Final Preparations

Good morning, my friends. We're on whatever counts as the opposite of the home stretch. Home stretch usually means the time before reaching the end. How does one turn that around and make it a stretch toward the beginning? Just now I checked in with The Google. The Google tells me I can substitute "opening chapter." Okay, so opening chapter it is. We're not quite to the first page, though. Think of this as the dedication.

We've had to reroute our trip already. As it turns out, it's going to snow like mad at the Siskiyou Summit on Saturday...the precise day we were planning to drive through there. Sigh. I'm starting to think we should never plan to drive south through the Siskiyous. It's okay though because we're going to head over to the Oregon coast, and then down Hwy 101 all the way until our first sight-seeing stop in Petaluma, California. That means we'll be driving through Redwood National Park, and that is always a treat. Just you wait and see. So here's the final trip...unless we change it again...which could happen.

Also, I've been watching the weather forecast for Sausalito, California, which is where the Point Bonita Lighthouse is. So far, it shows cloudy, but no rain. Fingers crossed for the forecast to hold.

Packing in earnest started yesterday. I've gone through all three freezers and pulled out certain soups and other leftovers along with certain cuts of meat I might cook up along the way. We'll both celebrate birthdays and our 49th wedding anniversary while we're traveling. It just so happens one of the cuts of meat in our freezer was a small prime rib. Also, I have some frozen gravy leftover from something else...can't remember what. So for a celebratory dinner, we'll do up a prime rib. Camping: that's how we do it.

So let's talk about what's been going on since the last time we talked. For one thing, I got my custom orthotics refurbished. I could swear I heard my feet squeal with delight when I put them into my shoes. Yesterday I got my last pedicure until June. Aside from that, it's been cooking and packing with a little sewing time thrown in. The Tiny Hearts are finished. Day 25 was pretty simple with just buttonhole stitch and some randomly-spaced cross stitches.

Day 26 was cast-on stitch, straight stitches, French knots and back stitches. Cast-on stitch is my most difficult stitch, although I've discovered it's fairly forgiving when you're stitching a flower like this. I had some gaps in the center, and I just took more stitches to fill them in.

Day 27 was to finish the border of this one. The center was stitched earlier. The border is back stitch and French knots. It was supposed to be stitched with bullion stitches all around, but I was afraid I wouldn't survive such an endeavor. After stitching about half a dozen of them, I took them all out and did French knots instead. It's supposed to be fun, right?

And that was the last of them. Here they all are:

I'll turn this into a wall-hanging eventually. Probably that will have to wait until we get home, but it's possible I could finish it before we leave.

On the cooking front, I made these little Muffin-Tin Quiches with Smoked Cheddar & Potato. Here's how they looked straight from the oven. The green stuff is chopped spinach.

I kept two out. The rest were wrapped individually and frozen. We had the two I kept out for breakfast the next day. They were wrapped up in a paper towel and microwaved, and those were very tasty. That will make a nice breakfast for driving days. We had them with the From-the-Freezer Blueberry-Cinnamon Muffins to complete the meal.

On the dinner menu this past week, I tried again on the Toad in the Hole dish. You might remember when I made this a few months ago. I used the wrong size and shape of a pan, and it didn't look very good when it was finished. The Yorkshire Pudding wasn't right at all. Since the dish held promise, I chalked that half-fail up to user error and tried again with the right cast-iron skillet. That made all the difference. I believe the Yorkshire pudding requires the near-vertical sides of the skillet to have something to hold onto during its rise.

It was served up with onion gravy, and that was a tasty dish. The Yorkshire Pudding was much better than on the first try.

When I made it the first time, I was testing the recipe for America's Test Kitchens. I note that it is a published recipe now. They made just a few changes, and so my second try was from the final published recipe. You can find it right here. If you can't open that recipe, please feel free to email me, and I'll be happy to share it. (I can even share it while we're traveling.)

The kitties are chagrined to find themselves confined to the house until we leave. It's boring when there's nothing to kill.

It hardly matters since we've seen some snow. It's too warm for any accumulation, but we did get a little on Monday.

We decided to let them out for a few minutes, knowing they wouldn't go far with snow on the ground. The mini iris are looking very optimistic with their frosting of snow.

On the sewing front, I decided to go ahead and make March's RSC block. Even though I don't know what the color of the month will be yet, I figure at some point we'll do yellow, and I'll do the right color then. For now, I'm claiming yellow for March's block. I decided to make this one look like Smitty. He was there to offer himself up as a handsome model. He was there for guidance as well. 

Sadie added her two cents too. How could I go wrong?

I found a mottled gray fat quarter in my stash. Smitty's block needed green eyes, a pink nose, white peets, and a striped tail.

Here are the three cats I have for this quilt so far. Sadie's block is on the right. Hers has a Manx tail.

