Friday, June 29, 2007


I'm having a busy few days, with not much time for sewing. Work all day, book group last night and a wedding tonight. I'm hoping to work on those pesky blue and white squares a little this weekend, but I'm also planning on working a little at the job too, so I can take Thursday and Friday off next week, making it a 5-day weekend. Woohoo!

So, with nothing new to show you, the classic fall-back is to show you something I love. This time around, I'll show you some of my favorite bags. The quilty peeps and I have been exchanging gifts for years (although we're currently in a lazy spurt and need to get back to it.) We always make 4 of whatever item we make, that way we all have the same goodies. Over the years, we've made a few bags:

I carry this little gem, made by Gurney, all around the house with me. It holds all the little tools that I need for hand work -- hand quilting, mending, etc. It's the perfect size.Junie made this little bag. I didn't use to be a bag person, and I remember when she gave it to me I wondered what I would use it for. It was too small for a magazine but too big to be my little "handwork" bag, as pictured above. But, that was before I became a sock knitter. It's THE perfect size for my sock knitting project du jour. It travels everywhere with me!And my big bag, made by Jewels. I love big totebags. They're great for everything. This one currently cuddles a sweater that I'm working on.I'm such a lucky girl to have such good friends. I luv me my quilty peeps -- and the bags they've given me!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Letter.

Dear Sirius and Cassie,

The Lady here has suggested that I write you two a little note, you know, a welcome to the 'hood sort of thing. (You know how mother's "suggest" that you clean your room or something? Yeah, that sort of "suggestion.") Anyway, I'm ok with it. Welcome to Blogland all the way from over here in America!

Hopefully you'll like it around here. There's lots to see. Lots of kittie porn. You can make new friends and check up on all their cuteness. Like here, and here, and even a hint as to what you might look like when you grow up, here. And, of course, Moi. As you can probably see, I'm a rather handsome stud myself, blurriness and all.It looks as though you've found yourselves a rather wonderful family. And they've bought you such a pretty bed! My Lady bought me the dumbest thing. I know she meant well, and thought I'd like it 'cause I jump into every bag or box that she puts down. But, Hel-lo! I'm way too big for that stupid bed. Besides, it's a cat head, for crying out loud. I sent it over to my Auntie kitties and they didn't like it either. Smart Aunties. Hey, before I forget ... can you get Haggis in your kitty food over there? 'Cause, that could be pretty tasty!

Well, anyway, not that you two need it or anything, but I thought I'd give you a few tips, you know, in a big brother sort of way:

::Your people will love it when you leap at them. I see you're well on your way to perfecting that. The other day, I took a running leap at my Lady and almost buckled her knees. I'll try harder next time.

::If you can find yarn or string around, it's great fun to unwind it all through the house. Around table legs, up and down stairs, in and out of rooms. Stay away from the ribbons though. Man that stuff is fun to eat. I ate a few feet of it one day and got a big tummy ache. Stopped eating for a few days (you know it had to be serious, 'cause I have to eat often to maintain my stunning physique.) Anyway, next thing I knew, they cut me open and took all that ribbon out. Ouch!::The men are the best to cuddle up with. They have those strong hands that are good for scratching behind the ears.

::Hide and seek is awesome. Cassie, I heard that you've tried that one out already. Kinda freaks the people out when they can't find you! But it's oh-so-fun to listen to them calling and calling your name while you're hidden somewhere snickering.

I guess I should probably wrap this little missive up. My lady has been kinda crabby lately. She's been working on a blue and white quilt. She laid a ton of little square pieces all over the living room floor the other day. I had the time of my life dive-bombing all that fabric. Even took a slip-n-slide approach and ended up under the couch. Then, I hear the Lady yelling at me and her big ol' face appeared under that skirt-flap and she yanked those squares I took under the couch away from me. Poor sport. She's got no sense of humor. I heard her complaining to her Mum (hey -- like how I'm using Scotland-speak for Mom?) that she didn't have enough blocks and now she's going to have to make a bunch more. Sah-weet! I hope she lays them all over the floor again.
Well, you kids be good. When you get a little older, I'll tell you a few big kitty tricks. Let's just say, stuffed animals are involved. (Ooh, maybe I shouldn't have said that -- your Lady might not let you hang out with me.)
Later man,

P.S. Have you two heard anything from Sheepcat lately? If you see him, tell him I said hello!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I've Been to the Holy Land.

