Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Joe and Laurie's feast...

Did you think we were finished with our feast just because the 25th has slipped by us? No way! We are still rolling along.

Laurie and Joe live in Alabama and there are lots of deer in 'Bama. So they brought a cooler containing 50 venison steaks... now, I admit, even that is a LOT for a family our size. At first I thought the steaks must be smallish. But no, upon thawing, they filled the biggest bowl I own- and you guys know I own some really big bowls. A BIG bowl of venison steaks. Joe and Laurie were such troopers as they chicken fried those steaks that seemed to come out of the bowl like the widow's oil pot. Never ending. There was gravy to go with. We made cheese sticks for the appetizer- a new thing for most of my kids and a big hit. Then there were crispy fries and creamed corn. The pop was in the cooler packed with snow- bottles of orange, strawberry, and rootbeer. That cooler has seen more action this winter than it did all summer! Her dessert... well, we had to forego dessert- which was no hardship as we were all thoroughly stuffed. She had made two big pans of dirt dessert- a favorite, but apparently there is a BIG difference in "instant" pudding mix and the "cook and serve" variety. Who knew? So we popped them in the freezer and we have had them this afternoon as a mid day snack- enjoyed by a house full of cousins and kids and such. Joe and Laurie found really cool shades at the dollar store and that was their gift to the kids. How neat, and very Joe and Laurie. The scripture reading was from 2 Timothy 2- about being a workman that need not be ashamed.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Will's Feast...

Will is...generous and kind. There's nothing that he has that won't be yours if he thinks you could use it. And there's nothing he won't try to get for you or do for you if he thinks you need it. I have a wonderful quilting room to prove it and I am sure there are many people out there who have benefited from his generosity. He's fun-loving and loud and everything a guy should be- he'll watch the movie Persuasion with me and is very opinonated about how much sweeter Ann is than Lizzie of Pride and Prejudice. Then he'll get a kick out of Clint Eastwood. Cracks me up, but that's Bill. He has a way of taking care of everyone. And I love how he takes care of us.

His feast... well, it had his name written all over it. He had a beach party in mind- I am so thankful he resisted the urge to buy a few bags of sand- though I hardly think the floors would have suffered from it... Beach Boys were blasting from the CD player. He strung a volleyball net across the dining room. There were plastic tableclothes and plates and forks. He grilled out- in the garage- burgers and hotdogs and we fixed baked beans and mac and cheese (our friends Scott and Nena joined in the fun.) He had his drinks chilling in a cooler filled with snow. And for dessert he had chocolate cake and as his gift... well, he bought these foam sun visors and letter stickers with dolphins and fish and such to decorate your own visor. He always gives his guests a giant chocolate bar, and he didn't disappoint this year. We had so much fun and our guests were such good sports with our sillyness. He read 1 Tim. 5:6-12 about being content and pursuing better things.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Paul's feast...

Here's Paul. He was surprisingly agreeable about posing for a picture. I'll not look a gift horse in the mouth. He is 15 and has always seemed older than he is- but it looks like he is catching up with himself. Sigh. He is a very good kid. Tends to be quiet- except when he is ordering the "little maggots" around. Then he bellows and the little ones just giggle and squeal because it's impossible to take him seriously- if he were really angry he'd be real quiet. Plus, he has a real soft spot for the little ones. He loves football and everything sports. His asthma slows him down a little these days- not that he would ever admit it. He's singularly stubborn. He's bold. And very spiritually minded. And we just love him to peices.

