10/1/14

Nasty Pasties

If you want to see some beautiful food, you'll need to go to one of those serious food blogs, where people only show you their best successes. That's not how we roll here at the Three Cats Ranch. We show you the good, the bad, and the ugly...because that's the spice of life, folks. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn't.

The day started out pretty well. I finished up my latest quilting snowlady. I was thinking this was block #7, but it's actually block #8. Four more to go before I'm ready to sew these into a quilt. Isn't she looking smashing in her stylish blue hat?


When I had that finished, I did a little stitching on my latest embroidery project, and then made the dough for the pasties. Recall that we had these while we were traveling in Michigan, and I'm seeking a good recipe for them. I chose a recipe entitled "Michigan Pasties" mainly because it had the word "Michigan" in the name. Also, the filling looked pretty good. 


Anyway...I made up the dough, and then put it in the refrigerator until closer to dinner time. That went well enough, although the recipe called for a full cup of water. After I'd added about 1/3 of a cup, I had a big wet mess. It all worked in eventually, but I'm afraid a cup would have been too much.

After that I did a few housekeeping chores, and then went to work in my sewing room. I managed to add the prairie points and finish up the Cornflowers table runner on my list of goals for the month. I've never done prairie points before, and they were super simple. I think this turned out cute.


Here's how it looks from the back. This is one of those quilts that has the back sewn directly to the front, and then it's turned inside out, so there is no binding.


I started the quilting, but it isn't finished. I'm just doing as the pattern suggested, which is to stitch around all of the appliques. It looks good from the back, and I wasn't sure what else to do with it. The flowers are close enough together, that no other quilting is really required.

So once I had a start on the quilting, it was time to go back to my pasties. I made the filling. Looks good enough. It has onions, carrots, rutabagas, potatoes, parsley, ground beef, and a little pepper. I added a little salt to mine too.


Then I went to roll out the dough. The recipe said to divide the dough ball into 6 pieces approximately 5 oz. each and then roll each piece into an 8-inch round. I weighed my dough ball and found it to be 22 oz. Now I'm not math whiz, but I'm saying that 22 oz. isn't going to divide six ways to equal 5 oz. each. 


If I was really frugal, I could maaaaaybe get five rounds, but I think four rounds would have been more realistic. And I didn't want to overstuff them, which meant I ended up with about 30% more filling than I needed. Still, I forged on.


Aside from the count being off, things were going pretty well up until now. When I tried folding the dough over and sealing them, the dough turned out to be very dry and it wanted to crack. (Maybe they really did need a full cup of water.) When they were all finished, I wasn't feeling good about this at all. About that time, Mike called to say he was on his way home. I warned him in the morning that we were either having pasties or take-out pizza for dinner. He offered to pick up some pizza, but I wasn't ready to give up yet.


They were looking pretty ugly...all patched and cracked as they were. Still, when I baked them off, they only looked about half bad.


I served them up with a pear salad (consisting of a blop of cottage cheese, two pear halves, a blop of mayonnaise and a sprinkling of cheese...sometimes when I'm feeling really fancy, I sprinkle them with paprika) and some packaged brown gravy on the side. Yeah, packaged brown gravy...salt with a melted brown crayon in it. It actually didn't taste bad.


So, the best I can say for this pasty attempt is that it was edible. I was ready to throw out the leftovers, but Mike wanted me to save them. The crust was quite dry, and we ended up dousing ours in the salt/brown crayon mixture. Needless to say, I'm not linking to the recipe.

Still, my quest to make pasties is not over. I will forge on, searching out other recipes, and I'll keep you posted. Don't try this at home...not yet, anyway.

Today I'm getting my hair permed. My hair. Oy. I hate my hair, but I keep trying to find a way to like it. Today's attempt will be to ask my hairdresser to perm it a little tighter. Maybe more curl will help. Do you have permanently bad hair like I do? And aside from that, I'm just continuing on with quilting my table runner. I'm hoping to get it finished today.

What's on your Wednesday list?

October Progress Report and Goal Setting

Well, lucky me...no progress to report! But then, I didn't set any goals for September beyond surviving a month of travel. With that as my goal, I can happily report: Complete!