The fabric mecca. It was awesome and I could kick myself for waiting so long!

I arrived early in the morning (the early bird gets better parking rates at the PATH station), before all the shops were open, so I decided to go to Times Square and walk around. Good Morning America was playing on ABC's jumbotron, and I remembered that they have free concerts in the park so I walked over there. What a beautiful little park in the middle of all the skyscrapers. And look, over there to the right -- they have movies in the park! How cool! But I digress.

The free concert. OMG it was Hannah Montana!!!! (You have to read that in your best screaming twelve year old voice!) Who the heck is HM??? I've never seen so many screaming little preteen girls in my life! It was pretty cute. I walked around the outskirts of the concert and happened to be on the street near the Bryant Park Hotel, when the flurry of body guards and HM made their exit. I had the perfect up close, unobstructed, picture of the starlet herself that I was going to post for those of you with little girls, but my shutter wouldn't snap and in a split second the opportunity was gone. Oh well. I was comforted in the fact that it wasn't Sawyer -- a missed close-up of him would have been truly tragic!Ahem. Back to Mecca. Now, we can have my screaming old woman voice. Holy Cow! I was beginning to get all emotional with the beauty of all those fabric, button, trim, etc. shops when I passed this shirt:No. Really. I don't think it would have been appropriate for me to show my emotion. They would have taken me away. I visited many of the shops that others have described, and like Flibbertygibbet, I'll forgo the links here and leave that up to Liesl's fine post. And, I'll just summarize, as both Flibbertygibbet and Yarnstorm have just been to visit this past week and they have fabulous write-ups!

I spent most of the morning in the garment/fashion district. Gail...what on earth could you have been thinking by sending me to Daytona? Did you notice how many fabric stores are on that street? I'm not young like you are. My heart almost couldn't take it. At least you had the good sense to teach me your breathe in, breathe out techniques months ago. It came in very handy. Thanks for the great recommendation -- I hadn't seen Daytona on the other blogs, and like you, I loved the place.

And I thought I'd lose my mind in B&J fabrics. I've never seen so many cottons with lycra in one place. It was interesting though and shows that you have to be careful. One of the Hop Skip Jump prints was on a big roll of fabric in the cotton section for $12.95/yd. Much higher than the $9.xx/yd print on the bolt at Purl. The fabric width was the same -- maybe you just pay more for the privilege of having no fold in your fabric? MJ Trim and Tinsel Trading's ribbon shop were other favorites. I mostly just found myself wandering around wondering what other fabulous shops were hidden among those monster buildings that we don't know about.

I walked all over and managed to cover more shops than I thought I would in
the short time I had. I was surprised, really, at how small all the shops are. These places are larger than life in blogland. Nowhere was this more evident than at Purl and Purl Patchwork. Tiny little shops. But so well loved. I pondered this fact while flying home on Friday night and decided it's just the sheer quality of the product inside. And then, probably almost at the same time I was flying, Jane wrote this post which said it all about Purl, much better than I could.

A few other favorites:

This is why I don't want to park in NYC. Just how do they get those cars on that 4th tier???Probably a common sight, but not in my neighborhood. Too fun!And of course, I had to go to these two places. Research, you understand. A taste comparison.
But could I make a decision? No. Perhaps Magnolia makes the better cupcake. I bought a few to bring home and they survived being slammed against the top of the box while I ran through O'Hare trying to make a tight connection. (Which was pointless, 'cause even though you get to your gate and watch the plane sitting there for 10 minutes, if you and the other delayed passengers are a second past the boarding window, fuggeddaboutit. At least there was a cupcake to console me.)

So. I loved it. The quilty peeps and I are hoping to go to NYC in the fall. Ladies, Mr Doubtfire said it best to Mrs. Doubtfire: "Brace yourself, Effie." Yup. Methinks it's as good as what Effie was in for!


