Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Who needs Ahmad Hassan of HGTV Yard Crashers or Norm Abrams of This Ole House

I have David. If you watch HGTV or DIY channel you’ll know who Ahmed and Norm are. My husband has been my handy man for 33 1/2 years now. He can rebuild and general repair a car or motorcycle engine. Of course all the computerized stuff in cars is making it more difficult. Remember the show "Tool Time" with Tim Allen. OMG! That's David but with way less accidents and injuries. David is an electrical draftsman/designer by day for the oilfield industry. So electrical work around the house is no problem. 
Maybe I should submit his name in to DIY and see he could be one of the DIY renovators. He built his garage work bench that you could ice skate on it's so smooth and slick. He re-finished all my kitchen cabinets and my box window in the kitchen. Leave it to me to have a mishap on his woodwork. I had put a Christmas Poinsettia on a trivet but the water had leaked out under the plant and I ruined his beautiful work. I'm in deep do-do over that for obvious reasons. Eventually he'll correct my damage when he thinks I won't ruin it again. David is a man of many talents.

Over the years he has developed his landscaping techniques and has become my own personal yard crasher. So Look out Ahmed! David is in trouble with some of the neighborhood husbands because their wives are asking "Why don't you landscape our yard like David does". Our friends always joke and ask what David has yanked out of the yard lately. It became a joke in my Christmas newsletter about him "yanking plants up by the roots and whether the plants are safe". David has this habit, if he doesn't like the way a plant or tree looks or grows, it gets yanked out by the roots. My friend Judy didn't mine because she usually benefited. She took his uprooted plants to her lake house. He's always threatening the plants but that has slowed down considerable since he's finally getting the yard where he's almost happy. 

For a few years we had over 200 shrubs in the front yard only which David preferred to be hand clipped.
2004 May

2004 May

Eventually he decided that the electric trimmer was a lot faster and easier.
  Image that.


I love how our yard looked and especially how it currently looks. It's all due to David's hard work and a very small contribution came from me.

2009 July

David has been yard crashing our current yard since 1995. It's been an ongoing process. Very few of the original plants have survived him. The survivors have been moved at least 3-4 times before allowed they’re able to rest and be happy. 
2009 July New paint, rocks, and pro landscape

In 2009 David had someone come in and professionally landscape some of the front yard. David wanted more curb appeal with less green shrubs, more color and rocks 

2011 March
Spring has sprung but some of the plants didn't return after the freezes we had and there are some bare spots. Weather Houston the past 2 years has been a little bi-polar to say the least.  As David replaces plants he adds a few others.

2011 March

Plants in Houston have a hard time surviving temps that stay below 30 temps for long durations. 

This year I'm not sure how many will survive this drought if we don't get some rain real soon.
This year we have lots of color in the yard. Everything is blooming and David replaced the few little plants that didn’t come back. I think our yard may be like the Gulf Frwy (I45 S)….. It will always be under construction. In just 30 days since my last pictures the yard has come alive.

2011 April

2011 April

2011 April

Our home and yard have undergone some major transformations over the years. I think for the most part we're done. Maybe a few tweaks here and there and it's a wrap. At least I think. Oh wait a minute we have to re-do Pamela's room. Her room screams “junior high” style and she has grown up since then. I’d hope so since she is 24. Pamela would like to update to something more mature. Yes I know once she finishes nursing school in 2012 and gets a few paychecks in the bank she'll be out on her own. BUT with a little guidance we'll paint it a color I can live with when she's off in her own apartment and on her own payroll.   

Until next blog ............ A colorful garden of every hue, is just like a quilt

.•*´¨ ) ¸.•*¨) -:¦:-
(¸.•´(¸ ;.•

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Quick Notes

Outside my window:   I see nothing but darkness. It's 10:30pm
I am thinking:  I need to get busy sewing on pillow cases, quilts, mug rugs and postcards. Sew many projects so little Time! but instead as soon as I post I'm going to bed

From the kitchen:  It was closed tonight. Went out to a bookclub meeting so David was on his own. I haven't gotten very far on cooking my way thru the cookbook. I'm a creature of habit I guess. Actually I think it's more a matter I don't want to take the time to try something new or different thru the week.
I am wearing:  My blue nightie. Getting ready to close things down for the night

I am creating:  Some postcards that I'm behind on and mug rug or two for a swap at Quilters Crossing Quilt store in Tomball.

