Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breasts and Gardening

I was up by 7:30 on Sunday, started puttering around in the kitchen and cleaning it up, a never-ending task. Worked some more on the landscape quilt, finding out just why the stick iron comes with a guard around most of it (it gets really really hot) but it is still possible to get your finger on it and raise a big welt. Oweeeeee.

Made Spicy Sweet Bacon Chicken Breasts for lunch – of course I couldn’t find the recipe at the time so I just winged it. I made about double the recipe, we like these as leftovers. I used much less “spicy” since Ken doesn’t care for that. And I forgot about the garlic powder until I saw the recipe again, AFTER I had made it. So I printed that recipe out again and I intend to put it in my three-ring binder cook book so I can find it easily next time, hopefully before it gets buried somewhere.

After lunch I decided if I was going to work in the yard it was now or never. I have a bad habit of getting really excited about the garden early in the year and then losing interest in the middle of the summer when it gets really hot, so then the weeds get tall and I ignore them until the next spring. Ken went out too, to work on some grass that needed to be dug up and replaced. I pulled old weeds out, checked the peonies and Bleeding Hearts for signs of life (they are there, they are growing!) and moved some perennials out of the Weed Garden (future Rock Garden) into the bed south of the house. This bed is hard to deal with because it is the sunniest part of the yard, and it was mostly clay (I have been trying to work better soil into it) and not many plants do well there. Daylilies from the ranch do QUITE well there, but I don’t want a while line of daylilies, although it may come to that. Hollyhocks (one of my very favorites) also do OK in there, but some of them have spread to places I don’t want them to be, so I did some digging and moving of hollyhocks. The summer I need to label them as to what color they are and start trying to make sure I have the variety I want.

So I moved some of the big tall perennials (well, they are not big and tall yet but they will be) out of the Weed Garden and put them on the south side of the house, we will see how they do, the ones I moved there last summer didn’t do much but I don’t remember when I moved them. They came up again this year at least. And I am turning one of the tomato patches into another perennial bed, so I am going to move more hollyhocks and Weed Garden perennials there, but it needs to be tilled first, and Ken is going to do that next weekend. I watered all of the peonies and bleeding hearts. We need to slow down on the weed pulling until we get the accumulated weeds hauled off. We only get one container of “trash” picked up a week, so we need to meter the bags of yard waste out.

There are also a bunch of trees in the Weed Garden that I need to get out of there, they aren’t very fun to dig up. Some of the smaller ones I will dig up and maybe take up to the ranch to plant around some of the dams where the drought killed the trees off the last few years.

It was 72 degrees, just about right for working in the yard and not feeling too put upon.

I need to decide the purpose of the garden/flowers/yard. I don’t think it is to go out there and sit on chairs and enjoy the evening, because we don’t do that too much. We don’t have company often enough to show it off to. It isn’t really a big enough garden to grow enough vegetables to can or freeze to eat through the winter. I do enjoy growing lettuce and we have salads with that and eat it on sandwiches, but green beans haven’t been a big success and neither have tomatoes, two of my main gardening needs. Maybe I will switch the places I plant the green beans and the tomatoes this year, and try that.

The “new” perennial garden is going to have: hollyhocks, sunflowers (they aren’t perennials but I like them), poppies (which I need to go to SD and dig up or get seeds from, so they won’t be a big presence this year) and perennials (daisy type, brown-eyed Susan type) from the Weed Garden…..hmmmm……we’ll see what else happens.

I am also getting some “Red Hot Poker” flowers for that garden, I have tried them in other areas and they haven’t done well, but that might be just the spot. Hope springs eternal in the heart of the gardener.

The Russian Sage in the Weed Garden are still alive, amazing me, because they didn’t seem to like it very much there last year. It was more sunny than the shady flowerbeds in front of the house, but maybe too sunny. The Russian Sage may join the New Perennial garden.

Came back in to make Hamburger Pinwheels for dinner, but I think that is a whole ‘nother entry on its own.

MaryAnne took a break to lay on my new Faribault blanket that was supposed to be drying after I washed it.

What, this is not for me to lay on and look cute? What good is it then?

Aren’t I just too cute?

MaryAnne, later, airing out things, with Jello molds.

We tell her this isn’t ladylike, she doesn’t care…..

Pulled Pork and Shoe Leather

I was waiting for one of the grocery stores to have some sort of pork roast on sale for a reasonable price because I was in the mood for pulled pork in the crock pot. I got two blade roasts (bone in) that were 4 pounds each – I wanted leftovers and some to freeze. I used this recipe/procedure.

