Sunday, September 30, 2012

My Dream Come True!

One of the things I really wanted to do when I retired was to test patterns for designers.  I first heard of "stunt sewing" over at Pam Kitty Morning.  Pam has been testing Alex Anderson's patterns for many years.  This sounded right up my alley!  Not only do I love to sew, but I also pride myself in accuracy and detail.  Who better to be a "stunt sewer"?  But how would I break into this industry, I asked myself.  I don't know any well known designers, let alone anyone else who designs.

My dream came true thanks to blogging!  I met Stephanie of Loft Creations and as we became closer, she asked me if I'd like to be one of her Supreme Pattern Testers!  Oh, yes!  I nearly cried!  How excited I was!  In fact, I'm still excited!  Every time Stephanie sends me one of her new patterns, my heart skips a beat.  As long as I follow Stephanie's pattern directions to a "T", I can be as creative as I want with my fabric choices.  If I find any errors or corrections that need to be made, I make a notation on the directions.  This way, when the patterns go to print, they are correct!  The best part is I love Stephanie's designs.  She creates a quilt or a bag that's fun, easy, has a little whimsy, and often tells a story!  I've had so much fun with this "job" and hope to be doing it for a long time to come!

Today Stephanie is starting her Sunday with the Supremes series.  She is interviewing all of her Supremes and today is my interview.  Hop on over and see what I had to say!

Friday, September 28, 2012

New Gadget and a Squirrel in a Pickle!

A while back I got a new attachment for my Bernina Walking Foot.  It's a little guide to help keep your stitches in the ditch.  You may be wondering why I still quilt on my Bernina when I now have a longarm?  There are still a lot of small things I make which are much easier to do on the Bernina rather than waste backing fabric trying to load something small on the longarm.
Yesterday afternoon I decided to give it a whirl.  I can't tell you what this is, but it is part of a Christmas project I'm making.  If you enlarge the photo you'll see this better.  Check the blue arrow that points to the "blade".  As long as you keep this blade in the ditch while you stitch, your stitching will never show!
Look, Mom, no stitches showing!  Even better, if you buy one Bernina foot right now, the second is half off! (Check with your local Bernina dealer to make sure this promotion is still going.)
I took this photo a while back.  The bird seems to be recoiling possibly from the reason Mr. Squirrel is lifting his tail, or he's scheming up a way to surprise Mr. Squirrel!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Junk Barn Girls

Yesterday Mr. Squash and I decided to take a drive down to Stanfield, Oregon and attend the Junk Barn Girls show.  I had recently read about it in the Country Register, and since we have a favorite antique store in Stanfield, we decided to make a day of it.
We couldn't believe the location!  It was in the middle of acres of recently plowed wheat fields!  The parking was a cow pasture complete with freshly made cow pies!  The skies look gray, but it is smoke from all the fires burning in Washington, Idaho and Oregon, not clouds!
As near as we could tell it was made up of, well, primarily JUNK!  Fun junk - old suitcases, wire baskets, repurposed items with a few antiques mixed in here and there.  Lots of vendors, too.  We got there an hour after it opened on the first day and would you believe they were cleaned out of most of the good stuff already?  On the periphery of where we walked in were were several trailers and vans loaded with all the great furniture!  I nearly walked into one of the vans thinking it was stuff that hadn't been unloaded yet! 

I loved this Art Deco secretary, but it wasn't for sale!
Click on the photo above and you'll see an oats sack repurposed with the saying "Smooth as a Duck's Butt".  Wonder whose living room that will wind up in?
This vendor had all sorts of wonderful old baskets, boxes and bins filled with fall plantings.  I got one of the apple baskets you see in the foreground, only empty.  It's now holding all my pantograph rolls in the studio!
Click on the the photo above and check out how some ugly lamp bases have been repurposed into stands for vintage fans!
 This vendor had a lot of fun paper flowers made from old magazines!
I'll leave you today with a late evening photo from our yard cam last week.  Soon the leaves will turn a brilliant red on the maple trees and all the blooming perennials will be a memory.  Happy Autumn!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Roasted Tomato Sauce Heaven!

