Friday, September 30, 2011

Favourite Things Friday: Fall Cooking

Harmony makes small things grow; lack of it makes great things decay. –Sallust

While I'd like to deny it, it is officially fall. Fall is kind of a mixed bag for me. The days get shorter and winter's arrival is inevitable. But the leaves turn beautiful colors and the days are cooler. Fall has a certain a feel in the air. Fall means sweaters and soft fluffy socks and soups. There is something about a nice hearty bowl of soup on a fall evening. I've been hankering for fall cooking all summer. I want to share a couple of my favorite soup recipes with you today.

But first, there are a few good weeks of zucchini left. I put together a collection of zucchini recipes with the help of the ladies in my neighborhood. Click on the cookbook cover to be taken to a downloadable PDF version of the cookbook. To print the booklet, print the file out on both sides of the paper {if your printer won't do it automatically, print odd pages first, flip the pages and arrange so that the first page is on top, printed side down, and so forth. Then print the even pages}. Fold down the middle and you've got lots of new recipes to try.

Green Monster Soup

And now for some yummy soup recipes.

Baked Potato Soup
4 medium baked potatoes
2 slices bacon
¼ cup onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
2 cups hot water
2 chicken bouillon cubes or 2 teaspoons bouillon crystals
1½ cups milk
½ cup celery, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup sour cream
½ cup {2 oz.} shredded cheddar cheese

• Remove the skins from the baked potatoes. In a medium mixing bowl, mash two of the potatoes. Dice the remaining two potatoes.
• Use kitchen shears to snip bacon into small pieces. In a 4-quart saucepan, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon to a paper towel to drain. Discard all but 1 teaspoon of the bacon drippings in the pan.
• Add the onion and garlic to the bacon grease in the pan; saute until onions turn clear; add hot water, bouillon, milk, celery, salt and pepper to the onions and garlic in the pan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
• Stir sour cream and reserved bacon into the soup. Serve topped with shredded cheddar cheese.
Serves 4

Chicken Soup
½ lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and shredded
½ cup onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
9 chicken bouillon cubes or 3 tablespoons bouillon crystals
8 cups hot water
2 cups {about 4} carrots, peeled and sliced
1½ cups {about 3 pieces} celery, diced
2 cups {about 2 medium} potatoes, peeled and diced
⅛ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons cold water

• Heat oven to 350˚. Place chicken in a small baking dish and sprinkle with a little bit of salt and pepper. Bake for 30-35 minutes — just until chicken is not longer pink in the middle. Refrigerate chicken completely cool. Once chicken has cooled, shred.
• Place about ½ cup water in a 4-quart saucepan. Add onions and garlic and bring to a boil; simmer until onions turn clear.
• Add remaining water, bouillon crystals, carrots, celery, potatoes and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes.
• Add shredded chicken to the soup. Dissolve cornstarch in cold water and stir into the soup {for thicker soup, double the amount of cornstarch}.
Serves 6

• Add a small {6 oz.} can of corn with other vegetables, if desired.
• If you are going to add dumplings to the soup {highly recommended}, stir the soup until the bouillon has dissolved completely, but do not simmer for 20 minutes or the vegetables will be too soft. Bring to a boil, add the chicken and cornstarch, reduce to a simmer and then add the dumplings and proceed as directed in the recipe {at the bottom of this post}.

Beef Stew
½ lb. beef stew meat
½ cup onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
9 beef bouillon cubes or 3 tablespoons bouillon crystals
8 cups hot water
2 cups {about 4} carrots, peeled and sliced
1½ cups {about 3 pieces} celery, diced
2 cups {about 2 medium} potatoes, peeled and diced
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons cold water

• Place a small amount of olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan. Add beef, onions and garlic and cook over medium-high heat until beef is browned.
• Add remaining water, bouillon crystals, carrots, celery, potatoes and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes.
• Dissolve cornstarch in cold water and stir into the soup {for thicker soup, double the amount of cornstarch}.
Serves 6

• Instead of using stew meat, this recipe is great for using up left-over pot roast. Just cut your left-over meat into cubes and put them in the pot when you add the water, bouillon and vegetables. If you have left-over gravy, throw that in too, decreasing the water by a cup or two and the bouillon by a cube or two, depending on how much gravy you have.
• Add a small {6 oz.} can of corn with other vegetables, if desired.
• If you are going to add dumplings to the stew {highly recommended}, stir the stew until the bouillon has dissolved completely, but do not simmer for 20 minutes or the vegetables will be too soft. Bring to a boil, add cornstarch, reduce heat to a simmer and then add the dumplings and proceed as directed in the recipe {at the bottom of this post}.

2 cups Bisquick baking mix
⅔ cup milk
• In a medium mixing bowl, combine baking mix and milk.
• Drop by tablespoons over bubbling stew. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
• Remove cover and simmer 10 minutes more.
Makes about 10 dumplings

• Bring stew to a boil, making sure bouillon has dissolved, but do not simmer stew before adding dumplings.
• Substitute a homemade biscuit recipe if desired.

