Sunday, March 31, 2013

Quilted Star Points


It took a while, but I finally have the outside of the star points quilted.  I just tried to get 1/4 inch from the edge and went all around the star.  I love my new Janome and can't blame the machine.  Any mistakes are ALL operator error!


  The lucky thing is most of the Star Point Squares are close to the edge.  When I do the middle squares I will have to get really good at free hand quilting.  Trying to spin a quilt and get all the fabric jammed under the machine is no easy task.  I got a free hand foot with my new machine and have been practicing.  I wish this one went backward with out holding the reverse button down.  I THINK I could do that OK.


The hardest part is when you have to turn the quilt and there is a bunch of fabric under the arm of the machine.  In those cases where I just could not do it, I cut the thread, turned the whole quilt around so the smaller edge was under the sewing machine arm and then finished that particular square.  It worked pretty well and now I have to decide what to quilt next!


Maybe I'll do that blue strip.  I can't do the light blue triangles until I get a thread that matches it.

I have a class on the Deco 340 on Tuesday and I think I will take my quilt.  Maybe they can show me how to embroider on it right there. I want to learn how to use the embroidery machine with the quilt patterns to do the center of my Star Point Squares.   That way there is no chance for me to mess it up when I get home and forget what they just told me.  Ain't old age grand???

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Better Thai Chicken Burgers with Vegetable Curry

I recently posted a recipe for Thai Chicken Burgers.  They were pretty good, but the "Thai" part was mostly coconut milk and some cilantro.  I mentioned that they needed some peanut sauce.   The recipe made enough for a few more meals for the two of us, so I froze the rest.  My daughter, Tara, suggested I use the rest of the coconut milk in a curry.  A meal is born. 

Best of all, this meal is very Atkins friendly.  I am currently tortur following that particularly boring diet.  But this was good!  And not just the same old salad!  Sure it's low carb, but if you aren't worried about that, serve the curry over some fluffy, aromatic jasmine rice.  Oooh.  That sounds good.  But that's not what we had.


Vegetable Curry

Well you're gonna be making the Thai Burgers, right?  You will end up with about 1 cup of coconut milk left over.  Use that for this dish.

2 Tablespoons minced onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
oil for cooking
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon curry
1/2 teaspoon salt or more to taste
1 cup coconut milk
2 cups diced Vegetables  I used 1 zucchini, 1 yellow squash and a small handful of green beans.  Cauliflower would be terrific, too.


Finely chop some cilantro leaves.  Remove the thicker stems.  Divided use.


Place a small amount of oil in a medium fry pan and heat to medium.   Add the onions and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes.  It will start to smell like an Indian restaurant.


 Add the diced vegetables and cook for one more minute, stirring to coat them.  They will turn sort of yellow.


Add the coconut milk.  heat to just below a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer.  Cook for 20 minutes or until the vegetable are soft.

While they are cooking get to work on your ...

Better Thai Burgers

OK.  The recipe is two posts down.  Go there and make the burgers.  Not point is putting it here twice, but basically you put chicken breast with coconut milk and a few other things in a food processor and then fry up the meat into patties.  Here is where it gets REALLY delicious.  You are going to make a quick and delicious...

 Peanut Sauce

1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar or for those trying to eat low carb, Splenda
1/4 teaspoon ground (or freshly minced) ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1/2 cup water.


Place everything in a small saucepan and heat over low heat.  At first you will think you did something wrong.  Well, I did.  It seems too thin for peanut sauce. 


Heat for about 10 to 15 minutes and it will thicken right up.  Serve over the finished Thai burgers.


Sprinkle the cilantro over the burgers with the sauce and the vegetable curry.  If you are lucky your husband will think it is delicious.  Mine did!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Claire Needs A Home


The Botetourt County Horseman's Association is having a tack sale on April 6.  They have one twice a year.  They also allow trainers or just about any horse related people to show up and rent one of their tables to advertise or sell their products and services..  I thought this would be a good idea to market Claire one more time.

I put a brief add on craigslist.  I will put her on again in April.  Then mid-April, if she hasn't sold, I will send back up to Stone Tavern Stable for the final push.  I have cut her price in half to get her in a good home. 

