Saturday, December 24, 2022

Merry Christmas

Hello Everyone,

Well, we are all down to the wire now!

I took pictures of the tree the other day during the snowstorm.  Every afternoon I would sit by the tree to relax and read for an hour.  It was so pleasant.  Years ago, I made these little stockings, one for every family member.  This year I hung them on the tree. 

 Last year I hung the stockings under the Breakfast sign.

Mr. Joe and I frosted what seemed like hundreds of sugar cookies.  I make them every year as the kids LOVE do I.  One year I ran out of time and didn't frost them under the guise that I was saving everyone calories.  That just didn't fly with the kids, and I was almost banned from future Christmas celebrations.

Here's the ultimate Christmas Tree at Calaveras Big Trees State Park.  We went for a walk with family there the other day.  It was a beautiful Christmas outing in the fresh air, blue sky and the majestic trees.

The trail was slushy but not too slippery.  We've been on the trail in the snow when it wasn't fun.  But the other day it was perfect.  Our granddaughter flew home for the holidays from Arizona State University and needed her giant tree and cabin 'fix' to last her until her next trip home in April.

Mr. Joe did really well on our walk without any breathing issues.  It's the farthest he's walked in months.  

My wish is that all of you have a wonderful Christmas spent with those you love.  We will be surrounded by family and share good times together.  That's what life is all about....making those precious memories.


Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Crab and Shrimp Bundles

Hello Everyone,

I'm sharing our Christmas Eve dinner recipe with you.  I combined two recipes and came up with this winner.

Begin by making the crab cakes.  Here in California, Christmas coincides with Dungeness crab season, but not this year.  The season has been delayed due to the migration of the humpback whales from becoming entrapped in the traps and buoy lines of the fishermen.  So, I will be using canned crab this year.  I purchase the large cans of crab claw meat in the refrigerated section of the meat department.  The cans are pricey but worth it.

Cape Fear Crab Cakes with Lemon Dill Sauce

1-pound fresh lump crab meat
1 tablespoon butter
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 scallion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
3 tablespoons whipping cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Cayenne pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon each minced fresh basil and parsley
1/2 cup fine dry breadcrumbs (I use Panko)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons each butter and vegetable oil

- Flake the crab meat and remove bits of shell and cartilage.
- Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet. Add the garlic, scallion and red pepper.
- Sauté for 2 minutes or until tender. Stir in the whipping cream, mustard and cayenne, ½ cup of the  breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and the crab meat and mix lightly.
- Shape into 16 patties - 2 inches in diameter.

Lemon Dill Sauce
¾ cup mayonnaise
½ cup buttermilk
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dillweed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

-Blend the mayonnaise and buttermilk in a bowl until smooth. Add the garlic, dillweed, parsley, lemon peel and lemon juice and mix well.
- Chill, covered, in the refrigerator until the mixture thickens.

Here is step #2.  Place a piece of smoked applewood bacon on the foil-lined baking sheet.  Place two large cleaned and shelled shrimp side by side on the bacon.  I sprinkle the shrimp with seasoned pepper.

Place a crabcake on top of the shrimp.

I forgot to take a picture of laying two more shrimp on top of the crabcake!  Then wrap the bacon over the crab cake and shrimp and secure with a toothpick.

Here are the bundles ready to pop into the oven.  I sprinkled paprika over the bundles.  I had a bit of shredded gouda cheese, so I sprinkled that on top too.  That is optional.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  Place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes.  Serve with the lemon dill sauce.

I like this recipe a lot for two reasons.  It is delicious!  I can make it ahead of time and pop it in the oven while we are enjoying appetizers with a glass of wine.  I serve it with a salad and some sourdough bread, and we are in culinary heaven!

Even though I haven't been posting, I have been very busy making some of the blocks for my new block of the month which will be rolled out in July.  It sounds so far away, but I have to have the quilt finished by the middle of February and ship it off to New York for a photoshoot. I wish I could show you what I've been making, but you will just have to wait and be surprised.  

