A Little of this and that.....

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

River City Quilters' Guild Quilt Show

I had the pleasure of attending the Sacramento River City Quilters' Guild Quilt Show last weekend at the Scottish Rite Temple in Sacramento, California.  There were over 200 quilts on display. They awarded quilts in over 20 different categories.  This quilt quild is very industrious and puts on a quilt show every year!

There was so many beautiful quilts it was hard to pick my favorite.  I took pictures on my cell phone but the pictures were not very good for some reason.  Usually my phone takes excellent photos but not the other day.  I asked permission from the ladies from Quilt Inspiration blog if I could post their pictures and they graciously agreed that I could.  So thank you again Marina and Daryl!

Geraniums by Laurel Anderson

have had the privilege of meeting and talking to Laurel Anderson before.  She is a very sweet, talented and an award winning textile artist and applique quilt designer.  She came and did a presentation and talk to the Quilt Guild that I attend.  She was to come back and teach a class for us but for some reason it had to be cancelled.    This quilt won Laurel a Second Place in the category Appliqued Large Quilt.  

Lava Lamp also by Laurel Anderson and Lin Squires


This quilt was inspired by designs of the 1960's.  The fabric colors move from dark to light in 9 shades with shimmers of gold and silver. Laurel has a pattern available at her website that I had previously purchased.  Now I really want to make a quilt like this!  This quilt won her and Lin Squires a 2nd place ribbon in the category of 2-person quilt -Pieced and Appliqued.

Twilight Star of Indonesia made and quilted by Susan Kooiman

This quilt was paper pieced and based on a pattern by Judy Mathieson.  It was made of beautiful batiks in orange, red, gold and deep blue violet.  The border of the quilt is flying geese in a circular design.   The very center of the star had a beautiful gold brooch with a purple stone.

View of Arles with Irises by The Fab 5 Group (Carole Pirruccello, Cathy Brorby, Phyllis McCalla, Jan Bawart and Jan Soules)

This quilt was comprised of five different panels that represented five different views of the flowers in the fields of Arles, France.  Each artist worked on their section of the project on their own and completely independently.  The fabrics are appliqued on with three dimensional pieces.  They were trying to render  Vincent Van Gogh's "View of Arles with Irises".  I think it is wonderfully done and can't believe that they did such a great job!

Mediterranean Sunset by Phyllis McCalla and quilted by Laura Jansen

Phyllis McCalla was the featured artist at this Quilt Show.  Phyllis is a quilt teacher, Fiber Artist and Consultant.  She previously taught classes at Cloth Carousel and several years ago I had taken a few of her classes.  She started teaching quilting classes in 2006 but I took my class from her several years later.  She is also a member of the Pins and Needles Art Quilting group.  

This quilt was longarm quilted by Laura Jansen.  Laura is a member of the Quilt Guild that I attend. She does beautiful custom work and her Feathers and leaves are gorgeous.  

The Skinnytaste Cookbook

This is a great cookbook for those who want to both eat great tasting food and have it be healthier too!  I was not familiar with the author Gina Homolka's blog Skinny Taste so this book was an introduction to her philosophy of food, cooking and healthy eating.  She had tried diets and like most people was not that successful with them.  She also wanted healthy "non-diet" foods to feed herself and her family.  She started her blog for fun and to share her recipes with others like her that was looking for healthy low calorie recipes.

The section The Skinny Basics is an important part of the book to read.  I read it over twice to make sure I got it all.  It goes into great detail about Planning Ahead and Eating Healthy All Week, Taking Charge of Your Kitchen, Dump the Junk, Fall in Love with Real Food, Keep it Simple, Forget the Fads and Serve Up Perfect Portions.  The Kitchen Makeover is another good part of the book.  It goes into detail as to what type of things you should stock your pantry with and what things you should get rid of.  It also has great freezer and pantry tips that we can all use.

I would compare this book to similar books like those in the Cooking Light series.  The book uses pretty easy to find ingredients that are in most peoples pantries already and easy to follow recipes.  Most of the recipes can be make in less than an hour and there is a lot of recipes that can be made even faster.  There are lots of great pictures too.  

