Sunday, August 31, 2008

Appliance Spoiled

We built our home here in St. George a little less than 2 years ago. Because we plan to stay here for a long time, I spent a little extra money and put top of the line GE appliances in my kitchen. The other morning I went to unload the dishwasher and found a mess. The heating element had malfunctioned and melted all my plastic items. The base to my blender was ruined.

Some of my kitchen knives have rubber grip handles. They were melted off, and stuck together. My silver ware was covered in the plastic mess.

I found out it would take several days for the appliance repairman to make a house call. In the meantime the dirty dishes started stacking up in the sink and all over the counters. I like to cook, and with cooking comes lots and lots of dirty dishes. I keep a busy schedule and I like the idea of throwing all my dishes in the dishwasher, pushing a button, and getting on with my life. Now that was not possible. At first I think I was in denial, thinking somehow the dirty dishes would magically disappear. Instead, the pile increased.
One night my son was up late doing homework, and I decided it would be a good time to hang out with him in the kitchen and tackle the ever increasing mess.
I filled the sink with lots of hot soapy water, and began the process of hand washing my dishes. With in minutes childhood memories started flooding my mind. I didn't grow up with a dishwasher in my home. My sister and I were in charge of the nightly dinner dishes. We sang songs and talked as we did our chores. I'm sure there was a little arguing along the way, but I don't remember much of that. While placing my hands in the warm water and hearing the clink, clink, clink of the dishes, I remembered a simpler time when life was not so rushed. Times when we snapped each other with wet dish towels and chased each other around the kitchen.
I also remembered my mother teaching me how to wash dishes. She had a partially blind Amish woman teach her how to "feel" the plates to make sure they were clean. I did that again the other night. I "felt" the plates to make sure they were smooth and clean.
How did we get so appliance spoiled?
When ever there is a challenge there is always a blessing that comes with that challenge. There is a skill in finding the blessing that I have been working on developing.
Today I am grateful that I only have dishes for 3. For many years I have had stacks of dishes for my family of 5 children and all of their friends who used to eat at our house continually.
I'm grateful for the availability of hot water and soap.
I'm grateful for happy memories.
The appliance man found the dishwasher to be unrepairable. Because of the blob of melted plastic at the bottom of the unit, and the potential for the heating unit to cause a fire, I was encouraged to get a new dishwasher. Of course, we are just past the one year warranty. Lovely.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Labor Day Weekend

St. George is a destination town, especially on a 3-day weekend. Fun for us because we get to see friends from up North. This weekend we have had a lot of fun with the Sears family. Last night we went to Tuacahn Amphitheatre to see the musical production of "Big River". Tuacahn is located up a beautiful red rock canyon. The stage is outdoors, with the stunning mountain as the back drop. For a small town, the plays are superior. They are known as "Broadway in the Desert".

The sun was going down, so my camera couldn't show the breath taking red rock mountain in the background. As part of the play they flooded the stage from a waterfall coming down the mountainside. It gave the illusion of Huck Finn and Jim floating on a raft in the middle of a river. Great special effects.

Sear's girls

My husband and I.

Judi and Brad

Today Judi and I were ready for some girlfriend time. I took her to the quaint little town of Santa Clara. Driving down main street is like going back in time. First we stopped at Frie's produce stand. A great place to get local fruits and vegetables.

Peaches are just coming into season

Next door to the fruit stand is a store called "Uncle and Aunties". The home is celebrating 100 years.

This chandalier is the original hung in the parlor by the front door.

Judi is standing in the kitchen by the original stove.

Home decor now fills the shelves of the closet in the master bedroom. The nails the family used to hang their clothes are still on the wall.

The fireplace that is next to the closet now houses a gas insert.

A few months ago I wrote about making a trip to Enterprise to visit "Cloves" that had a quilt section. A few weeks ago they moved the quilt part of the store to Santa Clara, with the name "The Clover Patch". They are located on main street in the old City Hall building, just down the street from Frei's and Uncle and Aunties.

