Friday, August 31, 2007

Once Upon a Time

Grandpa Jensen was a storyteller. He took me to places that most children only read about. I've climbed the beanstalk with Jack and sat and watched as those elves made shoes in the cobbler's little shop. When the Bremen Town musicians scared the robbers out of the old, vacant house, I was right there with them, screaming and hollering at the top of my lungs. I honestly believe that a little tailor can kill three giants with one blow! And in a canyon not far from Happy Valley lives the creature of Shiny Mountain. I've seen him and so have my brothers and sister. Ask our cousins, they've seen him, too.
Today was the first day of the annual Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. Each year the fifth graders from our school are invited to attend, so this year I was able to attend with our youngest daughter.
In addition to storytellers, there are jugglers, women spinning yarn, puppeteers and singers.Looks at these kids eagerly awaiting the stories to begin. That's my cutie in the striped shirt. I wish I could have taken pictures of the children while the stories were being told, but no cameras are allowed during the stories. They laughed and giggled the whole way through. We were first treated to a Japanese folktale by Eric, a local youth storyteller, and then were taken to the tops of the Andes by the Storycrafters. The last two stories were told by a stand up comedian turned park ranger, turned storyteller, named Bobby Norfolk. His comedic stories and sound effects had us rolling in the aisles!
Eventually the fun had to come to an end. Here are the kids as they head back to the bus.
This is the view of Mount Timpanogos as seen from the park in which the festival is held. And remember a couple of days ago when I mentioned an artist named James Christensen? The picture at the top of this post, Tales Beneath Timp, was painted by him. It's a cropped version of his painting titled Once Upon a Time. I like to imagine that the storyteller in the picture is my grandfather. He truly lived among faeries, elves, goblins and princesses.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Yesterday's News

Yesterday I had a abdominal CT to see what is going on where my gall bladder used to be. This was my Breakfast of Champions before I went to be scanned. I gotta tell doesn't matter how pretty you try to make it look in a picture, that contrast is pretty nasty stuff to drink.

As I was trying to chug half of the first bottle down at 7:00 in the morning, my 14 year old daughter suggested that I try drinking it with a straw.

Ya, right! This girl is a self described blond. What does she know?!

Well, the awful taste and texture in my mouth made me start to rethink her suggestion. Maybe it just might work. Ya know what? She was right. My daughter, who earlier this week was confused by a bicyclist's turn signal, was right!

Blondie: "Look, he made a "L" shape with his arm which means he's turning
Me: "Uh, sweetie, that was a right turn."
Blondie: "Oh [pause as the wheels in her brain start turning], yeah." Giggle, giggle, giggle.

Anyway, drinking the stuff with a straw sends it right over your tongue and straight to the back of your mouth. Great idea, Blondie!

The guy in radiology told me that my doctor should have the results back from my test by the first part of next week, so it's just wait and see till then. May I just say, without getting too graphic, that the contrast is just as nasty coming out as it is going in. Sorry! LOL!

The day did get better, though...

On the way home I made a stop at Tai Pan Trading. This place is a mega store that carries all sorts of decorating do-dads. With a can of paint and a trip to Tai Pan, your house could look like a show home. Mine doesn't...but it could. I guess I need that can of paint first! I've stop at Tai Pan at least once during each decorating season. I resisted the temptation to buy anything until I pull out all of my fall decorations and take inventory of what I already have and what I might need. Of course, I've already got my eye on a few things! Stay tuned...

I made a delicious pesto for dinner, which I served over fettuccine. I've got both sweet and purple basil in my garden, so I used both. I've made this dish once before and it was a real hit.

Pretty cinchy if you've got all of the ingredients on hand. I really prefer freshly grated Parmesan cheese, but I only had the Kraft variety in the fridge, so that's what I used. Note: If you use the pesto recipe on the back of the Kirkland Signature bag of pine nuts, cut WAY back on the salt!

Now this is where you really wish you were able to smell through your monitor! Just imagine the smell of fresh basil, toated pine nuts, garlic, cheese and olive oil. I'm starting to slobber just thinking about it!