Mr. Joe had another CT scan last week and we met with his pulmonologist to go over the results.  His pulmonologist appears to be about 13 years old and is just as nice and knowledgeable as he can be.  He told us they brought in a hot-shot radiologist to read the results of the scan.  There are hundreds of tiny nodules in the bottom part of his lungs which are starting to calcify.  The radiologist compared this CT scan to the first scan from September, and there was no change.  That's a good sign and eliminates the big "C" diagnosis.  They think the nodules might be from something he aspirated.  Mr. Joe now has an inhaler which he needs to use when he has difficulty breathing.

Last week we had quite a bit of snow, so out came the snowblower.  I push the shovel around and try to look busy while keeping an eye on Mr. Joe while he uses the snowblower.  He felt so good he cleared our driveway and the neighbor's driveway because he knew they were coming up from the city for the week.  He did all of this without using the inhaler!  There are other days when he can't walk 20 yards without sounding like a locomotive chugging along.  These episodes are few and far between, but they scare me when they happen.  Now, when we are out and about, I carry the inhaler in my purse.

Our granddaughter is flying home for Christmas from college in Arizona.  She wants to have some cabin time, so she, our grandson and son arrive this Thursday for a few days.  

I know you are all just as busy as I am with only 5 days left before Christmas.  I appreciate the time you took to read through this post over you morning cup of coffee, or tea.  


Monday, December 12, 2022

Catch up Day

Hello Everyone,

So much has taken place since my last post.....all good.  I've been away from the cabin a lot over the past couple of weeks, so now I'm trying valiantly to get ready for Christmas and work on some projects.

We had quite the storm over the past few days.  Our little community received five inches of rain topped off by six inches of snow.  I put on my snow clothes, boots and Yaktrax's and headed out into the storm to take some pictures of the Calico Cottages flimsy. I felt like a little kid who got all dressed to play in the snow and then could barely move and had to pee.  My aunt used to call it getting "rugged up".  Mr. Joe knew if I didn't return in 15 minutes, he had to come out and scoop me up in case I went down and couldn't get back up.  You may laugh, but that has happened before when the snow was much deeper.  It's quite a helpless beached-whale feeling.

It was snowing so hard the quilt was getting covered in heavenly glitter.  Had I left it out for a full 15 minutes, it would have become part of the winter wonderland-scape.

We were nice and cozy in the cabin and didn't venture out except to get firewood and take Mazey to the powder room.  Our power flickered but never went out, so we enjoyed watching football and World Cup games.  I also spent hours at the sewing machine which hummed throughout the weekend.

I wish I could show you my 83 yards of sample fabric from MY fabric line.  I started working on my new block of the month.  I think I'm in heaven in my sewing room.

We celebrated Mr. Joe's major, MAJOR birthday the beginning of December in Livermore.  The original party was postponed in early November due to several family members having Covid.  Our daughter-in-law April, made matching shirts for all of us.

Mr. Joe had a special shirt.  He's going to wear this to his next Bocce Ball tournament.

We had a wonderful celebration with family and friends and tons of delicious food.

Mr. Joe is the youngest 80-year-old I know.  His doctors are telling him that too.  At my last writing I told you we were heading to the hospital so he could have a lung function test.  He passed it with flying colors and his doctor said....."for a man your age", you did really well.  Last week, he had a 4-hour heart stress test.  Again, the doctor said the same thing.  This week he's going to have another CT scan of his lungs to compare it with the scan taken three months ago.

His breathing issues are so erratic.  He can manhandle the snowblower around for 1-1/2 hours. Yet the day before he can't walk 50 yards from Whole Foods to Home Goods without finding a place to sit. I think he is allergic to shopping! It's a mystery and he has his pulmonologist flummoxed.  

More quilting is on tap for me today.  It is so cold and as of 5pm last night the snowplow had not been down our street.  When the snow is this heavy, all plows are tasked to keep the main highway passable, and the neighborhoods are secondary.

I hope you have a fun week preparing for Christmas.  I know I'll be busy!



Thursday, December 1, 2022

Calico Cottages

 Hello Everyone,

I've been working on Calico Cottages, my newest design.  Many thanks to 'anonymous' who came up with the perfect name for this quilt.

