Last night my friends, Janet and George, introduced me to Rummikub which is a tile game that plays a little like gin rummy. This is really fun plus you have to think a bit as well. Today I tried to find it but ended up ordering it from Amazon.com. I was hoping that we could have played it tonight but that's not going to happen. Can't wait to play it again.
One of my New Year's resolutions is to keep up with Flylady. I've been getting a head start on that this week. Today: detailed vacuuming. Sound exciting? No, but it's only for 15 minutes! :D
I'm thinking that one of my New Year's resolutions should be to do a better job keeping this blog updated, but you know how good intentions go...
Yesterday I took down the Christmas tree and once again felt that vague sadness when carrying it out to await the trash pick-up. The house always seems strangely empty after Christmas with the absence of decorations and lights. However, today the arrival of the boys to spend the evening changed that. They ate dinner, played games on the Wii, had cookies and hot chocolate, and then settled down to watch Peter Pan which they said they liked better than the cartoon version. It was a little dark and I think Owen was somewhat disturbed when Captain Hook was eaten by the crocodile, but when they went upstairs to bed they were hoping to go to sleep and dream that they were Peter Pan. Since the door to the boys room was left open, Sookie spent the rest of the evening sneaking up the stairs and dragging stuffed animals back down to the living room one by one. When Rick and Jessi came in, Rick brought me a new 2010 calander for the kitchen. It was a perfect choice.
Today starts the fun of baking cookies for Christmas. The first project will be cinnamon scented tree ornaments. This is a great activity for children and tonight the boys and I will be making "gingerbread men" to hang on our trees. These are not edible cookies but if carefully made can last for years and a few drops of cinnamon oil can replenish the scent. I still have a couple from years ago when Amber Corgan Finley gave me the recipe: 3 cups applesauce and 3 cups cinnamon. Some people put white glue into the mix as well.
I went over to my daughter's house to meet the grand children when they got off the bus. Put the key in the lock and opened the door. As I did I heard a door slam somewhere in the house. I thought it was just the wind slamming an interior door. So I made snacks for the kids and when they came in we noticed that the kitchen window was open and the screen on the ground. Turns out that someone was in the house when I opened the door. They got away with a computer. Needless to say we are now installing ADT security in both our homes. Guess I was lucky that the thief wasn't violent.
Charlotte Plummer's Seafood Restaurant has a wonderful view of the marina. The shrimp boats were all in so I am supposing that it isn't the season for them. Notice the white caps on the mooring posts. That is to deter birds from roosting there. Not fair in my opinion. Birds are what give marina's their charm.
The evening and night was the time to fish off the pier. Who knew? Well, everyone except me. The fish are attracted by the lights on the water and in came spotted trout, sand trout, perch, and other small fish followed by big ones like red fish. One night a dolphin was swimming just outside of the light glow. With a borrowed pole, I caught quite a few little ones but nothing big enough to keep. I was happy with catch and release because I really didn't want to eat them.
The Port Aransas Wildlife Refuge is not far from Goose Island, so we drove up there in the hopes that the Whooping Cranes had arrived. They hadn't, but we saw wild turkeys and a wild hog! The lady at the visitors' area told me to keep Sookie close because an alligator might eat her. Yikes!!!! In some places you couldn't get out of the car because the mosquitos were so thick. However, there was a great observation tower that rose above the treetops and gave a wonderful perch for bird watching. I'm definitely planning to return in spring.
These guys were total beggars and were hanging around the boat ramp where people were cleaning the fish that they caught. When fishermen threw the fish heads etc. into the water, they went for them along with a bunch of hard head catfish that where lurking in the depths as well. They were like piranhas and I held Sookie tight because I thought they would probably eat her if she fell in.
Sookie and I spent five days at Goose Island State Park. When we got there on Thursday, the weather was hot and very humid which we were hoping to avoid, but a cold front came through in the night and the weather changed from miserable to perfect for the rest of our stay. I have to laugh at the words "cold front" because in Texas that means the weather changes from 90+ degrees to 60 degrees. One might need to put on a sweatshirt.
The campground is right on the water so when the bay is rough waves splash over the sea wall within five feet of your site. The sea gulls are so tame that they take food right out of your hand. People were fishing right beside their tents and RV's. And speaking of tents, there was one right next to me and they had an air conditioning unit sitting outside with a vent hose plugged into a window. I've never seen something like that before.
The boys and I survived our first day together quite well. They arrived here in time for a pancake breakfast then I drove the two older ones to summer school. Their mother and teacher had threatened them with no swimming if behavior was not impeccable and so they were perfect angels at school. Owen was happy that we went straight to the pool, and he didn't have to do his homework until dinner time. We worked on that while I prepared dinner, and it went smoothly enough. After dinner I started them on their reading lessons and found that the books I had chosen were at their frustration level so will get different ones tomorrow. We played I spy on the computer then read each one a story. The going to bed routine reminded me of "So Long, Farewell..." from Sound of Music. Read Ezra Where the Wild Things Are then tucked him in. Next I read to Austin from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and tucked him in. Ezra was still awake, but down. Last I finished off with The Mouse and the Motorcycle with Owen and we went up. Ezra was out, Austin was barely awake, and I haven't heard a peep from the upstairs contingency since kissing Owen good night. Very satisfactory ending to the day, phewwww!!!