I didn't get a picture of the finished dish, but I just tossed the pasta with the pesto and served a green salad (with LOTS of tomatoes!) on the side.

Now, I've never claimed to be a genius, but check this out...

I bought this bag of pine nuts at Costco.

Take a look at the allergy warning on the back. who would have though that you'd have to be warned that the bag contains pine nuts when it's already clearly printed on the front of the package? Honestly, do they really think that if some lame brain can't read "PINE NUTS" on the front that they're going so search to find it in the small print on the back?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Wedding, A Quilt, and a Gazillion Tomatoes

It's been a busy and productive weekend. I've had so much going on that I've had little extra time to sit down and blog about it. Here's the past few days in a nutshell..... Friday evening we went to Meggan and Phillip's wedding. For those who don't know, Meggan lived with our family during the last school year due to some unfortunate circumstances in her family. Eighteen is mighty young to get married, but we wish the best for their new life together. Since the family situation is a little bit strained, we opted to cut out after the wedding and not stay for the reception.

Thing 4 (did you ever read The Cat in the Hat?) was the only child at home, so she went to the wedding with us. Afterward we went to the Happy Sumo for dinner. Look at her handle those chop sticks. It was a beautiful evening so we chose to dine on the patio.

Thing 3 was at a Diamond Rio concert with her friend who lives across the street. The father of her friend played in the "warm up" band and got them complimentary tickets. She had a great time!

I love this fountain! It is just outside the Happy Sumo, so we were able to enjoy the baggling water all through dinner. The characters on top of the fountain are James Christensen figures. I've been a big admirer of his work for years. As a matter of fact, we have his Superstitions print hanging in our family room and a couple more pieces that still need to be framed.

I spent most of Saturday working on my Thimbleberries Month by Month quilt. Up until Saturday I only had the March through July blocks finished. That morning I started with the August and January blocks and then realized that I didn't have enough of the background fabric to finish the quilt. I put out a call to all of my Thimbleberries friends hoping that I could find a source for an additional half yard to finish the quilt. My friend, Jackie, who lives in Calgary told me that she had a half and yard and was just heading out the door to put it in the mail. WOW! Everyone needs a friend like her! I'm blessed to have many! This quilt has been fun to work on. For the most part I've been able to make the blocks from fabric found in my scrap box.

Occasionally, I've used pieces from my stash and my fat quarter box. Next time you see this quilt the top will be finished and ready to go to the quilter.

See this box of tomatoes? This is only half of what I've got. Word got out that my own tomato crop was pretty puny, so once again my friends came to the rescue. Truth be told, I think they were actually just trying to get rid of their tomatoes so that THEY wouldn't have to can them. Not only did my friend, Robyn, give me a box of tomatoes, but she also gave me her chili sauce recipe and told me that I just HAD to make a batch. My house would smell wonderful, she said.

So my plan for yesterday was to meet my girlfriends for bagels in the morning and then head straight home to bottle up those red beauties. It was that 11:00 doctors appointment that really messed up my day. After 2 1/2 weeks of physical therapy I cried "uncle". It seemed that the PT was aggravating my shoulder more than it was helping. Additionally, I've been having a lot of pain where my gall bladder used to be.

Well, the doctor now thinks that I may have a small tear in my rotator cuff, so he referred me to a specialist for that. And tomorrow morning I have an abdominal scan scheduled to see what's going on. You know what that food after midnight and for breakfast I'll be enjoying a bottle of contrast solution. Yum. NOT!

By the time the doctors appointment is over and I've made my second stop at the market...forgot the's after 1:00 and I still haven't made much progress on my chili sauce. It took me almost three hours to cut 8 large onions, 6 bell peppers and 36 tomatoes. Let's not forget to throw in a car pool. lol!

This is what the chili sauce looked like after simmering for an hour or two. To my friend's credit, the house did smell wonderful and I was actually getting pretty excited about having 14 pints of chili sauce on my shelves this winter.

