Thursday, August 27, 2009

Gone stitchin'...

It is done.


I officially flicked the power switch on my sewing machine to the "off" position after burning the rubber on that thing for days now.

For the last year and especially the last week and a half, my mom and I have been working away on this quilt*. My mom, who, by the way, is not a quilter, was watching a television show over a year ago that featured a quilt designed by some ladies in our state's capital specifically for our state's centennial celebration. My mom was intrigued and on her next visit to that city, purchased the kit for this quilt, thinking she was going to give it to me to whip up. When I saw the booklet that came with it (yes, all 52 pages), I told her no way was I making that all by myself, and that if she wanted it done, she would have to help me.

The quilt is set up as a "block of the month" over an 8-month span, but we worked a little longer on it than that. Each block has something to do with a different part of our state's history, and it was quite the labor of love, filled with lots of hand applique, some tricky paper piecing, and lots and lots and lots and lots of cutting and sewing. Of course, I decided that in order to hurry us along, we should set a deadline, a goal if you will, so I decided to enter it in our State Fair this year. Doing so meant that we needed to get the quilt top and the backing all finished and ready to go by the end of this week so we could take it to the professional quilter tomorrow, giving her only a matter of weeks to get it quilted, back to us, and then for us to get the binding and label finished before it gets turned in to the State Fair people.

We finished our portion (the quilt top and backing) just about 30 minutes ago, and we are taking it to her tomorrow morning.

Yeehaw, us.

Now here's hoping our good quilting friend can get this sucker finished by our next deadline...

*I was going to post a photo of the quilt top, but I decided to wait until we get it back from her and finish the whole thing off with binding and label and then take the picture. Creates more suspense that way, hahaha.

Nighty-night, all. I'm off to watch Project Runway and relax on my sofa while the people on my TV screen slave away over their sewing machines...

Monday, August 24, 2009


There are no little digital numbers showing up on either of our thermostats.


There is no air conditioning in my house right now.


It is August.


Thankfully, we've been experiencing some gorgeous weather lately, so it is cooler than normal.


(Really, I meant that last one for reals.)

When we found out that there was no A/C my husband and I just looked at each other and started cracking up at the same time.

Yep. Awesome.

Here's hoping a nice little air-fixin' man will be headed our way tomorrow to find the problem and fix it for the low-low price of {insert low-low price here}. Otherwise, it's not gonna be so...


Friday, August 21, 2009

Vintage Photo Friday

I love it when I find photos that have been labeled. It sure helps out in the guessing game as far as details are concerned!

These photos are just more proof of my grandmother's impish ways. Remember, my dear granny never ever wore anything but dresses and skirts throughout my childhood and early adulthood, so these little pictures are such funny treasures to me. My grandmother had a couple of brothers, but, from what I can gather, she was surrounded mostly by her two sisters, so I'm sure dressing up as boys probably tickled them pink. Be sure to click on the photos to see them up close and read the labels clearly -- there are some clever little captions written on them. My guess is that since these were apparently taken in 1922, my grandmother was somewhere around the age of 18 or so in these. She was born sometime between 1903 and 1906, and I'll have to do a bit of research to know exactly when it was. I think the photos were taken in their small town out on the prairie, just a little ways north of where I live now. It also makes me wonder who had the camera, since they obviously had access to one to have taken so many many funny little pictures and not just the more serious family portraits.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I'm just going to let this picture speak for itself...well, except for the phrase "three and a half inches"...

So sorry if this causes you to lose sleep tonight. Imagine what it's doing to me...

Swing it, baby.

This has been a real humdinger of a week for music in my little world.

First, Sir Paul on Monday. Then last night, Hot Club of Cowtown.

Oh yeah, baby. Ya'll already know how I love me some Hot Club of Cowtown (even if the rest of the world is not fortunate enough to have yet experienced their crazy talents). I got to see them in concert last year, and when I found out they were coming in concert again this year, I bought my tickets that very first day they were available. Little nerd that I am, I noticed that my tickets had the numbers 3 and 4 on them, which I'm thinking means I might have been the second person to buy tickets.

Our little city has an old ballroom which is known around many parts as the birthplace of Western swing. It's a fun little dive with wood floors, a big neon red star up on the center of the ceiling, and huge black and white portraits of all of the royalty of Western Swing looking down on the dance floor. So to get to hear them perform live in such a historically appropriate venue? Heaven, I tell ya'. But not only was the setting perfect for the concert, a little unexpected bonus new friend made it perfectly delightful as well.

