Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sweet Sophie

Miss Sophie Pekich
1-3-96 -

Our hearts are very heavy right now, but we know she is dancing in kitty heaven with Mr. and Mrs. Bat.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holiday Baking Thanks!

Since my last post I've been doing a whole lot of holiday baking and giving.  It's one of my most favorite things to do this time of year!  A lot of the recipes I've made are from fellow bloggers and I'd like to give a shout out and huge thanks to them all!

Two of my all time favorites are:

Joyce at Octoberfarm

I've made and enjoyed more recipes than I can count from both of these delightful ladies!  Do visit their blogs and see what goodies await you.

Each year I find new "foodie" blogs and discover new delectables to try.  This year I found more wonderful recipes to try thanks to...

April at Dimples and Delights 

Aimee at Sugary Sweets

Leanne at Leanne Bakes

Monica at Lick the Bowl Good

Jenny at The Picky Palate

Thanks so much, Ladies!  I look forward to many more great recipes from all of you!

Of course there are my regular blogging friends who always have something good cooking and are willing to share - you know who you are!  Both Mr. Squash and I give you all a huge thanks for sharing!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Holiday Baking Begins!

My annual holiday baking dance has begun!  Actually, it began with making a dessert for Mr. Squash.  I try to keep him in homemade desserts most of the time - it's the least I can do for a fellow who brings me so much happiness!  However, last week I was short on time and decided to buy some cookies from a nearby bakery.  They were called Divinity Cookies and were they ever good!  I had to see if I could find and/or replicate the recipe.  I Googled Divinity cookies and found a recipe that had the exact same ingredients that were on the box of cookies!
Here's how they look finished - nearly identical in taste and looks as the ones from the bakery!  The recipe is very simple:

2 1/2 cups Crisco (do not use butter)
1 1/2 lbs. powdered sugar
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 lb. chopped walnuts.

Mix all ingredients together in the order given and roll into logs.  Cut pieces and bake at 350 degrees until edges turn light color.

Now, I learned the hard way that it's easier to split the recipe in two unless you're really strong.  Not even my Viking stand mixer with the huge motor could have gotten through these.  I wound up dumping the whole thing on my sealed butcher block counter and pounding away at it by hand!
Look at the mess!
My counters don't normally look this disastrous when I'm baking!  For lack of any other instructions, I decided to refrigerate the rounds for about an hour, then using my Santoku knife, I cut them in about 1/2" thick slices.  Then I placed them on parchment lined cookie sheets (they don't spread so you can put them close together).  There were no baking times given, but I can say mine took about 25 minutes.  I'd check every 10 minutes or so and rotate the cookie sheets.

They turned every bit as good as the ones from the bakery!
Since I was on a roll (hah, pun not intended), I thought I would whip up a batch of Fantasy Fudge from the Jet-puff marshmallow creme jar!  My mom made these when we were young - the recipe has been around for a long time!  These are the ingredients that are added after you first.....
Bring butter, sugar and evaporated milk to the soft ball stage of 234 degrees.  In the picture above this is homemade Uganda Vanilla that I just received from a dear friend whose been making homemade vanilla for a while now!  It smells so yummy!
I had intended to show you all the steps to this, but I'd forgotten how much stirring and moving fast after the stirring there is!  There was no time for pictures until the end!  The fudge here is still warm with that wonderful, buttery sheen on top!  I'll cut it into squares after it cools.

I hope you're having as much fun with your holiday baking as I am!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My One and Only PIP Finish & Decorations

