Friday, May 28, 2010

Totally Random

My mom was trying to tell me that she had been using a lot of laundry soap lately, but my kids were in the room. She had intended to say she'd been going through it "like **** through a goose." But instead she said she'd been going through laundry soap "like a goose through a wood chipper!" What a picture that evokes! I know this is totally random and gross, too, but I CAN'T STOP LAUGHING about it! Feathers and gore everywhere!!!!!!!!

What makes you laugh uncontrollably?

Baby Quilts

I came. I saw. I quilted. I also planned, pieced, and bound. I just finished my first quilt. It's a baby quilt for a friend's baby boy. The baby was born on the 26th, and the quilt was finished today! Since my friend may be a reader of this blog, I'll delay posting pictures until I get the package to them. I've been working on this quilt off and on for a couple of months although the actual time spent on the quilt was probably less than 15 hours total. It's a very simple diagonal pattern. It's not perfect, but I am very pleased with it overall. I hope my friend likes it. It's going in the mail this weekend.

So, I've been thinking quite a bit about quilting lately. Every aspect of quilting is far more complicated than I imagined. Each of my kids received a quilt as a baby gift. They couldn't be more different. They are both beautiful, well-made, and made with love. I've loved each of them as long as I have had them, but I think I appreciate the amount of work that went into them a bit more now.

Above is Stinkerbaby's quilt. It was made by our egg lady. We didn't find out if Stinkerbaby was a boy or a girl before her grand appearance, so the quilt is suitably gender neutral. Our egg lady, Lucille, was in her early eighties when she made this quilt. She's still around and kicking, but she doesn't quilt anymore. It was sewn entirely by hand and tied instead of quilted. She was so sweet to put so much time and effort into this baby quilt, especially since we hadn't known each other long when she made it. I love my egg lady!

Here is Bonus' quilt. It was made by my dear friend, Gini's mother. We knew Bonus was a he before he arrived and my friend knew I that I am a frog lover. It was machine pieced and quilted. The whole thing is so beautifully done it's amazing. Each stitch is perfect. The intricacy is astounding. I smile every time I look at it. Bonus loves to stare at the front or the back and try to pick up the frogs.

Here's a closeup of the back. It's cheerful and beautiful, just the way a baby quilt should be.

Some quilters are real artists. I'm not, but I am encouraged that I can quilt.
And if I can, anyone can!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Adventures in Walmart

So, our local Walmart is getting rid of their fabric department. This is happening all over the country as I understand it. I'm no huge fan of Walmart, but I do shop there occasionally. And if I am in need of fabric for a project, I always wind up there. We are fortunate enough to have a small quilting store in town. They have very nice things, but I'm usually making diapers or baby carriers, so I need things quilting stores have no reason to carry. I always check the quilting store first if they are open, but usually I have to go to Walmart to get what I need.

Yesterday, Walmart's fabric was marked down 50%. I have never seen anything like the crowd there. Nana, the kids, and I arrived a little after nine, and the place was swamped! There were fifty or more people in line with only two women cutting. Nana got in line with the first of our fabric choices, and I shopped for more. We took turns until we were both confident the rest of the fabrics we were both hoping to find were gone.

The amazing part was how nice everyone was! All of us were strangers, but we chatted, shared sewing tips, and even shared fabrics. If someone saw a fabric they liked in someone else's cart, one just asked if they were intending to get the entire bolt and if not, could they have it next. The amount of patience and cooperation I have never seen in a "crowd." We waited calmly as folks in front got literally 20-50 bolts of fabric measured and cut for about three hours. As we neared the front of the line, the nice woman in line behind us said she needed to go pick up her granddaughter from school. We offered to let her go in front of us, but we still had too long to wait. So, she asked Nana to buy her fabric and bring it to her at our convenience since we all live in the same small town. Nana took her money and her fabric. All was well.

Until someone cut into the line. We had all been waiting for a long time and suddenly there was an unfamiliar customer at the cutting table. A Walmart employee wearing a name tag cut into the front of the line! I only saw her from the back but several customers verified that she was an employee. I tried not to get too irritated about the situation, there was nothing I could do, after all. A man waiting in line a few people behind me, was not so willing. He found a manager and told him what happened. The manager apologized for our lengthy wait time and said he would review the security tape.