As we were standing outside in line waiting to get in (impatiently, I might add, as my biggest concern was going to be trying to snag one of the few tables so we wouldn't be stuck either standing or sitting on the uncomfortable set of bleachers they have set up on either side), there was an older gentleman in front of us, by himself. We exchanged a few words about the weather outside, and once we got in, and I had snagged one of the last remaining tables, I noticed he was wandering around by himself, so my husband and I invited him to join us at our table if he wanted. We had another set of friends that would be coming in to sit there as well.

I am a firm believer that God orchestrates all of these little details in life, and it delights me to no end when things like this happen. Not only was our new friend, Zane, the cutest little man, he was also quite the character. We all were guessing he might have been in his 80's (at least). He was pretty hard of hearing, so many times we had to shout at him and repeat ourselves quite a few times. He had gotten up before it started to go get a drink, and when he did, he left his big stuffed envelope he was carrying in our care, which we would later find out was really quite trusting on his part. When he returned, he pulled out an old hardback book from the folder, like an old library book, with the words "San Antonio Rose" on the spine. When he opened it to show us what was inside, the first few pages were covered in autographs. Covered. He had scads of autographs from many of the great Western swing and country artists, several of which had their pictures on the wall in the very ballroom we were sitting in.

You all know me and how these very type of things just make me giddy. How fun was he?! It wasn't long before he was off on his little quest to get all three of their signatures added to his book, and of course, cute older gentleman that he was, he had no problem getting their attention right off the bat and collecting their signatures. When we were all sitting I was asking him how he heard about Hot Club of Cowtown in the first place, since they are one of the younger, newer Western swing bands. He told me he had seen them on YouTube. Crack me up! Little Mr. Zane, cutest great-grandpa ever, gets on YouTube! (Raise your hand if most of your own parents don't know how to get on YouTube or even know what YouTube is. Ha.) Then he was asking me if I knew how to snatch their songs off the Internet. I launched into my love of iTunes, of course, but he was totally asking how to get them off the Internet for free, if you know what I'm saying. Ha! But dear Zane ended up buying three of their CD's just minutes later.

So I don't know -- my favorite thing about the whole evening would have to be a toss-up between the wicked talent pouring forth from the three musicians that make up one of my favorite bands ever, Hot Club of Cowtown, or dear, sweet Zane, the cutest great-grandpa ever that I totally wanted to put in my pocket and take home with me.

I'll leave you with a video I found (on YouTube, of course -- shout out to Zane!) of Hot Club of Cowtown performing a favorite one of mine, Oklahoma Hills.

Way down yonder on the Indian nation, a cowboy's life is my occupation, on the Oklahoma hills where I was born...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I had my cake. And ate it, too.

This is the story of a girl. And a cake.

The girl, which, of course, is moi, isn't exactly Martha Stewart in the kitchen on a regular basis. I cook a few meals here and there, occasionally some cookies or what have you, but for the most part, I'm not a huge fan of kitchen duty. Every once in a while, I get a wild hair, and off I go, like at Thanksgiving, for example. The last two years I have actually cooked the entire or almost the entire Thanksgiving meal for 8-12 people, all from scratch, including the turkey. (I would be nothing without Ree, the Pioneer Woman and her scores of delicious recipes complete with photo tutorials.) Or at Christmas, when I make batch after batch of my signature item -- homemade marshmallows. Yum.

My mom turned 60 this week, and she threw herself an extravaganza this past weekend. She rented out a beautiful place, hired a caterer, and she and I went to town ordering flowers, making centerpieces, etc. As far as cakes were concerned, she had her mind made up. There would be no bakery cakes. Apparently she is not a fan of bakery cakes. So she got it in her head that we would offer an assortment of her favorite homemade desserts, most of which were made by her, with a cake from my aunt and two cherry pies thrown in from Marie Callender's for good measure. And my cake. I offered up a culinary creation of my own.

Never mind the fact that I'm not the most experienced baker in the world. I've made a handful of cakes, most of which might or might not have involved a box mix, and the occasional easy homemade cake here or there. But I can't recall tackling anything layered before. Until now. And you know how they say it's a good idea to try it out once before you actually need to make it, just to make sure it will all work out just right? Yeah, I'm not that girl either. Slap it together and hope for the best, that's my mantra. But I must add that I had just seen the movie Julie and Julia the weekend before, so maybe I still had some crumbs of that still floating around in my mind, little voices telling me, of course, you can make something grand!