I am going:  Well  actually I went to the bookclub at a mexican restaurant and discussed our latest book "The Immortal Life of Henriette Lacks". True story about how in 1951 a young black women had cancer and while being treated at John Hopkins Hosptial a doctor removed some cells for a biopsy and used some of the cells for research with out her permission. Very interesting but I think the book could have been about 100 pages shorter.

I am learning:  That as we get older we can't always control what goes on around us. God has a plan for all of us. For some the plan is too short but they've left their mark on the world. I hope those people are looking thru the holes in Heaven to see how they touched our lives.
I am reading:  the last 15 pages of the bookclub book called "The Immortal Life of Henriette Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot. yes I know I already went to the meeting but I always finish my book.  As soon as I finish then I'll go back to reading "His Bright Light" by Danielle Steel. It's the true story about her late son. I need to work my way thru the book closet. I acquired 4 new books for the closet last week. Oops. Our new book assignment for bookclub is "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett. Yahoo won't have to go out and buy this one. It's the next book on my shelf to read.

I am hoping:  That all the families in the mid-west get some relief soon from all these horrible tornados and storms! And I'm really hoping for some rain in Texas. Brush fires are popping up everywhere.

Around the house:  I really need to clean up my very disorganized sewing/craft/office area. Taxes are done, check written and mailed off so no more excuses.

One of my favorite things:  While the weather is still bearable sitting outside on the patio with the hubby having a drink. That drink can be water or alcholic. Just sitting outside talking, listening and watching the birds and the lone bat that comes out from where ever.

A Few Plans for the Rest of the Week:  Work one my many projects, go to a Southern Living party, go visit my mom and spend time with the kido who's coming home for Easter. Hopefully she won't have a paper or pile of nursing school work and can enjoy the weekend. Easter dinner at David's brothers house.
Until next Blog.................................
There are two motives for reading a book;
one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it.
~ Bertrand Russell ~

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♥  Carla ! ♥
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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hill Country Dreamin'

I love the hill country. Back when David and I first got married he always said he wanted to move to the Austin area/hill country and I thought "naaa not my thing". But we've made a trip annually the last few years for our anniversary to the area and I've changed my mind. Last year we drove down Hwy 16 from San Antonio to Fredricksburg. We made stops in Bandera, Kerrsville, and finally Fredericksburg before finding our way to back to San Antonio then to Austin to meet up with friends. I wish we had stopped in Medina at the Apple pie place. I was told we missed an awesome apple pie. Back in October we went to a wedding reception up in Blanco. Afterwards we traveled down the road to Wimberly and on to Canyon Lake to check out a few property sights. We're playing with the idea of buying property and build later. If nothing else it gives us an excuse to get away.

Cheers... Is this#2 or is it 3
A week ago we went to Boerne, TX just outside of San Antonio. They've grown together so that you don't know sometimes if you're in Boerne or San Antonio. Anyway we thought we'd drive up and check out the sights, a few wineries and a few properties. One of the things we do when we travel is avoid chain restaurants. We want to try out the local flavors.

Friday night the 8th we went to a place called the Scenic Loop Cafe on of course  Scenic Loop Road. There were lots of cars so that was a good sign that the food was edible. We parked in back and found an entrance on to the patio area where there were lots of tables and people. We were given the choice of eating out or inside. It was 93 out but the wind was blowing (no humidity) plus I noticed that the patio had big fans with mist, so we chose outside and were seated right then. It was great, live music by Gringo Suave', tasty cheese dip, tasty food and very tasty margaritas.   Found out later that the restaurant is owned by George Strait.
 Saturday we got up and headed into Boerne to check out the town. We hit the trade market and found me a hat, some hot sauce, some nice iron work, a father's day gift and a house warming gift. We missed a house warming party so hopefully they'll like the gift. Oh and finally some breakfast. All we wanted was a kolache or a donut. We couldn't find anything but at the market we grabbed a sausage taco and sat down for a few photo opts.
Well David stayed seated

                                                             I stood.

