Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thu Jan 31: Mild Afternoon and New Rain Jacket

The online friend who got the free sewing machine wrote to me a week or so ago a quote by Mark Twain, "If you don't like the weather in New England, wait a minute." Even though in my less than a month here I have seen snow melting, melted, gone, and new snow flakes falling down and collecting on the top of things it wasn't until these two days that I really appreciated the advice.

Last night it was windy, and rainy and by 2pm it was sunny and wonderful again. So far, it's all so new to me I'm loving the changes in the weather in New England! I have been collecting more supplies than I thought I would, but it's been fun.

So today I went to Shaw's again - first to see if they had ScotchGuard - no. (And I stopped in two other drug stores to check too.) I'll have to go to Target - they have it on their website as being sold in stores. Found some chips and laundry soap that will be nice. Then to a different Mervyn's where they had a different selection of jackets. I tried on 7 and bought two as I can return in 30 days for full refund. Then on to Sewfisticated Discounts Fabrics. Got some cotton batting, a cutting mat, and some cotton batik-like fabric (enough to make a second QFK project).

When I headed home it was so windy the bags were uncontrollable!  They were being blown all about.  I had to arrange the cutting mat to be in front just so I could walk.  At one point the wind kept me in place I was not able to step forward!

When I got home DH was just waking up (he has returned from his trip while I was out and about).  He watched as I tried on each of the three jackets I had purchased and help me make a decision - it was the mid-priced one I'll be keeping.  Has easy snaps up the front, two outside snapped down pockets, and a hood and neck deal that I can tighten if I want.

We ate some chips, he told me about his trip.  We watched TV, and I heated some pea soup and the left over pizza from the other night at the restaurant with his friends.  Then watched more TV and vegged out.

I'm still needing ScotchGuard to spray on the bottom of my jeans and shoulders and backs of shirts and jackets - the coat too.  And I think pins and needles are all I need to proceed with the QFK project.

Amazing collection of weather!  Now I have new proper or at least good enough shoes, socks, insulated pant and shirts,  and rain jacket.

Cutting Mat (18 x 24) = $19.99
3 pieces precut sale Fabric:
1 yd @ 1.99           = $01.99
1.25 yd @ 1.99        = $02.49
1.25 yd @ 1.99        = $02.49
1.25 yd @ $7.99 cotton batting 90 in * 45 inches 
                      = $09.99  
Tax1                  = $01.25
Total                 = $38.20

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wed Jan 30: Long Time Friend

This morning DH helped me make the guest bed with the fresh linens and to straighten up.  (I wanted it to look nice even though she wasn't staying overnight this visit.)

Then around 10:00 we left for Harvard Yard - in particular the COOP.  My friend C was coming for the day - next week we are going to NYC so today we were settling on the dates and where to stay.

We first had coffee at the COOP and chatted away - it was wonderful.

I've known C since 1974 when I spent the year in Sweden.  We have sporadically kept in touch.  First her husband was on sabbatical in Boston - so for my first time here it was to visit them!  I rented a car and we went to all sorts of places - so much fun.  We wrote letters back and forth - she had her daughter a year before we had our son.  We got busy and didn't write for while - then when DS was going into first grade we came to Boston again.  DH spoke at a conference but DS and I had a wonderful time walking around Boston and going to museums and looking at things.  After the conference we went to Plymouth Plantation for days and days while DH worked in the hotel room.  One day I was busy chatting with DS and I heard a man speaking Swedish - but it wasn't any voice - I recognized Cs husband - and turned around and there they were! We each didn't know the other was going to the East Coast or to Boston or to Plymouth Plantation.  It was wonderful.  We had a special dinner and the children played with the maple leaves - by the end of the day A was speaking some Swedish - titta! titta!  (look! look!).  So much fun.  They came to the west coast a few times and stayed at our place and we went to Sweden two times to see them.  In December C wrote to see if we'd be around the end of January and I told her we'd be in Boston - she asked if she could see us and if I wanted to go to NYC.  Of course I said yes.  It's great that things are finally coming together for that trip.  We now have our train tickets and our hotel and will be there for 6 nights!

We stopped to look at some books - then walked back here and got the computer out to finalize the hotel and nights.

Then DH packed and we all left - for the red line T.  DH rode with us as far as Park - where we got off, made our way to the green line where we got off at Government Center - right in front of Faneuil Hall!  (He continued on to meet his friend - they are going to RI for the night.)

C and I went to Durgin Park Restaurant in Quincy Market behind Faneuil Hall (she had said it was one of her favorite places to eat in Boston).  We had lobster rolls and split a key lime pie.  Yum!

About to do the "hunch" and eat the lobster roll!
Then we walked to the train station - bought our tickets to NYC and I saw her off.  The train tracks are not announced until the last minute so you have to stare at the board to know where to go so you get a good seat.

After that I walked back - stopped at stores to try on jackets.  And I mean stores and jackets.  Many of them.  I passed by the $270 ones, and started with $140 ones and end up with a $29 one that was missing a belt and really is too big for me - but I think with the extra layers that I have now I will be fine.  Especially if I can get some ScotchGuard to spray on it!  I made it back to Park Street station and got off at Harvard.  It started to rain a bit on the way home - stopped to get some fruit and yogurt (and yes an oatmeal cookie) before coming home.

June in plain black, next to stylish C
The temperature is very mild - above 60 degrees I think - I didn't need to turn the heater on!

