Thursday, January 31, 2013

Last Border Challenge Block

IMG_1101-1This is the last block in my guild challenge that I received to add a border to.  It is a little strange and not quite square at this point.  I decided to to finish it off with a patterned fabric in these colors with simple piecing.IMG_1101
It is still a little crooked and not square but maybe better than it was, at least I hope so.  This one will be turned in at the next meeting and I will get mine back.  Just praying it is square but will deal with it if it is not.  I guess that is what is fun/interesting about this challenge.  It is a challenge to do the borders on other quilters quilts then a challenge to finish our own when we get them back.

Lynn

Monday, January 28, 2013

I Love Jigsaw Puzzles

IMG_1053My grandkids gave me two new jigsaw puzzles for Christmas so after I got all the Christmas decorations put away the first part of January I got the first one out.  Whooee was it difficult but I managed to get it together after a few days by concentrating on each color of wildflower then only had green background to fill in to finish it.IMG_1060This second one looks like it was maybe a representation of the Macy’s Christmas Parade in New York with the balloons floating down the street.  It was really easy and went together in one afternoon. 

My granddaughters both love doing jigsaw puzzles like I do and last summer when they visited for 5 days we put 3 different puzzles together and were working on a 4th plus sewed their 4-H projects (pajama pants) before they had to go home. The grandsons don't enjoy doing puzzles as much but I am going to have to work on converting them I guess.

I have heard that doing all sorts of puzzles keeps your brain active and found the following on this website.  “Jigsaw puzzles are excellent brain training and co-ordination improvement tools and are quite fun!”  My 91 year old mother does one or two Sudoko puzzles each day and she swears it is keeping her brain in good shape and she just may be right too as she is still very sharp and doesn’t forget much plus keeps up on current events around the world.  It is a good thing to love to do puzzles and I enjoy Sudoko, jigsaw puzzles the paper kind and online and slitherlink puzzles (follow the links to online games.)  See, it is not wasting time to do puzzles but may even help your brain too.

Until later,
Lynn

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Quilt Guild Border Challenge Round Three

IMG_1072-1Here is the third quilt I had to add a border to for our challenge.  This is quite striking looking as it is so wanted to add a border that would not detract from it.  Remember the challenge rules are to keep using the two main colors in the original block so knew I needed to use reds and blacks.IMG_1072
I decided to sort of echo the first border of black fabric with the red triangles in the center of each side and red triangles in the corners.  I did add 3 triangles on each side as it was just too much black with just one triangle.  They sort of make it look like houses but don’t quite match up to the bars in the previous border all the way across though.

We have one more exchange to make with one more block to add the last border to before we get the quilt block back that we made and has been traveling to different people to add borders and are to finish it by the May meeting.  We are to keep everything secret until the big unveiling at the May meeting and that will be very hard.  It is always so exciting to see what everyone did for the annual challenge and this year will be fun to see how the quilts turned out that you worked on.

More later,
Lynn

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I Must Have A One Track Mind…Or Maybe Two

I seem to have trouble thinking and doing more than one or two things at any point in my life.  Right now I am concentrating on weight loss and learning about my camera (Canon EOS Rebel T2i)  and Photoshop Elements 11.  I have found a way to combine the two things I am focusing on and do them at the same time.

Update on weight loss – I am approaching a 25 lb. loss and am thrilled.  I spend time each day planning and cooking foods to keep on plan.  Before joining Weight Watchers I cooked higher fat/sweet/starch foods and have had to re-learn how to cook and find new favorite recipes to make lower point meals.  (Weight Watchers uses a point system that calculates using the fat content, carbohydrate content, fiber content and protein content to figure how many points foods contain and members are given a maximum number of points to eat each day.)   It is getting easier and quicker to make meals for us and am getting a few new recipes I can fall back on when I can’t think of what to fix for dinner.IMG_1068 Since it is so cold outside I walk on the treadmill most days and walking everyday on the treadmill in our bedroom has gotten less boring too as I have been watching a DVD titled “Learn Photoshop Elements Today!” from the editors at Photoshop Elements Techniques magazine to help pass the time and to learn the program one tool at a  time.  It was one of the free gifts for subscribing to the magazine and this alone is worth the price of the subscription.   It is a great DVD with videos on all the tools, how to use them, what they do and showing examples of the tool being used.  It is very easy to understand and I find I am gradually learning about the program as I walk away the miles.  I even plan to watch it more than once to learn all the nuances of the program as this brain of mine doesn’t always remember everything the first time around. IMG_1064 I found I can place my laptop computer on my treadmill and watch a few videos during each walking session.  There is a lip of plastic that overhangs the little shelf and this keeps my laptop from falling off as I walk.  I think it is just a design feature on the treadmill but it works great.  Actually walking on a treadmill can be boring….very boring and watching these videos has been a good distraction for me, plus I am learning something at the same time.

