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Friday, July 30, 2010

Back to it

It's still hot, but I couldn't stand it any longer; I just had to do something about my Winding Ways quilt. So today I laid out all of the blocks, trying -- not always successfully -- to keep the same fabric from being in any two adjacent blocks. I'll be using 99 blocks, set 9 x 11, and I've put together two rows now. I can almost see the circles beginning to form!

I don't have a design wall worth mentioning; it's just a tiny piece of flannel hung up over a closet door. I have to move it every time I want to access the closet where I store my supplies. As a result, it's always a challenge trying to find a place where I can look at something from a distance. I clipped this to the valance of the vertical blind in our guest room to take this photo. As the quilt top gets larger, I won't be able to photograph it all, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. ;)

Here is a picture of what the finished quilt should look like, as I laid it out in EQ7. I used a similar (but not identical) block that was already in the block library; it was close enough. ;)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Have you ever ...

... made pasta? I've only recently discovered the joys of making pasta at home instead of buying the dried versions at the store. You may have seen this post, where I made some traditional pasta. However, the other day I decided to branch out a bit, so I made spinach pasta, using fresh baby spinach. Okay, I dusted it with a bit too much flour to keep it from sticking together, but most of that brushed off. But look how bright the green is! It's so much prettier than the spinach pasta at the local grocery store. But the biggest thing is that it tastes so good. We had some last night, and we'll be having more tonight. It freezes beautifully and then only needs a couple of minutes to cook, straight from the freezer. Yum!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Was I crazy??

Have I mentioned lately that it's hot here? ;) And yet, I was in the mood to bake. That means, of course, firing up the oven and heating up the house. But I had a lot of cherries -- probably the last of the season -- that I'd bought, and I was afraid they'd go bad. So ... I made clafoutis, which is a luscious concoction of cherries (though you can use other fruit, too) and a sort of custard that bakes, puffs and then is devoured with gusto. Of course, you can't let gusto get the best of you, since the cherries still have their pits! ;) Pitting them makes too much of their juice bleed out all over the custard-y part. Yum! I can hardly wait!

It's *hot*!

The Las Vegas area is hot in the summertime. That's just a fact of life. But our little Bisou has the right idea -- just cool off any way you can. So she lies on the cool tile floors when possible, and each time either of us gets ice for a drink she's right there waiting for an ice cube. It's almost her favorite treat in this weather. Can you blame her?

Ah, yes, you say. But what's this about her lying on the cool tile floor? Well, she's gotten pretty smart and knows that ice cubes tend to play keep-away on bare floors, so she attacks them on the carpet where she's in control. ;) 

By the way, in case you're wondering, we have guests right now, and it's hot. Both are reasons why my quilting isn't progressing at the moment. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Catching up

Shortly after returning from visiting my sister, I left again to go to Quilt Camp in the Pines; this made my thirteenth year there, so that tells you how much I enjoy it. Camp was under new ownership this year, with a few predictable hiccups in the changeover, but I still had a wonderful time. I met up with my very good friend and quilting buddy Phyl, and we took a class together from Helen Frost and Cathy Skow on how to do beautiful bindings on our quilts. The class was certainly worth taking! I have a big notebook full of samples of different kinds of bindings to refer to in the future. :)

Phyl and I also spent some "quality time" with EQ7, going through the PDF lessons that came with it, though we both have a lot yet to do to get familiar with this new version. We also made a side trip to a little quilt shop in Williams, where I found a pattern for Pot Pinchers -- a sort of pot holder. Aren't they cute?

All of that was the good news. Unfortunately, there was also some not-so-good news.

Last year while driving to camp, my car had several "tantrums". I'd be cruising along the freeway when suddenly the car would no longer either accelerate or even maintain speed; in fact, it seemed that the motor was completely stopping! Ack! It was all I could do to get over to the side of the road before being squashed like a bug by one or more of the semis coming along the same freeway. This happened three times before the car simply wouldn't start up again after a rest. I had to call for a tow, leaving the car in Williams and relying on a friend to get me to Flagstaff for camp. Phyl then drove me back to Williams a day or so later to pick up the car; the mechanic couldn't find anything wrong, nor could the mechanic in Flagstaff or the mechanic in Las Vegas when I got home. Okay, so it must have been a fluke, right? WRONG!