Started the laundry, called and chatted with C for a long while, sent some photos and text messages to DH and now will go to bed!

Oh and I walked all day in my new rain/snow shoes - very nice.

I'm a Winner: Pheasant Hill Dessert Roll and pattern, Dessert for Two

A most generous drawing at Kansas Trouble Quilters!

I won Pheasant Hill Dessert Roll and pattern, Dessert for Two.

Looking forward to these items - what fun!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tues Jan 29: New Shoes!

Yet again today I was not able to get up early - wasting too much time....

Made oatmeal for breakfast, watched a bit of the news, answered some emails for business and organization, started to plan my next bit of sewing - and then realized that really first I wanted to get new shoes with plenty of traction so I don't have to worry so much about walking about after or during snowing....

DH needed a break so he came with me to Harvard Square area - we went to a place I had researched last night for Uggs and Smartwool socks (recommended by DH's cousin - will I ever be able to call her my cousin???  I guess I can call her my cousin in law!).  Anyway, the store was out of Uggs and sent us to Porter Square to their other store....  But as we were leaving I saw another sporting goods store and took a chance.  They also did not carry Uggs, but there was a client trying on shoes that I chatted with and she said (as websites said) that Uggs were not really water proof.  Since I've been stepping around lots of puddles and can't even see them in the night this was a good point.  So I tried on what she was trying on - but I couldn't wear the calf high boots - I felt like I had skiing boots on - they were not comfortable at all.  And probably even more it would be a big deal to put them on an off as the opening to put foot in wasn't very generous.

So I tried on a few more getting shorter all the time.  I ended up getting these shoes.  They are water proof, insulated, and have a good sole for traction.  I also got a pair of longer socks - SmartWool and another set of long johns (pants and shirt).  It ended up being $119 - more than I expected, but less than the $150 pair of Uggs that I had talked myself into getting.

I wore the shoes home - store said I could do that and still return them if they did not work out.  They felt pretty good - and peeking under jeans they look nice too.

While I was doing all that trying on and talking (oh I also tried on a down long jacket that looked surprisingly wonderful but was $240 at half off so I didn't consider buying it) Bernie was looking online to find a restaurant to eat at.  The Dunkin Doughnuts was too crowded so he just did that.

He found a very nice place that was on the way home - The Boat House.  We had the best mussels with chouri├žo (Portuguese sausage) - who knew that would be a good combination.  It's a new restaurant.  The mussels and hosue salad were a real treat.  I recommend it!

The shoes were fine on the way home.

Made plans to meet up with my friend from Sweden.  (She will need to leave around 2 or 3, then I will go get the supplies I need to continue sewing the Quilts for Kids project.)  DH made plans to go to RI with his friend.  We watched Downton Abbey.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Mon Jan 28: Not a lot

Not successful
I'm sleeping in too much.  These late starts make it difficult to be productive.

So today so far all I have done it try my hand at making Polenta with Mushrooms.

I didn't have parsley.  I added carrots just to have a different color in the mix.

It was filling and satisfying, but looked a lot better really than it tasted.  I haven't really had polenta, so I'm not sure if there was a problem with the way I prepared it, or it that is just how polenta is.  It reminded me me a breakfast cereal, as it cooled it got less creamy and more like a solid.

I have about about 1/4 cup left in the package of polenta, so I might try this as a side dish and add more vegetables and liquid when I do the cooking.

DH showed me how to access Netflix and other things on the TV, it started snowing while we were doing that, so he talked himself out of going out to a meetup - while I was talking myself into going with him to Porter Square and spend time looking around, shopping and getting a cup of coffee while he was at the meetup.  He took a nap, then when he woke I talked him into going out while it was still snowing to get our library cards and for dinner.

This dog was leaping in the air chancing
the snow his friend was tossing up in the air.  
I didn't capture a leap, but did get the wagging tail....
We are so close to the main Cambridge library - it has long hours - lots of places to sit in the sun and read.  Will be fun to go there and be able to check things out too. He said he felt better but still didn't want to go to the meetup.

Then we walked on S & S Deli.  He got scallops and I got a wonderful chicken with candied pecans and blueberry vinaigrette salad.

Back home we watched the missing Downton Abbey episodes so tomorrow we can watch the one for this week.  With Amazon Prime we could actually pay ahead and see the entire season if we wanted to!

I called home but C wasn't near phone so didn't connect.  It's midnight, I'm going to try to go to sleep.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sun Jan 27: Little more sewing and Walk to MIT and Pizza

I used a pencil and drew my cutting lines so I could sew some of the 4-patches for the Quilts for Kids project. If I had planned my time better I could have walked to get the batting and the cutting mat - but instead I made some calls and sent text messages.

Was hoping to have lunch with someone from San Diego now living in RI but that didn't work out.  I decided to walk to MIT instead of taking the T - it took less than 30 minutes.  Was a nice walk - I brought my coat in my backpack and just had light jacket on.

There were 22 teams at the game competition - it took three hours to see all the projects - what fun.  Very creative ideas and interpretations.  I'm glad I got to see it.

Then we took the T and met friends at the end of the red line in Alewife - there is a nice pizza place just steps away from the station.  We each got a different individual pizza - then shared pizza so we got a variety.  There were many left over slices - but the dessert menu had a photo of an apple topped cranberry bread pudding that was calling to me - so we got a serving to split.  Man, was that tasty!  I don't even like bread pudding - I thought it was a pecan bar from the photo - but it was really good.

