Blog

Posted in Random

Summer is Almost Here!

The school year is winding down, and the mood around the townhouse is definitely lighter. Summer brings endless possibilities for projects. I have been really slow in finishing painting the kitchen cabinets. I think I did something wrong with the first set of cabinets I painted because the paint isn’t drying as hard as I expected. I was under the impression that the paint would resist scratches, but the paint I put on so far scratches off if you bump it with your fingernails. I suspect that I should have primed it differently- either more sanding, or a different primer. So one of the first things on my to-do list is to straighten out the cabinets. Then I can go ahead and paint the rest of the kitchen. #diywoes

I have also been working on my second book. I published my first book on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. I really enjoyed the process. The only issue I have had is that I don’t know anything about marketing and I don’t have a very big social media presence. So I need to spend a little bit of time this summer doing some research into marketing. #selfpublishingproblems #justwanttodrinkcoffeeandwrite

But for now… I have to get through finals. Time is just crawling by, but I take a little joy in the fact that I can now count the remaining school days on my fingers alone- no need to call in my Aggie calculator by using my toes. (shameless Texas A&M Aggie joke)

Stay tuned for more….

#countingthedays #readyforsummer

Posted in Holidays, Mother's Day, puppies, quilt

Happy Mother’s Day

DSC_0759

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers of two legged kids and furry kids out there. Mother’s Day is always a little bittersweet for me. I come from a long line of great mothers. My mom is probably the greatest mom in the history of moms, though I try not to brag too much because I don’t want to make everybody else feel bad about their moms. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to test out my mothering abilities on human kids- I have furry children. It puts me in a little bit of a tight spot. People with furry children understand that we baby our animals and spend almost as much time caring for them as many people do with their real kids. When they were tiny, I got up every 2 or 3 hours to take them outside so that I wouldn’t wake up to a bathroom floor covered in poop. When they had any kind of illness or tummy issue, I would worry about it and take them to the vet. My dogs and cats all live inside. So I bathe the dogs regularly and trim their nails. In the winter, I put sweaters on them when we go outside (they have short hair and get cold easily). I’m constantly on the lookout for new toys that will hold their attention and let them have fun.

People who don’t have pets, or who don’t care for them like kids, don’t really understand. Some of them get downright upset at the mention of “dog moms” or “fur babies.” Do we ‘dog parents’ understand that having a dog is not the same as having a kid? Of course. Does it make us care less about our animals? Not at all. Just because we have ‘fur babies’ doesn’t mean that we don’t want kids. It doesn’t mean that we chose to never have kids either.

The problem with having kids as I see it is that there is never a right time. When I was fresh out of high school and in college, I had a long-term boyfriend, but it never turned into a marriage. Even if it had, the idea of having kids was a little scary because I knew at that point that I couldn’t care for a child financially. It’s hard to give a kid everything they need to survive when you don’t have a steady job yet.

When I graduated with my undergraduate degree, I didn’t think it was a good idea to have kids yet because I was going to grad school. Again, I didn’t have enough of an income to take care of children, and my boyfriend didn’t make enough money to support us alone much less us + a kid.

After I finished grad school and started working as an engineer, I had the money. What I didn’t have was time. I was working 9-10 hour days and spending about 3 hours each day in a car. I didn’t want to have a baby that I never got to see.

After a few years working as an engineer, I really wanted a baby. I was in a long-term relationship with someone who was trying to get me to marry him. The problem was that he was abusive. The only reason I stayed in the relationship for as long as I did was that I didn’t know how to get out of it without him killing me. I didn’t want to have kids with him because I didn’t want my son or daughter thinking it was okay for daddies to treat mommies the way he treated me.

Now here I am. I am technically still young enough to have kids- though not for much longer. I no longer work as an engineer. After the collapse of the oil and gas market I lost my job and became a high school teacher instead. I really like my job as a teacher and can’t see myself going back to the 9-5 corporate scene any time soon. I don’t make as much as I did as an engineer, but I have a lot more time. I think I would make a really good mother- it is in my blood, after all. At the moment though, I don’t want to be in a relationship- which makes it pretty hard to get pregnant the conventional way. I could adopt, but I am not convinced that any adoption agency would choose me over a two-parent household. From what I understand, the Texas legislature was talking about passing legislation making it harder for single people to adopt anyway.

