Serious Sewing Ahead

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It pains me to say this, but I have done no sewing in the sewing room since December 23rd. And just let me say that I am seriously Jonesing for it. What are you going to do? It's been a busy couple of weeks starting with our family dinner on Christmas Eve, heading over to Bend this past weekend, attempting to get organized upon our return, and then making our traditional ham dinner for New Year's Day. That was yesterday, and we had so much fun!

Recall that we agreed to forgo the Christmas gift exchange this year in favor of planning a family get-together. I had some anxiety about whether we could actually pull this off, and I've been referring to it as an "experiment". When we got together on Christmas Eve, we pulled off a veritable miracle by deciding on a place and a date in about five minutes' time. Try syncing the schedules and desires of six busy people sometime, and you'll know what I mean.

That accomplished, our goal was to look at some vacation rentals and come together at our New Year's Day dinner to decide on the actual rental. And again, we did it! Yay us! What surprised me about this whole endeavor was how much fun we had doing it.

Thanks to Mike, who's very smart about these kinds of things, we could put the links we'd selected up on our large monitor in the living room so that we could all look at the pictures of the places at the same time. Hilarity ensued as we started making comments about this thing or that thing...the more rude the comment, the more we laughed. Yep. We're a classy group. I'll just say there are certain advantages to having no young ears around to repeat things that are better left unsaid.

So we have plans to stay at a nice home overlooking Tumalo Lake in Central Oregon in March. You can see the place right here. All that's left to do now is sign the rental agreement and pay the rent. I am beside myself with excitement about this. When we decided to try this, I had almost no confidence we could actually pull it off. Of course, the acid test will be actually getting ourselves there on the assigned date. Of that, I am much more confident.

Once we had decided on a place, Matthew and Valerie found some hilarious videos on YouTube.

I don't generally spend a lot of time searching out things to watch on YouTube, but I'm starting to wonder if I should. They showed us one in particular that had us rolling on the floor. If you've ever seen those extreme skateboarders, then you'll appreciate this parody video of extreme wheelbarrowing.

I don't know when I've laughed so hard. There were others as well. As you might guess, it was a raucous evening.

Smitty got his comeuppance for all his pestering of Gracie when Matthew gave him a taste of his own medicine.

He was thoroughly put out at having all his toys piled all over him.

And he was getting quite enough when Matthew loved him to death.

We finally gave him a break and set him up with his own YouTube videos, which he watches with rapt attention.

He especially likes the one with blackbirds in it.

He's not much better than I am when it comes to falling asleep in front of the television.

So in addition to acting completely juvenile (which happens when you're around kids of all ages), we had a dinner of ham, my mother's version of a 7-layer salad (one of Erik's favorites), and Ina Garten's version of maple baked beans. I've linked to the recipe there. These beans are so seriously good that you'll never eat the canned ones again. They aren't difficult to make, but they do take some advance planning. You need to soak your beans over night, and then they bake low and slow in the oven all day on the day you want to serve them. Man, oh, man. Are they ever good. 

Also, I tried a new recipe I found in the December/January 2015 issue of Cook's Country called "Funeral Potatoes". I note that they have two versions on their website. The one I tried is the low-fat version, although I'd like to give the regular version a try. I'd link to the recipe, but the website requires a membership. If you can log onto Cook's Country, you can see it there. 

Finally, as promised, I'm giving you my recipe for Luscious Lemon Cheesecake. 

It's not much to look at in this picture. Recall that we were trying to decide if it was as good or better than the cranberry cheesecake I made last week. We couldn't decide, but we all agreed that choosing the best cheesecake recipe in all the world would be a worthwhile endeavor. I've been making this cheesecake for years. It first appeared in Cooking Light (of all places) in the days when we were still writing with charcoal and lighting the way with oil lanterns. I wasn't able to find it online, so here you go:
Luscious Lemon Cheesecake

2 cups crushed cinnamon grahams, approximately 26
6 tablespoons unsalted butter -- melted
3 8-oz. packages cream cheese -- room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 eggs -- room temperature
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups sour cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
Thinly sliced lemon rounds, halved and twisted (Optional)

For crust:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 9-inch spring form pan. Blend crumbs and melted butter in bowl. Press mixture into bottom and up sides of prepared pan. Bake 5 minutes. Cool.

For filling:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese until soft. Gradually blend in sugar. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Mix in lemon juice, lemon peel and vanilla. Pour into crust. Bake until slightly puffed, about 50 minutes. Maintain oven temperature at 350 degrees.

For topping:  Blend all ingredients in small bowl. Spread on top of cake. Bake 20 minutes; topping will not look set. Cool 30 minutes.

For glaze:  Combine water, lemon juice and yolk in heavy small saucepan. Stir in sugar, cornstarch and salt. Bring to boil over low heat, stirring constantly, about 10 minutes. Add butter and lemon peel and stir until butter melts. Cool glaze for 20 minutes.  

Spoon glaze over cake. Cool completely. Refrigerate until well chilled.  

Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Garnish with lemon slices. Serve cold.

It's not difficult to make, but all those steps mean it's a bit of a production. Still, if you're a cheesecake lover, it's worth the effort. It's my favorite.

So that about brings you up to date. My friend Sue and I walked for the first time in a long time this morning. It was a brisk 26°F., but there was no wind, and so we barely noticed the cold. We had a lot of gabbing to catch up on, and so it was a great way to start the morning.

When I got home, I had a serious itch to stitch something...anything...and so I sat down and stitched up the whole sucker on my Gingerbread Square block. It was more stitching than I realized, but I did the whole thing anyway.