More importantly, it was fun to get to chat with J and B.  DH and J will be going to RI this week to see J's house that is under construction.  Will be a nice trip...  Nice for them to get to be together with the ladies....

I'm a Winner! Fat Quarter of Marbled Fabric Linda Moran

I received an email that I won a fat quarter of marbled fabric from Linda Moran via SewCalGal.

Pretty nice!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sat Jan 26: Slow Sewing

I still can't believe that my online friend was able to get me a nicer sewing machine than the one I have in San Diego -  thru Free Cycle!  I plugged everything together, threaded the machine, and started making the Quilts for Kids project that I brought with me from home.  Going well.

I need to get a cutting mat so I can use the rotary cutter that I brought along, but when I left the front door wouldn't lock.  I looked all around -  could not figure it out.  Even called a friend in CA for advice - we couldn't figure it out.  So I stayed in and heated up some soup for lunch, and made a quesadilla for dinner.  A new noise then started in the kitchen - sounded like the microwave but I couldn't figure out where it was coming from.  Finally I figured that I must have pushed the 'vent on' button instead of microwave power on button - clicked it again and turned the noise off.  Then I was watching TV and the gas fireplace turned on.  I sat and tried to remember when I had last touched the remote for that...  It went off 45 minutes later.

When DH came home he showed me how to push buttons on the side of the door to set it to lock or unlock when closed.  I don't remember touching anything there, but must have done that - so now I know.

And we figured that I had somehow programmed the fireplace to go on at a certain time - so think that it's cleared out now.

Boy, I feel like Granny in the Beverly Hillbillies - trying to understand how this newfangled place works!

DH had a full day at the game design competition - he is the designer on the team.  There is also an artist and a programmer - they are all working well together.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fri Jan 25: Car Trip and Meeting an Online Friend

We have not been in a car for a few weeks now, it felt old-fashioned or old-head to get into one today.  DH found he would rent one for the day for $25!  So we got up earlier than usual and went to the rental place, it's just a little bit bast Central T station.  I was glad to have the black neck gator that I made the other day.  We got in the car and made our way to meet up with an online friend who managed to get a nice Singer sewing machine for me for free thru Freecycle!  40 minutes in the car would have taken 6 hours by a combination of public transportation.

She was very, very nice, the machine looks great (I have yet to plug it in) in fact better than the one I have in San Diego!  She also presented us with two mug rugs - will be so nice to have in Cambridge and beyond!

We took her and her two sweet grandkids out to lunch - there was a place right down from the place we met her.  It was really nice to meet her in person and to hear about how she and her husband settled in MA.

When we returned, DS left to participate in a game development competition at MIT.  I did some laundry and bookkeeping.  Fixed myself a quesadilla for dinner and fell asleep.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thur Jan 24: Repairs & Sweet Potato Soup

About a week ago the real estate agent came with workers to look at the chimney.  Apparently when Hurricane Sandy came by the top bit broke so it had to be looked after.  The end to their examination was that they turned off the gas and we were without the wonderful fire ..... until today.

It took several hours for the men to find and fix what needed to be done. While they worked I just surfed....

After they left I started a new soup. I had intended to make potato soup but my hand went to the sweet potato - the yam....  The soup was delicious so I will share the recipe.

June's Sweet Potato Soup

Dice an onion
Dice 3 stocks of celery
Heat pan and put a little olive oil in.
Cook the onion and celery until it starts to turn brown.

Scrape the skin off and dice one sweet potato (the orange kind - about 7 inches long)
Add to the pan, stir.

Add about 2 T vegetable stock concentrate and about 4 cups of water.

Cover and simmer until soft.

Use potato masher to break up the potato.

Serve.  Delicious.  It's a sweet warm wonderful soup and I recommend it!

We had it with the last of the salad fixings - greens, tomato, celery, carrot - sprinkled with celery seed before adding the dressing.

Add a glass of red wine - a wonderful meal on this cold, cold day.

DS called to check in and get some information on a task he has while we are away.  Later my friend H called to chat and get caught up. Perhaps she will take my friend staying in our house out to the movies so that is nice.

DH told me he was taking part in a game development competition thru MIT and will be gone for the evening Friday and all of Sa and Sun so I wrote my online friend to see if I could pick up the sewing machine she has arranged for me to use. - Much earlier than I was thinking I'd get it.  We'll see.  If we can't get the machine then I will get some books to read.  It supposed to snow in the evening so I don't think I'll want to be out and about!

DH received something in the mail today and he has not set things up so we can get Netflix, Amazon Prime and some segments of national new shows. So once he shows me how to do things that will be nice.

I have been reading on how to make polar fleece scarfs - then on to those hats with face cut outs and other cute little things that can be done by hand with the fleece scraps that I got from the volunteer event on Monday.  Will be nice to have my face covered a bit more so my nose does not freeze off!

Now watching Downton Abbey - catching up on missed episodes!

Added later:  Online friend said she would be at home tomorrow so we are going to meet around 10am!  While watching the show I pulled out embroidery floss and needles and sewed two scrap, roughly cut rectangles of fleece together (blanket stitch two times) to make a loop - now I have something to slip over my head and then fold and pull up to protect my face from the cold.  I'll improve how it looks with the next attempt, but it will work I think for now!  Sweet!

