Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My Christmas Wish

My family is visiting and so I'll be off line until the New Year. May your every Christmas wish come true. I'll be back in January and until then please have a wonderful, peaceful, happy and joyful holiday.

Until 2014,

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Sausage & Spinach

This recipe looked so darn delicious that I really wanted to try it, Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Sausage and Kale from Simply Recipes.com
The problem was the only thing listed in the recipe that I had in my refrigerator was a spaghetti squash. What to do? Improvise of course. 


The hardest part about this whole recipe is cutting and seeding the squash but you need to persevere because there is a reward at the end.

It already looks delicious doesn't it?

You could stop right here, top with some marinara sauce and some Parmesan cheese and call it dinner. We're going for something else, something a little more hearty, something with dare I say it - SAUSAGE.

This is chicken and Manchego cheese sausage that I picked up at Costco and you need to go get some. Go ahead I'll wait. Back already? Let's cut it up and get cookin'.

This is beginning to look so good and the kitchen is smelling wonderful too.

Add the spaghetti squash and toss it all together, don't forget the cheese although who in their right mind forgets the cheese? Serve with some crusty bread and pat yourself on the back.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Sausage and Spinach
serves 4

3 Tbsp olive oil
One 3-pound spaghetti squash
4 chicken sausage (or any favorite sausage)
1/2 cup minced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 16 oz pkg frozen spinach, thawed and squeeze some of the moisture out or a bunch of washed and sliced fresh spinach
1 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp finely chopped basil or oregano or dried Italian herbs to taste  
Kosher or sea salt
 Freshly ground black pepper 
1 Preheat oven to 375°F. Oil a sheet pan with one tablespoon of the oil.

2 With a sharp knife, slice off 1/2-inch from the ends of the spaghetti squash. Then stand the squash up on one of the ends to stabilize it, and cut the squash in half, top to bottom. Scoop out any seeds and stringy bits inside, and place the squash halves cut-side down on the oiled pan.

3 Bake for about 35 minutes until you can easily poke the sides of the squash with a fork. Remove from oven and let sit until cool enough to handle. Then using the tines of a fork, scrape out the "spaghetti"-like strands of the squash to a bowl.

4 Pinch and remove small chunks of sausage from the sausage casings or slice sausage whichever you prefer.

5 In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil on medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for a minute more.  Add the sausage, and cook without stirring, until the sausage starts to brown, then stir and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the sausage bits are cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the spinach  and cook for a minute or two.
6 Add the spaghetti squash strands to the sausage mixture and stir to combine, cook until the squash is heated through, about a minute.

7 Remove from heat and add the grated Parmesan cheese and herbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Add some crusty bread and you're good to go. A simple and delicious week day meal. Adapted from SimplyRecipes.com

Until next time,

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Sewing/DWM

I know that most of you are like me and scrambling to complete all those last minute Christmas project along with the holiday decorating and don't even mention baking. I haven't started baking yet and I'm beginning to sweat a little. I have completed some small projects. We won't be giving gifts to the adults in the family this year opting to pool our resources and donate to a favorite charity instead, but I still wanted to give them each something small that said I was thinking of them. I decided to make pillowcases for everyone in themes that tickle their funny bones.

As you can see Star Wars figures prominently since we're all SciFy Geeks and there are some mermaids and amoebas along with a few flowers.

One week from today my house will be filled to the rafters with family and I'm so excited!! All my kids will be home for Christmas this year along with their beautiful wives and my wonderful grand babies.

The house is decorated and the presents for the little ones are safely hidden until the big day. The gingerbread house kits are ready for Liam and Owen and Claire who are just about old enough for this kind of project and I know they'll enjoy baking our favorite Christmas cookie - Mexican Wedding Cakes. The big kids will enjoy eating our projects no matter what they look like. 

The San Diego branch of the family are bringing the tamales for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner straight from the border and all other meals are planned and in the freezer. When you have 15 at every meal for a week you better plan ahead!  Hope your plans are moving ahead and it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at your house too.

Linking to Design Wall Monday at  Patchwork Times check it out. Maybe there will be some last minute gift inspiration.

Until next time,

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Finding the Perfect Christmas Tree

Looking for the perfect Christmas tree is serious business. Some folks go to the Christmas tree lot, some folks drive a fair distance to the tree farm and for some it's a perfectly plump artificial tree. We've done all of those things in the quest for the just right tree. But, not many folks are as fortunate as we are to be able to step out their back door, walk out into their very own woods and cut down their very own perfect tree.

Of course we have a lot of help looking for the perfect specimen. River and Shadow looked high and low.

River thought this one might work but I convinced her we needed a few more branches so we could hang ornaments and lights. This is only her second Christmas so she really doesn't quite get it.

"How about this bush Mom?" "Not nearly big enough River."

Found it! One for us and one for Zack's family. Start sawing boys!

Bringing home the PERFECT tree.

"Time for treats right?" "Absolutely, you girls did a fine job of picking out trees."

After all that work we all deserve a nap. We'll decorate later.

Until next time,

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Kindness Of Quilters

Most all of the quilters I've met are the nicest people and I've met quite a few quilters let me tell you. This is a tale about just one. See this beautiful quilt? It's a donation to the Georgetown Christmas Food & Gift Drive from a quilter who doesn't live here and doesn't know anyone who does. 

Here's the story: Remember when I was on our fabulously fun  quilt retreat at Lake Tahoe in September? The Folsom Quilt Guild always has their retreat at the same time as we do in a different building and being the gadfly that I am I do a fair amount of snooping visiting to see what other quilters are working on and of course I also do a fair amount of chatting, making new friends don't ya know. Whenever quilters get together we always talk about what we're working on and who the quilts are for and I mentioned that I was working on donation quilts for our food pantry and gift drive for Christmas. Our quilt group always tries to donate at least one handmade quilt per person this time of year. I mentioned this quite a lot I guess.