His feast was... well it was a bit Chinese. He had paper lanterns and candles on the table- not near each other. Paul had fortune cookies and chopsticks with his dinner along with sweet and sour chicken and rice- for the appetizer. Paul always has a way of going overboard, but no one around here seems to mind! His main course was pasta shells and cheese, homemade. Pretty good I must say. He had bought all the kids a round Coke- have you seen those bottles? They are so cute. But just in case they needed more to drink he had sparkling grape juice in the fridge. See? Always planning for things. And sure enough we drank it all. His dessert was a peach skillet cake with vanilla ice cream- very small servings as everyone was stuffed. His gift was an assortment of candy. The scripture reading was the end of Col. 3 and the beginning of Col. 4, about being the kind of servant we should be.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Abraham's feast...
Most of you already know Abe- but let me introduce him to the rest of you. He's 6 and a typical 6. In so many ways. He loves to be read to- he will sit and listen for hours if I could read that long. He loves to run around the house on all fours and swordplay is one of his favorite things to do- he looks really cool brandishing his sword of pvc piping. A Nerf Sword is on his Xmas wish list. He is very sweet and loving-gives lots of kisses and hugs and snuggles. His sisters insist that he sleep with them on the nights that are especially cold- according to them he is a "heater." He usually gives in but sometimes he puts his foot down and they are stuck on their own. And yes, he has a shiner and a tooth missing. Adorable. That's Abe. Adorable Abe.
His feast was a "Feliz Navidad." We rehung the red chili pepper lights- Abe's favorite color is red. He had lots and lots of candles- Dad and I were nervous the whole meal. He had fresh pineapple and oranges for his appetitzer. And then he had a mexican meal of tacos and nachos- of which we have leftovers- still cooking for two more guys. We bought bottles of Mexican pop for his drink- the kids always like it when they get their own bottle. The pop was red. Of course. His dessert was a white cake with chocolate icing. About a third of the way through frosting the cake, he asks for me to finish it for him because, "I'm not an expert at everything." He had a few holes in his cake, but nobody minded. His gift we found at the dollar store. They are squishy balls that are covered in a net- when you squeeze them they bulge out grotesquely. The kids love 'em. Bill read Psalm 103- about the gift God gave/gives to us and how great is His love towards us.
Now we are having a bit of snow- like powdered sugar sifting down from the sky- beautiful.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Favorite things...
Seeing the end of that quilt move up past the bar. WOW! What a great sensation that brings to my heart. To know I am within reach of the end of a project. This particular quilt was a biggee- a king size. So the end was especially thrilling. I have a pillow scarf to quilt that is a match for it, but the biggest part of the job is done and I'm loving that. And it turned out so pretty. This quilt was made by my Aunt Isobel. She has since bought her a "little" quilting machine- I am sure it seems plenty big to her- just not so big that she'd want to quilt a king size quilt on it. But she is have a blast with it and table runners. She's been bitten by the quilting bug. there is such a feeling of accomplishment when you can quilt your own projects.
The batting in this quilt is "Green." Quite literally. It is made from 28 2-liter bottles. How cool is that? It is lightweight and yet very warm. I think Aunt Isobel is going to like it as much as I do. There is almost no lint and it quilts up lovely. You should try it next time- Quilter's Dream Green.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Favorite things...

I love key lime pie and this is one of the easiest recipes I have ever used. It is just delish!

Key Lime Pie

one 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup of Nellie and Joe's Key West Lime juice(found in better supermarkets)

combine milk, egg yolks, and lime juice and mix well until smooth.
pour filling into a 9" graham cracker pie shell
bake at 350* for 15 minutes
Cool, refrigerate until chilled and top with whipped cream.

So simple and sooooo good.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Eva's feast...
Sweet Eva. Sweet sweet Eva... Will and I had five boys in a row. When I was pregnant with Eva people would ask if I thought it was a girl this time and I would just laugh. How could it be? Well, it was! The sweetest girl ever and everything a mama could want in a daughter. She is so good to her sometimes bossy younger sister and she is so patient with a sometimes demanding younger brother. She's just as sweet as she can be and is growing into quite the young lady. She has her Grandfather's chin and her Grandmother's kind and thoughtful disposition. She is one of those rare people who "get" other people. She understands why people are the way they are. A real joy.
She had her feast last night- we had a guest. Mr Jim, a widower from church. She had decorated the table with a pink tablecloth and the same lights that John used on the flying saucer. Yes, she mixes pink with red, white and blue and green. It worked! We were so excited about our company, we completely forgot about our appetizers. So we sat at the table and had chicken velvet soup and corndogs. We fixed a very large pot of soup and there was none left over as Paul had four bowls and I am pretty sure that most of the other boys had almost as much. Mr. Jim announced that it was the best soup he ever had and Eva just glowed. Eva made toast to go with the soup. And for dessert she served a HUGE cookie stuffed with M&Ms and frosted with buttercream icing. Her drink was a buffet full of different flavors of Mountain dew- there are quite a few out there and she didn't know which one her brothers liked best, so we got them all. Her gifts were Pez dispensers with different characters to suit each person. Bill read Philippians 2:3- about not being selfish and putting others before ourselves.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Favorite things...
Every December, I like to take pictures of my favorite things and post it here. So...
I got new shoes, I got new shoes!!! Sound like a two year old, don't I? But I love new shoes!! This is my first pair of new winter shoes in 9 years so you can't say I am some kinda compulsive shopper for new shoes. I just like really nice, expensive shoes and I can only afford them once a decade! Giggle. These are my new Birkies and I think they are the cutest things ever. No, they don't minimize the size of my foot- when you wear a 9.5 (42 in Birk world) nothing is going to make your foot look small. My toes have room to wiggle and the footbed is sooooo soft! I ordered them online and got free shipping and there they were on my doorstep! I got new shoes, I got new shoes!!

