I wanted to show you how the quilt, Blue Willow Stars, turned out.
I am pretty happy about it.
As the batting I used an heavy old flannel blanket, the kind you find at camp.... It worked quite nicely and since it only cost $2.50 at the Salvation Army, I am extra pleased as batting gets pricey, even with a coupon.
So, then my only cost, the border and backing material...with a coupon, $20; not bad for 4 yards! And, I used up a lot of my stash! Well, I am not out of fabric....but it helps....
I had a few little foibles but was able for the most part to remedy those, so I am extra pleased.
I wanted to do more than just a meandering pattern on the quilt, and I didn't want the blue thread that I have on the back to be on the white parts, so I did a little "flower" on the navy centers with navy thread and then did a meandering pattern on the blue areas all in navy. The white areas got the same "flower" in white. Then for the borders, I played....doing a vine that goes all around it.
Overall, not a bad days work....I even got some laundry done and early morning shopping, so I got a lot accomplished today!
 So, here is the quilt top ready to go, with no batting.....
 Here is the white area, showing the little vine .....you can also just make out the vine that is echoed on the blue border...

 This shows you the "flower" in the center of the navy and then the meandering pattern that runs through the rest of the strips in blue.....
 I used the same blue in doing the vine on the borders....

Tonight I get to stitch the final hand stitching on the binding while I watch TV....then this little quilt is ready for a new home.....
Have a great evening!
Nancy







Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Inspired by Blue Willow

I have been creating a quilt, which of course came to a halt recently.
So, today, I decided I needed to work on it and get it almost done.....
I got the top stitched....here is what I have...




Because Blue Willow inspired me...I am calling it Blue Willow Stars.....
I will take a picture of the final quilted quilt, when I am done. I have quite a bit to do....even though I will be machine quilting it....
Hope you are having a productive day....
Nancy

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Baby is born

Those that follow me know I am not into sharing pictures of family, let alone myself....
But today, I will make one exception.
Yesterday, our daughter went into labor, her water breaking in bed at 1am. We got a text from our son in law at 1:30 letting us know they were at the hospital.
Yes, we got up and got there about 2:30 am.
LOng story of sitting in the waiting room and waiting.....11 1/2 hours later our baby girl gave us a little grandson....so glad we were there, though all we did was give moral support from afar.
Meet our grandson, Royce!
6lbs 15oz and 20" long....
Now the fun (and work) begins.....
Talk later....
Nancy

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

In the garden

Here in Southern California, we have been barraged with uncommon and prolonged heat. It has made gardening impossible and endangering the plants we have growing.
Because we live in Costa Mesa our water is coming from deep, deep wells...so we are not on the same restrictions of water that everyone in LA and parts of OC are experiencing. Even so, we have been careful with our watering. Our sprinklers are on early in the morning for 5 minutes per cycle and three times in a week. It may sound like a lot, but our water use has been reduced by about 40% from last year. So, when it is very hot like it has been, some extra hand watering is required to keep our meager crops and all alive. Luckily, the "crops" at this time of year are few and are in raised beds, which also require less water due to size.
But today dawned foggy. To that I rejoice....it appears that the heat wave (for now) has broken. The tree man came yesterday and cut the jacaranda back, so I am able to plant the favas in the old veggie garden.
The old garden is where all crops were raised....until the size restricted me in what we grew.
That area has been somewhat resting over the years...growing mediocre this and that.
Today was the day all that would change.
I dug it up and turned it, adding my favorite amendment, Harvest Supreme.
I planted two rows of Fava Beans with dreams of being able to share with friends and family.
In So. Cal this is the time to plant Favas as they can grow all winter with our temperate climate. They are hardy unlike other beans in cold almost frosty weather.....
 This is my seed container, a metal box that I picked up at a garage sale......
 I use an inoculant with all beans and peas...it helps them grow better....
I planted two varieties one a small variety and the other is the largest broadbean....
I also wanted to show you my new method for preserving the package so you can see what is in the row....A sandwich ziploc! A hole is created in the tiptop part so no water gets in to the bag. Other methods have failed me, so I am hoping this truly works. So far, so good!
Last week, I planted two packets of beets and one of carrots...the packets are doing well here and as you can see, they are already coming up! Opossums have come into the yard and thankfully they have been enjoying the snails! So far, snails haven't eaten the small beets!
As I type this, the fog is lifting and revealing a very blue sky....and other chores call.
I hope you have a wonderful day!
Nancy