July Already

Does it feel as if the year hasn't really gotten off the ground yet? Sheesh...this will literally be a year for the history books. Of course, they all are. I've found myself interested in the times 100 years ago, which were so similar to where we find ourselves today. I read The Great Influenza, by John M. Barry,. It started out a little dry, discussing the state of medical schools and medical education at the time. When I got past the beginning, though, and started reading about the times and the flu itself, it was fascinating. So much that happened then is happening with the pandemic today, including the refusal to wear masks, spreading misinformation, hiding statistics, and the dead piling up like so much cord wood. Now, I'm reading 1920, by David Pietrusza, which is about the same period of time. It was an election year, as it is now, and the second title is about the same period of time from a political standpoint. In any case, what it has taught me is that technology changes, but people don't. And on that happy note, let me tell you about yesterday's goings on.

There wasn't much time for sewing on Monday, and so I didn't get to my mask-making until yesterday. As I mentioned, I purchased a Creative Grids mask template from Shabby Fabrics. If you click on that link, you'll find an unnecessarily long video explaining how to use it. It's only just a different shape from the tutorial I've been using, and so I sewed it together using the same instructions from Edyta at Laundry Basket Quilts.

The template made cutting so simple. I cut all four layers at once, but I'll share that an 18mm rotary cutter makes it easier to cut that concave curve.

And voila!

So I made three masks yesterday. The black one is for Mike. The Oregon State masks are for Erik and Mae.

Their masks can be reversed to show just their school colors if they like.

Oh yes, and I read from several sources this morning that homemade masks made from quilter's cotton are the most effect at preventing spread of COVID-19, so make your masks and wear them proudly! Here's a link from CNN about an experiment from Florida Atlantic University. Interesting!

From there, I took a break. We're trying an experiment with Smitty. We're taking him out for walks, but trying to train him to stay beside us so that we won't need a leash. The first time I tried this, he was a stinker and ran away from me. When I caught up with him, I took him back in the house immediately. Since then, he's been better behaved. He's been out with Mike, and then I took him out yesterday. He was a pretty good boy, staying close. He still loves grazing on the grass, even though he has some nicely potted cat grass inside the catio. Wild tastes better, don't you know.

Mostly, we wandered around looking at every blooming thing. This is one of the hydrangeas on the front side of the house. Erik and Mae gave this one to me for Mother's Day...or something...it is the most unusual wine color.

Its neighbor is a deep blue, and it's just now forming flowers. This one was growing like crazy when we moved into the house. Then I got the bright idea to remove some branches from a nearby tree. I thought it might benefit from more sunlight. It has struggled ever since. I keep hoping it will perk up every year, but it stays small. Now that the dappled willow is in place and providing more shade, it might perk up.

Beware of tigers.

The one echinacea has opened all the way, and you can see there are lots more flowers coming.

The calla lily has a flower forming. The hottest weather so far this year was happening just as it was peeking its leaves above ground. I think that's why it looks so burned. It was late in its appearance this year, and I'd given it up for dead. I'm just glad to see it blooming.

And here's our sad little Kingfisher clematis. It breaks my heart. There is still some green on it, and so we're hoping it will recover. I'm not terribly optimistic about its chances.

On the other hand, the new Rouge Cardinal clematis is planted now. It's on a north-facing wall, and so it will only get sunlight obliquely. 

By contrast, this next image shows the wall where the Kingfisher clematis was planted. It faces east, and it was just too hot there.

If we can revive the blue one, I have a spot picked out for it on the other side of the house. And, if not, we'll look for another one next year.

Okay, so back inside, I made some more progress on Luna's pawtrait.

Today I'm hoping to get the rest of the face pieced, and if there's enough time, to add the ears. I'll keep working on her until she's finished. And, this being July 1st, I'm claiming this as my July OMG.

It was getting close to dinner time by then, and I was trying a couple of new things. Shown in the image below is the sorrel from my culinary herb garden. It was planted the first year, when we created the garden, and it just grows and grows and grows. It comes back beautifully every year, no matter how cold the winter, but I've never used it for anything. Something tells me I might have used it in a soup once, but I can't recall for sure and certain. It could be used in salads, I suppose. Biting into a raw leaf, it has a slight citrus flavor. This year, I wanted to try making some pesto from it. 

So I was clipping leaves from it, all the while breathing in the heady fragrance of the lavender beside it. Look how pretty this is.

I needed two cups of leaves. This pesto is made using hazelnuts. We grow a lot of hazelnuts in Oregon. In fact, Wikipedia tells me that "in the United States, Oregon accounted for 99% of the nation's production in 2014, having a crop value of $129 million that is purchased mainly by the snack food industry." It was quick to make using my food processor. It's a pretty green. I'm curious to see if it will hold its color better than pesto made with basil.