As you can see, they have a lot more room than they did in Enterprise. As we entered, they announced that there isn't any fabric over $7.49 a yard. They haven't started advertising yet, but will start putting out information at the Dixie Guild Meeting, and Swiss Days in September.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Shakespearean Festival

I have just received my 2nd blog award! Wow. Who would have guessed? I've only been blogging for a few months now and this is all so new to me. Thank you to Ulla in Finland for honoring me so! I can hardly comprehend that people from Finland, Germany, Spain, and Brazil (to name a few) would even look my way. I sincerely feel we are all connected to each other in this world in which we live, and if my spirit has touched your spirit, then that makes me happy.

Since 1962 the little town of Cedar City, Utah has been hosting the Utah Shakespearean Festival on the campus of Southern Utah University (SUU). I had heard for years how wonderful the productions are. Having lived in Northern Utah, we just never seemed to make it down to Cedar. Now that we are living in Southern Utah we have been privileged to be exposed to the amazing arts that flourish right here in our communities.

Our good friends the Sears have been coming each season for many years. They have two daughter's attending SUU and visit often. One daughter plays basketball for SUU and they are so supportive in attending most of her games. When they come to Southern Utah they usually stay with us, and have invited us to join them for the plays, basketball games, golf, and what ever fun we can come up with.

Statues of Shakespeare are all around the campus

The Shakespearean Festival started in response to two things: Summer tourists wanting more to do when visiting the 6 National Parks nearby, and local actors wanting to produce good theatre. They have an indoor theatre, and an outdoor amphitheater, and offer a great selection of plays through out each season.

Last night we went to the production of "School of Wives".

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Round About Quilt / Stuffed Pasta Shells

I blogged a little while ago about how I am a Ricci- wannabe. She started making this quilt called "Round About" out of Kaffe Fassett fabric. Right away I knew I wanted to make the same quilt. She finished hers a few weeks ago. I just finished mine today. We used the same fabrics for our outer borders, but our insides are different. I'm still taken aback at how different this quilt looks from the original in the magazine. Fabric selection makes each quilt very unique.

This quilt pattern is from designer Heather Mulder Perterson of Anka's Treasures, and was featured in the latest American Patchwork & Quilting magazine.

Love those Kaffe fabrics
This is the fabric for the outside border. I took some close up to show the colorful details.

For tonight I made a family favorite of Stuffed Pasta Shells. As my children were growing up they requested this meal for their birthday dinner. Now that most of them are out on their own, they will still make this for themselves. Like me, it's been made so many times we don't even have to look at the recipe any more.
12 oz. jumbo pasta shells
1 lb. cottage cheese
2 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 C. Parmesan cheese
3 eggs
1- 10 oz. pkg. frozen spinach, thawed , and liquid squeezed out
3/4 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1- 32. oz. jar spaghetti sauce
Cook pasta about 10 minutes, drain well. Combine remaining ingredients except sauce. Fill each pasta shell with about 2 tsp. filling mixture. Spread a little sauce in a 9 X 13 pan. Place shells open side down, in a single layer in pan. Cover with remaining sauce. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until heated through and bubbly.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Last block in Diva Exchange

I finally finished the very last of the blocks in the Dixie Diva Block Exchange. This one was a challenge! Lots of bias edges and little itty bitty pieces. Difficult to make it turn out exactly 8 1/2 inches square with all the many parts. I made this one for Verny out of her bright fabrics.
We make 6 blocks of the same pattern.
Next week we will meet and bring all the combined blocks that we have been working on for months. I'm excited to see how all of mine turned out. The next project will be figuring out how to put all of the blocks together in our individual quilts. Each person will be creating their own layout. Should be interesting!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My 2nd Quilt

Before I finished my first quilt, I decided to start a second quilt. I'm guessing I'm in the majority with that habit. My girlfriends and I have decided we all suffer from a version of "Quilting A.D.D." We love to start quilts, then see another one we love, and before we know it, we have jumped on to the next project. Such a fickle little group we have become. Looking at bins of "UFO's" can make the syndrome a little more embarrassing. I try not to focus on the unfinished works of art, but instead appreciate the completed quilt. But I digress..
One day I opened my mailbox, and inside was a lovely free quilt pattern from Oxmoor House. When I saw the pattern for "Grandmothers Flower Garden" done in vintage fabrics I was in love. The technique of English Paper Piecing looked easy enough. Very time intensive I was to find out, but easy to do.

