Saturday, December 31, 2016

The "Down Low"

Last night, after our Grandson left, I went to iron the border on my newest quilt....

A 76" x 104" quilt I am making for a friend.
However, the backing (a brand new white sheet that I bought) was on the ironing board...so, I had to move it. I thought, "I will put it on the dining table and start laying it out...."
When I put it on the table, there were still some wrinkles...so no problem, I'll just iron it there....
I brought the iron down the hall and plugged it in...and started to iron.
But the iron spewed and spit rust all over!!
What!!!!
Yes, I cried and fumed!
My husband came running...
"just the backing??" he asked...
"Just the backing??!!" I screamed and burst into tears...."I spent and hour ironing this sheet for backing and then the iron did this, right in the middle of the fabric!"
"I am sorry it did that, Honey.." he said, "but thankfully it wasn't the quilt!"
He was right of course...it could have been the quilt!
So, here is the quandary I faced....
I clearly needed a new iron....but which one to choose?
As a quilter, I didn't want an auto shut off....
Most auto shut-offs are 8 mins. Clearly too fast for a quilter.
I didn't want to spend much $$, wanting the $$ to be spent elsewhere.
And so I went out early the next morning(today) to find an iron.
I looked online and studied the reviews...
The top brands are Oliso & Rowenta. They tend to run high.
But I went looking. Oliso is that newer style iron that responds to touch and stays horizontal...very cool...but honestly they run$160-200! They have the yellow model which at JoAnns runs $199, and its auto shut off is 30 min.....
Then there is Rowenta which runs $60-$150. I never saw how long before the shut-off starts....
There are some models made in China some in Germany. All have auto shut off.....
Then there are the Shark, Sunbeam, Black and Decker.
My old iron was a Black and Decker...it was over three years old.
It was the cheapest iron out there and didn't have an auto-shutoff.
After driving around to Bed & Bath and trying out the Rowenta irons, I came to a conclusion. Those were very very heavy...at least for me.
There was a Sunbeam at Target that had a 30 min auto-shutoff.....
But push comes to shove....the old Black and Decker was still $12. Yes, it was truly!
So, I need an iron to stand and wait for me.
I always unplug it when I leave the room, even for a short time.
So, yes, I bought the same iron.
Spend the extra money on fabric and thread...not irons....
I made sure to buy distilled water too....at 92 cents...a bargain to help keep the iron happy.
 This is the iron I bought. It has a 2 year warranty...not bad for a $12 iron!
 This is my "dry" iron that I use for appliqu├ęs and such....when one doesn't need steam. I bought it from the Vermont Country Store...it is an excellent dry iron...but for cottons and linens...only mediocre.
Here is the distilled water....seriously a cheap form of insurance that your iron will last longer...
And in the end....all irons seem to die the same way from all the blogs and reviews...
They all spew and spit...often the same as last night....even the expensive ones. In fact, it seems that the "self-cleaning" irons do this more than the others....
So, in the end....cheap won out.
Someday, I'd like to try out the Oliso iron...but haven't found a place that has it to try....
Good luck to you.....take care of your iron.
Nancy

Friday, December 30, 2016

Pressure of the New Year

It is still Christmas in the living room...I haven't put it away....
The tree is sagging, dropping ornaments daily....
Gifts haven't found their homes yet...
Is your house this way?
I am at the moment consumed with getting the quilt I have been working on done....well at the stage where I can quilt....
Wednesday and into lunchtime on Thursday we had our Grandson to stay while Mom and Dad went to Temecula for wine tasting with friends.
That put a glitch in sewing let alone putting things away.

 Royce is great fun...and we had a busy fun time...but things don't get done....

 Dear sweet old Tucker watched on and hoped that Royce would throw the ball....but he was too wrapped up in sitting in the little old rocker and playing with the farm..
But when he left...after a short nap...I went to the craft room. It is like, no worse than the living room, and all disheveled and I worked on the quilt....

 See the quilt is going together. It is as we speak now one quilt top...and I am playing with borders....

