Friday, May 27, 2011

The Talent Show

Today started out with Gamma & Gampa attending the Talent Show at Redwood Christian School here in Eureka. That is where Sydney has nearly finished up her Kindergarten year. She has learned so much this year: how to tell time, to count to 500 & beyond by 1's, 2's, 5's, & 10's. She has learned to read and write and play nice with other children. She's learned about the world and who created it. She knows that Lincoln was the 16th president and freed the slaves, all about George Washington & Martin Luther King and more. She knows the seasons, what month it is and so very much more.

Today was the Talent Show. Early last week Syd announced she was going to sing a song. She planned to make it up as she went along on stage. Hmmm.................. Liz suggested that she sing a song she already knew. Well, Sydney decided if Gampa would play his accordion she would sing for the Talent Show. Here's a YouTube of Sydney singing at the show. Enjoy! Watch for the high five near the end. It's priceless.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Going to the Doc

This morning I went to the doctor for my annual check-up. In 2007 my normally low blood pressure began to soar. And it stayed up. I had some blood work and my cholesterol was pretty high also. After a trip to the doc I began to take some meds for lowering my blood pressure and lowering my cholesterol. Dr. Larry also suggested I begin to adhere to the South Beach Diet.

I made some radical changes to my diet and found a great blog. Kalyn Denny post wonderfully tasty (and easy) recipes that follow the South Beach Diet. Thanks to Kalyn I was not only able to find a new way of eating, but was able to understand how to make it all work.

Over the last 3 1/2 years I've brought my blood pressure down to normal/low and my cholesterol numbers into the low range too! Dr. Larry is happy with my numbers. He was happy to hear I've found a fondness for Aqua Aerobics. As I am ending my check-up he tells me I need a mammogram. There's a lot of breast cancer in my family and I try make sure I get regular mammograms. There's a lot of squishing, squashing and smashing. Poking, pressing and pinching. Mammograms can make a woman feel violated....almost like this:

What was pretty amazing was that Dr. Larry handed me a mammogram order and suggested we take it next door to the Imaging Center. Surprise, surprise! I could have it done in 10 minutes. Usually you have to wait for them to call you (often several weeks go by) and then you get to make an appt. It could take another month or more before you can get in. So this morning I got it all done.

Then Mr. Scottie Dog and I were off to our bank to get several documents notarized. We had our new wills witnessed and notarized as well as the new Revocable Trust we've set up. We had the deeds to our properties put into the trust and registered with the County Clerk. Interestingly the bank branch manager's mother-in-law is one of our regular customers and so it the county clerk. You find quilters every where.

Mr. Scottie Dog and I went out to lunch and then I had to go to work. We don't often get to do that. Then it was time to go to work. Wednesdays are my late day. I go in after lunch and stay for the evening Sit & Sew class. A lot crammed into one day.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I'm a winner!

Don't you just love those words: "I'm a winner!" Not, of course to be confused with "I'm a whiner," although to be truthful, I suppose I am a whiner once in a great while. In any event, I AM A WINNER of a fantastic Civil War panel of Grant and the Generals of the Army of the Potomac from Bonnie Hunter and her Quiltville blogs' giveaway. Thanks Bonnie! This panel will be included in the quilt I will be making of my blocks from my Civil War Diary Quilt Block Exchange. You can't believe the squeal I let out when I learned I was the winner.

Today was Sit & Sew at Redwood Sewing Center (formerly Scottie Dog Quilts). We have Sit & Sew classes Tues. & Thurs. mornings and Wed. evenings. You come, bring your sewing machine and do whatever you want. There's always a teacher there to help you out (she said modestly since Tues. & Wed. I am the teacher!). The Tues. class has been meeting for about 15 years....note that we've only been open for 10 years. But I taught the Tuesday morning class for 5 years at another, now defunct Quilt Shop. There are a few who come regularly who have been there since the beginning. It is fondly referred to as "The Tuesday Class."

Show and tell happens quite frequently. Today we saw Margie's newest "Martinique." She'll be teaching a class on this quilt from "Baker's Dozen." If you are local, be sure to come see it in person. This picture doesn't do it justice.

