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Empanadas

Empanadas filled with pineapple or sweet potato are usually on the shelf at the local Mexican bakery. But what if I wanted to give them a try myself? With pandemic still in full swing or maybe even an upsurge in recent months, cooking/baking has become a renewed past-time. If I can’t go out to eat, then maybe I can experiment in my kitchen……

Diligently I sought out a recipe/instructions on the internet. I could have called my daughter-in-law but although she speaks English quite nicely, I find it difficult to understand over the phone. But I found a nice tutorial complete with videos–I could almost smell it cooking. He made a meat mixture and given that it is almost Thanksgiving, I used ground turkey meat.

Some years ago, I found myself with some time to go shopping in a Crate and Barrel store. How can anyone resist walking out of there without some small treasure at hand? I found a small press—I thought for empanadas–but now I think it might be for Chinese dumplings.

I made the dough, chilled it, and then rolled out nearly three dozen sort of circles. The guy on the video made it look extraordinarily easy–but my edges were always ragged and the shape more like an abused oval that had been through a hurricane or two.

So here they are.

They were tasty; but I think I will try to find a larger press; and someone made reference to finding the dough/crust circles pre-made—or even using puff pastry.

Sunny Skies and a little Wind

A cold front moved in several days ago and the house is chilly in the mornings. Our tile roof absorbs heat from the sun during the day and then emits that heat during the night—but the last of it is always around 4 in the morning. With my arthritis, I dress warmly–although not fashionably with leg warmers, flannel and sweaters and a huge pile of quilts on my bed. I grew up in the Midwest in a house that was heated initially by a wood-burning pot-bellied stove in the living room and then a wood-burning furnace in the basement. Winters were long and chilly.

I thought by moving to the South, I could escape some of the cold—but alas, houses here are meant to get rid of heat during the summer but not retain heat during the winter. Hot tea and warm socks and sweaters and scarves and balaclavas—-and those face masks!

Yesterday was a bit windy but I did burn some of our financial papers, clip some weeds around the beehives, quilt a row on the pink crumb quilt I constructed last month in honor of breast cancer awareness month, and then stopped by St. Anthony’s Basilica in Beaumont.

I did not go inside as I think reservations are necessary but walked around the outside, sat on a bench and offered prayers for myself, my family, and a friend and his dogs. I used to think prayers had to use the right words and be articulate and grammatically correct. My prayer book has a lot of those and I use them at times. Today I offered up the simplest of prayers and felt heard.

not the best photographic image but it speaks to me

Working

One of my jobs involves doing disability exams for Social Security. I’ve done these for three years now in several locations. They are physically demanding as I have just 20 minutes to review charts, take a history, do a physical exam, document notes and then dictate a summary. The emotional toll is worse.

Many want disability because they do not have health insurance. The ACA and HIPPA regulations have not changed things for the better. I could express my opinion in more descriptive terms but I don’t use that language in public…or even in private. I wish Congress had to deal with the same health care rules and regulations as those of us who pay our taxes.

Most of the applicants this past weekend were high school dropouts. Some got their GED later; some spent time in prison despite going to trade school and having a good job; one was wearing an ankle monitor; some had associates degrees in business. Then there were some who missed out on a career in the theater.

Many had smoked, drank,drugged, or ate their way into their current physical problems. And some were just plain lazy.

But the bright spot of my weekend were these two. Bella is a 7 month old puppy and thought she was a lap dog although she weighed close to 50 pounds. Biscuit was a rescue and would sit by my chair with her chin resting on my leg gazing up at me.

Providing a little bit of joy was the job of these two wonderful creatures.

Bella
Biscuit

Wizard of Oz

My local quilt guild has chosen Frank Baum’s book as the inspiration for this year’s book quilt. Held in even years, this is the third book. The first time, people could choose their favorite book. the last one was Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. The first requirement was to read the book–and not rely upon any movie or cartoon version.

There were many scenes to choose from, but I chose the chapter describing being caught under the ice of the Antartic and all the wonderful colors refracted by the blocks of ice.