After shopping we decided to check out some more of the country side and find a couple of wine tasting rooms somewhere. 

First stop was in Comfort, TX at the wine tasting room for .....Comfort Cellars

Tasted about 5 wines and found one we liked. We also bought a jalapeno wine. Yep jalapeno wine. The shop owner said to take a very small sip. Take a sip whoa I hadn't even got the glass up to my lips before the heat hit my nose. OMG I only touched it to my lips and the burn oh yeah burn. Okay so most people don't drink this wine they use it to cook with. Thank Goodness! Now there is one way to drink this wine.
1 part jalapeno wine to 2 parts Clamato juice. And viola you have a tasty Bloody Mary with a Bite. I'm not big on Bloody Mary's but it wasn't bad.

From Comfort we headed to the Sisterdale Winery in Sisterdale, TX.

More wine tasting, another bottle of wine and some bottle gift bags. I need to get busy and sew my own for the personal touch. After taking a quick self quide tour of the facility I happened to look down and saw this little bucket that said "Help yourself".... It was used wine corks. I grabbed the last 3 and brought them home to a quilter friend of mine who collects them. 
There's still time to play and see the scenery so we head off to development called Stone Oak "The street of Dreams" just outside Boerne.  Hmm
Yep that name should have been our 1st clue. The land and cost to build is in our dreams.  Holy crap batman. We took a tour of 5 homes. All of which were way out of our price range and way too big.  Now my question is "what do people do to live in houses like this. 

Get this - Each of the kids rooms had a small media room in one of the houses. Really! What about Family time and togetherness.
Now the big people gameroom had a full bar, pool table, couches, game table and a 65" flat screen. Someone actually lived in this house we toured. The rest of the houses were merely staged.
I'm not used to taking pictures of us while on trips but I'm gonna get better at it. David was not exactly happy with my camera snapping so he felt it only fair that he return the favor and turned the camera on me.

David got the bill. LOL

Actually I couldn't help myself and snapped another picture but he ducked.

Well Sunday arrived and it's time to head home. So once again we try to find a kolache but nothing. The Moon Bear or Bear Moon Bakery was open but it's not what we wanted so we decided to drive on down the road and stop for lunch later. Then there it is on a Hwy 46 "Kolaches" at a little restaurant called "Little Gretel".  So we pull in and have breakfast. After all that we end up eating eggs. I did order a kolache and brought it home for breakfast Monday. It was all very yummy. And we're On the Road Again.
As we travel down Hwy 46 toward New Braunsfels we decide to stop at another development called Cordillero. More sticker shock. The price of land and the cost to build a house are very pricey in the hill country. Ouch. This would be a view if you bought property here but our champagne taste and beer budget won't be seeing this anytime soon unless we win the lottery or we drive thru the development again.

Since we've been home I'm beginning to think a retirement home in the hill country may not happen. But then I got thinking maybe that's not so bad, I mean all our friends and family are here. Well not all my family but all of David's.  And my quilt shops. I know they have shops up there but......     Tonight I asked David "if you were to move there where would we go visit?" He said Houston. Great. Oh well we'll wait and see. But we can still go look around and dream right?

Until next blog............................ Be ware of chosing the road less traveled you may end up lost as hell!
(¸.•´(¸ ;.•Carla.♥ 
*´¨ ) ¸.•*¨) -:¦:-

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dinner Anyone

Okay I'm gonna try something new. I have all these cook books but I always cook the same thing it seems over and over. So I figured I'd be like Julie of the book Julie and Julia and cook my way through a cook book.  But I might have to skip a recipe if it doesn't sound like something I'd consider eating, say like LIVER. Gives me the willies to even think about eating liver. YUCK! Don't like the taste or the texture.  If the cook won't eat it, the cook won't cook it in this household.
The first recipe in the cook book was a pepper steak, brown rice and green beans. It was tasty  but it wasn't our favorite so I won't worry about putting in my personal collection of recipes to try again. It was kinda sad when I had to cut up a good steak instead of running outside to grill it. Oh well I tried.
Now the 2nd recipe with baked apple chunks, chicken and brocolli looked tasty. Well at least to me and Pamela. David said he'd try it but wasn't impressed with apples and meat together but what about Pamela will she eat that he asks? He thought that would stop me in my tracks but Pamela had looked at the recipe and said, "Sure it looks good and healthy".  buiyah David, so there, Pamela was willing to try.