Katie showed us a quilt for her granddaughter Cera who is 4. I love the whimsical ladybugs.
Then Judy showed us her Asian masterpieced French Braid. Every time I see it I marvel at the story it tells. Judy confesses that this quilt grew so big they had to buy a new King Sized bed as it was too large for her Queen. I bound another quilt this afternoon and prepared backings for four more. Busy as a bee! I heard the weatherman say it's rain for the rest of the week. Bummer! But guess what? I'm a winner!!!!!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Weekend at Gramma's

Today I picked up Sydney for Weekend at Gamma's. Gamma & Gampa are going on a road trip and we'll be gone for 40 days and 40 nights....or so Sydney says. Good thing we've got someone who'll keep the cats fed and occupied! And I suspect Sydney will stop by once in awhile to say hello to the kitties.

First we went to the recycling center...getting rid of the mountain of cardboard and paper a quilt shop generates in just one week. Sydney used to stay in the car and had me the cardboard, but now if it's not too busy she can help dump it into the bins.

Second stop was the grocery store. Red peppers, orange peppers, lettuce....let's see, what else is on the list? Gamma was picking up her produce for the first part of the week and two special items for after dinner.....yum...root beer and vanilla ice cream!

When we arrived home Gramma became second best...."Where's Gampa???" I'm pretty popular unless Gampa is around. Then I'm a far second. So Sydney "helped" Gampa work on his truck, mow the back garden and other outside chores. I got everything ready for the Oatmeal Cookies we were going to bake right about the time Sydney came in to wash her hands. She cracked the eggs and put all the ingredients in the mixer bowl.

All righty....Six dozen oatmeal raisin cookies. Sydney told me she doesn't like raisins. But then she DOES like them in cookies!

Dinner fixed and eaten, then she and Gampa practiced for her upcoming talent show. She is in kindergarten and I'm not sure she really knows what a talent show is but she wants to be in it! She decided she was going to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Gampa would accompany her on his accordion. They practiced (Sydney is a typical kindergartner when it comes to singing!) and practiced and after about 30 minutes I suggested we should make Root Beer Floats! I think they both were ready for a break.
Gampa found a microphone and now they are back at it. And surprisingly....Sydney is getting better, actually singing the notes Mr. Scottie Dog is playing! We'll see how Friday's show goes. I know I will think she's the best there is! Probably Mom & Dad & Gampa will too.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What I've been up to lately

I getting ready for a road trip with Mr. Scottie Dog. We are driving to Minnesota to visit the grandbabies. We plan to hook up the 30' trailer (our house on wheels) and drive. We don't know when we'll get there as we are going to take each day as it comes. I've got a list of places we might want to visit between the Pacific Ocean and the Mississippi but I think we'll just wake up each morning and Google the possibilities.

Meanwhile I've made curtains for the trailer and at the store I've been making a ton of quilt samples for the upcoming REQG Quilt Show. As fast as I make a top, Liz quilts it and then I get to bind it. I like, I mean REALLY LIKE to bind quilts. I sit in my chair and watch TV or listen to music and hand stitch the binding on. I like the feeling of accomplishment it is when that last stitch goes in and VOILA! The quilt is finished. Here's a pic of our Dr. Suess fabric sample quilt.
I've also been working to get a quilt finished to take to MN with us. Can you guess who this quilt is for?I was inspired by Tonya and her new book Word Play Quilts when I was making this row quilt for granddaughter Mercedes. I hope she likes it! Paper dolls & clothes (there will be an envelope on the back for the doll clothes).

Back to binding.....What have YOU been up to?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Crock Pot Potato Soup

Yesterday at Redwood Sewing Center the Tuesday Morning Sit & Sew class had one of their famous birthday pot lucks. Once a month we celebrate birthdays....the birthday girl(s) wear birthday crowns, lots of singing goes on and of course, there is food! We have several "foodies" in the group...Barb takes lots of classes and always brings something good. She also makes sure we have funny cards for the Birthday Girl. Del keeps us all organized...she is the keeper of the master roll call/email list and lets us know when a birthday is imminent. Donna or Del make deviled eggs (oh, and Jan G.'s chickens keep us all in eggs!). Joan is a newcomer to our group...she just retired and sold her interest in Cherry Blossom Bakery and she brought a cake! We had pasta salads and potato salad and by popular demand, I brought my stepmom's Crock Pot Potato Soup.