I'm linking to Sew Many Ways - Find a Friend Friday and to

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wed Jan 23: More Sleeping in and Oh My Brie & Fig Stuffed French Toast

So I'm still on some strange sleep schedule.  Probably because the days are so open ended and unplanned.  Went to bed at 1am as some work came in at midnight when I was going to go to bed, woke up to finish cleaning the kitchen, then grabbed a book to read in bed an work up at 1pm!  Crazy.

Last night we had purchased some challah bread so I tried to copy a delicious stuffed French bread that we had had at S&S Deli.  The photo I took doesn't do it justice so next time, here is what I did:

Brie and Fig Preserve Stuffed French Toast

Cut the bread in 1 to 1/25 inch slices.
Put in mixture of 5 eggs and about 1/4 c milk to soak.
Turned over and put two think slices of brie and about 1 T of the preserves on one side, then topped it with another piece (egg side in).  Then I returned it to the egg mixture to soak some more.

Preheat oven to 300.

When the four sandwiches were done, I put a little butter in the pan and put the sandwiches in the pan to brown (turning them to try to seal the cheese in with egg but that didn't really work).  

Put the pan in the oven for about 15 minutes.

Served with unnecessary butter and syrup.  Delightful to have as a first meal of the day (around 2:30p).  If I was having company I would add some sausages and fruit.  We were so late with eating I thought it would be best to just eat!

I almost dropped the entire pan getting it out of the oven as I only had one hot pad - I won't do that again!

After cleaning up I did laundry and more dishes. In addition to our stuff, I'm trying to go thru and wash everything that is in the apartment. I am putting things I do not think we will use in As room for now - then will box it up I think and carry to the basement. If we need something I can retrieve it again. I did a version of this clearning at our house in San Diego to make it nicer for my friend staying there, so it will be good to get rid of the duplicates and things I just won't use from here too.

The bed here is a queen (we just switched from a king to a queen in San Diego), it was so easy to wash the sheets and the duvet cover in one load. We are really liking having the conforter. I did not wash the comforter as I wasn't sure what it is stuffed with. I'm thinking polyester as there are no bumps when I feel it.

In the evening, when it was something like 4 degrees we decided to take a walk to the store.  I needed something to drink and B wanted chips.  We stopped into the little food store on the way to Whole Foods (that's where B got the chips before).  The little store was nice, had a good selection of canned and boxed food - and drinks.  We went into Whole Foods and I asked where the restroom was, and was told it was for employees only so to me that's another reason to not go to Whole Foods - so I won't be back there again.  I ran back to the house and B got his chips and went back to the little store for the cranberry uice.

We the left over pea soup I made when A was here and a salad for dinner.  Then we set the over to self clean the mess up from lunch.  B went to bed but I felt like I needed to supervise the oven cleaning so I stayed up and then slept in the living room with the TV on.  (I found a quilt earlier today folded under our bed so that made it quite nice.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tues Jan 22: Sleeping-in and Soup

Determined to really get on east coast time, I went bed at midnight last night.  Slept well, got up at 7:30 and did some email and online reading. Then went back to bed at 9:30 as I didn't want to watch TV and didn't want to sit at the computer....  Woke up at 1:30.  So my  plan did not work....

Had a piece of the earthquake cake - with coffee - delicious!  Then determined to get organized with finances.  Most of my system is online, but when I need to print out or see statements I need to do that...  I didn't get to that stage yet.  Kept getting knocked offline or sites were not available..

Around 4:00 I got up to make some soup.  At first it was going to be potato soup, but then I remembered that B had purchased mushrooms and string beans before I arrived so that is what it changed into.

Mushroom Soup

2 T butter
1/2 yellow onion sliced
1 container of sliced mushrooms
salt and pepper
2 handfuls string beans cut into 1/2 pieces
1 cherry tomato cut into 3 pieces
1/2 carrot sliced thinly into coins

Stir while cooking on stove top

2 handfuls of wheat flour sprinkled on top
left over cream (about 2 T) sprinkled on top and stirred
about 1/4 milk stirred in

1 1/2 T vegetable broth mix
about 2 c water
stir and cover

(I should have added the cream and milk last as I was afraid to let it simmer for long.)

Very pretty and tasty.  More like a mushroom stew really than soup.

We had purchased fresh crab cakes last night that I forgot about until I got the cream out so B turned the oven on, while that was heating I made a simple salad using the left over dressing I had made while A was still here.  I put a little bit of sugar and celery seed on the greens (adding celery, cucumber, tomato) and we had that on the plate with the crab cakes.

I did not go outside today, but B did go and scrape the sidewalk and sprinkle some salt out.  There was no fresh snow outside.  I looked up and found that the YMCA has some classes M T W TH at 10 to 11 that might be on target for me to attend so if I can get up in time I will go there tomorrow to check it out.  At home I do not change clothes for exercise - I just go home.  But now I'd be walking and it might be cold so may need to check into wearing different clothes and bringing it with me and back in bag.....

The only fabric I have right now is about 2 yards of charcoal Kona. I do not have machine yet, but have been thinking of what I will make or do once I get the machine.  What comes first the fabric or the design?  I'm not sure, but it's what I'll be thinking of!

Added later:  We did end up walking to the store in the evening.  It was just cold, but not icy or snowing.  Got bread, jam, butter, lemonade, milk and probably some other things too.  I need to figure out a way to cover my nose while walking about!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mon Jan 21: MLK Day of Service and Snow

 "We are made for this moment, and we will seize it - so long as we seize it together."