Monday, December 07, 2009

John's feast...
This is that precocious kid in the movies that you don't think really exists. Yes, he does exist and his name is John. John is constantly inventing things- wooden bikes, every gadget imaginable and duct tape is his favorite medium. The kid can make anything with duct tape. He is a very pleasant child that needs no entertaining- he is perfectly capable of doing that for himself. He loves to sew and seconds only myself at time spent at the machine. He is getting ready to quilt his first quilt- all he needs is a sheet for the backing. He is constantly, and I do mean constantly, smiling.
His feast, well... it had a theme. "Alien Invasion." Only John. That's a flying saucer up there, hanging from the ceiling- complete with lights. Made from a hula hoop, aluminam foil and, of course, duct tape. He had some flashing white lights trailing behind it. He had me play with the dimmer switch to the lights as he invited his guests in. They were impressed. His appetizer was chocolate stuffed crescent rolls, and blue jello with fruit in it, in stemware. Then he served fetticini alfredo that was colored a lovely shade of kelly green...made perfect sense as it was alien food. Bread sticks were in their natural state. Blue punch. Ice cream with your choice of candy bar topping. His gifts were tiny kaliedescopes. Bill read Colosians 3, putting on the new man and putting aside the old one. Despite the odd color of the food, everyone ate their fill and we have leftovers galore- I guess I was still fixing food for two other men... two young men that I miss a whole lot at our special meals. But I am blessed to have the six healthy children home with us. And I know those two boys of mine are happy and healthy and enjoying the blessings God is giving them.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Feast Days!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, it's that time of the year, again! Didn't the year just fly by? But I must admit that I am very thankful to be here on this side of it! Most of my blog readers have been waiting patiently for this day, but for the newbies here~

Explanation of Feast Days:

  • Quite a few years ago, I decided that the holiday season was just too full of thoughts and energy surrounding the "stuff we get." (As the parent of 8 children, I just didn't see any way around the holidays being a disappointment because of tight finiancial circumstances.) Children are naturally generous, but we can really ruin that by making the holidays about material things- which, let's face it, they won't remember a month from now, much less as they grow into adults.

  • So I decided to use, loosely, the lesson of Esther and create a month of meditation on the "service we give." Let's just try to do something simple in the service of others. Acts of kindness. Memories of time spent with family that will last them a lifetime. Not about stuff that money can buy, but about service that can be freely given.

  • Hence, Feast Days! On the first day of December, the children draw numbers to set up the sequence of Feast days- all fitting within the month of December, but may overflow into January. After the numbers have been drawn they all meet with me, individually, in my room and make out their menu for their Feast. It's all a grand secret. It becomes obvious that they have been putting a lot of thought into their menus for several months- and keeping it a secret- amazing! They try their best to choose dishes that are family favorites- ones they know their brothers and sisters will love. They also plan how they are going to decorate the kitchen and what small gift they hope to give their siblings- there is a $5 limit on all 6 gifts and decorations, so you can imagine they are quite simple- like a pretty sparkly pencil, a holiday cup or a fancy bit of candy. The decorations can be gleaned from the attic and with a bit of tinsel thrown in, it usually is quite festive!

  • I usually take each child to lunch before their feast and then we go shopping for their ingredients. They have to heft all the food into the house while the other children are hiding upstairs. The kitchen is curtained off from prying eyes and we begin to cook. What fun this is for me to have the company of each child as they excitedly giggle and whisper about who is going to be the most surprised and who is going to like which dish the most!