I love my dogs like children because realistically, they may be the only children I ever have.

So today, on Mother’s Day, my fur-babies and I celebrated with my mother. I made her a quilt, because, well, hello. Quilts are awesome. As soon as she sat down on the couch to try it out, my puppies volunteered to help her test it.

DSC_0794DSC_0795DSC_0802

I figure that if my puppies could pick out a Mother’s Day present for me, it would probably be a big giant puppy treat or a bone- that they would then eat. So I got myself flowers instead. I think maybe next Mother’s Day I should get myself a sailboat…

DSC_0785

 

Posted in Galveston, hurricane season, storms, Uncategorized

Hurricane Season at the Cottage

Hurricane Season is one of my favorite times of the year. There. I said it. I’m not even really ashamed of saying it. My townhouse isn’t close enough to the coast to be in an evacuation zone, but it is close enough to be impacted if a storm should make landfall. This time of year always makes me take a look at my own readiness to survive without power. There’s a primal satisfaction in being prepared to survive a disaster. In a world dominated by convenience, having to disconnect from all of the modern conveniences and live like people did in ages past is both humbling and edifying at the same time.

Last year, I made my Algebra 2 students do a hurricane project. I had them calculate how much food they would need for a family of four for a month without power. I even had them make small survival kits that would fit in an Altoid tin.

This year, we are at a different spot in the curriculum, and a full-blown hurricane project just didn’t fit into the calendar, but I am still thinking about it anyway.

As far as my own readiness is concerned, I’m a little better off this year than I was last in year in terms of emergency supplies. I have enough food for the puppies and kitties for several weeks. Hurricane Season officially starts in a month, so over the next few weeks, I need to re-evaluate what food supplies I have for myself. I also need to make sure I have emergency repair supplies for the townhouse- like tarps and a few pieces of lumber for make-shift repairs. It’s kind of exciting.

MemoryCard2 466
Random storm cloud from an afternoon storm in Galveston

Wherever you are, I wish you a safe and well-prepared hurricane season this year.

Posted in gardening, quilt, quilting, sailing

Where has the time gone?

I’ve been neglecting my blog lately. I think the last time I posted, I had just finished quilting for the holiday season. How embarrassing. I feel like this is the blogger version of coming out of the bathroom with toilet paper trailing behind your shoe.

Even though it hasn’t been reflected in the blog, I’ve been quite busy. I just haven’t been writing about it. I made two birthday quilts. The top picture is a batik square throw quilt that I made for my sister-in-law. The bottom one is a tractor quilt for my brother. In that picture, my niece is testing it out for quality assurance purposes.

DSC_0814

DSC_0614

Also brewing on the home front… I finally went out sailing again. I think about sailing more than I like to admit. I was on the offshore sail team in college, but after I finished college, I slowed down (long story). On April 1st, there was a women’s regatta in my area called the Mermaid Sail. I don’t have a boat yet, but when I looked on the registration list, I noticed that one of the women from a class I took had entered her boat. I emailed her to see if she had a crew spot open. Her boat was full, but she asked around and found me a spot on a different boat. So I went sailing. The winds were on the upper edge of safe. It was a very bouncy sail, but it was so much fun! At the banquet following the race, they had temporary mermaid tattoos for all of the competitors.  I really missed sailing. I’m looking forward to doing more of it. I would eventually like to own my own boat that’s big enough to take my three dogs sailing with me.