I want to sew but just manage to get to my sewing machine infrequently if at all.  One of these days I will be changing focus so stay tuned.

Lynn

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Meadow Lark

IMG_0941-3Nebraska State bird is the Meadow Lark and we had a couple dozen of them in my flower beds and in front of the house one cold day last week.  They were rooting around in the flower beds close to the brick of our house where the snow had melted and must have been finding insects or seeds then they would hop out into the lawn…back and forth they went for quite sometime.  They were fascinating to watch and decided to snap photos of them from inside my house. 

I put my zoom lens (55 - 250 mm I believe) and started snapping photos in the sports auto setting.  They didn’t seem to mind me but I was real careful not to move much either.  I also took some in manual settings so don’t know which one this was and have not taken the time to look up the settings on the photo .  I am thinking manual as the grass in the snow is blurry behind the bird and I set the f-stop low so it would do that on some of my photos.  By the way I was shooting the photos through my dirty windows – that could be some of the “smudgness” too.  I didn’t do much to this photo in Photoshop Elements 11 but lighten the bird a bit as it was just a tad dark and give it a bit of sharpening.  I have to laugh as I probably took 40 photos of the birds and liked only 3 or 4 so it is good that it was not film like in the “old days”.
 
Enjoy,
Lynn

Monday, January 7, 2013

Playing with Photos

IMG_0508I have been having fun playing with the Photoshop Elements 11 program the last few days and this is one of the photos I played with.  Isn’t this just fun…the cattle escaping from the photograph.

I started with the photo below and as you can see the cattle were running the other way.  I don’t know if there are any rules that apply here but I just think that people and animals in photos look better walking/running from left to right so just flipped it since it makes no difference to this photo.IMG_0508.jpg-org
I am just beginning to explore the fun things in this program.  The frame and cattle walking out of the photo process was called Out of Bounds in the Guided area of PE 11.  I won’t go into how it is done because I don’t really understand it myself.

I am determined to learn more about Photoshop Elements 11 and to learn more about my Canon DSL Rebel 2Ti camera this year.  I have had the camera for a couple of years and am wanting to learn how to use more of it’s features.  I am reading articles, watching videos and experimenting to learn as much as I can.

Until later,
Lynn

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Noodles, Noodles, Noodles!

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I made lots of noodles for gifts for Christmas this year.  A much appreciated gift to special friends and family.  My recipe calls for 4 1/2 cups of flour and I used 22 1/2 cups of flour over all…..that is a LOT of noodles.  I only kept 2 cups worth to make Chicken Noodle Soup the night our family arrived.  I have posted the recipe for the noodles below so if you want to make them you can follow my recipe if you wish.  The soup recipe is at the very bottom of this post.
Homemade noodles
4 1/2 cups bread flour  
2-3 tablespoons water
5 whole eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
IMG_0697Mix the ingredients together with a large mixer (I use a Kitchen Aid mixer).  You may have to add more water if the dough just doesn't come together.  I then kneaded half the dough at at time with the dough hook on my mixer for about 5 minutes for each half.  I sometimes put the dough hook on to finish mixing before the kneading process as well.  If you knead by hand you should knead it for 5-6 minutes until it is very smooth and use more flour if it is sticky.  This step develops the gluten in the flour and is an important step.  If you have ever had noodles break apart into short sections when you cooked them this may have been the problem.  You can find more information about gluten on Wikipedia here.

I just don’t have the strength in my wrists and hands to knead by hand the traditional way (or maybe I am lazy) but the mixer does a good job with the dough hook so I can still get a good product.  I place my dough in a plastic bag and let it rest for 10-30 minutes and do this if you are hand kneading too.

