9/30/14

September NewFO Linky Party and Giveaway

2014 NewFO Challenge

Good morning, my friends! It's time for the first NewFO Linky Party of fall. I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to some cooler, wetter weather because that can only mean one thing: more time for sewing! Am I right about that? Well...only for us Northern Hemisphere people, but you Southern Hemisphere people have had your turn. 

Okay, then. It's time to show off your new stuff from September, finished or not. This month, being back-to-school month, we're playing for the schoolhouse quilt block lapel pin. Everyone who links up with a newly started project has a chance to win. No finishes required!


And since I was traveling for almost the entire month, I've had to reach a little for my NewFO...but then, it's my party, so I can't come unprepared, now can I?

Remember when I made up a new stitchery before I left for this little quilt?


In a panic for something to show, I actually started it!


And then, I put it aside because I'm still working on my quilting snowlady. And I have a few other NewFO's from previous months like that. It's not cheating...we're just having fun here.

So now I'm ready to see your newly-begun projects for September. Here are my simple and friendly rules. (Yeah, rules, baby.)

1.  Please link-up with your newly started projects from September, finished or not.  If you feel like it, show us the progress you've made on any other previously posted NewFO projects.

2.  Please link back to this post from your blog.  Also, please link to your blog post, not your blog. Links to entire blogs will be edited.  Links provided for the sole purpose of promoting other events or shopping experiences will be deleted without apology. Please do not link to your Etsy shops or other giveaways and/or promotions you have going on your own blog. To be clear, it is okay to link to other events, but I want to see your NewFO's as a part of your post. 

3.  Don't have a blog?  Upload an image to this FlickR group and link to that.  If you have questions about how to do that or about how to link up, please email me.  If you're having trouble posting your image, email it as an attachment, and I will be happy to post it for you.  Please know that it takes a bit for your thumbnail to appear, so don't despair.  It will appear eventually.  You might need to "refresh".

4.  Obviously, I need some way to contact you no matter how you link up.  No email address and no other way to contact you equals no entry in the giveaway.  Email me separately if you need to.

I'll leave this linky party open until one minute before midnight on Monday, October 6, 2014. Winner of the Schoolhouse lapel pin will be announced on Tuesday, October 7, 2014!  We will ship anywhere in the known Universe, so everyone is welcome! 

Let's party!


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9/29/14

Back in the Sewing Saddle

You can tell things are getting back to normal around here because I have a mishmash of things to tell you today. We finished unpacking the trailer yesterday, and it is now safely down in its usual parking place. Of course, once Mike moves it away from the house and the rain starts, I remember several absolutely essential items that I left behind. Then I put on my rain gear and rain boots and make the trek down to the trailer about six or seven times before I actually have everything unpacked. Oh well. That's okay because I did laundry today and I have some things that need to go back out there as well.

In my quest to recreate some of the delicious regional dishes we tasted in our travels, I tried a recipe for Crock Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup last night. That's not a regional dish, mind you; but we had it at the Rustic Pine Tavern when we were in Dubois, Wyoming. I went in search of a similar recipe, and couldn't find anything exactly right. Their soup was made with ground beef, and it had a beef base. All the recipes I found were made with chicken and had a milk base. The one I've linked to there caught my eye because it's made in the crockpot. It was very simple, and delicious.


This recipe is from a blog called Your Cup of Cake, written by one of my Oregon neighbors. She makes some suggestions at the end of the recipe for toppings. We ended up with a sprinkling of grated cheddar cheese and the chunks from a quarter of an avocado each. I intended to give it a sprinkling of crushed up tortilla chips too, but I didn't have any. I think the crunch would have been a nice addition. Nevertheless, Mike declared it a "keeper". I served it with a side of cornbread. This is the recipe I like to use for my cornbread. Also, I think the Marie Callender's cornbread mix available in the grocery store is excellent. I use it when we're traveling just to keep things simple.


This morning I puttered around for a while after Mike went to work. I got the laundry started and worked on my quilting snowlady. I should have her finished in my next sitting, which will be tomorrow. Then I needed to pick up my quilts from my fellow guild member, AnnMarie, who was kind enough to retrieve them for me when the Oregon State Fair ended. 

I was kind of anxious to get them back and to see the comments of the judges. There was really nothing notable there. They noticed the "unfortunate bearding" on the back of the Shine On quilt. (I knew it was there too.) And they complained that my hand-stitches on the binding for Love Me, Love My Cat needed to be closer together. I had to take issue with that one since I couldn't even see the stitches. Otherwise, the comments were positive and constructive, and interesting to read. 