I had some pictures from last year and got them enlarged at CVS.  They also had a tri-fold poster, similar to the ones kids use for science fair projects.  Then I got out my scrapbooking paper and glue and set to work.  I have to remember to take my camera, because it has some video of her jumping and working in an arena.


I would like to have her here in Botetourt County.  Then I may get to see her from time to time.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thai Chicken Burgers


I haven't put any recipes on my blog for awhile.  That is because I am going carb free for awhile and it is BORING.  Yeah, yeah, I am never hungry, but life is so less fun with out BAKED GOODS.  Of course my love for white sugar and processed flour is what got me in the position where I must forgo them.  So I will take a break and then slowly work my way back to them as I ALWAYS do.  No matter how many times I tell myself I won't.  At least this time I haven't gone too far to the dark side.

But cooking veggies and eating salads are kind of boring so I went to the Atkins site and found a recipe to use.  They made Spicy Thai Chicken Burgers, but I am not into spicy.  No I just made...

Thai Chicken Burgers

1 pound chicken breasts
1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves
2 or 3 green onions, chopped
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon Splenda (I used it, but it is probably optional)
a smattering, or pinch of cayenne.  Or more if you like it!
1 egg white ( I used the white but I don't see why I couldn't just dump in a whole egg!)
1/3 cup canned coconut milk
oil for frying


When I went to the store to buy the ingredients, the chicken breasts were way more expensive than the breasts complete with ribs and skin.  I went cheap and bought the whole shebang and trimmed them at home.  Just breasts would have been easier!


I cut them in chunks and added them to the food processor.  Chop the cilantro leaves, toss the stems into the compost bin.  Cut up 2 big or 3 little green onions.


Add them with the lemon zest, vinegar, garlic powder, Splenda (if you use it), red pepper and the egg white to the food processor.  Pulse it 6 or 7 times until the chicken is finely ground, but not a paste.


Add the coconut milk and pulse a few more times to mix it all in.

I used a cast iron pan and heated a bit of the oil.  I was going to make patties, but then thought about my ice cream scoop.  It made the perfect size patty and I didn't have to get my hands all icky.


Cook a few at a time.  It took about 3 minutes on each side to get nice and brown and so there was no pink left.  You may need to add a bit more oil for the next batch.  I froze the extras for an easy meal another day.

Serve on a bed of lettuce with chopped tomatoes and avocado.  Or with a side of another vegetable.  I added a wee bit of dressing to the salad greens.

Other than the coconut and cilantro, I don't know how Thai this is.  But when I serve the rest of the burgers, I think I will make a peanut sauce.  Now we're talking Thai!

Tara suggested using the rest of the can of coconut milk to make a Pina Colada. Not a low carb drink, but a GREAT suggestion.  Or maybe a curry over vegetables (with NO rice :/)  Now I know my next meal!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Dog Treats From China


We have a pretty good dog in RJ.  He will sit and stay...for a little while.  After you yell at him a few times, he will quit jumping up on visitors,  although he quivers as he sits because that is REALLY hard for him to do.

He loves to go to the barn.  And he loves to ride around in the mule.  FRONT seat only.  No back of the truck for RJ.

He needs a treat when we leave him in the house.  And he EXPECTS one when we return.  That is because he gets treats at those times.


After hearing about dogs being poisoned by treats made in China ( and baby food and drywall and kid's toys, etc...) I made the decision to ONLY buy treats made in the US.  This is hard to do. 

Lots of times there is NO indication of where the product is manufactured.  There is only a small section where it is distributed by, or printed in, the US.  I assume ALL of these are made in China.  The ones made in the US PROUDLY print THAT on their packages.

You can find them, but it isn't easy.  The ones that are always made here are in the refrigerator section of the pet treats.  So that is OK, but not every store has them.  Pretty much ANYTHING in Dollar General is made in China.  So no dog treats from there.


I also trust those made in Canada.  Some times I even go for those made in Mexico.  But never China.  Start checking the labels yourself.  A lot the name brands you know and love have moved the manufacturing to China.  We love our dog and don't want to poison him.  And we don't want a huge vet bill, either!


There is one non-refrigerated item that is made in the US.  RJ loves, Loves,  LOVES them.  They are dried up and look like round beef jerky.  They don't smell all that great.  They are his favorite.  If you check the ingredients you may be surprised or maybe horrified.  You may be amused.  The official main ingredient is delicately listed as beef  pizzles.  :-O

Monday, March 25, 2013

March 24, 2013

This is what spring looks like in Southwest Virginia.


