Monday, December 26, 2022

Another Christmas means another year has gone by.

Throughout each year there are milestones; birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries and special days of various sorts, but when we get into the Christmas festivities, I start thinking about the year as pretty much being a "wrap". Soon, I'll start having to write '23 on the items that go into the freezer, and on the notes I jot down in the cards and packages I snail-mail out.  

I remember when I was a kid that it always seemed like a momentous thing - changing years 😮- and having to get used to writing the new year on schoolwork. Even in my twenties, it was a bit of a struggle using the correct year when handwriting checks to pay bills, and when writing letters to send to friends far and wide. Now, each year seems to fly by so fast it's like "what's the big deal?" I'm thankful that my life is such that starting a new year holds no trepidation for me. I know that for many, a new year means new worries; will I get laid-off, will the bills get paid and on and on. Life comes with no guarantees; just wishes, hopes and prayers. And on that note, I wish, hope and pray that you and yours have a safe, healthy, fulfilling New Year. I hope it's 'a cut above' what's come before.

Speaking of a cut above, that's the name of a show I streamed the other day while working on my sewing project. It's a competition for chainsaw carvers and boy is it cool to watch them go at it. It was addictive. I snapped a pic of 4 of the best carver's work during one episode. These people do amazing work in 7 or 8 hours. Check it out for fun. I'm streaming it via Xfinity on the Discovery network.

Courtesy of Xfinity/Discovery - I hope they don't mind.

My sewing project, a Puff Quilt, is a fun challenge. I've never quilted before and although I've worked on really large projects like the sailboat dodger this quilt has a lot of small pieces. Here's the dodger: (If you wanted to see other sewing projects, click this LINK).

The windshield section was over 16' long.

Shown stretched-out after attaching the side
triangle pieces to the center top section. Whew.

Anyway, the quilt project idea came from a post on someone's instagram page. I thought about how much beautiful fabric I had hanging around after tiring of making my trivets. Remember my trivets? I used to sew them while onboard Dreamtime. Here's a refresher pic, and if you want to see some of the completed trivets follow this LINK.

My Trivet "how-to" instructional pic.

So I did a "proof of concept" project for my sister, a cute & colorful little lounging pillow. I loved the way it came out and decided to dive into a small lap/nap quilt for myself. 250 or so square "pockets" later, I started trying to figure out my layout to determine whether I needed more of one color or another.

The colors will feature dark purples/reds and blues/greens
with a swath of lighter yellows/pinks coming in from the side.

While not pursuing this project, (it's going to take a while, lol), I made time to gen-up a big batch of french toast for the freezer. Also some lemon cookies with candied ginger and slivered almonds.

Just butter it up straight from the freezer and
nuke it for 30-60 seconds on high, yum & easy.

The candied ginger and almonds take this cookie to 
new heights. They're made from a cake mix! YAY!

Oh, I also made the pumpkin loafs we liked so much, one plain, and 2 smaller ones with raisins and pecans. My wonderful neighbors shared it with us.

Made from a Libby's Mix - so fantastically spiced.

We cheated with Christmas dinner and reheated leftovers from our big blowout Thanksgiving dinner. 'Sacre bleu'. I had vacuum sealed sliced turkey, baked dressing balls, and turkey gravy cubes (made in my handy-dandy 2" silicone ice cube trays). All I had to do was make rice, steam the asparagus and get the cranberry sauce ready. 

It all tasted fantastic and we enjoyed every bite, we even have enough for another round in a day or two. Note: most often, if I'm planning on vacuum sealing and freezing something tender like dressing, I'll put it on a piece of parchment paper and a plate and run it into the freezer to freeze. Then I take it out and vacuum seal it. Nothing gets squished or deformed that way.

We warmed up the Florida Room enough to eat out there.
Our temps on Christmas started out at 26° and didn't
get much warmer, but the skies were very blue and it was sunny.

Well, that's about it for this post, thanks for stopping by to read it. Hope your holidays were wonderful. See you next time.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Early December; baking, visiting, craft projects.

 We're still finding plenty to do around here, between cleaning & organizing, crafts and sewing, computer maintenance and various cooking endeavors we stay busy. Busy is happy!

We seemed to have moved into our winter weather pattern, a bit gloomy at times but nice temps around 70°. Windows and doors opened for a big swath of the day.

The other day the Boss got busy on the windows and screens of the florida room, which run the whole width of the house. Thank you Honey!

He does a *much* better job than me - very thorough.

Meanwhile I did something for him (and me), I baked a fruitcake. Some people might groan but we love fruitcake, loaded with pecans, raisins and candied peel.  We split a slice with our hot tea after dinner & it can't be beat. 

I have more baking plans but this had to be done early so I could season it properly with bourbon before it's debut in a couple or 3 weeks.

An easy recipe which turns out beautifully
each time. You can find it on the recipe page if 
you are interested in checking it out.

I also managed to (finally) have a lunch meet-up with Nancy, a friend from cruising. We went to a deli/butcher shop, which turned out to be very popular with the lunch crowd, deservedly so. Saw this amusing "old-timey" sign when in line to order. We found a nice table out in their outside dining area and chatted away.

We joked about them needing another sign about using "inside voices" as some rowdy car salesmen were "conversing" (shouting) with each other, a little decorum guys.

I found a good price on ham shanks and bought one a couple of weeks back. Doubled down on collard greens too and had quite a feast on that, with lots of yummy leftovers.

Sliced ham ready to be bagged up and put in the freezer.

Collards and cornbread can't be beat. I sauté onions, chopped ham or ham hock in olive oil, add fresh minced garlic, chipotle sauce and chicken stock (1 C), then add the washed and chopped collards to the pot and let it simmer for a few hours. So good, and good for you too.

Mincing garlic has always bugged me. I've never found a garlic press that worked for me - until now, that is.. I love it.

I keep the peeled garlic cloves in the freezer, then 
do the rock-a-bye thing on them to get the above result.
So easy and quite an easy clean up too.

Got a few decorations out and set up our 2 small trees plus made up a couple of floral decorations too. It was fun. Here's a small countertop lighted vase that I put onto the kitchen counter. So pretty lit up at night.

Next blog I'll do a bit more show and tell on the outside decorations and on my newest sewing obsession.  Meanwhile, here's a shot of some of the fabric I will be using.

Wonder what I've got in mind?? We'll see.

On the computer repair front, the Boss was having some power issues with his 'vintage' HP. Since the battery was shot and was generating a CMOS error during boot, we ordered a replacement, then proceeded with making sure we had a good recovery usb and backup.  The next step was popping the skins and making the swap. I was nervous as I hadn't done any hardware maintenance on a laptop in a long time. I got started and got-er-done.

Pretty daunting, but knowing we had a new Dell on order helped
alleviate the jitters. I was so nervous I had to close the door to my work
room. I work well under pressure, just not so much with an audience.

That's it for this addition, thanks for stopping by, and we'll see you next time.