Thursday, September 25, 2008

QUAIL! Right here in town!

This morning my neighbor Jane knocked on my door and told me there were birds in her yard that looked like little pheasants. Turns out they were a whole little covey of bobwhite quail. No momma, just the youngsters. I thought the parents stayed with the little ones through the winter but I may be wrong.

Click on any of these to embiggen. Mostly what I got was photos of quail LEAVING, as they were suspicious of me. Not suspicious enough, in my opinion. Quail are delicious, lots of critters think so, and these guys are awfully tame to survive in a big, scary, carnivorous world.

They sure are cuties.
I love that one just above, all of them marching along the edge of the sidewalk in a line.

After I had put my camera away, we scattered some birdseed on the walk and a couple of the boy quail came over and ate it eagerly, so Jane got some much better pictures. Then they all walked away down the alley like they knew where they were going.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Chuck" Panel at ComiCon - Some real gems

What funny, funny people! My favorite moment was when Josh Gomez (Morgan) described Adam Baldwin as a porcupine - you don't want to touch him, but you just know there's a cute little animal in there somewhere.

Kitchen Progress: Bare block walls, hurray!

The sink is gone, the cabinets and counter are gone, and the lath and plaster are gone from 2+ of 4 walls. Yay! In that last picture you can see through the door onto our back porch, which is our temporary kitchen for the duration: It's really actually rather pleasant out there, though there is no running water of course. But lots of windows. And as long as the lovely autumn weather holds, it's not too cold nor too hot, either.

Les Goetzinger worked like a madman yesterday. I had to leave for several hours. When I left, he was finishing up the windows from Monday, and when I got home, the cabinets were neatly stacked out in the yard and all this was done.

Monday, September 22, 2008

New Kitchen Windows, New Kitchen Contractor

Lovely big hole in the wall there, isn't it?

We have new windows in the kitchen as of today: New, nonleaky, nondrafty, pretty windows that stay up when you put them up and stay down when you put them down.

We also have a new contractor, Les Goetzinger from our sister church, Evangelical Church of Peace down in Crooked Creek. Frog and Wonder had planned to do our kitchen, but it took us a long while to get our act together, and by that point they had tons of work. Then we heard Les was available to take on some work sooner rather than later, so we asked Frog and Wonder when they would be able to get to us, and they were actually relieved to find that we had an alternative. So Les it is.

He's a finish carpenter/cabinet maker by trade, and comes highly recommended.

I'm typing this while watching Claire Bennett hiding from Sylar in the season premiere of Heroes. Bruce Boxleitner is guest starring? Huh?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Frog Goop and Dog Poop

This morning, after we had shooed the Big Kids and Dad out the door for school, Lil Miss A and I were getting ready for her slightly later start time, and we went out to the yard to get her bike, but I discovered most of a frog on the lawn - a casualty of my mowing last night. Yeeuuch! Frog glop!

While I was getting a trowel to try to scoop the frog off the lawn before he started to stink, Bo ran out the door, crossed the street and pooped on the neighbors' lawn.

So first I de-pooped the neighbor's lawn, then I de-frogged ours, and then I told Miss A that I hoped her day would be a good one, to which she replied, "It's not off to a very good start. I had to look at frog goop and dog poop!" I told her that with a start like that, the day just HAS to improve.

Embarrassing note written small and quiet: I fell down in my very own bedroom at about 3:30 this morning. I was trying to avoid Bo, who was spread out all over the floor next to my bed, while racing to get to Lil Miss A who was coughing her lungs out, and I tripped at (stupid) high speed over what turned out to be a very solid cherrywood stool that Barry had been using to stand on while he worked on the windows. I landed hard on my left hip. Now I realize how easy it is for old people to break their hips! Mine is fine, I'm sure, but that was a lot of force. I'm thankful I have good bones. It's starting to hurt more and more now, the pain moving now across my pelvis and now encompassing both hips and my sacral spine. I just rode my bike to the meat market and that was really fun, let me tell you.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Multifunction Machine

Fax, scanner, color copier, printer - and cat bed.


Amrita over at Yesu Garden passed along this challenge: Post your quirks on your blog. (Note that she waited till her keyboard was fixed to post it; she says her Q wasn't working. And who wants to write about their _uirks?)

I have too many quirks to post on one post, or on one blog, for that matter. Here are a few, off the top of my head:
  • I hate things to touch my sternum. (You think that's weird? Barry can't stand anybody to touch his big toe. Now THAT is weird.)
  • I grind my teeth a lot.
  • When I cut fabric, I open and close my mouth with each scissors stroke.
  • I fidget with things constantly, like the pages of books or with pencils or loose threads. Whatever I can find.
  • I remember things by how they smell. If I want to remember a moment, I take special note of what I can smell, and then it will come back to me easier.
  • I am a visual learner. Don't tell me how to do something. Show me, or let me read about it. Then I'll remember. Tell me? I'll remember, but I'll remember wrong.