Yes, it is embarrassing that the room is so disorganized and messy...however, January wouldn't be "organization" month if it weren't true for most everyone....
So, I guess the living room gets first dibs on attention....
Am I alone in dealing with after Christmas blues??
The decor isn't even down yet...we plan to do take Christmas down on Sunday....
Then what? What then??
I watch lots of decorating shows, I am in the mood to move furniture around, yet, we have so much I can't!
And no, I can't get rid of it...I use it all and it is all "family heirlooms" that can't move out...I dream of a designer coming in and giving me ideas on moving things...but alas, that is not going to happen...Hubby would never go for it....(remember we took 26 years to do the patio, pergola and gutters!)
How is everyone else doing at this "down" time??
Nancy

Monday, December 26, 2016

After Christmas

Christmas day has now passed. It's memories will abound....
 Such a cute picture....
 My daughter and her "Honey" eating Breakfast....
 My daughter, her husband, and Grandson Royce....at breakfast in the living room where we also opened gifts...

 Our table was set with care (though I still had the "estate" table topper still on)..
 These fruit topped pastry cream Phyllo cups were a hit....
 Creamy mashed potatoes with butter and sour cream was quite yummy....
 My creamed spinach with parmesan was the tastiest yet....
 My overcooked roasted veggies mixed with pesto was tasty (though mushy)....

Hubby's smoked prime rib roast was a huge success and very delicious.

But now....we have the clean up....the dishwasher has been running two loads a day...
There are countless pots and pans to wash and the kitchen looks like a tornado went through....
And there is just the two of us to do it all...
There are times like this that I wish....
I wish I had a bigger kitchen with more counter space, two dishwashers, a butler's pantry, a bigger dining room and actual room for a table this size...(it is a large piece of plywood we put on the fully extended table)....and yesterday I realized that as our family grows, the living room is shrinking...actually shrinking! You add presents and shredded wrapping paper and boxes all over the floor and it has shrunken by half! (Don't tell me you don't get paper and boxes all over....)
Anyone else thinking that?? Dreaming of a bigger house? Larger this, larger that?
Yeah....dreaming.
So that is what the New Year is about....dreaming and thinking.
How can we make it work better? Organize.
After all....it's only crowded a short time...
If we organize it could work better....
Organize the closet....
Organize the kitchen...
Rethink layout.....
Dream....
Well, enough of that...reality is, I need to go clean up before the New Year....
Have a great day today, known as Boxing Day in Canada....for all those boxes that need crushing and wrapping paper that needs tossing...floors need a bit of mopping....
Nancy

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas to all of you!
Yesterday, I baked and baked....
I created an apple pie that literally shines!
I created a non-corn starch pastry cream...and a snowy coffeecake that is gluten free.
 I piped the pastry cream into cooked and cooled puff pastry shells...
 For the cream, I used tapioca flour in place of cornstarch (as I am deathly allergic)...and it worked a little too well! Next time, I will use half as I did exact amounts and it was a tad too well jelled!
I used a plastic bag with to bottom corner snipped off....these are part of tonight's dessert.

Then I created a sour cream gluten free coffeecake following the Pamela's baking and pancake mix recipe....very easy people.....
I added the glaze and since I had coconut in the fridge I threw that on for added fun! Now it is a snowy coffeecake!


Then I made an apple pie...just a simple one...with cinnamon and sugar inside...but the shiny part came after....when it was cool...I glazed it and threw on the shiny sugar crystals! Now it shines.....
Easy and makes a crust really yummy!

See? Isn't it pretty?? I think all pies should shine!
Then, this morning, since everyone is coming here early for breakfast, I got up and made two quiches!
A little overcooked...but not terrible...
I mixed 7 eggs with 1 1/2 cups of cream and threw in some bell pepper and two cheeses...and after the pie shells were precooked and cooled, I poured the mix into the shells and baked for about 35 mins....
Then I made bacon.
Our daughter is on her way...she wants to make hash browns...so our day is beginning.
I want to wish you all a Merry Merry Christmas!
May the peace of the day continue throughout the year!
Nancy