20170401_112914

20170401_203747

The weekend after that, I caught the gardening bug again and decided that I wanted to have a garden despite my minuscule backyard. High on my plant priority list of course was tomatoes because they are the basis for so many things. Unfortunately, my dogs also like tomatoes. When I’ve tried growing tomatoes in the past, the dogs have always eaten them off of the plants before I could pick them. So I decided to try my hand at building a raised box. This past weekend, I used 2 x 4’s and cedar fence pickets to fashion a double-decker garden box. I put it in place and then added dirt and plants. I put oregano and basil in the bottom box- the dogs don’t mess with herbs. Then I put tomatoes in the top box. I was quite pleased with the results and am very proud of myself. I’m pretty sure I put too many tomato plants in the top, but if I need to, I can always take some out later.

gardenbox

Between sailing, gardening and making quilts, I also managed to publish my first book a couple of months ago. I am still trying to work out the kinks in my marketing strategy. I don’t really know anything at all about self-publishing or marketing. Consequently, I haven’t sold very many books yet. I am working on learning more about the whole process. In the meantime, I’m over halfway through with my second book. My plan right now is to just keep writing. Maybe at some point, people will actually buy my books. I think it would be the coolest thing ever to walk into a Barnes and Noble and see my books for sale on a display rack. My ultimate dream would be to be able to write books while sailing around on my sailboat. How cool would that be?!

 

I will try to start posting a little more regularly. If you get a chance, please check out my book. I would greatly appreciate it!

 

 

Posted in quilt, quilting

Cold Fronts and Lazy Weekends

Now that the holidays are over, things are getting back to normal here in the townhouse. It’s been super cold here the last few days. The puppies and I have been doing a lot of snuggling under and on quilts on the couch. I’ve been using the first quilt I made for a while now, but it is fairly small and light weight. This weekend, I had to bring in the big guns (metaphorically speaking).

dsc_0079
Miss M on the couch near the original quilt- back when the weather was warmer (like 4 days ago).

I made this quilt for myself back in June. I listed it on Etsy (secretly hoping it wouldn’t sell) and haven’t used it just in case somebody ordered it. I still have enough of the material to make a new one if someone does order it, but I am sooooo glad that I decided to get it out. It’s a little bigger than my colorful quilt, and it is flannel on the front and back. It’s not the prettiest quilt I’ve ever made, but if I had realized how comfortable this one was, I would have gotten it out of the stockpile a long time ago!

dsc_0722

Even the cat was impressed.

dsc_0733

What I’ve noticed is that usually I learn how to do something like knit or crochet or quilt, and then I end up making all kinds of things for everyone else before ever making myself anything. With the quilting, I kept the original quilt I made- mostly because it was small and the quilting was a little uneven, but then the bigger and better ones that I have made, I gave away as gifts (or put up for sale on my Etsy site). The original was kind of an experiment, but I love it and use it pretty much every day. Since then, I have gotten a whole lot better at quilting. I gave quilts as presents to my sister, my brother, my nephew, my niece and two of my great nephews. Yet in the meantime, I have still been using my original quilt. Now that I’ve started using this one, I realize what I’ve been missing.

I think I may need to make a pretty one to use as a bedspread. The real question is… what colors should I use? There are so many colors to choose from!

Posted in Galveston, Holidays, Restaurants, Travel

A Small Christmas Interlude

We have this cat. She was as annoying as could be sometimes, but she was sweet at the same time. I rescued her as a kitten, kind of. A stray cat had kittens and brought them to my parents’ yard. A stray tom cat carried off and killed all of the other kittens. There was just one left. I didn’t want the tom cat to come back and get her, so I took her to my house. That was fifteen and a half years ago. She ended up moving back in with my parents while I was in grad school. She was the boss there. Lately, she had been getting more and more ragged looking, and had started wheezing quite a bit. We took her to the vet. He gave her antibiotics, but prepared us a little that it might not work because of her age. She was down to about 7 pounds already. She seemed like she was improving, but then she died this morning. My mom was the most attached to her.

We had been planning on running some errands today, so we decided to just make a day of it. At least that way Mom wouldn’t be thinking about the cat. (My dad and nephew buried the cat while we were out.)

