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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Saturday Morning at the Nickel and Dime Ranch

Mignon, enjoying the morning sun, a touch of lavender in the air.

Have a great Saturday, peeps!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Paletas (Mexican Popsicles)

Teaching is a hard job. It's a combination of salesmanship, acting, and having information worth sharing. Imagine doing five or six stand-up acts at day, fifty minutes at a time, to a skeptical, jaded audience that would rather be texting,  talking, or tweeting.  If a teacher runs a special program or sponsors a club, add fundraiser to their job description.

One of the most successful fundraisers my AVID students ever had was selling paletas, Mexican ice and milk pops in flavors like, fresas (strawberry), coco (coconut), nuez (pecan), even cucumber. Some are fruit based and others use milk. We sold them at lunch, often a hundred a day, which was a pretty good moneymaker. Unfortunately, The Governator decreed that kids should eat healthier at school and the ingredients in those paletas didn't fit the bill, being manufactured with more fat and sugar than is allowed in schools.

I've missed paletas since we moved to New Mexico, far from cities with a significant Mexican population. If you see a paleteria in your town, stop in to buy one. You will realize how lucky you are. Just don't eat one a day unless you're training for a marathon or something like that.

I decided to make my own paletas here at the ranch because, well, why the heck not? It's summer and I had to try out my new gadget, The Zoku Ice Pop Maker.

The Zoku freezes ice cream bars or popsicles in 7-9 minutes. How's that for instant gratification? You refrigerate the Zoku maker for 24 hours before making popsicles or ice cream bars. Make your favorite recipe, pour it in around the sticks and before you can check the Farmville farm, they're ready. This would be excellent for moms or grandmoms to have in their kitchens and if you are like Grandma Trudy, you can ask each kid what flavor they would like and make it on the spot.

Today I made banana paletas. I think I'll eat mine on the veranda this afternoon whilst watching the rain.

The paletas I made have a simple cast of ingredients. I used half almond milk and half half and half. That reads pretty weird, doesn't it? But it makes sense. For sweetener I used agave syrup. A little vanilla and mashed bananas and that's all there is to it. These are great because there's not too much sugar or fat, mostly fruit and milk.

 Banana Paletas

2 medium bananas, mashed
1 c milk, almond milk, soy milk, yogurt, or other milk product combination
1 t vanilla extract
1T agave nectar, or the equivalent in sugar, corn syrup, or other sweetener.

Mash the bananas. Add milk, vanilla, and agave. Mix well and pour into popsicle molds. Freeze until firm. You don't need a Zoku to make these, but it sure is faster.

Makes 6 pops

Banana Paletas

Happy summer eating! Today I'm off to the Mora Farmers' Market to see what's up.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Going to Town

I never thought going to town would be such a big deal, that lunch and a shopping trip to Wal-Mart would be something I look forward to.  But it is! Going to town means taking a 30 mile drive to Las Vegas, New Mexico, whose motto is "Where the Mountains Meet the Plains."

It's a beautiful drive and never boring because there is much to see. I'm working on a post about what's there on the 6 mile dirt road we take to get to the highway, but I need a few more shots.

Here's a sneak peak of our road. It is kept nicely smoothed by a man in a large road grader. It's a little washboardy in places, but I know just how to position the truck to minimize the washboard rumble.

This is a wide spot. There are a few narrow places where we have to pull over and let others pass. On roads like these, etiquette requires drivers to lift a hand in a kind of salutewave, showing dirt road camaraderie or something like that.

Did you know that many movies have been filmed in Las Vegas, NM including Red Dawn? Las Vegas kept this sign on the side of a building even though they aren't the city of Calumet, Colorado,  the imaginary town in Red Dawn.

Here's a shot of one of the downtown streets. They have kept the place pretty old timey looking.