As with everything I dream up in my little head, when it is for someone else, I like it to have meaning somehow. I looked through scores of cookbooks and magazines trying to find just the perfect thing to make for my mom, but nothing was really jumping out at me. Until I forgot about the cookbook I had on my bookshelves in our bedroom, one that my mom had bought me a couple of years ago, and, other than looking pretty, sat there unopened and unused. Perfect.

My mom and I are big fans of Jan Karon, author of the wonderful Mitford books. If you haven't read these little gems, you should stop what you are doing, go get them, and crack them open. Like right now. (Just kidding, I'm not done with my story yet, so you can't leave.) My mom had actually tried to get me to read them several times before I gave them a chance, but the subject of an aging Episcopal bachelor priest wasn't all that intriguing to me, and I put her off for quite a while. Then finally, on a whim, I cracked one open and started reading. I made it about halfway through and was about to write them off completely, when all of a sudden, I was hooked. They really are such amazing little books. You grow to love the town of Mitford with all of its endearing characters, and it's not long before you are wishing you could somehow figure out a way to crawl inside the pages and move there (much like my beloved Stars Hollow, home to those wacky Gilmore Girls). Like I said, along with the series of books there are also a few other companion books, some short Christmas stories, a bedside companion, a book of Father Tim's quotes, and a cookbook filled with all of the recipes talked about in the books.

And the biggest most memorable food item found in most, if not all, of the Mitford books, is Esther Bolick's Orange Marmalade Cake. (The cake is such a big part of the books that Jan Karon even based one of the shorter Mitford Christmas stories on Esther and her cake.)

Bingo. That's the exact thing I was looking for.

I was smart enough to at least read through the recipe several times, making sure I understood it (even if I'd never tried certain things before) and all of the steps required before I tried it out. Then I was off to the grocery store to secure all of my ingredients, including a box of fancy-schmancy cake flour. Ooh-la-la. I borrowed 3 round cake pans from my mom (which had belonged to my great-grandmother, a professional cook for a private family), bought a new sifter (mine was rusted), and was rarin' to go.

The party was set for Saturday night, so I started at 8pm Friday night. Naturally.

It took a good hour and a half just to get the cake mix done and poured in the pans. Yipes. There was double-sifting of things, whipping of things, nine eggs (no yoke, er, I mean, no joke), and all sorts of mayhem involved just in that first part. I was also smart enough to take the time to follow each and every step exactly the way it was written in the recipe, so if something screwed up, I had someone other than myself to blame it on, haha. In the end I got it mixed, poured in the pans, and out of the oven and cooling on racks before midnight. Ha. And I might add that I was prayin' my little socks off that those cake layers were indeed-y going to come right out of those pans in one fell swoop the next day. If they crumbled and stuck to the pans I had decided I was going to cry a river and rip all my hair out. Keep in mind, I had no Plan B.

Thankfully, the next morning, those babies came out of those pans perfectly. Textbook, I tell you. I was whoopin' and hollerin' every time a layer came out and landed perfectly on top of another layer. After mixing up the homemade frosting, I even scoured the Internet for a good 30 minutes to make sure I would be picking the best and most perfect technique for frosting that delicious 3-layer mound of perfection. I hadn't come this far to screw it all up with the frosting!

When it was finally finished (the next day at about 10am, at least five or six hours total that I put into it), I put it in the fridge to set for a few hours before the party. Again I prayed my little socks off that it would survive the journey in the car from my house to the party location, and I made my husband drive (which never happens as I am not a huge fan of his, er, driving techniques) while I gingerly balanced the glass cake pedestal and cake on my lap. A sweet wave of relief washed over me when it finally made it to the refrigerator at the party place, and I could finally take a breath.

That evening at the party my mom told me I would need to speak up and inform our guests about their choice of desserts. We had about 60 people there, most of which were old church friends (both literally and figuratively), so they needed me to explain what their choices were. I got to the part about telling about my cake, and I asked if anyone in the room had read the Mitford books. About 15 or so hands shot up about the same time they all started exclaiming, "You didn't!", already aware that since I was talking about both "desserts" and "Mitford", an orange marmalade cake was indeed in their future. We ran out of my cake before all of the guests had made it through the line, but I made sure that each of the hands that had been raised were able to enjoy a slice. I was happy as a clam that the cake was going to be enjoyed by other Mitford fans!