P.S. Isabelle has her person from Salford. And I have my Karen, the mystery person who is leaving me wonderful comments. Karen, I'd like to respond to you, but blogger is giving my no hints about who you really are -- I don't think you're my
Ohio friend Karen or Yellow Farmhouse Karen. What other Karen am I forgetting about? Please send me an e-mail, so I'll know!

Thursday, June 21, 2007


When I travel for business, in the evenings, I like to do something "local." Most of the time, that means finding a local quilt or fabric shop. Since I visit the same locations, I fall into habit and tend to visit the same places each time. New Jersey has proven a little difficult from the "shopping" standpoint, so, my favorite activity evolved into visiting Liberty State Park. I love to stop here on my way in or out of Newark airport. If I have at least 30 minutes, I love to come here. I enjoy walking around the train station, dreaming of all those immigrants who came here, after processing through Ellis Island, to catch a train to their new life in America. And I sit on a bench and just look. I look at Miss Liberty. I look at the boats going by. But mostly, I just look at the Manhattan skyline. Just staring wistfully across the water, dreaming of all the treasures that lie buried among all those skyscrapers.I've been coming to NJ for several years, but never quite figured out how to get into Manhattan, among those skyscrapers, on the short schedule I always seem to have. On my first attempt, I decided to drive into Manhattan. Just get the "lay of the land", I reasoned. I have a pretty good sense of direction, so, in general, I feel that if I do get lost, I'll eventually find my way. I mean, I'm still here, so, I couldn't have been too lost. And, I've driven in several big cities, so NYC should be no problem, right? Armed with my rental car map, I drove through Holland Tunnel and emerged into a web of one-way streets that weren't marked on my map. It wasn't long before I found myself headed to Brooklyn on the Brooklyn Bridge. I viewed this as a happy accident -- if I hadn't ended up going the wrong direction, I would never have seen the Brooklyn Bridge. It's beautiful and I'm sure I looked like a little kid with my mouth gaping open. I also briefly felt myself transported into Francie's world. Very cool for a girl (me) who lives in an architecturally challenged place! By the time I got turned around and back into Manhattan, I sort of figured out the method to the one-way streets and made it to my goal, Times Square. By now, it was dark, so Times Square was spectacular. As much as it could be from the point of view of a driver in a car trying to avoid striking one of the hoards of pedestrian tourists. That was enough for one night, so I drove out of Manhattan and headed back to NJ to my hotel.I'd survived that first attempt, so on a subsequent trip to NJ, I decided I'd try it again. I really wanted to visit The City Quilter. (This was before my blogging days -- before I knew about Purl and Tinsel Trading and ... well everything else. The only thing I had to go by back then was my quilt shop guide and the only quilt shop it listed was The City Quilter.) This time, I had a better map and a better plan. After my plane landed, I headed to the Lincoln Tunnel. What the ??? I sat in traffic for over an hour, just to get to the tunnel. I thought rush hour traffic (it was after 6:00 p.m.) was supposed to be headed out of the city, not into it. Clearly, NYC doesn't play by rush hour rules. I finally found my way to City Quilter's neighborhood, nervous that it wouldn't be long before they closed. I found a parking "garage" and pulled in. More like pulling into someone's living room. The cars were stacked 6 or 8 deep, and there was nowhere for me to go. The attendant appeared and asked for my keys. Um. Ok. I handed them over and he disappeared with my car into another "room" in this building. I hoped I'd see my car again. I paid my quick visit to City Quilter, and when they closed, I returned for my car. It took 10 minutes, but my car reappeared. For all I know, it drove to Queens in my absence. Maybe they don't really park your car. Maybe they just drive it around until someone calls them to bring it back. You never know.I might be a little slow, but I got the message. Cars aren't meant to be in Manhattan. I sort of gave up, but then I discovered blogs and so. many. of. you. blog. about all the craftiness of NYC. All I had to do was figure out how to get from where I was in central NJ to some sort of public transportation (along with a few other logistics issues.) I think I've finally figured that out. I'll try my plan out tomorrow. If you never hear from me again, you'll know my plan didn't work. ;-)


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Step Away From Your Blog!