Today's post brought to you by:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I Must Ask . . . Should We Continue?

Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing. –Harriet Braiker

Thanks to everyone who played along last week and told me their favorite Twilight character. Emmett took the most votes, followed closely by Alice. In the bottom spot were Esme and Bella, which is fairly surprising.

This is my 24th post-and-poll combination. I have lots more questions to ask. I promise I'm done asking about Twilight {but I'm not done sewing it, so you'll have to put up with that until it runs its course and I'm distracted by something else shiny :wink:}, but today, I want to know if you like having your brains picked every week? I planned to reply to your comments each week, but work has turned out to be a ¾-time gig {more than I bargained for} and as the Little Bugs get bigger, they need more help with things. This week, we had two big projects due; one for each Buglet on top of regular homework and other activities. So, I want to know if it is any fun for you when there is no direct feedback from me. Today, I must ask . . . should we continue with I Must Ask?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Twilight Quilt: Graduation from Forks High

Edward kissed me quickly, sighed, and went to go stand with the C’s. . .

I walked down the line to take my place behind Jessica, mildly curious as to why she was suddenly so friendly. . .

Jess was babbling before I was in earshot.

“. . . so amazing. I mean, it seems like we just met, and now we’re graduating together,” she gushed. “Can you believe it’s over? I feel like screaming!” . . .

She droned on and on, and I was sure the sudden return of our friendship was due to graduation nostalgia. . . I paid attention as well as I could while I shrugged into my robe. And I found that I was glad that things could end on a good note with Jessica.

Because it was an ending, no matter what Eric, the valedictorian, had to say about commencement meaning “beginning. . .”

It went so quickly. . .

I watched as Alice, suddenly appearing, danced across the stage. . . Edward followed behind. . . Only the two of them could carry off the hideous yellow and still look the way they did. . .

Mr. Greene said something I didn’t hear, and everyone around me shouted and screamed. Yellow hats rained down.
–Bella Swan, Eclipse, pages 353-355

This block is a repeat—kind of. I made this block as part of my contribution to the Eclipse quilt that the Twi-Quilters made. The pattern was a collaboration between my favorite paper piecing designer, Cat, and me. She started it and I finished it and used it to I used a bit of Fairy Frost in this block; Gold, Yellow, Banana and Snow in the tassel and Snow, Icing and Sand in the diploma scroll. I debated back and forth quite a bit about whether I should add a little bit of blue to the tassel to keep the Forks High School colors and use the black Civil Ward reproduction fabric as my background, or go with the blue again for the background. There's a tiny part of my brain that is wondering how it would have come out had I gone that way. I'm glad I went with the dark blue, though, because I like how the it makes the yellow cap really stand out.

Yay! One more space on my layout filled!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hexie Art Notebook Finishes

The past is really almost as much a work of the imagination as the future. Jessamyn West

I've been puttering around with these fun little art journals. This is the one I made for my giveaway winner, Peach Rainbow. This one went half-way around the world. I like to send things to other countries—I love that there is a little bit of my craftiness on at least four different continents.

And lest you think I'm done posting about Twilight-related things, I'm not. This one went to fellow Twi-Quilter, Angie. See, the little monogrammed a? Yep. That's what it's for. I love the apple batik fabric. It has been so much fun to use and share. I McTavished the background again, but chickened out on using black thread because I was afraid it might not look nice. That was probably a wise choice. It got a little crowded down there in the bottom right corner. Eventually I loosened up and by the time I got to the top right corner {I worked clockwise}, the design was better.

Today's post brought to you by:

My 2011 Finishes

Monday, September 26, 2011

I Should Have My Head Examined or ISO: “Dancing Cats” Grey/Lavender Blender Fabric by Kathi Campbell for Four Corners Designs

“I was consumed by the mystery Edward presented. And more than a little obsessed by Edward himself.” —Bella Swan, Twilight, page 67

I've had a lot of fun working on my Twilight quilt, More Than A Little Obsessed, lately. Actually, I'm not sure whether it is fun or madness. Let me tell you what I mean.

To arrive at the current layout, I went through three major revisions and a few tweaks {see layout 1, layout 2, layout 3}. With each revision, the quilt got bigger and I added more and more details. Below is the third layout after a few tweaks. I've filled in all the blocks I have finished so far {OK, so some of them still need some hand stitching and embroidery details on them, but you get the idea}. Only eleven empty spots to fill.