I wanted the pesto because I was trying a new recipe for Pesto-Stuffed Grilled Portobellos. I was following a recipe I found online, but I made a few modifications to it. For one thing, I cut the recipe in half for just the two of us. The stems are removed and used in the "stuffing." Then the mushrooms are drizzled with olive oil, stuffed, topped with cheese, and then grilled. I used a grill pan on the stove top. I think these could also be roasted, and that would make it easier.

And, wow! Those were really good. They're vegetarian, but not vegan. We try to go meatless at least once per week, and portobellos are surprisingly filling. We each ate one, which was plenty. I served it alongside this Watermelon Salad with Rum and Mint. It was a good choice for this dish, very tasty and refreshing. It's a great summer salad. If you don't want to use rum, you can substitute apple juice or white grape juice. And then, I hadn't used all the pesto, so I spread the leftovers on some crusty bread. It was a delicious way to end the day.

So I linked to the original recipe for the stuffed portobellos, but I made some changes to it. For one thing, there wasn't nearly enough filling for the mushrooms, and so I added some pesto and some pine nuts. Also, I used parmesan cheese rather than get all fancy with an "Italian blend." Really? So anyway...here's how I did it:

Pesto-Stuffed Grilled Portobello Mushrooms
Serves 2-3


3 portobello mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 splash Chardonnay wine, or as desired
1/2 cup Sorrel Presto, or any pesto of your choosing
3 tablespoons pine nuts
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese


Remove stems from mushrooms and finely chop stems.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; cook and stir chopped mushroom stems, shallot, and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes. Pour wine into the skillet; cook and stir mixture using a wooden spoon until liquid is evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Cool mixture to room temperature, about 10 minutes.

Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat and lightly oil the grate. (Or use a grill pan on the stovetop.)

Drizzle olive oil over the top each mushroom and place on a grilling pan. Mix pesto and pine nuts with the mushroom stem mixture together in a bowl; spoon into each mushroom. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the filling.

Grill mushrooms on the preheated grill until edges are blackened and stuffing is bubbling, about 10 minutes.

Note: If you wanted to try roasting them, I'd probably roast them at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes. It might even be better than grilling.

* * * * *

Okay, so that brought me to the end of the day. Matthew is off camping with some friends in the Steens Mountains of Southeastern Oregon. Yesterday, he called with the exciting news that he was hired for a new job to start in two weeks. He probably won't be staying with us much longer. He's been getting out camping now that the weather has improved. Later he texted these images. There were wild horses just a few yards from where they were camped.

Interestingly, Mike recognized this herd as the Kiger mustang herd. When he was a working stiff, a project he'd worked on had been code named Kiger Mustang, and that was how his knowledge of the herd originated. You can read about them right here.

And that final link gives me an opportunity to tell you about something I've discovered in the new Blogger platform. You know how when you click on a link, and it takes you away from the page you're reading? If you check the box I've circled in red, you can create links that will open in a new tab, but preserve your page in a separate tab for the reader. The reader can see what's at the link, and then just close it and go back to reading your well-thought-out-and-extremely-wise blogging prose. At least...that's what you'll get when you're reading my blog. Obvi!

Okay, so the weather is crappy again today. As I've said many times and for years and years, summer doesn't really get rolling in Oregon until after that Fourth of July. This year is no different. That doesn't stop me from whining about it. Give it another week and I'll be whining about how hot it is. It's the Oregon way. Oregonians are never happy with the weather. 


Magpie's Mumblings said...

I was making some masks today too so great minds must have been thinking alike. Something that occurred to me about the clematis - what if you cut it back so that it could concentrate on strengthening its root system and not have to deal with the leaves situation. Just a thought. Luna is looking wonderful - can't wait to see what you do next. And we love portabello mushrooms and will often have them as a 'hamburger'. And wow - wild horses that close! Lucky!

Vroomans' Quilts said...

Not a mushroom fan, but love pesto. I make it with basil as mine has taken over one section of the flower bed. I;ve seen those articles about the masks - yeah sewists!

Terri in BC said...

I learned that clematis need cool roots, but do like sunshine up top. My s-i-l taught me to always plant a ground cover at the base of the roots of the clematis. Your flowers are lovely!

Anonymous said...

Always enjoy reading the escapades of Smitty, Exploratory Cat Extraordinaire, and what’s happening in your corner of the world. Today is Canada Day, and since our local quilt store is still restricting visits inside for a few more days, our Guild’s annual outdoor display along the verandah has been cancelled this year. In our little retirement complex we are having a “Quilt Walk”, displaying about 80 quilts on balconies for the locals to view as they wander around, only our weather forecast was for more torrential downpours, so we changed the ate to the weekend. Yep, you guessed right, the day was gorgeous! Let’s hope it continues to be sunny for our alternate date. Many of us have started to feel the isolation, after three months of pretty much lockdown, and this will be a good way to revive our sense of community.
Many of us are snowbirds, and wonder if we will be able to head South this winter, or if the border will stay closed.
Waving to you from Cochrane,Alberta. Jill

Lyndsey said...

