Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Few views

Here are a few glimpses of our surroundings.  This first picture shows our view from our patio.  There is a sidewalk about two feet from the patio wall.  Then there is a planted area separating the sidewalk from the road.  We have a nice big tree shading us there, although our view is to the north, so we don't have the problem of direct sun heating up our condo.  The orange pilon is there because the pavement is being renewed with a sprayed-on seal coat.

This is looking left from the patio.  If you walk along the sidewalk to the left and then detour around a row of condos, you come to the Community Center and the swimming pool.  Some days recently the temperature on the thermometer in the sun by the pool read as high as 103ºF in the middle of the afternoon.  That's time to go for a swim or read in the shade.

This is the view to the right.  Follow this road, take a left and then a right to the back gate.  It will open in response to a transponder in your windshield.  Go to the stop sign and turn right.  Soon there's a left turn lane into the Walmart parking lot.  When I was here without a car last spring I walked there for whatever I needed.  It was a comfortable 15 minute walk, and not along a busy street.

Walking to the Maricopa library is a different story.  The first half mile outside the gate is along Bell Road, a very busy road with a 45 mph speed limit.  That's not a pleasant walk, but the library is really good, and so we do go there at least once a week.  Jim will often walk there for some exercise and reading in the afternoon.

This cute Halloween panel decorates the wall of our patio.  I made it last year and it's just the bit of colour we need there.  We did have a potted mum from Home Depot on a plant stand nearby, but that has dried up and was thrown out today.  Time to go look for another nice plant to give colour there.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Potlucks

Last week Tuesday we went to a potluck at West Valley Christian Fellowship, the church we attend here.  Lots of good food and fellowship, a chance to get acquainted with people.  I brought a small crockpot full of barbecued, skinless, boneless chicken thighs.  That's easy to prepare and tastes delicious, and sometimes there's not enough meat dishes at one of these suppers.

Tonight we are going to "Meatless Mondays," a vegetarian potluck here at the village.  I've prepared a Couscous Salad:

Here's the recipe:

COUSCOUS SALAD

Prepare 1 cup of couscous, according to directions on package.

In a large bowl place:
1 cup of zucchini, cut into 1/4" pieces (I like to use English cucumber)
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4" pieces (any colour bell pepper)
1/2 cup chopped red onion
3/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 cup broccoli florets, cut small, steamed for 1 minute in microwave
1 medium tomato, cut up
1/2 cup low fat Italian dressing

Stir all these ingredients together until well blended.
Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley or basil.
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Serves 6.

I'm looking forward to tasting the other entrées that people bring to this potluck.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Good Week

It's been a good week so far, with lots going on, but no pictures.

On Monday I went to the first Monday afternoon painting class, a three hour session.  I'm learning how to control watercolour, which is a challenge!  But I enjoy it lots.

Tuesday we went to a potluck supper at church, and my dear Sis gave an interesting half hour slide show and talk about bugs that live in the desert here in Arizona.

Wednesday morning I went to an orchestra rehearsal.  I'm playing at the back of the viola section, and liked the group, liked the conductor and liked the music.  On the way home the art teacher, who also plays in that orchestra (in fact she's the one who told me about it) went to a good art supply store with me and we picked up a block of Arches cold pressed paper, several tubes of paint, etc.  It's not cheap!  But now I can do some practice painting in preparation for next Monday's class.

We got the sofa bed together so I could move that mattress out of the closet that will become my sewing room.  I need to paint it before filling it up with projects.  I also need to set up some sort of table for my sewing machine.  There's a 24" wide leaf from the dining room table stored in that closet that would make a fine table if I can find some drawers to prop it up on.

This afternoon I went to the opera!  Sounds fancy!  What is was: a DVD of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro on a big screen in a small classroom here in Sun Village.  That's only the second opera I've ever been to, and the other one was shown in a theatre when I was in college, many years ago.

So life is full of interesting things to do.  So much so that I've been to the pool only once this week. I guess that's not cause for complaint!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Finally!

We finally are hooked up to phone, t.v. and internet!  That took a while!  Too many snowbirds returning at this time of year.

We arrived a week ago now and are still settling in.  It's surprising how many small household things needed to be purchased: potato peeler, wastebaskets, etc., etc.  We still need to put the sofa bed back together, and organize that room.  When that's finished I can organize my sewing room in the spare bedroom walk-in closet.

But I did get a tiny bit of sewing done.  I bought a yard of homespun at Walmart and made six nice napkins for us to use.  They are way better than anything that was offered for sale, and I know from experience that they wash up just beautifully.