As I've worked on my blocks and studied my layout, I decided that it wasn't so much a Twilight quilt, as it was an Edward-Bella-Jacob quilt. There is a distinct lack of Jasper & Alice, Emmett & Rosalie and Carlisle & Esme. A friend once suggested that I cut out some of the trees to make room for more blocks. I didn't really like that idea at the time, but the idea was kind of appealing to me last week because I've run out of the grey/lavender blender fabric I've been using for the sky in all of my blocks for regular old rainy days in Forks. If I cut up the top row of trees and move some blocks up, I'd have room for the aforementioned missing Cullens and I would have enough of the grey/lavender fabric for the other blocks that need it. So, I tweaked the layout again. This added two more blocks to my orphan pile and brought me to 15 empty spots to fill.

I missed that top row of trees. I like they way they sort of “bookend” the quilt. I decided that the only way to make it work was to add another row, which makes me really glad I didn't start dicing up the top row of trees to salvage the background fabric right away. I added eight new blocks to the layout, reassigned others and un-orphaned those two blocks I scrapped before. The finished size is 60” x 76”. This leaves me with 18 empty spaces to fill and I'm still out of background fabric.

I should have my head examined. Because I am still making two identical quilts. Really. I figure it will probably only take me another two years to finish. But you know my motto: Go Big or Go Home!

Visit my index for links to posts about each block.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday Sermons: The Blessings of Scripture

The scriptures are the standard for distinguishing truth and error. The scriptures enlarge our memory by helping us always to remember the Lord and our relationship to Him and the Father. Those who either don’t have or ignore the recorded word of God eventually cease to believe in Him and forget the purpose of their existence. –D. Todd Christofferson, The Blessings of Scripture

Saturday, September 24, 2011

My Twilight Quilt: The 'Other' Jacob

“Do you think you could behave yourself a little better, at least?” I asked, irritated.

“No, I don’t. You decide, Bella. You can have me the way I am — bad behavior included — or not at all.”
–Bella Swan and Jacob Black, Eclipse, page 329

I used the Howling Wolf pattern by Jennifer Ofenstein for this block. The “other” Jacob refers to the pain that Jacob experiences as he loses Bella to Edward, which surfaces in a number of way and can be summed up as “bad behavior.” Jacob is Bella’s best friend. He helped her to heal after Edward left. When Bella goes to save Edward, despite the pain he caused her, Jacob is hurt. When Edward comes back, Jacob realizes that he's got to give it everything he's got to win her over. He pulls some pretty infantile stunts {like kissing her :rolleyes:} to get her to realize that she loves him too. But it just isn't enough because Edward really is the one for her.

I used Moda Marbles in a lovely russet color {which I also used in the 'My' Jacob block} and the background fabric was a gift from a {non-quilting} fellow TwilightMOM in an exchange a couple of years ago. The pattern is a little bit chopped up, but I still like the overall effect. It kind of underlines the pain the howling wolf is experiencing.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I Must Ask . . . Who Is Your Favorite Twilight Character

Alice opened the door for me before I could walk in.

She nodded. “Hey, wolf.”

“Hey, shortie.”
–Jacob Black and Alice Cullen, Breaking Dawn, page 321

Yeah. I'm still on a Twilight kick. It looks like the favorite book is Eclipse, by a nose. Eclipse was my favorite movie to date, and is by far the best in the franchise. The Twilight movie was super low budget and pretty campy. New Moon was an improvement, but there were a few departures from the book for the sake of action, which frustrates me. Movies made from books are never as good as the books themselves. Still, it is fun to be able to see the characters that I know come to life. And that's what I want to discuss today. I know that the majority of you aren't interested in the least. But thanks for indulging me and sticking around while this Twilight kink works itself out.

The characters are really three-dimensional and I feel like I'm a part of the story as I read. It is hard to single out one character as a stand-alone, because the group dynamic is so fantastic. But I just love Alice. I went as Alice for Halloween one year. I spiked my hair, which was really short at the time, and semi-spikey anyway, powdered my face, put in gold-colored contacts and finished the outfit with a dark blue trench coat. It was dark out and no one could see my costume, which was fine by me. I really don't advertise my fanatical status, which is a contradiction in itself, since I'm blogging about it on a regular basis {shameless plug: check out the Twi-Quilter's blog. We're posting the quilt blocks for our Breaking Dawn charity quilt and Iris, one of our members, created a really beautiful background for our blog. She's amazing!}. But sharing my obsession on my blog is a relatively safe way to go, since people who aren't interested can basically ignore it. But I digress. Alice. I would love to be her. Or her best friend. Either way, the wardrobe would be fantastic. And wouldn't it be awesome to have a book solely about Alice and how she came to be {hint, hint, Stephenie Meyer}. Emmett is a close second, as far as individual characters go. And I really do love Bella and Edward, although they are in a separate category and are kind of a package deal.

