Friday, February 27, 2009

What a fun idea!

On the Cup Of Jo blog a while back, Joanna Goddard wrote about a fun thing that she found on photographer Katie Sokoler's blog, Color Me Katie.

In this post, Katie shows how she cut up a variety of photos of family and friends and planted them around her house. These guys crack me up!

I've cut up my own photos before. This is me with my oldest son, Chris, being held up in a magnetic photo holder that happens to look like a friendly alligator. But I know I need to put more of us throughout the house. Isn't this a fun idea!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Easy sauteed sweet potatoes...

My husband, Steve, does all our cooking (except desserts, that's me). This is a dish he cooks often that I told Mary (from New Braunfels) that I would share with you. It serves six; may be scaled for larger or smaller amounts:

Six medium sweet potatoes (if you can’t find medium ones, get two small ones per person or one large one for every two people)

About a tablespoon of olive oil (maybe a bit more)
2 tablespoons butter (optional)

Cut the ends off of the sweet potatoes. Peel using a regular potato peeler – you may have to give some areas of the sweet potatoes two passes to get them peeled properly. For irregularly shaped sweet potatoes, you may need to cut them into smaller pieces so they peel more easily.

As you peel them, put the sweet potato pieces into a bowl with water. Drain the water off of the sweet potatoes, and cut them into bite-sized pieces.

I cut the pieces in half longitudinally first, then slice transversely into pieces about 1/4 inch thick. This gives half-round pieces that cook evenly. For big sweet potatoes, cut them into quarters longitudinally and 1/4 inch slices.

While you are preparing the potatoes, heat a skillet that will accommodate the amount of sweet potatoes you are cooking. A wide and flat skillet works better than a rounded deep one, and a well-seasoned heavy-duty non-stick skillet works better than other kinds.

Heat on medium-low heat until warm. Add olive oil to skillet, swirl to coat (remember to scale the amount of oil to the amount of sweet potatoes) and add the sweet potato pieces. Swirl them around in the skillet to coat the bottoms with oil.

Adjust the heat so that the sweet potatoes cook, but so that they don’t cook too quickly – too much heat and they will burn. Allow to cook for several minutes, swirling a time or two to keep them from sticking. Turn with a wide spatula. Allow to cook several more minutes, browning the pieces slowly. As the sweet potatoes get more cooked, turn down the heat and turn the potatoes more frequently. When you turn down the heat, add the butter. Cook for several more minutes, and the sweet potatoes will become softer and browner. As they get more cooked, turn the heat down and finish them slowly. Overall cooking time is about 40 minutes for 6 sweet potatoes.

Serve with grilled salmon, Korean barbecued chicken, pork tenderloin, or just about anything else. I like them left-over as well. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rosy finches...

The birds are waking up here in Texas. They are noisy in the mornings and flocking to my feeder. I took the screen off of the window in front of my sewing machine today and raised the window so that I could take pictures of them.

The cardinals and Downy woodpeckers wouldn't sit still long enough for me to get a good shot. Maybe tomorrow.

These are rosy finches. Of course, it's the males who are "rosy". The females are quieter in color.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Interesting designs...

I read and look at the images on a variety of design websites, blogs, and publications. These are mostly graphic design sites - not quilt-related at all. But you never know when good design in one area will influence you in another. nHere are some blogs/sites that you might like too:

Chuck Green's PagePlane blog, and his newsletter, are very good. Most of the sites listed below I found first in his newsletter.

Check out the Book Cover Archive. The rocking chair on the the Steinbeck cover reminds me of a drawing I did of my mom's rocker. That rocker is in my bedroom now.

Issuu is an interesting site with electronic magazines. You can make your own magazine and upload it for free! Sounds like fun if I can stop quilting long enough to actually do it.

The Arts & Letters Daily looks like a great place to find all sorts of interesting information. My husband, the professor, has long talked about the Chronicle of Higher Education. Who knew it was so interesting?!

