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Monday, December 22, 2014

December 2014

The Lazy Boyz came up to the house for a snack because, well, they like snacks, so we oblige them with what is called Cake. Its real name is Ranch Cake, made with supplements, minerals and other goodies. They just get a little because their food is grass, but Cake makes their day. Buffalo, one of The Boyz, reallytruly kicks up his heels when he sees us because He Likes Cake.

A few hours ago it started snowing and The Boyz were still hanging outside the garage.

 A Lazy Boy just never knows when there might be just a Little More Cake.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas Lights, Biscochitos and Abuelita Cocoa

Christmas is coming faster than that boulder chasing Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Keep running or be squashed flat! Three more pillow cases to go!

Las Vegas Plaza Bandstand
Yesterday I was a retail clerk, so after closing time there was a chance to see Las Vegas' (New Mexico, the original Vegas), Plaza lit up and gorgeous for Christmas. Here's a day view, but squint your eyes to make it dark and add swoops of multicolored lights going from bandstand to tree to tree and you have a good picture, right there in your mind.

Las Vegas, NM Bridge Street courtesy of
 On the way home, some places on our dark, rural highway have really done it up: A half mile of lit-up fence, two different landing strips for Santa, one in a field next to the house and another on the roof, and one place with a Nativity scene neatly fenced with lights,  the house and porch ablaze with blow-up Santa waving to anyone who was looking. It's heartening and hopeful to be driving on a dark, dark road and see Christmas lights blazing cheerily in the distance.

I am missing Santa Fe at night this year, but thought I'd share some New Mexico lighting along with a link to the recipe for biscochitos and a shout out to Abuelita Mexican cocoa.

Santuario de Chimayo (Shutterstock)

Hotel with electric farolitos (Shutterstock)

Paper bag farolitos Santa Fe (Shutterstock)
Those paper bags have sand inside to hold candles and are called farolitos in the northern part of the state and luminarias in the south. Tradition holds with the paper bags, but most businesses use electric lights that look kind of like the real thing, probably for safety purposes.

Canyon Road in Santa Fe has a Christmas Eve Farolito Walk and thousands of people walk the street to view the lights, eat cookies, and drink chocolate. It's a tradition and one I'd like to experience someday.

Canyon Road Merchants' Association

Anyway, here is the link to the biscochito recipe and a photo of my favorite hot chocolate, Abuelita (don't buy the instant version). A new friend says Ibarra is his fave Mexican chocolate and I can't dispute that because I like it, too.

Merry Christmas! Watch out for that boulder!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Pillowcases: Fun With Fabric

If you know Sheldon Cooper, he has an excellent video podcast series called Fun With Flags. It's everything you'd ever want to know about flags and then some.

If I were like Sheldon, I'd have a podcast called Fun With Fabric, but we have to settle for this blog, instead.

I had a rather nasty flu and was abed for a week or so, with guest appearances on the sofa every once in a while. Drinking Lipton Noodle Soup was pretty much the high point of each day and the rest was just a blur. Several days ago I finally turned the corner, though, and needed to Do Something. I was going nuts!
A couple years ago a group of us had fun making pillowcases at Thread Bear, my local (around here local is 24 miles) quilt shop and in my improved health, I remembered some recent posts about O'Quilts' pillowcase sewing flurry and said, "Oh, yeah." So I did some searching, found this helpful video and zoomed full speed ahead.
I've been making two pillowcases a night and have the cutting and sewing down to forty-three minutes per case, the time it takes to watch one television show, like Sherlock or Hell's Kitchen. So far I've made eleven, and today I gifted two. Here's what I have right now. I am missing the beautiful bird pillowcases I gave away and think I might just need to make a couple more of them.

Matrushka dolls, Viking ships, dragon seas, constellations, stars, snowflakes, flowers, birds in trees (those are the ones gone), fleurs, bugs and fairies. I have one last pillowcase to make which will be all about nature and maybe a couple more that are tres elegante.

