Saturday, May 31, 2008

MMM, Good!

Cooking is as much a creative outlet for me as quilting or crafts. I love to cook and am happy as can be when I am cooking away in my kitchen and making a LARGE mess. It helps that the great white hunter and I both really like to eat also, and we believe in eating well. So, I cook a lot from scratch and always have. It was much cheaper when we had three kids to feed and I was home to do it, and enjoyed it a lot. One thing I never made from scratch though was pasta sauce. (or pasta). I think that goes back to when we were just married and I tried to make my own sauce with disastrous results. I don't know why I thought I could just throw some tomato sauce and herbs in a pan and have it taste better than a premade sauce. At the time, I could bake beautiful pies and cookies but I was having a hard time getting a edible dinner on the table. The great white hunter had to explain to his very young bride that he could not live on pie alone..........LOL

Anyway, the cool temps we have had this year have meant a huge tomato crop. We planted Sweet 100's.............lots of Sweet 100's. I have made salsa and given them away, we have eaten them like candy but they kept on coming and I was determined not to loose one of those great things. So, talked to my DD about her sauce recipe that she got from her Italian boss, read several recipes on the Internet and read the ingredients on the Ragu Light jar (no sugar for diabetic me). The end result is below.........and I am pretty proud that after 41 years of cooking, I mastered sauce! So far I have made five batches, one we ate right away with meat balls, and I have two with meatballs and two without in the freezer. Oh, and lots of tomatoes still on the vines that hopefully will survive the heat this week.

See the steam? Can you smell that garlic?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Time To Sew More Strips

I am making good progress on Julia's "shades of purple" rag rug. Using solid fabric in a set pattern seems to go a lot faster than using odds and ends and having a scrappy look. Or maybe it is because I have done one before? I sure do enjoy this.

Our sunflowers are blooming but they are about half the size that they normally are. We bought the same "mammoth" seeds but something happened, either the seeds are the wrong kind or weather conditions kept them small. No matter, we are enjoying them a lot and the birds will be just as thrilled when they are ready for them to eat. This patch draws lots of birds, we have seen a cockatiel for two years in a row. Wonder if he got away from his owner and is doing OK in the wild?

Here are this years, below is the picture from two years ago. I think there was a seed mix up somewhere along the line.

Julia and Colin have been here this week. They are in between regular school and a fun summer school program they are enrolled in, so off to Nana/Papa's house they go. We have had a great week, it has been cool enough to be outside in the morning and then we have done fun things in the afternoon. Below is a picture of the crafts they made using those fusible beads. If you are a Mom or Grandma, let me highly recommend these as a great thing to keep them busy. We started out with a set from Walmart made by Elmer's glue. This is the best one for the around five year old group because it has a clear base that you put the pattern under and then place the beads on it. Then a adult uses the iron to fuse them together. The other set came from Michael's (my Joann's has this brand also). The brand is PERLER. It has templates that are shaped and you look at a picture to make the design. Julia (7) had no problem with this but it was a little harder for Colin. What we did like about that set was the templates were in shapes and they could make their own designs.

Now we are going to read books...........we have been too busy all week and NANA wants to read!

Still waiting for the pool to get warm enough to get in. Our cool weather spell has been wonderful but not too great for warming up the pool water.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


My Bubba Boy, Colin's rug is finished except to finish the end off. Next time I will remember to mark where the new rounds start so I know WHERE to finish. It is ready to go to his room to be a rock or a island or a boat or who knows what else a five year old can dream up! Not perfect but for a first effort, I am pleased and I had a ball with making this. I am definitely addicted to this. "Hello, my name is Norma and I am not only addicted to fabric, I am now addicted to cutting it into tiny strips, and sewing them by hand together." Guess I could have worse problems!

I did this one "My Way" and unlike Lyn at Just Granny's, never did follow Finn's advice to sew the strips on the sewing machine. So, every strip in this 32 inch beauty is hand sewn to the next one. That is me, doing things the hard way, but it is MY way and got the job done. I can hardly wait to start the next one, which will be shades of purple for Julia's room. Not sure yet if it will be round or oval, hey, maybe even a rectangle? Not sure if it will be scrappy or have a definite pattern. This is a lot like quilt making, do your own thing!

Thanks again, Finn, for the great instructions and help.........even if I didn't use all your advice!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


I told Cheri at Jovaliquilts that I would do this meme. I think there are a whole new generation of bloggers out there who missed this kind of thing first time around, so I will tag a few I think are interested. Please, if I tag you and you don't want to do it, no problem, just ignore the tag. If I didn't tag you and you are interested, let me know and I will. The more of us who play along, the more fun we have so please join us!

The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you've posted your answer.