Too fun. I think I'll try and crack open that cookbook more often and see what other deliciousness awaits...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


...oh I be-lieve, in yes-ter-day...

...'cause yesterday was a pretty good day, especially since it ended with a little crooning in person by none other than Sir Paul himself.

(me holding the golden tickets)

I may live smack dab in the middle of the country where not a whole lot of exciting news ever goes down, but by golly, our little city can sure rock it sometimes. Our little city was one of only six stops on Sir Paul McCartney's North American summer tour, and it was the only one of those stops that wasn't a stadium. So even my cheap seats were good seats.

Sir Paul was pretty impressive, rockin' it for almost three hours straight at age 67. But I'm not sure which was more entertaining -- Sir Paul himself, all of his lifelong fans and their special dancing out in the crowd, or the front row of 30-and-40-something ladies doing their darndest to try and become the next Mrs. McCartney. Ha.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Vintage Photo Friday

One more of my grandmother on my dad's side -- that's her on the left. I'm not sure if this is authentic -- as far as if she would've really been working in the fields at that time or if this was merely for another one of her funny little posed pictures, but she did grow up on a farm, so who knows. I love the outfits in this one, and again, it makes me smile to find these pictures of my granny in knickers since I only saw her wear dresses. Only. Never pants.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Free advice. You can thank me later.


I'm still here, in case you were wondering.

I've still been reading all of your blogs, but I just haven't had the gumption to post on my own. Too many pictures I still need to download off my camera, too little free time due to out of town guests and deadlines and party-planning, and too little energy! That whole "lazy days of summer" thing didn't work out for me. It's been crazy busy.

I promise to get back to regular programming tomorrow, but for today I thought I would post some of my favorite points out of an article I just read from the September issue of Parents Magazine that just dropped in my mail slot this afternoon.

The article is titled "39 Things Every Mom Should Know". The following are only a few of my favorites:

1. You never have to go to obnoxious kid-themed restaurants. Ever.

3. Do your chores while kids are awake. Using up naptime to wash the dishes or clean the bathroom is truly soul-crushing.

6. (my personal favorite, something I totally ended up doing) Just throw away the poopy underwear.

24. I can't stress this enough: Use duvet covers on your comforters and forget about a top sheet. Not only will you thank me for this advice, but your kids will thank me as well when they are learning to make their bed.

My boy kicks his top sheet all the way to the bottom every night, and it is a pain to make his bed every day trying to wrestle it back in place. He has a duvet cover already on his comforter, so this advice totally makes sense. Why didn't I think of that?

26. Don't administer a punishment that hurts you more than it hurts them.

31. It's fine to brag about yourself to your kids.

34. Teach them to like cool music. Why suffer through The Wiggles when you could be enjoying Wilco or counting along with Feist? Amen to that. Mama controls the music at our house, baby.

39. Independence is a wonderful thing. For everyone. So is together time. Make sure you have a healthy dose of both.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Craft Hope

If you read my blog through Google Reader (or any other blog reader, for that matter), you may not have noticed that I added another button to my sidebar today -- one for Craft Hope. I participated in Project #2 (the dolls to Nicaragua) and most recently, Project #3 (baby blankets to India). I am ashamed to say that the baby blanket I sent was not near as cute as my little doll, Esperanza. In fact, I didn't take a picture of it to even show you. But I did get it finished in the nick of time (what is my issue with procrastination????) and sent off on the great journey.

Of course, the idea is not how impressive or how cute an item is -- it is the fact that people take the time to make these items for such important causes. Click on over to Craft Hope and read the last few posts about both of these projects. It's amazing how many blankets, hats, pillowcases, balls and handkerchiefs were collected to send to India! And I dare you not to tear up when you read the post about the actual trip to deliver the dolls and see the photos of the girls clutching their new possessions. You can also read Eren's personal account here.

So what's holding you back? I hope this might spur you to jump on the bandwagon for Project #4, whatever it may be. (It's supposed to be announced on the Craft Hope website in the next week.) I've said it before, even if you are not crafty, you surely have a friend or a family member or a Great-Aunt Beulah twice-removed who is crafty that you could schmooze into making something for you to contribute. The blessings are endless, I promise you...