Thursday, March 29, 2012

Buds & Blooms & Snakes!

Spring has come early this year to Southwest Virginia, bringing some beautiful blossoms to our yard:

Flowering Crabapple
and Redbud
And, not among my favorite Spring arrivals... snakes, two today and one on Saturday.  Notice there are no pictures... a: I didn't have my camera handy, and b) well, I think you know what "b" might be... 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My New Addiction...

is wool applique! Like I needed another hobby, but I'm totally hooked. Most of my sewing and quilting requires a sewing machine, but I actually enjoy this handwork, and it's totally portable. And you get to fondle all that wonderful wool!

Our quilt guild had a Spring Retreat on St. Patrick's Day.  All 13 ladies in attendance had a fabulous time.  In the morning, we made eyeglass cases. Here's mine:

I almost finished it before we broke for lunch! The free Better Homes & Gardens pattern is here.  Sandra had lovely kits prepared for us, but then she made the mistake of telling us we could explore her scrap basket! I couldn't resist digging around until I found something to make it "mine". My photo doesn't show it well, but I fell in love with the precious peach/green plaid I used for the largest circle of the flower.

In the afternoon, Paula presented Jinny Beyer's "Color Confidence for Quilters".  We had great fun, and I learned so much about color, but I'm not sure I feel that much more confident. I think I may need a tutor!

As an extra retreat "goody", we all got to choose a wool applique pincushion kit.  I chose the sunflower,

since I had already done the star when Sandra taught these stitches at a regular guild meeting:

So, I have learned something new and didn't even add to my "started-it-at-a-retreat-brought-home-and-threw-it-on-the-pile" pile!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bats in my Belfry?

No, but there's one behind my shutter!  And he's really camera shy...

He (or she) squeezes himself flat and sleeps in there all day.  They really do sleep upside down; his feet are at the top...  He just arrived last week- Spring arrived early in Virginia this year.  I don't remember how many years he's been with us, but he's a regular!  How do you know he's there? Either you open the window and hear him squealing, or you look on the ground below that shutter and see bat poop!

Here's where he lives, the green shutter in the right:

You'll get to see a lot more "critters" if you stick around.  We seem to attract 'em.  I guess they know we like them.  Most have names, but for some reason this little guy doesn't have one yet.  Any ideas?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Chewy Cocoa Brownies from Nestle'

I'm starting you off with the only brownie recipe you'll ever need- straight from the back of the Nestle' Unsweetened Cocoa container. Honestly, that's one of the best places to get a recipe!

Makes 24 delicious brownies, great for dessert, snack or bake sale!

1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
2 tablespoons water
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder  *not instant cocoa mix*
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)  *I never put these in*

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease 13" x 9" baking pan.
3. Combine sugar, butter and water in large bowl.
4. Stir in eggs and vanilla extract.
5. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in medium bowl; stir into sugar mixture.
6. Stir in nuts if desired.
7. Spread into prepared pan.
8. Bake for 18-25 minutes (mine usually take about 20 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out slightly sticky.
9. Cool in pan on wire rack. 

These are almost as easy as a boxed brownie mix! No mixer required- a wooden spoon works just fine.  

First Confession...

OK. I didn't really drop out of home ec- I never even signed up!  Sure, I grew up in the traditional middle class family where the Mom teaches the little girl how to bake cookies, but as a teenager I lost all interest, maybe even rebelled a bit against the stereotypical female role (it was the 70s, after all).  No one thought I would amount to anything as a homemaker! I guess you could say I was a late bloomer. I didn't embrace any sort of domestic activity until I was around 30, but now it's what I enjoy most in life! Stick with me and I'll share with you what I've learned (and am still learning) through experience about running an efficient and economical household.  

Thanks for reading my very first post!