Also included were the little cards used to vote on the viewer's choice quilt. (One of my fellow guild members won that one, which was kind of cool. I think it was her first time entering a quilt in a show.) Three of my quilts had several votes, and so that was sort of gratifying. The comments were just nice things like "Great!" and "I love it!" One person practically wrote a book telling me what she liked about Snow Birds. I wasn't expecting to read those, and so that was kind of fun.

Included in the box with the quilts was this four fat quarter bundle of fabrics,


and a $25 gift card from a Salem quilt shop.


And since there was a $5 entry fee for each quilt this year, it turned out to be both fun AND profitable to enter the fair. Cool! I wasn't really expecting that. I think that was for having a division-winning quilt...which was a reward worth the price of entry in and of itself. I'm still so stoked!

So I've spent time both yesterday and today getting things organized in my sewing room again. Today I had time to finish up the Gardener's Journal quilt top.


I've been working on this quilt for nearly two years, and so it feels very good to have it to this flimsy stage. I'm going to piece together a back for it, and then it will be ready for quilting. As of now, there are four quilts in line ahead of it, so it might have to wait a little while.

And that was my day. How did your Monday go?

Don't forget that the September NewFO Challenge goes live at midnight tonight. I can't wait to see your new stuff!


9/28/14

Normalizing

Yesterday was a pretty lazy day, although I did cross off 50-plus items at the grocery store. I guess that counts for something. And I'll just say right here and now that Saturday is my absolute worst day for grocery shopping. Were it not an emergency (read that: people at risk of starvation), I would have held off until Monday. And since that wasn't the case, I just closed my eyes, held my nose, and made my way down the aisles. I'll just add that this was much to the consternation of my fellow shoppers because having my eyes closed meant I kept running into everybody. Eventually I just started yelling, "Coming through! Move aside! I can't control it!" in the same way I do when I'm on the ski slope. Not that I ski any more, but I used to make some feeble attempts. But I digress, which is normal for me, and in keeping with the title of my post.

Just now I interrupted what I was writing about below because I realized I'd written several paragraphs with no pictures. That simply will not do, so I came back here to post a bonus picture of the aspen trees we saw on the way home. You're welcome.


So another normal thing for me on the first day back from a trip is to start my annual diet. I believe this is at least the sixth anniversary of my annual diet. I have lost and gained the same 10 pounds (or so) every October for the past half-dozen years. And yes, my goal includes more than 10 pounds. Oh well. I didn't gain anything on this trip, which is saying something. Nevertheless, I'm going to make yet another stab at losing some weight, and THIS TIME I REALLY MEAN IT. And I have to say that too because I say it every year. At least I have a head start this year having sort of a half-established exercise routine in place. (Did you catch the "sort of" and "half-established" part of that sentence? I mention that just to inspire confidence in you, dear readers.)

And you might be asking why I'm bringing this up. And, lucky you, I'm just about to tell you.

On the day we left Dubois, Wyoming, we had breakfast at the Cowboy Cafe. Another normal thing for us is to start eating at restaurants the last few days of a trip because we've eaten all of our food, and we're too lazy to go to the grocery store by that time; hence, the people at risk of starvation mentioned above. All of that to say that I had the most delicious breakfast called "Pesto Sourdough Starter". As I was eating it, I realized that it was a simple dish, low in calories, and that I could easily make it myself at home. And so I did. This morning. And now I'm going to tell you how to do it so you can make it yourself.

Pay attention because I'm only going to say this once. Get yourself an egg, a slice of bread, and two slices of tomato. Toast the bread to your liking. While the bread is toasting, spray a non-stick pan with cooking spray and then crack your egg into the pan, toss in your tomato slices and fry it all up.


You can make your eggs any way you like. I happen to like mine over easy. The tomatoes are really just in there to heat them up a little. You don't want cold tomatoes on your hot breakfast. Besides, heating them up makes them just a tad more flavorful. Don't overdo it, or they'll turn to mush.

I'm all out of homemade pesto, but I bought some at the grocery store yesterday. This brand is pretty darned good.


Once your bread is toasted, spread about a tablespoon of pesto on it.


Then add your slices of tomatoes.


Then your egg.


Season to taste. I'm not much of a salt and pepper person, but I topped mine with a little of my home-made salsa. You can season yours however you like.


Looks pretty tasty, huh? It was! I used Oroweat Oatnut bread here, but the sourdough was better. Just saying. The grains in the bread had their own flavor that competed with the pesto a little. Definitely use sourdough if you decide to give this a try.

And I plugged this into my food log at Calorie Count and it tallied up at 225 calories. A good high-protein, low-calorie breakfast. It was quick too.

