Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sorry about the changes to the blog, but I've been having some problems with comments.


Friday, July 29, 2011

another year older

Well, I'm not quite to 'old fart' status yet. That's when I get to draw Social Security at 62. But I'm getting there!

I made myself a birthday cake. This is my variation of Beverly's Dark Chocolate Cake from for an 8 by 8 pan.

3/4 cup sugar
6 Tablespoons cocoa powder
3/8 teaspoon of salt
3/4 teaspoon of baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup flour, all purpose
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup water or milk (I used almond milk because of an allergy to casein protein.)
1 large egg (I love cakes with duck eggs.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I use Mexican vanilla cause I can get it by the quart bottle at the Mexican market for less than what they want for a little bottle at the grocery store.)

Mix dry ingredients well with a whisk. Add wet ingredients and beat at medium speed with your hand mixer for 3 minutes. Pour into a greased and floured 8 x 8 pan and bake for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees F or until tester comes out clean. Cool.

This is the frosting recipe I am using with this cake. I found it on by CoolMonday. It is called Creamy Peanut Butter Frosting which makes the whole thing taste kind of like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. And I do like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups!

1/2 butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons milk (almond in my case)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream butter and peanut butter together. Add half of the powdered sugar and blend. Mix in milk and vanilla. Add remaining powdered sugar and beat on high until light and fluffy. Then frost cake.

You may have some left over which is great for graham crackers sandwiches later!

EDIT: I store this cake in the refrigerator because the frosting is a little soft to leave on the counter. J

Have a good day!


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Designing a quilt - putting it together

In the last post we had the blocks put together based on our quilt design here. So now I am going to "quilt as you go". I found several videos on you-tube. Here are some links:
This one is not a video:

I cut my backing and batting 1/2-inch larger than I want my block, because I dislike wasting fabric or batting. (In this case I cut the backing and batting in 9 1/2-inches square for the blocks and cut an eleven-inch square in half for the right triangles.) Pin the quilt sandwich together and quilt in a design that pleases you. I did stitch-in-the-ditch, leaving the pins in the corners.

I laid my quilted block out ready to trim it up.

I took a 10" square ruler and set it 1/4-inch from the edge of the quilt block and cut the excess off with my rotary cutter.

I am cutting my quilted blocks this way because I want to add 1-inch sashing strip with cornerstone around each block. I will be sewing 1/2-inch from the edge which will catch 1/4-inch seam allowance around each block and give me the batting I need for the sashings without adding extra batting.

Let me show you how this works! I cut a 2 by 9 1/4-inch strip of backing material and pinned it to the backing right-sides together.

Note: I tried a one-inch wide strip but because the blocks I am using don't extend to the edge, it was a pain to come back and add the sashing strips on the block side. I also discovered while using scraps from cutting the 9 1/2-inch squares of backing that I liked the bit of excess on the back-sashing strips.

Turn the quilted block over and pin the top-sashing strip on the edge of the block. I used 1 1/2 by 9 1/4 strip.

Put the block in the machine and sew 1/2-inch from the edge. Notice I am catching a 1/4-inch seam allowance on the quilt block and top-sashing with 1/2-inch of batting, backing, and bottom-sashing.

Then you pin the bottom-sashing to the next quilted block lining up edges.

This is a view from the side you will be sewing from. Notice all the pins? This is to hold everything so nothing slides around.

Before putting the pinned together blocks in the machine make sure the top-sashing is lying flat and not folded over where you are going to sew the seam. It is a pain to rip out! Sew another 1/2-inch seam.

This is a row of blocks sewn together.

Fold the top-sashing over your seams with a 1/4-inch tuck and pin.

Top stitch close to the edge and trim off the excess off each end of the sashings.

Next cut 1 1/2-inch squares for the cornerstones and 1 1/2 by 8 1/2-inch top-sashing strips. Gang piece all the units together until you have long strips for each row. For the end triangle cornerstones I found it easier to just sew 1 1/2-inch squares on the ends of my strips and trim off the excess material. It ended the frustration of not getting the triangles pointed in the right direction and having to rip. Can you tell I don't like to rip! LOL! Piece long 2-inch strips for the back-sashing.

Do the same pinning routine you did to get the row of blocks set together. The back-sashing is pinned to the edge of the backing and the top-sashing is pinned on the edge of the quilt block. Be sure and center your cornerstones over the top-sashing that are separating the quilt blocks. Sew 1/2-inch from the edge catching 1/4-inch of the top-sashing and quilt block.

Then pin the back-sashing to the previous row, be sure you line up your sashings that tied the rows of blocks together so when you get to the top stitching of the top-sashing the cornerstones line up where they belong. Sewing 1/2 inch seam allowance.

Fold over the top-sashing with a 1/4-inch tuck, pin, and top stitch down. Trim off any excess at the ends.

A detail shot of the row just finished.

Repeat until you have the center of the quilt done. (Notice my grass is going dormant because of the heat and lack of rain.)

All-n-all this gave me the traditional look I wanted on this quilt without having to wrangle large quantities of fabric in my machine. I think if I wanted wider top-sashings I would make the backing and batting the size I would need and use a 1-inch back-sashing then use the correct width top-sashing. For instance, had I wanted 2-inch sashing on top, instead of a 9-inch quilted block I would have made a 10-inch quilted block. I would use a 1-inch wide piece of sashing on bottom (or backing) with 1/4 inch seam allowances which would catch a 1/4 inch of the batting and keep it from bunching. Then a 2 1/2-inch sashing on top with 1/4-inch seam allowances to catch the edge of the quilt block. I would have to play with the concept to see if it worked and where the theory would have to be refined.

Well on to the borders! I have some ideas I think will work for quilting the borders and then attaching them, instead of the other way around. That will be the next post on this quilt.