Monday, December 19, 2016

Taking Time

At this time of year, with all its hustle and bustle, we tend to get lost with shopping, cooking, cleaning, wrapping and so on. It can be an overwhelming time. It can become a difficult time for many.
So, as my Hubby laughs at me for having completed all the shopping and wrapping and sometimes at Christmas morning for forgetting what is in the wrapped package (because it was wrapped up to weeks ago). I want to share a thought.
Being caught in the moment is a treasure in itself. Enjoy the moments that make Christmas time what Jesus wanted.
It isn't about the gifts.
It isn't about the tree.
It is about friends and family.
So, that is why I shop most of the year...and wrap early.
So that the time making cookies is special.
So that on the spur moments can be miracles.
So I can take the time to read to my Grandson....
Christmas isn't about the perfectly decorated house, or about the cookies, or even the presents...its about being present in the present.
I thank God for this time.
Some day I know that everyone could all be moved away....that things could change for whatever reason. So I cherish every moment...even some of the slightly frantic ones....for they are still so short-lived.
So in light of this I wanted to share my thoughts. It is a season of Thankfulness that should last all year. A year that begins and ends on Christmas.
I wish you a wonderful season....may it be wonderful and memorable.
Hugs,
Nancy

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Oh Christmas Tree!

Yesterday, Hubby and I went searching for our tree. What a search we had! We went to the lot we have gone to for many years....but alas, all their trees were horrible! It looked like a tornado had gone through and those were the trees that were left....
So, we went to another lot we know....and they had lovely trees, though awfully small and horribly expensive, like $119 for a 7 footer! Yeah, we left....
We went to Home Depot....guess what? They had the BEST trees!
They had Douglas firs, noble firs, Frazer firs, and Nordmann firs!
At first we liked the Frazer firs...but it still just wasn't quite right.
Then, Hubby discovered the Nordmann firs....oh my gosh!
Everyone found them...simply quintessential firs! The perfect green and shape....
We found one we both loved....and held onto for the longest time, but it was truly too big. We measured it and it was 8 1/2 feet tall....way too big. So, we abandoned that lovely tree and went to look for a 6-7 foot tree...and found a 7 1/2 foot tree and wow...we found a bunch of them....decisions ....
We took it home and while Hubby delivered some cookies to some friends who are special....I decorated the tree....
I think I did ok...all by my self!

 The interesting thing about Nordmann firs is they are mostly hypoallergenic. Yeah they are. Now for years we bring in the tree and I sneeze or cough like crazy....Not this year. It has been tweaked in nature to have less sap and all that so it doesn't make one sneeze. It doesn't have as much fragrance either I have to say....they told us that as we loaded it up....It is however beautiful.

 All the pinecone ornaments have been collected from thrift stores....


 The icicles were picked up recently from a thrift store too, they are about 8" long and all glass...so hopefully they don't fall from the tree!
 See the pickle? Did you find it?? You get a prize! A bagful of Christmas wishes from our house to yours!
See the presents? Yup, they are all done...and wrapped and around the tree. This year I clustered them by person on chairs and in areas around the tree.....
For years I wanted a fake tree...so I wouldn't sneeze...but the compromise came that I got the patio, pergola and gutters....he gets a real tree....so now we can both be happy....a beautiful tree that is "hypoallergenic"!
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Cookies and More Cookies

I am really lucky. I know I am. To have family close and get togethers and have friends of the family come and share in the fun...
One of the lucky things is to get together and make cookies at Christmas time. We haven't done it in a couple of years because of dietary issues. But sometimes it isn't about the cookies, but the doing.
So, we made our plan, I bought the food, and we got together.
I provided all the ingredients and the kitchen....they brought their aprons and lunches.
At 10 am we started and got off to a great roll....
We made Rum Raisin Shortbread which had to go into the fridge....
Then we made Buckeyes...which also had to go into the fridge....
Then we cut out the gingerbread....which Hubby and I had made the day before....
Then the girls got going making oatmeal raisin variations ....two batches of those....
Then we made pecan snowballs...(Mexican Wedding Cookies)....
We cut the Rum raisin cookies and baked those....
Then dipped the buckeyes...
We had more cookies planned but by then it was 5:15 and time to clean up.
The only rule...all cookies had to leave....
And they did!
From left to right...My daughter, Melissa and her son, Royce(Grandson) and then my daughter's friend's daughter (Emma)and friend (Jenny).
Oatmeal cookies....
 My daughter, Emily and Jenny and Melissa...
I am bit bleary by this point so Royce and I had a break...

 Royce got tired of cookies.....
 At this stage almost done....
 Here is the main team.....
Yes, that's me with Royce....
Here they are discussing the finer points of oatmeal cookies...

Buckeyes....
Lots of fun....cooking, baking, mixing and cookies....most of all getting together and sharing time and fun...it was tiring...but so fun...
Today, well there is more clean up...guess we will get the tree tomorrow....
Have a great day....
Nancy