What about you? Go ahead. Confess. It's only you and me, and everybody else on the Web, plus once you post it, even if you delete it later, it's in cache somewhere and will never, never ever disappear from Cyberspace, and years from now when you are applying for a job or want to get married, it will turn up on a search and you will be doomed. No pressure or anything.

Live Smart, Eureka

I just love these.

See them all at

Monday, September 15, 2008

Star Block #4

I was so excited with Block #3, because it was the first that came out to 12-1/2 inches as it was supposed to. I thought I had turned over a new leaf. Alas, no; this one is back to 12 inches square. :o) I would never pick this particular block to do on my own; I don't like the effect. But it will be nice in the sampler of stars.

Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton: Nonpartisan SNL

My favorite part:

Amy Poehler (as Hillary Clinton): I believe that diplomacy should be the cornerstone of any foreign policy.
Tina Fey (as Sarah Palin): And I can see Russia from my house.

The Day the Earth Stood Still: Okay, I'm on board.

I (and bazillions of other geeks) was extremely skeptical of the Fox remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. But this preview (aired during the rewind of The Fringe) has sold me. Keanu doesn't HAVE to act in this one. He's already an alien.

I am just looking at it as an entirely different encounter-type story. There is no match to the original.

We Ordered the Tile!

This is headline news for us, the Late Adopter Poster Children. We tend to make decisions very slowly. Or rather, I make them quickly and often, and Barry makes them slowly but usually only once.

We finally settled on what you see here: Black and white hex tiles on the countertops, (1-inch - I don't think I have them quite to scale in my very poor Photoshopping) American Olean SatinGlo Hex. Then the backsplashes will be 3 x 6 inch subway tiles with a black rule running around 3 tiles up from the countertop, then more subways running right up to underneath the red cabinet tops. Then there will be black tiles edging the countertops, and black edging around the window opening as well.

Home Depot had everything in stock except for the hex, which is special order, but they were able to match the best price I found online for this tile, but of course we don't have to pay shipping if they order it for us. There were much cheaper options; it's about $6.60 a square foot. But it's what we love, and the rest was not bad at all, so we're still within our budget. So far.

Papa and Mama Root gave us a Home Depot gift certificate for an anniversary gift and we used it for this purchase. So, Mama and Papa, thank you for part of our countertops. :o)

On the way home, a big doe panicked and dashed across the highway. It was raining, so Barry did what he could to lose some speed without losing control, but we still hit her. Hard. She slammed off the front of the car and was thrown back across oncoming traffic. A pickup truck going the other way somehow avoided hitting her too. The Jeep took some serious front-end damage. Barry is afraid this may be it for his beloved Cherokee; it's at Kious Kountry in Waukon right now, waiting for the adjuster to have a look. But once again, all of us were safe. Nobody was hurt. Master K's glasses got knocked out of whack when he banged into the window on his side, but he himself was fine. And we were able to limp the Jeep home without a tow. The engine seems to be running fine, and the doe didn't take out the radiator this time. But there is a lot of body damage. She was running so well, lately, too! And we had just put on new tires. Bleah.

Update! Todd, our adjuster with Progressive, just called and said they are going to start repairs on the Cherokee. He said the damage estimate is very close to the value of the car, but as long as they don't find any surprises, it sounds like Kious Kountry can squeeze it in under the value, so we're going ahead with it. I'm so glad.

I will say that we have had only good experiences with Progressive. We went with them because the cost of premiums was low, but the service we have had has been unfailingly excellent.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Club99 Time Again

Don't mind me...

I'm just admiring the view.

(Barry is putting new windows in Master K's room today.)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Finished by Friday: Refurb of an old American Banner Scale

Uncle Rich and Aunt Barb bought us a carload of goodies from Pennsylvania, including this wonderful old metal scale, 60 pounds capacity compared to most of the kitchen scales I see which usually only go up to about 25. It had been repainted sort of barn red, which is why they thought of me when they were deciding where it should find a home.

To the amazement of all those whom I hold dear, I didn't keep the red, nor did I repaint it bright fire-engine red, which was Barry's guess. I saw on close inspection that it had originally been painted black, and underneath the red, there were decals on each side, and by careful use of paint stripper, I was able to get at least enough of the decal uncovered to make a fake. I then spray painted the scale with Rustoleum black gloss and put my fake decals on the sides. The originals had what I think was a squiggly thing down at the bottom point of the shield, but so little was left, I'm not sure, so I just left it off.

