5/29/15

Thirsty Thursday

Everything was thirsty yesterday. It was quite warm in the greenhouse, even with the door and window open. The tomatoes were looking limp...not urgently so, but they were definitely feeling the heat. All the potted annuals were needing water as well. A few dry days and an uptick in the temperature will get you that. And all of that to say that I still haven't done any sewing. I don't think I've done any sewing in an entire week, which is pretty much unheard of around here. My hands are getting shaky. You might say my thirst for paper piecing is coming on.

Thursday was the day I set aside to repot the tomatoes. Also, I needed to plant the last three late-germinating sunflowers. Those went into the culinary herb bed with the others. This year's herb bed is going to be gorgeous when those sunflowers start blooming. After doing that, I took a little walk around. More of the iris are blooming. This is my favorite one, although this one seems a little bleached out by the sun. Usually the lower blue is a very deep peacock blue.


I always forget about these deep purple ones until I see them again each year.



And these sort of apricot colored ones are blooming now too. A few days ago, I showed you one that is more orange than these. These are the most delicate shade of orangy-pink.



The daylilies are getting ready to bloom. I hope we don't miss them while we're gone on our trip.


And I noticed some green strawberries. It just goes to show what a difference 1,000 feet of elevation makes. Oregon berries are widely available now, but ours are just starting to show themselves. We rarely get any of these. The squirrels make short work of them.


The raspberries are coming on too. These are some plants my quilting buddy Pat gave me a while back. Thanks, Pat! I miss you.


If you can't read the little carved stone below, it says, "I came. I purred, I conquered." And alongside that are the remains of some sunflower seeds the squirrels have been sitting there eating. Do you think the squirrels are mocking the cats?


Speaking of squirrels, they've worn a path from beneath the birdfeeder to their little hidey holes near where the trailer pad is. It's a little hard to see, so I've marked the path. I can watch them when I'm walking on the treadmill, little buggers.


After I'd filled the birdfeeders and watered the pots, I got to work repotting the tomatoes. The lettuce is very close to being ready for harvest. And now that I'm getting my CSA shares, I wonder whatever made me think I was going to need lettuce. I'll no doubt end up giving this away, and I won't be planting more.


It was a hot job, but I got all the tomatoes repotted into their largest pots of the season. Mike will get their automatic sprinkler system set up this weekend.


When I started with this, I had about 2 1/2 big bags of potting soil. When I was finished, I had none. Fortunately, I had enough to do all of them.


Did you notice how long the grass was up there in that squirrel trail picture? Yeah...I'm going to fire that gardener. Oh wait. We don't have a gardener. Actually, that's what happens when you have a couple of wet weekends, and then you go off traveling to the beach on the dry weekend. Now the grass is so long it's actually heading up, and our allergies are screaming from it. Mike says he'll get it done this weekend...and he has to because we're gone next weekend. We won't be able to find the house when we get back if it doesn't get whacked back now.

Smitty doesn't mind. He's practicing being a tiger in the weeds.


Last night I tried a recipe that turned out downright tasty. I hope this picture does it justice, because this was a seriously good meatloaf.


The CSA shares have me looking for wild ways to use lots of veggies, and this recipe couldn't have come along on the Food in Jars blog at a better time. It used one whole bunch of chard from this week's share. It's a pretty basic meatloaf. I had some leftover rice that I used as a filler. It's supposed to be made with ground turkey, but I happen to like my meatloaf made with ground beef. That's what I used...nice grass fed beef from our local Safeway store. 

The recipe says to use about two tablespoons of ketchup over the top and then "sprinkle" sliced onions over. I used about four tablespoons of ketchup and it acted as a glue to hold the onions on top. I'll admit to being skeptical about how an entire bunch of chard would taste all mixed up in meatloaf, but my skepticism was unjustified. This was seriously good. If you like meatloaf, and you have access to some chard, you need to give it a try. I'm saying it's good enough to actually buy the chard on purpose, which is something I would almost never do. 

And in my ongoing quest to use everything up, I made a salad from the last of the romaine, the bunch of chicory, radishes and green onions with a sweet champagne vinaigrette. The chicory is a bitter lettuce. I thought the salad needed just a little more sweetness, so I mixed in a handful of dried cranberries, and that was just right. This was my first taste of chicory. It has a nice texture in a salad. 