And this is one of my favorite blogs, de(coeur)acao. It's in Portuguese (I've been told) and I am not bilingual so I look at the pictures and wonder what the words say. I love this 2-tone wall treatment and am going to try it soon in my bedroom.

Happy surfing!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Lamb's Ear...

It's early, but there are definite signs of spring here. Even the lamb's ear is looking perky.

There was mist in the air and water droplets were sitting on the hairs on the leaves. Lovely to look at.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Christmas all year round...

I taught in New Braunfels, TX, Friday and Saturday. The New Braunfles Area Quilt Guild is full of very nice ladies and we all had a good time. On the drive to and from class, I got to see some of the town and I want to share a bit of what I saw.

I sincerely hope that this building used to have balconeys in front of those doors. It's a long drop to the ground!

This building and the historic courthouse on the downtown square is made from the white rock that is famous in this part of Texas. I think it's limestone.

Mary says that this Victorian house has amazing lights at Christmas. The owners keep it decorated for Christmas all year round.

The sleigh is an interesting touch - especially at this time of year. Spring has sprung in New Braunfels and hot summer will be here before you know it. I think those folks in the sleigh need to take their jackets off before they melt :-).

Friday, February 20, 2009

Mosaic "how to's"...

I did promise to share the mosaic a table top instructions. Here is the short version:

1. Make sure the surface you are going to stick the mosaic to is hard. If the surface has any give, the mosaic could crack.

2. Clean the surface from any debris and dirt. If is it bare wood, I would prime it.

3. Buy mastic. This is the "glue" that holds the tile pieces in place. Read the information on the bag or can. I used dry mastic that had to be mixed with water. Follow the directions precisely.

4. Buy grout. This is the stuff that goes between the tiles. It comes in a variety of colors, with sand and without. I used sanded grout because I knew I would leave large gaps between tiles.

5. You will also need a notched trowel to apply the mastic and a grout float to apply the grout.

6. Buy or find tiles, plates, and/or other ceramic objects.

7. Break any ceramic objects that aren't flat. I put my plates between 2 pieces of cardboard and whammered them with a 4 lb hammer. Wear protective googles!!! Pieces that don't sit flat are going to be hard to use. Discard what you can't use.

These broken bits have sharp edges! You can file the edges of each piece. Being in a hurry, I did not. In most cases the grout covers the sharp edges. Unfortunately, my table still has some sharp points that stick up. I'm going to use a hand-held power sander with the appropriate emory sandpaper when I put the tabletop back in place.

8. If you're smart, you will plan exactly where you want each tile piece to go. If not, you'll need to work fast and hope for the best. Do some web searching and I'll bet you'll find a variety of instructions on how to prepare mosaic tile. In fact, check out the Mosaic Tile Guide!

9. Read the directions and mix and apply the mastic. Don't put down too much at any one time because it takes longer to place those tiles than you think it will.

10. Read the directions and mix and apply the grout after the mastic has set.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Jack was here too...

We took the mosaic top off of the table because the mastic and grout need to not freeze for a few weeks. Jack was outside and decided that the table base was just too exciting to ignore.

He's right at 15 months old and is walking more these days. He weighed 27 lbs two weeks ago. The boy is built like a brick outhouse - solid as a rock. Christopher, his dad, was like that too. Now Chris is 6' and on the thin side so maybe that is how Jack will be too. Or not - we'll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Look at those socks!

Elanor and Jack were over yesterday afternoon. It took me a bit to notice - but look at those socks! She explained that she couldn't find the sock that matched either one so she just wore them together.

When I wear mis-matched socks, I do it on purpose and have to stop and think which ones work together. Maybe what I need to do is just dump all my socks in the drawer and wear what comes out together...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A new eBook...

We'll be sending an eNewsletter out soon, but I wanted to give you a heads up. C&T has released another of our out-of-print titles as an eBook. Read more about Contemporary Classics in Plaids & Stripes on our website. We're very glad to have this book available again - and we hope you are too!

In addition to the eBook, we have the pattern for the cover quilt, Pretty in Plaid, available as an individual pattern. It is in the ebook too - this stand-alone pattern is for those who only want it, and not the whole book.