Aack! I've been "off the grid" for a few days and my bloglines is lit up worse than a Christmas tree! I fear I'll never get caught up on all of your lovely blogs. I'm on business travel, which usually isn't a problem because I can catch up with you in the evenings. But the preparations for the trip and then the weather delays, and just real life got in the way of my addiction.

Storms on the east coast yesterday. I should have had an easy flight from D.C. to Newark last night, but there were ground stoppages (is that a word?) So, I rented a car a drove. I SO wished it had been daylight. I've never been to Delaware (woohoo, check that off my list of the lower 48 states to visit -- only 5 to go to make all 48!) and the short blitz through there looked as though it might be beautiful. I really wanted to see the Delaware Memorial Bridge with the sun -- as I crossed over it, it looked as though it may be huge -- with big supports that reminded me of those on the Golden Gate Bridge. But then it may have been my imagination -- it was dark and rainy, so I'm not sure what was out there.

I've just barely, and I mean just barely, read a few blogs this morning and it looks as though you've all been busy! Summertime activities and sewing! Look at this great new block! I just love Leanne's stuff. And check out Miss Marzie's new apron that Lululollylegs made. They had an apron swap and Miss Marzie made Lululollylegs a fabulous apron too! That's some serious swapping!!!

Unfortunately, I must run to meetings now. You all need to take a break. Go rest for a few days. Give a poor blog reader a break!!! I'll leave you with this wonderful picture of these adorable pincushions that the very clever and funny Vallen sent to me a few days ago. Just because she read that I wanted to start a pincushion collection. Aren't they cute??? Check out the cute little birdie, the nest and that adorable little china cup. Oh so clever! Thank you SO much Vallen -- I just love them all!!!

Remember, you're all resting......

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day!

I'm one of the lucky ones. I have a wonderful father! Here's a picture of BigDaddy when he was a little boy, taken around 1934 or 1935. He's the little guy, next to his big brother. Isn't he a cutie? You can just see the mischief in his eye. I would loved to have been around back then. I suspect he was a handful when he was a little boy.

As an adult, he's been a lot of fun. He was such a gentle, loving father. He came by it honestly -- his father was that way too. When I was very young, my maternal grandfather was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. Long before the days of Hospice, BigDaddy took a 4 month leave of absence from work, and our little family of four moved to my Grandma's house, so that BigDaddy could take care of his father-in-law in his last days. What an incredible thing to do -- that's the kind of big heart BigDaddy has.

I never remember him raising his voice to MyDadLovesMeBestSister and me. We adored him, so if we were acting up, all he had to do was look at us disapprovingly and we straightened right up. I also don't remember being spanked. I do remember the one time I learned just how smart he is. MyDadLovesMeBestSister and I must have done something to make him really mad. He told us that he would spank us in 30 minutes. Oh the suffering! 30 minutes (which is forever to a little girl) of worrying about a spanking-to-come was FAR worse than an actual spanking. We spent our 30 minutes trying to figure out how to soften the blow. Our final solution was for each of us to tuck a kitchen pan in our pants to shield our rear ends. I don't remember the spanking, but I sure remember the suffering that preceded it!

BigDaddy has always been surrounded by women and he's learned to go with the flow. Always game to visit a quilt shop or just hang out with the ladies. Remember that picture I posted in March of us in our aprons? That's typical Dad. But he's not a girly man! He holds his own with the manly men. He can do anything around the house -- from hang wallpaper to rebuild a car engine. And he's a fabulous woodworker.

Really, I must stop now. You get the picture. He's just perfect and I love him so! Happy Father's Day BigDaddy. You're a Good Egg!!!


P.S. Here's a sweet video, not really Father related, but perfect for Father's Day. It's been mentioned on several blogs, but if you haven't seen it, it's well worth it!