This morning I'm walking with my friend Sue. The yard work is pretty well taken care of, but I still have housework to catch up on, which means I probably won't get any sewing done today either. For my Baking on Friday project, I'm going to try a small batch of beignets from the Desserts for Two blog. Christina Lane went on about the beignets in a way that convinced me to try them, although I'm dead set against deep frying anything. Ever. She convinced me that if I used a pot deep enough, I wouldn't be sorry. We'll see. And you can bet I'll be back here tomorrow whining about it if it makes a huge mess.

Here's hoping your Friday is fabulous!

5/28/15

Quilt Shop: Center Diamond Fabrics

The second quilt shop we visited on our beach weekend was Center Diamond Fabrics in Cannon Beach, Oregon.


It's housed in a historical site. Here's the sign at the front door about Van Vleet Logging Company, responsible for logging most of the Tillamook Burn.


When I walked through the front door, I walked left to the far corner of the shop and took a picture. The structure appears small on the outside, but is deceptively large on the inside. There was a ton of fabric to browse here with something for everyone's tastes.



There was a good supply of regional fabric in the form of the beach scenes. When I'm visiting quilt shops in different parts of the country, this is what I'm looking for...something I can't get locally.


They had some adorable patterns for sale and hanging on the walls of the shop. This one was called "Male Bonding". 


Cannon Beach is situated next to haystack rock, an iconic sea stack along the Oregon coast.


There be puffins living on haystack rock and the shop had a cute little puffin quilt. 


I love the details in the puffin.


These sand fabrics were very tempting. I'm gearing up to start on a quilt from some of our "shadow self" pictures, and these would have worked well as backgrounds. I passed them by however.


Being a sucker for sock monkeys, this one made me smile.


So I'm going to stop here, but I have something else to say about this shop below. I'm sort of saving it because I don't know the whole story, and I haven't taken the time to ask. This is a great shop...lots of great fabrics and absolutely worth stopping in. It had a small parking lot in front of the store, and there was plenty of parking to be had within walking distance. As a quilt shop, I give it my highest rating of five rotary cutters.


Here's the thing that bothered me about this shop. Toward the rear of the store, high on a wall, I spied these quilts:


If that carrot quilt looks familiar to you, it's because it's a free pattern available online from allpeoplequilt.com. The quilt shown here is identical to the free pattern online except that it uses fabric for the stem of the carrot instead of felt as the online pattern does. Nevertheless, the pattern is available for sale for $9 here, and if you're so inclined, you can buy a kit for $28.95. 


According to the allpeoplequilt.com website, the quilt was designed by Shelley Robson of The Quilted Forest, an Iowa quilt shop. It was featured in the Spring, 2006 issue of Quilts and More. Since I didn't take the time to inquire further about this of the busy employee, and since I haven't taken the time to contact the shop owner, I won't draw any conclusions here about it. I'll leave that up to you. I'll just say I left the store after seeing this and leave it at that.

*Disclaimer:  Cat Patches accepts no advertising, nor any sponsorships.  The opinions expressed on this blog are based on the personal impressions and perceptions of the author. They are formed  on the basis of one short visit, on one day, and may or may not reflect the experience of others visiting on a different day.  They are no more descriptive than a single snapshot image can be, and nothing written in a review of a quilt shop should be construed as objective fact.  The reviews are strictly the author's subjective opinion and should not be interpreted as anything more.

Quilt Shop: Creative Fabrics

While visiting the Oregon coast this past weekend, we stumbled upon this quilt shop in Wheeler, Oregon, called Creative Fabrics. We drove by the place on the previous day, and while it's obvious, I didn't notice it.


It wasn't until the next day when I was paying more attention to the building it shares space with...the Old Wheeler Hotel...that I saw the quilt shop.


The hotel itself has an interesting history, and some folks even claim that it's haunted. There's also an antique store. Even if you're not a quilter, it's worth a stop here. 

With so many quilt blocks on the Tillamook County Quilt Trail, it would be disappointing if the quilt shop didn't have it's own block:


Surprisingly, they were open even though it was Memorial Day. When you walk in the front door, you can walk left, where the room is full of quilt fabrics...something for everybody, for sure.


To the right is kind of the "business end" of the store, where there was one employee sitting behind the cutting table and cash register. They had a nice collection and display of these One of a Kind hand made buttons. You'll often see these for sale at quilt shows, and I've been known to purchase them myself a time or two. Very cute stuff.


This side of the store had a great collection of notions, books, and patterns.


And take a look at these adorable knitted finger puppets.


