Monday, November 17, 2008

Packing up and off to the Panama Canal

Well, we've drug out summer summer clothes, sandals, sparkly dinner wear, suntan lotion and we're leaving first thing tomorrow morning to catch our flight to Fort Lauderdale. We'll board our Princess Coral ship on Wednesday after lunch and by suppertime, we'll be en route to the Panama Canal. We will have stops along the way and our disembarkation point will be Acapulco Mexico.

Over the next 2 weeks, if you want to see where Mert and I are... Check out the bridge Camera every day. It'll give you our location with a view right out of the front of the ship. This bridge cam updates every 2 minutes. Just press F5 to refresh.

Of course the big highlight of this cruise will be passing through the Panama Canal all day and taking a tour of the inner canal and all the operations in the evening. That will be on November 23rd. We will arrive at 7am and sail through the canal and lakes all day. At 5pm, we tender to land to take our tours of the locks.

That is also the day we celebrate our 25th Wedding anniversary. Of course our 25th anniversary is not really until March 23rd 2009, but no there were no cruises through the Panama that day.The last 3 days of our trip, we'll be in Acapulco, Mexico staying at the Emporio resort. Do not look at the virtual tours on the hotel website. Then we return to Bangor late on Dec 2. Home in our own beds Dec 3.

Kenny loaned me his Ipod touch, so I'm going to check my yahoo email when I can. Let me know if anything special happens by my yahoo email! I'll respond to all emails so you know that I got your email.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pfaff Club Friday - and 1 year Blog Birthday

Yesterday, I attended Pfaff Club at our local sewing shop. We reviewed all the feet that come with our machine and optional feet. I brought my old Pfaff 1471 to work on for the afternoon and I was delighted to learn that I could move the needle over one or 2 positions. I thought it would only move to the far left or far right, or center. What fun. I also tested out the narrow edge foot. It works very slick and makes edge stitching very quick. Have a look at this napkin that I sewed up in about 4 minutes flat, edge stitching and all. Needless to say, I have now added that foot to my collection.
I just noticed on my blog dashboard that I started blogging 1 year ago today. I am approaching my 200 blog entries I'm going to do a little prize draw for my 200th blog. I think I mentioned that before. It will be around New Years. Keep an eye out..

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Every year about mid November, Mert and I go to the Scoop and Save bulk food store to get our fruitcake supplies. Twenty five dollars later, we're home looking at our calendar, scheduling when is a good time to bake the cakes. We need a good half a day for chopping, preparation, cooking and cooling. These 2 cakes are ideal since they both need a 275 degree oven and take about 2 hours... so I cook them at the same time.

So, today was the day. We started out early and both the dark and light cakes were in the oven by 10am. They've been cooling all afternoon, and we will wrap the cakes tightly in plastic wrap and then foil. We'll put them in the cold room until Christmas. When we bring them up, we'll divide them into smaller pieces, keep a good size piece out for us for the Christmas week and then put a fresh wrap on the rest of individual pieces and return them in the cold room for further curing.

We never started out liking fruitcake, but about 15 years ago, I saw these 2 recipes in the local paper and something made me try them. We loved, loved both the light and the dark cakes and we've been making the same recipes ever since 1994. I still have the tattered newspaper clipping that I cut out using my pinking sheers. I used to cut a piece of cake and give it to the kids, my dad, and anybody who would take it. A funny thing is, that most people still do not like fruitcake. If they do, they like the light, and not the dark. In my mind, they don't know what they're missing...So I don't try to shove it on people any more. If anyone wants some, they know where to get it.

Except Scott of course- my niece Michelle's fiance. He first tried my fruitcake a couple of years ago. I think it was in the summer, so the fruitcake would have been at least 6 months old. It must have been a hunk that I gave to Dad at Christmas and it got lost in the back of my sister, Donna's fridge. Anyway, I recall that Scott got teased for eating 6 month old cake... That didn't stop him.... with in a day, that whole piece of cake was gone... So, the news is, he likes my dark fruitcake and he's out in the open about it. This guy has got taste! He's the only one on my list who is getting some this year!

I know none of my immediate family will ask, but for my other blogger friends, if you want the recipe, just leave me a comment. I'll send to you or post it at the bottom of this blog entry later.

Just a sec while I get up from falling off my chair... Do you see the comment!! My sister wants my recipes. See, fruitcake grows on you! Here are the 2 recipes that were in the November 26th, 1994 Daily Gleaner:

Dark Fruitcake
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cloves
3/4 cup milk, fruit juice or port rum
2 cups seeless raisins
1 cup currants
1 cup seeded raisins
4 oz green candied cherries
4 oz red candied cherries
8 oz mixed peel
1 tbsp diced candied ginger
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup nuts (I use whole almonds)

Chop the fruit and nuts and mix with 1/2 cup of the flour. Mix the liquids together and add one to the other, mixing well. Add fruit and pour into a well greased pan. Bake at 275F for 2 - 2 1/2 hours.