Cheater Barbecue Pulled Pork Recipe

This made a lot of pulled pork. And yes, it does take a whole bottle of Liquid Smoke. But it is delicious.

This was AFTER Ken and I had helped ourselves.

Pork, with yellow wax beans and au gratin potatoes. Not very colorful, I realize. But delicious.

Come closer to the porky goodness.

I made some “tangy” bbq sauce for mine (Ken thinks bottled is safer than one of my concoctions). The recipe said to just stir the ingredients together (juice from pork, vinegar, ketchup, seasonings) and it was good to go – well, that essentially made weak bbq soup. So I put it in a pan and boiled it up. Within minutes, Ken and the cats were complaining about the vinegar smell and opening up the windows. Well, the boiling improved it, I must say. But now the whole house does smell like pickles.

Ken digs in:

Ken approves:

Well, I was going to put up the recipes from “500 Snacks” but I inadvertently left it at work. Hopefully, tomorrow. So, I thought I would put up the pork and now, how about some shoes. My theory on shoes: I need two pairs of brown shoes and two pairs of black shoes for work. I am well past the high heels stage, I have to wear orthotics because of my plantar fascitis, and so these are good, sturdy oxford-type shoes. I hope you enjoy them.

Ken was quite stymied by my request to photograph my shoes. “I have had a lot of weird requests as a photographer, but this is a new one…”


I was quite amazed that I was able to find this many pairs of this type of shoe so late in spring, I have been disappointed before, and had to wait until the next fall to refresh the shoe wardrobe.

2nd pair brown – I like that these have the nice little seam across the toe:

Please note that I changed to black socks for your enjoyment of the black shoes. I like the little buckle/grommet on these.

This is what Leo thinks of shoe photography:

Leo wonders when we will quit fooling around and play with the cats, darn it.

Almost all of these have a little bit of a heel to them, more so than my last ones, so I will probably turning my ankle quite shortly.

MaryAnne the Gargoyle

It was a busy weekend, starting out Friday night with me making it home in time for us to go to the fish fry at the nearby Catholic Church (the week before, my drive home took an hour and a half, so we were too late for the fish fry, and went to Texas Roadhouse for rolls, large drinks, and steaks instead.) The fish fry was OK. They fried the tarnation out of that fish – it was a little tough for me. Ken liked it. In addition to the fish, there was Kraft macaroni and cheese, fried potatoes, cole slaw, bread and carrot cake for dessert. Lemonade, coffee and water to eat. Only $7 each, it was very reasonable at least. A little heavy on the carbs maybe. :  )

MaryAnne has a new bad habit. She jumps up on top of the entertainment center, hoping to reach down to the second shelf below and get one of her sparkle balls. If she wouldn’t knock them under the washing machine, she wouldn’t have this problem. Needless to say, it is a little startling to walk into the room and see furry gargoyle peering over her realm. There is also catnip on that shelf.

We don’t put her stuff on the TOP shelf, because she could reach that.

She thinks she is quite clever. This is what you see when you walk into the room, feel the hairs on the back of your neck prickle, and look up:

Got quite a lot of knitting done on my Mom’s socks while watching re-reruns of Diners, DriveIns and Dives on various evenings. I am down to where I need to start decreasing on one of them, so I will continue to work on the foot on the other one until I am also that far along, and then start decreasing on both of them.

I also spent some time looking through one of my top well-loved church cookbooks. It is not actually a “church” cookbook, it is the Hendricks Community Hospital Association Cookbook, published in 1993. I believe I purchased it in Hendricks while I was there for an auction, the summer I did repertory theater after college. It has the true mark of a good midwestern cookbook, separate sections for cookies and bars. You know they are serious about their bars if there is a separate section. I think I may have found my long lost favorite lemon bar recipe. I will experiment and post. It is also good to look through a cookbook again after you have maybe set it down for a few years, because your tastes change and you may cook differently, so more recipes may be useful. Which just means you should never get rid of a cookbook, maybe that is why I have so many, someday I should count them.

Noticed my crocuses were blooming this week! I was going to take a picture but they close up pretty early, and I missed them. The tulips and iris and several other perennials are also up, I am pretty sure we will get snow on them at some point but hopefully it won’t freeze too hard. It looked like snow/rain in the foothills this afternoon but apparently it is just dust blowing in the wind. There was a major fire going out on the Eastern plains on Sunday evening, I have farmer friends out there that I am thinking about. It is very dry and windy, we could use some moisture (even snow!) for the crops and just simply to cut down on the fire danger.

Leo says we don’t have to worry about HIM jumping up on the entertainment center. He and his fishy are happy to stay on the ground.