Today's poll is only going to include the 'major players' in the series. There is relatively little interest in this subject and I don't want to dilute the poll with obscure or lesser-known characters. But if you have a favorite that is not on the poll, please feel free to comment. I'd love to hear! I'm allowing multiple selections in the poll so you can vote for more than one character, but try to keep it to your top three, because honestly, there is something I like about every single character, which means I could check them all. With that, I must ask . . . who is your favorite Twilight character?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Twilight Quilt: The Meadow

I reached the edge of the pool of light and stepped through the last fringe of ferns into the loveliest place I had ever seen. The meadow was small, perfectly round, and filled with wildflowers – violet, yellow and soft white. Somewhere nearby, I could hear the bubbling music of a stream. The sun was directly overhead, filling the circle with a haze of buttery sunshine. I walked slowly, awestruck, through the soft grass, swaying flowers, and warm, gilded air. –Bella Swan, Twilight, page 259

It's been a whole year since I worked on my Twilight quilt. It is fun to be back at it. This is Iris' meadow, as seen in the Piece, Love, Twilight quilt our little group of Twi-Quilters did for Stephenie Meyer. I debated back and forth for over two years whether to use this block, or the meadow block Cat designed using a still from the movie. It was a tough choice, but in the end I went with this version because in the book, Bella doesn't lie down with Edward in the grass. She sits and watches him. I disapprove of certain liberties film makers take when making a book into a movie. I did, however, use Cat's brilliant idea to use seed beads for the flowers. The trees are the same green fabrics I'm using throughout the quilt. I used a bit of Fairy Frost for the stream, and the meadow fabric was a fabulous share from Wanda. I love our little on-line quilting group. When someone makes an awesome find, there is always the sharing of assets.

This is my favorite part; the layout with one more block filled in. Hey, progress is progress, even if it is slow.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cat's Twilight Block of the Month: Block 9

Your best friend is a werewolf? –Alice Cullen, New Moon, page 387

The beginner's block for month 9 of Cat's mystery quilt was another fun and quick block to put together. I used Fairy Frost, of course, I really like how it came out.

I'd already done the advanced block, but I thought it would be fun to show again.

I also did two different sets of paw prints for the New Moon quilt. This first set was about 50% of original size.






It was a good thing that this is one of my favorite of Cat's patterns because we did a revision on the layout and the first set of blocks was just a little bit too big to fit the new layout, so I did a second set on an even smaller scale. After making so many of this block, I still think it is really fun to do.

Today's post brought to you by:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Sermons: We Can Find Happiness

And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.Mosiah 2:41

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Cat's Twilight Block of the Month: Block 8

I am a neutral country. I am Switzerland. I refuse to be affected by territorial disputes between mythical creatures. –Bella Swan, Eclipse, page 143

Now that my box of Twilight fabrics and blocks is open, I don't really want to close it. I've been working a little bit on Cat's Block of the Month and a little bit on my own Twilight quilt. The idea was to do each of Cat's beginner blocks and then if I hadn't already done her advanced block for that month and was using it in my quilt, I would do that too. I've worked my way up to block 8 now. This was really fun to put together and took less than 45 minutes, including printing out the pattern and picking fabrics. I used Fairy Frost in Red and Snow and I love how it came out.

I already had the advanced block finished. I was Cat's pattern tester for this one and I posted about it previously. But, you know me . . . any opportunity to do a bit of sew and tell, so you get to see it again. The red in the shield is some of the last bits I had left over from the Stephenie Meyer quilt, Piece, Love, Twilight. I had a lot of fun putting this block together.

Today's post brought to you by:

Friday, September 16, 2011

Favourite Things Friday: The Violin

The violinist is that peculiarly human phenomenon distilled to a rare potency — half tiger, half poet. –Yehudi Menuhin

When I was in elementary school, my best friend played the violin. She started playing at about the age of four so by the time I met her in the 3rd grade, she was pretty good. In 4th grade, I decided that I wanted to play the violin, too. I joined a little orchestra at school, but became frustrated that I wasn't an instant virtuoso. The hours and hours of practice my friend put into her talent, combined with the years she had been doing it, made it look easy. My pitiful Twinkle, Twinkle just didn't compare to the beautiful music my friend could play, so I quit after not too long. As a child, I didn't realize that anything worthwhile in life takes effort. I have often regretted not sticking with it and have considered taking violin lessons as an adult.

This week we bought a violin for Grasshopper and it is so beautiful. He's decided to join the 6th grade orchestra and I'm pretty excited for him. I think he's pretty excited too. When I dropped him off for his first class this week, I told him to pay close attention so that he could show me everything he learns so that I can learn too. He is big enough to start out with a full-size violin, so we can share. And I'm seriously considering taking violin lessons.

The violin is such a beautiful instrument. It can touch your soul and bring joy to your heart like no other instrument. I love classical violin music and have a small collection I love to listen to. But there is more to the violin than that. A violin can make music to suit any mood. One of my favorite musical groups is Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband. Lead singer, Ryan Shupe, plays a mean fiddle. He started at the age of 5. His group puts on an amazing show. This collection of clips showcases some of his amazing talent.