After so much helping, Sadie needed a nap.

Finally, I've been making progress on the Kittens block.

I decided to move my hoop lower to encompass the bottom of the piece, and that's where I'll be stitching this morning.

Realizing I'd have this finished pretty soon, I decided to make up the first block for this new project, Grandpa's Bridges from Primrose Lane. There are 12 blocks, each featuring a covered bridge. Here's the first one:

I was glad I did this because it reminded me I needed to take a ruler along to help with placement of these designs that are printed on Sticky Fabri-Solvy. Also, I needed some scissors to clip away any extraneous markings from the pattern. You can see I've cut a swatch in the upper left corner that included some stuff I wouldn't be stitching. When the piece is completed, I'll wash it to remove the Sticky Fabri-Solvy, and it works best if any excess is cut away first.

With Friday being March 1st, I think I'll claim finishing this block as my goal for March's

I'll link up when the party starts on Friday. 

You might remember when I made the Appalachian Memories quilt. Grandpa's Bridges is from the same designer.

And that brings us up to date. Today and tomorrow will be nothing but packing (NBP), and so I won't blog again until we get on down the road. Port Orford, Oregon, will be our first overnight stop. Probably I'll write again on Saturday, and then I'll be mostly back to my daily blogging schedule. It's as good a time as any to remind you that I can only blog if I have internet good enough to upload pictures. If I miss a day or two here or there, you'll know it's because I'm lacking connectivity. 

So I hope y'all are packed up and ready to go because Friday morning, we ride. Like I always tell the kitties when we take off in the morning, I'll see you on the other side.


Barbara said...

I do find that there's a fine balance between preparation and seeing what happens naturally. ~ Timothee Chalamet

Crew at Cabin Central said...

Have a safe trip!! I'm looking forward to "riding along"!! :)

Cathy Smith said...

Yes, please have a safe trip! You and Mike made a wise decision to re-route over to the coast. It looks like we have quite the adventure in store!

Jenny said...

It's nearly time for another big trip. Thank you for showing the map and your intended stops, I found that very interesting.

Kate said...

Love the Hearts, that turned out beautifully. Hopefully all your preparations are going well. Love your Smitty kitty in PJs, very cute. Grad Girl occasionally asks if I ever thanked the blogger who suggested the Sticky Fabri-Solv for transferring embroidery patterns. I'm pretty sure I did, but if not, thank you for sharing not just that, but the recipes and other tips and tools. She's been able to make her own projects using it. Embroidery is a big source of stress relief for her, which she's needed lately cause it's been pretty stressful. Enjoy the first block in your new series.

or-ar quilter said...

You have been a busy beaver this week. Nice work on the Hearts. Looking forward to living vicariously through your travels for a few weeks. I see you are going through my old stomping grounds of Arkansas. Looking at the Eclipse map, where I grew up will be in the path of Totality.
If you have not already mapped your all your Arkansas adventures, there is Mt. Magazine state park, and if you are interested in history, there is a museum in Ft. Smith of Judge Parker’s courtroom. But more importantly, if you need a fun quilt shop (quilt shops are few and far between in the area☹️) check out Mama’s Log Cabin.
Safe travels.


dgs said...

Let the 2024 Adventure begin. I'm so happy and excited for all of you, including the kitties. I think you are all going to have loads of fun. But I hope the recent snow won't cause any problems for your initial travels. Stay safe.

QuiltE said...

Another grand trip about to s-t-a-r-t!!
Look forward to trying the mini quiches. I've made egg muffins before for the freezer, so these have my attention, for sure, as an addition to my food repertoire.
You have me totally intrigued as to how much freezer capacity you have in your mobile. Nice that you can take so many frozen items with you, to simplify your cooking and to give you lots of good wholesome eating!
Safe Travels!! Looking forward to tagging along on the trails.

sophie said...

I love the Chalomet quote. I am preparing for a similar trip—a maiden voyage for me. So far, I have only planned the first leg and, like you, I have my eye on the weather and the wildfires in Texas and Oklahoma.

Christine said...

Love all those hearts beautifully stitched.
Must try those muffins, love that they have potatoes in.

Lyndsey said...

I like the little hearts and they will make a cute mini. It's a shame you have had to re route but it is always better to play it safe with the weather.

Anne-Marie said...

Good luck with your goal this month and safe travels.

Magpie's Mumblings said...

Good thing you're flexible with your travel plans.
I love your new embroidery project (of course you know I would!).

Babette said...

Looks like a wonderful trip. We decided to make our trip of the West shorter because of all of the snow in the mountains and just stick to the South West. In the end, our truck decided it didn't want to make the journey, so we turned around and slowly made it back home spending a week in Texas and Louisiana. Hopefully, your trip will go smoothly. And good luck on your OMG.