That's not the only food I brought home with me. On the menu this week are Enchilada Soup (like that we had at the Rustic Pines Tavern), Pasties (like those we had in Michigan), and last night we had Minnesota Cream of Chicken & Wild Rice Soup (like that we had at the Kettle Hotel in Minnesota). The recipe was a little different from the one served at the hotel, but it was very good. You can see for yourself at that link I've given you.

So today I'm seriously going to unpack the trailer so that Mike can get it out of the driveway. I've been bringing things in little by little, meaning that every time I go out there to retrieve something I need, I bring in as much as I can carry. There is still much to do, but I figure that's about an hour of my day. Then...sewing! I have missed my sewing room so much. I am so ready to get onto my blog to tell you what's going on in my sewing room.

And with that I'm going to get unpacking.

9/27/14

Sometimes It Feels Like a Long Lost Friend

Back home again...we made it with no more mishaps. Now we're going to spend the next couple of days getting back to what passes for normal here at the Three Cats Ranch. Today I'm just writing a quick post to show you a few of the things we saw on the way home.

Gorgeous Fall color:


We were still in Wyoming when we passed a sign warning us that we were driving on an open range. Around the next bend, we saw this real-life cowboy rounding up some strays that had wandered a little too close to the road.


Not too long after that, we rounded a bend and caught our first view of the Grand Teton Mountains. And a little further on, we drove right through the park. We visited the Tetons just two years ago, and so we stopped for a quick picture, then drove on. If you've never been there, you simply must go at some point in your life.


There were cattle and horses grazing just in front of them. A sign told us that there had at one time been a huge cattle ranching operation here. Now, the horses and cattle belong to the national park.


It is an incredible landscape.


We drove on through Idaho, stopping for a quick visit with my friend Marei who just recently moved to beautiful Swan Valley, Idaho. To call her new place a private piece of heaven would not be an exaggeration. Marei and her husband chose wisely indeed.

And then, on to Oregon, beautiful Oregon. Whenever we travel, we always consider whether we could live in this place or that. And when we get home, we are always incredibly grateful for our home in Oregon. I imagine everyone feels that way about their home. Here's the city of Portland. 


Another 45 minutes west, and we arrived at the Three Cats Ranch, where two cats were very happy to be liberated from the trailer.



Smitty has already had a couple of meals of mouse. I didn't take any pictures. You're welcome.

The potted annuals are pretty much done in after being neglected for a month. There were a few tomatoes, but the plants are looking pretty sad. The plums are gone, and the only ones I bit into before we left were so tart they made my jaw hurt. Thanks to the work of the squirrels this summer (those that survived Smitty's snapping jaws), there were blooming sunflowers.


We've brought in a few things from the trailer so far, but the major packing will begin in earnest this afternoon. First, I need to go to the grocery store since there is not a crumb of food left in the house...or in the trailer either, for that matter. There is cat food, however, so the world can continue turning on its axis.

Before I finish up today, I wanted to say a few words about RV travel and the dreaded mechanical problems that are inherent in this kind of a trip. If you've been following this blog and our travels over the past four years, then you know we've experienced tire tread separations, found our bed infested with carpenter ants, had our awning rip clean off the side of the trailer without making a sound, experienced a burned out jack motor and subsequent broken jack complete with trailer falling on that side. The jack is now broken for a second time. Mike will be replacing both jacks with hydraulic ones that are better up to the task. We've run into other cars, and been run into. We've had kitties escape from the trailer and go missing for hours. We've driven into flood zones of Biblical proportion (the weather man's words, not mine). Oh, and let's not forget leaking plumbing and leaky roofs (because some low-hanging limbs ripped a hole in the roofing material). Now I can say that we've had our largest slide get stuck in the out position. Yes, RV travel has its challenges.

But here's the thing: for our money, it's still the best way to travel. Travel is inconvenient...not just RV travel. Who hasn't experienced mechanical problems on the road? Tire problems? Who hasn't had a flight canceled or delayed, or dealt with surly ticket agents and security people? Who hasn't sat next to a crying baby on an airplane? Who hasn't eaten bad food in a restaurant, or experienced terrible service, or waited an impossibly long time for a bill just so that one could leave? Who hasn't slept on an uncomfortable motel/hotel room bed or used a too-flat or too-fluffy pillow? Oh yes, and bed bugs, anyone? Who hasn't heard noisy plumbing in the middle of the night or been awakened by loud voices in the hallway? Who hasn't experienced traveler's, um, toileting issues, including disgustingly unclean public restrooms, or empty toilet paper rolls? Who hasn't eaten or drunk something that made them sick?