But, look...I still have half a box of tomatoes two refrigerator drawers full!!! I guess that means today I'll be bottling MORE tomatoes. I usually do a couple of batches of whole tomatoes in quart jars that I use in taco soup during the winter, so that was already in the plans. And who knows...maybe tomorrow I'll be bottling salsa.

And here's the finished product.

Before I forget...if you haven't already, make sure you stop by and visit my friend, Kristie, at her new blog...Quilt Harvest.

Now I've gotta run...the tomatoes are calling me!!!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

On Her Way...

Two posts in one day. Wattayaknow?

I couldn't let the day end without posting the picture that I took this morning as our amazing daughter loaded up the Jeep and headed off to her first semester of college.

Honestly, I wasn't sure that her dad was going to let her go. Last night when he came home from work I could tell that something was seriously wrong. I knew that things hadn't started out on the right foot for him that morning, but something just didn't seem right when I walked into the family room that evening and found him sitting in a stupor. After a bit of prodding he finally confessed that he was having a difficult time thinking about his girl leaving the security of our home and heading off into the big, cruel world.

I guess the fact that our son moved out of the house and into an apartment last night didn't help the situation at all. Yes, we knew the day was coming and that it wouldn't be easy, but now that the time has finally arrived we've found it harder than we ever imagined. Not only does the house seem empty, so do our hearts. Let's face it...parenting isn't for sissies!

I know that they're both going to be just fine


My goodness, the anticipation has been killing me! I received a package from my good friend, Cathy, back on August 14th and she told me that I couldn't open it until today.

I'm part of an amazing online quilt group and this month we're celebrating our 5th anniversary together. Wow! Has it only been five years? It seems like we've been friends forever. Over the years I've had the good fortune of meeting many of my online friends at retreats in MN and last fall I hosted a small retreat here in Happy Valley which seven from the group attended. One kind friend from our group invited me into her home last year so that we could do a shop hop in her area. We hit every store on the list and then some! Next month I'll be visiting (intruding on?) another friend and her family in their home in New Brunswick, Canada. Lucky, lucky me!

I never could have imagined five years ago what a difference these friends would make in my life. We've gone through a lot of ups and downs together. Isn't it amazing what a support an online group of friends can be? We've also lost a dear friend to cancer and shared in the heartache. Diane still continues to touch our lives years later. I'll always be grateful for the life long friendships that come from being a part of such a wonderful group.

Now, back to the package...

We all know that quilters LOVE to celebrate anything and everything by sending each other gifts. This gift exchange was an organized swap that included 29 participants and Cathy was the hostess. An top notch hostess, I might add!

This is my first peek into the package.

Out of the box. Don't you just love the Thimbleberries wrapping paper?

All boxed up in a Sterilite container. It'll stack with the two matching boxes that I already in my sewing room. I currently store 2" squares in the boxes that I have.

Off comes the lid.
Oh, my! Those things that aren't wrapped in paper are wrapped with Thimbleberries fabric!

Look! Look what I got!!! That Cathy, she never forgets a thing! Look at that candle mat...Cathy knows that I collect things with oak leaves and acorns...goes along with my last name. Also in the package is a packge of Thimbleberries note cards, an Ohio postcard (Cathy is from Ohio) that has a Buckeye candy recipe on front (looks easy enough for me to make), a kitty cat note pad, a bottle of Fray Check (nice...I can't find the one I had), a "match book" of emery boards, a glue stick, a fruity measuring tape, a watermelon heart pin that was attached to one of the packages, a package of "betweens" needles, a gold pen with an angel attached at the top (one gold item was a requirement for the swap), Burt's Bees lip balm and hand salve and a small container with little charms that read "hand made with love" (how cute are those?!). The cute little card has wildflower seed imbedded in the red paper. It can be "planted" in the soil. That'll be fun next spring! I almost forgot to mention that all of the wide "ribbons" are 2.5" worms that I can add to my collection.

Take a closer look at this candle mat. I've got to ask Cathy if she did this on her embroidery machine. This beauty already has a special spot on my kitchen table! My family will love it!