I got as far as putting one of the inner borders on the other night and this is as far as I got.  It is just a figment of my imagination until I nail this idea down.  I try to be different when I design a quilt, and this one floats my boat.  I only used fabrics from my Marcus Fabrics stash.  I had hundreds of 1" strips already cut and were begging to be sewn into a quilt.  Now I still have hundreds of 1" strips left because I kept cutting more and more!

On the home front, we are in Livermore staying with our eldest son and his family.  Mr. Joe has been having some health issues and we've been here a lot lately while he undergoes many tests.  He started having breathing issues with sever shortness of breath and chest pain.  He would walk up to the garage and have to sit down once he got there.

After two chest x-rays, and an MRI, his doctor put him on a round of antibiotics. The antibiotics treatment consisted of only 3 pills......they are very powerful, but the side effects were 5 pages in length.  By the 2nd pill he felt better until the side effects of tendon pain kicked in, and this could last for months.  I call it 'pain of the day' as the pain rotates from one tendon to another.  You know the old game of head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes.  Well Mr. Joe hurts in all of those areas except for his head.

Let's fast forward two months.  Shortness of breath is back with a vengeance. Tendon pain is escalating.  A bronchoscopy of his lungs suggests sarcoidosis which is an abnormal collection of inflammatory cells in his lungs.  But the verdict is still out on this diagnosis.  The good news is that there is NO cancer!

Yesterday he had an ultrasound of his heart, and all is well with that organ.  I was teasing him that he has a heart after all, and he's not the Grinch.  His heart isn't 2 sizes too small, in fact I think he is the most compassionate and kindhearted person I know, except when he's constantly teasing his sister-in-law, Gail.

Today he is having a pulmonary function test.  This should be interesting and will hopefully lead the doctors in the right direction of a diagnosis and then a specific treatment.

This is probably more information than you want to know, but it feels good to talk about what is going on and why I've been pretty quiet lately on my blog.  We didn't tell our kids for months what was going on with their dad, and now I don't think that was the right decision as they want to be involved in every step of his journey.

So, after the test today, we will head back up to the cabin and into a fierce snowstorm.  Hopefully we can get buttoned up inside the cabin before the worst of the storm hits.  We have snow shovels and boots in the car just in case we need to dig our way in.  We will put Mazey to work with the digging part.

Keep Mr. Joe in your prayers for a sound diagnosis and treatment.


Thursday, November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving

Hello Everyone,

This beauty is what has been occupying my days over the past couple of weeks.  My sewing room looks like a scrap bomb exploded in my area! I have to tidy it up soon.

I absolutely LOVE working with all of my Marcus Fabrics scraps as they all play so nicely together. I'm not really paying attention to which scrap goes's truly a scrappy quilt.  I'm just trying not to put the same 1" strip in the same block.  My seam ripper has made an appearance a couple of times while I've been working.

The quarter-square triangles have taken me longer to make than I anticipated.  To make them truly scrappy, I'm making them two at a time and chain-piecing a ton of them at the same time.

We are spending a very quiet Thanksgiving at the cabin.  Mr. Joe has come down with a horrible cold which is aggravating a pre-existing breathing issue.  Gee, I hope he will be able to smell the turkey roasting???  We will be feasting on Remington, the turkey our granddaughter raised for FFA.  It's nice to get him out of the freezer and onto the table. He was taking up a lot of room.

It's easy to lose sight of gratitude as many of us are facing challenges in our lives and in our world.  I'm choosing to focus on gratitude for all of the richness of friends and family in my life.  You, my dear readers, are a major part of friends and family. 

Gratitude will bring peace to our souls.



Thursday, November 17, 2022

Cottages in the Pines

 Hello Everyone,

I've been busy working on these blocks for the class I'm teaching at Pieceful Gathering quilt shop retreat in Illinois in March.

I had a huge box 1" strips all cut from another project, so I decided to frame the cute little cottages with them.  Mr. Joe came up with the idea for this setting.  Maybe I should listen to him more often.

I'm only using Marcus Fabrics in this quilt which work up so beautifully together.  Once I put the 1" strips around the house block, the block measures 10-1/2".  That's a big block for me to make!  I think the quarter-square triangles frame the blocks so well.

