Perspective

Life is all about perspective.  I’m trying to work on all my projects.  My husband has labeled me as ADD and he just may be right.  Too many projects and I am overwhelmed which turns into being paralyzed.  I’m attempting to shake that feeling.  I’m channeling the Nike commercials, Just Do It!

Sometime ago I wrote about a summer block of the week with Temecula Quilt Co. called, “Sweet Summertime.”  It’s  an applique quilt with small Dresden plates.  I can happily say I have all the Dresden plates complete but still working on small applique blocks…I’ll be ready to sew it together soon…I’m so excited.  But to give you some perspective here is a photo of one of the Dresden plates…

IMG_1443That’s 13 little pieces in the palm of my hand!  Fortunately I only had 17 of these babies to assemble.

Oh, and I did finish another “Word to Live By,” Love.

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Now, to pry myself away from this computer…it’s been a major time drain lately plus I’m finding more ideas for projects!  That’s not a good thing!

 

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Hope and Honor

I have 2 more blocks completed of my “Words to Live By” quilt –

IMG_1441In addition I’ve been working on the freebie blocks that have been included with each Words to Live By block.  This set is called Summer Blooms and I have 6 of the 13 blocks completed.  This time I did as the designer instructed using a pearl cotton or single strand floss blanket stitch around each wool applique piece.  It really makes a wonderful finished edge.  Each of these blocks will be 4 inches square and set on the diagonal.

IMG_1438Back to Sunday football games and hand stitching the next block, Love, coming soon!

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Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?

Earlier this week, we hosted a small dinner party for 22!  Our daughter’s field hockey team dropped by for a team dinner during Spirit/Homecoming Week.  It was a busy schedule with 3 home field hockey games, reunions for alums, lots of other sports games with the Homecoming Football game last night.  The big dance is tonight!

What do you have for all these hungry girls?

IMG_1425On the Menu:

  • Mexican Deviled Eggs
  • Tossed Salad
  • Baked Macaroni and Cheese (affectionately called “Crack Mac”, it’s addictive)
  • Grilled Italian Chicken
  • Grilled Flank Steak
  • Southern Peach Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream
  • S’mores at the fire pit by the Chesapeake Bay

I have been making “Crack Mac” for 4 years now, feeding it to all of our daughter’s sports teams.  It is a huge hit.  My mother always made Kraft Macaroni and Cheese out of a box (It was the Deluxe type.)  She never really saw the appeal of this wonderful comfort food…maybe it was because she had it a lot growing up…much like “slippery potpie.”

My husband’s mother, on the other hand, was a master (rather mistress) of macaroni and cheese.  For all of our married life he requested I make macaroni and cheese like his mother’s.  The problem was….there was no recipe.  She would just wing it every time.  One occasion I was there as she made it and watched intently trying to guesstimate the amounts of ingredients she used.  My attempts to recreate her magic in my kitchen would receive comments like, ” It’s good but it’s not like Mom’s” or “I think it needs a little ______.”  Anyway it was never quite right and very discouraging for a woman like myself who prides herself on delivering good food to a satisfied family.

And then I found a recipe, tweaked it a little, and viola!  Crack Mac was born and the compliments on my cooking started coming my way again!

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Baked Macaroni and Cheese (affectionately known as Crack Mac)

Recipe adapted from Patti Labelle’s Over-the-Rainbow Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 8 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 lb. macaroni
  • 1/2 cup Muenster cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup mild cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 8 ounces Velveeta cheese, cubed
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly butter a deep 2 1/2 quart baking dish.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a rapid boil.  Add macaroni and 1 tablespoon oil.  Cook for 7 minutes or until somewhat tender. Drain well and return to the pot.

Saute the diced onion in 1 tablespoon of butter until soft and transparent but not brown. Add to macaroni along with 8 tablespoons of melted butter.  Stir well.

In a large bowl, combine all of the shredded cheeses.  To the macaroni, add 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheeses, half and half, the cubed Velveeta cheese, lightly beaten eggs, seasoned salt and pepper.  Stir.

Transfer to the prepared casserole dish and top with remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and bubbly.  Serve hot.  Sit back and enjoy the compliments!

Serves 8-10.

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A New Trick and Another Word to Live By

In a previous post I mentioned that over the summer we moved, our 18th move in 31 years.  This location is only for a year until our youngest daughter graduates from high school in May 2014.  So we decided we will make this house comfortable but won’t open every box and hang everything on the wall.  With that being said, after several months, I can’t stand bare walls.  This lovely old house has plaster walls so I’m a little leary of just pounding nails in the walls to hang things.  I know I’ve seen this in a variety of magazines and it worked like a charm.  I used some packing paper and traced the outline of the picture and marked where the hangar should be placed.  I arranged the paper on the wall using a level and taped them.  Standing back I auditioned the look then moved higher/ lower/ larger or smaller spacing, etc.  Since I pre-marked the hangar placement I quickly and efficiently put hangars on the wall and then…..