Willie served this soup once and I knew I had to have the recipe. It's so easy and sooo good. Yesterday I made it with one chicken breast added to the soup before cooking and had green onions & cheese for toppings but forgot to get the toppings out of the fridge. It was still yummy!

Crock Pot Potato Soup

30 oz bag frozen hash brown potatoes

two 14 oz chicken broth

1/2 onion diced

1/4 tsp ground pepper

options: 1 cup diced chicken breast, 1/4 cut diced green or red pepper, 2 cans of clams (juice & all), 2 cloves minced garlic

place all in a crock pot on low for 5 hours

then add: 8 oz cream cheese, cubed & cook for 30 mins. Stir before serving.

Optional toppings: bacon bits, green onion, cheese, dollop of sour cream, etc.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day

Mother's Day. It's a day we will memorialize our wonderful mothers...those sacrificing women of our childhoods who gave so much of who they were so that we might have a better life than they did.
My own mother, Marcella Mae Pontious McNally, born December 11, 1918 was raised during The Great Depression. My grandparents lived in Cleveland, Ohio and during the 1930's they ran a couple of restaurants. Grandpa ran his (and unfortunately I know very little about this) and Grandma ran Nellie Belle's. I told this story yesterday. Because of the restaurants their family ate during the Depression. But it was hard work for the whole family and not without long hours. My mother was able to go to a business college and enjoyed loads of fun and independence that her parents had never even dreamed of.

Mom about 15

My parents met after World War II. In less than two weeks they were off to Las Vegas to get married! My mom was an "older woman," seven years older than Dad. She was quite a looker too! I don't think as children we look at our parents objectively...they are Mommy & Daddy...the most important people in our world. I thought my mom was beautiful and loved it when she dressed up, wore jewelry & high heels.

Here are Mom & Dad as they left her parent's little house in Mentone, CA for Las Vegas to get married at The Little Chapel Around the Corner on the Las Vegas Strip on September 22, 1950. Sixteen months later I was born. The story goes that Mom went into labor with me on December 31, 1951...and on January 3, 1952 she was still laboring. The Doctor told my Dad they were going to do an emergency C-Section (so it wasn't an emergency a couple of days before?). The nurse told my Dad they "hoped" one of us would make it. Daddy always told me I was the prettiest baby he'd ever seen. I think by then he was just glad he HAD a wife AND baby! We lived in San Bernardino, CA when I was born and in October there was a large earthquake (7.3)...the first large earthquake since San Francisco in 1906. Mom told of trying to get to my room in a panic and my crib rolling back and forth, banging on the walls as the ground rolled and shook. I always felt so much love hearing about the panic part. My Mom loved me!

Here I am at about 18 months. I think mom relished being a mom. Brother Pat is 15 months younger than I and 2 years later baby brother Denny entered the scene. Mom was 34 when we kids began to arrive. She gave us birthday parties, made us Halloween costumes and she and Dad took us camping at least once a year. We went to the Circus, to the swimming pool, to the zoo, the beach and more. She was my Camp Fire leader for a few years.

For the first few years we only had one car. We'd moved to Los Angeles when I was three. A series of rentals and then my parents were able to buy a house. $50 down payment for Veterans but somehow they got their 3 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath home for $18,000. I can remember my mom paying the bills each month and showing me the loan booklet. She taught me about interest and loans. Remember this was before the day of Credit Cards. When I was 5, Dad kept his "work" car for Mom to use when he bought a new one. So then our world got a bit larger.

Mom loved playing cards, jigsaw puzzles, crosswords (she did them in ink!). For a number of years she always had a paint-by-number painting in progress. She'd mix the colors, ignore the lines...years later I found out she'd always wanted to be a painter. But I know she cheerfully sacrificed serious art for paper maché, crayons & construction paper with her children. Mom ran the concession stand at the Little League field, headed up PTA committees and events, helped in our classes and more.

