Thursday, May 29, 2014

Shut the Barn Door

Remember last Thanksgiving day when we decided to tear down the wet bar in our kitchen at the same time I was basting the turkey? It looked like this on Thanksgiving morning.
A week later the new pantry was finished and has been a wonderful addition to the kitchen. 

You can read about the whole project Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3. BUT... that wall is too light and I just could not find a stain or treatment that would make it match the rest of the wood in the kitchen. I hope you can tell from this picture that the walls in this room are clad in reclaimed barn wood. Old, faded, weathered and truly awesome barn wood. This kind of wood isn't something you can buy at Home Depot. This is wood you have to get from a falling down, nobody wants it anymore barn and I just didn't have one of those nor did I know anyone else who did. Until I started thinking the tiny back bathroom which only has a toilet and a sink and which we hardly ever use might need a paint job. So I go into that tiny bathroom and what do I see? Smack me on the forehead! Barn wood! That little bathroom had a chair rail of the stuff. I told you we hardly ever use this bathroom and so this treasure has been overlooked for six months while I pulled my hair out trying to figure out a solution to the glaring wall problem.
Before Chris could even blink (or say no) I started ripping out that wood. In this picture you can see where the chair rail was I was too excited to take a before picture. We had to take out the toilet to get to all of it.
Up on the kitchen wall it went before you could say Bob's your uncle! 
I LOVE that wall now. It blends exactly with the rest of the kitchen and no longer sticks out like a sore thumb. Here's my favorite piece of the whole project.
There's a giant knot hole behind this rusted piece of tin. Some person from the past hammered over it to cover it up and it has withstood the test of time and weather. Just awesome. I'm not putting the whole thing back together because there are more changes coming that I'll tell you about soon. In the meantime I have to go prep that teeny bathroom for painting. Thank goodness the builders of this house had the foresight to use up their left over barn wood in that little space rather than throw it on the waste heap. And for goodness sake how long do you think it would have taken me to open my eyes and see what was right in front of me all along?

Until next time,

Monday, May 26, 2014

Spinning Around

Nothing much on my design wall this Monday. Like most everyone else I've been busy outside this week. The weather has been marvelous and there's been a lot of garden clean up and planting to do before it got too hot. This time of year I hear the siren call of my garden and I must be outside.
I did spend a little time upstairs in the sewing room. I fully intended to tidy my space after the quilting frenzy for Baby June. There were only very small pieces of those luscious, colorful fabrics left and as I was gathering them together I started thinking and one think led to another and this is the result. A pile a triangle squares. I have no idea yet what I'll do with them.
I just love the look of this cute pile of cut off corners! Only a quilter can appreciate this I think, am I right?
I'm turning those triangle squares into pinwheels. Who doesn't like a pinwheel? Super happy with the little owls peeking out. We'll just have to see where these end up.

Linking up to Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times and I'm heading over now to see what all of you have been doing before I go outside to continue my garden chores. Happy new week.

Until next time,

Friday, May 23, 2014

Doubtful



Self doubt. All but the most confident or foolish are subject to it and it can stop us in our tracks. It has prevented me from moving forward more times than I can say and is something I struggle to overcome. This happens a lot when I'm starting any kind of new project in the sewing room. Even if I'm familiar with a process I can second guess decisions until I'm totally stuck. Not a good place to be.

I don't like this tendency that I have and yet I'm constantly trying out new things. Jill of all trades and mistress of none. I don't have a quilting style because of this need to push my own boundaries always trying new things. If you take a look at my quilts page you'll get some idea of what I'm talking about. Colors and styles all over the map. I don't have a niche. I'm not a 30's reproduction girl, or a Civil War quilter, not modern or applique. Most everyone I know has a style they love and are comfortable with. They have become expert in their style and are confident in their skills.

More often than not I don't work from a pattern but just wing it taking my inspiration from all the great work I've seen. Sometimes I'll start with a pattern in mind but never stick to it faithfully. My projects hardly ever end up the way I first envision them when I started. Once I try a new technique and feel I've understood the process I might never revisit it, it's all about trying things out for me but it doesn't seem to be about mastery.

The only thing I'm pretty sure of is that I have diligently worked on improving my piecing skills. But as far as true creativity goes, I'm doubtful. What are your thoughts on the creative process? How do you approach a new project? Let's talk about self doubt and creativity.

Until next time,

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Maze Zing!