It's an actual, working downtown, which is awesome. There is no mall in Las Vegas, so you can go downtown to buy clothing, eat, shop for furniture, and go to the bank among other things. Actually, there are two downtowns, Old Town and New Town. That's a long story, one for another time. Hope you have fun visiting!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Quilty Pleasures Wednesday-An I Spy Quilt

I just finished the top for an I Spy Quilt, something easy and fun you can put together in a day or so. I cringe when I say this because the baby boy who is on the receiving end is almost a toddler. Nonetheless, I had other quilts ahead of this one and now it's this guy's turn. I'm going to machine quilt this one myself, since I had practice last week on the One Block Wonder quilt and am hearing "The Theme From Rocky" in my head.

For non quilty peeps, an I Spy quilt is a variety of different prints, novelty fabrics that each have a name. This quilt has spaceships, dogs, cats, balloons, peas, flags, and, well, you get the idea. You can click on the photo for a closer look.

Do you like my quilt weights?

Since the almost owner of this quilt has a brother and a sister, they can help Mom by asking stuff like, "Where's the dinosaur?" while she goes to the spa and gets a massage.

Or, say, "Point to the doggies!" "It's an excellent vocabulary builder," says the former English teacher.

Don't worry, MBB, I am sewing the binding onto your quilt today. It's all cut and ready to go. 

While I was out photographing the quilt, I noticed the clouds massing, like they do in the afternoons during monsoon season. We've had an inch of rain in the past couple days, so I am hoping for more in a couple hours.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Free Miss Pearl!

My name is Miss Pearl, and I am seven years old. Every time my people take me on a trip, I get Anxiety Stress Syndrome, and can’t stop panting. This trip they made me eat “Ruthies” and I was sleepy the whole trip.

It wasn't 'till I got to my Granma’s house that I woke up. I am glad that my Granma gave me lots of granmacrackers. That made me feel better.

I don’t like staying in the city, though. Every morning and night I had to be taken to an undisclosed dog-poop park, because at the park on the other side of the street there were signs that said Not and Don’t to everything.

Besides that, there were all these yapping, snarling little Zero dogs, wanting to attack me as we walked to the park! I was scared! They all looked at me like this:

I didn’t get to play much Frisbee here.

I am glad that my dad got me more Frisbees at Petsmart,  because we were running out of them at home. They gave me more “Ruthies” on the way home.

I miss my Granma and Granpa, but am glad I am home with my new Frisbees.

 Thanks, Miss Bonnie, for writing down what I was saying.

Monday, July 25, 2011

SoCal vs. NNM-A (Very) Random Comparison

During our recent trip to Southern California, I couldn't help comparing where we used to live to where we live now. It was a major change in so many ways. Along with moving to a different locale, we have a different culture, different infrastructure, different ways of doing business. Tom calls it "The Bubble," with several levels, each one going deeper than the other. It starts around Las Vegas, New Mexico, with consecutive layers as we get closer to the middle. When we get to the center of "The Bubble," we're home. We all have our bubbles, our spheres of influence, and The Nickel and Dime Ranch is our center.

 So here's a random list of differences between OC/IE and Northern New Mexico (NNM) I noticed on our trip. I'm not saying one is superior to the other; it's just what I find interesting after 6 months away from California. When we get away from our bubbles for awhile and then return, we see things differently, maybe a little more clearly.


Look at all those people and houses! The population density for Lake Forest, CA, where we stayed, is 4315.9 peeps per square mile. In Mora County, NM, it's 3 people per square mile.

Houses-Tract home on City Lot/Single Wide on Acreage 

In OC or the IE, we live close together. My sis-in-law finds comfort in hearing her neighbor singing in the shower. In Mora County, although there are many different types of homes, for many in our area the single wide mobile home is king. It's quick and easy to set up, and you can get a new model or recycle the one grandpa was living in until he moved to town.


In South OC, the tile roof is king; in NNM it's red, green, blue, tan, shiny or rusty metal.

Breathing-A Hitch/Clear Sailing

A few days after we arrived in SoCal, that little hitch in my breathing returned.  In NNM, even with this high altitude, the airways are clear unless I'm sitting in a nest of fur where the cat has been for the past couple weeks, waiting for us to return.

