Friday, September 28, 2012


Just happened to go outside around 6:30 this morning. Saw this to the west.

Every time I see a rainbow, it always seems magical.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Weekend Wandering

Last weekend, Tim and I drove down to Lincoln City to rendezvous with his family for their mom's 85th birthday. On the way down, we turned right at Olympia and meandered through southwest Washington on a more scenic route than I-5.

One of the towns we passed through was South Bend, where we found this gem of a courthouse.

It had some absolutely gorgeous stained glass, such as this round fixture above the rotunda right when you entered.

South Bend is the county seat of Pacific County, and a lot of the stained glass windows featured this motif with the initials "PC." 

There was also this elaborate tile design on the rotunda floor.

We might have missed seeing all this if I hadn't happened to glance left to see the courthouse up the hill a few blocks, resplendent in all its early 20th-century architectural grandeur.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Shelly's Quilt

Ten months in the making.

From this to this to . . .

. . . this.

Technically, it does not qualify as a Ten-Year Quilt, because Shelly and I were "laid off" in a round of downsizing and budget-cutting last November.

But I had already started cutting the fabric for the blocks. I returned the reimbursement check for the fabric to the company, after being informed that it was company property, and went ahead with the project. The usual suspects, plus two, helped with sewing the blocks together, machine-quilting it, and sewing on the binding.

Shelly and I met for lunch today. I had picked up the quilt on Monday, but had not let on to Shelly that it was ready.

When I got it out of my car, she said that she had been afraid to ask about it.

It fits her bed perfectly . . .

. . . and she is thrilled.

Satisfaction guaranteed.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Finally Finished!

Some time ago, my husband asked me if I could knit him a pair of fingerless mitts like the ones I had made for myself. He often takes the bus to work, and listens to podcasts on his iPhone, which is great until he needs to do something with the touchscreen. If it's cold and he's wearing gloves, he has to take them off. So fingerless mitts would eliminate that problem.

I'm not sure when exactly I started working on the mitts, but it's been several months. First, I had to adjust the pattern because his hands are bigger.

As of last March, I had gotten very far along; all that was left to do was the thumbs.

And there they sat. And sat. And sat.

Finally, sometime over the summer, I knit the thumbs. Then they sat some more, waiting for the ends to be woven in.

Now that fall is almost upon us, I decided it was high time to Wrap Up This Project. Which I did.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lady of the Lake

I made this quilt several years ago, and it remains one of my favorites.

The inspiration came from reading "The Mists of Avalon" by Marion Zimmer Bradley. In Arthurian legend, the Lady of the Lake is the ruler of the magical island of Avalon.

I think I already had the background fabric, which looks like pebbles seen through blue water. The other fabrics are nature-inspired prints — stars, trees, clouds and sky, a couple of florals.

When I laid out the blocks, I inverted every other one, so the light and dark triangles in adjacent blocks would touch, rather than light against dark. I liked the way it reminded me of sunlight reflecting off ripples of water.

For the large corner triangles, I created an original feather design (feathers have always been my favorite quilting motif) which I hand quilted.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mount Rainier

This past weekend, Tim and I drove down to Mount Rainier National Park for an overnight visit. We left early Saturday morning, and got to the park around 10 a.m. We drove up to the Paradise area, where we walked a couple of the easier trails and took a fair number of pictures, both of grand vistas and some small bits of the bigger picture.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sunflowers and . . .

This afternoon, I went out to the backyard to take some photos of the sunflowers. Since I posted about them a couple weeks ago, they've really gone into overdrive. The tallest stalks have a cluster of blooms at the very top, and then several individual blooms below, poking out from spaces between leaves and stalk.

My intention was to get some pictures from an angle that put the flowers against the bright blue sky we had today.

I managed to get some acceptable shots. But there was one that had an extra element that, if I'd planned for it, I don't think I could have improved on the result.

I swear, this is the original image. No Photoshopping was involved.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Of Pies and Apples

I like to make pie. I especially like to make fruit pies, which is kind of a seasonal thing.

About six weeks ago, I made a cherry pie to take with us when my husband and I went to Richland to visit his mom.

For some reason, instead of following my usual recipe (my grandmother's recipe that my mom handed down to me and my sisters), I decided to consult Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. I am so glad I did!

In his recipe for Flaky Pie Crust, he says to use a food processor (rather than a pastry blender) to mix the flour and butter. Genius!

That has always been my least favorite part of making pie dough, which is always a bit of a production. There are so many things in the sink that I have to wash when I'm through! Big things, such as a couple of bowls, rolling pin, and my mat for rolling out the crust, not to mention measuring spoons and cups, a couple of wooden spoons, maybe a spatula or two. And all the flour to wipe up.

It is not a tidy process.

It still isn't, but with the food processor, it's a bit less work.

My food processor is just a little one, so I have to do the top crust and the bottom crust separately. (Last week, when I made a blackberry pie, I tried to do both at once. Didn't work out so well. Won't do that again.)

I originally purchased the food processor to make hummus. That was its primary, if not sole, function until now. (I have a weakness for kitchen gadgets. A few years ago, I bought a cherry pitter. That's all it does. Pit cherries. And take up a fair bit of room in the gadget drawer. But when I want to make cherry pie, it redeems itself.)

The other good idea Mr. Bittman offered up was to put the pie dish on a cookie sheet while baking. Keeps stuff from dripping down to the floor of the oven and baking into an unremovable black residue. Duh!

I used to have a drip protector, but it mysteriously disappeared when I moved three years ago, along with a pie crust ring.

Anyway, today I made an apple pie. With Gravenstein apples. Which are THE BEST baking apples. They're what my mom always used to make applesauce.

When my daughter was little, I made applesauce with Granny Smith apples. It was okay, but something was missing. But I couldn't say what it was.

A few years ago, I poked around on the interwebs to see if I could find a local source for Gravensteins. They are unlikely to be available in regular grocery stores because they don't ship well.

I did find some possibilities, but before I had a chance to follow up, I happened to pass by the Yakima Fruit Market on the way home from work one day, and their reader board announced that they had — you guessed it — Gravensteins! I didn't have time to stop that day, but I made sure I did the next day.

I bought something like 17 pounds of Gravensteins and made applesauce. I didn't can it the way my mom used to, but instead froze it, which seems to work just as well.

When I sampled it, it was just the way I thought applesauce should be. Tart and sweet, but there was also this specific texture that seemed to be unique to Gravensteins. It was a kind of graininess, for lack of a better word.

It was how applesauce should be.

I haven't made applesauce in a few years. I still have one quart in my freezer. I should probably thaw it out and do something with it. Maybe make applesauce cake or applesauce bread.

But today I made apple pie. Do you see the A for apple?