I went into a local quilt shop in Draper, Utah and gathered the supplies I needed. Premade paper hexagon templates were purchased, along with fabric, needle and thread. Very few supplies were required for this project and that sounded wonderful to me. This quilt was to be sewn completely by hand, and that (believe it or not) sounded fun to me also. I liked how perfectly the hexagons merged together with just a simple whip stitch. A child could make this quilt look good. Pretty much a no brainer. Then I read the fine print on the pattern: "This quilt contains 2,277 hexagons". Hmmm... maybe I should have read all the instructions before I began.

I started this quilt right as I decided to go back to school. To finish my degree I needed to take some college math classes. It had been over 20 years since I had been in a math class, and it was my worst subject even back then. After listening to my professor explain a math concept, I would check a video out of the library that had the same lesson material. I had to watch the video over and over in order to memorize long math equations. A very painful and boring experience. I was determined to succeed in my math classes and decided I needed to do something to reward myself for my efforts.
I came up with the idea of working on my Grandmothers Flower Garden quilt as I sat and watched my videos. I lined up all the fabrics I needed to complete one flower and plopped myself in front of the TV. The whip stitch required no brain power, and I could still concentrate on memorization.
A miracle happened. I discovered I am a tactile learner. By keeping my hands busy, I could grasp math concepts at a faster rate. By touching the fabric, and doing a repetitive motion with the needle, I could concentrate at a higher level. I know a few of my children love to doodle as they sit in on a lecture at school. Must be a genetic trait.
All at once, I started to look forward to my math videos as I saw each grouping become a beautiful flower.
I'm proud to say I ended up getting all "A's" in all my math classes. I don't know who was more surprised; myself, my husband or my 5 children.

I love teaching this quilt as a class. Every flower turns out so differently. A fun way to use up scraps, just as our grandmother's did. Several years after I taught this class I recieved a wonderful phone call from a woman. She said she had used this technique as part of missionary work in Viet Nam. The village woman all had fabric scraps and she could make the hexagons out of newsprint. An inexpensive way for the village women to produce a quilt. The women would gather in a circle, share their fabric pieces and sew as they talked. A wonderful way to cross international lines and communicate as women. Who would guess that quilting could provide all that?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

My First Quilt

The year was around 1995 or 1996 when I walked into my first quilt store. I had been to lots of fabric shops, and made clothing all my life, but this was different. I lived near Salt Lake City, and happened to drive by "Gentler Times" and decided to peek in. When I saw all the beautiful quilts I knew I wanted to learn how to make them.
On the wall was this quilt designed by Jan Patek (from the book "Angels"), and it said it was a class offered monthly for several months taught by Leslie Ison. I remember thinking to myself "How fun! A class where I can learn how to make this exact quilt!" So I signed up.
Problem #1 I didn't know there were different skill levels in quilting. I arrived at the first class and discovered everyone spoke a language I had never heard. What is applique? A rotary cutter, what is that? I'm sure anyone who has started quilting for the first time can relate to my story. Poor Leslie. Every time I arrived for class I'm sure she had to pull out a barrel of patience.

Faithfully I kept coming, convinced I would catch on sooner or later. Aaah..emphasis on later. I had most of my things from the supply list when I encountered:
Problem #2 The supply list said to bring a good selection of scraps for the applique. I looked at my other class mates and asked "And where do you buy those?"

After buying stacks and stacks of fat quarters, I learned the freezer paper method of applique. Fortunately I had done a lot of cross stitch and hand work so I caught on pretty quick. Besides this was a "folk art" type of quilt and it's very forgiving in technique. Things don't line up? Oh well! It's that primitive look!

I loved the sayings about Angels. I just kept working away.

I think I must have had a few "quilting angels" watching over me, because when I look back, this quilt could have stopped me from persuing the art any farther. I think Leslie and a few people in my class were pretty angelic too. I asked a lot of questions, and maybe did a little whining? Grroooaannnnn.

