Thursday, November 29, 2012

So Very Thankful
Those of you who are followers of this blog have probably noticed that I've been MIA more than the holiday break would warrant. We did travel to So. Cal. for the Thanksgiving holiday and we had a wonderful time celebrating with all of our kids and grand kids. In fact it was a perfect day of good food,  family and friends crowded together at our oldest son's home. The next day was spent with family too. Our three sons and their wives and kids all hung out together laughing and talking but unknown to us out sweet daughter in law Jody was hiding how much pain she was in afraid of spoiling the family fun. By Saturday morning she just couldn't stand it any more and went to the emergency room where they determined that her appendix needed to come out right away and she had surgery that day. So glad we were there to take care of the three little ones so that Chris and Jody could concentrate on what needed to be done for her health and safety.

We decided to stay on to aide in the recovery so that both parents could have some relief. This is when I am really sorry that we live 500 miles away and can't do more for our kids when they have troubles. Jody is recovering really well from her surgery and we are now home after a LONG day of driving. 

We are so very thankful for family, doctors, nurses and modern medicine which allows us to help our loved ones when they are in pain. Give your kids a kiss and hug today.

Until next time,

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Trip to Apple Hill

Chris and I took a trip to the apple country about an hour drive from here a couple of weeks ago to get our harvest fix before the truly bad weather set in and since we both are retired now it was possible to go on a weekday instead of wait until the weekend crush. What a difference it makes to be at the orchards on a Tuesday rather than a Saturday! Since Apple Hill as the region is known is less than a two hour dry from Sacramento it's a very popular Fall destination for city folks to bring the kids to pick fruit and pick out pumpkins and generally breath country air and the traffic can be brutal.

As you can see by the lack of cars we picked the right day. Isn't this place gorgeous? I always like to stop at this farm just to walk the grounds and look at their gardens.

 It had rained that morning which also kept people away. We've discovered that if we only did things in perfect weather around here we would be stuck indoors most of the year so a little rain does not deter us.

 The sun came out and it turned into a perfect day for hunting for just the right apples for applesauce and dried apples. I got boxes of Golden Delicious and Arkansas Black for my applesauce. Braeburn and Gala for drying and eating out of hand.

 Almost every farm has a bakery to tempt you. Yum, an apple turnover with caramel sauce. Delicious.

Last stop - Boa Vista Orchards. They're open all year unlike most of the others and have great seasonal produce usually at a decent price. I already have all the apples I need and at better prices. They can charge more cuz they're close to the highway. Remember to venture off the beaten path!

Do you have a favorite place to go for pumpkins, apples, whatever in the Fall?
Until next time,

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Good Golly Miss Nelly

I just realized that I don't often mention my quilting group, the Needle Nellies. The 18 of us have been together now for over 15 years and some of those years have been rocky let me tell ya. We used to be a much larger group but due to conflicts of leadership and vision the group fractured about six years ago and some friendships have not recovered. It was a very sad and hurtful time and we are so glad to have put that behind us. 

Our little band focuses on friendship and quilting in that order. We meet twice a month and may or may not have projects to share or a technique to learn but we always have family news and laughter and are so glad to be able to get together. We usually have a focus for the year that we chose in January and work on throughout the year and this year it has been providing warm blankets for our community food bank holiday distribution. October was the deadline we set for ourselves and what you see is the result...

More than 40 quilts and handmade blankets.
We wanted to donate something pretty and practical for babies, kids and tweens. In December we will be collecting toys at our annual Christmas party to round out the holiday season. 

Some young man is going to love this one!
I'm so proud of my small group of friends who like to have fun and do things for others. I hope you have a group to sew with and have fun with too.

Until next time,

Monday, November 12, 2012

Design Wall Monday & Baby Dress

It's Design Wall Monday again and I'm pretty excited to show you what I've been up to this week. First of all I finished the Memories of Provence block #10. This one turned out to be a breeze to piece for which I am truly thankful, enough with the complicated piecing already!

Didn't this one turn out nice? I really like the background fabric I picked out for this one too if I do say so myself.

But BOM is not the only sewing I've been doing lately. I have ventured into garment sewing after more than 30 years! I know, don't faint just yet. When I was teenager I did sew a lot of my own clothes. Back then ( we're talking stone age here ) a lot of girls did sew at least some of their own clothes. It was the only way to get the latest styles in an affordable way. But... then I had three little boys and as we all know boys clothes are no fun to sew. T-shirts and jeans- blah! 