Light Fruitcake
1 cup butter
1-1/2 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 can (14 oz) drained crushed pineapple
1/2 cup pineapple juice
2-3/4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking owder
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp almond extract
1-1/2 cup raisins
4 oz green candied cherries
4 oz red candied cherries
4 oz mixed peel
1 cup coconut
1 tsp mace

Chop the fruit and mix with 1/4 cup of the flour. Cram butter, sugar and add eggs one at a time blending well after each addition. Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture alternately with the liquids. Stir in flavorings and fruit. Bake at 275 F for about 2 hours. Less time if using 2 pans.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Crazy Quilt - My Sock revealed

Well, I started my crazy quilted sock in early August when my friend Lois developed a crazy quilted sock foundation pattern for us to use during Linda's class. I made up her crazy quilted foundation to test the design and it was good. So I made up another sock that was to be used when I did the class for real. No stitching on samples, just take the class and work on a real piece. Linda Hubbard worked her Crazy Quilting class to a 6 week weekly class and I think it was great. Each week we learned about stitches, trims, flosses, and beads. Step by Step I saw my sock turn into a real heirloom piece and I was loving it more and more every week. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it, until the day I stitched an A on it. So it's for Aurora. She'll have it for her first Christmas and many more to come. I thought it would be done today, but it's not quite done, but done enough to reveal the whole sock. I surged off the excess fabric and it's ready to sew to the backing and lining... but I do need to add a more beads and stitching. I've spent time looking at other bloggers crazy quilting techniques, and now I see that there's not quite enough of either. I still have to do my spider and web. I've left this image rather large so you can click on it to look at some of the detail. Because it's not quite finished, you'll have to imagine that the finished will be about half an inch smaller all around.

I am going to make 2 more foundations next month and take 2 these 2 socks to Myrtle Beach when we go this winter. I sometimes found the evenings long and so this will keep my hands busy. They will be for Jessica and Emily's 2009 Christmas. And then for 2010 Christmas, the triplets. The challenge will be to make them all a little different.

New Light, New stove

What an exciting weekend we had. Carrie and Kenny and Jessica and Emily were here along with Patience and Aurora. Aurora loves Jessica and Emily and all the attention she was getting. They fed her her meals, changed her diaper and read her stories. I told Carrie, that having a baby now, would be a piece of cake because the kids are such a help. Kenny said, it's hard being a single parent tho!!!. That's his witty sense of humor saying, not on your life!!! Here's Emily feeding Aurora.

Kenny helped Mert put up our new kitchen light. I absolutely love it. It was harder to put up than they thought.

We also had our new pellet stove professionally installed. In 30 minutes, the stove people unwrapped, wheeled in on a dolly, installed the doors and all the movable parts and painted the pipe and we had a fire at about minute 27. It was so nice and warm. It's about the same size as our old one, but it has a bigger hopper and an electric igniter.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I won!!

The other day I posted my family Chili recipe for Karen South's blog contest. She was making a draw from all the participants who posted their recipe. And you guessed it, I won! The package of buttons for Crazy Quilting is being sent to me soon. This is great timing since I'm almost finished my Crazy Quilted sock that I've been working on all fall, but I am piecing 2 more sock foundations in mid-December that will be crazy quilted over the evenings during cold months. Funny, I seem to get into little habits. I sew by day, and crazy quilt or knit in the evenings. It's my new weight loss strategy. Keep those hands busy at night so the urge to pick at snacks is reduced.

Thanks Karen for your fun and easy contest.

I see that I should be hitting a 200 post milestone around New Year's. I think I'll make a contest to celebrate 200 posts. What will it be????

Friday, November 7, 2008

New Kitchen Light

This post might seem like a repeat from this time last year, but yes, we're getting a new kitchen light. We did put a new kitchen light up last fall when we were doing our kitchen update, but ever since, I thought, the poor light looks kind of small. I didn't like to say anything. One one day last month, Mert and I were watching a make-over show on Oprah or other makeover show, and they said one of the common mistakes is not to purchase the right size light for your area. Mert looked at me and said, I've always thought our kitchen light is too small. I lit up and said "Me too!. So we waited for a sale on lights and voila we got a new light. Kenny and Carrie and the kids are coming up this weekend, so I'm so excited cause Kenny can help put it up.