And for good measure this is one of my favorite of their songs. I just love the sweet sound of the violin.

Today's post brought to you by:

P.S. Ryan Tilby, if you're reading, can you get me tickets to your show in December?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I Must Ask . . . Which Twilight Book Is Your Favorite?

I told you — you don’t see yourself clearly at all. You’re not like anyone I’ve ever known. You fascinate me. –Edward Cullen, Twilight, page 245

Last week, we talked Ford vs. Chevy. It wasn't a big voting week, but Chevy won two-to-one. I was going to do a spin-off this week and see what you all drive and then maybe next week see what everyone's dream cars are. But I'm slightly distracted this week. So we're talking Twilight. For the record, Bella drives a Chevy. A Chevy that belonged to Billy Black before Bella. The Cullens all drive imports, and I don't recall a single Ford mentioned anywhere in the book. Just so we're clear on that.

I have to admit, I am a little embarrassed by this huge Twilight obsession of mine. It is not something I talk about, aside from on my blog, because I know it is a little odd to be so completely gaga about a book. It occupies a much quieter place in my life now than it did three years ago. Even at my most obsessed, I kept it fairly close to the vest. But with Breaking Dawn about to come out, I've had a renewed excitement in the series. Posting about it now, as opposed to when I first started my blog in January of 2010 makes things a little more interesting because more of my 'in person' friends read my blog now, so that cat's kind of out of the bag. I suppose my 'in person' friends have a little bit of an advantage over my 'cyber friends,' in that I probably will not ever mention Twilight when I see you. Cyber friends, you'll just have to endure, because I've got at least a week's worth of Twilight -related posts coming your way, and possibly more.

So. Twilight. I'm wondering if you have a favorite among the books? I'm not including The Second Short Life of Bree Tanner, because I haven't read it yet {scandalous, I know}. I'm also not including Midnight Sun because none of us are supposed to have read it even though Stephenie Meyer posted it on her official website. My favorite is Breaking Dawn, hence the sudden upswing in my obsession with the series. Twilight in a very close second. New Moon and Eclipse are kind of dead even and are more like two volumes of one book. Neither one stands alone, kind of like The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi or Dead Man's Chest and At World's End.

I am really excited about the upcoming movie, which, for all my research is supposed to be PG-13. It is going to be a steamy PG-13, if the trailer is any indication. But the word on the street is PG-13. Books are always better than the movies they are based on, but I love to see these characters that I feel like I know on the big screen. And I'm counting the days until part 1 comes out. How about you? Which book is your favorite?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Breaking Dawn: The Wolf Packs

There was a good reason for the Alpha's authority. Even a pack as strong as ours wasn't much of a force without a leader. We had to move together, to think together, in order to be effective. And that required the body to have a head.

So what if Sam was wrong now? There was nothing anyone could do. No one could dispute his decision.


And there it was—a thought I'd never, never wanted to have. But now, with my legs all tied up in strings, I recognized the exception with relief—more than relief, with a fierce joy.

No one could dispute the Alpha's decision—except for me.

I hadn't earned anything. But there were things that had been born in me, things that I'd left unclaimed.

I'd never wanted to lead the pack. I didn't want to do it now. I didn't want the responsibility for all our fates resting on my shoulders. Sam was better at that than I would ever be. Be he was wrong tonight.

And I had not been born to kneel to him.

The bonds fell off my body the second that I embraced my birthright.

I could feel it gathering in me, both a freedom and also a strange, hollow power. Hollow because an Alpha's power came from his pack, and I had no pack.

–Jacob Black, Breaking Dawn, p. 208-209

This is a representation of the two wolf packs. I used Cat's wolf pattern because it was perfect for this block. I scaled the size down so that I could fit two into the block and I did Jacob a tiny bit bigger than Sam. This isn't really meant to represent one specific moment in the book. It is more of a combination of several scenes that popped to mind; the quote from above, the fact that Jacob had grown bigger than Sam, the trail that Jacob, Seth and Leah cut as they ran guard around the Cullen's house, the delegation Sam sent to try to convince Jacob's pack to return to La Push, and the peace the two packs finally arrived at after everything was over.

This block is going to be part of a Breaking Dawn themed quilt that the Twi-Quilters are putting together. I'll keep you updated as we finish it up and if you're a Twilight fan, I'll tell you how you can enter to win this quilt.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Big Day

When you loved the one who was killing you, it left you no options. How could you run, how could you fight, when doing so would hurt that beloved one? If your life was all you had to give your beloved, how could you not give it? –Bella Cullen, Breaking Dawn, page 2

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cat's Twilight Block of the Month: Block 7

Aside from the laughter and playfulness, there was something different, and I couldn’t quite pinpoint what that difference was. I examined Edward the most carefully. His skin was less pale, I decided — flushed from the snow fight maybe — the circles under his eyes much less noticeable. But there was something more. I pondered, staring, trying to isolate the change.