I didn't take a lot of pictures inside this store. Sometimes taking pictures makes me feel self-conscious, and that was the case on this day. Still, this is a great store, well worth a stop to see the shop and the interesting building it calls home. I didn't end up purchasing anything here...mainly because I didn't need a danged thing, and it was easy to sneak out unnoticed. Often when I visit a quilt shop, I'm only making a purchase to be polite.

There was plenty of on-street parking despite its being a national holiday and a busy beach weekend. I give this shop my highest rating of five rotary cutters.


*Disclaimer:  Cat Patches accepts no advertising, nor any sponsorships.  The opinions expressed on this blog are based on the personal impressions and perceptions of the author. They are formed  on the basis of one short visit, on one day, and may or may not reflect the experience of others visiting on a different day.  They are no more descriptive than a single snapshot image can be, and nothing written in a review of a quilt shop should be construed as objective fact.  The reviews are strictly the author's subjective opinion and should not be interpreted as anything more.

Very Veggie

As suspected, I had no time for sewing yesterday. It was a day to get my hair permed. As I'm sitting here, I'm sitting under my stinky new perm. I almost think the smell of it keeps me awake at night. My perms are just for body in my fine, straight hair, and so it's not as if I have a lot of curl to show for it. On a positive note, I have nowhere to go today. I'll be spending the morning repotting tomatoes, and I doubt the tomatoes will mind the smell. They have their own smell to contend with. For today, I'm stuck with the smell of myself, but others will be spared. Unless you happen to be one of my tomatoes.

After I left the hairdresser, I picked up groceries for the week. As you know, on Tuesday, I picked up my 2nd CSA share. So far, I'm having fun with it, but it is quite a challenge to figure out what to do with all that green goodness. I gave another try to the bok choy recipe I tried last week, and came up with a pretty tasty concoction.


The stems of bok choy are flavorless and spongy. The only other change I would make to this recipe now is to cut the stems in smaller pieces. I cut mine about an inch wide, but I think I'd go smaller yet. The leaves were cut into one-inch ribbons, and that worked out pretty well. I've added a healthy 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, but the dish did not seem overly spicy to me. The bok choy really needs as much flavor as you can give it, and so I wouldn't skimp there. If you're up for a little spice, you can even add more.

Mike calls this kind of a dish "gunk over rice". Here's the recipe I came up with to make the bok choy palatable:
                      
Shrimp Stir Fry With Bok Choy and Green Onions
adapted from cookwithwhatyouhave.com

1 Tablespoon Extra-virgin Olive Oil
4 Cloves  Garlic -- minced
1 Tablespoon Minced or Grated Fresh Ginger
1/2 Teaspoon  Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 Teaspoon  Anise (or fennel) Seeds
1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
1/4 Cup Chicken Broth or Water
2 1/2 Tablespoons Rice Wine (mirin) or Dry Sherry
1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
1 Large Head Bok Choy -- stalks separated, stems cut into 1/2-inch pieces, leaves cut into 1-inch             ribbons 
3 Green Onions (white and green parts) -- sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 Pound  Medium Shrimp -- peeled and deveined
Steamed Jasmine Rice

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Heat extra-virgin olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and add the garlic, ginger, anise, and red pepper flakes. Saute for a minute or so until very fragrant, stirring constantly. Add soy sauce, broth, rice wine, sesame oil and brown sugar and simmer for about 4-5 minutes. Pour sauce into a wok or large skillet.

Meanwhile drop the bok choy into the boiling water and cook for about 4 minutes until crisp tender. Drain and add with the green onion and shrimp to the sauce in the skillet. Cook over high heat until the shrimp are cooked through and the ingredients are well combined. Serve hot over cooked rice.

Also in this week's share were a bunch of radishes and a head of romaine lettuce along with a little sandwich bag of mixed herbs, including fresh basil. I made up a salad from the romaine that included the romaine, the radishes and basil and some added green onion and mint. It had a peanut dressing and some chopped peanuts over the top. The combination of the salad and the stir fry together made for a tasty meal.


Still, I'm not claiming bok choy as one of my favorite vegetables...at least not in any way I've seen it prepared. It is edible, however, and so no whining. This is a culinary adventure we're on here.