45 minute prep time and 25 -30 min cook time The recipe called for brocolli but David and I just had broccolli so I had to substitue garlic seasoned fresh green beans.

My plate
Pamela was home Thursday for the weekend to babysit Dexter Pup while David and I headed to the Hill Country so she was able provide her input on Recipe #2. Results: Pam and I liked but David wasn't a fan. He liked the chicken and green beans okay but not the apples. I even added some potatoes to the green beans to give David the extra veggie. At least it looked pretty. Almost like the picture in the book what'cha think?    

Here's the Picture out of the cookbook
sorry about the glare from my flash but you get the idea.

I guess this recipe won't make my personal recipe collection to try again either since not everyone was happy with the flavors. Onwards and forwards I guess. Maybe next week I'll try recipe # 3.

I got an overwhelming Hooray on dessert though .............LOL.............. Blue Bell Neopolitan Light ice cream. Go Figure!

Until next blog ...........................Be sure to Kiss the Cook. 
.•*´¨ ) ¸.•*¨) -:¦:-
(¸.•´(¸ ;.•

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Make Quilting Tax Deductible

Wow wouldn't that be cool. If quilting was tax deductible David and I would probably get a refund instead of writing that dreaded check. He'd probably find a way to buy me a longarm quilting machine. LOL. I think I'll need to win the lottery to get one of those. Or maybe he'd figure out a way to build me a quilting room with a more windows for natural light and wall space for the design wall and lots of storage space for my stash and toys. I'd like to be able to put up a design wall and leave it up. Maybe he'd let me just continue to learn to quilt and he'd do the taxes. But alas that's just fiction.

Back to reality. Taxes are like ripping the seams out of  what you thought to be a finished quilt for the 2nd or 3rd time because you sewed the damn block backwards again. I've had one such quilt.

Now I wanted to make a quilt for my beloved friend Amy(September 1962-March 2011) when she became a 1st time granny. I happen to be flipping thru one of my many quilting magazines and found a pattern. The pattern designer was/is Mark Lipinsky. I'm so lucky He's now even my friend on facebook. He's not your everyday quilter. He is a rare find with a twisted sense of humor sometimes but I love it. Anyway I made a smaller version of his quilt without any issues the first time. I just used fabrics I had in the closet and added pictures in the big squares where Mark Lipinsky placed a focus fabric. I stitched in the ditch around the blocks and meandered in the stashing  with my Viking Rose sewing machine with a 6" throat. Okay get your mind out of the gutter people a 6" throat is the open area on the machine where you place your fabric to sew for those of you not familiar with the term.
Happy birthday Grandma Amy. Your first grandson.
Christian Mykel Claycomb

My second quilt like the above  I did received some compensation (meaning the green stuff$$) to quilt but it didn't seem to go together as fast. I kept turning the squares within the block the wrong way so the block didn't look like a whirley gig. This quilt was made for a friend who retired from the school district and she loved the quilt I made for Amy. This quilt was made using her grandson's pictures and a western theme for the cowgirl at heart. I stitched in the ditch around each block and meandered in the sashing. On one of the corners I quilted  a cowgirl hat and on the opposite corner I quilted longhorns. Besides not sewing my blocks the right direction I used denim for the sashing and backing. Yee haw buckaroos this is one heavy quilt and it's only a small lap quilt. For the binding on this quilt I cut strips of all the scrap fabric left over.
Saw Paulis recently. She told me this quilt lays across the foot of her bed.
I started our taxes on March 25th but keep putting off finishing. I use a tax software to do our taxes but it's such a pain. For some reason every year I procrastinate big time when it comes to doing the taxes. It never fails I always misread a line or forget to add a dollar amount that could make a difference in what we owe and as I review what I just I did I realize that I have to go back about 5 -8 steps and start over. GRRRR.... Each year I promise myself to start sooner and surprise David before he starts yelling sorry I mean telling me I need to get busy. I guess I'd hate to give him a heart attack from shock by having them ready before the end of March or him making a nasty I mean constructive comment. BUT I'm soooo HAPPY I COMPLETED the taxes last night. Now David gets to write the check. Oh boy. It's actually a little less than last year by a small amount but every little bit helps.