I glanced up, and he was staring at me, that same inexplicable look of frustration in his eyes. Suddenly I identified that subtle difference in his face.

“Did you get contacts?” I blurted out unthinkingly.

He seemed puzzled by my unexpected question. “No.”

“Oh,” I mumbled. “I thought there was something different about your eyes.”

He shrugged and looked away.

In fact, I was sure there was something different. I vividly remembered the flat black color of his eyes the last time he’d glared at me — the color was striking against the background of his pale skin and his auburn hair. Today, his eyes were a completely different color: a strange ocher, darker than butterscotch, but with the same golden tone. I didn’t understand how that could be, unless he was lying for some reason about the contacts.
–Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, Twilight, pages 41 and 46

When I pulled out the storage bin I keep my Twilight fabrics in to work on my Breaking Dawn Quilt blocks, this pattern kept staring at me. It was sitting right there on top, and every time I would go to pull fabrics out, it would stare at me some more. So, I finally decided to work it. This is the beginner's block for month 7 {which was August. Of 2010}. The pattern is called Topaz Eyes and makes reference to the color of Edward's eyes. Well, OK, not just his, but all 'vegetarian' vampire eyes. It worked up really quick and it was fun to do. I used an ivory iridescent sparkle fabric that I picked up at JoAnn's more than 2 years ago and haven't seen there since for the skin. The sparkle is hard to see in the photo {it always is}. The others are fabrics I received in swaps from fellow Twi-Quilters Iris and Wanda.

The advanced block for this month is called The Meadow. Cat took a screen shot from the movie and turned it into a paper piecing pattern. I've debated back and forth for two years now {I got a sneak preview} whether or not I was going to use Cat's meadow in my quilt. There's this whole book vs. movie vs. pros and cons of each pattern going on in my head. Long story short {mark the date and time; that won't happen again} I've finally decided to use Iris' meadow pattern from the Piece, Love, Twilight quilt. But make sure you go and take a peek at Cat's block. It is amazing!

Today's post brought to you by:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sunday Sermons: Finding Hope

After 9/11 some have said there is no God. For me, he's never been more real.
–Victor Guzman, 9/11 Survivor

With sorrow for those who lost their lives . . .

With gratitude for those who survived . . .

In recognition of those who worked tirelessly in rescue efforts . . .

In reverence for all those service men and women who defend our liberties . . .

We will not forget.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Breaking Dawn: Jacob & Renesmee

Heat flooded through me, stronger than before, but it was a new kind of heat—not a burning.

It was a glowing.

Everything inside me came undone as I stared at the tiny porcelain face of the half-vampire, half-human baby. All the lines that held me to my life were sliced apart in swift cuts, like clipping the strings to a bunch of balloons. Everything that made me who I was—my love for the dead girl upstairs, my love for my father, my loyalty to my new pack, the love for my other brothers, my hatred for my enemies, my home, my name, my self—disconnected from me in that second—snip, snip, snip—and floated up into space.

I was not left drifting. A new string held me where I was.

Not one string, but a million. Not strings, but steel cables. A million steel cables all tying me to one thing—to the very center of the universe.

I could see that now—how the universe swirled around this one point. I'd never seen the symmetry of the universe before, but not it was plain.

The gravity of the earth no longer tied me to the place where I stood.

It was the baby girl in the blond vampire's arms that held me here now.


–Jacob Black, Breaking Dawn, p. 360

One of the most interesting turn of events in Breaking Dawn is Jacob's imprinting on Renesmee. It was fun to represent in fabric. I did needle-turn appliqué, with a bit of embroidery for embellishment. I used Fairy Frost in Maize for Renesmee's locket and put a bit of gold blending filament in with the embroidery floss to give the chain and border in the locket a bit of shine. Jacob's paw print is, of course, russet and I used Jacob's font to add an embroidered quote from the book.

This quilt block is part of the Breaking Dawn Quilt for Charity I'm working on with the Twi-Quilters. With the release of part one of the Breaking Dawn movie, we're putting together a quilt with our favorite parts from the book and we're giving it away! One lucky fan will win this quilt. Here's how it works: we are donating all the materials and time to complete this quilt and for every $5 donation you make to Alex's Lemonade Stand or one other charity to be named shortly, you will be entered in a drawing to win our quilt. More details on this will be forthcoming. In the meantime, we'll be posting the progress of our quilt on the Twi-Quilters' blog.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I Must Ask . . . Which Would You Drive?