The Leo the Cat Page

I thought I should do a page for each of the feline inhabitants of the house. Since my niece S. complained that all I ever write about is food, and I asked her dad what I should write about the, and he said “Probably your cats!” so I am going to go with that.

Leo was a rescue cat from the Longmont Humane Society. A friend of mine at work had a batch of foster kittens, and she knew we had two older cats. She kept telling me what a love bug Leo was, and how every one that visited her thought he was really special. She brought all the kittens into the office one day prior to taking them to the vet for shots. Ken and I talked about it, and since both of our cats were older, and Misty had a heart condition, and was not expected to live very long, we decided we would adopt Leo. This was in the summer of 2007.

Two comparisons for size sake: Then and a few years ago. He is even bigger now.

We used to put soft paws on him so he wouldn’t scratch the furniture. Now we have just given up on the furniture.

We were watching an Animal Planet show where they talked about the features of a Maine Coon cat, and there were some disturbing similarities. “M” in the fur above the eyes, check. Long hair, tabby coloring, check. Furry feet like a snowshoe rabbit, check. Large frame, uh, yes.

This is not to say that he isn’t capable of physical activity. This picture is from his glory days chasing the cat dancer toy.

He doesn’t jump quite that high right now, we are working on getting him to exercise more.

Hobbies: sitting in boxes. Being annoyed when MaryAnne gets to sit in a box, too.


Being annoyed at his mother for taking pictures.

Current weight: 20 pounds. I think we need to work on that, his father thinks he is just “big boned.” It is hard to get him to play because MaryAnne butts in and then  he just sits back and watches her.

Bad habits: trying to eat thread in Mom’s sewing room, (yes, we know that is bad, yes we try to keep him out of there), barfing, sleeping in the closet:

Biting things he shouldn’t:

Yes, that is my shoe.Other hobbies: Meowing sadly when he thinks everyone has left the house. Dragging socks and or a small stuffed kitten around the house.  Getting up inside the box spring of the bed when he hears the doorbell. Destroying Mom’s yarn if she isn’t careful and leaves it out.

Likes: Food, his cat Hammick, cat dancer toy. His mommy. His mommy brushing him and scratching him on the back of the neck. Spearmint instead of catnip. He likes his sister MaryAnne and would like to play with her more but she objects to being jumped on by someone who weighs twice as much as she does. Scratching post.

Dislikes: Strangers, loud noises. People who spend the night (he sits and growls at them when they come out of the spare bedroom, consider yourself warned.)

Nicknames: Leo Beo, Fuzzy Lumpkin, Podge bottom, Fancy Pants, Leoski, Ya big scudder.

Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.

Leo about killed us the other night. I was already restless and not feeling like I was settled down enough to sleep. Ken had already put down his book and was starting to doze off. And that was when Leo decided he needed to go up to the dresser to go to bed. This involves jumping up on Ken’s bedside stand, which isn’t extremely sturdy. And Leo weighs about 16 pounds, so when he jumps up on the stand, it WHOMPS into the wall, which is more than enough to startle you out of a sound sleep. Then he added in a new feature, he must have had a bit of a hairball, and he let out a tremendous HORK as he sat on the ledge around the room before heading to the dresser. It sounded just like someone had stepped on a duck. I couldn’t recreate that sound if I tried, and trust, me, Ken and I have both tried over that last several days. Well, both of us totally cracked up, but I was the one who then continually got the giggles for about 20 minutes. HORK!

And, with that, further evidence of Why We Can’t Have Nice Things:

This is the strap of my purse. Admittedly, I needed to replace this purse already. However, now I really HAVE to replace it because it looks like mice have been at it.

See these? They look like scratches in a wall?

Look at that! They ARE scratches in a wall! Clear into the drywall! That is what happens when you try to jump through the blinds AND the closed window at 3:00 a.m. to get at the black and white cat who is walking through the flowerbed outside. See also: giving us a heart attack.

This is the carpet by our door in the bedroom. When we go on vacation, we close the door so Leo can’t hide under the bed (or IN the box spring, another thing which the cats have worked over). Neither one of them likes this. So they try to dig their way under. Sigh.

We know that cats scratch and we aren’t surprised by damage to furniture, etc., but on these things they really seem to have gone above and beyond the call of duty.

It’s a good thing they are so cute. Look, Leo used to fit under the couch.

Simon does not approve.

MaryAnne was even cute in her cone (after she got spayed.)

It didn’t slow down her playing much. (That is the remains of a toy spider, the spider part is gone, just the pipe-cleaner legs remain.)

It also didn’t slow down her getting in trouble, here on top of the clothes drying rack.