But now it's time to get back down to brass needles and set some goals for October. It's shaping up as a kind of crazy month, and so I'm keeping my goals for the month short and sweet. For one thing, I'm gearing up to start volunteering with the Coffee Creek Quilters by attending a training down in Salem tomorrow. Then, I have overnight guests coming on Monday. Then, I'm actually starting my first stint as a full-fledged volunteer a week from Thursday. AND, it's Erik's birthday that day, so I'm making dinner for the fam on Sunday. So, all-in-all, the beginning of the month is going to be lived in haste. I'm good with excuses, no? Anyhoo...here's what I'd like to accomplish in October.

Quilting and Flimsies

1. Now that I have the Gardener's Journal quilt to the "flimsy" stage, I'd like to piece together a back for it so that it will be ready for quilting when its turn comes. Here's how the finished quilt top looks:


2. This being October, I want to finish and quilt the Cornflowers table runner that I started some time ago. Won't this be cute on my October table?


Monthly Challenges

3. Well, I am sadly behind by three months now on the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

Soscrppy

When I last worked on this project, I'd taken it this far.


Now, I'm needing to make a bright green block, an orange block, and whatever color is selected for October. These work well being cut all at once, and so I'm planning to get caught up in October.

4. I want to start a project for the "Let's Book It" Challenge, but I haven't selected anything yet.


5. I haven't participated in the Block Lotto for several months, and so I'd like to get back into that by making October's block.


Join me on the Block Lotto Blog
blocklotto.com


6. And it would be positively scandalous not to start something to share at the October NewFO linky party, so I'll be starting a new project for that. Don't know yet what it will be. Choosing is half the fun!

2014 NewFO Challenge

WIP'S

7. I'm determined to make this next block for the Doors of Ireland quilt. It's been on my list of goals for months. This month, I'm going to give it top priority (behind everything else).


8. I should probably end there, but I really am feeling a desire to make the next block for the Wind in the Whiskers quilt. I'm adding it to the list with no real expectation of finishing it. I'm shooting for a start before the month is out. My recollection is that this is the next block:


And that's enough for the month. What's on your list of goals for October?


9/30/14

September NewFO Linky Party and Giveaway

2014 NewFO Challenge

Good morning, my friends! It's time for the first NewFO Linky Party of fall. I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to some cooler, wetter weather because that can only mean one thing: more time for sewing! Am I right about that? Well...only for us Northern Hemisphere people, but you Southern Hemisphere people have had your turn. 

Okay, then. It's time to show off your new stuff from September, finished or not. This month, being back-to-school month, we're playing for the schoolhouse quilt block lapel pin. Everyone who links up with a newly started project has a chance to win. No finishes required!


And since I was traveling for almost the entire month, I've had to reach a little for my NewFO...but then, it's my party, so I can't come unprepared, now can I?

Remember when I made up a new stitchery before I left for this little quilt?


In a panic for something to show, I actually started it!


And then, I put it aside because I'm still working on my quilting snowlady. And I have a few other NewFO's from previous months like that. It's not cheating...we're just having fun here.

So now I'm ready to see your newly-begun projects for September. Here are my simple and friendly rules. (Yeah, rules, baby.)

1.  Please link-up with your newly started projects from September, finished or not.  If you feel like it, show us the progress you've made on any other previously posted NewFO projects.

2.  Please link back to this post from your blog.  Also, please link to your blog post, not your blog. Links to entire blogs will be edited.  Links provided for the sole purpose of promoting other events or shopping experiences will be deleted without apology. Please do not link to your Etsy shops or other giveaways and/or promotions you have going on your own blog. To be clear, it is okay to link to other events, but I want to see your NewFO's as a part of your post. 

3.  Don't have a blog?  Upload an image to this FlickR group and link to that.  If you have questions about how to do that or about how to link up, please email me.  If you're having trouble posting your image, email it as an attachment, and I will be happy to post it for you.  Please know that it takes a bit for your thumbnail to appear, so don't despair.  It will appear eventually.  You might need to "refresh".

