Friday, August 1, 2014

Goals for Next Week


Goals for the week ending August 8, 2014

1. Spiritual
     Daily Bible Reading
2. Physical 
     Exercise 5 days 12 minutes
     Healthy Breakfast, Lunch, and Snack

3. Quilting
     Cut and piece blocks for guest room quilt

4. Reading
     The Guns at Last Light by Rick Atkinson. 
     The Year 1000 by James Lacey
     Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield
5. Home
     Print Rome Door photos
     Begin water well installation

6. Cooking
     Cranberry-Pecan Muffins
     Beef and Bok Choy Stir Fry

6. Personal
    Make appointment for annual physical
    Waste lots of time with kittens


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Around OakMeadows


It has been busy around OakMeadows. We adopted 2 little black kittens from the local animal shelter 2 weeks ago. I wanted to take them immediately to our own vet because experience has taught me that animals from shelters (especially kittens) are often sick. Long story, short: I didn't but I should have. They have now been treated for worms and ringworm and a bacterial infection. Fortunately, JMM and I are quite experienced at getting medication into cats. Now for the good part: They are darling and cute and I can waste more time watching them than even on the Internet.  Our two older cats were not pleased but have more or less adjusted. 

We have had the house painted. It looks so nice!  I found the painters using Angie's List and they really did a good job at a reasonable price.  They next big project is having the water well put in. 

My healthy habits campaign is going well with the exception of the exercise portion.  Healthy breakfast, healthy snack, healthy soup or salad for lunch, water every day. 

My makeover for the guest bedroom is coming along. I am making a new quilt and pillow shams for the bed. The pattern is easy but it is queen-sized so it requires 56 blocks and will therefore take some time.  I still haven't been able to wrangle JMM into making the prints of the Italian doorways but maybe soon....

I have made the reservations for our trip to Yosemite next spring.  I think it will be wonderful.  

Since I had such good luck with my Soup Project last year where I learned to make one new soup each month, I have decided to do a Muffin Project where I learn to make one new muffin recipe each month. I got some muffin cookbooks from the library and picked out 12 mostly healthy muffin recipes. August will be Cranberry-Pecan muffins. I'll post the results and if they are good, I'll post the recipe. 

Lots of good reading. I seem to be in a History pattern: An Army at Last Light by Rick Atkinson and The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin are in progress. I finished Galveston and the Civil War by James M. Schmidt. What a pleasure it is to have time to read!

All is so very well here at OakMeadows. Lots of love and pleasant things to do in beautiful surroundings. Life is excellent.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Galveston and the Civil War by James M. Schmidt

Galveston and the Civil War by James M. Schmidt 

I certainly learned a lot about the history of the city where I was born and grew up.  It is rather embarrassing that I had given virtually no thought to the fact that Galveston was a prominent slave market.  What little I thought about slavery, I thought that it was of little importance in Texas.  But that was far from the case. Slavery was a major factor in the economy of Texas, both as a market for the buying and selling of slaves and as the producers of the export products of Texas, namely cotton.  As the Civil War approached and began, much discussion was given to whether Texas should join the Confederacy or simply leave the Union and revert to its prior state as an independent republic. And slavery would continue on either path.  The citizens of Galveston voted in a referendum overwhelmingly to leave the Union and thereby assure themselves of the continuation of slavery. 

Galveston fell to the Union in 1862 but was recaptured by the Confederates on New Years Day, 1863 and remained so for the rest of the war. As the war progressed, first New Orleans fell to the Union and then Mobile, Alabama fell, leaving Galveston the only major port on the Gulf Coast remaining in Confederate hands.  Galveston was a major center of blockade running until the very end of the war.  

Food and medical supplies became more and more scarce for both soldiers and civilians as the war dragged on. To make matters infinitely worse in the summer and autumn of 1863, Galveston was hit by one of its periodic epidemics of yellow fever. 

The war finally ended and on June 19th the slaves were formally emancipated.  Juneteenth is still celebrated by African-Americans in Texas.  The re-building of Galveston began immediately. 

I enjoyed this book because it gave me information on a subject that I really had given very little thought to about my hometown.  

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Quilts and Quilting

One of my earliest childhood memories is of playing under the quilting frame as my mother quilted.  I still have a quilt that she made using a WW II wool Army blanket as batting.  However, I didn't start quilting on my own until I was in my 30s and took a class at The Quilt Patch in Houston where Sarah Minor taught us how to plan and cut and piece the quilt top and how to put it all together and finally how to properly quilt. In that class, everything was done by hand and believe it or not, it was before cutting boards and rotary cutters.  Now I'd be lost without my cutting board and rotary cutter and all my piecing is done on the sewing machine.

I was looking back on some of my quilts and decided to share. So here are some of my bits and pieces.

This was a Christmas present for my dear Sister-in-law.

This was made from scraps of previous quilts.

This one I made up and called it Jewels.

This is a baby quilt that is unfinished in this photo but I have now finished it.
This one is called Jacob's Ladder. This is the third one I have made of this pattern.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Cooking Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Soup
2 cups dried black beans (soak overnight, rinse, and drain)
1/2 lb. Canadian Bacon chopped in 1/2 in pieces (this can be omitted for vegetarians)
3 cups water
3 cups beef or vegetable broth
2 Tablespoons butter
1 medium onion peeled and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup chopped celery tops
2 small leeks chopped (about 1 cup)
1 tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. cumin
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2-3 dashes of Tabasco 
In a large pot, place 3 cups water, 3 cups broth, presoaked/drained/rinsed black beans, and Canadian bacon pieces. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for about 3 hours. 
In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat and add onion, carrot, celery tops, and leeks.  Cover and cook about 10 minutes until onions are translucent.
Stir the vegetables into the soup.  Add tomato, garlic, all the spices, bay leaf and Tabasco. 
Cover the pot and continue to simmer until beans are soft-about 2 more hours.  Stir frequently.
When done, (remove the bay leaf) you can mash the beans with a wooden spoon against the side of the pot or use a food processor for a portion of the 
soup to get a nice soupy consistency.  

I like to sprinkle cheese on the top just before serving.  Jalapeno cornbread makes a perfect accompaniment to this soup.

Meditation July 5

 It is not what to do, but how much love we put into the doing.  We can do not great things, only small things with great love. 

Mother Teresa

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Saturday Poetry July 4

What Makes the Grizzlies Dance  by Sandra Alcosser

June and finally the snowpeas
sweeten in the Mission Valley. 
High behind the numinous meadows
lady bugs swarm, like huge
lacquered fans from Hong Kong,
like the serrated skirts
of blown poppies,
whole mountains turn red. 
And in the blue penstemon
grizzly bears swirl
as they gaily bat the snaps
of color against their ragged mouths. 
Have you never wanted to spin like that
on hairy leathered feet
amid the swelling berries
as you tasted a language
of early summer?  Shaping
the lazy operatic vowels,
cap racking the hard-shelled
consonants like speckled
insects between your teeth,
have you never wanted 
to waltz the hills
like a beast?