Tomorrow I go to a Pilates class first thing in the morning and to a painting class in the afternoon.  There's so much to do here!  But I will try to write about anything interesting that comes up, in terms of sewing, quilting, music, painting, reading--everything except gardening, as we have no "dirt" in which to garden here.  This is as good as it gets:

A lovely mum from Home Depot, brightening up the living room coffee table.

Friday, October 3, 2014

On the Road

We left this morning around 9:30 to travel south to warmer climes.  Had a good trip on a sunny day.  South of Lethbridge the road is all divided highway, not much traffic and a clear, open road.  We had a good drive and found a Motel 6 (after frogging around a little) in Dillon, Montana.

Going by Nobleford, Alberta we called up some memories of our time there in the 70's.  It was a wonderful time in our family: the seven years we were there were the years that all four of our children were at home.  Our youngest was only 2 months when we arrived, and our oldest finished high school one semester after we moved away.  We loved our congregation there and felt very much at home.  It was a little hard to get used to the open prairie with the big sky, after having lived in Ontario, surround by large maple trees.  But after about a year, I loved it there.

One really nice thing about Nobleford is that you can almost always see the Rocky Mountains from there, while still enjoying the openness of the prairie with its neverending sky.  I loved that about it.

The border crossing to the U.S.A. went without any problem, and much less of a lineup that last year.

It was a good beginning to our travels south!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Juice and Jam

I'm wanting to clear the freezer in the house, amalga-mating the contents with what's in the "garage" freezer.  That's where we store all the fruit picked, before it's turned into juice, jam or wine.  So I took three gallon ice cream buckets of cherries into the house this morning and, with the help of the steam juicer, turned them into these 6 quarts of delicious cherry juice.  Nice for with meals, and also available to turn into cherry syrup or jelly.

Then I picked up an ice cream bucket of raspberries, added about the same amount of sugar, set them to boil in a 15 quart pan and turned them into 8 pint jars and 2 one cup jars of jam.  At least, I hope it will be jam.  It's not entirely cooled off yet, and it's still pretty runny.  Well, if not jam, some kind of syrup or topping.

All that activity has, hopefully, made enough room to take what's in the house freezer and be able to fit it into the garage freezer.  One freezer will take much less electricity than two!

Earlier in the day I was able to finish up a project for my friend Med: two dust covers for their monitors and keyboards.

It always feels so good to finish projects!  Yesterday I sent the "Grandmother's Fans" quilt out to the Continuing Care.  I had finished the machine quilting on that on Monday.

Tuesday we had friends visiting for dinner.  Since the house had not been dusted and vacuumed for over a week--what neglect!--I first cleaned, and then cooked.  We had a very nice visit, and then they continued on their way.  It was nice to have warning of a visit, so that I could have a good meal ready, but I also do love unexpected company.  There's always something in the freezer that can be turned into a tasty meal!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Second Finish in One Week!

This coming Tuesday our quilt club will go to the local "Continuing Care" to donate several quilts for the comfort of those patients.  
The quilt I had intended to donate was the one my friend Susan chose this past week. So I realized I needed to finish up one of the other tops I made earlier this summer.  Since this was also intended to go to Continuing Care, this is the one I finished yesterday.

I stitched "in the ditch" between each of the blocks and between the blocks and the border, using invisible thread.  That will hold it pretty well.  But the blocks needed some stitching also.  So, with the invisible thread I stitched the quarter circles around the fans and around the "hand holds" at the corners of the blocks.  That left the full fabric blocks.

Quilting is so much a matter of making decisions: what pattern? what material combinations? what arrangement of blocks? what quilting patterns to hold it together?  I chose to echo the shape of the fans, and then had to make up a method to achieve that?  Here's my solution: use the cardboard template to echo the hand-hold.  Stitch it with two pink threads at the same time, in order for it to be "deeply coloured" enough to stand out on the black background print.

So far, so good.  What next?  Because it was very hard to make any temporary marks on the black background fabric to guide my stitching I came up with this:  I cut a 16" strip of blue masking tape into 1/4" wide strips.  Found a pleasing arrangement to imitate the fan design, and stitched alongside the tape with the same doubled pink thread.  I had to be sure to always stitch of the left side of the tape, or the sections would have been unequal.

I like the result.  Now I have five sections to stitch in the manner, snip a few hanging threads and the quilt is finished!  And it's not even due until next Tuesday