In the middle of the night, it started raining. I got up and sat on my front porch to enjoy it. It is very different here than at home when it rains. One area can be getting soaked while another area only a block away will stay dry. We are now on stage 2 water restrictions as southern Texas is experiencing drought while the Dallas area is flooding. With stage 2 I'll most likely lose my back lawn, some of my plants, and possibly the front lawn; however the St. Augustine grass comes back quickly when water is available to it again. Yesterday, I had to laugh when I found out what creature has been helping himself to the tomatoes. Who would have thought, but it is a yellow-fronted woodpecker! There he was strolling around the plants checking for just the right one. It's my fault because I lure him to the garden by putting pancakes in one of the feeders, but now that Ezra hasn't been here in the mornings, there are no pancakes therefore tomatoes seem to be his second choice. The greedy little guy should have plenty next week as all the boys will be here full time. That is going to be a lovely time for me.
Tell me why boys will avoid bathroom water faucets with the determination of junk yard dogs after an intruder? But upon being turned loose to walk beside a river or water fountain, they constantly ask, "Can't we touch the water?" Do they think it will feel any different then it does from the tap? In fact it was difficult to get them to stay out of the water long enough to pose for just one picture.
This week I've been knitting away on a bottle cosy. It is so amazing how different this project looks after it has been felted. What I discovered was that my washing machine does not have hot enough water, and so I added boiling water to help things along.
Today I tried the baguette recipe which is made from the same master dough. The first scoop came out of the container that I mixed the dough in and since this scoop was at the bottom, I discovered that I had not gotten all the flour incorporated as I should. However, I shaped and baked the loaf anyway knowing that the birds would not be complaining if the loaf wasn't perfect. Then I shaped a second loaf from the overflow container. The bread rested for 20 minutes and then baked for 25. If it tastes as good as it's appearance, I'll be pleased. Right now I'm letting it cool as the book recommends before slicing. Yesterday's vultures are at work and napping.
So here's the shaped loaf. It was about 3 ounces under the 1 pound requirement and looked rather small on the board. It did not rise during the forty minutes it sat out but puffed up quite a bit during the baking. I discovered that my oven was about 15 degree cooler and thought I should have baked the bread five minutes longer. I would have a picture of the finished product but my family fell on the bread like vultures and there's just a tiny stub left on the counter. The taste was pleasing and a bit like a sourdough. Tomorrow, I'm going to make baguettes.
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day has arrived, and I'm trying out the first master recipe. I must say that this isn't like any bread recipe I've ever tried in the past. The ingredients are the usual but this was mixed in the container you see in the picture with no kneading. I just dumped in the water, salt, and yeast, stirred it up and then dumped in the flour all at once. That concoction got mixed until all the flour was incorporated and there were no dry patches. This is now sitting on the kitchen counter where it is suppose to rise for 2 hours before going into the refrigerator. This recipe is enough for 4 loaves that can be assembled anytime in the next 14 days. I'll be baking the first loaf tomorrow and we'll see what the outcome is. It's fun to experiment!
Can you believe how easy it is to make a pillowcase? I couldn't until yesterday when I made this one while Ezra was taking his nap. The possibilities are now endless and the price can be very inexpensive compared to store bought. Here's all the materials you need:
3/4 yard of 45" wide fabric (main pillow)
2"-4" for flange (plaid in the picture)
1/3 yard for the end section
The flange is optional but adds a fancy touch.
My oldest grandson is in the dinosaur phase at the moment so he was thrilled yesterday when I presented it to him and promised a dinosaur quilt to follow. Being the oldest he had first choice of which bed would be his at my house. He chose the top bunk away from the window. I think that would have been my choice too! Sweet dreams, Owen, and thank goodness he hasn't asked me to read Danny and the Dinosaur a million times like my daughter did when she was little.
It was a careless decision when I picked a scarf out of a book entitled Estonia Lace. Being an intermediate knitter at best, I should have know that such a project was way beyond my abilities and so it seemed as I ripped out the beginning of the scarf for the third time. But determination won out plus the fact that I accidentally came upon the technique of using a "life line" while I knit. For the few of you who don't know, a life line is simply running a piece of dental floss through the stitches of a row every ten or so rows. That way if you make a mistake and aren't able to successfully tear back and repair it, you can rip back to your life line and start again from there. This is much better than having to start all over again. I found it necessary to rip back to my life line three times in this project. A word of warning: Be sure to write down which row your life line is on. That was a mistake I made the first time, and I had a difficult time figuring out where I was on the pattern! Furthermore, this scarf didn't look like much until I blocked it and then WOW! The pattern really showed up. After all my whining and moaning, I think I'd like to knit another one of these one day soon.
Here is the winner and 2nd place in the applique category. This is the section I'm planning on entering next year, so it looks like it is time to teach myself how to hand applique. At the moment I am finishing a quilt using machine applique which obviously this entry is not...
Here is my grandson, Ezra. Unfortunately, he has developed a huge fear of clowns and horror upon horrors the Kerrville quilt shop's theme was the circus. Inside two people were dressed as clowns which caused him to cling apprehensively to his mother or me or both. He had to be bribed to stand by the elephant and look happy which he was NOT! As we arrived at each shop after this one, he cupped his hands to the windows and looked in suspiciously with the same question: anyone clowns?
Once a year in San Antonio, there is the phenomenon called the shop hop. This year 12 stores in and around the city participated. People entered 12.5 inch quilt blocks under the categories of pieced, applique, combination, and 3D art. The winners were displayed at various shops during the 4 day event. Since I am such a beginning quilter, I didn't enter, but my fearless daughter did and although we looked for her block, we did not see it displayed for which we were both sad and wondering if it had gotten to the judges table at all.