When we travel by RV, we cook our own food, use our own toilet, sleep in our own bed--which, by the way, is the exact same sleep number mattress we use at home. When we want a snack, we get one from our own stock of food in our own cupboards and refrigerator, including ice cream. There are no suitcases involved because our clothes are hanging in our own closet and tucked away in our own drawers. Our RV includes a washer/dryer combo, and so we are not forced to us public laundromats, and those are only a few of the advantages we enjoy. Besides, we get to bring our kitties along, and so they aren't boarded with the problems inherent there.

I saw this on Facebook recently, and it seems a good way to think of problems while traveling in an RV.



RV travel isn't for everyone...and it certainly isn't for the mechanically disinclined. Mike happens to be an engineer and a good mechanic, and so he can usually fix anything that breaks. If he can't fix it himself, he knows how and where to get it fixed. Even on our worst trips (and this might be one of them), we still love traveling by RV. It's the best way to see the world, in our humble opinion, and if we could figure out some way to take an RV to Europe, Australia, or the Caribbean, we would do it in a heartbeat. When mechanical or weather problems happen, we just deal with them, gripe about them, and then brush them off when all is well again. And when we talk about the problems in the past-tense, there is always something to laugh about. It's all part of the journey.


As for me, I practically grew up RVing. My family traveled from West Coast to East Coast and all the way back again in the trailer you see here by the time I was seven. We visited national parks all along the way, and I never feel more at home than when I step out the door and find myself among the tall trees. It was a good life, and it still is. Our trailer then had an ice box...not a refrigerator...and we used pit toilets more often than not. There was no GPS, no cell phones, and yet, we loved it. 

So I didn't mean to get off on all of that, but there you go. And now, I really must get a move on and get to the grocery store. And don't be thinking that I'm not watching the calendar because the NewFO Challenge goes live on Tuesday. Are you ready?


9/24/14

A Night on the Town

After writing my blog post yesterday afternoon, Mike and I walked into the little town of Dubois, Wyoming. As I said in yesterday's post, a few horses tied up to hitching posts, and you might expect to run into Wyatt Earp as you walk these streets. That's the Outlaw Cafe and Outlaw Saloon across the street.


There's the Horse Creek Station. 


We stopped into Welty's General Store. They had all kinds of things inside from gifts and Christmas ornaments to cowboy boots and big hunting knives.


This was the sign they had posted at the front door. I didn't even notice the photography prohibition until I uploaded this image. I'm glad I didn't do what I usually do...which is to take pictures of everything in sight. On the other hand, I'm getting pretty snooty about places that won't let me take pictures. Had I noticed it on the way in, we might not have gone past the front door. 


Almost all the buildings are of the log cabin variety.


And Dubois is celebrating its centennial this year.


We were looking at this boardwalk with names on each board and considering their meaning when we noticed our shadow selves in tow. We haven't seen them in a while. They are fair-weather friends at best.


We're thinking the names were either folks who donated money for boardwalk restoration, or perhaps they were folks who donated time, or both. In any case, every board on both sides of the street had a name.

Here is the Rustic Pine Tavern I told you about yesterday.



We stepped inside just to look around, and then came back later for dinner.


There were lots of funny signs posted around town, as if the town hadn't changed in its one hundred years.


And there was this open mine. It doesn't seem to be operational, but there were no barriers or warning signs. It looked as if one could just walk inside, but we didn't.


After that, we walked back to the trailer. Our spot is right beside the Wind River.


We're seeing fall leaves everywhere we go now.


We cleaned up a little and then walked back to the restaurant for dinner. We had a drink in the bar, and then went into the dining room. We had a really delicious dinner. Mike ordered the rib-eye, and I had a chicken breast smothered in honey barbecue sauce, cheese, and bacon. Not for dieters. It was a truly lovely evening. I didn't take any pictures of our food for a change. We just enjoyed one another's company without cameras this time.

I've decided to sign off until we get home. The next two nights will find us in places we've already been...just last year, in fact...and I'm linking to my blog posts from last year. Here's the post from Heyburn, Idaho where we'll stay tonight. And here's the post from Hot Lake in LaGrande, Oregon where we stayed on the first night out from last year's trip. Little did we know at the time I wrote those posts that we were headed into a flood of Biblical proportion. Every trip has its challenges.

Thanks to all who have followed along so faithfully this trip and left so many funny, supportive, informative, and enjoyable comments. It always makes the trip more fun when I have my bloggy friends along. I'm going to devote my blogging time over the next couple of days to working on my embroidery, and I'll write again when we get back home. 