You don’t have enough cat pictures on your blog

It was a long weekend of quilting. I finished up what I could do on the paper pieced poppy/poinsettia on Friday night. Also on Friday, I had stopped at the local quilt store (fortunately got out of work a little early) because they were closing at 6:00 and wouldn’t open again until the 3rd of January, and I knew I needed a few more fabrics to complete my range of colors.

This still needs something, I am going to take it to Color Theory class tomorrow night and see what my instructor and the other students suggest. I am thinking some fancy braided sections on the sides, in greens? It is supposed to be complementary colors, but right now it is just mostly red, and the greens are just a background. (This was supposed to be done for class in December, but I had to miss that class because of conflicts.) I like it, I think it is pretty cool, I hadn’t done anything with paper piecing that complicated, but I don’t know where to go next with it.

The OTHER quilt was to be a double complement – pick a color, use its complement, but you also use a color next to that color on the color wheel, and its complement. So I picked orange and blue and yellow-orange and blue-violet. I had seen a quilt made with big half square triangles (HSTs) on the internet, and I liked it. Since the Broncos lost on Sunday, maybe we will call it the Colorado Sunset, but what it really should be called is “Now I remember why I hate working with triangles.” Matching up points. Ugh.

Here are my fabrics. I decided two of them had too much blue-green in them and didn’t use them, otherwise I used all of them, plus three from my own collection.

Here are the first pieces on the wall (just the wall in my craft room covered with white flannel like a giant flannel graph board) (anyone else remember flannel graphs from Sunday School? We thought they were pretty cool. Can’t imagine what my Ipad packing nieces would think…)

(Another digression: when I said I was going to cover one wall in the craft room with flannel, Ken thought I meant something like red plaid flannel. He was relieved to discover I meant WHITE flannel.)

Anyway, I used a “quick” method to make 8 HSTs at once, so this was just the first ones, in only two colors.

It kept growing. I think I worked on it about 8 hours on Saturday.

Close to 9-10 hours on Sunday, I think.

And another 9 hours at least on Monday. So, I have determined that I cannot make a whole quilt in a 3-day weekend (at least not a very complicated one) and get it pieced as well as quilted. So I just have the top done for class.

And I have no desire to work that much on one project in one weekend. That is why I have so many projects, so I can alternate. But I wanted to make a bigger project this time, and I have been gone and/or busy with Christmas sewing, so as Ken said, “You bit off more than you could chew?”

I do like this quilt a lot, but now I think that I have the diamond, the focal point, too high and to the left, because I made my quilt bigger than the one I saw on the internet. So I might add some more blocks to the top and left side to make it bigger and put the focus more in the top third rather than right in the corner.

Our next project will be “split complement” and I am hoping to figure out what I am doing before class tomorrow night so I can get some fabric at the Golden Quilt Store where the class is held, if I need to.

We bought a new comforter last week. I know, I know, I am a quilter, I should make one, but the chances of that happening any time soon are slim. Now that we don’t have a cat that barfs all the time, I wanted something nice on the bed. Pho 78 is right next to Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and I had a coupon, and we had to go in there to replace the Brita pitcher I broke anyway.

(Part of it had melted SOMEHOW, I can’t imagine how that would happen in my kitchen, and when I tried to jam it back together, it apparently experienced structural overload.)

So we found a lovely comforter, mostly brown, but a reddish brown, with stripes, that goes OK with the poppy picture. Between it and the new flannel sheets, Ken claims he doesn’t need the electric mattress pad any more, I have been keeping my side turned down quite a bit.

Leo wants you to know he approves. And he wants you to rub his belly. This picture brought to you by Ken, who said “You don’t have enough cat pictures on your blog,”  – I bet that is the first time that sentence was ever uttered by a male in the history of the world.

Later this week, lots of food pictures and recipes, because when I wasn’t quilting, I was cooking so we would have plenty of leftovers for lunches this week.

You’re Halfway There

Ken and I insanely decided to go to the mall Weds. night. Well, I guess I was the instigator. I was tired of all the leftovers and wanted something else to eat for dinner, and I needed one more small gift for Dear Niece-almost 11, and a cheese spreader (one of those little short squat knives) for my dip for the Knitting Christmas party on Saturday.

First of all, when I got home, and I got home a little late because I had to gas up, although I gassed up for $3.02 a gallon (whoop whoop), and Ken says, “Wait ‘til you go downstairs and see what your son has done.” (Yes, we call the cats our kids, I know, obnoxious, but they are as close to kids as we are going to get, for reasons which will be obvious when you see how poorly they behave.)