Water Sports-Surfing/ Fishing and Hunting

Surfing is still king in OC. In NNM people are pulling trout out of the lakes and streams and hunting elk, deer and turkeys in (and sometimes out of) season.

Buying Stuff-Consumer/Survivor

In OC/IE shopping is a pastime, something to do for fun or for therapy. In rural Mora County people shop for stuff they need at the ranch or food for the family. If a produce truck overturns, you can bet a freshly canned jar of salsa that people will gather the proceeds.


There are many dogs in OC, but they are mostly companions. They have a backyard and spend time inside waiting for their good owners to come home from work and take them for walks. In NNM dogs work moving cattle, herding sheep, protecting alpacas. They often sleep outside and don't mind it one bit. On cold nights they may come into the kitchen and sleep next to the wood stove. (Ms. Pearl sleeps inside and pretends to herd the cattle, but #19 will have none of this charade.)

Greeting at Store-Hello/How are you?

In SoCal, the clerk at the store says, "Hello." They do not expect an answer, usually. In New Mexico, the shopkeeper says, "How are you?" I think they want an answer, so I say, "Fine. How are you?"

Trash on Side of the Road-Plastic Grocery Bags/Budweiser Cans and Boxes

The ubiquitous plastic grocery bag stuck to chain link fencing is there to greet you alongside SoCal freeways. Interestingly, the roadsides along the interstate in Northern New Mexico appear clean and spotless. On our country dirt roads, though, there is trash, most of it Budweiser cans, what some folks call the Official State Beverage.

Fast Food-In-n-Out/Fund Raising at the Grocery Store

Some cities in OC and the IE have more than one In-n-Out Burger restaurant, so you are never without a double double protein style with extra crisp fries. Although there are no fast food restaurants near The Nickel and Dime, on weekends some team or organization is usually selling homemade burritos outside the grocery store in Mora. Quality varies.

Summer Weather-Hot and Semi-Muggy/Warm and Dry

Southern California seems to be more humid than when I grew up there. I read it's because all the houses and their lawns cause more moisture to collect in the air. I never needed moisturizer until we moved to NNM. My hands are like that commercial where they look like lobster claws. Monsoon season moistens the air a bit right before it rains.

Department Store-Nordstrom/Popular Dry Goods

My favorite place to shop in SoCal is Nordstrom but alas, they don't have the piano player anymore. Looking at all the stuff for sale with my friend Linda and having lunch at Nordstrom is the ultimate in recreational shopping. In Las Vegas, NM, it's all about Popular Dry Goods, where you can buy boots, ranch wear, and anything Carhardt. The customer service is equal to Nordstrom and they always ask, "How are you?"

Air Quality-(Almost the) Worst (IE)/ Best (Santa Fe area)

The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside County was listed as Number 1 for high ozone days and Number 2 for year round particle pollution. No wonder there's a hitch in my breathing when I am there.  Santa Fe-Espanola is listed as Number 1 for cleanest in ozone days and Number 1 for cleanest in particle pollution. No wonder I breathe easier here! I don't think they counted those bad air days when the fires were raging, though.

It's fun to look at different places and wonder what it would be like to live there. For years we did just that each summer as we traveled  throughout the United States. Travel is good for the soul, connecting us to others we might not otherwise encounter, giving us a chance to move out of our bubbles and appreciate how others live in comparison to our own lives.
 I'm not sure if any place is better than another; it's what works for you.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Country Mice Go To The Big City

We just returned from a two week trip to Southern California, in particularly Orange County (OC) and Riverside County, part of what is called the Inland Empire (IE).  That's where I grew up (OC) and where we've spent the past 40 years (OC and IE).

The family is still there in OC and our teeth needed cleaning. Yes, we are having a hard time separating from dentist Pat Brown and hygienist Melissa. Son Z is there, too, as is Tom's fam. Plus we needed to take the rest of the stuff from my parents' place and more stuff gleaned from our old house back to New Mexico. That's where we live now, the northern part, since we moved here a little over a year ago.