Q. What do you call a Ford at the top of a Hill?
A. A Miracle.

Q. What do you call two Fords at the top of a hill?
A. A mirage.

Q. How do you make a Ford go faster downhill?
A. Turn off the engine.

Q. Why are the latest Fords so aerodynamically designed?
A. It improves the Chevy tow truck's fuel consumption.

Q. Why do they put sidewalks beside most streets and highways?
A. So Ford owners have a safe place to walk home.

Q. What goes on the last page of every Ford user manual?
A. The train & bus schedule.

Today, as you might have already guessed, we're going to debate Ford vs. Chevy, and you've probably deduced which side I'm on. I want to say, right off the bat, that this is all in good fun and everyone is entitled to an opinion, but bashing and flaming will not be tolerated and abusive comments will not be approved. So if you're here to vent your spleen, move along. These are not the droids people you're looking for.

Before we get into a heated debate over which car manufacturer dominates, let's do a quick re-cap of last week's discussion on travel destinations. I find it interesting that not one person who voted wanted to go to Egypt, Portugal or the Middle East. Obviously, I didn't/couldn't include every possible destination. I completely forgot Greece, Switzerland, New Zealand and Korea. And I kind of lumped several countries together; Great Britain encompasses England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland {I know this because LadyBug did a report in 2nd grade} and Scandinavia includes Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland.

Still, it was fun to hear where you all would like to venture off to. Thank you to everyone who stopped by to comment. I promised to share a couple of favorite comments. I should never do that. It is so hard to pick and I don't want anyone to feel left out. The comments were all great, but I thought I'd share two with you since I said I would. I loved what Annelise had to say: Since my mom is from Denmark, she took us kids back several times growing up. I have so many amazing memories from those trips. Feeding the ducks at the parks, bike rides, canoe trips and kite flying, walking to the candy store with my grandpa, the freezing cold beach, warm pastries from the local bakery... But its been 16 years since I was last there. I ache to go back. I so look forward to the day I can take my husband and my kids with me and share with them everything I love about Denmark.

And from my dad, A year ago, I went to Germany for business. In the city of Hamburg are 2 landmarks I will not forget. The first is a Church you can go up to the Bell tower and look out over the city at night and see the Ships in the harbor heading up the river and out to sea. The City all lit up, with the amusement park lights all aglow in the distance was very cool.

The second Landmark is another Church that stands a few blocks away. A bombed out Church that was not restored and stands as a Stark reminder to never let desire to take what others have, and that Power, Greed and the power of greed can blind an entire nation to the evil of what its leaders want and the horror they can bring upon a nation.

Thank you again, to everyone who commented! I loved reading them all! With thoughts of traveling to new places on our minds, it's time to talk mode of transportation. There might not be that much of a debate about this outside the US, but when we're talking American-made cars, there are two kinds of people: those who drive Chevys and those who don't drive Fords. Most people have an allegiance to one or the other, and it runs generations deep. I come from Chevy stock. My dad has an 1968 Impala that he drove for nearly 20 years. He plans on restoring it someday. In the meantime, he drives a cherry red 2009 Chevy Impala Super Sport. I heard that he might even take my mom on a little road trip to see Mt. Rushmore in it. Over the years, there have been many Chevys in our family. Between the '68 Impala and the '09 Impala, there was a Caprice Classic and in high school, my dad and I shared a 1978ish Camaro. The kids at work called it the car that used to be a Camaro. It wasn't pretty on the outside, but that V-8 had get-up and go. In college, I bought a little white Cavalier. I loved how comfortable the seats were. I'm pretty sure that someone in the family still drives it. And to keep the '09 Impala, which he only drives on weekends and special occasions, in mint condition, my dad drives a Lumina for every day kind of stuff.

The most memorable of the Chevrolets, however, was a 1965 Chevy II, also know as a Nova. My dad used to race in it. Straight from the late 1970's, I present to you the quarter-mile at Bonneville Raceway on 8mm. OK, so 10 minutes of home movies with no sound and about people you don't know is pretty boring. The Nova can be seen at time index 7:37-7:41 and again at 7:53-8:00.

Lest you think that I'm unfairly biased towards Chevrolets, I did once own a Ford. It was a Bronco II. At the time, Mr. Bug was doing fiber installations for a local internet company. It was dirty work and he didn't want to haul tools and equipment around in our then only 3-year old Honda. So he bought this old Bronco, trying to do the previous owners a favor, with the idea that he would drive it around to do his dirty work. Not soon thereafter, he was moved to the IT department for this company and he went back to driving the Honda. It turns out that the Bronco was really no fun at all the drive. The klutch was stiff, the brakes were iffy, the steering was barely negotiable, the seats were uncomfortable, it was noisy, smelly and just plain ugly. But rather than stay home all day with Baby Grasshopper, I'd take our lives into my hands, strap his car seat in the back of that Bronco and venture out in it every once in a while for free samples shopping at Costco or strolling at the mall. It was winter and the risk of life and limb to go some place different seemed worth it at the time. Needless to say, the Bronco was traded in after less than a year.