It happened again -- twice -- while I was driving to Flagstaff again this year. Luckily, it never got so bad that I couldn't start the car back up again; but it's rather disconcerting, to say the least, to be trying to zip in between trucks to get off to the shoulder of the freeway -- all while the power in the car is dying quickly. While I was sitting on the side of the road, I called my husband and told him that I flat refused ever to drive this car to camp again, and I don't think I was being unreasonable.

So now I'm home, and my husband and I went car shopping yesterday. It seems that it's a very good time to buy a car, as interest rates are quite low! We got a very good trade-in on the temperamental car, and I'm now the proud owner of a Toyota Prius! It's going to take me some time to learn how to use all of its features, but I love the fact that I'll be using lots less gas and that the car itself is completely biodegradable. I haven't had a chance to take a decent photo of my car, but this is what it looks like in Blizzard Pearl, like mine. There's lots of room in the back for sewing machines and fabric, too! :D

Thursday, July 8, 2010


As I mentioned in my last post, we recently went to visit my twin and her family in France. She and her husband live near Paris, so we flew from Las Vegas to London and from there to Paris. The day after we arrived, the four of us went to Giverny, which is famous because Monet lived there for a time. The gardens are absolutely gorgeous and served as the inspiration for many of Monet's paintings. Here are some of the well-known lily pads. (Click on any of these photos to get a larger view.)

The next day we visited the château of Malmaison, where Josephine spent her final days. That afternoon, I attended my sister's quilt group, the members of whom were very welcoming. :)

Have you ever visited a French market? We did, and I couldn't get over how beautiful all of the food was. Everything was ripe and presented to its best advantage. These artichokes were enormous! 

We spent one long and very pleasant afternoon in Paris. That may not seem like much, but both of us had been there before, so we concentrated on an area we'd never visited, Le Marais. At one point we stopped next to the Seine to watch a boat pass by.

The following day, all four of us loaded up for a trip to the Loire Valley, an area full of history. On the way, we stopped in Chartres to visit the cathedral, which is famous for the beautiful shade of blue that figures in much of its stained glass.

Our main destination was Amboise, a fairly large town with an important château that housed, among others, the king François I. Nearby is the château du Clos-Lucé, which was the final home of Leonardo da Vinci, brought to France under the patronage of François I. It's possible to see many of Leonardo's inventions here, as well as to see his beautiful gardens.

The town was delightful, and we were lucky enough to be able to watch a wonderful sound and light show at the château itself.

We stayed in a bed and breakfast (a chambre d'hôte) for the two nights we were away, and it was lovely! The door on the left led to my sister and brother-in-law's room, and the one on the right to ours.

One afternoon was devoted to driving into the countryside to do a bit of wine tasting. The area produces Vouvray wines, ranging from dry to sweet and including a few sparkling versions. They were delicious, and my brother-in-law bought several to add to his wine cellar. As for us, we couldn't resist buying one bottle to bring home.

On the way back to Paris, we stopped long enough to visit the outside of Chenonceau, one of my favorite châteaux. We found a shaded path through some woods and came up on the château from the back. The day was so beautiful that the château was completely reflected in the water it spans. 

From there we drove through Blois to reach Chaumont, another town with a château. That château is a bit more modern, as you can see from this photo of the farm area. There were more lovely gardens here; in fact, the flowers everywhere we went were enough to make me drool! We just don't get that lush growth here in the desert. 

The final couple of days of our visit were spent in my sister's home, visiting with our two nephews, one of whom was able to bring his fiancée with him (the other fiancée was working and couldn't come). We had such a good time catching up with them!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Oh my! My lucky day!

I've been quiet lately, but it's because I've been away. Mike and I have been visiting my twin and her family, who live right outside of Paris. More about that later. 

While I was enjoying French food and scenery, I had a message from Sarah at the Electric Quilt company to say that my name had been drawn in their badge contest. Do you see the EQ7 badge way down on the left side of this page? Putting it there let me enter the drawing, and I'm one of the lucky winners. :D What's even nicer was that I had  four different pieces of software to choose from as my prize! I'm just waiting now to receive Sue Spargo's Folk Art Dreams, which may already be here; but my neighbor has been collecting my mail and isn't home right now for me to get it from her.