4.  Obviously, I need some way to contact you no matter how you link up.  No email address and no other way to contact you equals no entry in the giveaway.  Email me separately if you need to.

I'll leave this linky party open until one minute before midnight on Monday, October 6, 2014. Winner of the Schoolhouse lapel pin will be announced on Tuesday, October 7, 2014!  We will ship anywhere in the known Universe, so everyone is welcome! 

Let's party!


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9/29/14

Back in the Sewing Saddle

You can tell things are getting back to normal around here because I have a mishmash of things to tell you today. We finished unpacking the trailer yesterday, and it is now safely down in its usual parking place. Of course, once Mike moves it away from the house and the rain starts, I remember several absolutely essential items that I left behind. Then I put on my rain gear and rain boots and make the trek down to the trailer about six or seven times before I actually have everything unpacked. Oh well. That's okay because I did laundry today and I have some things that need to go back out there as well.

In my quest to recreate some of the delicious regional dishes we tasted in our travels, I tried a recipe for Crock Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup last night. That's not a regional dish, mind you; but we had it at the Rustic Pine Tavern when we were in Dubois, Wyoming. I went in search of a similar recipe, and couldn't find anything exactly right. Their soup was made with ground beef, and it had a beef base. All the recipes I found were made with chicken and had a milk base. The one I've linked to there caught my eye because it's made in the crockpot. It was very simple, and delicious.


This recipe is from a blog called Your Cup of Cake, written by one of my Oregon neighbors. She makes some suggestions at the end of the recipe for toppings. We ended up with a sprinkling of grated cheddar cheese and the chunks from a quarter of an avocado each. I intended to give it a sprinkling of crushed up tortilla chips too, but I didn't have any. I think the crunch would have been a nice addition. Nevertheless, Mike declared it a "keeper". I served it with a side of cornbread. This is the recipe I like to use for my cornbread. Also, I think the Marie Callender's cornbread mix available in the grocery store is excellent. I use it when we're traveling just to keep things simple.


This morning I puttered around for a while after Mike went to work. I got the laundry started and worked on my quilting snowlady. I should have her finished in my next sitting, which will be tomorrow. Then I needed to pick up my quilts from my fellow guild member, AnnMarie, who was kind enough to retrieve them for me when the Oregon State Fair ended. 

I was kind of anxious to get them back and to see the comments of the judges. There was really nothing notable there. They noticed the "unfortunate bearding" on the back of the Shine On quilt. (I knew it was there too.) And they complained that my hand-stitches on the binding for Love Me, Love My Cat needed to be closer together. I had to take issue with that one since I couldn't even see the stitches. Otherwise, the comments were positive and constructive, and interesting to read. 

Also included were the little cards used to vote on the viewer's choice quilt. (One of my fellow guild members won that one, which was kind of cool. I think it was her first time entering a quilt in a show.) Three of my quilts had several votes, and so that was sort of gratifying. The comments were just nice things like "Great!" and "I love it!" One person practically wrote a book telling me what she liked about Snow Birds. I wasn't expecting to read those, and so that was kind of fun.

Included in the box with the quilts was this four fat quarter bundle of fabrics,


and a $25 gift card from a Salem quilt shop.


And since there was a $5 entry fee for each quilt this year, it turned out to be both fun AND profitable to enter the fair. Cool! I wasn't really expecting that. I think that was for having a division-winning quilt...which was a reward worth the price of entry in and of itself. I'm still so stoked!

So I've spent time both yesterday and today getting things organized in my sewing room again. Today I had time to finish up the Gardener's Journal quilt top.


I've been working on this quilt for nearly two years, and so it feels very good to have it to this flimsy stage. I'm going to piece together a back for it, and then it will be ready for quilting. As of now, there are four quilts in line ahead of it, so it might have to wait a little while.

And that was my day. How did your Monday go?

Don't forget that the September NewFO Challenge goes live at midnight tonight. I can't wait to see your new stuff!