The only other thing to tell you about yesterday is that I'm gearing up to start on the Hocuspocusville quilt. I'm finishing up the last of the Vintage Tin blocks right now, and I have only one more quilting snow lady to finish. There's no time to waste getting ready for at least one new project, right? So this is the Hocuspocusville quilt from Crabapple Hill Studios (love their stuff):


I actually have a picture with an alternative setting for this that I might try...or not...I'll see when I get that far. For now, I'm collecting my floss and my fabrics. This is done all in black floss, but I'm going to add some orange accents to mine. The nine patches are done with scraps, but I spent some time choosing the fabrics for back, border, and embroidery backgrounds a few weeks ago. They arrived yesterday, and I'm pretty happy with these. I'll use those spiderwebs on the quilt back:


As I said, today I'm going to repot my tomatoes, and I need to water the annuals. The weather has been cool and wet the past couple of weeks, but it's about to get warmer. I'll have to resume my watering ritual. Also, I imagine the birds will need feeding...and the cats...always the cats. There are a few housekeeping chores to do, and I'm going to continue on with my quest to use up my CSA veggies. Today I'm making a meatloaf that includes the bundle of chard. I might saute up my spinach as a side dish as well. That would knock two more veggies out of the pile. It's a bit like a competition. Who will emerge the victor? The veggies or me?

Before I stop today I wanted to show you the picture my friend Deb texted to me of little Baby Zevee with her Rubber Duckies quilt. 


She's looking pretty comfy isn't she? It's always good to see your quilts put to use by expert snugglers.

When I wrap up this post, I'm going to tell you about the quilt shops I visited over the weekend, but I'll do those in separate posts. Have a happy Thursday!

5/27/15

Winding Down from the Weekend

Oh my goodness. I have lots of ground to cover. You might want a cup of coffee for this...or not. Maybe you'll just want to scroll to the next blog. If you're still here, I'll tell you what's been going on since Friday...starting with Saturday, when we headed over to Rockaway Beach, Oregon.

To get to Rockaway, one first must drive through Tillamook. That would be the Tillamook of Tillamook Cheese. The first thing you notice driving into Tillamook is the quilt blocks of the Tillamook County Quilt Trail. I've blogged about the quilt block trail before. It seems each time we come here, there are more quilt blocks than before. There's one on the county building:


And on the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum.


And pretty much everywhere you look, you'll see a building or a business sporting its own quilt block. Some of them are very creative. 

It's about ten miles up the coast to Rockaway where we stayed in an RV park uniquely situated right on the beach. There are sea stacks all along the Oregon coast, but these are the stacks that give Rockaway its name.


You can see why we like this park. It's one of the few places we can RV and have a spot with an ocean view. You can see our RV in the image below.


The weather was cloudy and cool most of the weekend, but there were a few sun breaks and NO RAIN, which is always something to celebrate, no matter what time of the year. 

We needed a few things, and so we drove into town and happened on a kite festival. Fun!


It was late in the day when we arrived. I had some chicken pot pies already made up for dinner, and so we relaxed for the remainder of the day.

We weren't sure if fresh seafood would be available on Memorial Day. Rather than take a chance, we headed to the Garibaldi Marina on Sunday to pick up our fresh oysters and steamer clams. Here's a new quilt block I hadn't seen before.


We walked into one of the fresh seafood places and found the objects of our desire right away. 


We picked up a dozen oysters and a 1 1/2 pounds of clams. And that's Monday's dinner right there. We kept them on ice in the refrigerator overnight.


There were lots of fishermen cleaning fish and selling cooked whole crab.


After putting our seafood on ice, we walked down to where the Nehalem River flows into the ocean. The seagulls were sitting in the relatively warm water there.


I saw a quilt in these Adirondack chairs lined up on the beach. What do you think?


And this being the day of our anniversary, we headed north to Cannon Beach to EVOO for dinner and a cooking "show". The weather was nice as we drove north, and we saw some pretty views. Here you can see the clouds spilling over the mountain tops like waterfalls.


Looking in the other direction, I believe this is the tiny town of Wheeler, Oregon.


Here's the restaurant, a small place, but it's also a gift shop and cooking school. Mike found out about it using Yelp, but it's been written up in our local newspaper.


That's Josh, an intern, getting things ready to go while guests are seated.


And here's the menu, explaining what we'll be seeing them make...oh yes, and eating. Don't forget the eating. If you can't see that menu, click on the image to make it larger.


There was one other anniversary there that night, as well as a couple of birthdays. They'd decorated our glasses with a "Happy Anniversary" message.


These are the chef owners, husband and wife team of Bob and Lenore. They were very nice people, and very entertaining as they prepared our meal.


Those are some sugar snap peas and roasted cherry tomatoes to be used in the first course.


That's a slice of roasted prosciutto on top there. It's a risotto surrounded by some richly roasted veggies. Yum.


The next course was a crab souffle served up in a little cornbread cup.


Here Lenore puts some pickled onion and radish over our watercress salads.