Fast forward thirty plus years and along come granddaughters Claire and Paige my cupcakes! I have a reason to break out the dressmaker chalk. Get me some ribbon and lace, maybe some elastic. Wait! I don't remember how to do this at all waaaaaaaaaa!!! My friend Jeannie came over and talked me off the ledge and I sewed a reversible baby dress for my darling Claire. Ta Da!

Did I mention reversible? With a hat?

I know it's pretty simple but it's a start. Look out. Can princess dresses be far behind? They do sell sequin fabric don't they?

Until next time,


Don't forget Patchwork Times for lots for other design wall inspiration. Thanks Judy for providing the linking party each week.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

River at 4 months

I've had some emails asking for a River update. 

River at 4 months old
She is pretty much potty trained although she does tinkle when she gets excited, she's working on that. She knows come, sit, wait and walks on a leash pretty well but down is very hard for her. She definitely has a mind of her own and true to her breed thinks for herself. Very confident little girl around other dogs. Likes kids and people in general.

Shadow and River are exactly the same size now, they each weigh 35 lbs. Sorry Shadow the balance of power is about to shift. It's hard to get a good photo of an all black dog by the way.

Her eyes are grey.

Until next time,

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Perfect Spot

Those darn hens are so funny. Every morning the commotion in the hen house is so loud you would think they were being murdered. But no, nothing so dire is going on. In fact what's actually happening is a dance to pick out just the right nest to lay an egg!! We have nine hens and eight nests - more than enough. We really only need two nests, three at the most. But we had the space and why not provide each girl with her own accommodations? I'll tell you why not - she won't use it!! She will only want the nest her sister is using and she'll holler and yell until she gets it!
There are two hens pushing each other for position in that third box from the left.
But I don't like this one!!!!
All right, but I'm going to protest the whole time I'm in here so that the entire neighborhood knows I'm not happy!

Most eggs are found in the lower left box as many as seven out of nine a day. Go figure.

Until next time,

Monday, November 5, 2012

Bernie & Evelyn & Vinegar

There's a lot going on here on Dogwood lane but most of it is not blog worthy (remember that Seinfeld episode?). I've been busy but not blogging.

The last Master Food Preserver class of the year was last week presented by Bernie and Evelyn. This dynamic duo have been married for 64 years and are partners in every sense of the word. They own a walnut and almond orchard which is no longer a going concern but which they allow friends and neighbors to harvest and use in their own preserving. Don't even try to get over on Bernie at the County Fair in the dried fruit category, I understand he takes first prize every year with his dried persimmons and cured olives. He's showing us his persimmon techniques in this picture. Evelyn's pickles are second to none and she too takes the blue ribbon each year at the County Fair. Last month she demonstrated making flavored vinegar and I'll show you my effort next.

Day 1 - strawberries, sugar and vinegar
Inspired by Evelyn last month I rushed home and used the last of the summer strawberry harvest to make strawberry flavored vinegar. This is very easy but it does take a long time to steep so be prepared to wait.

Cold Infusion Method: This method yields fresh taste but requires 4-6 weeks to impart flavor to the vinegar. To pasteurize the vinegar heat 5% vinegar (must be 5%) to 165* F and let cool completely before adding to the jar in which you have placed your flavoring ingredients.

Fill a clean one quart jar as full as possible with fresh, clean strawberries. Evelyn says to leave the berries whole but make an X in each one to help the vinegar penetrate. Most recipes say to slice fruit but Evelyn says this will make your product cloudy and you won't win a ribbon so I'm going with her method. Add up to 1 cup of sugar. I only used 3 Tbsp since I didn't really want a sweet product. Add your pasteurized and cooled vinegar. Screw on the lid and put in a cool dark place to steep for ONE MONTH! Mark the jar with the date you started and the date you expect to be finished., you know you're going to forget how long it's been in there, and mark your calendar too.

Day 30  - ready to filter
On day 30 your ready to strain through a fine sieve lined with a coffee filter. Be patient. Here again Evelyn says don't press the fruit or your vinegar will be cloudy. The temptation to squeeze is almost too much but resist.

Not so good looking strawberries after 30 days, the chickens didn't even want 'em. Into the compost pile they go.
Crystal clear strawberry vinegar! This will be delicious on a spinach salad.
I'm so glad to have the opportunity to learn these skills from folks who have spent a lifetime perfecting them. The classes start up again in the new year in earnest only this time I'll be expected to pass written test on what' been taught. Better get to studying.

Linking to

Until next time,