Each time I make one, I say, "This is my favorite!" Right now these two are my faves:

The one above is made of Bugaboo fabric from Northcott.

The one below is Dawn Fairies from Michael Miller.

I just hope the pillowcases don't keep the little kiddoes from sleeping. If these were for my younger self, I'd spend a lot of time just looking at the pictures instead of napping.

But then, I was also the one whose mom had to nail the window shut so I wouldn't escape nap time and end up at the corner gas station.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Sewing Room is Kind of Clean

Thanks to Trudy, my beloved mom-in-law, I cleaned up the sewing room. She didn't make me do it, but the sewing room is the guest room, too, and it was quite a disaster. There are no photos this time of the detritus and decay, but trust me, it was insane in there.

So I folded and stashed fabric in their color coded bins upstairs in the closet. Extra bins of fabric ended up in our upstairs bedroom and should have crime scene tape surrounding the mess up there, since I've heard several times so far that it's hazardous walking in the dark. A purging is in order. Yeparoo.

But the sewing room is useable. No, it isn't pristine like the quilters' studios I see in magazines, but it works and I am determined to deal with those little pockets of insanity still lurking in the corners.

Here's my sewing area, still with a bit of debris, but I can use it.

I recently purchased a couple hanging lamps because I sorely needed lighting and this guy does the trick nicely. I've had the peg board since we moved in and love it. I still need an inspiration board, though, because the yellow magnetic chick board on the wall just isn't large enough.

The cutting area is a terrible catch-all and I am determined to cut it out! Cut what out, you ask? I drop stuff on that table and then I can't use it for its original purpose of cutting.

Another new lamp, both from Lamps Plus, hangs over the cutting area. Before I bought this lighting I carried a floor lamp from place to place to get more light on the subject. The cabinet is repainted, but I haven't found the right hardware, yet.

The fabric on the table's end needs to be cleaned up because it is obscuring my neato cutting carryall, which I purchased many years ago at Road to California. Here it is:

It holds cutting tools, replacement blades and a marking pencil or two.

The ironing board is in a tight spot right by the door and used to be set up in the hallway. I noticed, though, that the plaster on the hallway wall is getting nicked by my erratic pressing habits and I don't want to destroy any more of it right now.

That framed quilt, called Stuffed Olive, is circa 1966 and created by my aunt Kay using reverse applique. The painting near the doorway is by my friend in Truth or Consequences, Sue Sorenson. It's hard to see, but it's tie-died cattle crossing the road. Do you like my new Oliso iron? I'm still getting used to it.

The futon which used to be in this room is gone and we drove up to Colorado Springs to pick up this sleeper sofa. I love doing handwork or reading, or watching shows, all snug in my sewing room. Did I say we have heating in this house? With a thermostat? That's something new for me.

Usually the wicker table is in front of the sofa, so I can set up the computer or ipad there. My design wall behind the sofa is not so convenient, but I plan to buy some of those slider saucer dealies to place under the legs. Then the sofa can move easily and the wall will be more accessible.

That piece of patchwork is part of a modern Amish quilt I've been thinking about. I'm about there, thinking-wise, but I have some Christmas sewing to do before I can do anything.

Well, hope you enjoyed the clean-ish sewing room tour. I will endeavor to keep it in useable shape.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Here is Mr. Z carrying home a turkey the guys got for Thanksgiving. Mr. Turkey came from a flock of about forty gobblers which range up and down our valley throughout the year.

The rules say a hunter can harvest two turkeys in the spring and one in the fall, so the rest of the fellows are safe until springtime.

The meat tastes like very turkey-ish turkey. I marinated the breast in zesty Italian dressing and it roasted, immersed in a cup of melted butter and a half cup of olive oil.

Ms. Pearl is following along to ensure that the turkey doesn't come back alive and fly away.

We had a domestic turkey, too, who lived an organically good life on a farm about sixty-five miles away on the Rio Grande. We bought him from Cid's, the mini Whole Foods type grocery store in Taos.

Here is a photo from the Embudo Valley Organics website.