  • Then, my favorite part. The child opens the curtain and very ceremoniously invites his guests to the feast. The children are so sweet and encouraging about the decoations and the good smells. We sit around the table and Bill reads a scripture then we each say what we are thankful for and after the prayer, the feasting begins. The server is the child who prepared the feast and they always wait until last to serve their own plate. The food is usually stashed away in the oven to stay warm and so it is a lot of fun to see what comes out next!

  • Finally the dishes are done by me and the host. More time together and the feast ends.

Boo's feast...

This is Boo and she's a doll. Just a doll. She is one of those children that is very easily pleased and has no trouble making up her mind about what she likes and doesn't like. Take her to the candy store and she see what she wants right away! No dithering around, worrying about making the right/wrong choice. She's not crazy about big rambunctious dogs- which puts our dog on the list. She is silly and fun- as you can probably tell by the sparkle in her eyes. She loves to dress up and she put on her best frock for the occasion. Her feast was so uniquely Boo. She had all the bacon you can eat- a rarity in a big family. And sausages and then she served pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream. She made little kabobs of fruit and marshmallows. For dessert she made chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing and sprinkles- the girl loves her chocolate. Oh, and she had chocolate milk. Her gifts were little penny mazes- you know the ones with a tiny ball that you have to get to the center of the maze. Jacob won first with his maze. I John 4:6-11 was our reading- about loving others as God loved us and gave his son. We had a grand time, but now I need to be rolled to bed!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Speaking of sampler quilts...
Karen said I could make a sampler quilt if I kept making hexagons... Well, funny she should mention that. This is the new back for my "Bones" quilt. Interesting, huh? I call all of my leftover blocks, practice blocks, failure blocks, "don't know what to do with it" blocks, my bones- you know they rattle around in your closet and make you feel guilty. So I made a top out of bones and black Kona. Even added some improvisational bones to drive the point home. A couple years after I had the top finished, guess what? Yep, the bones were rattling around in there again. So I dragged them out of there- some of them kicking and screaming- and whipped them up into a back for the bones quilt. I plan on bordering it in black Kona, too. But how cool is that? A quilt made entirely of throw aways- I bet some of you are saying I should have stuck to throwing them away, but I like the idea of making something from nothing. I even have saved all of my little bits of binding and have plenty to bind it with. I am going to also use the remainder of thread that is too little to use on a quilt. Waste not, want not.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Quilted but not bound...

but they look much better this way. The binding will only improve them, too. Frame them out so to speak. So many steps to quilting. As my Dad says, "No such thing as a little job."
I'm loving the green one. Used up some batting scraps with these smaller projects. I need to get some bigger batts at the local quilt shop this weekend- she is having an early bird special and I plan on being there when the doors open. I am completely out of batting and how can one quilt without it? Does make for interesting times when you are splicing little bits together- trying to make sure you are using all the same loft... I could just say that I meant for there to be mountains and valleys in the quilt. Yeah, I'd buy that.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Looks like the pinks won...

But really, there was a compromise as I added green coping strips to the center block. Don't you wish there were coping strips for people? Things that would help us fit in? I digress. So I sewed this one together and not for me. And then I found a pattern for an easy pineapple block and sewed that up- like that much more. I just left off the last two rows of strips on the corners. I could see me making a few of those at a time and eventually having enough for a quilt. My friend just wants a little something to put under some hand painted china. The pineapple block is 17 inches and the other(monstrosity) is 28 inches. Think the smaller will suit her better, but ya never know, so I'll quilt them both up. The chevron one isn't as bad as it looks... I hope.
Friday kicks off our Feast Season, for those of you that have been popping in to see when it starts. You didn't think we cancelled do you? Never! And we love sharing it with you. It's going to be a blast!
And Sarah, my "new" look is NOT orange. It's nutmeg. And you call yourself a quilter...sad sad sad.

Decisions, decisions...

What think you? Green or Pink? Just can't make up my mind... I tried mixing them, but the chevrons don't show up that way. It is for a friend and all she said was pink and green- which there are tons of shades of both, so... decisions, decisions.