9/28/14

Normalizing

Yesterday was a pretty lazy day, although I did cross off 50-plus items at the grocery store. I guess that counts for something. And I'll just say right here and now that Saturday is my absolute worst day for grocery shopping. Were it not an emergency (read that: people at risk of starvation), I would have held off until Monday. And since that wasn't the case, I just closed my eyes, held my nose, and made my way down the aisles. I'll just add that this was much to the consternation of my fellow shoppers because having my eyes closed meant I kept running into everybody. Eventually I just started yelling, "Coming through! Move aside! I can't control it!" in the same way I do when I'm on the ski slope. Not that I ski any more, but I used to make some feeble attempts. But I digress, which is normal for me, and in keeping with the title of my post.

Just now I interrupted what I was writing about below because I realized I'd written several paragraphs with no pictures. That simply will not do, so I came back here to post a bonus picture of the aspen trees we saw on the way home. You're welcome.


So another normal thing for me on the first day back from a trip is to start my annual diet. I believe this is at least the sixth anniversary of my annual diet. I have lost and gained the same 10 pounds (or so) every October for the past half-dozen years. And yes, my goal includes more than 10 pounds. Oh well. I didn't gain anything on this trip, which is saying something. Nevertheless, I'm going to make yet another stab at losing some weight, and THIS TIME I REALLY MEAN IT. And I have to say that too because I say it every year. At least I have a head start this year having sort of a half-established exercise routine in place. (Did you catch the "sort of" and "half-established" part of that sentence? I mention that just to inspire confidence in you, dear readers.)

And you might be asking why I'm bringing this up. And, lucky you, I'm just about to tell you.

On the day we left Dubois, Wyoming, we had breakfast at the Cowboy Cafe. Another normal thing for us is to start eating at restaurants the last few days of a trip because we've eaten all of our food, and we're too lazy to go to the grocery store by that time; hence, the people at risk of starvation mentioned above. All of that to say that I had the most delicious breakfast called "Pesto Sourdough Starter". As I was eating it, I realized that it was a simple dish, low in calories, and that I could easily make it myself at home. And so I did. This morning. And now I'm going to tell you how to do it so you can make it yourself.

Pay attention because I'm only going to say this once. Get yourself an egg, a slice of bread, and two slices of tomato. Toast the bread to your liking. While the bread is toasting, spray a non-stick pan with cooking spray and then crack your egg into the pan, toss in your tomato slices and fry it all up.


You can make your eggs any way you like. I happen to like mine over easy. The tomatoes are really just in there to heat them up a little. You don't want cold tomatoes on your hot breakfast. Besides, heating them up makes them just a tad more flavorful. Don't overdo it, or they'll turn to mush.

I'm all out of homemade pesto, but I bought some at the grocery store yesterday. This brand is pretty darned good.


Once your bread is toasted, spread about a tablespoon of pesto on it.


Then add your slices of tomatoes.


Then your egg.


Season to taste. I'm not much of a salt and pepper person, but I topped mine with a little of my home-made salsa. You can season yours however you like.


Looks pretty tasty, huh? It was! I used Oroweat Oatnut bread here, but the sourdough was better. Just saying. The grains in the bread had their own flavor that competed with the pesto a little. Definitely use sourdough if you decide to give this a try.

And I plugged this into my food log at Calorie Count and it tallied up at 225 calories. A good high-protein, low-calorie breakfast. It was quick too.

That's not the only food I brought home with me. On the menu this week are Enchilada Soup (like that we had at the Rustic Pines Tavern), Pasties (like those we had in Michigan), and last night we had Minnesota Cream of Chicken & Wild Rice Soup (like that we had at the Kettle Hotel in Minnesota). The recipe was a little different from the one served at the hotel, but it was very good. You can see for yourself at that link I've given you.

So today I'm seriously going to unpack the trailer so that Mike can get it out of the driveway. I've been bringing things in little by little, meaning that every time I go out there to retrieve something I need, I bring in as much as I can carry. There is still much to do, but I figure that's about an hour of my day. Then...sewing! I have missed my sewing room so much. I am so ready to get onto my blog to tell you what's going on in my sewing room.

And with that I'm going to get unpacking.

9/27/14

Sometimes It Feels Like a Long Lost Friend

Back home again...we made it with no more mishaps. Now we're going to spend the next couple of days getting back to what passes for normal here at the Three Cats Ranch. Today I'm just writing a quick post to show you a few of the things we saw on the way home.