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(a pleasing arrangement?)

(X marks the spot)

Ta Daa!

IMG_1317Our watercolor paintings of Germany are on the living room wall.  This feels more like home.   Now to move on to a few other rooms but we are only hanging a few things.  Before we know it everything will be packed again…sigh!!  So that’s my new trick and definitely one that will be repeated.  I folded up the paper templates I made to use in house # 19.

I also completed another block of my “Words to Live By” quilt….Hospitality.

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3 “Words to Live By” blocks

Happy September!!  Today it’s official….Charlie is USAF, Retired.

I have been stitching  this summer but am still way behind in my summer projects.  I just completed 3 more blocks from Primitive Gatherings, “Words to Live By.”  I added these to my Charity and Loyalty blocks.  I’ve completed 5 so far and have 7 more waiting plus the larger center block.  Just ordered the finishing kit for this quilt.  It’s going to be a lot of work but so worth it.  It has been the perfect project for me this summer as I work through many transitions and I strive to live by these words.

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Kindness and Joy

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Trust

And yes, I’m still polishing silver….3 place settings completed!!  I think by the time I get all the pieces done it will be time to start over.  By the way, Downton Abbey Season 4 premieres January 5, 2014.  (126 days to go) It’s my goal to have a Downton Abbey dinner that evening using all this silver I’ve been polishing!!

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Weekend Update

During my Saturday morning coffee break on the front porch I watched these fishermen pulling up their crab pots.

Fishing

This was a different boat and crew than we normally watch.  Every few days they come in and circle the markers pulling the line and emptying the contents.  This weekend I thought that being a fisherman is much like being a farmer….work is always there and never ending.

It’s been a busy week and weekend.  Our daughter’s senior portraits were taken on the porch.  She calls this house the “Senior” house.  Later we attended her first school field hockey game this season.  They were victorious and it was a good start of the season.

We had some neighbors over for dinner on Saturday night.  It was fun getting in the groove of cooking and entertaining.  Here was the menu:

  • Fuzzy Navels
  • Goat cheese grapes
  • Avocado Corn Salsa with tortilla chips
  • Panzanella salad
  • Grilled Flank Steak
  • Stuffed Baked Potatoes
  • Sauteed Broccoli and Green Beans
  • Bread with Basil Oil
  • Apple Butter Ice Cream
  • Ginger Snaps

It was a delightful evening on the Chesapeake….I’ll share some of the recipes soon.  One of our guests made the comment it was like a Downton Abbey dinner.  We certainly weren’t formal and there were no servants, although we do have an entertaining servants bell located under the dining table.  It’s covered by the carpet and a foot placed in just the right spot will ring for Mister Carson.

Sunday I  followed the Downton Abbey theme and pulled this out.

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I have a box of tarnished old silver plate silverware.  This is a set of 6 place settings and the box contained my Grandma Martin’s everyday silverware too.  I remember eating many meals with that silverware.  Not sure where the other odd pieces came from.  Probably they were things my grandparent Browns picked up.  Their hobby or together time was going to auctions.  Charlie has another box from his home to add as well.  Some of this stuff is solid black but with allot of silver cream and elbow grease they polish beautifully.  This is a before and after shot.

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It took an hour to get these 4 pieces polished.  I definitely have my work ahead.  I’ll be channeling Downton Abbey for awhile.  Maybe I should try to do one piece a day…if I don’t loose interest.  And when does Downton Abbey Season 4 begin in the U.S.?

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Peach Fest dinner / family and friends reunion

The Peach Festival is over for another year.  It’s always a ton of work but lots of fun too.  We end the day on Saturday with a big meal back at the farm.  Usually my mom would get the process going by putting items in the oven which I had prepped.  This year her touch was missing so I “clocked out” early from the Peach Fest.  My husband was an excellent sous chef and between the two of us had a wonderful dinner on the table inviting everyone who helped.  Here is the crew we had this year –

IMG_1250We dined on these main courses –

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Hard shell crabs purchased from Bill Forrest Seafood in Poquoson, VA.   They were so excellent and we will be returning customers!

 

 

Chicken “Lyon”, my version of Carrabba’s Chicken Bryan, grilled chicken breast topped with goat cheese and a lemon wine butter sauce with sun-dried tomatoes and basil.  This was a big hit!

 

As usual there was plenty of food and it was a lovely evening for our extended family and friends!

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Peach Festival Farm Menu

This weekend is the Leitersburg Peach Festival.  My family’s farm is one of two peach orchards selling peaches and produce at this community event.  It’s a big weekend at the farm with extended family rallying to help out.  It has become a tradition over the years for me to “cater” Saturday night dinner at the farm.  We gather around the family table (picnic or folding) and commune together on a meal from my heart and the farm fields.  It is here that our Fuzzy Navel recipe was perfected…it’s like a glass of peach velvet!