The decals would look a lot better if I had an ALPS printer that could print with white inks. I'd almost be willing to trade one of my kids for an ALPS printer. Almost. As it is, I used white decal stock, with black overcoat for the background and the lettering is just the white showing through.

You know, a Smart Person would have taken a "before" picture to post, but I didn't. I'll at least post the photo I took of the decal on one side after using paint stripper. You can see it was pretty rough.

The face of the scale has lots of rust freckling. At first glance I guessed it was paper, but of course it isn't, it's tin litho. I'll just leave it alone. The scale still does a good job of weighing bulk food, so I'll get to use it in the kitchen! I love old stuff that can still be put to work.

I changed the decal a bit to make the lettering more like the original.

And again! Thanks to Shelly, who emailed me a picture of the American Banner scale she bought on eBay recently, I was able to add the squiggle - which is actually a little scale, I think. I also messed around more with the lettering, and I kinda wish I had just left it alone.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Volunteer Tomatoes

We only planted romas this year, but look what else we got. Volunteers from last year's varieties.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hadron Collider Kills the World!!!!

A site to check whether the Hadron Collider has destroyed the world yet. (Check back often.)

My Favorite Rolling Pin

I took this picture to show QuiltDad what one can make with a wood lathe, and while I was at it, I thought I'd show it to you here. It was made from pieces of many different hardwoods glued together sandwich-fashion, then turned on a lathe to make this rolling pin.

It was pretty when I got it, but it has gotten prettier with much use and all the oils from the doughs I roll working into the surface.

Busy day ahead.

Sometime this afternoon we are expecting a visit from Barry's Aunt Barbara and Uncle Rich Wallace. They are on their way from their summer home in Pennsylvania to their winter home in Hurricane Ike Land (I mean South Texas), going the long way, obviously, to visit their son in the Twin Cities. It's out of their way to see us and we love it that they want to come!

So I have a day's worth of work to get done, plus a guest room to ready, and dinner to make. I'd better get started.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Loooong fun day with my daughter - and a new sink!!

Yesterday, Miss B and I headed up to Minneapolis for the day, leaving at about 8:00 a.m. I dropped her at the Mall of America and ran across the street to IKEA, where I bought a beautiful apron-front kitchen sink, the Domsjo double-bowl sink. She met me as I was just about finished, we ate a couple of all-beef hot dogs at IKEA and then we loaded the sink into the Concorde and drove west to Crown College, between Waconia and St. Bonifacius, Minnesota, where we watched the first home football game of the season. Her friend N is a freshman and is on the team. He didn't get to play. Maybe they would have won had he been allowed to. We like to think so anyway. They got trounced by Augsburg.

After N got cleaned up, I took the three of us out to dinner in Waconia, at a nice little place called The Green Room. (I thought it was The Green Door, but when I tried to find a website to link for you, I found it is The Green Room.) Then we left him at his dorm and drove home with our sink.

We got home around 11:00-ish last night. It was a great day. I really enjoyed being with Miss B all day.

While we were gone, Barry put new windows in our bedroom! Hurray!

Happy Birthday Lil Miss A (and Nephew M)

Lil Miss A is 8 today!
Nephew M is 11 today!

Happy birthdays.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Gratuitous Sleeping Kitty Pictures

Happy Birthday!

It's my sister's birthday today. I hope it is a happy one! (I remember this day, loooong long ago...)

Friday, September 05, 2008

Star Block #3

I'm happiest with this one of all so far. Now I REALLY want to give Block #2 one more try.
By the way, does anybody notice that my center windmill is going clockwise rather than counterclockwise as designed? Heh.

Cactus Bloom

These things make one showy, spectacular flower that lasts one breathtaking day - and then it's gone.

Finished by Friday: Shoulder Bag for Miss B

This week's Finish is a shoulder bag for Miss B, made out of some very slippery, uncooperative dressmaker fabric.

She saw the grocery tote I made last week and asked if I would make her a purse on that same pattern, only with a longer drop (down around her hip). She handed me some beautiful but very silky fabric she had bought to make a dress out of but had not used.

When my sister was here, she took one look at it and dived into my stash and pulled out some gold colored quilter's cotton which she said would make a good lining, and it did.
Not only was the color good, but it added some needed stability to the fabric. I also interfaced the thing to death.

In addition to the change to the shoulder strap length, I made the whole bag slightly narrower, since Miss B is slim, and I also used the main fabric for the top part of the lining, using the gold colored cotton only further inside. I also used the fashion fabric for both sides of the strap. Finally, I added a small key/wallet pocket inside.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

I agree, they're cute, but...

