Friday, December 30, 2011

Open! Open! Open!


A Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Market is coming soon, to a neighborhood near me. Right near our Post Office. Right near the two thrift stores where I get quilt fabric. So convenient. So fresh. So easy.

I'm not a loyal shopper, I bounce around according to our budget and my mood. I stay away from the big stores, they are just way too big and full of food we don't eat. My dream store is Whole Foods, but the prices can be a nightmare. My nightmare store is Walmart, a store we absolutely do not shop in except for one item - the potty tablets to drop down the toilet in our trailer.

What I'm hoping for with Fresh and Easy is this:

Wonderful products and prices like at Trader Joe's, but with more vegan fare.
Bulk food prices and selection like at WinCo but without the miles of orange soda, Cheetos and screaming neglected children.
Healthy food and inviting decor like at Whole Foods, but with Trader Joe's prices.
The whole package gorgeousness of Nugget Market in Davis.
Friendly people and a down-home feel like Fonzi's International Market on Fulton and Alta Arden.

Wow, am I a picky shopper or what? As soon as those doors open at Fresh and Easy, I'll be there checking it out. So far, there is a construction fence around the property, but the sign is up and it is looking spiffy. Open, open, open.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Some Bunny Loves You Quilt

Some Bunny Loves You

"Some bunny" contacted me the other day wanting to order a baby quilt. It's for a couple who are choosing to find out boy or girl at the birth. How fun! I went through my stash and found all this really cute fabric. Yes there are some flowers, so if it's a boy he can get in touch with his inner florist.

The star attraction is some bunny fabric I found at the thrift store - super adorable. The peach and blue solids fit in great, and I finally found a use for the peach and blue stripes. I even managed to add some fabric from an unused drapery valance - Scarlett O'Hara style. And (I wish there were more) two squares of just too stinkin' cute stuffed animal fabric. It is a quilt with a mystery history. Just great for a gender neutral baby gift.

Molly gets the scraps. Unlike our first dog Kodie, who enjoyed regular dog toys, Molly has a very odd collection. She utterly destroys stuffed animals as did Kodie, but she destroys Kongs and rubber squeaky toys too. Actually she eats them and they end up in her doo doo. That can't be healthy. All that is left is rope toys, which she eventually obliterates. To make them last longer, Ernst ties on old socks and rags and leftover quilt scraps. Her toys are a pathetic menagerie, like the weird neighbor boy's collection from Toy Story. At least she doesn't chew our shoes - anymore.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Who could that be on the roof?

Two years ago at this time we were back in New York and Connecticut with my family. We were having such a wonderful time in the New England winter wonderland. It was cold; really super cold even for the locals, but we were thrilled to be there enjoying the snow, and of course my family too. My sister and I sewed an adorable quilt, snow being the ideal quilting weather. It somehow makes all the corners match up perfectly.

New England Winter Wonderland

So much drier and lighter than Tahoe snow

Rag quilt washing anxiety

No worries, it turned out so pretty
Little did we know what interesting things were happening back home. Our dog was safely down the street at the dog sitter. But the house was not safe, because our joke loving neighbor Jason had something up his sleeve for our return.

Now this is the same Jason that will give you the shirt off his back and then run to the store to buy you a better one - the friend and neighbor who helped carry out a Let’s Fix the Worst Hardwood Floors in History and then Paint the Whole House Surprise after Ernst had his heart attack. But Jason has a major jokester side, one that caused him to steal our tree once! Yes, you can steal a tree and he proved it.

Two years ago, before we got back, somehow an Xmas decoration contraption showed up in Jason’s yard. Picture this: take a wire tomato cage, turn it upside down, string it with Xmas lights and garlands. Then plug it in and you have a cone shaped tree-like thing. What is the first thing he thought of? Putting it on the top of our roof as a welcome home treat for us.

Great, except we don’t celebrate Christmas and neither do Jason and Carmen. Some of our neighbors know this. Also, the tree had been made as a school project by one of the youngsters on our block, a sentimental My Kid Made This type of project.  We still don’t know how it ended up down the street, it’s not like tomato cages catch a lot of wind.

I got home a day before Ernst did. Sleeping in after a late arrival, I heard footsteps…on our roof. What in the world? 'Twas Jason, up on our roof with an extension cord. Was he surprised to see me! The thing was so ugly during day, I just had to agree to the prank. But when I went to pick Ernst up from the airport and we came home, that tree was in all its yuletide glory, lit up for the whole block to see. Ernst took one look at it and said “JASON!" He had learned from the tree incident.