Ms Pearl has increasingly become a Nervous Nellie in the car, standing and panting the whole way to California, so we gave her what she calls "Ruthies," a little something to relax her. We only gave her half a pill, so she panted quietly and stared a lot at I don't know what.

Partay in the back seat with Ms. P!
Visiting with Tom's mom, dad, sister and her kids and their progeny is always an adventure, a happy, circus-like atmosphere with kids and their parents running around, lots of chat, and good food to make it even better. We were lucky to see all the nieces and nephews in this branch of the family, some who flew in from Seattle and San Francisco. Christmas in July is now its official name.

We had a beach day. This is Newport Pier beach on a Monday, not too crowded, really. We had time to visit with friends and I got in a little shopping. One thing I noticed when we were visiting were the many places to go and things to do and people to see in the OC and IE. Gee, you could make a song out of that last sentence!

We missed home, though, and are glad to be back here at the Nickel and Dime.

Even though Mignon, that devil, did it again, reached through the growing dome's vents for the last broccoli plant, some cucumber plants, and a bite of bell pepper! Time to fence the dome.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Quilty Pleasures Wednesday-One Block Wonder Finish

This is the last time you will see this quilt,  one I agonized over when it came to almost every step. I've only done a little machine quilting so was a tad daunted at quilting a largerthanapostagestamp quilt. Thanks to the Friday Challenge group at Thread Bear, I saw several One Block Wonder quilts quilted without pain. That was enough to get me going.

I wanted to take the finished quilt to California for our newest family member, Ivy Rain Billings, but it wasn't finished. Theer allowed me to use her machine, so it is done.

 On the back I used the original fabric, pink dots fabric, and Minkee at the top and bottom. The binding is machine stitched. The quilting is straight stitching on either side of the seam lines, making a diamond pattern. I did a zigzag on the borders.

Thanks to Miss Lexi LouLou along with Theer for keeping me company while I sewed!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Spinach Quesadillas

Some people are members of Team Sweet and some are Team Savory when it comes to what they usually choose for breakfast. I solidly fall into the savory camp: give me an egg dish or a burrito and I am as satisfied as Elvis after a peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwich. Sweet breakfasts are fine once in a while, but I tend to be hungry soon after I eat that tasty sweet delicacy and a sweet, carb-filled spiral ensues. The rest of the day is a battle.

Eggs are my go-to breakfast, so I was happy that new research finds that eating eggs doesn't significantly raise cholesterol levels. Nonetheless, those yolks add calories so I might scramble one egg and two whites and never know the difference. Add some other tasty ingredients and you have a pretty healthy breakfast that stays with you for the entire morning.

I've been on a Spinach Quesadilla kick lately, so here's the recipe. I like these either for breakfast or for lunch, or a snack, or pretty much whenever.

Spinach Quesadillas (Serves 2 or one who is hungry)


1 egg and 2 whites
1 T milk
salt and pepper to taste
butter or oil for the pan, just a little
2 T chopped onion
2 handsful of baby spinach
ham or bacon (optional)
1/4 cup or more of your favorite shredded cheese
2 tortillas, flour or whole grain
salsa or hot sauce


1. Use your fork to beat one egg and two whites in a bowl. Add a tablespoon milk and a little salt and pepper. Set the bowl aside.

2. Heat a nonstick pan and add a little olive oil or butter. Swirl it around and add 2 tablespoons chopped onion. Saute until the onion is tender, about two or three minutes. Reach into your bag of baby spinach and throw a couple handfuls into the pan. Cook just until the spinach is barely wilted. Remove the spinach and onion mixture from the pan and set it aside.

Below are some of the cast of characters for this recipe. Note there is no cheese in the bag. I used it on the quesadilla. Not all of it, really!

3. Scramble the eggs in the spinach pan until they are cooked the way you like them. If you have some ham or bacon you can add some bits to your eggs to totally negate any healthy ideas you might have had.