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Garden Shed

With all the gardening going on in blogland, I've been wanting to show you the pond and the little shed that my brother-in-law built for MyDadLovesMeBestSister a few years ago.The pond area used to be a big hill -- my BIL dug it all out (the whole area, not just where the actual water is) by hand with a shovel. He's such a hard worker! My BIL is a lot of fun and he loves to do handyman things. He'll try anything -- even if he's never done it before. (Which is a little scarey, if you think about it.) I love that sense of adventure about him! They live in an 80 year old house, so he's had a lot of projects. When the family girls were in Hawaii, he gutted the one full bath in the house, as a surprise for MyDadLovesMeBestSister upon her return. She had been wanting to re-do the bathroom for years. He did a great job -- it wasn't quite complete when we returned, but what can you expect for only one week? MyDadLovesMeBestSister was SO excited. *

Anyway, back to the pond and shed. My BIL also did all the work on the shed himself, with barely any plans. The picture to the right is a close-up of the door. They found an old screen door in the attic and asked me to paint it for them. He did a great job on the shed -- it's so cute and MyDadLovesMeBestSister keeps all of her gardening tools inside, along with a potting bench. She did all the landscaping around the pond. I think she did a great job of planning where everything should go. You can't really tell it from the pictures, but the pond is directly in front of the shed. So, if you are standing with your back to the door of the shed, you'll be looking at the pond.Wouldn't you just love to have a little gardening shed with a pond like this? I sure would!

Have a great weekend everyone!

P.S. It should be noted, that while I would love for TheManoftheHouse to be such a hard worker like my BIL, if TheManoftheHouse decided to completely redecorate a room in the house while I was gone, I would have to "do him bodily harm"! Really, would your ManoftheHouse be able to remodel to your tastes? I also admire my sister's fabulous ability to be so easy going!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


On Sunday, while I was sewing, MeMum called and said she'd made some strawberry shortcake and wouldn't I like to come over? Well, no one has to twist my arm! MeMum makes awesome strawberry shortcake. Except, can you call it shortcake if there's no shortcake? We've always called it shortcake, but it's really an angel food cake. It's one of my favorites and the highlight of this time of year!The sponge cake is sweet, moist and just heavenly. Nothing like those little angel food cakes they sell next to the strawberries this time of year. In the event you might be interested, I thought I'd share MeMum's recipe:

Angel Food Cake

12 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 cup sifted cake flour
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat egg whites (at room temperature) and salt until foamy. Add cream of tartar; beat until soft peaks form. Add 1 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until stiff peaks form.

Sift remaining 1/2 cup sugar and flour together. Gently fold into egg whites. Add flavorings.

Spoon the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Invert cake; cool 1 hour or until completely cool. Remove cake from pan. Yield: one 10-inch cake.

Add strawberries mixed with a little sugar, and whipped cream. (Cool whip, if you must, but this cake really cries for the real thing!)

In the meantime, I've been trying to keep up with all of you bloggers. You're all wearing me out -- in a wonderful sort of way! I think maybe we should have one blog-free day a week. You know, kind of like in the old days, how Sunday was a day of rest. Probably wouldn't work though -- everyone would just save up what they had to say and then double-blog.

Apparently, Julie just can't sit still. Look what she's come up with now. She's incredible!

Here and here are some samples of the cute quilts at Dogged.

And check out this little beauty over at Barefoot Daydreams. Very inspiring.

I feel a nap coming on. See you next time.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A Beautiful Weekend

It was such a nice weekend here. The weather was perfect. I attended a high school graduation party yesterday, and then high school graduation. It was fun to see several of my sons' friends who have been away at college. This was their common reaction: "Well hello, Mrs. Thimbleanna, what are you doing here?" You know, not having a graduate and all. Well, I just love going to graduations. Love seeing those eager, pensive faces. So happy to be done. Yet wondering what the fall will bring. And graduation is always full of traditions -- the speeches, the awards, the bagpipers and the proud, teary-eyed families. Not to mention the outdoor ceremony, which makes it even more enticing. It all made for a more than pleasant Saturday.