Stephanie over at Loft Creations has had a PIP challenge this year.  PIP stand for "Projects in Progress".  Being a finish what I start gal, I was reluctant to join in, but one of Stephanie's "non-rules" was: "No rules, no sign-ups, no
contract signed in blood."
Those were my kind of rules!  And you never know, I could very well have wound up with a Project In Progress for 2012.  So I signed up and as it turns out, I did have a PIP!  This Block of the Month was a thorn in my side from the get-go, and I never thought I would finish it this year, but I did!  
Thanks to Mr. Squash who acquired some clothesline rope for me, I was able to display the quilt between our Junipers and use my vintage clothespins!  I quilted it using Quilter's Dream Wool batting which I just love for showing off the quilting - plus it washes and dries well and is oh, so cozy!  I'm happy to finally put this one to bed and check off my PIP list!  Many thanks to Stephanie for hosting a fun challenge!
I am camera challenged around our house.  For some reason the lighting isn't all that great - we have a lot of competition with our picture windows and very wide eaves.  But I decided to show you some of our holiday decorations. We got a smallish tree this year and I decided to use my "nature theme" this Christmas.  I've been collecting nature-related decorations for a few years now and actually had enough for the entire tree this year!

Of course what would Christmas be without a holiday quilt in the living room?  This is one of my very early quilts. My friend Carrie over at A Passion for Applique made me that darling little Christmas pillow one year.
Here is my entry way quilt rack.  I made a backing for this table topper so it can be left up even after Christmas.  Who knows if we'll get any snow - it's been a very warm fall so far.
Here is the fireplace.  There is a stocking for both Mr. Squash and I and of course a little one for Miss Sophie!
Mr. Squash's sister got us this beautiful, hand carved and painted St. Nicolas on a trip to St. Petersburg, Russia, one year.
Very simple table decorations.  I'll add some fresh fir from the yard for dinner on Christmas Day!
Kaaren over at the Painted Quilt has made some gorgeous fresh arrangements for her house.  She gave me the inspiration to try some of my own.  I haven't got much talent for this, but I'll keep trying!
I put together this one for the front porch.  Both are made of clippings from around the yard and from our Christmas tree.

I hope everyone is enjoying the season so far, I know we are!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Back Seat Quilting

You've all seen this Block of the Month I've been working on for what seems like the entire year.  Well, I guess I really have been working on it all year seeing as how it was a Block of the Month - lol!  The shop that sponsored it closed after the 3rd month or so.  I decided to have the remainder of the blocks sent to me all at once and managed to finish it late this summer.  It's been a thorn in my side for one reason and another.  I was going to try custom quilting it, but in an effort to move on to something else because I'm a finish-what-I-start kind of gal, I decided to use a pantograph.

I have about 4 or 5 more rows to go.  I call it "Quilting From the Back Seat" because I use the back of my machine and follow the pantograph with a laser rather than standing at the front.  You can click any photo to enlarge.

I chose a tan thread for lack of any other idea of something that would blend with the gray, red and cream and was totally surprised at how well it works!  With any luck I'll just make it to the end before this spool runs out, too!
Here is a closeup of the quilting design.  It's one of my favorites!
We had a lovely Thanksgiving with Otis and Teresa who drove up from John Day, Oregon.  Otis is the fellow who married us!  Look how relaxed they are along with Mr. Squash, and we hadn't even eaten yet!
After Thanksgiving Mr. Squash and I did a little antiquing.  I found this great Bakelite "pickle" fork which matches my set of Bakelite. I've also been wanting a needle threader that works with my long eyed needles - score!  Cute buttons and something I've searched high and low for - vintage clothespins in their original box!  They don't even look as though they've been used!

This weekend I'll be decorating for Christmas.  Come back in a few days and I'll take you on a tour around the house!

Friday, November 16, 2012

NPR Cranberry Relish

I finally have a new camera card.  It took forever to get here and when it arrived, we saw that it came from New Jersey -- no doubt delayed by Hurricane Sandy.

A few days ago Mr. Squash asked if we could make the "NPR Cranberry Relish" that we always hear being made each year around this time.  Actually, it is a recipe from NPR's Susan Stamberg's mom.  She calls it Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish.

This is Mr. Squash's "preferred" cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving.  He loves it when it comes out of the jar whole with the can ring impressions still on it!  I have a feeling there are a lot of others who feel the same way.

We'll have both this year and I'm going to show you how to make Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish.  Start by washing two cups of fresh cranberries. 
 Place the washed berried in your food processor.