4. On the top of the stove, heat a griddle or frying pan and lay a tortilla on it. I used some whole grain tortillas from Trader Joe's. They had a texture like cardboard but good flavor. Sprinkle two tablespoons shredded cheese on the tortilla. Layer your scrambled eggs over the cheese, and the spinach mixture over the eggs. Top with another couple tablespoons of shredded cheese and top with the other tortilla. I won't tell if you add more cheese, promise!

Here's my quesadilla without the top tortilla. I might have customized this one a bit with some salsa and some chopped bits of ham. That's the beauty of a spinach quesadilla!

5. Heat your quesadilla for a few minutes on each side until the cheese melts and all is warm. Take care when you flip this guy because the eggs might fall out! This is where our human ingenuity takes place. I used a plate to flip it over and slide it back on the griddle from the plate.

6. Cut into wedges, add your favorite salsa or hot sauce and feel healthy and decadent all in one bite!

We are thinking about the Nickel and Dime Ranch and hope it's raining.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Quilty Pleasures Wednesday: Selvage Spiderweb Quilt

Pattie Prothero, my sis-in-law, has been quilting since the 1970's, before rotary cutters, nifty plastic rulers and quality fabrics. Back then it was all about geometric shapes and templates, endlessly cutting with scissors, and I wanted no part of the hard work of quilting.  Heck, Pattie even hand quilted her stuff. A hyper, easily distracted person like me would never sentence herself to that kind of torture! She (and her quilting buddies) didn't think the way I did and the quilts Pattie has made are beautiful works of art and precision, loved and valued by the recipients.

Fast forward about 25 years. My kids started college and Pattie acted as my mentor and buddy while I learned how to make quilts, using newfangled gadgets which made quilting more fun and less tedious. Pattie is still making amazing, eyecandy quilts and I always look forward to seeing what is on her design wall.

Here is what I found. She isn't sure how big this quilt will end up, but it will adorn a special wall in her house sometime soon.

A few years ago we became interested in selvages and the projects we might make with them. Pattie was saving her selvages for me, but when she saw this quilt at the Tallgrass Prairie Studio blog, that was all she wrote. Sadly, I knew I was not getting any selvages from Pattie. (Cue the sad music.)

Pattie went to town on this project and says this is one fun quilt to make!

I thought I'd let you see a closeup of the fabrics Pattie's using. She didn't choose any particular color scheme, but let the selvages fall where they may.

Chester, the ginormous kitty, is not impressed.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Guadalupita Clouds

I hear these clouds are actually producing rain. Let the monsoons begin!

Monday, July 11, 2011


Why? I don't know. Let's just go with this:  I am married to a scavenger who likes to find things and bring them home. Or maybe he has been inhabited by the ghost of Georgia O'Keeffe.

Friday, July 8, 2011

La Risa Cafe in Ribera, New Mexico

Ernest is holding down the fort at the Nickel and Dime Ranch while we do a little traveling.

Tom suggested we stop for lunch at La Risa Cafe,  a restaurant off I-25 N, about 43 miles from Santa Fe, which many people might overlook because it's not fancy and the signs directing people to the restaurant are hand painted and somewhat faded.

Do not pass this one by, though, because you would be missing out on some careful, flavorful home style cooking and attentive service. The cafe is in a 100 year old house which feels like you are dining in a living history museum.

One indicator of whether a restaurant is good is how many cars are outside and are the license plates from the home state. If there is a mix of work trucks and passenger vehicles, that's a plus. If an elderly abuela (grandma) supported by a daughter and granddaughter is just leaving, there's another plus. No one's going to take Grandma to a crummy place! All these indicators were in place, so we knew it was going to be good. Chef Laura Boyd-Martinez has worked at several notable restaurants in Santa Fe and La Risa is a family venture, with her husband and two sons working alongside her.

Because the weather was nice, we had our choice of inside or outdoor seating. Ms. Pearl was with us, and New Mexico has a law allowing dogs to dine with their owners on restaurant patios, so we ate outside in the screened patio.