Just when we were nearly done, we encountered yet another bump in the road. My fabric was being cut and I was about to hand them the other lady's since Nana had to sit down and rest a bit. The woman at the cut table asked me if that was all of mine and I told her it was. Then she left! So the line I had been waiting patiently (more or less) in was now no more. With the permission of those in the next line over, I got in line second from the front. I thought I would never get out of there.
Finally, we did get out of there. It was almost 1:00!

All this time, Stinkerbaby was really good. She didn't whine once! A stranger gave her a Happy Meal toy. Bonus slept in my homemade mei tai carrier almost the entire time. Everyone was really kind except for one Walmart employee. It really could have been a mob, but it wasn't.

I won't go back to Walmart anytime soon if I can avoid it, but the next time when I need just a bit of this or that fabric to finish something, I will surely miss the fabric department at Walmart.

So, when your local Walmart loses its fabric department, if it hasn't already, go early and wear comfortable shoes!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

All Organic Lime Pudding

I really do cook things besides desserts. Desserts are just my favorite. My most recent order from Tropical Traditions came in today. In it was something I had never tried before- Heavenly Organics sweetened condensed milk. Sweetened condensed milk is certainly not heath food, but I figure I get some points for it being organic.

It says on the label, "our heavenly cows are treated reverently and lovingly."
Pretty cool, huh?

So, I decided to make a pie. Then I remembered that I have to pre-made pie crusts in the house and I'm too lazy today to make one, so I made pudding instead.

This pudding is really yummy and could not be easier to make. You'll think I left something out in the recipe, but I didn't.

Okay, here it is:
One 14 oz. can Heavenly Organics sweetened condensed milk
between 1/3 and 1/2 cup organic lime juice- to taste

Mix and refrigerate. This is also good with lemon juice.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

A couple of years ago, I got a Cuisinart ice cream maker as a gift. Boy, what a difference this thing makes over my salt and ice kind of ice cream maker! It's so quick and easy! If I could regularly get raw cream or pasturized, organic cream without carrageenan, I'd make ice cream much more often. Carrageenan is a seaweed-derived additive that is on my list of yucky stuff in food I avoid. According to Dr. Russell Blaylock in his book, Health and Nutrition Secrets That Can Save Your Life, carrageenan is used as an agent to induce intense inflammation in experimental animals. It has also been implicated as a carcinogen. I don't believe I want any of that!

Anyway, carrageenan is found in every brand of locally available organic cream. It's not in the organic half and half, but that stuff is ultra-pasturized which is something else I try to avoid.

Last week, that changed. My local farm market got in some low-temperature pasturized cream with no other ingregients! It may not be raw, but it sure is good! Produced here in Kentucky by farmers who are not certified organic, but use the same practices, it meets three of my four main food goals:
it's local
it's virtually organic
and it's delicious

It's not raw, but that's to be expected in a state that doesn't allow raw milk sales.

So, I came home with two quarts of this delicious cream last week. My intention was to make ice cream, but I was sidetracked by strawberries. Strawberries, organic evaporated cane juice, and cream is a treat no one should miss. So, that's where the first quart went. Stinkerbaby even liked it and normally she doesn't like milk or fruit.

I did manage to get ice cream made out of the second quart. This is easily the best ice cream I have ever made! In addition to the great cream, it's a new recipe. This recipe is scaled for the little Cuisinart ICE-20 Ice Cream maker.

1 1/2 cup cream
1 1/2 cup whole milk
5 raw, pastured egg yolks (for those squeamish about raw eggs, see
3/4 cup evaporated cane juice (or sugar)
1 TBSP vanilla
1 TBSP arrowroot powder (cornstarch is an acceptable substitute)

Combine all ingredients and blend with a stick blender or mixer. Add to ice cream maker and let it go for about 35 minutes. Transfer to another container to ripen overnight. Lick the bowl and wait until tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fisher Price Little People

Fisher Price Little People

Lately, I have been reliving my childhood. My mother, a.k.a. Nana, found many of my old Fisher Price Play Family sets. (Okay, they belong equally to my sister and me.) Stinkerbaby seems to think they are the coolest toys ever. I tend to agree.