I had a nice time at the Cambridge MLK Day of Service - they were well organized but ran out of supplies so had to send people out to get more.  If I had had a car I could have done that - but instead I chatted with a nice lady from Quincy while we waited.  I helped make some ER play kits, but spent most of the time with the fleece helping sort out the scraps into different sizes and getting the colors the really artistic people requested.  I made a few blankets too but mine were plain - it was more fun to sort and help get people what they needed.

I stopped by that quilting store that was having the classes that I wrote about before, on the way home.  The fabric for the embroidery class is interesting.  The design is printed on the fabric, but once the fabric is washed the silver paint dissolves.  

They mostly have knitting supplies in the store - guess they are trying to increase their quilting presence or maybe quilting wasn't enough so they are pushing the yarn and needles.  

Makes me want to knit.  

Maybe someday I'll connect with that - but not now....  Fabric at quilting stores is so expensive - I can't imagine paying $10 to $20 a yard and then just cutting it up.  It would be hard to pay that much to make practice learning to sew clothes from too. Oh well.

It actually was snowing tonight!  Bernie needed a break when I came back so he came with me to the store - we went to the Shaw's store that I found yesterday while looking at the discount fabric places. There were clothing stores nearby too so I got a pair of long under ware and a shirt, B got a hat and muffler, and we got a bunch of food and walked back thru the 1 inch of snow while it was snowing.  We each held one of the straps of the bag so the task of carrying the food was shared.  We stopped for some Indian food at a place very near us, then just got in now.

We remembered that we had meant to get milk at a closer to us place - so we are almost out of that.  If the snow is high then I can't go out as I only have shoes - B has some worker boots so he could maybe go get some milk - but we are okay without milk for a few days. We have a bunch of yogurt that we can put on the oatmeal so B can have milk in his coffee!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sun Jan 20: Day-to-day Existence

We woke early to take A to airport.  The cab came at 6:30am - unlike the way they do it in San Diego, this cab driver company did not ring the phone so we only noticed him outside when looking out in worry....

We are even closer to the airport than we are in San Diego - we were there in like $15.  There was a problem with the payment (usually B pays by clicking online, but the cab driver wasn't told about this so it took a lot of extra time.  A and I chatted a little while he got his boarding pass - then it was time for him to leave so he said bye to B on the curb and left while we had to stand around longer to meet the taxi driver again as only the tip and fee for cab magic (I think that' s the name of the program B used) came thru.  After a while it seemed he wasn't coming back.  B said he could (and he did) take care of it online when we got back.

It was easy to take the T back to home.  On the way we stopped at a new to us bakery, Lyndells.  We had coffee and treats.  Decided to plan the shopping list for the rest of the food we'll need so went straight home.

After a rest I started looking at the various lists of new menus that I've been saving - picking a few and starting to make a list.  Then I decided to do a complete inventory of the spices in the cupboard. We have a wide range of things - only need a few things.

I decided to go out to the discount fabric stores to check them out while B worked on his online class that his taking.

It didn't seem to take long at all to get to Sew Low Discount Fabrics.  It was a big store, with piles of fabric.  The pile labeled cotton didn't seem to really all be cotton, and they didn't have colors or designs I had thought of so after looking it all over (and seeing they sell needles and other notions) left to see Sewfisticated Discount Fabrics.  In that same little strip mall there was a Dollar Store.  I went in to see what they had and got some drain cleaner and shelf liner so I can put the glasses upside down and can line the drawer where I put my shirts so they won't snag as quickly.  Then to the fabric store.  I liked this one a lot more plus they had quilting rulers and more types of batting.  The fabric had different designs and colors than I was thinking of so I didn't buy anything.  Went on to a sporting goods store and saw they had possible hat for B - nice and stretchy without a tassel on the top.  Then there was a Shaw's grocery store to explore!  The produce looked nice and there was a wider variety of grocery choices than I'm used to.  Aisles of foods for different nationalities.  It was interesting.  I got some potatoes, onions, salad mix, cheese tortillas, salsa, blueberries - I think that's it.  Packed it all in the backpack and walked back.  I got distracted with things so didn't keep track how long it took me to walk - I hadn't walked on that section of Cambridge Blvd before so it was interesting to look in windows.  Also, A texted when he got to San Francisco (2691 miles away) and the student left message to let me know he was working with my mom.

When I got home B greeted me at the door with some hot tea he had made for me.  Using "Find Friends" app he could see that I was returning back.  So that was nice.

We heated the left over pizza from last night (seems a long time ago) and ate that for late lunch.  Then I turned on the TV and watched some shows - mainly waiting for Downton Abbey.  We heated some premade pea soup - I toasted and buttered some bread and cut into 1 inch squares to put on top - also sauteed some onion slices to put on top of the soup too.  We ate while watching the show.  We had missed a few episodes but think we are filled in now.

C wrote to let me know she picked up A and went out to lunch with him before he left for his apartment.

So that was pretty much the day - changing to real day-to-day existence here now.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sat Jan 19: Harvard Museums & Earthquake Cake

At S&S Deli
We went to Harvard Natural History Museum today and to the Peabody Museum - it was A's choice on what we did this last day.  