Then came the embarrassing part. The neighbor approached Jason and asked why he thought we stole his decoration; it meant a lot to them and did he think we would give it back? We were the neighborhood Grinches and we had no part of it. JASON!

Our neighbors, Jason and Carmen

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Kayla's Kwilt, not Kwick but very Kute!

Mikayla's quilt, a year in the making, is finally finished. We started this last year with two long sessions of work. Busy schedules, conflicting schedules and life got in the way of completion. Last June we were going to finish it while at Pacific View Retreat in Manchester, but a certain person, whose name starts with M, forgot to pack it! So here we were 6 months later, back in Manchester, and it got done.

Mikayla did most of the sewing - all she needed was a few pointers and she was off and running on her new Singer sewing machine. The corners came out great, the colors all go together well and it is adorable. The theme is chickens, horses, cows and dogs, with a pair of jeans and a Davis Golf Club shirt from the family stash. Very cute and most fitting for animal loving Kayla.

I wish I had this view to photograph all my quilts. Green rolling hills spotted with cows and horses, and all a nice walk from the beach. The vacation was short and sweet. (Too many sweets eaten by this shorty.)
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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kale Butter from Engine 2 Diet

 *Very Important Update. Ernst thought this was gross tasting, seriously gross. I loved it, especially on a baked potato. So proceed at your own risk.*

Picture this, and you will have to because Ernst took the camera on a field trip-

First picture a really well equipped jazzy kitchen because, while we are pretending, we might as well go big. Now picture really professional photos of steamed kale, walnuts, some of the kale steam water and a bit of salt being blended in a Vita-Mix. I don't have a Vita-Mix, but just stay with me here. Close by is our incredibly obedient dog Molly, who lives to follow my every command.

Even in my little dinky kitchen and with my blender that needs encouragement to spin, I made Engine 2 Kale Butter. And it is so good. No really. I was a skeptic too, I didn't think it could possible be as delicious as it is touted to be. But growing in my winter garden, I had some stuff that I am almost 99% positive is kale. It said it on the seed packet, but it didn't look like it one bit. I even brought a leaf of it to the store to compare, nope not looking right. But it was green and leafy and it was consistently un-kale like, so there was no way it was some kind of poisonous weed. They usually don't grow in mass amounts right where you planted seeds for something edible.

I would love to say the walnuts are from our tree and the water from our well, but we can only claim the green stuff. If you buy some real kale, some real walnuts and you have some water and salt, you have to try this. I loved it warm, but I think it's supposed to be cold, like pesto. It would be great on a baked potato or with chips or carrot sticks.

Engine 2 Kale Butter
1 bunch kale, rinsed and chopped
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup water from the steamed kale
(I added a dash of Braggs)

Steam the kale for 5 minutes, until tender. Blend the cooked kale with the walnuts and 1/2 cup of the green water from steaming. Add salt to taste. Process in a blender until smooth. (I think a food processor would work as well). If you don't like it, remember that someone with a really jazzy kitchen and well mannered pooch suggested it. That would not be me.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Store Where Everyone Knows Your Name

 World International Market
1828 Fulton Avenue
Sacramento 916-488-8017
(Fulton Avenue at Alta Arden)

The store I love has changed hands, but that is not a bad thing. Formerly owned by friendly people who yelled at each other, it is now owned by a man named Fonzi from Israel, and as far as I can tell, he doesn't yell. At least he didn't yell at me when I forgot my wallet.

Not only did he not yell, he let me walk out with almost $30 worth of groceries, with the promise I would come back the next day and pay. Pretty stinking cool, I say. That wouldn't happen at a name brand place, that's for sure. Fonzi and I didn't even know each other at that point, because like I said he just bought the place from the Nice Screamers. He didn't know I go in often, that I had already put his store in a past blog post. He just trusted me - how refreshing.

The new owner has made some slight updates to the place - a bit quieter, a bit cleaner, and a lot more organized. Plus there are some goodies in the works. Fonzi is opening a deli and he will serve homemade hummus from a secret recipe. Come to Mama! We are huge hummus lovers. I know it's a cinch to make, and I have tried different recipes. But my food processor is wimpy so the hummus comes out a tad too chunky.

If you want a shopping adventure full of International foods from all lands yummy, this is a great place to visit. There are lots of Huh? items that will intrigue you, great prices on fruits and veggies, bulk beans and nuts and the rice prices are through the floor (cheap.) It is right around the corner from Launder Dog, so you could get your pooch groomed and fill your pantry on the same trip. Leave your grocery list at home. Leave your recipes at home. Don't leave your wallet at home though, I don't want Fonzi to ban me from buying hummus.