A few of the recipes that I have made so far, thoroughly enjoyed eating and will definitely make again are:  Slow Cooker White Bean Chili Verde, Chicken Pot Pie Soup, Mongolian Beef and the Asian Peanut Noodles with Chicken.  I plan on making the Cheesy Baked Penne with Eggplant and the Baked Bananas Foster a la Mode this weekend.  I would definitely like to try a few more of her dessert recipes as I am all about the dessert! 

"This book was given to me for free for my honest review from Blogging for Books.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Why Dogs Are

This is a beautiful children's fiction book with beautiful illustrations.   It is a story about a dog that helps a boy who can't see or hear.  God sends him to Earth to teach the boy, Brian, that he loves him. I agree that God loves us all.  I enjoyed the part of the story that tells you that dogs are wonderful, lovable and helpful companions.  I totally agree that dogs are great!  I have always had a dog in my family and consider my dogs part of my family.

"Go to Brian and just love him.  Stay by his side.  Let him lean on you.  Help him walk with confidence.  Let him hug your neck".  Then it goes on to say "From now on I will call you DOG - that's God spelled backwards".  

I really did not agree with the way the author wrote the story that Brian needed a helper so God sent him to Earth to help the little boy out.  The story then goes on to state that because the dog did a good job God decided to send other dogs to Earth.  I really didn't care that the book took something about God and Heaven and made it appear as a fact when in fact it has no biblical basis.  I was really bothered with that part of the book.

I read the book to my six year old grandson Connor.  I believe that Connor enjoyed the pictures and hearing about how much this dog loved the little boy Brian but he was confused by the fact that the book says "God then shouted after him, If you do a good job, I will send more dogs to Earth".   He was totally confused by that and I had to explain to him that it was just a story and not actually a fact. 

I thought the illustrations were very nicely done and any child who likes dogs will enjoy looking at this book but I really wouldn't recommend it to others.  You can find out more about the book at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

Thank you to BookCrash for providing this book to me for free for my honest review.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Sugar Rush

I really love cookbooks and I love looking at them even more.  I can look through cookbooks for hours!  I mean delicious sounding recipes and beautiful pictures but no calories!  I really liked the cover photo on this book as it looked good enough to eat so I simply had to get this book.

A few of the recipes sound a little daunting, and you might need to be a little bit more advanced as a baker, but the photos and detailed instructions really help.  It is packed with 9 different sections of recipes in a variety of different levels of difficulty.  The sections in the book are:
Custards and Creamy Desserts
Eggs and Meringue
Cakes, Cupcakes, Brownies and Muffins
Cookies, Tea Cakes and Biscuits
Tarts, Cobblers and Crisps
Yeast Doughs
Glazes, Frostings, Fillings and Sauces
Building a Balanced Dessert 

What I enjoyed most was that everything is beautifully photographed.  There are tons of pictures showing you the beautiful results of each recipe which is amazing and helpful when you're trying to make a recipe.  The pictures is what really makes me like this cookbook!

My most favorite section of recipes is the Caramel section.  There are several recipes that I'm looking forward to trying, such as the Caramel Pudding, Salted Caramels, Smack Caramel Corn and the Spreadable Caramel.  I plan on making most of these this Holiday season.  I think they will be well liked by my family as they are also Caramel lovers.

"This book was given to me from Blogging for Books for this review."

Master Tips, Techniques, and Recipes for Sweet Baking

Johnny Iuzzini with Wes Martin; Introduction by Dorie Greenspan'
Photographs by Michael Spain-Smith

The First Christmas

I received the paperback book "The First Christmas" as retold by Janice D. Green and illustrated by Violet Vandor to review from Book Crash.

This is a nice 32 page paperback book with colorful illustrations that tells the story of The First Christmas in a easy read for children.  I originally requested this book thinking that it would be great to read to my four grandchildren aged 1 1/2 to 6 years old.  This book is definitely for for small children but I think that for preschool age children it is a little to advance for them.  My six year old grandson enjoyed me reading the book to him and I also think older children will enjoy it.  The book tells the main story of the birth of Jesus.  It is a complete account of the Nativity Story.