Actually we started by going out to breakfast to S&S Deli   He got the potato pancakes again, I got the raisin and pecan french toast again, and B got the salmon hash for the first time.  All delicious.  The salmon was really a nice poached piece (not chopped up) put on top of potatoes - very nice. Then we dropped off somethings at the post office. I didn't realize there was one so close, but then also I thought the card from the library was going to come in time.  I'm really sorry he didn't get the library card - it would have been cool and it was something he said he wanted.  He could check things out on the web...  Then we went to Christina's Spice Shop to get celery seed (got a large bottle for $2 - they were charging $10 or $12 at the grocery store), and then realized they would have most of the ingredients we needed to make Earthquake Cake - a recipe a quilter from Panama shared the other day. So I got chocolate nips, chocolate drops, coconut and nuts - then we stopped at the Quickie Mart type of place and got cake mix and oil.  We dropped that off at the apartment then continued on to Harvard Museums.

When we go down the street the museums are on the right.  We went in Memorial Hall first - it was beautiful. I can't believe I'll be living so close to all this stuff!  Then to the Natural History Museum.  There were exhibits on different things (evolution, color, fossils, dinosaurs, mollusks) then we cycled back to see the animals.  So many preserved animals.  It was amazing to see, but there was little except for their names next to them - I not even sure how they were arranged in all cases.  it helped to think of them as things, not as dead animals.  You could see one skeleton next to one with the fur arranged like it was going to make a leap and I wondered if the one with the fur felt more lucky - silly.  Too many animals.  All amazing standing still for us.  They even had stuffed fish!  I've never seen so many.  Then we went to see this amazing exhibit of glass flowers that were made in the 1800s - incredible - they looked like fresh leaves and petals. Then the largest collection of gems and rocks - the gypsum was huge.  Then on to the Peabody - there are 3 or 4 floors - there was too much to see in one visit.  I or we'll go back again later.  It might be that library card gets us in for free or if not we can check out passes too! 

On thing that is really great about these museums is how the professors have special exhibits arranged for their classes - they use the museums as a resource.  I've not noticed that anywhere else.  Would be so easy for SDSU UCSD USD to make arrangements with Balboa Park Museums.... Of course not on their campuses like these museums are but still.

We walked back to the side of Harvard that we had walked before to eat at Russell House Tavern.  What we got isn't on the online menu - we got a - get this - brussel sprout pizza and a fig pizza!  What a hoot!  Very nice.  The people next to us were more adventuresome - they got beef marrow that they spread on toast triangles and crispy pork bellies - I didn't see the second one but the guy said it was outstanding.

Then we walked a different way home.  Turns out we are near a Crate and Barrel and all sorts of furniture stores!

Once at home we relaxed a bit - then A and I made Earthquake Cake....

Ready for Oven
EARTHQUAKE CAKE  (From Lib-quilter Mary in Panama)

1+ c. chopped pecans and.or walnuts
1+ c. coconut
1 chocolate cake mix (or make your own from scratch)
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1 stick butter (1/4 pound)
1 box powdered sugar (approx 4 cups)

Spray PAM in a 9x13"  inch pan. Sprinkle nuts, then coconut on bottom of pan. Mix cake mix according to directions (see note below) and pour over nuts and coconut.


Melt butter and cream cheese together. Add the powdered sugar to the butter/cream cheese mixture. Stir to blend. Drop this mixture in blobs on top of cake mix by spoonfuls. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until done.

Note: Most often, I add 1/2 cup grated baking chocolate (preferably organic chocolate from the chocolate farm next door to us) to a packaged cake mix. And then I often sprinkle chocolate nibs on top. Nibs are the crushed (but not ground) roasted cacao beans.

It was delicious and cuts up very pretty slices with the nuts and baked in frosting peeking thru the dark cake batter.  

We had to add about 20 minutes to the baking time.  

We had with milk and enjoyed the experience of making it and eating it!

Added later:  The cake is even better after being refrigerated!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fri Jan 18: Sunny sky does not mean it's warm

I think today was the coldest day yet!  (can't count the day it snowed as I stayed inside on that one).  I finished the laundry then slowly the others got up and I made peanut butter and banana oatmeal.  I didn't know our DS doesn't like peanut butter and banana oatmeal, but now I do.  He ate it all - just asked if there was peanut butter in it.  I thought it was because he liked it but DH said it was because he didn't like it.....  I didn't know as usually it's DH who puts the different tastes in the oatmeal.  It's didn't spoil the day, but I feel foolish for not knowing that about my own son!

We started out for the T - then felt the cold and went back and put more clothes on.  I changed out the polar fleece jacket for a full length wool coat, DS put a pair of sweat pants on under his jeans, and DH didn't have anything more to put on so he just waited.

Then we started off again for the T.  We went to Central Square and were able to all three walk together for most of the time.

We transferred at Park for the green line and got off at Copley Square.  Saw South Church, Trinity Church, Hancock Tower, the wonderful Boston Public Library, then stopped at a Pub in the Lenox Hotel to warm up and eat.  Yum!  I had delicious Guinness Onion Soup Better than French onion soup because "Guinness is good for you," topped with herbed croutons, melted white cheddar & Swiss and was very happy.  Then it was on to the Prudential Building skywalk to see an overview of the city.  We could see we had only explored about half of the view (but I think we have seen the most outstanding parts.)  Then it was time to get back to the T to meet our friends at the Harpoon Brewery for a WPI alumni event - very nice way to spend evening trying out different kinds of beer.  After we went to No Name restaurant for seafood.

Tomorrow is DS's last full day here.  Perhaps he will return over spring break so that would be nice.  We have also invited him to come with us for our summer travels... more on that later.

He told me he had a nice time and that although we could have done more things, it was good to not run ourselves ragged being tourists.