This is what greeted me. Not one,

Not two,

But three rolls of toilet paper mutilated.

And he had the whole package dragged out of the closet but apparently he ran out of artistic inspiration.And really he only gave the 1st on the “full Leo” treatment, so I guess we should be grateful.

Apparently someone (not me) was the last one to leave the house and left the bathroom door open (ahem.)

So the mall was all that is usually is, only more crowded because of Christmas shopping and more obnoxious therefore. Lots of people in line to see Santa. Ken thought I was overly snippy to the poor checkout girl at Crate and Barrel when I bought my cheese knife (just because I said “nope” when she said “now if I can just have your phone number,” instead of being more polite, “I’m sorry, I don’t give that out,”) well, sorry it it not my week to be friendly.  Ken had teriyaki chicken for dinner and I had fried fish tacos where were not as good as they should have been.

Then we went to Williams-Sonoma because I still have a gift card from last year that I need to use. I am thinking about a pizza stone, but where will I store it? I have a small kitchen. The drawer under the stove is already full of cookie sheets and cake pans. The other thing I wanted was a pastry cloth, which W-S apparently no longer carries, except for a Silpat version which is not cloth, it is silicone, if I wanted to use silicone I would roll out pastry on my Silpat baking sheets. I don’t like how they get all weird textured and sticky after awhile, so I was not going to get a Silpat pastry sheet. Rrrrrrrrrr.  The helpful lady tried to tell me to go to JoAnn fabric and get cotton duck to use as a pastry cloth, and OH, I don’t think so. Or a tea towel, no that is not what I had in mind either…….So we didn’t get anything there.

Then we ventured downstairs in the mall to try and find the niece something dolphin or mermaid related. The Flatirons Crossing Mall has a temporary holiday store “Dickens Village” or “Dickens Marketplace” or something like that, and it is full of little booths from local hand-crafters, the East Boulder County Artist’s Alliance, things like that. Well, Ken zeroed in on a booth. I have been telling him I don’t need anything for Christmas. I might have to change my mind. This is a gentleman from Loveland who makes glass sea creatures, and I kind of have a thing for octupi. Don’t ask why, I don’t know. Anyway, these are the COOLEST octopi I have ever seen. I just don’t know if I would wear one much as a necklace. I might wear the tentacle more often.

Then we marched back down the mall, whoops, there is Spencer Gifts, the only reliable source for Lava Lamps. I have a vintage Lava Lamp (complete with flower ring and plastic flowers) in which I have been unable to restore the lava to its original grandeur, despite much Google research and purchase of strange household chemicals (pickling salt, fog machine filler) to replace the fluid with. So I decided that I would buy a new Lava Lamp and replace the globe. Unfortunately, the new Lava Lamps are not the same size as the old ones (original purchase of both the vintage one and the new one was a few months ago). So now I had a Spongebob Squarepants Lava Lamp with the wrong size globe to replace my vintage one, and not enough fluid/lava to replace the inner contents. BUT! Spencer Gifts had Lava Lamps on sale. So I got another Sponge Bob, together the two will allow me to refill my Vintage “Enchantress” model to its full glory. Pictures will follow. AND, I was very polite to the young man who helped me, despite the fact that the one who looked like he was about 12 years old and got the lamp down from the shelf said he would ring me up but he “wasn’t authorized” and I had to wait in line while the one who apparently was authorized was doing something inexplicable with the customer ahead of me. SO THERE WAS MY GOOD DEED FOR THE DAY.

OK, now we can continue down the mall, avoiding all the people who want to slather you with lotion or straighten your hair or whiten your teeth, or have you sample some tea.

Looked at men’s scarves for Ken at Macy’s. Of course, he has a color in mind that is somewhere between tan and cream, and he doesn’t like fringes, and we aren’t going to buy him a cashmere one anyway. I checked out the Crockpots, and they didn’t have the one I was interested in in stock, so that was futile. I said, “I just want to go home and be crabby,” and Ken said “You’re halfway there,” so on that note, we departed.

And, I discovered I can’t find my new nifty red scarf I bought in Yuma, Colorado in August, so that is also making me crabby. As soon as I find something that is missing (glue stick in this case) something else goes missing. Bah. Humbug.

Leo Discovers the Delights of Yarn

When Leo was but a mere lad, he discovered that his mommy had yarn, which was really fun to play with.

You can go DOWN the stairs and UP the stairs, and around the banister.

I like this color even better.

Really quite tasty.

I like both these colors, how do I decide?

I’ll go get ANOTHER color!

Toilet paper, even MORE FUN than yarn!

This is how you make it real pretty.

Just about done with this one.