Until then have a good day!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

that was fun (not)

(From Wikipedia: Laying pipe for Seattle water supply 02 - 1900.jpg)

Monday night Sister Suzy and I were taking the trash out to the street for trash pick-up the next morning and Sister Suzy stepped off the sidewalk into a wet spot. She hollered at me to come here! Using the flashlight and looking around she was standing in a puddle in the grass with the water meter in a direct line on the other side of the sidewalk. Uh Oh! That was the exact spot we dug up eight years ago and tied into the water line. We called Hubby out for him to have a look-see and a strategy session. The game plan was to get up early when it was cool and start digging after watering everybody and filling some buckets.

Tuesday morning we actually got up early to beat the heat and got everything set up. I lay (I just learned the correct past tense for lie. Woot!) down beside the water meter and had to bail water to get to the shut-off valve. Then we started the odious task of digging up the water line on our side of the sidewalk. We finally found the shut-off valve we installed on our side (You can never have too many!) and turned it off so the water from the house wouldn't siphon back. We bailed water out of the hole and dug Muddy Black River-Bottom Gumbo for three hours until we found the pipe coming in from the meter. The light moments were when we were scraping mud off the shovel and it was plopping on the pile and looked like a smaller version of the dino dung pile that the actors in Jurassic Park dug in to find a phone. Turned all the valves on and watched the meter spin around-n-around while watching the water level in the hole start to rise very slowly. We figured out which joint was leaking so we came in the house and called it a day because it was up over 100 degrees by then.

This morning we even got up earlier and got busy. Had to bail the meter hole again to turn it off. Hubby headed to the hardware store for parts. Sister Suzy and I got to bail water out of the hole we had dug and then enlarge the hole to expose more pipe so the pipe would flex as we replaced joints. What a muddy nasty mess! Because of the saturated heavy clay soil the water kept perculating into the hole. The dirt was sticking to the shovel and the dirt would fall into the water and fall apart. Then we would have to bail the muck out of the hole. If you weren't careful the muck would splash and you would have it all over your face because we were on our bellies hanging over a three-foot deep hole scooping and scraping mud.

We finally got enough pipe exposed I called break time. As we sit around the table having a drink and cooling off we discussed how to get the leaky joint replaced. Quite frankly I was ready to call it a day because I was stiff, sore, hot and miserable. I just wasn't looking forward to trying to make the repair because I was having trouble reaching the bottom of the hole and I remembered having trouble making the original joint. I wasn't too sure I could make a better joint this time being eight years older and not as spry as I was eight years earlier. (I'm also too short at 5'2" to lie on my belly and comfortably reach the bottom of a three-foot hole!) Sister Suzy wanted to 'get-er-done' so she suggested we get one of the neighbor guys that my bunch grew up with to come and do the actual gluing of the joint. She called and he was gracious enough to come over, cut the old joint out and install the new one. (Hubby is taking him and Sister Suzy next weekend to 'Harry Potter, IMAX' as a token of appreciation.)

The men were ready to immediately turn the water back on to see if it was going to leak. I was adamant we were going to wait this time for the joint to cure before turning on the water. (I think that was one of the mistakes we made last time along with not getting the end of the pipe all the way to the bottom the coupling.) Hubby bought a new glue that will work wet or dry and on any type of PVC pipe. It is suppose to be set in 15 minutes and completely cured in two hours at 60 degrees. We waited three hours at 100+ degrees! LOL

And the results? No leaks! Yeah!

We are going to refill the hole with play sand up to about four-inches from the top. Then add topsoil for the grass to have something to root in. If we ever need to dig that hole up again it should be easier to dig in sand than clay!

Have a good day!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

tappan zee sweater update

Remember the sweater I was working on for myself?

And the problems I was having here? And I thought I had all the problems solved here? Well, guess what? I ran into more problems. I slipped my knitting onto some waste yarn and tried it on because the sweater looked like it was long enough to start the bottom band. (I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow and wanted to work on my sweater while waiting to be seen.) The body of the sweater is too small! Insert several expletives here! Evidently when I knit stockinette I can get gauge. Sooo, I had a frog party and ripped it out to where the beige joins the plum and added the stitches I need to make the body the right size. Which means I will probably not have enough yarn to add the sleeves I want in the length I want. Rats! The colors are discontinued so I will have to get on Ravelry and see if anyone has yarn in their stash that they are wanting to part with. And to continue the whine, it took three rows to get the stitch count right in the right places. I had too many in the left and right fronts and not enough in the back. I have now knitted two rows with the stitch counts correct in each section of the sweater. So I hope I have it all straighten out for tomorrow. Wish me luck!

On a side note they are still firing fireworks as I type this! Sound like mortars! Guess I ought to go out and watch!

Have a good evening!


Sunday, July 3, 2011

independence day

A quote from Erma Bombeck

You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.

From: U.S. National Archives & Records Administration web site

The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Followed by 56 signatures

Some quotes:

Freedom is never free. ~Author Unknown

Of all the supervised conditions for life offered man, those under USA's constitution have proved the best. Wherefore, be sure when you start modifying, corrupting or abrogating it. ~Martin H. Fischer

Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong. ~James Bryce

We have enjoyed so much freedom for so long that we are perhaps in danger of forgetting how much blood it cost to establish the Bill of Rights. ~Felix Frankfurter

"If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will Lose its freedom: and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that, too."
William Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), British writer

It would be a hard government that should tax its people one-tenth part of their income. -Ben Franklin

"They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety." -Ben Franklin

"When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will ... become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated." - Thomas Jefferson

I raise my glass for a toast to my fellow Americans. Happy Independence Day! May we remember why our Founding Fathers created this great nation and may we return to our roots! Salute!