My online friend it turns out does not have an extra sewing machine, so I emailed the lady who was selling her's on Craig's list to see if I could still get that.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thurs Jan 17: Around Harvard and Cooking

Well, maybe this blog is not about the quest for quilts after all - maybe for a while at least it will be about my life on the East Coast.

Today the snow had pretty much melted by the time we woke up.

I went to the store with the idea of getting some milk, but as so often happens, carried back more things. So instead of oatmeal, we decided to make french toast with the challah bread I had picked up.  Next time I will soak it for longer, but the bread was so fresh that it still tasted wonderful with the egg coating, the maple yogurt and fresh blueberries!  

Then we went down the street to the Harvard Art Museums and visited the exhibits open.  Turns out if we had brought our library cards it would have been free admission - but since we don't have the library cards yet we paid and were happy to see everything.  The selection of Buddhas was incredible.  It was fun to see the pottery and rocks, they had a wonderful display.  I haven't seen much Korean work before, it has a starkness that was very appealing.  Then it was on to modern and contemporary exhibits.  Fun to see Picasso, Mondrian, Pollock, Cezanne and more.  The 4th floor is the teaching exhibits set up for the Harvard classes.  Interesting to see what pieces were on display - what a treat for the professors and the students to have such a customize display. I know I'll be going back once I have my library card and plan it so I can be part of the docent tours.

We used an iPhone app to try to identify different buildings on the Harvard campus, but the interface was lacking or the data was lacking so we ended up just walking around again.  

Then it was time for DH and DS's favorite - Dunkin Donuts for regular coffee (milk and sugar).

After that we went to the Harvard Bookstore - not associated with the university - it was a terrific bookstore - at the end we discovered they had another floor that was filled with used books!  Another place to return to later.

Grabbed some lemonade and ginger ale at the store on the way home.

I made a nice mixed salad and grilled some chicken to put on top.  The ingredients were from different companies so the taste of the dressing was not what I expected.  It was okay, but just didn't taste the way I expected.

Bagged Parisan Greens
String Beans

Rice Vinegar
French Mustard
Olive Oil

Marinated for about ten minutes in the dressing minus the oil then grilled until done.  Diced and put in container so we could scoop up and put on top of the salad.

The gas stove is wonderful - very quick to heat and cook.
The water is delicious right from the tap, heats up quickly and comes out with a lot of force.
It's wonderful to be able to walk to get to businesses and places one wants to visit!
And even more wonderful to be here together with DH and DS - they are both so quiet most of the time that I have become quiet to make them happy - but quietly it's wonderful to be together.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wed Jan 16: First Snow

Didn't make a sound, and the house is so warm it didn't feel different - but last night it snowed in Cambridge Massachusetts!

It was fun to see the ground all covered with white, but soon people and cars were moving, it warmed up a bit and the snow was melting.

After oatmeal breakfast, my husband and son went out to clear the sidewalk of the snow.  They made very quick work of it - not more than ten minutes and the entire sidewalk in front of the house was clear.

I had already decided to stay in today and take it easy.  DH and DS each had work to work on so they liked that plan.

After a few hours though I got antsy and started making the soup - and then also made biscuits so it was a more complete feeling meal.

Pea Soup & Biscuits

2 onions 1/2 inch dice

4 large carrots 1/2 inch coins
4 stalks celery each cut in half length wise then 1/2 inch pieces

5 t vegetable broth concentrate
5 C water
2 C peas rinsed

Bring to Simmer then turn heat down and cover.

After about 30 minutes:

In another pan
About 3/4 C diced 1/2 inch ham

Add to the soup pan.

After about 20 minutes

Turn oven on to 400 degrees

Take butter out to soften

2 C flour
2 t baking soda
2 t sugar
pinch salt
2 large shakes of herbs or seasoning

Mix in
about 1.5 C cream

Add flour so able to handle, form into biscuits

Place on oiled pan

Bake for 15 minutes.
Remove lid from soup pan and continue cooking that to thicken the soup.

I have not decided if I will get the sewing machine - or will borrow the machine an online friend has offered.  She does not live nearby so there would be complication of getting car to get to her place - I'm sure it's a better machine than what I found on Craig's List....

Friday, January 11, 2013

Jan 11 2013: First Impressions of the Semester

So we are pretty settled in our new place.  We have the bottom floor of a house near the red line in Boston - bedroom, bathroom, living room, dining room, kitchen and a room with just enough room for a twin bed,  and a laundry in the basement.  So far I have only been on the red line one time - on our way back from returning the car that DH and DS used to scout out neighborhoods and places to live while I was home with my friend who is staying in our place while we are gone (she will also be taking my mom to exercise, beauty shops, and doctors).  For the most part this will be a walking semester for me...

We are close to many stores, restaurants, shops - it will be nice to have the kitchen set up and food in the cupboards.  There was a lot of food left by the previous tenants.  We have had the cranberry juice but I think that is all.  It seemed like a gift at first, but after looking more closely it seems to have been left just so they wouldn't have to deal with trash cans!  Before I arrived my husband went to the store and got fresh chips, oatmeal, Gouda cheese, milk, yogurt, bag of salad, cherry tomatoes and string beans.  We don't know what he was thinking!  Today he bought some of the ingredients needed for my birthday cake, coffee, coffee filters and I grabbed some flexible new cutting mats, spatula, wooden spoons, and hair dryer.  We probably bought more things that I don't remember.