The patio was an art and plant filled space, airy, with a flagstone floor that Ms. P thought was cool. She flopped right down. Overall clad workmen, Texas tourists, and a large family ate with gusto, served by an efficient server who happened to be the chef's son.

La Risa Cafe has a website, so you can check out what there is to offer,  food offerings to satisfy every palate. Breakfast is served all day, so for me the easy choice was migas, a scrambled egg dish that included chiles, cheese and scallions. Green chile and beans were served on the side.

Tom had his go-to lunch dish, beef tacos. The tortillas were the blue corn type, which look kind of weird but have a robust, corny flavor.

Tom's choice of side was Spanish rice,  a sometimes scary decision in New Mexico. I've seen gloopy catsup-like rice, dried, overcooked barely pink rice, and undercooked white rice with a few tomato pieces. This rice was cooked to perfection with tomatoes, scallions, and corn added to the mix.

Chef Laura likes to bake and if I weren't being careful about my food choices I would have had a piece of pie in a minute. I also spied some freshly baked brownies being frosted and smelled spicy cookies. Maybe next time, because there will definitely be a next time.

La Risa means The Smile Laugh, and that's how I felt after eating my lunch there.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Quilty Pleasures Wednesday-Announcing the Winners and One Block Wonder Update!

The giveaway winners are #'s 10 and 18, Pattie and Rebecca! I used the Random Number Generator to choose the two winners, but I haven't figured out how you show the results in a blog post. I will have to read up on that.  I will get your fabric in the mail this week.

In other news, I am machine quilting this one block wonder which is a tad larger than a crib quilt. The quilt has been pieced since March (here's the post about it), but I am a big wuss about machine quilting and debated whether to take it to the quilter or to do it myself. I have done small pieces that turned out fine, but I quilted one quilt a long time ago that looked seriously ugly and it has stuck in my brain, "You quilt ugly quilts!" I know it's not true, but I am a "paralyzed perfectionist" about certain things and machine quilting is one of them.

There was a quilt show by the Teatime Quilters at Thread Bear in Las Vegas, NM a month or two ago and several of the One Block Wonder quilts our Friday group had completed were displayed. After looking at a couple quilts machine quilted by the same people who pieced them, I was encouraged.

It's just straight line quilting, but I am still a nervous wreck. To keep me calm and to pass the time I'm catching up on Breaking Bad, a television show about a chemistry teacher diagnosed with terminal cancer who decides to provide for his family by making meth. The moral dilemmas fly about, I am horrified and diverted enough to keep sewing, and I will never use meth or make it after watching this show. I promise!

That's Minkee you see on the quilt at the top and the bottom of the backing. For a baby, I thought that would be a nice touch, soft and cuddly for naps.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fourth of July Weekend-Northern New Mexico Style

In Las Vegas, New Mexico, Fourth of July is celebrated with Fiestas, a three day event with music, dancing, food and usually fireworks, but not this year due to the fire danger in New Mexico.

Much of the fun is centered at the Plaza Park, where people bring their folding chairs and blankets to make a day of it. It was a big crowd, there to watch their kids act in skits and dance, tap their feet to bands playing music, listen to the town's history by a New Mexico professor, and, of course, to eat. At other booths you could get a tattoo, buy biker chic clothing, pick up some jewelry or get your face painted.
Ringing the plaza were food trucks and booths serving elote (roasted corn), tacos, burritos, Frito pies, taco cones (which I will definitely taste next year), green chile cheeseburgers, and gigantic paper plates mounded with what looked like freshly fried potato chips. The Navajo taco line was really long, so I missed out there.

Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church was serving a meal, Tapetes de Lanas, the weaving center, had a watermelon eating contest, and little kids were sticky with cotton candy.

Because Las Vegas was founded by Spanish settlers way back in 1835, much of the entertainment has a Spanish/Mexico flavor. We were there to see Ernest's and Arlene's daughter dance Folklorico, always a crowd favorite.