1. What was I doing 10 years ago?

I was working as a first grade reading instructional assistant. Loved the job and the kids but big changes were ahead. The great white hunter and I were enjoying a empty nest and living the good life.

2. What are 5 things on my to-do list for today? (not in any particular order):

Clean the bathrooms, pay some bills, cook dinner, work on my rag rug and post this meme.

3. Snacks I enjoy:

Two and a half years ago, I would have answered cookies and more cookies. Then came the news that I have type 2 diabetes. Now my snacks are whatever I can fit into my day that will not raise my blood sugar out of range. I have fruit, small amounts of sugar free items, sugar free ice cream or popcorn.

4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

First and foremost, take care of my family. Then I would build a vacation/retirement home for the great white hunter and I to enjoy, along with taking some dream trips with him. I would concentrate my charity efforts on teaching adults to read as well as providing children's books for schools and libraries in our area. If you can read well, the entire world is yours!

5. Places I have lived:

I married a military man at age 19 so we moved every four years for a long time.

Colorado (birth place)






Arizona, where we have been for 20 some years. We really didn't come to stay but we did and the kids are settled here, so I think we will stay. (and when it hits 115 degrees next month, we will again ask WHY?)

Now, remember if you aren't interested, just ignore the tag........Beth, Amelia, Carol, Lyn, Katie, Finn. Please if you want to play along........let me know!

I tried to do the questions in bold face type. My original says it is there but it does not show on the final post. I tried is all I can say about that one.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Early Morning Observations When I Can't Sleep!

It is 4 in the morning and I am wide awake, not unusual for me, happens all the time. My mind goes a mile a minute and won't turn off so I will share my "random" thoughts for this morning.

I think the amazing thing about comments, that most people don't think about, is they lead you to new and interesting blogs to read. I always go check out the blog of someone who comments, and have made several friends that way. You know that "reach out and touch some body's hand" really works. I wish more folks would try it.

Morah commented on one of my posts and I went to see what "Fat Quarters" was all about. On Sunday, May 4, she had a post asking a question that really made me think, and in the end, come to a realization. She asked what kind of quilter are you? Are you a crafter who quilts or a quilter whose craft is quilting? I am proud to call myself a quilter but, got to say I am a crafter who quilts. The quilting process for me is a long one and I need some satisfaction now and then that happens NOW. I have gotten off the quilting track more than once lately. First I discovered that I had a real love of embroidery that I had forgotten and have done a few things with that, and made plans for several more. Making the rag rug was something I have wanted to do for a long time and I would love to do some knitting as well. In other words, I want to do it ALL! Over the years, I have done a little bit of everything, ceramics, embroidery, counted cross stitch, plastic canvas, knitting, crocheting, applique and cut and glue whatever. I think scrap booking is the only thing I didn't try. By the time that became popular, I knew myself and my habits well enough to know that it just was not something I would be successful doing.

So, which one are you? A crafter who quilts or a quilter whose craft is quilting?

My rag rug is moving along well. I have 26 inches done. Colin said he would like it just a bit bigger. He can sit on it but would like it to be big enough so he can put some toys on it too. It lays flat but seems really flexible and stretchy. I think there is a reason for making the rugs out of old clothing or true "rags". By the time the fabric makes it to a rug, it has been washed and worn enough that the give and stretch part of the fabric is gone. New fabric still has some give to it. Another one of my great observations for today!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

For Amelia and Carol

Amelia suggested I post my pickle and salsa recipe, Carol asked for my peach cobbler.

There is a theme to my recipes, EASY does it and these three are all very easy. I love to cook but if you can do something good in a short time, hey,that is for me.

Ice Box Pickles

10 cups sliced cucumbers

2 green bell peppers, chopped

1/2 bunch celery, chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 cups vinegar

1/4 cup salt

3 cups sugar

Mix, let stand 3 or 4 days in fridge. Shake to help sugar dissolve. (note, my recipe says they will keep in the fridge up to 1 year. Now,they are all gone in a couple of weeks at my house, so don't know about this one.)


12 ounces tomato juice

2 1/4 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon leaf oregano

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes ( add 1/2 teaspoon more for hotter taste)

Mix above ingredients in blender. Then add 2 (14 oz) cans whole tomatoes and blend 2 pluses Then mix in a 4 ounce can of green chili, a bunch of chopped green onions,
and a bunch of chopped cilantro.

I used fresh grape tomatoes from our garden so I just put a bunch in my blender first and chopped them up and only added 1 can of whole tomatoes. Fresh is much better but it is good either way. I also just used garlic salt in place of the salt and the garlic powder.


