Monday Musings

Wow I am so grateful to have a day off.  Last week was terribly busy.  I'm used to staying home more days than not, and last week I was on the go almost every day.  Since I don't work outside the home, I'm not used to all of that.  You folks who are still working, I salute you!

This morning I'm taking it easy.  Smitty and I went out and filled the bird feeders this morning, and Smitty was absolutely thrilled to have someone come out with him.  He's game for snow, sleet, hail, whatever.  He doesn't really get why we cats with no fur require sunshine before we'll venture outside.

These little miniature iris are growing in all five whiskey barrels now.  They came as surprises in the packs of tulip bulbs I planted several years ago, and I feel so lucky to have them.  We have yet to plant any crocus, and so these are the first bulbs to come up in the spring.

And speaking of birds, look who showed up for the first time the other day!  He comes every spring and he likes us because we put out scratch grains for him.  Something spooked him just as I snapped this image, and he turned his head away from the camera.  He is a bird who is easily spooked.

Here's a picture from a few years ago that shows his handsome face.  Johnny Depp, eat your heart out.

Oh was that cruel to bring up Johnny Depp?  Here you go.  You know you want to see him:

Oh my gosh.  It nearly gives me the vapors.  Ahem.  Moving on.

I wasn't able to work out at Curves all last week because of the procedure I had on my nose about ten days ago.  The goal is to minimize bleeding, and so I was advised not to work out for a full week.  I was sorry to lose the momentum, but it was just as well since it would have been just one more thing to do in an already busy week.  I should be returning today, but I'm not going to.  I'll go tomorrow, and I'll be checking in with my coach for the first time in two weeks.

Today, I'm going back for the second of four classes to learn to use my new sewing machine, but that isn't until this evening.  Before I do that, however, I'm going to stop off at my quilter's home and pick up my Plain and Simple quilt.  Whoo Hoo!  I'm so excited to see what she has done with it.

I'll be sure and post some pictures of the quilting tomorrow.  I probably won't get the binding on it until next month, however.  

For today, I'm going to continue on with the True Hope quilt.  

Yesterday I did the first real sewing on my new machine by sewing together the rows of pieced triangles.

Today I'll sew these rows together with the sashings in the center panel.  And then I'm going to set it aside until next time it comes up on the to-do list because I need to get going on the quilting for Matthew's Perfect Harmony wall hanging.

Speaking of Matthew, his project is pretty much as far along as he's going to take it for now.  I have some video, but I need Mike to help me get it into the right format so that I can post it on Cat Patches.  Mike has the software on his machine.  I don't have it on mine.  I figure if he has to help me often enough, he'll put the software on my computer.  (There is always method to my ample madness.)  But all of that to say that the kids were up yesterday evening to help me test out some new recipes for St. Patrick's Day.  Everything turned out so good.  I neglected to take pictures.  Actually, I didn't neglect anything.  I just didn't want to be snapping pictures this time around while I was enjoying my family.  But I won't let that stop me from stealing images off the internet.  Here's what we had (with links to recipes, of course).

I was trying to keep everything green, so I started with an appetizer of Spinach & Artichoke Dip from A Taste of Home magazine.

This was really very good.  You can make it up a day ahead of time and then put it in the oven just before you're ready to serve it.  It makes enough for a large crowd, but the five of us managed to polish off about 90% of it.

We also tried out a green cocktail called a Shamrocker.

Photo Courtesy: © Hornitos Tequila

Mae and I each had one.  Mae thought it was a little too strong, but I liked it.

Then, I tried a new recipe for Irish Soda Bread from Fine Cooking.  Fine Cooking is one of my favorite cooking magazines.  I let most of my magazine subscriptions (on every topic) lapse, but I kept Fine Cooking.  That's how much I like it.  After perusing about a hundred recipes for Irish Soda Bread, I settled on this one for its simplicity and its lack of raisins.  I'm not a fan of raisins in most baked goods, although I like them for eating plain.