At this point you can roll the dough out by hand to the thickness desired and cut into strips but I have a pasta attachment for my mixer and used that for the rolling and cutting.  I got the attachment a few months ago and had not used it before this marathon noodle making session and it worked so great.  It came with 3 pieces that fit into the top of the mixer.  The two that I used are shown below plus there is another cutter to make smaller noodles as well.  The one on the right has several settings to roll the dough thinner and thinner until it is the thickness desired.  The last step is to change attachments and put on the desired cutter and feed it through.  IMG_0700IMG_0707I cut each half of the dough into 3 parts and rolled and cut each part separately as each section gets pretty long by the time it is rolled as thin as I like it.  IMG_0708Each time through the rollers I fold it in half and in it goes again, next adjust the thickness to the next step thinner.  The more it gets rolled through the smoother it gets.  I would fold the dough lengthwise first then fold crosswise next until it is the width of the roller before adjusting the thickness knob to make it thinner.
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The three strips from one half of a recipe laid on the counter to dry a bit before cutting.  As the noodles are cut I catch them with a dowel then hang the dowel on the my pasta drying stand that I inherited from my mother in law.   A neighbor made it for her years ago.  I think If I were making one now I would want one a little taller so I could put longer noodles on it and not have them puddle on the counter.
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IMG_0723I let the noodles air dry for a day or two then break them into the lengths I want them to be and package in plastic bags.IMG_0725Member's MarkĀ® Chicken Breast - 50 oz. canNow because some of you will ask, this is how I make chicken noodle soup.  I start with a large can of chicken breast meat (50 oz) that I purchased at Sams Club.  You could use any kind of chicken you want but my family doesn't think it likes dark meat so I just use the canned chicken breast.  (Personally the dark meat is my favorite!) This is a lot of chicken in the soup so if you prefer use smaller cans or less chicken.  Dump the chicken and the broth it is packed into a large cooking pot.  I find this chicken makes good soup and is very low in fat as well.  I  then add several cans of low sodium, low fat chicken broth.  I am not sure how many small cans I added but enough to give me the amount of liquid I wanted. (I know not a very exact recipe is this?)  I also added 2 medium carrots chopped real fine and one onion chopped fine since I have one grandson that thinks he doesn't like onion but.....what he doesn't see he doesn't know he is eating.  I simmered this for several hours to blend the flavors.  About a half an hour before serving I brought it to a boil and added the noodles.  The amount of noodles is personal preference but I probably added the noodles made from 2 1/2 cups of flour to this large batch of chicken noodle soup.  I turned down the heat on the burner after it comes back to the boil after adding the noodles.  Simmer until the noodles are cooked then serve and enjoy.  After cooking for 15 minutes test a noodle to see if it is done but also taste the broth to see if you need to add pepper or salt.  Mine just needed pepper as it was salty enough.  My family loves this soup and it is so easy to make too.

Until Later,
Lynn

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Amaryllis

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I have two beautiful red Amaryllis bulbs blooming right now but this is just a photo of one of them.  I purchased them this fall and one was supposed to be white but both are this pretty red color so one was obviously mislabeled.  One seems to have smaller blooms on shorter stems than this one that is much taller.  They were very inexpensive so don’t mind not getting a white one this time.  Will plant them both outside next summer and will see if they are the same next winter and if they are I will gift one to someone else.  I don’t think anything is more cheery during the winter than a bright splash of color from fresh flowers.  These started blooming right before Christmas and the second stem is now in full bloom....pretty, pretty, pretty!IMG_0813

I  have two large pink ones that I will plant in a few weeks so I can have lovely flowers later too.  Don’t want them all to bloom at the same time and have lots of winter with no flowers now do I? I have had the the pink bulbs for a couple of years now and they too were supposed to be different colors but both turned out to be pink.  They have multiplied during the summers outside so am going to share the extra with someone else.

I do fertilize them after they bloom while they are still in the pots then they get fertilized when they are outside too when I fertilize the other outside flowers.  I am guessing that is why they are multiplying and the bulbs are really getting quite large now too. Will be interesting to see how many flower stems they have.

Update - forgot to say I dig the bulbs up before frost and bring them into my garage for several months before I re-pot them.  Our garage is insulated and doesn't freeze but stays cool in the winter so the bulbs are fine there for a while but if you don't have a garage that doesn't freeze find a cool dark place for them to rest before replanting them.

Until Later,
Lynn

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year

Wishing you a very Happy New Year!  Yesterday it snowed all day and blew a little while it was coming down.  I took these photos through the windows of our home while it was still snowing as it was so cold outside and I didn’t feel like getting all bundled up to go out.  They didn’t turn out too bad considering that some of the windows were a little dirty on the outside and the one storm door window kept steaming up.
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Think I figured out the Trojan Virus that my virus protection program kept catching.  I finally got to read what it said and it was coming from the Patsy Thompson link I had on my blog.  I have removed the link for the time being and will contact her in case it is coming from her webpage.   

Until Later,
Lynn

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