Now, I realize that this was only one out of I-don't-know-how-many Fords in the world, and perhaps not all Fords are created equally. But honestly, I've never met a Ford I liked. They just don't appeal to me, not even the Mustang. I'd choose a Corvette or a Camaro any day over a Mustang. So now that you know where my allegiance lies, let's get to it. I must ask . . . which would you drive? Ford or Chevy?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday Sermons: Expressions of Love

Marriage provides an ideal setting for overcoming any tendency to be selfish or self-centered. Don’t withhold those natural expressions of love. Express gratitude for what your spouse does for you. Express that love and gratitude often. That will make life far richer and more pleasant and purposeful. –Richard G. Scott

Friday, September 2, 2011

Favourite Things Friday: Quotable Quotes

They say it is better to be poor and happy than rich and miserable, but how about a compromise like moderately rich and just moody? –Princess Diana

I have a fascination with words. I love it when a thought or idea is conveyed in a particularly concise, clever or witty way. About four years ago, I decided to compile enough thoughts into a little book to have one thought for every day of the year. And then I mass produced them, as I tend to do {see also: aprons}. I did several different covers and customized each one of them so that there was a special thought on the recipient's birthday. I made them for my sisters and sisters-in-law, for my mom and mother-in-law, aunts and special neighbors and friends as birthday gifts one year. I think I probably made about 30 of them.

When I hear a clever quote, I jot it down on one of half-a-dozen notebooks I have floating around. And if I can't find one of those, I scribble it out on the back of an envelope or the corner of any old paper lying around. I like to start each blog post with a thought. Sometimes I spend as much time searching for exactly the right thought to go with my post as I do actually writing the post. For Favourite Things Friday this week, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite quotes from my thought book, some that I haven't shared before.

It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
–J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Choose your words carefully, for they define who you are. –Unknown

While journeying east and west
The only folks we really wound
Are those we love the best.
We flatter those we scarcely know,
We please the fleeting guest,
And deal full many a thoughtless blow
To those who love us best.
–Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Live is like an old-time rail journey – delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride. –Jenkins Lloyd Jones

Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. –Albert Einstein

A change is as good as a rest. –My Cute Grandma Betty

If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. –Mary Engelbreit

The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself; to be conquered by yourself is of all things most shameful and vile. –Plato

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how. –Friedrich Nietzsche

That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do; not that the nature of the thing itself has changed, but that our ability to perform it has improved. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Attitude is everything. Pick a good one. –Unknown

I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. –Gilda Radner

The fact is, life is hard – but that’s okay. If we learn to turn to the Lord, he can make our burdens light. Distinguishing between burdens (the stuff mortality throws at us) and baggage (the junk we elect to pick up on our own) can help ease our way. –Sheri L. Dew, If Life Were Easy, It Wouldn’t be Hard: And Other Reassuring Truths

And here's one more just for fun. I remembered this quote as I was eating left-over ravioli for lunch today: Those who forget the pasta are doomed to reheat it.

Do you have a favorite poem, verse, bit of prose, adage, maxim, quip, saying, one-liner, thought or quotable quote? I'd love for you to share it with me. I've got my little notebook and pencil handy, so I can write it down.

Today's post brought to you by:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I Must Ask . . . Where Would You Like to Travel?

Most travel is best of all in the anticipation or the remembering; the reality has more to do with losing your luggage. –Regina Nadelson

So, last week, we talked desserts. And I agree with every single one of you on the merits of your favorite dessert. I loved the results; it was interesting to see how desserts stacked up to each other. We have a family get-together soon and I'm bringing the dessert {for 45}. I've decided to make apple cobbler and serve it with vanilla ice cream. Using the poll results as an indicator, 15.3 people will like my dessert, which means that I get to bring lots of it home :lol:.

So, while we're talking indulgences, visiting foreign climes seems like an interesting topic. I'm not really well traveled. I've been to most of my neighboring states; California, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado. I've also been to Tijuana, Mexico and Orlando, Florida {not in the same trip, obviously} and I lived in two different states in north-eastern Brasil during a 16-month period. Oh, and I had a 12-hour layover in São Paulo, which is in the south of Brasil, on my way back home. I've only seen a few places, but I've seen enough to know that this is a beautiful planet and I want to see more of it. I have several landmarks on my bucket list of places to go; the Statue of Liberty, Mt. Rushmore, the Eiffel Tower, the Panama Canal and the Great Wall of China. I would love to spend a serious amount of time in Great Britian and France, Italy, Germany and Australia are huge on my list of places to see. And I'd really like to go back to Brasil. I would, of course, visit Fortaleza, the city I spent most of my time in while living there. But I'd also like to visit the capitol, Brasilia, and then see Rio, more of São Paulo and Falls do Iguaçu in Paraná. There are several historical sites here in the US that I'd like to visit and I'd just plain like to see more of my own country, historical or not. The Hershey Spa in Hershey, PA is at the top of that list.

How about you? I must ask . . . where would you like to travel? Tell me where you'd like to go and I'll pick a few favorites to share next week! Thanks for playing along!