One of the suggestions on this quilt I really loved. It said to put the initials of the people you love next to an appliqued heart. Those are the people who the angels will look out for. I put my brothers initials on this one.
For some reason when I downloaded this picture it will only place it sideways. So maybe if you twist your head completely to the right you can see it better. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to keep the pictures from turning to the side when you download them? Or how to turn them right side up once they look like this?
Problem #3:
It took me a few years to finish this quilt. In fact, I even decided to hand quilt it. Of course I knew nothing about that either. Just jumped in and gave it a try. Primitive right? Doesn't matter what those stitches look like.
Someone told me if you are riding by on a horse and your quilt looks good, then leave it alone. That encouraged me to keep making quilts.

What do your first quilts look like? I'm sure there are some pretty funny stories out there to tell. I'd love to hear them.
If you like Jan's quilts, you can find her at

Friday, August 22, 2008

Dixie Diva August Day Meeting

Yesterday we had our Dixie Diva August day meeting at my house. We love these meetings because we have most of the day to work on our projects, and of course talk and talk and talk...
One of my favorite parts is "Show and Tell". Everyone brings the current project, plus the things they have been working on for the last month. I am continually amazed at the talent in this group. I feel like "Lucky" must be my middle name because I get to rub shoulders with some of the best quilters Southern Utah. Not only are they extreamly skilled, but they are fun people to be with. We tease each other endlessly, and spend most of our day laughing. Great therapy.

This is the current in- progress quilt by Jan K. All of it has been paper pieced.

Some of the individual blocks

This last year we have been doing a block exchange. Each person has a different color wave. Yesterday we showed an update of how much we had accomplished so far.

Margaret brought a pile of things to share with us. This is the Mexican Star she is finishing up.

Margaret's sister in law Susie is in town, and was able to join our Diva meeting. Susie is the one I stayed with in Huntington Beach while attending IQF in Long Beach last month. It was so fun to see her again! She is such a delightful lady. We just wish she lived in St. George so she could be a Diva every month.
Susie brought a quilt she is making for her grand daughter. She asked her GD to list all the things she loves, and then bought fabric that represents those themes. For example, her grand daughter said she loves "soccer, fruit, ballet, surfing, etc."

Margaret bought this pattern "Spicy Spiral" when we were at Luella's in So. Cal last month. Of course she's already made two. She traveled to Logan right after our trip, and she still has made a stack of things this month. I'm wondering when she sleeps!
This is one is in red, white and blue.

This one in fall colors.
A specialty ruler is used for this project.

I know Margaret will be teaching this as a class here in town if anyone wants to learn.

When we were at Luella's they had this great fabric representing Southern California. Since Margaret spent most of her life there, this fabric really called to her. She's making aprons for family members.

Bev is one of our Diva's and she has been spending the summer at her condo in Logan. Margaret just got back from spending time with her. While there, they hit the local quilt shops. This pattern was from the latest shop hop at Red Rooster. The title was something to do with "hens". There are still eyes and beaks to be added.

When Ricci's friend Kate was in town they worked on this "Fun and Done" quilt. Ricci surprised Kate by buying all the fabric and even having all the batting cut in squares. All the supplies were stacked in a neat little bundle by the machine waiting for Kate when she arrived. Now that's service!

These "Fun and Done" quilts really are fun! Each block is identical. You quilt them together as you go, so you are "done" at the end. No need to send it off to the machine quilter ( saving money). They come in a variety of patterns, and I think between us Ricci and I bought every one.

I served dessert after lunch. I made this poke cake called "Strawberry Decadence".
1 French vanilla or strawberry cake mix
2 bags (10 0z. each) frozen sliced strawberries, thawed and sweetened
1 small box cheese-cake flavored instant pudding
8 oz. whipped topping
Bake the cake in a greased 9X13-inch pan according to the directions on box. Cool. Poke holes in the cake (the handle of a wooden spoon works well).
Pour the strawberries and juice over the cake so the berries and juice seep into the holes. Spread the strawberries around untilthe cake is covered.
After prepareing the pudding accoriding to the directions on box, smooth it over the berries, sealing them. Ice the cake wih tthe whipped topping and enjoy! Keep refrigereated for best flavor.