5/18/14

Family, Food, Flowers, and Smiling Faces

Well, I have so much to tell you today! So, I'll just get right to it.

Yesterday's activities were devoted almost entirely to getting ready for our "Birthday Bash-A-Bration". I said I was going to try to make chocolate curls to decorate the cheesecake, and I did it! Sort of...some of them turned out better than others, but it was good enough.


I tried doing it the way the Pioneer Woman does it. Right away, I ran into difficulty because I was planning to use one of my rimmed baking sheets, only to discover that my side-by-side freezer couldn't accommodate its width. So then I got in mind to reduce the recipe and use the baking sheet for my toaster oven. It worked out great because it made just the right amount of curls for my one dessert. I used one ounce of semi-sweet chocolate and a teaspoon of vegetable shortening. I left it in the freezer for five minutes, which might have been about a minute too long. Some of my curls were breaking, and possibly a shorter amount of time in the freezer might have made the difference. As I scraped the curls off the back of the pan, it got easier as I went, which indicates to me they might have been too cold. And if none of this makes sense, then you'll need to click on that link to the Pioneer Woman. There, you will find enlightenment.

I needed some fresh herbs for my dinner in the form of thyme and chives. While I was out collecting those, I decided it made sense to pick some chive blossoms and get the chive blossom vinegar going. 


It only takes a few minutes plus two weeks of sitting time to make chive blossom vinegar, and it is so yummy and fragrant. I like to use it in vinaigrettes.


Pretty, huh? Wait until you see it two weeks from now!

And once I had everything prepared that I could make ahead of time (see the menu and links to recipes here), I decided it was a good time to take a walk around the garden to see what's new.

The prettiest rhododendron in the garden is blooming its guts out right now. I just love this one.



But my favorite purple is giving it a run for its blooming money too.


And this is the largest of our rhododendrons, just now starting to bloom.


The azaleas are the real stars of the garden right now. They are loaded with flowers.



This poor lilac was planted before we bought the house. I think it's in a spot too shady, and it consists of a scraggly stalk that puts out only a few bits of foliage. Still, it blooms a few tufts of lilacs every year, and so we let it continue on its merry way. 


We have quite a few of the white iris now. The colored ones are close behind, but they are still a few days away.



I still had about an hour before I needed to get on with the roasting part of the dinner, and so I took some time to welcome Big Bertha back to the sewing room. Oh my goodness! We were so glad to see one another. I took some time to comb her hair and give her a neck rub before putting her back in her rightful spot on the throne as Queen of the Sewing Machines.


But before I did that, I took some time with Princess Pfelicity to check out her new quarter-inch foot for accuracy. Pfelicity's throat plate markings only go down to 3/8 inch, and so I was having a bit of difficulty getting an accurate quarter-inch seam, especially since the markings would end up under the presser foot if they existed at all. This new quarter-inch foot will make all the difference. And I'd say that's pretty much spot on!


So about that time, the kids started arriving for dinner, and I finally got the picture I've been wanting of Intel Underneath.


And the picture of camera ham Matthew with his new quilt.


What a goof. He keeps us laughing, for sure.

We had a great dinner and a fun evening. It's always wonderful when we can all get together. Matthew and Valerie brought gifts of chocolate. There were three different kinds, but we all wanted to try this one.


Here's what it said on the back of the package.


Mmmmmmmmmmmmm. 

They also gave us May birthday people gifts of Kiva Cards. These are gift cards to make a contribution to Kiva. I love this idea. I heard about this organization on NPR, and you can listen to the story right here. The NPR story is about making start-up loans to people within the USA, but you can also make international loans. I was sort of taken in by Pilar from Columbia who wants to use her loan to buy a new sewing machine.


The sewing machine and the smile tugged at my heartstrings...I'll admit it. Anyway, a great gift for the person who has everything. That would be me. Thank you Matthew and Valerie. It made me feel good all over making my loan this morning.

And speaking of gratitude, my thanks go to sweet Amy who blogs at Girl Recycled. Amy is a fellow cat person, and she sent me a gift of a beautiful pillowcase she made, along with some fabrics. It came as a nice surprise in the mail. Look at these bright and cheery colors!


Thank you so much Amy. I just love these beautiful fabrics and colors, and the pillowcase will be put to good use. 

And speaking of gifts, my friend Lisa sent me these wonderful earrings she picked up at an art fair in her community of Idyllwild, California. These are the creation of artist Lisa Coffaro. Lisa (my friend) picked up the earrings because she thought they were totally me! She definitely knows what I like. Can you tell Lisa and I have been friends for nearly 50 years? (Of course, we met about 30 years before I was even born. I know... crazy, huh?) 


I wore them to the Birthday Bash-A-Bration party last night, and they were the talk of the town! Really! Thank you so much, Lisa, my dear friend.

So that's about all the news that's fit to print. The rain has returned today, which isn't a bad thing. It just means I can spend the day in the sewing room. I'm excited to start adding color to the Yukon Sanctuary wall hanging.


And now that Big Bertha is back in her place, I can get back to the task of quilting We are the World.

Have a serene Sunday at your end.

15 comments from clever and witty friends:

lroghair/lparks said...

I want to post a sign, "Welcome Home Big Bertha!!" I know what it's like to have my machine in the hospital. :(

Cheryl said...

Glad your machine is home! Beautiful pictures of the flowers too.

Vroomans' Quilts said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful B'day Bash Day - love that choco bar! Glad the big girl is home.

WoolenSails said...

The flowers are gorgeous, they would make a beautiful quilt design. Fun photo and I can see he loves his quilt.

Debbie

Dana Gaffney said...

It looks like you had a great day and a good time, Matthew's picture made me smile :)

quiltzyx said...

Yep, the gigantic glorious gorgeous grin was just as I expected it to be! So...how WAS that chocolate?

The rhodies & azaleas look a lot alike to me - do they "in real life" too? Beautiful in any case.

Junebug613 said...

Sounds like a good time was had by all! All the flowers are so pretty. I think its great that Matthew is such a ham, and that he likes his quilt. You are very welcome for the pillowcase, so pleased you like it! Welcome home Big Bertha!

Tami C said...

So glad that you had a nice birthday bash! Matthew looks quite happy with his new quilt!

Lynn - JnL4God said...

Sounds like a wonderful Birthday Bash a Bration. :)

Lyndsey said...

Sounds like the perfect birthday bash and you did a superb job with the chocolate curls. Great photo of the quilt and the flowers have brightened up my day.

LethargicLass said...

I love Kiva! I have been making loans for years and I finally got my mom doing it as well :)

Nita said...

Family, food, flowers and smiling faces, a recipe for a perfect day!

Brown Family said...

Sounds like a lot of family fun!

Kate said...

I have a soft spot for woman asking for loans for sewing on Kiva - always donate to them! It's a good birthday present, smart kids. ;) Oh, and I really enjoyed Portland's rain yesterday during the half marathon. Half my shower was done before I finished!

Kate said...

Looks like it was a fun and successful birthday bash! Love the picture of Matthew.

Love the flower photos. They are gorgeous!