As I grew and married, Mom became a Grandma. She loved the job! We came home to Redlands for holidays and she'd make them so special!

Cooking with mom....1980's.

Mom & I on Maui...very early 90's. I think I know what I'll look like as I age.

Mom & Dad on her 80th birthday. She still could beat the pants off any of us at cards.

Most of my parenting came from my mom. It was her wisdom, grace, calm and giving spirit. I still catch myself even now when my mom's words come out of my mouth. I'm so proud to be her daughter. Mom's been gone now for 9 years. I miss her every day.

Mother's day brings me to my own daughters.

I love this photo....I'm not even sure how old it is. Sarah at top...she's been gone 5 years now, I still expect to pick up the phone and hear her enthusiastic, "Hi Mommy!" Becka & Liz are in the front. They just spent two weeks together. Does a Mother's heart good to have them spend time together. They have become such good mothers themselves. I'm so very proud of them. To me, they are what Mother's Day is all about.

Friday, May 6, 2011

We've come a long way, baby!

I don't really do much cooking any more. I wish I had more time to spend creating in the kitchen but I don't. Maybe when I retire. But I've done a lot of it in my day. My grandma, Nellie Belle was a whiz in the kitchen. She baked the best pies. Family lore has her getting up at 3 am to make 80 pies. Five days a week she did this for her restaurant "Nellie Belle's" in Cleveland, Ohio in the 30's. Standing in front of the place are my grandpa, Grover Cleveland Pontious, my mom (13), Marcella Mae Pontious McNally and Grandma, Nellie Belle.

Here's an interior shot probably taken at the same time. Nothing fancy. I remember Mom telling me they sold pie, lots of pie. It was a time of a cup of coffee and a piece of pie 15 cents. You would have a piece of pie for breakfast, another with your coffee at 10 am and of course after lunch (which my grandma always called dinner) you'd have pie again. Grandma made cream pies, berry pie, peach pie, rhubarb with strawberry or blackberries, berry pie, three or four kinds of apple pie. I remember her lemon meringue was perfect with ever-so high meringue. Lime pie, custard pie....I even remember a pineapple cranberry pie once. They also served sandwiches....always putting a thin slather of butter to keep the bread from getting soggy. As a kid my mom would grind up ham or bologna and mix it with sweet relish and mayo and chopped celery "just like we did at the restaurant" she'd say. There were two soups each day and Grandma made rolls. The bread for the restaurant came from the bakery across the street. One penny a loaf. There were two main dishes every day. Whatever Grandma would decide to cook. Meatloaf & mashed potatoes, chicken & dumplings, spaghetti & meatballs, chicken fried steak, porkchops and apple sauce, roasted turkey & dressing. Everything cooked from scratch. A lot of work went into feeding those office workers and students from the business college down the block. My mom would later attend there.

Grandma is the one who taught me to bake. Cakes, cookies, bread and more. My mom was a good cook. Basic food that her family ate with gusto. Nothing fancy, but everything tasted good that she made. Somewhere we have a photo of me on my 12th birthday with my birthday dinner requests before me. Red jello with sliced bananas, spaghetti, garlic toast and peas. Simple, good.

By the time I knew my grandma she and grandpa lived on a double lot and raised chickens (they sold the eggs), pigeons and rabbits. I didn't know that grandpa would kill and dress these for the neighbors who wanted fresh meat. I remember eating once and asking Grandma what it was we were eating. "Squab," she answered. "What's a squab?" I asked. When she told me it was a pigeon I wasn't very hungry anymore. Grandma washed her clothes in a wringer washer and used a dish pan to wash in the big country sink. She scraped her plates into a bowl for the chickens. We had a garbage disposal at our house. Grandma never, ever complained about hanging her laundry on the line or anything else if I remember correctly. I loved her so.