This re-discovery of old toys began a couple of weeks ago at a yard sale. Stinkerbaby and I found the Fisher Price castle. Many of you in your thirties likely remember this toy well. Having spent hours playing with the secret room and drawbridge, it was gratifying to see Stinkerbaby interested. It was not it pristine condition, but I wanted it to play with, um, I mean I wanted it for my daughter to play with, so the condition wasn't an issue. There was no price, but I figured it wouldn't be more than $5. But when I paid, it was only $1! That was the best deal of the day by far! Well, after cleaning it up a bit under Stinkerbaby's "supervision" it has become her new favorite toy. So, I asked Nana if she could find some of my old little people or any other sets. The next day, she bought the following Fisher Price play sets:

the house the ferris wheel

the children's hospital

the village

the parking garage

the carousel (unfortunately, this is broken)

the farm the Sesame Street Clubhouse

the Sesame Street apartment building

and this is not Little People, but cool anyway, the Weebles Haunted House.

She also brought about 30 people and cars. Stinkerbaby could hardly wait for me to clean each item! And they were DIRTY! But, what do you expect, they had been in storage in Nana's garage for almost thirty years! I haven't cleaned some of them yet. But I'm sure I will soon. Nana didn't ever find my castle. Some days, I'm really glad Nana's a packrat.

What was your favorite toy? How about your favorite Little People playset?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Four-Poster Poplar

This is the story of a tree. It was a huge, lovely poplar tree, just over 100 feet tall. When I was a little girl, I wanted to build a treehouse in this tree. When Batman and I were choosing the location of our future home, I wanted to be near this tree. When our nice neighbor was clearing the land for our house, he suggested we remove this tree. I was shocked. I was horrified. Get rid of my beautiful four-poster poplar? Are you kidding? Absolutely not!

Fast forward a bit. We moved into our house, and the remnants of Hurricane Ike came through Kentucky. We had strong, sustained winds for about ten hours. We were all in fear that the poplar would bisect our house. Finally, the winds ended, and we were all glad the poplar was still standing.

That is, until the next thunderstorm. Then we worried the tree would come down on the house. But it didn't, so we were glad.

We sort of forgot the threat of the poplar for a while-
until the ice storm. For those of you who don't live in this area, you may or may not remember a story that made national news at the time. For those of us here, we will not soon forget the ice storm of 2009. The morning when it was just beginning to get bad, we cringed every time we heard a branch snap, worried that it might be the poplar. The next night, we tried to sleep, but every few seconds we heard snaps loud enough to wake us. Frequently they were followed by crashes of trees falling. I have never been more terrified in my life.

But, even after the worst ice storm in a century, the poplar still stood.

We were no longer glad. I was expecting Bonus at the time and what I wanted more than anything, other than wanting the pregnancy to go well and the baby to be okay, was for the poplar to be gone. Well, my dad granted that wish just before Bonus arrived. Dad has a small sawmill and poplar is good wood, so it was a win-win situation. The most desirable logs were quickly whisked away to the sawmill. That was about nine months ago.

Today, I completed my first woodworking project using the less desirable wood from the poplar. With the assistance of Mom, Dad, and Batman, I built a bookcase for Stinkerbaby's room. Dad sawed the lumber and cut the pieces to length. Mom kept the kids and helped me assemble the bookcase. And Batman kept the kids while Mom and I assembled it. Even Stinkerbaby helped by putting some of her books of the shelves. It's not the most amazing thing ever built, but I very happy with it. Not counting time, I figure I have about $12 in it, mostly from the wood sealer.




In case you are wondering, it only took one log about seven feet long to make this entire bookcase. Since this is in a kid's room, this thing is fastened to the wall, so I don't ever have to hear a huge crash followed by, "don't look in my room, Mommy!" Ask me how I knew fastening it was a good idea.