This space where we will be living is maybe 25% of the size of our regular house, but instead of feeling cramped, I'm feeling like having this smaller space allows one to concentrate on what is important - or something. We'll see. It seems very freeing to only have three pairs of pants, three pairs of shoes, six pairs of socks and underware, three bras, 8 shirts, 2 polar fleece tops, a coat and a jacket.  Oh and three pairs of gloves, 2 scarves.

Our son is with us for a while - yesterday he and I had time to walk to Harvard as DH was already starting his research. We stopped at different places on the way there and back, just to get oriented.   Once our son has left for his university studies and my friend from Sweden has come and gone I will have a lot of time alone. So I have one week left with DS and maybe a week with friend.  Then alone.

There is really not space here for a sewing center so I will try embroidery and perhaps crocheting or knitting in addition to cooking, walking and reading.  I actually received an email for a special of $9.95 for a year of LiveMocha that I signed up for - but then the charge was $99.95 so I've written them to have that fixed. I thought I could work on German or Swedish.  There are stores with places here where one can use a sewing machine and have use of tables and supplies for $10/hour - that might be something to try.  I have taken classes that were three hours long though and wish they were longer so the time I need on top of the supplies would make for very expensive projects.  So maybe I won't sew until we return home.

I'm looking forward to the time and hope it all goes well.  I'm also seeing that I'll be on my own for much of this time so it's up to me to decide how to use the time and space.

Seems the nearest fitness center is almost 2 miles away.  I can't tell how much it is or if the classes would be appropriate for me.  Either I'll be getting fit or will just be walking around.....

I just have to decide what to do.  I didn't have time to think before - now I'm a little afraid of what the semester will bring.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

And now for 2013

I'm not sure what I'm going to work on this year.  I have plenty of WIPs, but since I'll be leaving them behind since I can't take everything with me on the sabbatical in Boston/Cambridge.....

I still have not recovered my box of quilt tops from when I first tried quilting - they are in a banker's box in the finished part of the garage - or maybe in a closet in the house.
  1. Evening Star
  2. Irish Chain
  3. Log Cabin
  4. Half Log Cabin
  5. Farm Scene
  6. Tulips
  7. Machine Crazy Quilt

Last night I also wrapped my larger newer projects in a towel, and then put them in a bag in the front closet.
  1. Liberated Round Robin I - needs rectangles and curves
  2. Tumbler - all ready to quilt (basted with Pinmoors)
  3. Wonky Shoo Fly with Leah Day beginner designs
  4. Gwen Marston/Freddie Workshop - in pieces but wrapped together
  5. FMQAYGQAL Quilt for Karl and Heather - blocks done, will be difficult to finish joining them together without loosing a lot of fabric  Will make pillow cover with the larger Leah square and give as part of the gift.
  6. Friday Block Party Animal and other Blocks - blocks are stacked so just need to pick how to finish them
  7. Wonky Log Cabin blocks - stacked together
  8. Baby quilt with light blue background and different red, white and blue 4-patches. - want to add words to the borders, may need to make larger as the baby will be a toddler by the time they get the quilt. This one would be too difficult to bring along on the trip as I haven't decided on the fabrics for the words - the fabric is still yardage not in strips.

Boy, I have to say I've done some beautiful work this year - just didn't finish much to cuddle under.  Even though, thanks to Leah Day I now know how to FMQ an entire quilt, I still have not broken thru the self-blocking doubt and actually do that beyond my samples and practices.

Left out to be used while we are gone:
  1. Wheel chair sized Sampler
  2. Giant Star
  3. Machine Crazy Quilt (tied - put in A's room)

So it's too bad I won't be near all my stuff, but I can make plans for when I return.

I'm thinking I won't be part of an organized online quilting project.  I'm going to pick and choose more carefully.  My emphasis will be on learning and finishing - not to finish a challenge.

I'm glad I did the BlockLotto for the liberated year.  That got me more comfortable with the machine and with the liberated concept.  I won a few times and appreciated the blocks as they freed me from doing all the piecing and I could see how others follow directions.  I'm glad I did the SewCalGal challenge too - although it was not what I expected as the different instructors were very scattered in their presentations and did not build on each other.  Looking back I wish I had just embraced the Free Motion Quilt Along project Leah was running - I only got to step 22 of the 45 steps.  I don't think I'll be able to do the Leah Day 2013 project since I'm not sure if I will even have a sewing machine or space in the apartment to set up a sewing area, but I will read along to learn.

I allow myself to get distracted by other projects and people, have not built in the self-discipline to work on things that are just for me.  The online projects I've participated in except for Leah Day have all had major shortcomings.  Moderators who started sending emails all in CAPS, changing rules, adding more marketing steps, changing sites, dumping on people, not having correct directions, not updating links, etc.  I know it takes time as I also have not followed thru on the Liberated Round Robin as I had planned, for me it's not a business though so I'm not going to kick myself about that.  I'll just do better next time!

Well, need to think about things and what I want to learn and how I can grow.  Hmm - embroidery* would be easier to carry along and work on, and the results could be put into a quilt later on.  Plus, I won a sweet book that has already arrived in an online drawing:

Congratulations!  You have been randomly chosen as the winer of the C&T Publishing S is for Stitch blog giveaway! 

Your winning comment was:
"I do not remember having an alphabet toy or game when I was a child, but the designs are oh so fun. Pls put my name in the hat for the drawing. Thanks!"

I found the floss that my mom got me, I will be set to embroider while I'm in Boston!

* This year they will hosting a monthly pieced project!

Peter Walsh's Advice for an Organized New Year - Video -