Today, I managed to sneak in a batch of flapjacks and then a little sewing. A new apron, modeled by one of our big pine trees in the backyard. TheManoftheHouse ventured into the dungeon this morning, wondering what I was making. "Don't you already have an apron?" Why, yes I do. But they keep making cute fabric and I can't think of anything to make with it. So, I made another apron.My camera hungry petunias were just a little jealous of the pine tree, so I promised them the close up. I did the little embroidery on my machine -- it came from Embroidables. I think a little piece of hand embroidery would look really cute there too -- maybe an embroidered version of one of the desserts on the Susan Branch dessert print. I probably should have waited for Susan Branch's new embroidery patterns to come out. Guess I'll just have to make something else with her fabric when they do!


P.S. Do you think there are any flickr tutorials? 'Cause sometimes I just don't get flickr. Like browsing flickr. And adding pictures to other groups. And lots of stuff like that.

Thursday, June 7, 2007


Just a little one. I need a diversion from socks and from fabric folding. My stew-dee-o sewing room is such a pigsty so I'm doing a little cleaning. I'm finding the fabric folding method to be very helpful, although pretty slow. Hopefully I'll be done before TheSecondChild graduates from college in two years.

Not much else happ'nin around here. The quilty peeps and I are in a high state of distress. Our LYS closed and we've been rendered Cascade220Less. If you have any good recommendations for great yarn mail order places, we'd love to hear them!

Remember when I posted about s'mores? I found these and these that look heavenly. Definitely on the list to try. Btw, I tried the Eclair Cake and it was a big hit with TheManoftheHouse and my extended family. Yum, Yum.

And if you haven't checked out H2's blog, get thee there now. She's been doing a great series of posts on the SLC quilt market. Have you ever seen a booth so beautiful?

TheEmptyNestChild told me this better be a scarf for him. Hard to believe that sweet innocent face could have those balls of yarn spread all over the house in a matter of minutes.


Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Favorite Shops in TheBigCity

I always enjoy going to Indianapolis if I know I'll have time to hit some of the quilt and yarn shops. This past weekend was perfect because TheManoftheHouse had a show that he wanted to see, so I dropped him off for the day and then I went shopping. Indy being the "Crossroads of America" and all*, I thought I'd tell you about my favorite shops there. I'm sure someone like Be*mused is infinitely more qualified to tell you about these shops, but I'll give you my opinion anyway.

So, here they are , 3 yarn shops and 3 quilt shops, starting on the south side of Indianapolis and finishing on the north side. Luckily they all have websites which will give you much better info than I ever could.

Back Door Quilts
. This is a great quilt shop. They have lots of stuff that covers a wide variety of styles of quilting. A little bit of everything -- except for the "modern" quilter. No free spirit types of fabric that I noticed.
For yarn shops, the mecca is Mass Ave. Knit Shop. After reading descriptions on the internet, I'd imagined a very sexy warehouse setting (picture New York Loft), neat, tidy and very stylish. Not so. It's pretty haphazard. A well-worn pair of shoes sort of feeling. But, oh, the yarn. And books. And friendly atmosphere. And lucky me -- I just happened to be there when everything in the store was at least 20% off. How often does that happen at a yarn store? (If you're near Indy, the sale lasts until Saturday, June 9th!) Mass Ave. Knit Shop is very near downtown. A little hard to find, but well worth it. You enter through the back door, sign pictured here.
I also like The Knit Stop. It's a much smaller shop, but very pretty. Lots of shop samples and inspiration. When I was there on Saturday, there were three dogs roaming around. I love dogs, so that was a really fun surprise and an unusual twist on the yarn-shops-are-for-cats line of thinking. And good news, they're getting ready to expand into the shop next to them, thus doubling their shop size.