Gorgeous Fall color:


We were still in Wyoming when we passed a sign warning us that we were driving on an open range. Around the next bend, we saw this real-life cowboy rounding up some strays that had wandered a little too close to the road.


Not too long after that, we rounded a bend and caught our first view of the Grand Teton Mountains. And a little further on, we drove right through the park. We visited the Tetons just two years ago, and so we stopped for a quick picture, then drove on. If you've never been there, you simply must go at some point in your life.


There were cattle and horses grazing just in front of them. A sign told us that there had at one time been a huge cattle ranching operation here. Now, the horses and cattle belong to the national park.


It is an incredible landscape.


We drove on through Idaho, stopping for a quick visit with my friend Marei who just recently moved to beautiful Swan Valley, Idaho. To call her new place a private piece of heaven would not be an exaggeration. Marei and her husband chose wisely indeed.

And then, on to Oregon, beautiful Oregon. Whenever we travel, we always consider whether we could live in this place or that. And when we get home, we are always incredibly grateful for our home in Oregon. I imagine everyone feels that way about their home. Here's the city of Portland. 


Another 45 minutes west, and we arrived at the Three Cats Ranch, where two cats were very happy to be liberated from the trailer.



Smitty has already had a couple of meals of mouse. I didn't take any pictures. You're welcome.

The potted annuals are pretty much done in after being neglected for a month. There were a few tomatoes, but the plants are looking pretty sad. The plums are gone, and the only ones I bit into before we left were so tart they made my jaw hurt. Thanks to the work of the squirrels this summer (those that survived Smitty's snapping jaws), there were blooming sunflowers.


We've brought in a few things from the trailer so far, but the major packing will begin in earnest this afternoon. First, I need to go to the grocery store since there is not a crumb of food left in the house...or in the trailer either, for that matter. There is cat food, however, so the world can continue turning on its axis.

Before I finish up today, I wanted to say a few words about RV travel and the dreaded mechanical problems that are inherent in this kind of a trip. If you've been following this blog and our travels over the past four years, then you know we've experienced tire tread separations, found our bed infested with carpenter ants, had our awning rip clean off the side of the trailer without making a sound, experienced a burned out jack motor and subsequent broken jack complete with trailer falling on that side. The jack is now broken for a second time. Mike will be replacing both jacks with hydraulic ones that are better up to the task. We've run into other cars, and been run into. We've had kitties escape from the trailer and go missing for hours. We've driven into flood zones of Biblical proportion (the weather man's words, not mine). Oh, and let's not forget leaking plumbing and leaky roofs (because some low-hanging limbs ripped a hole in the roofing material). Now I can say that we've had our largest slide get stuck in the out position. Yes, RV travel has its challenges.

But here's the thing: for our money, it's still the best way to travel. Travel is inconvenient...not just RV travel. Who hasn't experienced mechanical problems on the road? Tire problems? Who hasn't had a flight canceled or delayed, or dealt with surly ticket agents and security people? Who hasn't sat next to a crying baby on an airplane? Who hasn't eaten bad food in a restaurant, or experienced terrible service, or waited an impossibly long time for a bill just so that one could leave? Who hasn't slept on an uncomfortable motel/hotel room bed or used a too-flat or too-fluffy pillow? Oh yes, and bed bugs, anyone? Who hasn't heard noisy plumbing in the middle of the night or been awakened by loud voices in the hallway? Who hasn't experienced traveler's, um, toileting issues, including disgustingly unclean public restrooms, or empty toilet paper rolls? Who hasn't eaten or drunk something that made them sick?

When we travel by RV, we cook our own food, use our own toilet, sleep in our own bed--which, by the way, is the exact same sleep number mattress we use at home. When we want a snack, we get one from our own stock of food in our own cupboards and refrigerator, including ice cream. There are no suitcases involved because our clothes are hanging in our own closet and tucked away in our own drawers. Our RV includes a washer/dryer combo, and so we are not forced to us public laundromats, and those are only a few of the advantages we enjoy. Besides, we get to bring our kitties along, and so they aren't boarded with the problems inherent there.