Whew!  Last week flew by.  Between catching up around the house and garden from being gone, sewing another Supreme pattern test and what seems like a gazillion errands, I haven't had much time left over for the computer!  Plus we have had gorgeous weather which means spending more time outside knowing that winter isn't too far away.

Our tomato crop just keeps on giving and giving!  I made a new-to-me roasted tomato sauce yesterday and thought I would share how to make this easy, tasty recipe!
I picked these yesterday for our eating pleasure!  The little green tomatoes may be green, but they are ripe and very tasty.

Here is what I'm using for the first batch of tomato sauce - also picked yesterday.  Actually, I picked twice as many as these and gave them to my friend Carol for her own sauce magic!
After you've washed your tomatoes, cut them in quarters or a bit more if they are larger.  No need to skin or seed them!  Place them on a baking sheet (I used parchment, but it isn't necessary) and add some whole garlic cloves.  This is garlic from our garden.
Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes and mix them up with your hands.  Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste over everything.  Place them in a 325 degree oven for 1-2 hours or until they are slightly browned around the edges, but not burned.
Here is what they look like when they come out of the oven.  Click on the photo for a better look.  I left them on the tray until they cooled.
Place the cooled tomatoes in your food processor along with basil to taste.  I used African Blue Basil from our garden.  Process until you get your desired consistency.  For me it was less than 15 seconds.
Here is the result -- rich, dark, roasted tomato sauce!  It keeps in your fridge for up to a month or for 6 months in the freezer.  I'll be making another large batch tomorrow.

There won't be much sewing to show you for a while.  I'm currently working on Christmas gifts.  Soon I'll have my Cottage Charm BOM on Vinnie and will show you my progress once I get started!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Hey it's Good..... be back home again!  That old John Denver song always goes through my mind when we've been away.  Just a quick post here to let you all know we arrived home safely yesterday afternoon.  I feel bad for Idahoan's statewide.  There are so many fires up and down the state.  Driving west on Highway 12 was like driving through thick fog only it was smoke and the air quality was probably off the charts.

Thanks to those of you who have inquired as to Mr. Squash's well being!  He's doing much better thanks to antibiotics!  He's looking forward to eating this Red Bartlett that I just picked off our espaliered pear tree! 
Another tomato bounty awaited our arrival home!  I think this batch will be spaghetti sauce.  Also, one of the wives of the Peace Corps group - who is a quilter as well - gave me a great tip.  Place tomatoes whole and unpeeled in a freezer bag.  When they thaw, the skins come right off!  Of course too many would take up a lot of room, but I really like the suggestion and will try it!  Thanks, Pam!
I wanted to show you this wonderful, Art Deco glass bowl we picked up in Helper, Utah at an antique shop!    Won't it look great with Christmas ornaments inside - or a yummy, but salad?

I'll be busy the next few days getting everything around the house back to normal.  I should be caught up with posts by then, too!  I really appreciate those of you who kept up with us on our trip!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Cabin in the Woods

Thanks to everyone who has followed our journey so far!  I wish I had time to keep up with all your posts, but we've been a pretty busy and we fall into a deep sleep at the end of every day!  
Last night we had one more Nepali dinner with the group and before the slide shows began, gathered for some group photos.  You can probably tell we had a lot of fun.  One of the group had these t-shirts made.  See the black band on one sleeve?  That is in memory of one of the group who passed away since the last gathering.  They also set up a memorial fund in his memory with Heifer, International.  They will provide animals to Nepali villagers in need.  
Of course there had to be a group photo of the wives!
We left the YMCA of the Rockies and checked into Pine Haven Cottages next to Fall River.  George gave us a great rate on the Preacher's Cabin and we are nestled in this evening.  We'll be here for two nights, then we begin the long trek home.
I love this cabin!  Here you see Mr. Squash relaxing in the living room.  All the decorations are wonderful!
We have a full kitchen and I actually "cooked" dinner for us tonight in the form of some great, microwaveable  dishes from Safeway.
These little touches make you feel like you're at home!
I took a walk around the property.  This is the office.  George's sister does all the plantings and George keeps them watered and happy.
Look - a Rocky Mtn Bighorn Sheep!  Thank goodness he isn't the kind that can sometimes stop traffic for real!
Check out the raccoons sunning themselves on a fallen log!
We are just a few steps away from the river.  George said some beautiful brown trout have been caught here the past few days.  We may have to try our hands tomorrow.
We don't have to worry about these bear foraging in the garbage cans.  And I know a doggie here and there that would love the red fire hydrant!
Check out this lovely little sitting area.  Do click on any of the photos for a better look!