Potatoes white and sweet, beets, oranges, gobs of walnut halves, black tea from Sri Lanka, giant pomegranates, brown sugar, brown mustard, and some chocolate too cheap to pass up. 28 dollars.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Come on Doppler, Go Green

When it rains, I'm happy. 
When it pours, I'm even happier.

Winter isn't my favorite season, but rain is my favorite weather event. And usually, a Sacramento Valley winter means rain. December means rain. Something is wrong this year, because I have yet to put on my favorite bright yellow rain coat - the one that has the Moldovans calling me The Little Duckling. Yes, we had some great rain this early fall, but that didn't count because the Yellow Duckling Coat was still put away for the season.

Here is Doppler for today-

We need green. Full on green. Everything is getting wet beautiful green. The air is fresh and all the plants are happy green. The ski slopes are white green. The grass won't be brown green. The weather people aren't blue green. Folsom Dam is full green. Please turn green you ugly grey map, if only for the Yellow Duckling Coat.

Doppler photo courtesy of the Sacramento Bee. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Where have you BEAN all my life?

Mayocoba Beans
We are bean people. Lima, black, pinto, Great Northern, Canellini, kidney, and the "might as well be beans" - lentils and split peas of all colors. We love and eat them all. Eating vegan you sort of have to, if just to tell the people who ask how we are getting our protein that yes, we are getting our protein. Plus they are cheap!

You get to a certain point in your life, and you figure you've tasted all the beans there are. Not like all the heirloom beans that you can buy on the Internet, but all the beans that say, Safeway carries. Not so, these bean lovers discovered. On the 50% sale rack at Safeway, sitting there with all the other run-of-the-mill legumes, Ernst picked up this bag of mayocoba beans, or Canary beans. Half off a 5 dollar bag of beans is still a lot, but it was 2 pounds, and the name was intriguing.

ho hum package, yum yum product

They are (were) so yummy and creamy and delicious. I don't have a recipe, since I don't measure or document, but here was my process:

I soaked them. Next time I won't, but I was afraid they would be tough and stubborn. In a pot, I put a chopped onion, 4 chopped carrots, 4 chopped celery ribs, one chopped red bell pepper, one plop minced garlic, one carton vegetable broth plus the same amount water, some all-purpose seasoning, cumin, paprika, pepper flakes and cayenne. And of course the star attraction, the soaked and drained beans. Later I added salt, pepper, Braggs and more water as needed. It cooked pretty fast and came out wonderful. Creamy, but not baby food creamy. I went easy on the spices and was glad, because these beans have some really great flavor going on.

our new BFF

So there's a new bean on the block. Watch out old bean buddies - be on your toes - you have some major competition. No food fights please.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

No More Knitted Brow

Finally, I found a way to knit that doesn't drive me to drink. I found a YouTube video that shows a way of knitting that makes sense to people who crochet. So far I have only a little practice patch, (which is not worth sharing) but by George I think I have it.

OK, now what?
I'm certainly not going to knit a sweater. Too much pressure.
I only have one neck, and I already have some scarves I love.
Socks? Got a drawer full.
What else, what else? Yarn Bombing our yard?

We saw yarn bombing (also known as yarn storming, guerrilla knitting, or graffiti knitting) before I knew what it was. We were up in Mendocino County, and I saw a railing on a public sidewalk covered in yarn. Not wrapped in yarn, but custom fit with a colorful yarn pole sweater. Weird, but cute and friendly. Then I heard that the Crocker Art Museum was yarn bombed, and that they actually appreciated it and left it there. I can't imagine having enough yarn, time or finger energy to do something like this. But as far as graffiti goes, this certainly beats spray paint and broken windows.

Yarn Bombing

Yarn Storming

Graffiti Knitting

Guerrilla Knitting

Gorilla Knitting

Photo credits to,,, and

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Jeanne Jean Gene?

The Jean Quilt

Well, that certainly took forever. First I had the grand idea to do a quilt with all denim on one side. Very cute, but a workout! I broke two denim needles in the process of sewing this together.

Bright idea number 2: just pile the top squares on the bottom squares, don't put batting and don't sew them with an X. Never again. It looks cute when it's done, especially on the denim side, but it made for some tricky maneuvering come sewing time.

My snipping scissors needed sharpening and then were held hostage by the sharpening place. I had to borrow my neighbor Carmen's - she always bails me out of my quilt quandaries.