It included conversation starters or questions on each page that would enable the adult reader to check the child's understanding of each part of the book.  These questions will help the reader engage with the child and interact with them.  There is also a fun quilt activity that is included at the end of the book.  

This book was provided as a complimentary copy through BookCrash for my honest review.  This book can be purchased at http://honeycombadventures.com/books and also from http://amazon.com/First-Christmas-Janice-D-Green/dp/0983680825

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

God Gave Us Angels

My children grew up with me reading books to them on a daily basis.  Now that I am a Memaw to four lovely little ones I love to read to them just as much as I did to my children.  I try to read with them as much as possible.  I hope to impart to them how important reading is not only for enjoyment and knowledge but just for the love of reading!  So when I saw this children's book I thought it would be a great book to review.  

I had not heard of the book, God Gave Us Angels by Lisa Tawn Bergen, but when I saw the cover I immediately wanted to pick this book.  I loved the adorable artwork on the cover of the big polar bear and the little polar bear with the polar bear angel in the background.  The very touching message in the book- God Gave Us Angels is only made better by the lovely illustrations!  

I had the pleasure of reading the book to my 23 month old grand-daugher and my 6 year old grandson this afternoon.  The little one sat on my lap and the other right by my side and were very still for the entire story.  They looked at the pictures and were eager for me to read the next page.  

The loving message about angels always being with us was very nice to share with my little grand children.  I loved that the book gave many reminders about what angels are and are not. Both of the children loved the book and I plan on keeping it in my "Memaw Library" for many years.  I am sure that I will read this book to them many more times. 

I received this book for free from Blogging For Books for this review.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Sweet: Our Best Cupcakes, Cookies, Candy and More

Sweet by the editors of Food Network Magazine is the third book that I have received from Blogging For Books.  I was especially happy when I received this book because I love to eat Sweets!  Cookies, Candy, Cupcakes and anything and everything that looked mouth watering and yummy is in this recipe book!

I believe this book is extremely well organized with 8 different chapters.  It has the chapters separated into Cupcakes & Whoopie Pies, Cookies & Bars, Candy & Snacks, Pies & Crumbles, Fake-Out Cakes, Show-Off Cakes, Frozen Treats, and Holiday Desserts.  It has the most beautiful pictures of everything!  Every single recipe has a picture of what the desert or sweet should look like.  Some of the recipes even have photos of different steps of the recipes.

There are recipes for quick and easy treats and then there is also more challenging projects also.  This book has many things I plan on making.  The first recipes I will be trying real soon are the Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate Chip Shortbread and the Sea Salt Chocolate Carmels.  As you can see I am very partial to anything made with Chocolate!

The recipes in this cookbook are very accessible to any home cook.  I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves to make desserts.  Happy Baking!

P.S. "I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review".

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mrs.Lilien's Dessert Cocktail Swatchbook

This is the first time I have ever used a recipe book in the form of a swatch book.  Although it was different from anything I was use to, it was very easy to use.  It is so easy to flip through the cards to find a yummy dessert cocktail that might tickle your fancy.

The ingredients are nicely listed on each recipe card along with pictures of the ingredients.  Every ingredient is represented with a picture which is a nice visual way to learn the recipes.  Also on each card above the cocktail name lives an iconic glass.  It represents the traditional way to serve each drink with class.  On the back of every card there is a little tip that pertains to each of the drinks. 

The book contains 50 recipes with 25 hot and toasty drinks and 25 cold and frosty cocktails.  A few of my favorites are Rum & Coke Float, Mudslide, Blended Bellini, Pineapple Whip and Creamsicle.  Any of the drinks showcased would make for a fun and exciting party!

P.S. "I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review".