9/23/14

Dubois, Wyoming

Now don't go giving away your city slicker ways by pronouncing Dubois with some kind of snotty French accent. The locals pronounce it DOO-boys.

We had a short day of driving today. It would have been even shorter had we not been stopped by a flagger for a half hour. It's intensely irritating when you're sitting there, as I'm sure you know. All you can do is brush it off when you finally get going again. But I need to back way up to the Cottonwood Lake campground and tell you what kind of stuff we've seen along the way. So let's back way up to Nebraska, shall we?

We're well stated, now. All the states we're going to add this trip have been added. There's a big hole right in the middle of our map. Kansas, your turn is coming. Of course there are all of those other states too, but Kansas seems to stick out more than the others.


We were slow getting started Monday morning. Gracie and Mike took a morning nap before we even got going. Gracie loves those soft blankies.


The road was long, straight, and flat coming out of Nebraska.


The scenery got a little more interesting as we approached the Nebraska-Wyoming border.



Just before we crossed over into Wyoming, there was a scenic pull-out. We stopped for one last look at Nebraska. Here's the panorama that I took:


The sky was threatening most of the day, and there was a big rain storm to the north.



We stopped off at the quilt shop in Lusk, Wyoming...the one from yesterday's post.  After that, we headed off toward Douglas. 

We've traveled this road before going in the other direction, and so we happen to know that Douglas just happens to be the home of the jackalope. We didn't stop in this time, but we did when we drove through here many years ago. We were headed to South Dakota back then on our very first RV trip with our very first RV. And, true to form, we took a picture. We'd both be in the picture, but it was so long ago that there were no selfies back then. Imagine that!


That's just some stud I picked up along the way. If you remember when we used to play Foto Finish on this blog, then you might remember that I posted this image for the "Funny" prompt. Here's what I said about it back then:

When we passed through Douglas, the tour book informed us that Douglas was the first place that anyone had seen the jackalope and that there was a statue of one erected in the town square. Well. This, we had to see. We left the interstate and drove into downtown Douglas (pop. 6,120, so, a short drive) and sure enough! There it was. I instantly dubbed Douglas as the town with the best sense of humor in America. The Douglas Chamber of Commerce has issued thousands of Jackalope Hunting Licenses to tourists. The tags are good for hunting only during official Jackalope season, which occurs for only one day: June 31, from midnight to 2 AM.

So, there you go.

From Douglas, we drove on to Casper, Wyoming where we spent one night in a really crappy RV park. On the way in, we saw this old oil well. There are lots of pumping wells in Wyoming, but this one is made of wood in the old style.


And that pedestrian sign blocked the works to the thing, so I shot one more image of the bottom on the way by.


Today we traveled on over flat, arid, brown Wyoming, where the deer and the antelope play. We saw hundreds, if not thousands, of antelope. They were a little too far from the road for a good picture as we sped by. They blend into the landscape so well that I found myself shooting blindly just hoping I'd catch one or two. I did manage to get a pretty good shot of this buck and doe pair. I believe it is their breeding season, and we found them in pairs more often than not.


As we approached Dubois, the landscape started to look an awful lot like Utah. This could have been the Painted Desert.


And this could easily have been near Bryce Canyon.


We're staying at the KOA in Dubois tonight, which is pretty much empty. Smitty wanted to get out right away for a very luxurious dust bath.


We were walking along just fine despite the man to our right. But then we spied a man to our left as well, and that put a quick end to the walk. Smitty headed back to the trailer as fast as his paws could carry him, slowed only by the hapless human he was towing behind.

Tonight we're going to return to the restaurant that caused us to stop here way back in our no-selfie past...the Rustic Pine Tavern. The Rustic Pine Tavern has been dubbed the world's most unique bar. You can see a short video about the place right here. and here's an old photograph from 1935. I couldn't find any information about this photograph, but I note that it says "flat tire here" at the top. I'm guessing it was a bad day for the photographer.


When we traveled through the last time, I believe it was our wedding anniversary. I'd read about the place in some travel magazine, and so we had dinner. Tonight we'll repeat our visit just for old time's sake. And what else can we do, as two oldtimers ourselves?

The only thing missing from the main street through town is horses hitched to hitching posts. We're just about to go walk the streets a little before dinner, and so I'll stop here. I'll tell you more about the place next time I write. Tomorrow we'll drive on through Idaho, stopping in Heyburn for the night. After that, Hot Lake, Oregon. Then home. We're a day ahead of schedule barring unforeseen problems. Please continue to keep your fingers crossed.