I had a biopsy in the middle of this whole thing and wasn't supposed to do anything much, as in don't heave a wet denim rag quilt in and out of the washer and dryer and outside to snip. I probably should not have been down on my knees in the garage unscrewing the lint trap of the washing machine as the water poured out into a pan. I really tried to be good. I haven't vacuumed in five days - and it shows.

Jeans on the bottom, cute shirts on top

So this will go down as the Never Again Quilt, which is a shame because it is really darling. I used up all the jeans I didn't like, or that had "issues." The top is some bright colored shirts mixed in with blue and white dress shirts. It put out a mess of quilt gunk, but that means the fraying is wonderful. Never again, I just need to keep repeating it, never again...

The Very Un-Jeanne Quilt

By the way, this quilt is not named after my mom Jeanne. My mom has never worn a pair of jeans in her entire life. Nor has she worn anything denim, ever. She is way too elegant for such fabric. I don't know what happened to her daughters, because we did not get the Jeanne No Jeans Gene.

If They Were Called Menograms

If I could do a back flip, I would. Monday I had a breast biopsy. It turned out negative, which is a really strange way to say positive. It is not cancer. Why the biopsy? It seems that certain calcifications were grouped in a formation that looked suspicious. What kind of formation, I don't know. A pink ribbon, a sad face? This little group of possible evilness needed to be investigated. With a punch needle. While I was squished.

There is no way a woman invented the mammogram machine. Let me try to explain this so a man can understand our pain.

Let us say, for fun, that this had all happened to a guy, a guy named Stanley. Stanley gets his card in the mail and it is time for his MENOGRAM. He puts it off and puts it off, knowing how uncomfortable they can be. But he finally decides it is time, and goes in for his appointment. He undresses from the waist down, puts on his blue gown and waits in the little rooms with all the other half dressed men, nervously smiling, trying to cheer the others up.

It's Stanley's turn. Turn for torture. He goes in to the Squishing Room, greeted by a large machine that is about to send bits of radiation into his beloved body parts. OK Stan the Man, turn this way, chin up, arm down, bend your back, grab this bar, slouch a little - good - and here come the machine down with an unknown amount of pressure, smashing poor Stan to kingdom come. OK, now hold still, don't move a muscle, the tech is going behind the wall of protection while he gets zapped with cancer causing rays. To look for cancer. Cancer causing rays. Great, now let's get five more shots with different variations of the torture machine.

A few weeks go by, enough to forget the agony. Then the call comes. Stanley must come back. There are some microscopic little bits naked to the human eye, which he needs to get naked again for some human eyes to check out. Come on in Mr. S, it's a different machine this time. Climb up on this table. Put your, umm, beloved goods into this hole in the table and we'll get started. Wow, that is a really big hole he thinks (I thought). Way bigger than they need for this patient. So now, not only is Stanley thinking about cancer, he is wondering why there is so much extra room in the hole in the table.

That worry is soon forgotten, because under this special table is another squishing device! Now the squishing will be continuous for about 45 minutes. Now just lie still Stanley, don't move, as you are being squished, we're going to raise up the table so you feel like a car at the lube shop. This might hurt a bit as we "numb the area." Might hurt a bit was a lie. As his knuckles become one with the table, he begins to wish he never made that appointment for the Menogram. More radiation, while the techs all scurry for cover, the part that is sticking through the large hole is getting more cancer causing rays. And to stop the bleeding, this nice strong tech is going to push on the most tender area for, hmm, shall we say FOREVER? Just the way we all want to spend our Monday morning.
OK, Stan, you're all done, except now we go back to the Menogram room, we need to make sure the titanium ball we placed in your, uh, area, is showing up. You see, our buddy has one already on the other side from a similar biopsy, so hey, now he has a matching set of titanium balls in his bod. We're all done, stick this ice in your drawers, go home and take it easy, no housework, no lifting, no showers for 3 days. Just go home and wait for the call to see if you are OK.

And it is, everything is OK. AGAIN. This is getting really old. I have been poked and prodded and drained and zapped and biopsied and mammogrammed and it is always nothing. NOTHING. But the stress is always there. The only good thing about this whole 20 years or so ordeal of mine was getting to meet Dr. Ernie Bodai. He is the Breast Guy, the inventor of the breast cancer stamp. He is one dedicated man. And do you know what he said about me? The doctor who has examined thousands of breasts? He said mine rock. Well, actually, the quote was "They are as hard as rocks" as in dense and impossible to tell the good from the bad from the ugly.  But, today rocks because I don't have cancer. I'm celebrating by continuing to eat well and by putting a fire under my exercise routine. Jingle Bells, Titanium Balls, the report was negative - which is positive!