But, why run errands in the suburbs when you can run errands in Galveston? So we did the most sensible thing to do- we went to Galveston. We decided that after the normal errands, we should hang out on the Strand for a while. They have this really cool gift shop called Admiralty. I didn’t take any pictures inside. I was too busy oohing and ahhing at all of the pretty stuff. I did take a picture of the cool doors going into the shop. Check out how tall and skinny they are. All of the buildings on the Strand are old. Many of them survived the 1900 hurricane and have survived several major hurricanes (and the accompanying flood waters) since then. The curbs are super high, which makes sense if you think about the fact that the Strand area was built when people still rode in horse-drawn carriages everywhere. The high curbs would have made it much easier to get out of the carriages, especially in the big fluffy dresses that were in style back then.

dsc_0156

dsc_0147

Of course, you can’t go to Galveston during the Christmas season without going to La King’s Confectionery shop. If you haven’t been there before, you should add it to your Galveston to-do list. They are amazing! They make most of their own goodies. They pull their own salt water taffy. You can even watch them do it. Around the holidays, they also make their own ribbon candy- the old fashioned kind. They even make their own ice cream. We didn’t get any of the ice cream today because it was a little too cool for ice cream. In the summer, though, their ice cream is the best I’ve ever had. I’m pretty much addicted to the lemon custard flavored ice cream.

Galveston is just a neat place in general. Here is a row of shops we passed on the way back to the car.

dsc_0166

We worked up quite an appetite walking up and down the Strand and decided that the best course of action would be to eat lunch somewhere yummy. I mean, you can’t have a girls’ day out and eat somewhere lame like a fast food place. The only sensible thing to do was eat at Fisherman’s Wharf. If you like seafood, then this is also something you will need to put on your Galveston checklist. This is easily one of my all time favorite restaurants. The atmosphere is really relaxed and cozy. It sits right on the bay, and the views are amazing, especially in the late afternoon, early evening when the sun starts going down. The official Tall-ship of Texas, the Elissa, ties up right next to the restaurant, which makes an incredible backdrop for pictures. As if these weren’t enough reasons to eat their, the food is beyond yummy. Even though I generally don’t particularly like using the word “scrumptious,” it actually does apply here. I could eat there every single day and not get tired of it.

Check out this crab queso. I’m getting hungry again just looking at the picture. Notice how large the pieces of crab are!

20161221_125002

I couldn’t resist the shrimp. I’ve never had anything other than seafood there, but one of the servers was carrying a tray of food and there was a hamburger on it. It was huge, and there were loads of french fries. So, I’m guessing that the burgers are pretty good too. I can honestly say though, that their seafood is just too good for me to even consider ordering a burger.

20161221_130702

The entry way was all decorated up for the season.

dsc_0188

Here is a picture I took of the Elissa on a previous trip to Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s hard to beat the view.

memorycard1-065

Overall, it was a very good day. We took care of the errands, and took our minds off of the cat. Tomorrow we have to hit the ground ready again. I still have a few last minute ingredients to get for the Brussels sprouts, and I still have a little bit of quilting to do. Taking a break from the Christmas rush was nice. I think I may make it a new tradition.

Posted in baking, Christmas

Oh, Eggnog Scone. Oh, Eggnog Scone. How yummy is your rum glaze.

Okay, I have to just put this out there. I think that King Arthur Flour should just give me free mixes to try out. Then I could blog about them. Yes, this is really just an attempt to get free yummy mixes from King Arthur Flour, but I’m okay with that. I haven’t found anything that they make that isn’t super yummy. I got a coconut cupcake mix from them this past summer, and it was amazing! I use their sourdough starter pretty much every week to make my bread, and a while back, I noticed the Spiced Eggnog Scone mix in their catalog. I couldn’t resist and ordered it with the intent of trying it out during the Christmas season. With my nephew’s birthday happening today and family in town for that, I decided now would be a good time to make them.