Add a small chopped onion.  At this point you're supposed to pulse the two together for a chunky grind.  I forgot to do this, but it didn't seem to be a problem in the end.  Add 3/4 cup sour cream (I use Daisy Light sour cream). 

 Finally add a half cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of horseradish (whichever kind your prefer).  
 Pulse this all together until you have a fairly rough grind -- you don't want it to be smooth.
Place the sauce in freezer containers and freeze until the morning of Thanksgiving when you want to take it out and put it in the refrigerator to thaw.  Susan says it should have a few icy slivers left in it.  She says it has a tangy taste and is great on leftover turkey sandwiches!

We have friends from Oregon coming for Thanksgiving and staying the weekend.  What are you doing?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Regarding my Disappearance...

Happy Halloween!!

Have you looked to see what's under your house, lately?

Yes, I've been away from Blogland for a while.  I had to self-impose a limit on my computer time so I could buckle down for some Supreme Sewing as well as my holiday sewing.  I finished my Supreme sewing and am coming close to finishing the holiday sewing, so I thought I'd stick my nose above ground for a little updating around the Squash House.

This is a view of the backyard today and our two, four year old maples.  Aren't they gorgeous? 
 Here is the view looking to the East.  The maple in the background is in our neighbor's yard.  It always turns color first.  Despite some needed rain, we have had very warm temps here.  Our hearts go out to all those on the East Coast who have weathered Hurricane Sandy.  Mr. Squash's sister and her husband live just minutes from Atlantic City.  We are anxiously waiting to hear how they did through the storm.
 What is one to do with all these gorgeous Golden Delicious apples?
 Make applesauce!  I recently got this very cool apple peeler.  Once I figured out how to use it, I realized how fast and efficiently you can peel and core a box of apples!  First you put an apple on the machine, then turn the red handle until the peel is gone and the core pokes completely through the end.  (Notice how you can position it right over the kitchen sink to catch all the peels and cores?)
 This is what the apple looks like when you remove it from the machine.  If I lifted up the top slice, it would be one, long spiral!
All you do is slice down the center.... 
...and you can fill up your crock pot in no time at all! 
 I added some pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and brown sugar and set the timer for 5 hours.  My camera card went south otherwise I'd show you the end result.  I'm sure you can use your imagination!
 Just had to show you this picture of Sophie enjoying the sunshine under the coffee table.  I searched all over the house for her one day and finally found her here!
We are in the process of getting more insulation added to our home.  Much to our surprise, we found that R19 is no longer code for insulation - it is now R49!  Thanks to the Sustainable Living Center here in town and credits from the gas company, we are able to get the entire job done for half price!  Yesterday the Sustainable Living Center came to test the amount of air that escapes our house prior to having the additional insulation added.  This is our front door opened with their "contraption" attached.  A large fan blows air out of the house and the computer measures how much air escapes.  (I hope I explained that correctly.)  After the new insulation is added they will do this again to measure the difference.  My hope is that I won't be sewing in my studio this winter layered in several sweaters and fingerless gloves!

That's it for now from the Squash House.  I wish I could show you what I've been sewing, but for now it's all secret!

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Supreme Finish!

Stephanie over at Loft Creations has done it again!  She has designed a new quilt called Peek A Boo Street!  Being one of her Supreme Pattern Testers I got to test this design.  Be sure to go over to Stephanie's blog after you leave here and see her original design!

I enjoyed every minute of making this quilt!  I knew as soon as I saw her prototype what I wanted to do with mine.  I even knew which fabric line I would use!  I call my version Cabin Memories.  I used a Holly Taylor line called Sunrise Sunset for the most part.  Their designs really speak to me!  The windows in the cabins are fussy cut from a fabric I had in my stash which unfortunately did not have a selvedge that would help me identify the designer.  

My Cabin Memories tells a story, so please follow along with me!

Many of you who've read my blog know that Mr. Squash and I have visited and fished at quite a few wonderful cabins.  My cabins here are constructed out of different woods to make them unique and to add even more character, the roofs are made from river rock! In this quilt you see the river running along the edges and the forest floor surrounding both sides with fallen leaves.  We love birds and butterflies - click on the photo above and you'll see them in  two of the cabins.

