Archive for October, 2010

Home Sweet Home

October 26, 2010

My husband and I have been dog sitting for my daughter and her husband while they were out of town, and it is oh so good to be back home.  While I love dog sitting for Reilly, and I truly enjoy living in the lap of luxury – my daughter and her husband have a beautiful home – there is no place like home. 

Actually, I did spend a couple of nights home while my husband traveled back and forth, as my knee got reinjured in my land based evaluation.  I’ve been participating in aqua therapy for the past 3 months, and have made excellent progress.  It was trashed in a  few short minutes.   My regular therapist was out sick, and the person who was covering for him, put me on a machine and left me there for 20 minutes.  I finally asked another therapist to help me off the machine.  

Unfortunately, my kneecap shifted out of place, then moved back where it’s supposed to be.  And let me tell you, that is not a pleasant feeling at all.  To say I’m disgusted is putting it mildly.  The swelling started the next day, so back to  the familar RICE routine – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation .  I am sick to death of that routine.  Tomorrow is my last aqua therapy session – my health care insurance won’t pay for anymore, and I will ask my aqua therapist what she thinks of the mess.  She’s terrific, and will hopefully have some good advice for me.

I finished reading a book, started another, and am making very good progress with my handknit lace sweater.  

Hugs…

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October 2010 Ogden Art Group Meeting

October 21, 2010

We had a very nice meeting this month, with beautiful show and tell, and a bead making session.  Unfortunately, my camera acted up and I lost some of my photographs.  Most were of Pat’s beautiful African photo quilt.  Her husband is a terrific photographer, and they printed some of his images onto fabric.  The quilt was spectacular, and Pat added a section of finger weaving that suited the piece perfectly.  She’ll be teaching us how to finger weave next month. 

The fabric beads were a lot of fun to make.  The instructions are in the Spring 2003 issue of Quilting Arts magazine.  Here are pictures of some of the beads:

 

I passed on a url  for some knotted beads too, and they looked really good:

Various fabrics were used such as fleece,  ultrasuede and cotton.  All of them looked darn good, don’t you think? 

In case any of you would like to try making the knotted beads,  the url is  http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/4443/knotted-fabric-buttons-and-beads
Hugs….

Visit to Marcia’s Studio and Knit Preemie Hat

October 21, 2010

Tuesday was a beautiful, sunny day in Upstate New York, and it was a great day from the beginning to the end.  My morning started off with my friend Beth picking me up to drive with her to Marcia DeCamp’s art studio.  I met Marcia a few years ago when she joined Genesee Valley Quilt Club, and we are also members of Rochester Area Fiber Artists.   

She had a fabulous addition built onto her home, and do I ever have a bad case of art studio envy.  It’s hard to see in the photo, but she has sliding walls along the entire length of her studio with shelves behind them:


That’s just a small portion of some of her fabric collection. It’s a good mix of commercially printed fabric and her own hand dyed fabrics.   If you double click on the photo, you might be able to make out the tracks along the top of the photo.  That’s how the walls slide back and forth. 

There are also quite a few tables in her studio, and she is a gracious hostess,who welcomes her fellow textile artists to her wonderful studio for work sessions.   Her cutting table is the perfect height and LARGE, and she also has a long arm quilting machine. 

You might have seen some of her pieces in various shows across the country, and I count myself very lucky to have been able to visit Marcia in her studio this week.

We were joined by Priscilla Kibbee and Jeanne Simpson.  We  had a great time chatting, and working away on our projects.  Jeanne has a website too, but it’s not loading for me tonight, so I couldn’t automatically create a link.  Her url is www.jeannemsimpson.com

Priscilla was working on a striking wall quilt:


Jeanne was joining rows for a quilt she will be teaching at her next retreat:

And by the way, that’s Beth taking pictures too.  Jeanne was laughing and laughing as we all started taking pictures.  We were like a bunch of papparazzi taking photo after photo.  She’s lucky we didn’t damage her eyesight.  LOL

Marcia was working on a portion of a wall hanging, but I didn’t take photos as I think it will most likely be headed for some national venue, and a lot of the shows/galleries do not like pictures of quilts being displayed on the internet before they are accepted.  The colors were wonderful earth tones, my favorite color palette. 

I was making fabric beads and trying to sketch a layout for a quilt that has lingered on my design table for a couple of years.  Inspiration didn’t strike, so it most likely will linger a bit longer.