O.M.G. They were soooo yummy! They were a huge hit! I got the rum glaze mix that they recommended too. I only made half a batch of the glaze, and it was perfect. I even remembered to take pictures. The mix didn’t require extra eggnog. I just took a picture of the bottle of eggnog to pay homage to the mighty eggnog fairy.

dsc_0125

The mix called for butter, milk, an egg and salt.

dsc_0130

dsc_0135

I sliced the butter into pats and cut it into the dry mix with a pastry blender. Then I added the milk and egg.

dsc_0136

In the top right edge of this picture, you can kind of see the Danish dough whisk. I didn’t even know these existed until a few years ago when I read about it on The Boat Galley blog. I was skeptical at first but decided to try one. I don’t think I have made a single batch of bread, cookies or scones since then without it. They work so much better than a spoon and are so much easier to stir, even when the dough is thick. They are amazing! I found mine on Amazon, but it was a cheaper one, and I got what I paid for. I ended up having to super glue the metal tines into the handle. King Arthur Flour has them for sale on their website, and I think eventually I am going to replace mine with one of their’s. I’m sure they are much higher quality. All I know is that if my lower quality one works this well, the higher quality ones must be heavenly to use.

Anyway, back to the scones… I mixed everything up, dropped it in big globs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and popped them into the oven. Fifteen long and excruciatingly slow minutes later, I had scones!

dsc_0140

Then I mixed up the rum glaze that I had ordered at the same time, and voila!

dsc_0144

These were even better than I had imagined. I think I’m going to need to order some more of these mixes before they are gone.

I am enjoying my Christmas vacation so far. I worked as an offshore structural engineer before the bottom dropped out of the oil and gas market, and I only got 2 days off at Christmas. Now I teach high school math, and I have to say that the pay cut is kind of worth it. I love having so much time off around the holidays. I even had a whole week off at Thanksgiving. And don’t even get me started on summer break. I really enjoy actually having the time to do the things I want to do- like baking and quilting for instance.

I think for my next trick, I am going to try out a brussel sprout recipe that I found online. Our family holiday menu has grown a little stale. We always have the same basic menu for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the casseroles and sides are getting a little boring. We agreed that we needed a change, and I have grown fond of brussel sprouts over the past few years- something that I would have never expected when I was younger. If it turns out okay, I will post the link to the recipe and some pictures.

 

 

Posted in baking, Bread, Christmas

I Need More Eggnog in my Life

I went to the grocery store yesterday and was greeted by a glorious wall of Eggnog. It’s a Christmas miracle! Oddly enough, there was even singing. Apparently that particular store has a choir. I am pretty sure they all worked there.  Well okay, maybe not the baby being held by the guy dressed as a Shepherd. He looked pretty young. That would violate all kinds of labor laws, but I digress. The important takeaway from this rambling story is that there was Eggnog.

20161217_110017

So now I have realized that I need more Eggnog in my life.  I bought an Eggnog scone mix from King Arthur Flour Company a few weeks ago. I do believe the time has come to try it. I am going to make them tomorrow. If I am organized enough, I may even remember to take pictures.

Today, I made bread. Again. I actually haven’the bought bread at the store in several years. I got tired of eating bread that was full of ingredients that I didn’t recognize or couldn’t pronounce. I couldn’t find a single loaf of bread at my local grocery store, or local at the time,  that didn’t contain soy or corn syrup. Soy? Seriously? Why do we need corn syrup or soy? People have been making bread for thousands of years and it wasn’t until recently that we started pumping our bread with chemicals and unnecessary ingredients.

Today I made sourdough rolls using a recipe from King Arthur Flour and a super yummy French Bread recipe that I found in a Mother Earth News magazine. Did I remember to take a picture while making it? Of course not, but I do have a few pictures from the last time I made it. I also have a picture of the end result.

20161204_110028

20161204_105953

Notice the orange counter tops? I am pretty sure that are the original counters from the 60’s. The teddy bear I got for my niece to go with her Christmas present was supervising.

20161218_205011

This is the finished product. It was a marathon day of cooking and baking. If I had any wine in my house, I would have kicked back with a slice of bread and a glass of wine. Fortunately,  I had something even better. Hooray for Eggnog!