Our friends, the Meyers, had Joe's mother come to live with them when I was about 5. Joe remodeled the large den and I was fascinated with Mrs. Meyer's (I think her name was Nettie, but we children always called her Mrs. Meyer) kitchen. It comprised of a tiny alcove which had one cupboard with a counter top and one of these beauties (thanks to Christine Thresh for posting this pic on FB).As I read the ad I saw that it was sold at a company only about 2 or 3 miles from where we lived, so maybe this is where Joe bought it. I didn't understand why Mrs. Meyer needed her own kitchen, but many years later I realized she didn't really get along with her daughter-in-law. Perhaps that's going a little far, but two cooks in the same kitchen....well you understand.

I am thankful for my own kitchen...we have a JenAire grill. This is a drafted grill right in the kitchen. I can substitute a griddle for the grill and on the other side of the draft are two burners. These can be changed out for an additional grill if we are having a bunch over. So we grill every night. Chicken, fish, veggies every night.

Perhaps I'll get back to bread making someday. When the girls were small I made all our breadstuffs, yogurt, fruit leather, etc. Everything from scratch. For just the two of us it isn't always a good use of time or materials. But I'm sure my kitchen is filled with labor saving devices my grandma would have loved to have in that restaurant! We've come a long way, baby!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dear Friends

I admit it, I have wonderful friends. My friends are dear to me and I could not even begin to count them all. Some came into my life early and some friends I met while raising my children. Others are new to my life. Some share common interests, a common Faith, perhaps we share a common interest. My first two friends were the Meyer sisters, Lynda & Maralee. Our families moved to a quiet, "Father Knows Best" kind of neighborhood in Los Angeles when Lynda was about 3 1/2, I was 3 and Maralee was about 2. Our parents were life-long friends.....Here is a photo of Maralee and I on our recent Mexican Cruise.

Right after the cruise I had a chance to have dinner with some other friends...We'd been friends since kindergarten! We attended Cimmarron Avenue Elementary School in Inglewood, CA. We were also in Camp Fire Girl's beginning as Blue Birds all the way up through Jr. High Camp Fire Girls. So the night after the cruise Liz joined us at the Tangerine Grill in Anaheim, CA.

Here we are: Liz and I in front; Terri, Gail and Vicki in the back. We hugged and chattered and laughed and shared for hours. Missing were Toni, Olga & Lorna and I am hoping we can all get together in 2012. It would be so much fun! Just because I hadn't seen them in 46 years didn't mean we couldn't just pick right up. We shared about our children, our parents and brothers & sisters. We chattered about jobs and world events and so much more. I am sure if we lived close by each other we'd still be besties.

There was a time I said I wouldn't be my children's' friend. I would be their MOM. They didn't need a friend, but they needed a mom. Interesting because since Liz & Beka are now in their 30's we are friends. Oh, I'm still their Mom...but now we can share as friends do too.

I have young friends, old friends, men friends & girl friends. I have school friends, swimming friends, quilting friends, FaceBook friends, church friends and more. They are all dear to me. I hope you have friends in your life too.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Easter Cake

Easter this year found us without family in the area. But never fear, we have good friends who invited us over. I asked what I could bring and Elizabeth said a dessert would be fine. I knew immediately I wanted to bring a coconut cake like my Grandma Nellie Belle used to make. Only problem was I didn't have her recipe. When I need a recipe I most always go to All Recipes. When I tried their site they had these cute chocolate nests pictured so I decided that since there would be children for Easter dinner they would be fun. Here's how I decorated the cake (had to use Peeps, don't you know!).

The nests were easy: Over low heat, melt together:

  • 1 pkg chocolate chips

  • 1 TBL shortening

Gently mix in

  • 1 can chow mein noodles

  • 1/2 cup coconut

Drop onto wax paper and form little nests. Fill immediately with jelly beans.

The Coconut Cake was actually easy too.

  • 1 box white cake mix

  • 4 eggs

  • 1/4 C oil

  • 1/2 C sour cream (I used light)

  • 1 C cream of coconut

Mix together & cook at 350 degrees for 35 minutes (two 8" rounds). Cool 15 mins and remove from pans. Cool.

The recipe called for a cream cheese frosting. I made a buttercream & coconut filling and used a can of whipped cream frosting. I didn't even know they made that in cans. Then I pressed coconut onto the sides and top of the cake.