This recipe is simple because you mix up the ingredients using the fingers of one hand (really!).  It doesn't have any yeast, so there is no rise time and no kneading.  You just sort of plop it onto a floured baking sheet and shape it into a frisbee, stick it in the oven, and bake it.  The flavor and texture were great given the ease of baking it.  I will definitely make it again, and one loaf was plenty for the five of us.

And wow.  Was it ever good.  I used rutabagas in place of the turnips.  The recipe called for small turnips, and the only ones I see are pretty darned big.  I used the rutabagas cut into wedges, and they made a pretty yellow color to go with the oranges and greens.  Also, I used small red potatoes to add more color.  The two sauces were delicious and easy to make.  I made those up a day ahead.  The only thing I would say about this recipe is that the corned beef took at least a full hour more than the two hours suggested.  Plan accordingly if you decide to try it.  But man, great flavor and really pretty simple if you're feeding a crowd.  I liked it because the meat took little preparation to get started in the Dutch oven, and then while it's cooking, you can cut up your vegetables for adding to the broth at the end.  Yum.

So that pretty much brings you up to date on the goings on at the Three Cats Ranch.  I hope you're having a peaceful Monday.

16 comments from clever and witty friends:

LynCC said...

Bahaha!! So glad you inserted a great Johnny photo. Just watched him as Jack Sparrow during my run for the day.

WoolenSails said...

Smitty has such a beautiful coat, handsome boy. Love the bird and love it when I get something new to enjoy in my backyard. Still waiting for spring so I can get the bird area set up, but too cold now to do much.


Linda said...



Francine said...

I'm trying to read your whole post, but all I can see is Johnny - yummm

Quilting Babcia said...

What's not to love about this post, good food, quilts, Smitty with his little pink nose, Johnny - yeah! and of course those tiny purple iris! Looking forward to seeing Plain and Simple all quilted up!

Diane Wild said...

Snow and blizzard conditions in Minnesota today. But your little iris gives me hope. Food looks good, too. I made pie today.

Vroomans' Quilts said...

Like a lot of others - we are having snow today, tomorrow and the next day - oh, I long for warm and flowers! I look forward to seeing your Amish all quilted, sure it will be stunning.

Marti said...

Love your quilts. I like seeing the before quilting and after together. I hope you post the finished soon too.

We don't have pheasant here. They are such a pretty bird. Lucky you.

otterdaughter said...

I'll share you in a small fit of vapors, both over Johnny (*sigh*) and the irises. :) My yard is still mostly mowed weeds, but I'm slowly getting the vegetable garden ready for planting. Eventually I'll get some flowers in around this place!

Snoodles said...

Haha! I think Smitty is better looking than Johnny...gosh, did I really say that? Love all of your recipes. Last time I tried corn beef I was sorely disappointed...the meat was so fatty. I guess I chose a bad one!

Brown Family said...

Pretty flowers and bird and of course Smitty! Can't wait to see the quilt. Hope the class was fun and helpful1

Denise :) said...

I'm so sorry -- I saw the rest of your post after the picture of Johnny Depp ... but I sure couldn't focus on it! Next time, put pictures like that at the end!! LOL!!! Your pheasant is quite the dapper bird! WOW! And I swear, Smitty gets more handsome every day! :)

Kathy Felsted Usher said...

I'm with you on Johnny Depp but I will say I love him as a pirate best!

KatieQ said...

That looks like a fabulous ST. Patricks's Day meal. My vegetarian daughter is home on spring break so we went out for Indian food on St. Patrick's Day. We will be making our corned beef this Sunday once she is back at school. Your recipe looks more interesting than the one we usually use so that's what I will be trying.

Lynne said...

So much going on that I'm quite tired from reading it all! LOL

quiltzyx said...

Smitty is looking quite fit & sleek!
The pheasant (right?) is so colorful. When we were in AZ last spring we saw lots of quail, but they're just dusty brown & most of the other birds I see at home are the same. I like them anyway tho!
I have my second iris blooming this week - they're all along the front of my house in the tortured flower garden. Maybe I'll get a pic of it tomorrow.