At least, this is what it looks like in 2013.


This is our fifth year here and I don't remember a colder or longer one.  This is me, not remembering, because I am too cold.


On the other hand, I just got back from California and while it was a bit warmer, it was crowded and loud and getting anywhere was just no fun.


Go away.  I'm trying to take your picture, here.


That's better.


At least the dog loves it!


Can you imagine a prettier place to live? 

And we have POWER!  Snowy days are way better when you are safe and warm inside under a blanket with a good book.

Speaking of which.  Why is there talk in Roanoke about building a new multiple million dollar library when they haven't bought even 50 new books in ALL the libraries in the consortium since LAST YEAR!?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Carrie Underwood in Roanoke


It is now official.  I am too old to go to concerts.  I am whining about the Roanoke Civic Center until I am boring even myself.  The seats were lumpy and uncomfortable.  There was no leg room.  Worse than the most crowded of airline seats with the added attraction of possibly tumbling down a very steep hill and killing those below you and, more than likely, yourself.   The worst part is it is enclosed and small (7000+ seats) and the sound systems were likely geared for larger arenas so that you almost lose your hearing.  So I take ear plugs and the sound is muffled and not great.

See?  Don't I sound like an old geezer?  "These concerts are too loud.  I don't know how young kids today keep their hearing."  Like that.  I grew up in Southern California and remember going to the open air Greek Theater and Hollywood Bowl.  They were great, even with uncomfortable seats.  More leg room, no danger of falling, no going deaf. (By the way, thank you Darryl Dickerhoff.  I don't know if I ever expressed proper gratitude for those long ago concerts. I hate remembering dumb stuff I did as a kid.)


That being said, it was a good concert.  The opening act was Hunter Hayes.  I had never heard of him, but my daughter had and said he was good.  He was quite the musician, playing on an acoustic and electric guitars and a few songs on the piano.  He did a lot of jumping at the end of songs reminding me of Michael J. Fox in Back To The Future.  The girls in the crowd LOVED him.  He even came back during Carrie Underwood's performance to sing a duet with her...more screams from little girls holding up signs that stated they LOVED him..

Lee was not too impressed because, after all, the last concert we went to in Roanoke had Lady Antebellum AND Darius Rucker as opening acts for Brad Paisley.  Hard to beat them.  But then,  we aren't little girls.  I don't remember lots of screaming during THAT concert.  I do remember both Brad Paisley and Tim McGraw doing some "unplugged" sets where I could take out my earplugs and just enjoy.  Carrie Underwood did all LOUD songs with a lot of power in the high notes and she is great, but I had to keep the plugs in all night.  No soft ballads for her.


She did have quite a few costume changes, something Brad and Tim never did. ; )  There was a really cool/scary few songs where she rode a small stage attached to a railing over the arena.  It wobbled and swayed and I prayed that it would not fall on the crowd below. 


She had some great visuals as scenes were played on the backdrop and a lot of fancy strobe lights.  I don't know it was planned that way, but we were frequently blinded by powerful lights aimed right at us.  Then we couldn't see the stage, or much of anything else when they finally aimed elsewhere.


Two more comments that have nothing to do with the show.  At every Carrie Underwood concert, $1.00 is collect from every ticket to go to the Red Cross.  At over 7,000 seats, that is a nice donation.  Every concert!

Notice all the little lights.  That is people on cell phones.  A lot of them are taking video of the performance.  But SCADS of them were people scrolling or texting or Facebooking (is that a verb?).


I don't get it.  You pay all that money and go to all the trouble to go to the concert and you can't just watch and listen?  You can't wait to tweet that you went to the concert until after?  See how old I am?

All complaining aside, Carrie Underwood gave a great show and I'm glad we went.  In a different venue, I would have no complaints. 

Next time we go to the Civic Center, I guess it will have to be an orchestra event without amplifiers for this old broad.  On the other hand, Bill Cosby is coming and I love him.  I might laugh myself sick, but I can handle that!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Quilting Shall Commence

I haven't taken any classes on my new machines, but I thought I was ready to start the quilting process.  This takes a looong time for me.  I have to sit and look at each section and figure out what I want to do there.  The easiest part seemed to be the keyboard striped section on my quilt.  It is fairly close to the edge, so no fighting to get it in and I am just going to go up and down each line.