This is another one of those recipes that you will find in a lot of places. I was given this by another AF wife about 36 years ago. When my daughter got married I gave her a book called, "Where is Mom Now That I Need Her?" that was full of household hints and easy recipes. She was pretty proud when she made cobbler for her new husband from a recipe in the book, only to discover it was the same one she had been eating her entire life at home.

I have used canned cherry and apple pie filling for this or the fresh peach version.
You could use canned peach pie filling also. This is really good served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream according to the great white hunter. I have also included how I now make it using Splenda to make it more diabetic friendly so I can have some.

Peach Cobbler


1 stick butter or margarine

1 1/4 cup flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

1 cup milk

Filling: (if you are using canned pie filling, you just need a can of your choice of fruit pie filling).

4 cups fresh peaches, peeled and sliced

1/4 cup sugar (I use about a 1/2 cup Splenda)

1 teaspoon cinnamon ( oh come on, I just shake the cinnamon in until I like the color, I love cinnamon)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (if I don't have fresh, I used bottled)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together all of the filling ingredients, letting the mixture sit while you make batter to allow the peaches to become juicy.

Place the stick of butter in a 9 x 13 glass baking pan, place the pan in the preheated oven. While the butter melts, mix the rest of the batter ingredients.

When butter is melted, pour the batter into the melted butter. Carefully spoon the peach mixture (or canned pie filling) over the batter evenly. Return pan to oven and bake about 45 minutes or until golden brown on top. (I check the center batter with a tooth pick). The batter will rise over the top of the filling.

Enjoy! Sorry Carol, no pictures! LOL

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"Isn't She Lovely?'

I really, really did NOT want to start another collection of anything when I discovered the Jim Shore quilting angels. However, when my family finds something that I like, they provide it for me. So, quite a few angels and two large Santa's later, I have a nice collection of Jim Shore angels. This was a Mother's Day gift from DD and her family. "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling' is the title, she holds a basket of shamrocks and has a Irish Chain quilt with applique shamrocks on the back of her skirt along with some Celtic design on the border. She is just beautiful, her face is one of the most interesting of the angels, I think. She is my first musical one, the music box plays, of course, "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling". It seemed right to get this on Mother's Day. My dad was Irish on both sides but his maternal grandmother came from Ireland as a indentured servant. His mother, my beloved Grandma, was very proud of her Irish roots. This song was one of her favorites. Grandma was a big part of my life growing up and the angel brought back good thoughts of her on Mother's Day.

What else has been happening at my house? I am up to my neck in peaches! Every year, the great white hunter and I go pick peaches at a local orchard. Every year, we pick way too many peaches. The kids took some, he took some to work and I made a cobbler and two batches of peach jam. In years past, I made four or five batches but we just don't eat as much of it anymore. When I was working, I used it for gifts as did DD, but life circumstances have changed. The refrig is full of peaches and after I do this post, I am doing a search for peach recipes. I tried canning them one year and it was such a mess that I decided that was not for me. Might just end up freezing them and I am open to any and all hints anyone might have. Best part of the peaches is slicing them on my morning cereal.......yummmmy!

The rag rug is going along wonderfully! I am sewing strips and crocheting like a good fellow. So much so that my hands are just a little sore and I might have to take a break. It measured about 21 inches in this picture but I added a couple of rows since then. Quilting is sitting waiting for me but doing what I want to do when I want to do it here. I am even planning the next one.

On a end note, the great white hunter is taking a vacation day on Friday and we are off for a three day weekend to Northern AZ. I am really looking forward to this. He has been working some wicked hours lately under a lot of stress at work and we need a break. See you soon!

Friday, May 9, 2008

It's That Time Again.

Last year I blogged about how I loved to "bring in the crops." So, here are pictures of what I picked in our little garden yesterday. I bet there are some of you who are saying, I used to have a colander just like that! That Tupperware colander is almost 40 years old! It has been used all that time and is still going strong even though it is not very pretty anymore. I got it when our oldest son was just a baby. It had a snap on gridded top so you could drain things completely. Our son liked to sit in his high chair and chew on that top while I fixed dinner. I would replace it with a new one because it really doesn't look clean even when it is but.........can't find one that I like as well. I think it has more life left in it than is left in me, so it might be around for another 40 years!

After I took that picture, this is what I did with my bounty! These ice box pickles are yummy and the salsa is my favorite. The little tomatoes have a acid taste that really goes well with the other ingredients.

Princess Paris watches me cook now days.

Colin was here for a few minutes after school today. He was all excited about the progress I have made on my rag rug. After we talked about it getting bigger and which row he liked the best, he asked if he could have it when I got done. DD told him that not everything Nana made was for someone else and maybe I had plans for that rug. I told him he could have the rug............and he was thrilled. He is going to put it right by his bed. That kid just makes my day! So, back to the strips, I have a home for my rug so I guess I need to finish it.

Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms and Grand Moms out there. I am going on a picnic with my great white hunter and the great white hunter son #2 and wife, DD and SIL and the grand kids. Number One son sent a gift earlier in the week. I wish every mother could be with her babies on this day.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Second Try

I really didn't like the green in the first rug that I started using Finn's instructions so, made some scrappy strips and started over. This is a lot of fun and a great thing to do when you are watching TV.

I think it could be a shade rounder but for the first try I am happy and plan to keep going until I get a use able size rug. I found that hand sewing my strips is easier for me that using the sewing machine. I just never got a comfortable rhythm going sewing the 1/2 inch strips. If I do them by hand, they just take a couple of stitches and I am not dealing with threads. I might change that as I go along and get tired of hand stitching but so far, it is going along quite well.

Colin was here today and he was very interested in the whole process. We watched a movie this afternoon and he sat by me on the couch watching the strip sewing and then the crochet. When DD came to pick him up, he showed it to her and said, "Look what she is making!" My DD winked at me and asked him what it was? He said "I don't know, what is it, Nana?" Little guy has seen so much stuff going on here with his Nana that it no longer matters what it is, it just is. So now that he knows, he would like a rug for his room please. Someday, sweetheart, someday!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

My buddy Finn is doing a tutorial showing how to make a crochet rag rug. A round rug that lays FLAT! I grew up with these rugs and have tried several times to make one, only to have them curl up and then, I gave it up. So with Finn's encouragement and promise of help, I decided to give it another try. I dug out my crochet hooks, and of course, didn't have a size K. (I do have three H and two G size hooks though, now what was that all about I wonder?) So, after a trip to Walmart, I cut my strips, sewed some together and last night, tried again.

It was fun, Finn's instructions are great because they allow for adjustment along the way. Here is my "trial" rug. I am going to tear this out and start with a lighter color and assorted strips to get a more scrappy look but..........hey, it is laying flat. Now it is not as round as I think it should be but, by George, I think I might just be on my way to a rug of some sorts. Thanks dear Finn!

Monday, May 5, 2008

More Play Along

I posted below about not wanting to tag folks because they might not want to play along. Well, I guess some do.........check out Finn and Carolyn.

Come on, join in on the fun! Let me know so we can add you to the list.

UPDATE. Check out Carlseapatch for the letter game with a Aussie favor. Thanks for joining in Jo-anne.

Goodies in My Mailbox

I was so surprised today when I opened my mailbox and found the package from Bronwyn in Australia! I won her give away just a short while ago and it got here in record time. I sent a package to Canada one time and it took weeks!

So, what fun to open and find such wonderful goodies from Down Under. Here are the two quilt patterns that I am saving to relish this evening. The most fun part of this wonderful package is the pile of fabric charms plus a nice sized piece of print fabric. They were extras that she included for my JULIA! I had written that I had a grand daughter that would enjoy sharing my bag. She has a picture of a bag being held by her daughter on her blog and I knew from that, Julia would love it. I can just hardly wait to see Julia's face when I show her. She has her own fabric box to collect fabric to use with her Christmas sewing machine so I know she will be thrilled. I think the bigger piece of fabric is mine.........hehehe! The card she included is in front.

Now, am I not going to be the envy of the "bring your own shopping bag" set in my neighborhood? I can hardly wait. This bag is so special with its yo yo trim. (It is hard to see from this picture but there are large yo yo's in the center) She said in her blog that it was not a fancy bag. Let me tell you folks, it is pretty fancy. It is lined with the same fabric as the contrasting border.

This is the piece of chenille fabric she included. Not quite sure what I will do with this. It is so soft and wonderful and I hate to cut it. What I am wondering is, when you are 60 years old, can you still have a blanky to cuddle up with? Not a covering now, a snuggy to comfort you. I think this would fit the bill perfect! It reminds me of the soft chenille bedspreads we had when I was growing up ages ago.

Thank you Bronwyn so very much. My family is amazed that someone that I don't know would send me such a nice gift from so far away. I tell them that quilter's are family and distance doesn't mean anything when there is fabric involved. So, it has been a great day!

Friday, May 2, 2008


When Carol tagged me for the Scattagories that use the first letter of your name, I was supposed to tag other bloggers. I have read in the past on a few blogs that they don't want to be tagged. So, not knowing what to do, and wanting to keep everyone happy, I didn't tag my friends.

But at least two of them have played along anyway and it has been so much fun to read their answers. I wish more of you would join in. Check out Katie, Granny Lyn and Carol to see what fun we had.

I think blogger should have a place where you can say that you don't want tagged, so you would know if you were doing an OK thing. If you do play along, be sure and let me know so I don't miss your answers!