I'm really enjoying this project so far. Having the color on the fabric makes it so much fun to stitch. Recall that I purchased the floss kit for this project...all these pretty colors. Look at those sparkly ones in the upper right.

I'm winding the skeins onto the plastic cards as I use them. It's my first time using floss on spools like that. I've always eyed them suspiciously when I see them in quilt shops. They're always wrapped in paper and you can't really see what you're getting. In case (like me) you are unfamiliar with them, they come off the spool in double strands, and so you can cut the length you want and just thread your needle without the necessity of separating six strands down to two. Nice.

That's about all I have to tell you. I have a free weekend ahead. Mike was the best husband ever by helping me with a lot of the housework yesterday. I'm free and clear to do some serious sewing starting tomorrow. Our weather is still quite cold with the wind picking up every now and then. Gracie knows what to do, and I'm just about to go join her.

Have a great weekend everybody!

21 comments from clever and witty friends:

Andee said...

Thanks for the laugh out loud moment with the charcoal and oil lanterns! So true! That cheesecake looks fabulous!

Lyndsey said...

Mmmm cheesecake. It looks delicious. 2015 has definitely got off to a great start for you and your family. It sounds like a truly fabulous evening.

Junebug613 said...

Looks like a fun time! You crack me up. Awww, poor Smitty! We call that corporal cuddling here... Ha ha.

Cheryl said...

I have been following your blog for over a year but have not made my presence known. You are a constant inspiration with your many interests and creativity. I am wondering how you keep track of your multiple projects. Organization is my weakness and I'm hoping you will share some wisdom. I know, don't let it go to your head. :)

Barbara said...

Hey, Cheryl...what a sweet comment. I always love it when you lurkers make yourselves known. You are set at no-reply, and so I can't respond to you privately via email. I'm hoping you'll see this reply online. I actually do have a method to my obvious madness, and wouldn't you know it? I even wrote a blog post about it right here:
My list there looks so pitiful since it was written in the early days of the NewFO Challenge. The list is a lot longer now, and I've had to abandon the "monthlies" method. I still use the white board though, and every WIP is listed with a little note about what needs doing.

Betty said...

What a fun way to start the new year! You have much to look forward to. I think Smitty secretly loved the attention from Matthew and Gracie sure has the winter strategy nailed!

Arlene Adams said...

Barbara. We are a classy group too! I thought it was only my sons that made rude, rude, rude comments about things. Good to know I have company; the only thing is I have three sons so there is a bit more of the unprintable comments. Add to that an adult grandson who is "learning" from his grandfather, dad, and uncles. But it does add to the laughter. Love your newest project - the gingerbread houses. They are adorable!

quiltzyx said...

Okay, I'll let you off the hook for not doing any sewing for so many days. There was a lot of yummy cooking going on instead! I actually have been sewing - finished the braid quilt for Judy & Walter & it got quilted today. I just have to cut & made the binding tonight. I posted a picture on my NewFO post.
Glad to see that Smitty got some of his own harrassing back from Matthew! LOL I am impressed that y'all got your family trip together so fast! I'll have to go back to the link & see where you're going.
The lollypop looks great! Lots of fun with the crayon coloring.

WoolenSails said...

It looks like you had a wonderful time with the family and lots of memories made.


LynCC said...

How fun! My kitties love watching squirrel videos :)

Vroomans' Quilts said...

So glad your experiment worked out and looks like all had a good time - even Smitty for all the torture. Hmm, cooking, recipes and stitching lollies - where's your mind! Hope you get some machine time soon.

beaquilter said...

what a funny video...... recipe looks yummy.
Are you in any of the pictures?

Dana Gaffney said...

That vacation spot is beautiful and I couldn't believe the price, that's the price of a hotel room here. You're going to have so much fun.

Jacque said...

Good memories! Wishing you and your crew the best in 2015!

Kate said...

Sounds like you had a marvelous New Year's. Hope you enjoy your trip. We've done the rental thing the last 2 vacations we've taken and it's so much better than staying in a hotel.

Hope you get lots of stitching in this weekend.

Tami C said...

I too have been taking a break from sewing with all the extra holiday and visitor distractions. It sounds like you are going to have a great time at Tumalo Lake.

Lynda Halliger Otvos (Lynda M O) said...

Happy Happy 2k15. Lovely walking w Sue again, so great to have a friend like her. I love chatting it up with girlfriends as we walk thru the countryside. Life's simple pleasures. You and the kids had a great time-with more to follow in March. Have a super year, Barb.

Michele said...

It sounds like you had a good time overall.

Anonymous said...

Great post!! And it looks like your change-up for Christmas was a success. The cheesecake looks awesome as do all the other photos (family, furry, etc). Storms coming at us......round #1 finished, round #2 coming tomorrow eve....6"+ of snow!!!! Ugh!!!!

Quilter Kathy said...

What a fun post to read! Your new colourful stitchery looks like so much fun. Does the melted crayon colouring leave the fabric stiff and plastic feeling, or does the wax all melt away and leave the fabric soft?? Just wondering!
Thanks for linking up!

Judy1522 said...

Your upcoming trip to Bend is going to be fun. The place you are staying would just make me want to stay there all day and not go anywhere else. Funeral potaotes are present at all of our holiday dinners only we have always called them Harvest potatoes. They also make great leftovers. I am looking forward to seeing all of your project in the coming year. Your current one is going to be beautiful and someday I want to try the crayons on fabric it looks like fun.