Also, yesterday, I put up our old family chili con carne recipe, and I thought, that would make a good easy meal to have ready since I don't know the schedule. Doesn't the chili look yummy! Do you see the blue trivet in the back, it says Gail's Apple Pie. I made it at one of these do-it-yourself ceramics places, the Clay Cafe. I love having the trivet there because it's easy to reference and I don't have to pull out my old Purity Flour cookbook when I want to make pie crust. My friend Julie, took a look at it, and said - hmm.... "You forgot to put the apples in your apple pie recipe". Smart alec she is. I should have named it Gail's Apple Pie Crust ...:)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Chili Con Carne and the Wheat stitch

Since I've been doing my crazy quilted Christmas sock, I go to Karen South Crazy Quilt Blog and others for inspiration. I think looking at pictures of others work, is better than any book. Although I love the Judith Baker Montano Elegant Stitches book. Last night I learned the Wheat Ear Stitch out of that book and love it. I tried my new Sassa Lynn varigated threads too and love them equally if not more than the Stef Francis threads. The color changes are frequent, almost every other stitch. This color thread is called flower garden. I got them from Evening Star designs.

Anyway Karen South has a bit of a Chili recipe challenge on her blog and is asking for our favorite chili recipes. One recipe there has chocolate in it, and another cinamon. If you read down a few days at Karen's chili recipe, it has spagetti in it. She thought everyone made it that way. I just make plain old chili con carne. It's easy and we like it. Here's my recipe.

Chili con Carne (for 6)
1 pound ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped green pepper
1 19-oz can tomatoes
1 small can of tomato paste
1 large can of kidney beans, drained
1 tablespoon chili powder (or less)
1 tsp salt

Lightly fry ground beef, onion and green pepper. Drain of fat. Then add the rest of the indgredients and simmer for 1 hour. When I was a kid, Mom served this over rice, but now I either eat it by itself or have it over a green salad with taco chips.

This might make for a nice make-ahead meal for when the kids are here this weekend. Great idea Karen.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Crazy Quilt - The Last week

I have set a deadline of next Tuesday night to have my crazy quilted piece finished. Finished means loop sewn on, backed, and lined... Ready for Santa to put little surprises in. In looking a few crazy quilters websites this week, I notice that this seems to be a popular thing to do... do 4 roses all in a row. I love it too. I did some random beads around to give it a bit of whimsy.

So, watch for a picture of the whole crazy quilted sock next Wednesday.

This week, our 14 year old pellet stove died on us. The big question is, do we try to find somebody to fix it or do we bite the bullet and buy new. The brand of stove is Whitfield, and it's not been making stoves for about 7 years now. So, we're leaning to just getting a new one. We'll then worry about trying to get somebody to fix The Whitfield and then try to sell it later. We haven't had any wood heat for 4 days now and I'm cold to the bone....

Some good news, Carrie and Kenny and Jessica and Emily are coming for the weekend. Aurora will be here too, so it'll be fun with the kids around.

Tomorrow I sew projects that are on my UFO list.

Monday, November 3, 2008

One of my favorite blogs

One of my favorite blogs, besides my sister's, is the Sew Mama Sew blog. You'll see it on my sidebar. On November 1, they started a daily blog entry that is themed, Handmade for the Holidays and they give you theme ideas each day for the entire month of November. They also give you pointers to tutorials for the item. Today, they had things for babies. I looked and it had a tutorial for making a tag blankie. I made one of these for Aurora in late August. She was about 6 months old. She loved it. I think I'll add this to my UFO challenge and make a couple for the Pink Table.
Did I mention that they're having a craft fair at work on Nov 14th. Our Pink team have reserved a table as our first fundraiser thta will go towards our 2009 run. So I've made a list of things that I can make. Others on the team will be doing some baking and other things.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Friday Girls -UFO Challenge

Our Friday Girls are having a 6 month UFO challenge. It really bothers me when I have a lot of unfinished projects so over the past few years, I have been trying to finish one thing before starting another. And I only buy fabric for projects... mostly. I didn't think I had very many UFO's but for one reason or another, I do now have quite a number.

Some of the items I just totally forgot about and really didn't have any intent on finishing. Some items are more on my want-to-do list. And some things just fall in my lap like the kit of over 70 9-patch blocks that I won at guild this month. . So I'm going to be updating my sidebar with a separate UFO list and for the next 6 months, we'll all be working on completing as many from this list as possible. As they are completed, I'll tag them as complete.

This list turned out to be longer than I expected. I think the girls thought I would have just a small handful of items, but look. The list is over 15 items. Now I'm feeling stressed.