Practically next door and just down the street from The Knit Stop is Quilts Plus. This has long been my favorite quilt shop, although The Back Door is giving it a run for it's money! They have beautifully made quilts, which are getting harder and harder to find as we are busier and tend not to invest time in the details of many pieces and fine handwork. Lots of civil war and wool stuff too.
Another quilt shop is Quilt Quarters. They're also a Bernina Dealer. I don't know what it is about quilt shops that are also dealers, but somehow they lose some points on charm. Quilt Quarters probably has the largest variety of fabric of the three shops with just a smidgen of Free Spirit to boot. And look, I felt compelled to buy some of the new Susan Branch fabrics here too. Do I need more fabric? No. But, it's my over-crammed sewing room and I'll buy if I want to.
And last but not least was my real treat for the day. The loverly Jewels has been telling Junie and I about Stitches and Scones for several months and I finally got to check it out. I loved it! Great yarns and displays and exceptionally neat and tidy. As my 12-yr. old nephew would say Sa-weet! Thanks Jewels for the recommendation -- it should definitely be added to our list for girls-day-out!
Somewhere along the way I picked up this Duck Duck Goose fabric. There are no babies (that I know of) on my radar. But I just had to have it. Maybe I'll make it for me. Well, probably not really. Maybe I'll do like Gurney and start a baby hope chest for those grandbabies that may someday arrive.XOXO,

*You never know when you'll be driving across the country! I-70 runs smack-dab through the middle of Indy. Along with three other major freeways: I-65, I-69, and I-74. It's not the quilty/yarn mecca that someplace like Minnesota is, but just in case you're driving through....

Sunday, June 3, 2007

My Favorite Places to Eat

On Friday night, TheManoftheHouse asked me if I'd like to go to The Big City on Saturday. We had a fun day, with just one annoying moment. For some reason, he decided to inform me that, with the boys soon out of college, we should think about downsizing.

We have several friends who are beginning their downsizing. But, I've never understood this concept. Just because the kids are gone, doesn't mean you don't need the space. I want space so the kids will want to bring their kids back home. And we can have big family dinners. And if TheManoftheHouse is bugging me, I can hide out somewhere.

So, after a little thought, I told him I had a downsizing plan for him. He'll be the first thing to go. He wasn't amused. It's such a burden to have to slap him back into reality sometimes. And he's burdened by the fact that his wife is a smart arse. Oh well...there'll be no more talk of downsizing, if you know what's good for you. ThankYouVeryMuch.

Now....on to the purpose of this post! KBG has tagged me to list my 5 favorite restaurants where I live. Please keep in mind that she said I can cheat:

1. Hands down, my favorite place in Ft. Wayne, IN is Asakusa -- a little hole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurant and sushi bar. Not that I'm a big sushi eater, but I LUV their Teriyaki dishes. I found out about Asakusa from our customers who visit us from New Jersey. They insist on eating at Asukusa whenever they come to town. And rumor has it that our corporate goobers in Boston make up excuses to visit us, just so they can eat at Asakusa too.

2. Next would be the Casa chain of locally owned Italian restaurants. The afore-mentioned NJ customers claim it isn't that great (and being from Soprano-land, I suppose they would know), but it's better than the big chains and it's what we have.

Now, here's where I start to cheat. I've seen these posts on other blogs, and a lot of them mention high-end restaurants. We have some really good high-end restaurants here, but we rarely frequent them. I'm just too practical. Think how much fabric you can buy for the cost of one good high-end meal! So...

3. Das Essen Haus in Middlebury, IN. This is an Amish-style restaurant where you can eat family style or order off of a menu. It's not that the food is incredible (although, it is good), but if you tell me I'm eating at Das Essen Haus, I start salivating, 'cause that means I'll be visiting the nearby quilt shops in Shipshewana, IN. (Someday, that will be a separate post!)

4. MeMum's. Sorry, I know this isn't a restaurant, but I love to eat at MeMum's. She's a fabulous cook.

5. Now, for some, this one will be boring. A big chain. While in The Big City last night, we ate at Cheesecake Factory. (At least some of you have a chance of being able to eat at this restaurant -- 'cause what are the chances that you'll be eating at any of my previous 4 -- northern Indiana isn't exactly a tourist mecca!) Almost everything on Cheesecake's menu is appealing to me. Especially the cheesecakes -- duh! My very favorite dish is Madeira Chicken. And fortunately, since Cheesecake is a 90 minute drive from where we live, I was able to find a knock-off version of this recipe on the internet. I have made this recipe and it's a dead ringer for the original. Here's a very unappetizing picture, but trust me, it's delicious! (Kim -- really, I know it has mashed potatoes, but it's fabulous. If you must, give the potatoes to the kids!)