I saw this on Facebook recently, and it seems a good way to think of problems while traveling in an RV.



RV travel isn't for everyone...and it certainly isn't for the mechanically disinclined. Mike happens to be an engineer and a good mechanic, and so he can usually fix anything that breaks. If he can't fix it himself, he knows how and where to get it fixed. Even on our worst trips (and this might be one of them), we still love traveling by RV. It's the best way to see the world, in our humble opinion, and if we could figure out some way to take an RV to Europe, Australia, or the Caribbean, we would do it in a heartbeat. When mechanical or weather problems happen, we just deal with them, gripe about them, and then brush them off when all is well again. And when we talk about the problems in the past-tense, there is always something to laugh about. It's all part of the journey.


As for me, I practically grew up RVing. My family traveled from West Coast to East Coast and all the way back again in the trailer you see here by the time I was seven. We visited national parks all along the way, and I never feel more at home than when I step out the door and find myself among the tall trees. It was a good life, and it still is. Our trailer then had an ice box...not a refrigerator...and we used pit toilets more often than not. There was no GPS, no cell phones, and yet, we loved it. 

So I didn't mean to get off on all of that, but there you go. And now, I really must get a move on and get to the grocery store. And don't be thinking that I'm not watching the calendar because the NewFO Challenge goes live on Tuesday. Are you ready?


9/24/14

A Night on the Town

After writing my blog post yesterday afternoon, Mike and I walked into the little town of Dubois, Wyoming. As I said in yesterday's post, a few horses tied up to hitching posts, and you might expect to run into Wyatt Earp as you walk these streets. That's the Outlaw Cafe and Outlaw Saloon across the street.


There's the Horse Creek Station. 


We stopped into Welty's General Store. They had all kinds of things inside from gifts and Christmas ornaments to cowboy boots and big hunting knives.


This was the sign they had posted at the front door. I didn't even notice the photography prohibition until I uploaded this image. I'm glad I didn't do what I usually do...which is to take pictures of everything in sight. On the other hand, I'm getting pretty snooty about places that won't let me take pictures. Had I noticed it on the way in, we might not have gone past the front door. 


Almost all the buildings are of the log cabin variety.


And Dubois is celebrating its centennial this year.


We were looking at this boardwalk with names on each board and considering their meaning when we noticed our shadow selves in tow. We haven't seen them in a while. They are fair-weather friends at best.


We're thinking the names were either folks who donated money for boardwalk restoration, or perhaps they were folks who donated time, or both. In any case, every board on both sides of the street had a name.

Here is the Rustic Pine Tavern I told you about yesterday.



We stepped inside just to look around, and then came back later for dinner.


There were lots of funny signs posted around town, as if the town hadn't changed in its one hundred years.


And there was this open mine. It doesn't seem to be operational, but there were no barriers or warning signs. It looked as if one could just walk inside, but we didn't.


After that, we walked back to the trailer. Our spot is right beside the Wind River.


We're seeing fall leaves everywhere we go now.


We cleaned up a little and then walked back to the restaurant for dinner. We had a drink in the bar, and then went into the dining room. We had a really delicious dinner. Mike ordered the rib-eye, and I had a chicken breast smothered in honey barbecue sauce, cheese, and bacon. Not for dieters. It was a truly lovely evening. I didn't take any pictures of our food for a change. We just enjoyed one another's company without cameras this time.

I've decided to sign off until we get home. The next two nights will find us in places we've already been...just last year, in fact...and I'm linking to my blog posts from last year. Here's the post from Heyburn, Idaho where we'll stay tonight. And here's the post from Hot Lake in LaGrande, Oregon where we stayed on the first night out from last year's trip. Little did we know at the time I wrote those posts that we were headed into a flood of Biblical proportion. Every trip has its challenges.

Thanks to all who have followed along so faithfully this trip and left so many funny, supportive, informative, and enjoyable comments. It always makes the trip more fun when I have my bloggy friends along. I'm going to devote my blogging time over the next couple of days to working on my embroidery, and I'll write again when we get back home.