I don't know if this is the one we ate, but isn't he a beauty?

After Thanksgiving, Trudy, and then I, contracted a cold virus and we've been out for the count, resting in bed and hoping this bug doesn't last much longer. Trude had to travel feeling ill and I worried about her the whole time she was flying home.

She had some time to enjoy our Northern New Mexico sunshine, though, before she was zapped by the bug. Trudy's the best Mom-in-Law ever and we were so glad she was able to visit!

M and M came for Thanksgiving, too. Here they are ready to dig in.

Now Trudy is snug at home, Z, M and M are back to work and we are home alone once again. The exciting thing we did today was take the trash to the transfer station. Fun times.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

First Snow of the Season-Ranch Headquarters

Calling our place ranch headquarters is a joke, because with a gigantic herd of two Angus beef cattle, there's not much coordinating to do.

The snow is already starting to melt, but I hope there will be enough for our visitors to enjoy when they arrive on Friday.

Monday, November 17, 2014

First Snow: The Lazy Boyz Want Snacks!

Over the weekend we had snow, so the ski areas are happy and so was Ms. Pearl.

Playing Frisbee in the snow is the best thing, ever. The Frisbee lands under the snow and Ms. Pearl must dig for it. It's a fun time for a dog, that's for sure!

The Lazy Boyz, Roman and Buffalo, are looking decidedly, well, beefy. And very furry.

Do you have any snacks?

When temps get into the teens and below, or if it snows and the grass is covered up, we feed extra hay. If The Boyz don't keep up their calories, they will lose weight. They are full figured dudes and we want to keep it that way.

It's almost sundown, but the sun is still on the rim rock for a few more minutes.

Ms. P says that's just enough to throw the old Frisbee one more time.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Quilty Pleasures: Kansas City Star Sampler Finished

I am a great starter of quilts, but finishing them is something totally different. I get all angsty and second guess myself and it's just easier to place the almost finished quilt in a bag and start something else. People who can complete a quilt project from start to finish with none of this drama are in my Hall of Fame, but that's just not me. (Honesty time: It's been eight months since I did the layout for this quilt.) Dang!

So when I finish something, it's usually because someone has gently twisted my arm or the old Catholic Guilt Machine started drilling into my psyche, creating more angst than not completing the project would.

You might remember a few of the blocks in this quilt because I featured them here and here. I even showed you the layout here.

So it's done. This was a Block of the Month project, and I didn't want to use a traditional setting, so adapted one I saw on the GenX Quilters' site.

The quilting was done by the excellent Claudette Maitland, who owns Turquoise Angel Quilting in Angel Fire, NM, and each block has been quilted differently. I asked Claudette to quilt the negative space in the center with wavy lines about a hand's width apart. After I got the quilt back, I decided to add a few more quilting lines to the center to make it more interesting.

In the larger photo you probably thought the black background was solid, but surprise, it's a pin dot! 

If I were to do this setting again, I would have added six more blocks, with the first row on each end filled with four blocks, then three, two, and one. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Election Day 2014, Country Style

Today was election day, so we went to pick up the mail at the post office and then to vote.

Our polling place is very picturesque:

It's the fire station and that metal cylinder is the water tank. The water from the tank fills the pumper truck.

At the gate where we turned in from the highway (no campaigning within 100 feet of a polling station, so she was within the rules) sat a lone woman under an umbrella who urged us to vote for her son as a write-in candidate for sheriff. I didn't take her photo because I thought it might make her nervous. Also on duty at the gate were a Rottweiler and an Australian Shepherd from a neighboring ranch who tried to herd our truck as we turned in.

So here we were.

We voted inside the fire station where they keep the trucks.

Sharpie-type pens were used to mark the ballots and then voters fed the ballots into a machine that I hope was calibrated accurately.

94 percent of our county are white. 81 percent are Hispanic or Latino, so it makes sense that the ballot would have many Hispanic candidates. The median household income is $40,000, but 88% of the population own their homes.

Some are simple:

And some are grand:

But rich or poor, voting is a big thing here, and there's usually a pretty good turnout. 