I have two doggies who are voracious. They both act like they have never been fed before and might not ever eat again. At every meal! Twice a day, morning and evening, they go at that food like they have been locked up in a dungeon and starved. This is not good for them and I've tried all kinds of things to slow them down like putting big rocks in their dish to make them eat around the obstacle and even giving them small bits of their food at a time which takes WAY TOO LONG.
The Solution Is At Hand!
I recently saw these feeding bowls while trolling the internet and decided to give 'em a try. They slow the pups feeding frenzy down - a lot. It used to take less than a minute for Shadow and River to finish their food.
Here's Shadow with her new bowl. We've had this dog since she was 8 weeks old and she's NEVER missed a meal but she acts like a homeless stray when it comes to food. It can take her up to 8 minutes to finish her dinner with this dish where before she would be done in 1 minute or less, no lie. A huge improvement. She chases every last kibble around that maze. As you can see some bits escape but believe me, nothing gets by her in the end.
Here's River. She's a more dainty eater but no slouch in the speed eater category and this dish has slowed her down to 8 to 10 minutes. I'm so happy to have them both gulping less air and taking their time.

Now for the info. This is called: Kyjen Slo-Bowl Slow Feeder Interactive Bloat Stop Dog Bowl.
I got mine through Amazon and I've provided a link if you're interested. I'm not affiliated with nor do I receive compensation from this product. I'm just happy with it and thought some of you might have a similar problem with your pups. These are not cheap but they are sturdy and worth it if it keeps River and Shadow from making themselves sick.

Until next time,

Monday, May 19, 2014

Glorious!

That's the best way to describe the month of May on Dogwood Lane, simply glorious!
As you can see I've been playing around with the water color app in PicMonkey but really I have so many pictures of floral abundance to show you I hardly know where to start.
The lavender outside my backdoor is running riot and the bees are crazy for it. You can actually hear them buzzing from the porch. No need to worry about them as I pass by on my way to the hen house they are completely drunk with nectar and only interested in their own affairs.


Just one of the bearded iris glowing in the sun. These only bloom once a year but they put on quite a show while they can.
The snowball bush is actually taller than I am and the flower heads are as large as softballs.
We have lilacs in pink and purple, wine and white. In the early morning and evening the scent is intoxicating. It makes the stroll to the vegetable garden such a pleasure.
I've forgotten the name of this bush with variegated leaves and tiny pink flowers, it's another bee favorite especially the orchard bees which look like little flies but are actually wonderful beneficial pollinators. I wrote a post about them here (It's Buzzing Around Here).
Just look at this clematis! Can you believe the spectacle? She is the queen of the vegetable garden and she knows it. What a display of perfection!
Each one of these flowers is as large as a dinner plate, no kidding!
I hope your spring is just as glorious.

Until next time,

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Cherry Cheesecake Brownie Cupcakes

Do you like chocolate covered cherries as much as I do? How about chocolate cheesecake? That's what I thought, who doesn't love that stuff? Now imagine combining both those delicious flavors in a few yummy bites.



Here it is, Cherry Cheesecake Brownies. Easy to make, pretty enough for company and just plain yummy.

Of course brownies are easy enough to make from scratch and if that's what you like to do go for it, but for my time and money you just can't beat Ghirardelli's Dark Chocolate Brownie mix. You'll also need dried cherries and cream cheese.
Let's get started.

Cherry Cheesecake Brownies

Ingredients
1 box Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate brownie mix
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
8 oz cream cheese (softened to room temperature)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup dry tart cherries, chopped

Preheat oven to 350*
Chop the cherries and just barely cover with water, heat for 30 seconds in microwave, leave the cherries to cool.
Make your cream cheese filling first by mixing cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 egg and vanilla in a medium bowl using an electric mixer on medium until smooth. If the cream cheese is room temp this will be so much easier. Now put this in the refrigerator to firm up a little while you make up the brownies.
Mix brownies according to package directions using 1 egg, 1/4 cup water I used the water I drained from the cherries) and 1/2 cup vegetable oil. Drain cherries through a sieve and press lightly (we don't want a lot of extra water here) , fold drained cherries into brownie mixture.
Line a muffin tin with paper liners and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Spoon batter into muffin tin filling each about 2/3 full. Using a rounded spoon sprayed with cooking spray make an indentation in the brownie batter and fill with about a tablespoon of cooled cream cheese mixture.
Bake 28-32 minutes.  Let the brownies cool about 10 minutes and remove the paper liners. Now you can sprinkle with powdered sugar for a nice finish. Makes 14 -16 cupcakes.

I made these for a  Hill & Dale Supper Club picnic because they were less messy than a regular cupcake and more grown-up. When I got home I had one left over which I may have eaten and which may have been sensational with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Just sayin'.