And there it is...yum. ("Yum" is the word of the day.) That's a blood orange marmalade at the top of the plate.


Next up was chicken marsala served up for about 20 people, and that was impressive. He first put a rub on the chicken and then gave it a crust on the stove top...six skillets going at the same time.


Then it went into the oven to roast. When it was done, it was served up with some mashed potatoes and some grilled purple asparagus. Repeat after me: Yum.


And since everyone was still hungry (cough), we were served up some chocolate souffles with some strawberry ice cream and an almond brittle. Yes, yum. Here Lenore adds some whipped cream.


While Bob made the almond brittle. If you're wondering how he did that so fast, he poured the liquefied sugar into the pan and put the whole thing over ice. It set up in about ten minutes.


Then he torched the meringue.


And there it is. Ours was served with a candle since we were there to celebrate our anniversary.


Then we rolled on out the door and into our truck for the drive home. 

The next day we drove back north to Cannon Beach. On the way we spied two quilt shops. I'll tell you about those in separate posts. This one is Creative Fabrics in Wheeler. That one wasn't on my quilt shop app, and so I just happened to notice it as we drove by.


This one, Center Diamond Fabric, was in Cannon Beach.


They had this funny little garden growing in their parking lot with these amazing poppies growing right next to the red chard behind. 


On the way home, we stopped off at this lookout. Our daughter Holly's ashes are buried out there on the promontory on the right. It was possible to hike out there at one time, but everything is overgrown now, and the path has become impassable.


We got Smitty out for a walk when we got back to the trailer.


"Have a nice time at the beach...I'm heading for home."

He wasn't a very happy camper this trip. There were too many mans walking on the beach with woofies. We could see boats out on the ocean, and we were pretty sure there were woofies on those boats too. 


Nevertheless, he did sit on the step with Mike and talk about RV stuff with our weekend neighbor.


He has a spiffy new harness.


Gracie came out of the closet a few times. She doesn't mind the trailer. She has her own private bedroom in our closet.


Monday evening, we cooked our fresh seafood. This has become a tradition when we're at the beach. We make Linguine with Clams and Fresh Herbs. It's super simple and light. 


Also our own concoction of grilled oysters that we call Oysters Rockaway.


While we were there, I finished up the whole left side of my latest stitchery. The stitching on this side is more dense than on the right, so I'm thinking it's fair to say that this one is about half done. 


We arrived home yesterday afternoon and went right over to pick up our second CSA share. In this week's share:


I've already made kale chips with the kale. I'm still working on the perfect way to do this, but this batch wasn't bad. The leaves are crunchy like a chip, but the center stems are still chewy. I've decided the best way to eat them is to fold them up until you can pop the whole thing in your mouth. I like the chew, which is a little like eating kale jerky.


And I'm pickling the stems from the turnip greens and the kale in some rice vinegar and a few other things. I saw this idea on Marisa McClellan's website, Food in Jars. She also has a recipe for a turkey meatloaf that will use my bundle of chard.


For dinner last night, I sauteed the turnip greens and beet greens. This is actually quite good. The beet stems are started first to tenderize them a little. I still think they could benefit from blanching. They're a little chewy, but the leaves are very tasty. And don't you know all that fiber will keep things moving along! You know..."things" that shall remain unnamed.


And that brings me up to today. Before I end though, I wanted to show you a couple of little things from Friday. 

For one thing, I added the label to Baby Zevee's quilt and sent that off to her. I left my own name off the label as the quiltmaker. What do you do? It just seemed a little weird to me to put my name on this quilt for a baby whose parents I've never met.


And I promised to let you know about the Lemon Creme Brulee for two I made Friday evening. These were so simple, I could do them in the trailer. You can find the recipe right here. You need some sort of torch to give the topping its nice creme brulee crunch. I happen to have this small one, but you can do this with the big industrial ones. You might even have one in your garage. (Check out the one Bob is using in the image up above.)


Mike is a great fan of creme brulee and of lemon, and so these were really his cup of tea.


And that's all I have to tell you. Today I'm going to try to get organized again. I still need to unpack the trailer, but that won't take long. Then I'm getting a badly-needed perm this afternoon. Things are about to get kind of crazy because we're taking off for a 10-day trip to Whistler, B.C., a week from tomorrow. There's lots to do before then, and so I'm not sure I'll have much time for sewing. I'll actually be happy to get back to my paper piecing, if you can imagine that.

It was a great weekend, and we had a really nice celebration for our 40th. I hope you had a good weekend too.