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Culinary School- Mexican Food

David and I had the opportunity the other night to go to a Culinary School in Sacramento and try our hand at Mexican food.  I had bought the tickets for the class on Groupon a few months ago.  Traffic was horrible even though it was a Thursday night so we were running a little late. Luckily for us quite a few other people were running late, because of traffic, so they gave us each a glass of wine while we waited.  It was a red wine, which I usually don't go for, but it was delicious!  The class was held at a cute Culinary Academy that is also open for lunch and dinner a few days a week.  There was little twinkling lights hung from the ceiling and the restaurant was decorated in a Old World European style. 
The head chef set up his cooking center in the center of the U shaped tables and then demonstrated how to make the three dishes for the night.  He was a very entertaining gentleman with a heavy accent!  His accent got more pronounced the more he drank his wine.  So there was a few times we were like what? What did he say?  He would then walk around with his pan or blender or whatever he was working on so that we could see what he was talking about.

There were 32 people in the class that night so we were divided into 3 separate teams.  Each team was going to make the food for the 8 people in their group.  The menu for the night was Chicken Tortilla Soup, Chili Rellenos and Flan.  David and I took the lead on the chicken tortilla soup.  They had most of the ingredients cut up for you in advance so that was a real time saver.  
When the tortilla soup was mixed up we put it on the stove to heat up and then I started in on the Chile Rellenos.  David had made them years ago when he worked at a Mexican Restaurant while in High School but these were made the true Mexican way we were told!  We fire roasted the chilies then wrapped them in Saran Wrap to sweat.  That made pulling off the skin really easy.  We then de-seeded them and cut out some of the ribs of the chili peppers.  That was suppose to take most of the heat away from the dish.  We then stuffed them with cheese and dredged them in flour.  We then dipped them into beaten eggs and dropped them into a hot pan filled with oil.  They browned on each side and then we plated them and added a little tomato sauce and sour cream.  We also made rice and beans to go with the dish.
By the time we were done with the Chili Rellenos we realized that someone else from our team had made all of the flan while we were making the soup.  So we really didn't get to even see them make it.  David and I both have made Flan before but never in a 8 inch round cake pan.  We have always made single serve size Flan.  I feel pretty confident that we could make this by ourselves even though we didn't get to see it being done that night.

The staff let us go back to our seats and have another drink while they plated each groups food. They brought out our Chicken Tortilla Soup first but it was so delicious I didn't take a picture of it before I ate it! Our soup was voted the best soup of the night so we were happy about that.  Right at the last minute I asked if I could have another couple pieces of the cheese that we stuffed the Chili Rellenos with.  I added that to our soup and I think the salty cheese added the little something extra that placed our soup in first place. Our plate was then served to us and it looked great and tasted wonderful!  My Chili Relleno was a little too spicy for me but I managed to eat quite a lot of it.  David had no problem whatsoever finishing off my plate!
We were served the Flan after we had finished our dinner.  I was so full that I could only taste a bite of the Flan.  It was good but I personally like the kind that David and I make at home better.  This Flan was a little bit more firm and custard like.  I like the creamy kind that we do better.  Plus we had more brown sugar and butter on ours and that makes a really nice caramel sauce over the top.
So I would say that the Culinary School was a great Date Night for us!  We had a lot of fun getting out and trying a few different dishes.  We had fun talking and getting to know a few of the other couples that were there that night.  We will definitely be coming back and maybe trying another countries food.  I think we are either going to do the Italian or the Persian food next.  Bon Appetite!

Monday, August 11, 2014

"Back Lane Wineries of Sonoma" by Tilar Mazzeo

Some of the best wines in the world are made in California, and some of the best California wines come from Sonoma county.  My husband and I are extremely lucky that we live in the Northern California wine country.  We are about an hour drive from Sonoma and less than that from Napa.  We enjoy taking day trips to the wine country as often as we can.  We have visited many wineries in the area but the wonderful book "Back Lane Wineries of Sonoma" has let us in on quite a few wineries we did not know of.  

Even though I was familiar with the wineries in our area I found some wonderful back lane wineries that I was unaware of before reading this book.  The author showed me quite a few wineries that I knew nothing about!  I am sure that these wineries were known by the locals but I wasn't in on their secret til after reading this book.  This book also has lovely pictures of beautiful vineyards laden with grapes on the vines, rustic tasting rooms, wine caves along with farmhouses  and farm equipment. 