Until next time,

Monday, May 12, 2014

Ready For Baby June

We are so ready for Baby June to get here the anticipation is killing us! Her Mama is over this pregnancy thing that's for sure. I've booked my flight and I'll be joining the family on June first just to be sure that I'll be available whenever our little June bug decides to make her appearance. Even her big sister is anxious to see her, we'll see how long that lasts, LOL.


In the mean time look what I've finished.


All that worry and self doubt about the quilting where for absolutely nothing. This baby quilt came out super cute. 



My Janome 6600 has a couple of automatic free motion quilting stitches which I tried out on the larger areas. While I was doing it I hated it because it looked so ugly to my eye. i wanted it to be more orderly. But now that it's been washed and fluffed I kinda like it. I don't know if I'll use it again but it's not as bad as I thought it was going to be. I did a curly meander around all the embroideries and that came out great, then a random loopy in the borders.



I LOVE the polka dot binding and I tried something new with the binding I want to show you. I used the lettering feature of my sewing machine to sign the binding before I sewed it on. I saw this on Pinterest and decided to give it a try. What an easy, quick and permanent way to label a quilt!



A little hard to read in this picture -  it says "Made for you by your Grammy Patrica 2014"



Since I was sewing it entirely by machine I sewed it to the back side and folded it over to the front. I like to sew my binding on by machine for baby quilts since I figure they'll be getting a lot of washing and the binding will hold up better.



All sewn down nice and tidy. A lot of firsts in this quilt. First time I've used the free motion features on this sewing machine, first time I've used a fleece backing and no batting for a quilt, first time for a signature binding.  Can't wait to wrap it around Baby June!



How about you, any firsts for you this week? Let's link up to Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times and see what all the creative quilters around the web are doing.

grab button for let's Make Baby Quilts! 
Linking to Michelle's Romantic Tangle blog Let's Make Baby Quilts Friday! 

Until next time,

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Morning Grind

I may be retired but that doesn't mean that I get to spend my mornings lollygagging around, far from it. 


I have things to do. Responsibilities! Those dogs don't feed themselves you know and they wake up early. It's barely dawn when they start begging for their morning treats. Never mind the exercise routine. Good grief!


Someone has to put out the bird feeders even if it is a drizzly day. I have to take the picture through the window or they all will fly away. Very skittish critters.


The hummers won't even let me get the feeder up before they start dive bombing. I'm moving as fast as I can for Pete's sake! This is the small feeder, the large feeder holds 2 quarts and I have to fill them both every day.


Now it's time to let the chickens out so I had better get on my boots and go out to the coop. The hens are hollering as I approach and they all try to rush out of the hatch at once when I open it. "Come on ladies one at at a time please."


OK, it's 6:30, Chris has started the fire in the wood stove and made the coffee. Glory be, time for my first cup of the day and I can sit down and read some of my favorite blogs. Shhh, don't speak to me please until the second cup of caffeine kicks in I'm not a morning person.

What's your morning routine like? Anything like mine?

Until next time,

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Ryan



I mentioned in my post on Sunday that our family had received devastating news that had sent all of us into a tail spin. I now feel able to share that news because the family has given permission.

Ryan Cruz Saldana
This beautiful boy is the grandchild of our cousin Kathleen. He was killed last Friday in a tragic accident when he was struck by a vehicle in front of a relatives home. Ryan was 3 years old, bright, happy and fun loving. His entire family is devastated.

Please pray for his parents Jacqui and Dan as they struggle with this unimaginable loss.

I have not had the heart to reply individually to all the kind posts from everyone regarding Ryan's loss. Please know how much the family appreciates your prayers. I thank you so much.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Technology Glitches

Image courtesy of dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This amusing little picture is meant to illustrate a not so amusing problem that's has been plaguing our house. Our desktop computer has been acting up for quite some time and it finally yelled HELP last week. So it was off to the Geek Squad to see if the poor thing could be cured of whatever ailed it. I found out just today that it can indeed be cured and I'll have it back tomorrow. Phew, disaster averted! I cannot afford a new computer right now.

I'm writing this blog entry on my laptop which is a perfectly fine machine and I've been using it to check email and Facebook and browse news sites - you know, all the usual stuff. The thing is for some reason I just don't like creating blog posts with my laptop. It's just awkward somehow. Uploading photos from my camera is cumbersome and the darn thing always puts stuff in hidden folders which makes me search endlessly for things no matter how many times I try to change things. So that's my explanation for my relative quiet this past week, that and some very tragic family news that has sent us reeling. I don't feel able to share it right now but when the time is right...

Until next time,