It was a wonderful day filled with lots of laughter, one of Beth’s cherry pies,  and good conversation.  Thank-you Beth for driving, and thank-you Marcia for opening your studio for us. 

When I got home, I finished knitting the preemie hat:

The yarn is actually a mix of very pretty pastels, but the lighting was bad when I took the photo.

Hugs…

3 Cheese Baked Ziti

October 18, 2010

Okie dokie, here is a picture of the 3 cheese baked ziti I made over the weekend:


Now this is a dish I would not prepare often, and it wasn’t the main portion of my meal, but oh my, was it ever good.  Those sweet red peppers sprinkled on the chicken came from our garden, and the cheese provided much needed calcium.   This type of “comfort food”  tastes wonderful, but it’s not exactly heart healthy.  For those of you who would like the recipe, here it is: 

3 Cheese Baked Ziti

8 ounces dry ziti
1 15 ounce jar of Alfredo sauce – I used Bertolli

Lightly butter your baking dish.  I cook for two, and didn’t want to be eating this all week long, so my pan size was 8 x 8 inches.   This recipe can easily be doubled.

Cook and drain your pasta.  Reuse the pan you cooked the pasta in – who wants to wash a lot of dishes – and add the Alfredo sauce.  Make sure the pan is off the heat, and gently stir the sauce through the pasta.

Place half this mixture in your greased pan. 

Middle Mixture
1 cup of ricotta cheese
1 large egg
2 TBS Parmesan cheese
1 TBS dried parsley flakes

Mix well, and evenly distribute over the pasta you have in your pan.

Spread  the rest of the pasta over the ricotta layer.

Last Layer
Sprinkle 6 ounces of grated Mozzarella cheese over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees – uncovered – for 30 minutes or until it’s nicely browned and bubbly.

There is still enough ricotta cheese left over to make another loaf of lemon nut bread, and this time I’m going to substitute almonds for the pecans.   That will be the end of my first batch of homemade ricotta cheese.  It’s so easy to make, I’ll most likely go into ricotta making business in December for lasagna making time.  LOL

On the textile front, I’m almost finished with the knit preemie hat, and tomorrow I’m making fabric beads, and visiting a friend’s art studio.

Hugs…

Another Preemie Hat and Ricotta Lemon Nut Bread

October 13, 2010

I was up till a little after 1 am EST watching the first few miners being rescued in Chili and making another preemie hat. This one is for a little boy:

 

It took very little time and is made out of another soft Conshohocken yarn I had in my yarn collection.  These are so darn small.  My daughter was 9 pounds at birth, and came home from the hospital in 6 month size clothes, so I have no personal experience holding a small baby.  From the pictures I’ve seen, these hats might actually be too large for the very small preemies though.

Next, I’ll try a hand knitting pattern.  It was another free pattern from www.youcanmakethis.com  It will most likely take me a few days as it is knit with 4 double pointed needles.  It’s been a long time since I’ve knit anything tubular.  My hands will have to relearn how to hold the needles.  There is always that adjustment period where I poke my hands, or my stomach, then lose a needle here or there before I get into the 4 double point needle knitting rhythm. 

I also baked a Ricotta Lemon Nut Bread yesterday:

My husband couldn’t even wait for it to cool off before he had a slice.  The bread was still steaming as he was happily consuming it.  LOL  I used more restraint and waited 10 minutes.  LOL

This is a recipe from an old Polly-O Ricotta cookbook.  The page was torn out and in a pile of recipes I’ve kept for about 30 years. 

Ricotta Lemon Nut Bread

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbls melted butter
8 ounces Polly-O Ricotta Cheese
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tsp grated lemon peel  – I didn’t have any in the house so substituted 1/2 tsp lemon extract.
1/2 tsp almond extract
3/4 cup chopped pecans – Next time I make this I’m going to use slivered almonds.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease a 9×5″ loaf pan.

In large bowl, combine the 5 dry ingredients.

In medium bowl, beat together the butter and remaining ingredients, except for the pecans.

Add the dry ingredients and the pecans, stirring just until blended.

Scoop into pan; smooth top.

Bake 50-60 minutes until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool in pan on wire rack 20 minutes.

Remove from pan and cool completely.

Makes 1 loaf, about 16 slices.

Enjoy, and Hugs…

Ricotta Cheese

October 12, 2010

I’ve been on a quest to locate Polly-O Ricotta Cheese since my 2 local grocery stores stopped carrying it.  They said it was too expensive, and nobody would buy it, but I live in an area with a high percentage of Italian-Americans and we like our Polly-O.  I wouldn’t bother making my Mom’s lasagna recipe without it. 