There is even a chapter on how to use this book.  It has wonderful tips on how to either take the time for a leisurely lunch and sightseeing along the way to spending a few days tasting and exploring.  The bulk of the book is all about the little known wineries divided into five primary tasting areas. Each of these tasting areas are chapters that list a selection of wineries, their histories, types of wine produced, some wine prices and the tasting fees. 

Whether you are a novice, a sophisticated wine aficionado, or someone who just enjoys a great bottle of wine, this book is for you.  The Introduction sets the scene, enticing you to picture yourself in the midst of striking beauty- tucked along a rural road having a picnic in the middle of a open field, or on the edge of an ancient redwood forest, or perhaps overlooking a hundred acre wildlife preserve sitting with a great glass of wine in your hand, a wine that none of your friends have ever tasted or even heard of. 

 Once you begin reading this wonderful little book you will want to plan a vacation to Sonoma whether for a day trip or for a few days. There are wonderful places to stay in some of the most beautiful country in Northern California.  Then there is the gourmet food that this area is also known for.  All of this is included in each chapter of the book.  

This is a book that I will refer to over and over again.  I will be pulling it off the bookcase for when out of town guests come to stay with me and I want to take them to the wine country.  I only wish that I knew of this book many trips ago as my wonderful past visits would have been even more enjoyable!

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I am still here!

Wow!  What can I say except that was a long blogging break!  I had many challenges this last year that kept me away from a lot of different things including blogging.

My father passed away from cancer last May and I still have not got over that.  Each day is a new day and challenges in themselves.  A random comment about something can set me off crying or perhaps a memory and there I go again.  I can say though that mostly things are getting better.  The good days are starting to out number the bad days thankfully.  Now I am starting to remember all the good things about my Dad and that makes me feel so much better.  Don't get me wrong, it still hurts, but I know that he would want me to be happy and that is what I am trying to do.  I know he is in a better place and is pain free and that makes me so glad and thankful!  Cancer really is a horrible disease and I can't wait til we have a cure for it.

I have also had some health challenges that have kept me away from doing some of the things I like.  One of them being an emergency surgery right at the same time as when my Dad came home on Hospice.  Perfect timing I know!  I am still having residual complications from that but am waiting to get in with a specialist as we speak.  So hopefully that will be resolved also.

Then a few months after that I was involved in a slip and fall accident and hurt my shoulder and neck.  Boy did that hurt for quite awhile!  After quite a bit of Physical Therapy and home exercise it is also on the mend and now I am able to do things without intense pain.  I couldn't pick up or hold my grandchildren, I couldn't sit and sew, I couldn't stay in one place too long without getting uncomfortable but all of that has gotten SO much better!

I am staying busy now with the little munchkins that call me Memaw.  I have been busy with them at swimming lessons, soccer practice, play dates at the park and sleepovers.  I enjoy being with them so much and love being a Memaw.  The only thing that could be better about this is that the other 2 grandbabies lived closer to me!  Hawaii is definitely not within driving lessons.  I am blessed that we do get to see them a few times a year but that is definitely not enough!

I am very involved in sewing and quilting.  I am just getting back into the swing of sewing clothes and stuff for the little ones.  I used to sew clothes for my children but haven't really done a lot of sewing for the little ones except for costumes and such.  I am trying to make matching outfits for the two little girls and that has been so much fun!  I also have an embroidery machine and am getting a lot more proficient at that.  I have been embroidering little tee shirts, onesies, burp clothes and a few baby quilts.  I really like taking something that is pretty plain and turning it into a really cute embellished finished project.

I am SO involved in the local quilt guild.  In addition to being the 1st Vice President of Travel I am also in charge of Community Service.  Right now we are working on making 400 patriotic pillowcases for homeless Veterans in our local community.  We are also gearing up to give between 15-20 patriotic Quilts of Honor to very deserving Veterans at our upcoming Quilt Show.  We also make baby and childrens quilts for several different local agencies in addition to lap quilts for Seniors and several Auction quality quilts for other agencies to raise money with.

So my plan is to try and keep my blog up to date with regular posts.  I think it can be a nice way to put my thoughts and feelings down and let people know what's going on with me!  Here's to the rest of 2014!