Quilting as a hobby is not cheap by any means. So if my supplies were tax deductible it be so great. I mean you have to have all the latest gadgets from scissors, to rotary cutters to rulers, not to mention all the pretty fabric and the thread. And by all means we can't forget the sewing machine itself or maybe 2 sewing machines or more. The supply list just grows and grows. Right now my sewing table has become my side table to my desk upstairs where instead of a sewing machine and fabric I have all kinds of papers and forms I need for the taxes. I thought about taking a picture but I decided not to scare anyone with the natual disaster that has taken place in my area. My quilting has been put on hold.  I have so many projects that need to be finished. But I'm finish with the taxes, I'm really finished so now I can't work on my projects. Yippee.

David came upstairs the other day to answer some questions I had on the taxes and started reaching for my scissors I use for fabric cutting when I yelled "STOP!", "Touch those scissors and die." He looked at me like I was crazy and want's to know what the big deal is. Well I know I'm a little crazy I mean I'm combining a blog on quilting and taxes. hmmm. Anyway he now asks which scissors to use. I appreciate that even if there is a little sarcasm in his voice. Gotta love him. Now if you're not a quilter you might not understand the big deal. Let me explain.. Paper dulls the scissors very quickly and then they won't cut fabric. Poppycock you say well I didn't believe it either until I tried to cut fabric with my desk/craft scissors when I couldn't find my sewing scissors. It's worst than cutting a tomato with a dull knife.  

Until next blog........................  As ye Sew, Ye shall Rip.  In this case Ye shall Pay TAXES and rip!

.•*´¨ ) ¸.•*¨) -:¦:-
(¸.•´(¸ ;.•

Monday, April 11, 2011

Ready set, SEW!........

When the movie Step-Mom came out with Julia Roberts  and Susan Sarandon my daughter kept saying she wanted a Memory quilt like what the Step-Mom & Mom made for the kids in the movie. Well I’d never quilted but I did sew. When younger during summers I'd stay with my grandparents and I did go with my grandmother to a her friend's house where we cut quilt blocks and floral motifs for applique. That actually let me trace and cut. My grandmother who I called Othermom taught me to make simple tops and doll clothes. As time went on I continued sew clothes for myself and then Pamela when she came along. I had one minor bobble when I was in High School I made myself a swim suit. My date showed up and as we're heading out the door to a swin party  when I felt this pop and my bottoms slide down slightly. Good Grief! the elastic broke in the bottoms. Obviously went back in to re-do the elastic and the suit remained in tack the rest of the day..
I'm sure I had other mistakes but that one has been the topic of many stories that my mom and step dad love to share whenever they can.
Pam continued to bug me about making a memory quilt.  Finally in 2002 I decided to take my first hand piecing and quilting class from Minay Sinosa @ Great Expectatation.  The class was the OHIO STAR wall hanging. 

2002 my wall hanging became a pillow
I was pretty impressed with myself on the piecing. My corners matched up and overall it looked pretty good. Then I had to hand quilt the thing. I shadow quilted most of it but I quilted dragonflies in the corners squares. Can't really see them in the picture. At this point I decided hand quilting was not my thing and a little slow plus my stitches were very irregular. Now I know that with practice all that might have been remedied but I had a mission.