Naturally I had to stop and take out some stitches.  I was going to stitch 1/4 inch in and then decided to do it right on the edge.  Seriously, Rebecca, it would be a lot easier if you could make up your mind BEFORE you started, rather than after!  The new machine tends to take one, or maybe even two stitches after I stop pressing on the foot thingy. ( Is it called an accelerator? Can't be.  Ooh.  Speaking of cars, Lee just bought another one. A 1974 Camaro.  He says this will get him going on finishing the truck that is waiting for paint. : /)


The thread I got for some of the top stitching is pretty cool.  It is variegated and it seems to disappear into the more colorful sections of the quilt.  I learned to pick a bobbin color that fades into the backing after the first quilt.  This is also helpful in hiding mistakes that a novice, such as myself, might (will) do. 


The hardest part is turning the quilt around and around.  As long and the area in front of the needle is smooth and flat I just go for it!


I can't do too much sewing today.  I have to go take a nap. We're going to the Carrie Underwood concert tonight!  (You know you're really old when you have to plan a nap to go to a concert.)  It is supposed to snow tomorrow and that will be a good time to get some sewing done.  Assuming we have power!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The First

My brother and sister-in-law have discovered the secret of estate sales.  If you know the right people (them!) and you know quality and what you are looking for, you can just about furnish your whole house.  You CAN buy a mattress from an estate sale.  But don't.  Ewww.

I have given a list to them and put them on the trail.  You can't find the same quantity and prices here in Roanoke as you can in Northern Virginia.  They found me one piece right off the bat.  I wanted a dresser with a beveled mirror and a marble top.

Ta Da!  Done and done.

In the past I have bought dressers in poor shape.  This is because they are cheaper and for no other reason.  Then I would strip, repair and refinish.  This time it was not necessary.  It was in pretty good shape.  Just dirty.


I (Lee) tightened a few screws. Wouldn't want it said we had a few screws loose, even if true!  I cleaned and polished, even going so far as to wipe the whole inside behind the drawers.


All it needs now is some scented drawer liners and a carpeted room!


Our first piece of furniture for the new room.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My Part Is Done


I finally finished the transom.  At least it is built and ready to be installed.  That is not MY job, she said...


I wanted to put a copper patina on the stained glass transom.  I don't know if I didn't get all the flux washed off or if this is all I can expect.  It never got as shiny as the original copper foil.  After I thought about it, and then realized this was the best I would get, I decided that I LIKED it this way.  We are planning on furnishing the rooms with mostly antique furniture, so I liked the antique look of the transom. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


I TRIED to cut the zinc channels.  Even with Lee's heavy duty cutter, it would not do a good job.  Lee tried to hacksaw it and that didn't work.  In the past I have had the stained glass store where I purchased my supplies cut the channels for me.  This time I ordered everything online and so there was no store.  There is a special electric tool they sell to cut the channels, but I didn't want to buy that for just this project.  Maybe if I do a LOT more!


The transom is going to be held up with a lot of wood trim, so the channel will not show.  I just muscled through with the cutter, bent and smashed the channel and covered any rough and bumpy cuts with a bunch of solder.  I just wanted it for the stability, not for the looks!

There would not ordinarily be any rush to finish this project, but there was a sale at a local sewing machine store (Alpine Sewing Machines) and I was ready for my new machine to finish my quilt. 


I wanted one that could do the quilting I like to do and do some embroidery I want to learn.  It turned out it was cheaper to get one for the sewing and one for the embroidery.  Cheaper by about $1000!  So now I have TWO new machines! 


I couldn't set them up in the craft room because there was a lot of glass slivers and solder and flux.  All kinds of things you don't want to get on your quilts.  I had to finish up and get cleaning!


So now I have a new Janome Memory Craft 6300 and a Bernina 340 Deco.  I can't wait to get started.  I am going to set up both and start thinking about what I want for my quilting.


 I can buy a bunch of patterns on my new memory stick for the Deco and use it to quilt open sections of the quilt I need to finish.  I can't wait!


My first class on the embroidery machine is April 2.  We had another contractor come bid for the tile.  And small progress is being made.