Of course the woods aren't complete without some lodgepole pines!  Above you see more of the wildlife we enjoy - deer and dragonflies!
Our cabins in the woods always have lovely trails carpeted in pine needles - just like the rick rack that separates each row.  The best time to walk these paths is with the fallen leaves surrounding them!   One of the cabins above has a bear at the window!  We awoke one night in a cabin at the Minam Lodge to find a bear just like that sitting at the screen door!
Whenever possible we also like to do a bit of hiking!  Mr. Squash's hiking boots are sitting by the door in the cabin above.  There is also another cabin where we've seen an occasional Heron outside the window - and another that had wild roses right out the front door!

This is a look at the back. I quilted it with an all over leaf pattern.  I'll say it again - I really enjoyed making my Cabin Memories.  It was a fun and easy pattern.  Be sure to visit Stephanie for her Peek A Boo Street!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Idaho Gold (Fish)

We are back from our Steelheading adventure in Idaho at Shepp Ranch.  Once again, we were not disappointed.  The weather was beautiful - clear and crisp.  There was only a little smoke from the wildfires which mostly blew out of the canyon by mid afternoon.  
Here is how the ranch house looks in the fall.  Gorgeous, don't you think? The sky isn't cloudy.  What you see is smoke from wildfires, but it generally cleared up later in the day.

We spent our first day fishing for Cutthroat with our guide, Chuck, at the Confluence of two portions of the Salmon River.  

We caught a lot of very nice fish and had a wonderful day.  I thought you might like to see Mr. Squash reel one in!  I forgot to grab the belt to his waders so not only are they too big for him, he had to be careful and not get any water in them lest he commune with the fish!
Day two we were ready and rarin' to go to try and land our first Steelhead ever!  Mr. Squash is standing on the end of the jet boat.  Behind him is the Polly Bemis Ranch - neighbors across the river.  What a gorgeous day for fishing!
You can just see the smoke at the far end of the canyon.  Thankfully that fire was finally extinguished by the time we left.
Here is my first Steelhead!  She was a hatchery female (they clip the adipose fins on hatchery fish) about 28 inches long and 5-6 pounds.  Chuck gave us the option of putting her back or having her for Hors d’oeuvres.  We chose the latter.  It was a lot of fun to reel in such a big fish.

That day I caught another - a wild female.  You are required to release all wild fish.  She was a tad bigger and so beautiful! Chuck is holding out his finger because the lure went all the way through when he was unhooking the fish for me.  We had to jet down to another ranch to borrow a heavy duty wire cutter to get it out!  For Chuck this was like sticking yourself with a pin!  What a guy!
Here are the intrepid fishers and their guide warming themselves by the fire that evening!
And here are the Hors d’oeuvres!  Check out the quilt book!  One of the ranch gals is a quilter! Oh, happy day!  Jane brought several quilt books, fabric and her sewing machine to the ranch while she is there during Steelhead season!  Now that's my kind of quilter!  Jane has a blog, too!  It's called Current Girlfriend.
Here are the ranch gals.  From left to right - Margie, the cook, Ellie and Jane.  It was fun to have some "girl time" this trip!  All three of them along with Lynn and Mike who manage the ranch and Chuck, our fishing guide took excellent care of us!

Here is a group of Bighorn sheep we came across on the river.  This trip we saw several groups.  They like to eat the lichen near the rocks and some of the grasses that grow along the river.  We also saw Chucker (birds), deer and fresh bear "evidence"!  One of the neighbors up the river had 3 cougar in their yard one night!
 Here is a hatchery male I caught the last day.  Another fun catch!
Right after I caught the hatchery male, I hooked one that really put up a fight!  I could barely turn the reel and it took much longer to bring it in.  As it got close to the boat, I realized it wasn't a steelhead at all, but a Dolly Varden!  They are endangered and must be released.  Years ago Mr. Squash caught one in another river and now I know how much fun they are to catch!  This beautiful male went back in the river!

We had a great trip, but are always glad to come home to the Squash House!