Demand for my decals goes in waves. All of a sudden, these blue bunnies and bluebirds, which pretty much sat on the shelf for months, are hot. Can't make 'em fast enough. If I could figure out what sets off these buying trends, I'd be rich right now!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

I had to laugh.

In looking at my Facebook Friends with Recent Updates, I found this:

Paula [redacted] ... is getting ready to help Francesca with her bath.

immediately followed by

Francesca [redacted] is busy!!

Totally coincidental but I thought it was funny.

And just like that... autumn is here.

Sticky steamy heat on Sunday... on Monday... and on Tuesday. And then sometime Tuesday evening, autumn arrived. I was at the church, working on the treasurer's reports, and when I walked out the door, the air had chilled down about 25 degrees and was dry and breezy.

This morning the sunrise showed what is definitely an autumn sky, not a summer sky. High, wispy mare's tails of clouds lit up like fireworks before the sun ever appeared. If I hadn't been so bleary, I would have taken a photo for you, or tried to. Now it's officially 59 degrees, the wind is blowing hard, and the air is dry and crisp. Makes one want to make a pumpkin pie, or something.

I always have the urge to hunker and hoard at this time of year. I find myself wanting to buy food in bulk, to put things by for the winter, to make sure my family has lots of clothes, to make quilts, et cetera. I have to watch it because I tend to spend more money than our budget will allow on food against what some deep, primitive part of me must think will be the coming ice age.

As I was writing this, I heard voices outside. It was Matt Troendle and the Well Guy! Well Guy evidently didn't get all those messages that Matt was ready to have some wells dug. He says his lead time is about 4 weeks at the moment. They are outside talking right now in the street, standing at right angles, staring off at a point in the distance, the way men do in the Midwest when there is something important to discuss. I am hoping Matt can get him to shave a couple or three weeks off that time estimate. Having them working on the heating/air system only encourages my hunker/hoard proclivities, as I imagine a toasty-warm house as the gales and blizzards scream outside the walls. (Funny. Just yesterday I was wishing the system was running so I could turn on the central air.)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Nice visit with the family - until I got sick!

My parents arrived with the Shallow Sister and the Amazing Master N for lunch Sunday and stayed through Monday morning. We had such a nice visit. It was pretty hot and steamy here, so we huddled in the air conditioning, but I still got to have some good talking time with Sister, and N played with his cousins. And we ate, and ate, and ate some more, and then we ate something else. Fun!

I should have known something wasn't right when I suddenly just felt like I was going to fall over with exhaustion at about 9:30 Sunday evening. Thankfully everybody (except the kids, of course) was ready to go to bed, so we got the kids organized in a tent in the backyard, sorted out the pillows/blankets/bath towels for everybody else, and crashed. And then about 1:00 in the morning I woke up and spent the rest of the night basically on the bathroom floor, not wanting to get too far from a certain bathroom fixture, if you catch my drift. Oh yes. It was one of those deals where you lose 7 pounds of fluid weight in about 5 hours. Fun, fun, fun. Of course I kept thinking, I've GOT to be better! I have house guests! Thankfully Barry took over early Monday morning, telling me to stay put, and got up and he and Miss B made breakfast for everybody. The guests shooed themselves out earlier than planned, not surprisingly; nobody wants to stay in the house with a Flu Person! They headed out after praying over me.

I spent all of Labor Day in bed, feverish and not able to keep anything down, but I'm at about 90% now, feeling pretty decent. Not hungry yet, though. 

And I didn't take any pictures. I just realized that. 

Anyway I wanted to share one recipe I made that was a hit: A Peach Cheesecake. I started with a recipe on, making mine bigger, richer and peachier. As best I can recall, here is my version.


12 graham crackers (one of those pouches inside the box of graham crackers, I think that's about 12 crackers, right?), crumbled up
1/2 c. butter, melted
2 8-oz. packages Neufchatel cheese, softened
1-1/2 c. blended peach yoghurt
1/2 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. orange juice
2 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 c. sugar
2 fresh ripe peaches, thinly sliced

Combine cracker crumbs and melted butter. Mix well and press into the bottom and about 1 1/2 inches up the side of a greased 10-inch springform pan (one with removable sides). Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven.

Meanwhile, combine cream cheese and yoghurt and beat at high speed of mixer for 7 minutes or until very smooth. Gradually add the 1/2 cup sugar while beating constantly. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla. Pour into the crust and bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until firm.  Cool.

To prepare glaze, combine orange juice, cornstarch, and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until the mixture is thick and clear. Cool to room temperature. Arrange sliced peaches on the cheesecake. Pour the cooked glaze over the peaches. Chill several hours before serving.