I have no idea what we'll do tomorrow, but stay tuned for a report!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Rocky Mountain High

We arrived in Estes Park, Colorado yesterday afternoon, tired, but glad to be in one spot for a few days!  And what a beautiful spot it is.  Mr. Squash's group rented a lodge at the YMCA Camp of the Rockies.  We are high above Estes Park in an incredible setting.  The town itself is at 7,522 feet.  We are closer to 8,000 where we are staying.  It isn't easy getting used to the high altitude, but well worth a mild bit of inconvenience.
We drove in one entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park and out the other this morning just to say "hello" to the gorgeous surroundings.  I lived here when I was much younger and never tire of returning!  Here is a view of Horseshoe Park looking at several mountain peaks.
Another view.  We have much the same views from where we are staying!
This are is called Beaver Meadows.  Over the years the beavers have made the river zig zag around and around because of all their dams.  It is also a place where the Elk "do their thing" each year and there are places to park and watch.  If you click on the photo you can get a better look.  There are no elk anywhere in town right now.  Usually one has to avoid them around every bend, including the Safeway parking lot!
This is Long's Peak at over 14,000 feet.  In another lifetime I actually climbed it!
We are mainly here for Mr. Squash's Nepal 11 Peace Corps reunion.  40 years ago he and a group of young men went to Nepal for two years to help the local villagers establish better methods of agriculture.  I am continually amazed at how this experience affected everyone and has stayed with them all their lives.  This group of fellows are so nice, intelligent and just downright great to be around!  I also enjoy the company of all the wives - some of whom are also quilters!  My blog has been circulated among everyone and they are all having a great time kidding Mr. Squash about his moniker!
Here is Mr. Squash with one of his friends.  Clark's wife is also a quilter!  Almost all of them have been back to Nepal since they left - some many, many times, and some have also taken their wives.  We have yet to go.
Their is a local Nepali restaurant here which is catering our dinner both nights.  We've eaten there on previous visits.  They are quite impressed with this group as most still speak the language!  Here we are enjoying a wonderful meal.
On the left is bastmati rice (bhat), dal (lentils), and a chicken and perhaps goat or beef dish.  I may not be correct about the beef as Mr. Squash tells me it was forbidden to eat beef in Nepal.
But wait - there is even more!  
This is dessert.  It's called jalebi and I just had to indulge in one!  Very sweet, but oh, so good!  I was told if you had this in Nepal it would be dripping with melted sugar.
Nice looking plate!  To the right of the salad is Naan which true Nepalis eat with only the right hand - never the left.
This is Phil and Polly Arnold who were Peace Corps volunteers in Nepal prior to Mr. Squash's group.  They were invited back to set up his group, stayed on during the entire two years as the groups "boss", and have remained close to them all this time.  They left our meeting room for a bit and came back in their Nepali garb!  When you greet someone you hold your hands in that position and say "Namaste".  We actually have very nice little garden sign at the front door of the Squash House which says namaste.
Phil told some great stories about how they came to organize the Nepal 11 group.  And even better they announced that they were also celebrating their 49th wedding anniversary!  Congratulations Phil and Polly!
Their son-in-law is a renowned  chocolatier and they brought some samples to share!  What a wonderful treat!

We meet with the group again tonight then everyone goes home tomorrow.  Stay tuned for more from the road!