The dancers did one selection while holding glasses of water, which I think showed how ladylike they could be while dancing. That's Leandra, Arlene's and Ernest's daughter in the foreground.

There were costume changes, and with the change of dress came a change in the style of dancing. The dancing in the white lace dresses was ladylike while the bright dresses signaled flashier dancing.

Leandra is studying to be an R.N. specializing in flight nursing.

The little kids were cute. Here's a dad giving his little girl a pep talk before they go on.

The little kids received the most applause. Don't you love little kids performing? They looked so serious, focusing on doing their best, their parents up there to get just the right photo op.

Hope your Fourth was a fun one, too! PS-We will announce the fabric giveaway winners on Quilty Pleasures Wednesday. See you there!

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Fourth of July Quilt and Strawberry Icebox Cake-A Winning Combination

At the First Las Vegas, the one in Northern New Mexico, tradition runs deep, and this weekend will be the annual Fourth of July Fiestas, a three day celebration with parades, coronation of a Fiesta Queen, food, music, and dancing. 

The first Fourth of July Fiestas was in 1850, in the same main Plaza where the festivities are still held today. That same Plaza just a little less than four years before was where General Stephen Kearney and his troops stood and told the stunned Las Vegas residents that they were no longer Mexican citizens, but under the "protection" of the Army of the United States. I am not sure they needed the U.S. to protect them, but that's the way it went.

I will be there for the first time this Saturday, to watch Ernest's daughter Leandra dance folklorico on the Plaza stage, eat some elote (roasted corn on the cob) from one of the street vendors, and look at the patriotic quilts displayed in Thread Bear's window. 

Here's the quilt I made for the window display. It was a challenge requiring us to use the patriotic flag panels and fabrics Ann had assembled in a bag. We were allowed to use up to four additional fabrics and we had to keep the quilt fairly small. I framed the flag panel with blue strips and all is quilted in the ditch. I quilted along the lines for the flag in the center.

When you look at this quilt, sing the first verse of America the Beautiful so you can "get it." I got the idea from a quilt by Sandra Millett I found in Quilt magazine (Winter 2002).  Hers is much bigger and way better. 

What you have here are "spacious skies," "amber waves of grain," "purple mountain majesties,"  and a "fruited plain." If I had spent more time on this I would have done a better job of finding appropriate fabric, but this is what I had in my stash. That's okay. I like it anyway.

Below is the back of the quilt which I like almost as much as the front. Miss Bonnie wouldn't move.

A Fourth of July barbeque needs a tasty dessert, and last summer I found a recipe for Strawberry Icebox Cake. I took it to a barbecue at our Yurt Neighbors' place and it was a hit!

You don't have to bake it, just layer the ingredients, put it in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight and then watch everyone pig out when they taste it.

Strawberry Icebox Cake


2 pounds of fresh strawberries
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
1 t vanilla
4 sleeves graham crackers (that's about 24 whole crackers)
Hershey's chocolate syrup, dark


1. Take out 4 or 5 good looking strawberries and set aside. Thinly slice the remaining strawberries.

2. Whip the whipping cream until it just starts to hold stiff peaks.(Stop the mixer, lift up the beater and if the cream peaks, that's what we're talking about here.) Add the sugar and vanilla and whip to combine. Don't overwhip or you will have butter.

3. Spread some whipped cream on the bottom of a 9 X 13 inch baking pan. Place six graham crackers on top of the whipped cream. Lightly layer another spoonful or two of whipped cream. Add a single layer of strawberries. Repeat the graham cracker layer, whipped cream layer, and strawberry layer three more times until you have four layers of graham crackers.

4. Spread the remaining whipped cream over the top and drizzle a zigzag of chocolate syrup over the whipped cream.
5. Cover the pan with some plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours. The graham crackers should have softened completely. They are supposed to be "cake-like."

Before serving, put the pretty strawberries you saved on top. This icebox cake is so yummy you should encourage everyone to eat it all because if there are leftovers in the fridge, you will find yourself spooning this strawberry goodness out of the pan in the middle of the night.

Serves 8