This project has been and excellent use of scraps.  I have strips and scraps scattered around my sewing room in an explosion of color.  I'm not really paying attention to what fabrics are touching each other.  My only criteria I'm sticking to is that I don't to use the same 1" strip twice in the frame.  That's it. 

I'm excited about this project.  I need a name for it.  Cottage Charm......Cottage in the Pines......Scrappy Cottages?  Put your thinking caps on my dear readers and give me some help.


Friday, November 11, 2022

A Neighborhood of Cottages

Hello Everyone,

During our early-in-the-season snowstorm, I've been building a neighborhood of cottages in my cozy sewing room while listening to an audio book.  The weather outside was frightful, but the fire is so delightful.

I sort my fabrics by manufacturer and I'm working exclusively with Marcus Fabrics.  They are my go-to reproduction fabrics.

I love creating interesting roofs in these little 3" cutie pies.

I've been having just so much fun while paper-piecing, and I love the accuracy.

Over the past several days, we received over a foot of snow.  It took the two of us an hour and a half of snow blowing and shoveling to dig out the driveway.  Just after we finished, the snowplow came barreling down our street and created a berm in front of the driveway.  If we had been outside, we could have waived him off.  Out we went with the shovels again.

Mazey loves playing in the snow.  Unfortunately, last night when she went outside for her last powder room visit for the evening, she got 'skunked'.  We keep a supply of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and Dawn dish soap on hand for such events.  You would think that she would have learned after the last 'skunking' not to chase the black and white kitties.  She got a face full!  We are heading to Tractor Supply today to give her a bath in their wonderful dog bathing stations.  We renamed her Pepe le Pew, and I'm sure she is going to be exuding fumes as she walks through the store to get her bath.

I'm burning Yankee candles this morning to cover up the odor.



Sunday, November 6, 2022

Sew'n Wild Oaks October Retreat

 Hello Everyone,

Many of you have been sending me emails wondering where I've been.  Well....I've been sick.  So sick I missed the last day of my retreat and my sister, Gail had to step in and finish the last day for me.  I have a backlog of pictures to show you from the retreat.  Again, this group of women were an absolute delight!  We were all so lucky to be able to spend so much quality, quilting time together.

Let's start off with a mini quilt show today.  First up are mother/daughter quilts made by Kate and Sharon. They made beautiful Heritage quilts.

I love seeing made patterns made in other colorways.

Lynette has been busy making these beauties.

Laurie showed us her Peek-A-Boo Pumpkins table runner just perfect for this time of year.

Zinnie would be proud of Laurie's Zinnie's Choice quilt.

Paula finished her beautiful Country Sampler quilt.  I taught this class at the retreat.

Last year, Paula was working on her Lil' Orphan Scrappy quilt.  Paula will be spending some cozy winter evenings finishing up the binding.

I love Paula's October Magic.

Sylvia and Gail showed off their quilts which they made from Sue Abrey's Pick Four book

I was so glad that Melody brought her Christmas Ribbons quilt.  She will be enjoying this one just in time for Christmas.

Cindy brought her beautiful Grammy Squares quilt.  This pattern is a great use of scraps.

Chef Zach prepared wonderful meals for us for brunch and dinner.

Lodge Manager Rob sang us a song before every meal.  So much fun!

I taught classes throughout the day, and we had a show and tell every night.

We went to Livermore on Friday to watch our grandson's last JV football game of the season.  He injured his tail bone at practice during the week, so he had to sit this one out.  We lost bigtime!  Our other grandson injured his Achilles' tendon, and he was out of his freshmen game the night before.  These Wilder boys give it their all and the injuries were stacking up throughout the season.

I felt well enough during the week to get caught up filling pattern orders and that's about it.  Chicken soup and smoothies have been my best friends during the week.  I'm happy to say that I graduated to regular food in small amounts by the weekend.

We are expecting to have a nice snowstorm over the next few days.  We are desperate for any kind of precipitation falling from the sky.  If you don't hear from me, just know that we might be snowed in without any power which translates to no Internet.  I'll be by the fire reading and snoozing.