Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Stash Slimming

What you are looking at is my impromptu quilting area downstairs.  It is the larger of the two downstairs bedrooms and the only floor space large enough to lay out and assemble blankets.  The room has an added bonus of a door, so I can shut the dogs out when they decide they want to come and lay on my work!
I set my ironing board up in the downstairs hallway and my sewing machine on the table in the family room.  I got quite a lot of sewing done over the weekend and was happy about that.  Those dogs never cease to amuse me.  I was working on my first wretched seam of a jelly roll quilt and Zak was under the table.  He didn't seem to mind as all the fabric spilled off the back of the table and onto him.  His other trick is to lay on my pile of strips as I'm trying to feed them into the machine. 
I am happy to be the proud owner of two new blankets because the weather is getting colder and winter is the season for company.  This quilt was was pieced using up all the winter themed fabrics I'd collected over the years and backed with a cut of pale blue/gray batik purchased at SR Harris.  Everything I sewed this weekend was stuff I already had.  I used up 2 battings, about 15 yards of fabric and remnant spools of thread.
This quilt was a departure from all the other ones I've made.  It is certainly the most frilly and frou frou!  I had been collecting all these "shabby chic" floral prints for the colors because most of them are on blue backgrounds.  It is backed using a bed sheet my sister found for me at Saver's.  My grandma Joann made me a blanket for my bed out of the exact same fabric and I treasured it, more so after she passed away.  It was so worn out and the batting was totally gone in places.  If you held it up to the light, you could see through it, that's how worn out it was.  I painfully threw it away in the final frantic hours of packing to move to Minnesota and now I feel like I have a replacement for it.  Dave joked that he was a little scared to sleep with this blanket on the bed because it might reduce his sperm count.
The air is cool and crisp and it actually froze over the weekend.  I am proud to say we have not had the furnace on once yet this year but I did hang up the downstairs hall curtain.  We have electric baseboard heaters in the family room and this curtain confines the warm air to that room.  It is just a shower curtain rod with a length of fabric hung over it.  I actually hemmed it and made a casing for the rod whereas last year it was un-hemmed and safety pinned over the rod!
Dave's mother had knee replacement surgery and came home from the hospital on Friday.  We picked up her prescriptions and took supper over to his parents that night and on the way home, we stopped at the church jumble sale at St. Peter's.  I got a a Christmas ornament and centerpiece and Dave found this for $5!  He was so excited about it and insists that this go in the yard on Halloween so the trick or treaters see it.  What a nerd!  And of course the dogs are afraid of it.
Speaking of Halloween, I hung up the lights and the fake jack o lantern in the front window.  Once I saw it lit, I was horrified at how dirty my window is!  I will wash it after I take the decorations down.
This is my new favorite lunch!  Toast with mashed avocado, salt and pepper and topped with a poached egg.  Num NUM.  Today I've been doing laundry and cleaning and putzing around the house, but soon I will start cutting strips for a third quilt because I have one more batting to use up.  There has been some serious de-stashing around here of late!

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Apples and Asphalt

Ok well maybe not asphalt but Dave and I seal coated our driveway 2 weekends ago.  We were at his parents' house the weekend before and his uber handy sister showed up with the supplies and equipment to treat his parents' driveway.  Most of the houses in our neighborhood have had their drives professionally done and of course it looks so sharp when it's done but I always worried about the cost and was afraid to tackle the project ourselves.  Theresa is absolutely fearless and had researched the project and watched YouTube videos and put us to work.  I kept telling Dave, "We can totally DO THIS!"
Here is our "before" picture on the sunny warm fall day we tackled our drive.  I used a Cool Whip bowl and a wide paint brush to pour and spread the seal around the edges and Dave used the squeegee mop to fill in the rest.  We have a wide and odd shaped drive because the sidewalk was poured and stopped 1/3 of the way down the lawn.  I think we could have just sealed over the sidewalk to make it easier on the eyes but that's just me.  There were 3 different sections of driveway too so the sealant really tied everything together.
We must have gone back to Menards six times that afternoon to get more and more sealant.  The drive was really rough and textured blacktop so the sealant just filled in all the gaps.  At the widest point, we were lucky to finish five feet of drive per 5 gallon bucket.
It looks so nice though and was worth every penny.  You can see where we slupsed onto the sidewalk there but oh well.  I really feel like we are keeping up with the Jones' now!
As for the apple portion of this post, it is fall and apples are in abundance.  Melissa has told me forever to get an Apple Master for peeling/slicing/coring and I finally broke down and got one.  I don't know what I was waiting for because it is AWESOME.  I picked mine up at Fleet Farm for $14.95.  While I was there, I was tickled pink to see all the lefse equipment on prominent display!  Those grills are manufactured in Cresco, IA.  Yay Iowa!  :)
Here is my Apple Master in action!  What did I ever do without this?  I drilled through BAGS of apples in just minutes.  My mother in law sent over 2 bags of Macintosh apples for sauce and this made quick work of them.
I love the thickness of the slices too because they are uniform and perfect for pies.
The Macintosh apples were cooked down, strained and canned into applesauce.
I used this Ball recipe and was very happy with the results.  The flavor, sweetness and color were all blue ribbon in my opinion.  It looked and tasted just like store-bought Musselman's applesauce and we will enjoy this through the winter.  Last year I had a terrible time sealing my applesauce because I'd made the sauce but processed it the next day and started with cold sauce.  This year I kept the sauce hot and canned it right away and had no trouble.
My brother came to stay with us for a few days while he is working here in town.  I cooked another roast chicken dinner but this time with an apple pie for dessert.  I love cooking big meals like that because then there are all kinds of leftovers and everyone is happy to fix their own plates the rest of the week!  See?  I'm always thinking!  ;)  I had some leftover pastry and some leftover honey crisp apple filling and threw together a rustic apple tart for my in-laws.  I delivered it to them and we sat and visited in their fragrant rose garden so it was a lovely afternoon.  My mother in law is having knee replacement surgery next week so this will fortify her for the coming procedure.  She called me later that evening and told me I could bring her an apple tart any time I wanted!
Finally, here is a picture of my brother carving the bird with Lopi looking on.  She was naughty the next day and got into the garbage and ate some chicken bones.  Of course I panicked but she is OK and has had 2 normal poops since then. 

I am loving my new job and the flexibility of my new hours.  I am scheduled only 3 days a week with some on-call here and there, no regular weekends or holidays and I can sign up for all the extra hours I want.  I love being able to be home and I'll be available to fuss over my mother in law next week.  I signed up for an on call shift last night and never got called in so I got to stay home and be paid to knit all night.  I'll post pictures of my sweater progress soon.  I'm also working on some fingering weight gloves.  It occurred to me today that it is Socktober so I'd better get busy and knit a pair of socks and next month is NanKniSweMo so I'd better be finding a project!

Tonight is the first game of The Minnesota Wild which is another sure sign of fall.  So far we've been blessed with beautiful foliage and mild temperatures.  I love this time of year because we haven't had the air on for weeks and we have yet to use the furnace.  I like to challenge myself to see how low I can get that utility bill!