There was no cake left and only a few nests....the kids, as predicted, preferred the chocolate nests to the cake.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bunnies & Blossoms & Bears! Oh, my!!!

After reading my blogger friend Tanya's post yesterday about her lovely Sunday drive, I was inspired. Mr. Scottie Dog said we should spend the afternoon organizing a bunch of "stuff." I've worked hard all week and didn't want to go back to work tomorrow without having some rest and relaxation. So I suggested we have some fun. He thought that was a fine idea and when church was over he thought we could drive out to Dry Lagoon and check out the beach. We stopped for lunch at Los Bagels. Los Bagels makes the best bagels in the world. I kid you not! I usually get a Sesame Seed Bagel or a Slug with Slug Slime (a slug is a "straight" bagel) and Slug Slime is a topping that is a mixture of every kind of Bagel topping they have: sesame seeds, garlic, toasted onion, chopped garlic, poppy seeds, you get my drift. But I saw one today that was new to me: Parmesan Rosemary Bagels! YUM. I had mine with cream cheese, grated carrots and La'ruppin Dill Sauce. Oh, if you don't live here in Eureka, too bad. You can't get Los Bagels OR La'ruppin dill sauce. I don't remember what kind of bagel Mr. Scottie Dog had except he topped his with cream cheese and chopped black olives (about a cup!) and La'ruppin Dill.

Where we live on the far Northern Coast of California this is the first thing you see at the beach. Behind the sign at Dry Lagoon State Beach is this wonderful view. The ocean is directly to the left (I was actually surprised it didn't show in this photo).
We took a walk on the beach, found some cool rocks and sat on an enormous tree trunk piece of driftwood. Here's a shot of the ocean. It was warmer than it looks. So very relaxing.

We walked back up to the bluff to check out a gigantic rock formation and found another driftwood "couch" and sat some more. We both live pretty hectic lives and don't take much time to do "nothing." Ahhhhh, nothing was really something!

I love flowers...any kind of flowers. Big, small, red, blue, aromatic or not. I'm always checking out the flowers and Spring in Humboldt County never disappoints. Here are some wild strawberry blossoms growing right out of the sand.

Blue (purple) Lupin abound in our area. They grow wild. We saw fields of them today. Blue/purple, white, yellow...wonderful.....well there are those who would love to rid the county of all lupin. It was introduced from Europe to help stabilize the sand dunes and now covers hillsides near and far. I like them. In the midst of taking pictures of flowers a bunny crossed our path! A small, cute, brown bunny. I'm not sure I've ever seen a small wild bunny near the ocean in the 40 odd years I've live here. Bill saw a pair of them nearby and then later when we traveled up the coast a few miles we saw another one. So I guess they've been here all along!
Everywhere we went today, Dry Lagoon, Stone Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Orick and Prairie Creek State Park we saw a plant with very large leaves sending up huge stalks (3-6' and more!) with a flower that looked like Queen Anne's Lace on steroids. I looked it up when we got home and it was Cow Parsnips!
And last, but not least in the floral department is Skunk Cabbage. I've heard they smell terrible, but not in my experience. Friend Tanya saw White Skunk Cabbage on her drive, yellow is what grows here on the North Coast.
We left the lagoons and continued driving North. There was a field by the road with over 50 Roosevelt Elk! Another car had stopped. I bet they thought the elk stayed inside the fence. On our way back only a few remained in that field. The rest had meandered over the countryside.
Our last stop was at Prairie Creek State Park. A new exhibit told the story of the CCC building the Visitors' Center (originally the caretaker's lodge) in 1934. I know it has had a new roof several times since then, but this one has quite a crop of ferns and moss growing on it. Check out the roof of this phone booth too! No cell service here so a pay phone is a good idea.
As we drove south towards home we saw a black bear in the road. He wasn't happy to see us and ran down the road ahead of us for quite some time. Just when Mr. Scottie Dog said, "Get your camera!" He veered off into the underbrush. So my picture is from the Internet....but "our" bear looked just like this one!
Thank you Tanya for putting the idea of a drive in our heads.....we needed a rest and diversion. I highly recommend it for all.