Government of the people, by the people and for the people.

New Mexico State Capitol, Santa Fe

Humbug Bag Class at Thread Bear

 Hmm, what's this? It's a Humbug Bag. What's a Humbug Bag? It's a place to store small items: Sewing stuff, school supplies, makeup, a small portable project.

I'm going to be teaching how to make this Humbug Bag at Threadbear on Saturday, November 15.

But you won't make just one Humbug Bag.  Nope.

And you won't make just two Humbug Bags.

You will make three, totally cute Humbug Bags. They are that easy to make, even if you are zipperly challenged. Really!

Aren't they cute? The class will be on Saturday, November 15, 1-3 p.m.

Come in to the store or give Thread Bear in Las Vegas, NM, a call to sign up for the class.  (505) 425-6263

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Las Vegas (New Mexico) Art Studio Tour

I am excited to have two quilts in this tour, the first time my quilts have attended a real live art show.

Quilts will be in the Bell Gallery at Highlands University.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fall is Rust and Gold

The yellows of the last-of-the-season blooming chamisa in the foreground along with the golden cottonwoods and rust colored oak leaves help me to appreciate the concept of seasons.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Growing Dome- Fall 2014

It really is fall here, now, with the pretty aspen trees and last night's below freezing temperatures. In SoCal, there really aren't distinct seasons, but just hot and not so hot. Back in California, when it dipped into the 50's, I'd get out my long underwear and think I was really cold.

 But I didn't really know what cold was until I moved to Northern New Mexico. Heck, there's a small community around here whose nickname is Little Alaska, for heaven's sake!

But I am willing to put on my coat and longies for winter because it's a fine trade for wonderful, temperate summers. Months of over 100 degrees is not my thing, so I find the lightest weight, high performance warmies to wear during wintertime and deal with it.

One way I cope with colder weather is with my Growing Dome, where I have a chance to garden and to bask in the winter sun. Over 300 days of sunshine definitely hits the spot.

During winter I grow cool season crops like chard, kale, lettuce, and all that.

 During summer, I grow most of my tomatoes and all of my cucumbers inside the dome. Some friends grow tomatoes outdoors, but I seem to have bad luck with outdoor tomato plants. They give me a few and then it freezes. I know I could mess around with walls of water and little hoop houses, so maybe that's on the agenda for next year.

Right now my outdoor tomatoes are toast, but inside things are still perking along.

It's like a jungle sometimes/ Sometimes I wonder how I keep from going under (Sorry-Grandmaster Flash took over for a sec.)

In here it's usually about 20 degrees warmer. Temp outside was 29F last night, but all is well inside the dome.

Here's a pretty yellow tomato. I had some red ones, but a varmint climbed inside and chewed them down. We added some wire mesh to the side air vents, so maybe that will keep the little @#$@ out.

We still have plenty of green tomatoes, so if our days are in the 50's to 60's for a while longer,  they will ripen.

We have a load of cucumbers on the vines. Earlier in the summer there were juicy, tasty green straight eight's. Then a couple weeks ago the cucumbers started looking like this. I waited for them to turn green but they never did. They taste fine except for a little bitterness at the stem end (my fault for not being a consistent waterer). Earlier I replanted some varmint-ravaged plants, and maybe they were Poona Kheera seeds? It's a mystery.

Each time I visit the dome there is something to pick, which is totally cool. Earlier I had a bumper crop of Shishito peppers, but the aphids made them anemic, so I had to pull the plants. Those peppers were the best, though, just sauteed with a little salt and lime. Yum!

My fishies are doing well. Last year I was mystified to see strange little fish in the dome's water tank, then realized my original three goldfish had a menage a trois which resulted in fourteen goldfish babies! 

Not Koi, but plain old Wal-Mart goldfish, they recognize me when I lean over to visit, happy to eat their fish food pellets.  During winter they hunker down at the bottom of the tank and wait for spring.

So come on, winter! I'm ready for you. 

Well, kind of.