Monday, February 16, 2009

New shoes...

I am only mildly excited by shoes. That may be because I have to wear flats if I want to walk without pain. At any rate, I was really surprised to find out that my youngest son really likes shoes! He takes care of them way better than I do. His shoes always look new.

Jeff particularly likes athletic shoes in splashy colors. I got him a pair of screaming yellow Puma's for Christmas last year that practically glow in the dark. It looks like he likes these snow-white shoes (that Celia got him for Valentine's Day) just as much!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

An update on my sister...

I spent several days last week with my sister, in the hospital. (I posted as if I was home but no, I was not.) I haven't ever specifically said why Christy has been in the hospital. Here is the abridged story:

She has polycystic kidney disease. PKD destroyed her kidneys and they were removed last September. Living without kidneys is not easy. She is, of course, on dialysis 3 times a week. Dialysis is time consuming and there are serious diet and fluid restrictions.

Many people still have at least some kidney function to go along with dialysis and that helps to control a variety of things. Like blood pressure. Without kidneys, her blood pressure can spike up very quickly to dangerous levels.

If her only problems were diet restrictions, time spent in dialysis, and blood pressure issues things would be pretty good. Unfortunately she's had bouts of constant migraine pain (now less frequent), occasional seizures (none lately), and severe abdominal pain that the doctors could not nail down.

She was in the hospital for the abdominal pain and a blood infection. It was decided that she really had to have a colonoscopy. On top of everything else, my sister had to drink "the stuff". I had a colonoscopy at 50 so this is something I know about. "The stuff" for those of you who have yet to have one is Golytely. If ever a product was mis-named, this is it.

As it turns out, though, it's a good thing that she drank the stuff. The colonoscopy showed that she had been pretty well blocked and that many of her recent problems were related to that. The good news is that she's feeling better! She is really tired and ready to not be in the hospital, but things are looking up.

I thought I'd share this with you for a variety of reasons. PKD is a disease that a lot of people have and not many people know about. There is not a cure. The PKD Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness and funds for research. I'm happy if this, in some small way, helps them.

We have a saying in our house - "Watch out for the beer truck." We are referring to that thing (whatever it turns out to be) that you can't see and that will eventually come at you. For Steve and me, it's a reminder to take pleasure in every day. After all she's been through, Christy does savor each day. If she can, so can I - and so can you!

Be happy and enjoy your life!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentine's Daffodils

Every year around Feb. 14 my daffodils bloom. They were a little early this year!

I know that many of you are still enjoying/enduring winter and and I thought you'd like to see this bit of spring.

Imagine air that smells like a cool spring day and that's what's happening in north Texas now. I know it's not going to last - cold, freezing weather always comes back to us before Easter - but today is very nice!

Taking the grandkids to the park...

When my boys were little, I took them to the park. A lot. Fresh air made them happy - and they slept better which made everyone happy!

The weather has been pretty in north Texas lately and I've been taking Elanor and Jack to Hillcrest park. It's a small park and very little kid friendly.

Jack is starting to walk and I've been making him walk in the park. It's so much fun to see him figuring out how the world works. He likes to slide!

He and Elanor play really well together and I hope that lasts a long time.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Balancing boy...

My son, Chris, is really happy to have a son. They are such guys together! What this means is that sometimes they do "guy" stuff that I'm not all that crazy about.

The other night before dinner Chris wanted to show me how well Jack balances himself. So Chris perched Jack on the cats' scratching post.

Chris was standing right there to catch Jack if he started to teeter. I wasn't thrilled, but took pictures anyway. Jack thought it was great fun! And I have to admit, the boy does have good balance.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Del - she was there!

I did hear from Del, the winner of my block. It is on it's way to her. Keep watch for the next blog door prize!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Valentine tulips...

Jeff and Celia (son and almost-daughter-in-law) sent me a bouquet of tulips last week. It was an unexpected "thank you for helping with the wedding" bouquet and I have really enjoyed them!

I don't buy fresh flowers often enough. I think I'll have to do better! My husband says he can find good flowers at the grocery store and I'll bet he can :-).