Thanks, thanks, and thanks again! I feel so lucky and I'm so glad that I have one of a kind friends like you, Cathy!!!

These are some of the things that I sent to my special friend, Ellen. The tote is one of the first bags that made. I've been dying to post a picture, but I wasn't sure if Ellen might see it. I also machine appliqued the pumpkin onto the towel and those are lavender eye pillows in the bag on the left that I made for Ellen and her mother (who lives with her). My "gold" item was a Utah honey bear. Yum!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

First Day of School

Yesterday was the first day of school for our two youngest daughters. It's hard to believe that my baby is entering the 5th grade. She couldn't be happier that several of her close friends are in her classes. That is, after all, the most important factor when considering what kind of a school year it's going to be.

K is entering 9th grade. She's feeling totally cool since she made it into the audition choir AND is one of the editors-in-chief for the yearbook and school newspaper. Hey, do you like her eyebrows? I pay good money for those. She's very self conscience about the fact that her eyebrows are so blonde that you cannot see them so a few years ago I broke down and took her to have them dyed and waxed. I don't think I ever had my eyebrows waxed until I was almost 40. My how times change.

And speaking of changing times...what's the rule for iPods at your kids' schools? During the summer I saw a segment on the Today Show regarding this subject. It seems as though most of the schools across the country are completely banning iPods from their campuses. This year our jr. high falls into that group. Not such a bad idea considering that they are so easily stolen. Since I don't have a high school student, I'm not sure what the rule is there, but last year our oldest daughter's art teacher preferred that they bring their iPods to class. Apparently it helps keep the talking down and also helps the kids stay focused on their work.

Now on to quilty stuff.....

Here's a picture of the Halloween quilt that I finished last night. Other than the green chenille, all of the fabrics are from the Scaredy Cat line by Moda. Sadly, I can't say that I'm totally thrilled with the way it turned out. I knew the fabric was very bright and busy (to say the least), so I wanted to use a pretty simple pattern. I've used the Just Can't Cut It pattern before when I made my husband's pheasant quilt. It's ultra quick and easy and works well with large prints, so I thought it would be just the ticket. This is how it was going to look.....

But once I got the blocks made and laid them on top of the focus fabric it just seemed to be TOO MUCH! So off the the quilt shop I went to look for a better option. Maybe I shoulda left it the way it was. Did you notice that I had to unpick and reconfigure all of the original blocks to make the jack-o-lantern fabric work? Thank goodness I had my oldest daughter at home to help me. :-)

And here's our little scaredy cat, Mia, giving the quilt a test run. I think she like it.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Do you smell smoke?

How is it possible that I could live three houses away from someone and not know that their home is on fire? My friend stopped by my place last night and asked if I had seen the fire at the Nelson. What?! No. When? Yesterday at 4:30 in the afternoon. Yes, I was home. The only thing that I can figure is that we live about a block (through the field) from a major highway and police, fire and ambulance sirens are pretty much an every day occurance. Have I become immuned? I guess the thing that is most perplexing is that the man who lives there was burning papers in his fireplace. Burning a fire in mid-August?! The good news is that there are a lot of good neighbors who will rally round the family and do what we can to help there family out.

Our two youngest head back to school tomorrow and the two oldest head off to college later this week. Our one last "hurrah" was to take a quick get away over the weekend. We were able to make reservations at a nice resort in Park City, UT. Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate like we had hoped, but we did have a nice dinner at Grub Steak (don't you just love the name?) and no amount of rain was going to stop the girls' shopping trip to the nearby outlet mall. I love this barn. We pass it nearly every time we're in Park City. The rain really makes everything look fresh, doesn't it?

Saturday afternoon we went and watched our son play a game of indoor soccer. This is an informal league, but it gives him the chance to get out and use his skills a couple of times a week. It was fun to watch him score four of the nine goals, and even more fun that they won. These are pictures of him playing the goal keeping position. He played keeper during high school, which was also so stressful for his mom to watch. Saturday's game wasn't nearly as "cut-throat" as high school, which made it more enjoyable for me. I much prefer watching him play forward where he can score, rather than gettting scored on.