Posted in Christmas, Holidays, quilting

9 Days Until Christmas! Inconceivable!

snapchat-1644161286

How is this even possible? Yesterday was Thanksgiving. I don’t even have all of my presents bought or made. (Did you get the inconceivable reference in the title? Princess Bride?)

On a brighter note, I discovered Snapchat today. It has opened up a whole new world. While I was waiting to get off work, I turned myself into a water buffalo, a reindeer, a psycho-rabbit, a duck (several times) and a Hawaiian tourist- well okay, not a Hawaiian tourist, more like a tourist in Hawaii. It was amazing. It also took my mind off of the fact that I have so much to do before Christmas.

Of course, most everybody is getting something handmade. Three of my nephews and one of my brothers are getting quilts (2 Star Wars, 1 Walking Dead and one outdoor style). I am also planning on making quilted mug rugs for everyone on my list. They are super cute and only take a few minutes to make. I’m kind of over the whole store bought Christmas thing. I feel like we put too much pressure on ourselves to go out and buy prepackaged junk that nobody needs or really wants. I would much rather have something unique and handmade. I like the idea of baked goods, but they have to be eaten too quickly to avoid having them spoil, and let’s face it, I don’t need any more sugary baked things. I really like the idea of the jar mixes. Sometimes you see them in catalogs or store- you know the mason jars with all of the ingredients for cookies, and all you have to do is add water or some other liquid ingredient and then bake. Those are really cool.

I saw a book in the Mother Earth News magazine that was a cookbook for meals in jars. I had to order it of course. It’s really cool. It has all kinds of neat non-sugary meals where all you do is add water and heat. There is even a recipe for a breakfast casserole that uses powdered eggs. I like the idea of meals in jars using dehydrated or freeze-dried ingredients. That would make really good gifts, and they are good to have on hand for emergencies. Here on the Texas Gulf Coast, hurricanes are always a possibility.  am far enough inland that I am not in an evacuation zone, but during a hurricane, it is still common to have the power go out for a day or 2 or 3 weeks. Those kinds of meals would be perfect.

I think I am going to make it a New Year’s resolution to put together several meals in jars to have in my emergency supplies.

Anyway, I guess I need to get with the program as far as Christmas is concerned. I have my tree, so I am headed in the right direction. Now I just need to get sewing.

20161203_153101

 

Posted in Christmas, Holidays, puppies, quilt, quilting

Quilting and Baking Weekend

Christmas is taking over the townhouse. I had planned to get a Christmas tree this weekend, but the weather forecasters were all telling us that we were going to be having a cold wet weekend. So I picked up a tree on Thursday evening instead so that I wouldn’t have to transport a tree in the rain. I was glad I did because the weather forecasters were actually right. (I was shocked. That doesn’t happen very often). So with the tree already taken care of (pictures coming soon), I decided to spend my weekend doing other holiday type things, like quilting and baking.

My couch is a nice neutral gray color, so I decided to dress my living room up a little bit. I looked at the store for holiday throw pillows, but I didn’t really want to spend very much on pillows, and the cheap ones weren’t very pretty. Plus, living in a townhouse, storage is an issue. If I buy pillows for every occasion, I am going to run out of closet space. Then I had a brilliant idea… There are fleece throw blankets on sale pretty much everywhere. So I bought one of those instead. Then I cup it in half and made slip covers for the pillows that I already have (but hardly ever use). The puppies were more than happy to test the pillows.

dsc_0093

That took all of 15 minutes. So then, I decided that I should make a quilt. The fabric stores are loaded with Christmas material right now- most of it on sale- so, finding material wasn’t much of a challenge. Keeping myself from buying all of the Christmas material is the real challenge. The quilt I decided to make had a cute little snowman and it matched perfectly with this really cool sparkly blue snowflake material.

dsc_0089

dsc_0100

 

dsc_0113

The problem I have with quilts is that I usually have a hard time keeping them. They make such good gifts! I decided to put this one on my Etsy site. I must admit though that I had a hard time not snuggling up with it on the couch.

With the weather as cold as it was, I decided to bake some bread as well, but I am going to save that for the next post.