On the menu this weekend:

  •  Layered Greek Dip with Naan bread
  • “Maryland” Peach Sangria
  • Blueberry Fields Salad
  • Chicken Lyon (my version of Chicken Bryan from Carrabba’s)
  • Roasted Vegetable Pasta with fresh Mozzarella
  • Corn on the Cobb
  • Hard Shell Steamed Crabs (bringing those with me from Poquoson, VA)
  • Tres Leches Cake with seasonal fruit
  • Kristen’s Peach Popsicles

Really no one should go to bed hungry…tired definitely, but not hungry!  I hope to remember to snap a few photos to share!

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Summer Sewing

The sewing room is set up and operating even though there is more organization required.  I’m not sure what possessed me signing up for 2 summer block of the weeks and then another year long block of the month.  I must have figured I would have a lot of time on my hands?  Recently I have made time to do some sewing but I’m woefully behind in the summer projects and haven’t even started the new Block of the Month (first 3 months are waiting on me).  The first summer project is from one of my favorite quilt shops, Temecula Quilt Co., and it’s a Dresden plate quilt.  I’ve only done a Dresden plate one time and it was 20 years ago.  Temecula’s patterns are often tiny and this is no exception.  Here are the first 3 Dresden plates, each about 3 inches in diameter.

IMG_1228Theses little plates are ready to appliqued onto 4 1/2 inch blocks.  There is an accompanying applique block for each plate as well and those aren’t ready yet.  Did I already mention these are tiny?

The next project is one that I’m truly enjoying by Lisa Bongean at Primitive Gatherings.  I was fortunate to work into my busy summer with the urging of my husband, one of her classes at Quilt Odyssey  in Hershey, PA.  It was a wool applique class and we worked on a Christmas Tablemat that hopefully I will show you later this fall. (For a sneak peak look on the Projects page.)  Lisa’s block of the week is called “Words to Live By.”  Again I’m woefully behind but here are the first 2 blocks and a picture of Lisa and myself from class.  Yes, it was the end of the day and I was a little tired plus a little blue.  The Quilt Odyssey  was adjacent to the Hershey Medical Center where we had taken my mother to specialists just a week prior to her death.  Lots of memories flooded back along with some flood waters in my eyes.

ImageIMG_1224Lisa Bongean does a lot of wool applique and her work is beautiful.  It was fun learning her technique and, yes, I came home with 2 more projects and a lot of Valdani pearl cotton.  She does blanket stitch around her wool shapes.  I have been using Maggie Bonanomi’s method with a whip stitch.  I’m using Maggie’s method on Words to Live By but now I wish I was doing blanket stitch.  Oh well, not about to start over!

Here are the first 2 months, Charity and Loyalty.  I have most of the third month complete except the stem stitch embroidery.  Hopefully that will be revealed  in a week.  I have 2 more months prepped for sewing too! Lisa was working on the center medallion of this quilt during our class.  This quilt is going to be  lovely…darn it, wish I was doing blanket stitch!!

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What’s Cooking?

We are enjoying a slight break in the temperature and humidity so I’m in the kitchen this morning.  I’m trying out a new recipe (for me) from the Tasting Table website, slow-roasted tomatoes with garlic and herbs.  They are definitely slow roasted, 1 hour at 275 degrees and then 2-3 more hours at 175 degrees.  The smell was heavenly!

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5 pounds of tomatoes, halved; 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar; 1/4 cup olive oil; 1 head of garlic with cloves peeled and slightly smashed; 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper; 5 sprigs of thyme, 1 sprig of rosemary.  Toss all the ingredients in a large bowl using your hands.  Arrange tomatoes on a parchment paper lined rimmed cooking sheet.  Place garlic and herbs around tomatoes and discard the remaining marinade.  Roast at 275 degrees for 1 hour, turn the baking sheet, lower the oven temperature to 175 degrees and continue roasting for 2-3 hours until skin cracks and the tomatoes are soft.  Cool on pan in oven.  Remove skins from tomatoes and put in a 1 quart jar, cover with extra virgin olive oil.  Refrigerate and use within 2 weeks.  Use in pizza, soups and stews, sauces, pasta, etc.  P.S.  I’m putting a little bag in the freezer to see how that works…allowing me to use these in the winter too!!

IMG_1212IMG_1214 Here they are after the first hour in the oven.  Below I have put them in clean jars..I used 2 wide-mouth pint jars…filled with olive oil and into the frig they go!  Can’t wait to use them tonight with some pasta…hmmm…maybe homemade and some fresh basil and Parmesan.  I suppose a glass of red wine is fitting too!

 

Try this when your tomatoes are ready to harvest!

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