And finally, here are some Halloween plates that I picked up last Friday at a (very) little department store. Apparently, Broadbent's is the oldest privately owned department store in the United States. Last year a group of friends came for a quilt retreat. Broadbent's ended up being the one place that got repeat visist durning the few days that everyone was here. Not only do they have a quilt shop inside the store, but they also carry a nice variety of seasonal decorations. So my question is...

Is it too early to start decorating for fall? LOL!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hotter Than Hades

Sunday evening I took our oldest daughter to her college orientation. We attended orientation all day yesterday (okay, I confess...I actually cut class most of the day) and then made the three hour drive home last evening. We were only gone for a total of 28 hours, but while we were away the rest of the family managed to break the air conditioning unit.

Alright (another confession), they didn't really break it, but I feel like I need to blame someone. I want to point a finger at whoever it is that's responsible for the 84 degree temperature in my home. To my husband's credit, he had made arrangements for a repairman to arrive this afternoon, sometime between 1:00 and 5:00. You know, during the hottest time of the day. Well you can believe that I was overjoyed when the office manager of the a/c repair company called at 10:00 a.m. and asked if it was okay if someone came early to repair the unit! Yes, yes, YES!!! It's taken all afternoon, but the house is finally starting to feel cool again.

Wanna see what I was working on while the repairman was downstairs working away?Kim and I have been collecting this Bonnie Sullivan fabric by Maywood Studios since it came out last year. Kim actually completed one quilt with last year's fabric and made two more quilt tops this past week. It took me a full year to get one designed and stitched together. I still have enough fabric to make a little table runner or some other project. Do ya think it'll take me another full year? Probably. lol!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Calorie Free Dessert

It's been several weeks since I've been in a quilt shop and last night I started to go into withdrawals. While I was browsing through your blogs I had this unquenchable desire to hop in my car and head north to my favorite shop. Then it hit me..."I'm going that direction tomorrow to meet Sherry and Connie for lunch." So I decided to wait.

I have been friends with Sherry and Connie for nearly three years now. Our husbands work together and we have frequently traveled to different conferences and conventions with one another. We all get along well and enjoy spending time together. We try to meet for lunch every three months or so just to catch up on what's going on in our lives. Today we met at the Citris Grill which is just about 20 north of my home and directly en route to the quilt shop.

Now get this.....I had given myself plenty of time to stop for gas on the way, get a car wash and still make it to my lunch date by 11:30. While cruising along the freeway I was listening to a news conference regarding the trapped miners in central Utah. I don't know if I was distracted by what was being said on the radio or if my one track mind was thinking about my trip to the quilt shop after lunch, but whichever the reason I completely passed the freeway exit taking me to the restaurant...then the next exit...and it wasn't until I was within a mile to the exit for the quilt shop that I realized I had gone too far. Has something like that ever happened to you? I sure hope I'm not the only one.

Well, fortunately I still had five minutes to spare so I got myself turned around and made it back to the restaurant in time to meet Sherry and Connie as they arrived.

Instead of getting dessert at the restaurant I decided to go the calorie free (not to be confused with guilt free) route and buy dessert at the quilt shop. That yummy striped fabric is from the Collection of Edelen Wille for Marcus Brothers and the delicious polka dotted fabric is from Simply Spooky by Red Rooster. I also picked up last month's quilt of the month kit since I wasn't able to attend the class. It will be a small patriotic quilt with nine stars in the center.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

What Once Was Old is New Again

Okay, I'll admit it. I'm having a bit of an obsession with making bag and purses. It seems to be a trend, I guess. This past week I've been playing around with some wool sweaters that I bought at the thrift store. I'm sure they'll be a little more stylish once fall hits. Who wants to think about wool sweaters at this time of the year?!