Cheesecake Factory Chicken Madeira

1 T olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets
8 asparagus spears
4 mozzarella cheese slices
Madeira Sauce:
2 T. olive oil
2 c. sliced fresh mushrooms
3 c. madeira wine
2 c. beef stock
1 T. butter
1/4 t. ground black pepper
(And here, I have a handwritten note, to add a little cornstarch to the sauce to thicken it up a little.)

1. Heat up 1 T. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cover each chicken breast with plastic wrap, then use a mallet to flatten the chicken to about 1/4-in. thick. sprinkle each fillet with salt and pepper.
2. Saute the chicken fillets for 4 to 6 minutes per side, or until the chicken has browned just a bit. Remove chicken fillets from the pan and wrap them together in foil to keep the fillets warm while you make the sauce. Don't clean the pan. You want all that cooked-on goodness to stay in the skillet to help make the sauce.
3. With the heat still on medium, add 2 T. of oil to the skillet. Add the sliced mushrooms and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the madiera wine, beef stock, butter and pepper. Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until sauce has reduced to about 1/4 of its original volume. When the sauce is done, it will have thickened and turned a dark brown color.
4. As the sauce is simmering, bring a medium saucepan filled about halfway with water to a boil. Add a little salt to the water. Toss the asparagus into the water and boil for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of your asparagus spears. Drop the asparagus in a bowl of ice water to halt the cooking. The asparagus should be slightly tender when done, not mushy.
5. Set oven to broil. Prepare the dish by arranging the cooked chicken fillets on a baking pan. Cross two asparagus spears over each fillet, then cover each with a slice of mozzarella cheese. Broil the fillets for 3 to 4 minutes or until light brown spots begin to appear on the cheese.
6. To serve, arrange two chicken breasts on each plate, then spoon 3 or 4 T of madeira sauce over the chicken on each plate. Serve with garlic mashed potatoes.

Makes 2 to 4 servings.

Of course, if you make this dish, you'll have to make cheesecake to go along with it!

Oh P.S.! Who to tag: How 'bout everyone who commented on the last post 'cause it makes for great diversity! That's Nicole from the west coast (who has potentially already done this?), Rohanknitter from the Heartland, Jade in Australia, and two girls from the UK: Lucy Locket and Kim, who is sure to include pubs with mashed potatoes! Also, a little boomerang tag for KBG, since you taught me how to cheat, could you give an example of a typical Ukrainian meal eaten at a local restaurant?

Friday, June 1, 2007

Two Shirts: Check

Before the big pile was dumped on us, I managed to cut out three shirts and get two of them completed. (Check that off the list!) They're made from the fabric that I bought when I went to Hawaii. This blue shirt is a cotton fabric with a little bit of lycra, so it has some give. Cotton with lycra has been fairly hard for me to find, so if I even remotely like it, I'll buy it because it's so comfortable. I've made this pattern (Vogue 7433) before and I wear it a lot.

This pink shirt is an all cotton print. It's a new-to-me pattern (Simplicity4045) and I altered it a little bit. The original had cap sleeves and I lengthened them, 'cause, you know, I'm not 16 anymore. I have vivid memories of my grandma making cookies and her little arm flaps wiggling. While I don't have grandma's arm flaps yet, I do worry that they could spring up any day now, and I want to still wear this shirt!

I have a friend who likes to go to high end clothing shops and try to "copy" the styles. She once told me that a fair amount of designer clothing appears to be cut on the bias, which makes them give a little more. And that is supposed to make them more comfortable. The reason I'm telling you this, is because the front and back of this pink shirt are cut on the bias, so I'll be able to test this theory out. So far, so comfortable.

KBG has tagged me to list my 5 favorite restaurants, so I'll be giving that some thought. Maybe I'll even test one out tomorrow. Yeah, that's it. "Honey, we have to eat out 'cause that cute girl* in the Ukraine wants to know where I like to eat!" Think it will work? Report this weekend!


*You could be 75 -- I would still call you a girl 'cause "lady" and "woman" just seem too stuffy!