Wegmans is now selling their own store brand, and so is Tops.  I tried them both, and they don’t remotely taste like Polly-O.  I want my Polly-O Ricotta Cheese.  For those of you who don’t live on the East Coast, I found that it can be mail ordered from www.netgrocer.com  Yippee!!!   I’m sure some of the small Italian import stores still carry it, so all was not lost for me. 

I was talking about buying some in aqua therapy (I chat with everyone while we’re exercising.) and had the good luck to be in the pool with a wonderful lady who told me she makes her own.   She is a cook at the Italian-American club.  Who better to know what is what with Italian cuisine?

Last night ,that’s exactly what I did.  It wasn’t hard.  This is how Angelina told me to make ricotta cheese:

Buy 1 gallon of whole milk and heat it in a double boiler till it is 190 degrees.  Stir while heating to make sure you don’t scorch the milk.

Remove it from the heat.

Stir in 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar and 1/2 to 1 tsp of salt.

Stir it, and it instantly separates.

Cover the pan and let it sit for a couple of hours.

Line a colander with muslin – I used 2 layers – and pour out the mixture.  Let it drain for an hour or two – depending on how condensed you like your ricotta.  I let mine drain for an hour. 

Voila, you have ricotta cheese.  Store in the fridge in a covered container, and it will keep for about a week.  My yield was about 1.5 pounds of ricotta cheese.

Today I’m baking lemon pecan ricotta bread, and tomorrow I might bake ricotta cookies, and the day after I might make baked 3 cheese ziti.  Next week, I’ll make cheese again and try making Italian style cheese cake.  I’m not sure about that as I dearly and purely love my heart attack on a plate, 3 containers of Philadelphia cream cheese dense cheesecake, but I won’t know if I like the Italian style cheesecake unless I try it.   Such sacrifices I make for all you loyal blog readers.  Doing all this taste testing for you.  LOL

I’m also going to experiment with adding different seasonings.  I have a little under 2 ounces of liquid hickory smoke in the house  (left over from making 7 pounds of venison jerky) and am wondering what smoked ricotta cheese would taste like???  And I’d like to try adding some dried basil from my garden for an herb infused ricotta cheese next. 

This is not hard, and while it does take some time, most of it is spent in waiting for it to cool, and then drain.  I can’t wait to infuse different ingredients during the cheese making process, and will be sure to share my favorites with you.  

No pictures this time, but I’ll most likely take some  when I make it again so all of you can see how each step should look.  

Hugs..

Facebook, Frogs and Back in the Creativity Groove

October 11, 2010

Sad to admit, but true, I have been totally absorbed by playing Farmville on Facebook.  It has sapped all the creativity from me.  No more.  In my defense, I’ve been recovering from knee injury after knee injury, ankle sprain after ankle sprain, and have not been very mobile for a long time.  Aqua therapy is paying off, and I’m getting stronger.  I can walk some, do a bit of weeding, and am slowly but surely rehabbing my atrophied muscles. 

Luckily, I live in a beautiful part of Upstate New York and have been entertained by deer, foxes, turkeys and these death defying, window climbing frogs:


Yes, these little frogs climb our living room windows every night to catch their supper.  As night falls, and our lights are turned on, all sorts of moths and flies are attracted to our windows.  It’s like bringing take-out meals to the little frogs. 

These are not short windows.  They are at the top of them and about 10 feet from the ground.  One evening one of the smaller frogs snagged a moth that was bigger than he was.  We couldn’t believe it.  My husband and I were afraid it was more than he could handle.  His rear leg fell off the window, and it was touch and go for awhile, but he hung in there ,and won his hard fought battle.  Watching the ecosystem at work helped pass the time. 

The October RAFA meeting was last Thursday, and it was a good one.  It was the shot in the arm I needed to get back into creating something, anything with fiber:


That is an adorable preemie hat I made from a free pattern at www.youcanmakethis.com   The softest of cottons – Conshohocken cotton – was used for the hat and the flower trim, and the leaves were made with Cottontale 8 yarn.  It was a very light shade of green and I wanted it leaf green, so mixed some paints together to get the color I wanted.

The simple act of mixing paint colors now has me interested in overdying a silk scarf I made a few months ago.  Isn’t it interesting to see how starting out with a simple little project, got my creativity jump started? 

It is good to be back.

Hugs…