My family thinks it's kind of funny that I buy nice wool sweaters, take 'em home, cut 'em up, wash 'em, cut 'em up some more and then sew 'em back together. Hmmm.....sounds a little like another hobby of mine. lol!
This blue wallet was the first project that I finished. I've had those pewter buttons for many years and now I've finally found a purpose for them.
My oldest daughter has already staked her claim on this brown bag. It'll be perfect as she heads off to college. I think she was actually the one who picked the sweater out; she really liked the texture. I'm still trying to figure out what to do about the strap, though, because it's several inches too long. The strap is recycled, too; I bought an old purse at the thrift shop and took it apart to use the strap.
I just finished this gray purse today. It'll be a birthday gift for my friend, Robin. Fortunately, the strap on this one isn't quite as long. I think I'll tuck a gift card to Jamba Juice inside the bag. Who couldn't use a smoothie on a hot day like this?

By the way, I was a good girl and went back to physical therapy today. They put me through the ringer again, but since my shoulder is feeling a lot better I won't complain.

Monday, August 06, 2007

A pain in the.....

The pain started over a month ago. It was the day after DH and I returned from a trip to Nashville. I had slept on his shoulder all the way from Atlanta so I wasn't at all surprised that the next day I had a pain in MY shoulder. I was certain that it was just a little tweek; the result of sleeping in an awkward position. Well, when the pain hadn't gone away in two weeks, or three and or FOUR, I realized it was time to seek some treatment.

Last week I went to see my doctor who asked me a lot of questions and moved my arm from one painful position to another to another. Diagnosis: tendonitis. Recommendation: a couple weeks of physical therapy.

Physical therapy?! Are you kidding me? I've been in those places with their stretching machines and other torture devices. Nope...not for me, thank you! I mean, my shoulder didn't hurt that badly.

That was last week. But after a weekend of pain, this morning I caved in and made the call for an appointment. "Lucky for me", they were able to get me in after lunch. Yippee...more poking and arm twisting.

Okay, I have to admit that it wasn't as bad as I though it would be. Sure, they put me through some moves, but when all is said and done, my shoulder is actually feeling a lot better this afternoon than it was this morning. Who knows? I may even go back for my next appointment on Wednesday.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Time To Relax

A few weeks ago I was asked to teach a class on "using herbs from your garden" to a local group of women. Now I'm no expert, but I do I grow several herbs in my garden; some that I use for cooking and some that are simply decorative. I often share my bounty with neighbors who need a little bit of this or a little bit of that. I think that's who this whole "class thing" started.

At the class I shared some of my favorite recipes and had a tasters table that included:

  • rosemary roast beef (which is quick and easy to make in the crock pot)

  • pesto

  • parsely dip

  • potato goo, and

  • a couple of flavored vinegars

But the favorites things were the lavender eye pillows that I made for each attendee. The gentle weight of the flax and the relaxing scent of the lavender helps relieve stress, tension, and headaches. Now who couldn't use one of those?

What?! You'd love to make one for yourself and all of your dearest friends?

Well, yes...I'd be happy to give you instructions! Here you go.....

Lavender and Flax Eye Pillow

You start with two 3.5" x 8.5" pieces of fabric (cotton, satin or silk). You can cut them in the typical eye pillow shape, if you prefer, but it's not necessary.

Now stitch the right sides together using a 1/4" seam allowance and leaving a 1.5" opening to turn. Turn right side out and press.

Now this is the fun part.....combine 1/2 cup flax seeds and 1/4 cup dried lavender flowers (you can find both at your local health food store). Ahhh...doesn't that smell nice? Using a funnel, fill the pillow with the flax seeds and lavender. You can use a funnel from your kitchen or make one by rolling up a piece of paper. The lavender can sometimes be stubborn, so you may need to force it down the hole with a pencil or something similar.

The last thing to do is stitch the opening closed, either by hand or by machine.

Now lay down, put your feet up and enjoy a few relaxing minutes by yourself. If you prefer something cool over your eyes, store your pillow inside a plastic zipper bag in the freezer. That's a real treat!

Now wasn't that simple?