So I decided to move on to machine piecing which turns out to be definitely faster than any hand piecing I could do.
Later in 2002 I started a quilt for Pamela only it wasn’t the darn Memory quilt. You see Pamela played water polo all thru high school and she told me she wanted a quilt to carry on their away trips that represented water polo. I saw this pattern in one of my magazines called Sunshine I think and it gave me an idea for a quilt. It was fairly simple. I cut out 10 inch squares of watery blue fabric which I think was batik then cut out 2 sizes of yellow circles to represent the waterpolo balls. And of course I cut out the sashing between the blocks and anchored with black squares. My problem here was not sure how to appliqué and my embroidery stitching is only so so. But my mom does both and she was always looking for hand work to do as they traveled down the road in their motorhome. So she embroidered the black lines I drew on the yellow circles to look like waterpolo balls and appliquéd each ball on a blue square..... She did the hard part really.
I did a simple 1/4 inch quilting around each block and stitched up close to each ball by hand.  I finally finished it in 2003. She continued to carry this quilt with her while she played water polo for Texas A&M and now the quilt usually lays across her bed or a chair in her apartment.  As my hand stitching comes apart with use and washing I stick it in the sewing machine for a little machine quilting every time she brings it home.  I did manage to do a few things wrong making this quilt but the biggest one is the batting. I didn't know any better and I had some of this real fluffy batting and I used it.  OMG! Trust me that was not easy to hand quilt and I Won't do that again. Quilting is definitely a hands on learning experience. No Matter what I usually do at least one thing the hard way when.

So this is how I started my quilting experience. One class and I was off but not proficient but I continue to learn. Or  at least I hope I will. I sometimes feel like that old saying with a twist... "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink" Well you can lead me to fabric but that doesn't mean I'll turn it into a quilt even though that is my intention. Gotta love that fabric.  Oh and to date I still haven't made Pamela a memory quilt.  Eventually I'll get there.
Until next blog.................... "Count your blessings, stitch them one by one" 

¨((-:¦:-¸.·´ .·´¨¨))-:¦:-
        -:¦:- ((¸¸.· -:¦:-))

Monday, April 4, 2011

Memories of the way we were............

My Grandmother
Lorea Dowell McLallen
I called her Othermom

My Mom Evelyn and her Brother
Richard McLallen about 1939
I love looking at old photographs, don't you?  For whatever reason I always think of the song "Memories" from the movie The Way We Were" with Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford. ....  
Pictures connect the dots of where we came from to where we are now.They show good, bad and sometimes the ugly. The one thing that drives me crazy about looking at old photos of my family is that I don't know who some of the people are.

No one thought to make a note on the back of the photo. I mean give me a date, a year and who the heck is in the picture. A little journaling would have been great too. Most of the people who might have been able to provide that information are gone.

The Hamm Boys - Related but not sure how
Aren't they pretty. Their eyes are crystal blue.

My Uncle Ralph & his brother JD
My Othermom's brothers

I'm slowly sorting through photos that a cousin gave me when my grandmother passed some years back. 

I guess that's why I try to record dates and names on pictures I take and sometimes provide the occassion or reason for the gathering. So whenever Pam pulls out the old pictures she'll know who she is looking at and how they're related or connected.
around 1952 Aunt Mary
Uncle Dick and mom Evelyn
Grandma Flossie Tate My dad
Jerry Whitney and Me

Good example of why to take pictures of friends and family....I just lost my close friend Amy and guess what I've only got one picture of her. She like a few of my other friends and family she would hide from the camera or give me special hand signals. Sound familiar. LOL.
I'll get you now my pretties, I'm on a mission.
And if that family member or friend puts me on the you know what list oh well I can always use the picture as a dart board target. 

My Cousin Gayle, My grandfather Phafe (Carl McLallen),
My grandmother Othermom, (Lorea McLallen), holding
my cousin Lisa, and Me

Here's a few more old pictures I've found and now scanned for safe keeping. Some of these photos are starting to fade and yellow. If I could I've tried to correct some of the blemishes. I just wish I knew who some of these folks really were.

Who knows I may need the reminder as the years pass of whom I'm looking at. You know there are days when I can't remember my name so maybe the pictures will help. LOL

Othermom, My Cousins Gayle & Lisa


1975 My Othermom (aka Grandmother)

Until next blog..........................................  
"SMILE: If you can't lift the corners, let the middle sag."

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♥  Carla ! ♥
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