That was September. Skip to last week when I received a phone call from a lovely woman named Sherrie who said, "Remember me?" "We spoke at Zephyr Cove and I made some quilts for you." I was stunned! I confess I barely remembered the conversation and didn't remember Sherrie at all. Never the less we arranged to meet 'off the hill' as we say and Sherrie turned over to me the lovingly made, beautiful quilts that you see. 

I so appreciate that these are not baby quilts but meant for older children. Two of them will find a home with boys, quilts for boys or young men are always hard to come by. Isn't it wonderful how Sherrie has used panels to her advantage and made such different and stunning designs for each? A master quilter at work here. I simply cannot thank her enough. Sherrie you thoughtfulness is so appreciated.

Mention a need and some quilter somewhere will attempt to fill it. That's why I say - Quilters are the nicest people!!

Linking up to Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times, skip over and see what else is going on this week in quilt land.

Until next time,

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Pantry Renovation - part 2

Continuing on from Friday's post, I don't want to leave you hanging. Once the electrical work was done the walls went up on this construction in no time. 

Honestly, the hardest part about this was picking out the materials. A short word about our house - it's made of wood. You may have noted this in previous photos and when I say made of wood I mean inside and out, up and down. The home was built about 30 years ago by a guy who owned the lumber yard in town and he loved his lumber! There's redwood and cedar, pine and oak; all grades and scales and finishes. This makes it hard to reproduce a finish or fill in a wall 30 years later, much harder than you might think. The ceiling is pine, the wall is old barn wood, the beams are stained redwood, the doors are pecan and the kitchen cabinets are golden oak. All the finishes are aged and mellowed so anything new just glares out at you but I have to learn to live with it until it mellows too.

Anyway on to the big reveal...

The molding and hardware are not in place in this photo and the stain has not been applied. truthfully it might be month s before the stain goes on. If I try to stain that wall now we'll die of asphyxiation from the fumes and no ventilation! 

Look at the shelves!

Gaze at the roominess! I'm so excited to fill this thing up. Just ask my kids, I can fill a pantry quicker than you say jackrabbit.  I hope you're as happy with your holiday projects as I am with mine.

I'll show you soon what we're going to do with the counter we took out of the bar area. I'm nothing if not a re-purposing fool.

Until next time,

Friday, December 6, 2013

Pantry Renovation

Being the slightly unhinged folks that we are we decided to undertake a kitchen renovation in the midst of the holiday season. I know, I know. Nuts on so many levels. Told you we are slightly unhinged.

I've been looking at this space in my kitchen for 16 years and hating it! A wet bar in a house of non drinkers. Don't get me wrong, I like a glass of wine with dinner and people who know me know that I like my Irish whiskey -  neat. But, as a rule we don't drink much and certainly never enough to warrant an entire area of the house given over to the preparation and serving of spirits. Besides it's like a black hole sucking up light and collecting clutter and dust and finally it had to go. I packed up my cookbooks after sorting and donating at least half of them to the library and...

demolition began. I love this part! SO MUCH FUN bashing and crashing. My husband insists that we take our time when all I want to do is have at it with a sledge hammer.

It only took about two hours to get rid of the counters and sink and clean the whole thing out. Ready for the next phase.

What might that be you ask? A pantry. A useful, in the kitchen pantry with space for all the things you need every day to prepare meals. How great is that?

The view from the sink end of the kitchen.

Thanksgiving Day we reached this stage. Now comes the part where we have to measure and cut wood and do electrical and plumbing stuff so our son Zack stepped in to help. We wanted to install a pocket door and he's done that before at his house. Previous experience is a big plus.

As we quilters know "measure twice, cut once!" He's got quite a technique don't ya think?

Phew, it fits! It must have been that measuring trick that did it.

It's coming along. Can you imagine it now? I'll show you how far we've gotten on this project next time. In the mean time I have to go scrounge the property for some old wood to patch the barn wood which you can plainly see is missing. There must be some dirty, half rotten wood around here somewhere...

Until next time,

Monday, December 2, 2013

River City Quilt Show Part 2

As promised I have the second half of my River City Quilt Show pictures to share this morning. There's so much going on here that I barely have time to sit down and of course for some mysterious reason my laptop has decided to lock me out so I'm putting projects and computer glitches aside for a moment and basking in beauty right along with you all.

This is a three panel landscape quilt, so hard to photograph but it was just wonderful. I loved the texture and concept.

Cheerful, colorful houses. Isn't it amazing all the different ways houses can be interpreted in fabric?

Another stunning landscape quilt. I'm always drawn to these art pieces.

The quilting makes the quilt in this case adding so much dimension to the snow and background. The judges thought so too.

Something about the color and movement of this small piece that I loved. All raw edge strata, cool technique.

Exuberant free piecing! How fun and liberating. Would like to try your hand at something like this? I know you have a bunch of scraps just waiting to be sewn up just like I do.

I'm starting to see a trend here. Almost every quilt I took a picture of is super bright and free form. Maybe my subconscious is trying to tell me something?

No, wait! Here's a traditional applique with gorgeous over the top feather quilting. I'm confused. I obviously don't know what I like.

Traditional piecing in warm neutrals or...

jazzy colors and bold design???

How about a log cabin quilt with both? Traditional piecing and

bold design!

Linking to Design Wall Monday at the Patchwork Times.

Until next time,