It was (practically) free!

Last month when Steve and I were in Oklahoma City visiting parents, we spotted the metal base to a patio table. The glass was gone, but the base was in good shape. I even liked the slightly weathered blue paint on it.

We got it back home and I decided it needed a mosaic top . We used a sheet of Hardie board for the base.

I priced tile and realized that I didn't want to spend that much. I had some garage sale plates and white tiles. We bought mastic and grout.

I broke the plates between pieces of cardboard with a 4 lb hammer. Wear goggles!

Steve helped me with this project. It's too bad we don't have a movie of us hurriedly trying to stick the pieces to the table before the mastic dried!

I could have gone hunting for more plates, but honestly I didn't have time. We both think it has a nicely casual look as it is. And it was (practically) free!

Friday, February 6, 2009

We have a winner!

Congratulations to "Del", poster #195. You have won my block!

How did we choose a winner? I asked my youngest son, Jeff, to do the choosing. He is a phd student in biostatistics at Johns Hopkins and seemed to me to be a perfect person for this very important task. He chose the winner by randomly picking a number between 1 and 314 in

So, Del... I need an address from you! You can email me at

Thank you all for visiting our blog. I hope you continue to check in. We'll have another blog door prize in a few weeks.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Klingons are in Colorado...

I am a Star Trek fan. There, I've admitted it. My kids grew up on Star Trek. We can all (even my husband) quote from the shows - the original ST with Capt. Kirk, Next Generation with Picard, Voyager with Janeway, and even Deep Space Nine.

Jeff, my youngest, just sent me this link. I have to say that I laughed out loud. I wanted to share this with those of you who are also ST fans... Click the following to read more - Masked Man Robs Convenience Stores With Klingon Sword

FYI - This is a batleth. You can read more about batleths here. I feel certain that if I were confronted with a batleth-weilding robber, I hand over the money!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

How to leave a comment...

We've had a couple of questions about how to leave a comment on the post below. At the end of the post it says "Posted by Becky at 6:14 PM 216 comments". (The number of comments may be higher when you get to this spot.)

Click the word "comments". That takes you to a page where you can read the comments. On the right side of that page there's a box where you can type a comment. Under that there are options where you can choose an identity. You must choose one of these options. Then click the publish button. That's it. Your comment will be added to the list of comments.

Be sure to leave your comment on the correct blog post. Scroll down to the post dated Tuesday, Feb. 2. The one with the picture of the block. Don't put your comment on this post.

Good luck!

Monday, February 2, 2009

It's time for another blog prize...

We had our first blog "door" prize in November and it's high time for another one! This is a block from the sampler quilt in our book, The New Applique Sampler.

Becky appliqued this block (by hand, herself) for a class and it never made it into a quilt. The background is 12 1/2" x 19 1/2" and it has not been trimmed.

To enter to win this lovely door prize, leave a comment on this post. Be sure to leave your name!

On Friday (or Saturday, depending on how the week goes) we'll announce a RANDOM winner of our prize! If you post anonymously we may not be able to email you to let you know you won, so be sure to check back.

And don't forget that the deadline
(March 1) for the Free Block Contest is fast approaching. We've already received some photos of completed projects and we're loving them!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The sun did shine...

I'm home and trying to watch the Super Bowl. It's not easy. Unpacking has been distracting me.

The sun did finally shine on the last day (the REALLY last day) of the 29th Jinny Beyer Seminar. It was a lovely end to a lovely week. I wish it wasn't all over, but I'm very grateful to have been a part of this last seminar.

Did you know that Jinny has 150 different fabrics in her current collection of fabric? I didn't know this. They blend together - from color to color and value to value - in such a beautiful way. I want to use them - ALL! I'm going to have to buy them all - soon.

I wanted to share a beach find with you. There were lots of sand dollars in the sand. I resisted picking one up to bring home because they looked like they were still alive. The only sand dollars I've seen are gray (not green), without little hairs. It was pretty cool to spot some "in the wild"!