I didn't get round to making the additional masks yesterday so that is on today's agenda as he'll need them for work on Saturday. Congratulations to Matt on his new job. These are such worrying times on the job front with many employers going bust or reducing staff to save money and their companies. I love the pictures from his camping trip of the horses.

Janet Bronston said...

A Bird Called Enza by Dawn Meier is based on the Influenza epidemic. First free online book I read & it added a lot to my understanding of the times.

piecefulwendy said...

Oh, those portabella look so good. I've never had sorrel that I know of, but I do like a good pesto. I was making masks and thinking on that template, wondering if it would be worth the purchase. So far, I'm just using the paper pattern repeatedly. Yay for Smitty, learning to stay close. Smart cat. The grin on Matthew's face is really fun to see as he explores!

Patty said...

Enjoy! Thanks for linking up with Elm Street Quilts One Monthly Goal and good luck on your project.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipes. We try to eat meatless at least once a week as well. Luna looks Terrific! Did you know that your side bars have disappeared and your search bar too? I wanted to find one of your old recipes today and couldn't search. Maybe it's me...Thanks!

Natureluvr57 said...

I've been on the backburner about that mask template. I love Creative Grids but didn't know if I would make anymore masks. It seems hard to breath with them on compared to my 3M molded masks I've worn over 30 years since getting asthma. I've never worn them during warm/hot months. Did you skip the interfacing, I noticed she said optional. I'll be wearing one for the rest of my life when I'm out and about it seems. I also have to find a way to pull the elastic to the back because the loops hurt my ears or maybe I'll just use one long piece. I have lots of cute novelty fabrics and it would be nice to have some FUN looking masks. We're in the midst of a heatwave here and I'm hoping it won't be like the summer before last where it turned hot and stayed hot until fall. It was awful. I skipped trimming and just mowed today because I can't take next to 100 degree weather and there's no cool spell predicted. Have a great holiday.

kc said...

oh wow, I've been "working in the field," so I've missed LOTS of your posts! When we come back to base camp, it's HOT, and I'm TIRED, so we shower, and then I fix dinner, then I am DONE. soo, having said all that, Luna looks fantastic! As do your hydrangeas and lavender! I've found clematis typically likes cooler feet, so even if the leaves are more exposed, as long as you keep cover on their roots and base stems, they do alright. But I'm sure you'll figure out where yours wants to be and it will thrive. Or die trying!

I've only made 2 masks since we left Rockport, giving one of them away. Can't find a taker for the other, go figure. Here in Austin, there were lots of youngsters (ha!) congregating in protests, so, now, rates of infection have skyrocketed and everyone is blaming the bars. I think everyone is afraid to say...being all politically charged and all. (not meaning to be any reflection whatsoever on my feelings on the protests and/or riots, nor the tragedies that started it all)

Interesting read on those pretty mustangs. Amazing that RE could pick 'em out just like that! After all this time.

Looking forward to hearing more about this job offer for Matthew. I know you've enjoyed having him around. Will he be going far away or at least staying somewhat local? Our daughter is suffering after having lost BOTH her jobs, with not a prospect in sight. But, truth be told, she's clearing more money on unemployment than she had been making, soooo....there's not a whole lot of incentive...but, then again, that is NOT how we raised her....so, I dunno what she plans to do. She's always too busy to talk and forgets to call back. Life must be pretty good up there in VA.

It's hot here, too hot to put in full days, mostly. We purchased a kiddie pool and set it up behind the camper. Why not...no one here but us and the coyotes! Unless you count the hummingbirds...we are now up to about 8 that are staying close by all hours of the day and into the evening. Hungry little boogers they are. We bought a 10 pound bag of sugar at Sam's Club when we went to get our tires rotated. Wish I had a 10 pound canister in which to keep it!

Stay well!

Sandra W said...

You could also read The Plague by Camus.

The Joyful Quilter said...

Are you fusing to some sort of pressing sheet? I don't recall doing that with the pet portrait that I have in the works. That recipe looks delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe with us. What a spot Matthew and his friends found for camping, also congrats on his new job!!

Rebecca Grace said...

Wow, I didn't know there was a Creative Grids ruler for rotary cutting contoured face masks! I'd heard of the special die cutters, but those seemed ridiculously expensive considering that precision cutting isn't really necessary for the masks. But rotary cutting is a different matter altogether. What diameter rotary cutter blade worked best for you on that inside curve?