This year’s selection of the Wizard of Oz was much more challenging. The movie version is very different from the book and while most people focus on the movie imagery, the challenge was to find something in the book to trigger a read of the book.

I started with the idea that Kansas is somewhat flat with golden wheat fields and blue skies. I thought a fisheye version of the fields would be a good starting point and of course, Kansas along with the Midwest have tornadoes during thunderstorms. I also had some hand-pieced blocks called Kansas Dugout. Here is my beginning:

that seemed a bit tame and not proportioned correctly. So I inserted the blocks at the side and bottom.

I thought that was better but then I found some more of those Kansas Dugout blocks.

So now I had a base and it was time to decorate.

Tomorrow I’ll show you the finished piece after it has been presented at the quilt guild

Birds and More Birds

This was a set of embroidered state birds that had wandered around Texas and Arkansas and Louisiana and finally came to rest in my sewing room. A traveling workshop quilt teacher had bought them at an estate sale somewhere and after some time offered them for sale at various guilds.

No-one wanted them—as there were just 47 blocks. They were nicely embroidered but missing three states–and no-, not Alaska or Hawaii. Now, I don’t remember which states were missing but I bought a children’s coloring book to find line drawings of the missing three states. I added an eagle or two as well.

Then I had to figure out a setting for them. They were hexagonal blocks and not all exactly the same size. It took some doing but the top was completed, the quilting in a feather pattern, and the binding applied.

Instead of sewing on a sleeve and taking a formal portrait, I hung it up on a makeshift clothesline on the front porch.

It was interesting to see what birds each state chose. Robins and mockingbirds were popular choices but my favorite was Rhode Island’s Chicken.

Okra in Bloom

Okra tends to be that vegetable people who do not know how to prepare it properly think of as slimy and nasty.

The first time I had okra was in Augusta Georgia and it was fried—-like a lot of southern food; coated in cornmeal and deep-fried. Along with sausage biscuits before they became a national phenomenon, an instant gustatory delight.

In Texas, I had okra and tomatoes–a variation of stewed tomatoes which is a German staple. And then we threw a few pods sliced onto a pizza—and sometimes slice up one or two into a green salad. The pods grow quickly and in the right weather, pods may need collecting twice a day. I hand-slice them as sometimes they become woody.

I’ve also pickled them and have four jars with the pods marinating in spices and vinegar.

What is most remarkable about okra is its beautiful flower. I didn’t know much about okra until I planted it in my raised garden several years ago. I recognized the similarity to hollyhocks; and then when I read further—to cotton.

Waiting

Friday was the 19th year since our world changed. While I had no-one directly impacted by those events, I watched with millions of others world-wide–stunned. I was at work in Liberty Texas Emergency Room; one of the nurses ran out to the waiting room television to report on events as they happened. Patients continued to arrive at intervals and we worked but with part of our minds going over the events and the other glad for the distraction of a tangible work.

This year our world changed again–with something we did not anticipate but instead of the cohesion expressed in those first few days and weeks, there is divisiveness and vitriol—anger the expression of fear. We want a return to ‘normal’—whatever that was before—and before those Towers fell.

Each morning and each day rolls into the next while we are waiting for that return. The most exciting part of the day is ‘what shall we have for supper tonight?” and who is going to cook it? Grocery shopping trips are limited to once a week at most, more often every ten days with husband doing majority. I have been working ‘some’ but not enough to justify all the expenditures of CME, licensing and so forth.

Toby and Dora form the majority of our physical social world with the rare phone call from a son…and of course there is the internet–increasingly unpleasant as the election draws near and people fume at the uncertainty and change we now face.

However, September is also back to school month. For me, that always mean a fresh start, new beginnings, new notebooks and pencils and a new dress and something intellectually new to conquer. Even though my school years are past and my sons no longer need new notebooks or gym shoes, I still enjoy the excitement. And this year of uncertainty, it seems even more important to focus on what I can do, looking ahead instead of behind.

This fall I have taken on the dual task of improving my speaking Spanish and Photoshop Elements 20. And it now seems to also include learning this new Block Editor in WordPress.

Yesterday was a trial run of the Block Editor and Photoshop Elements.

Here is another photo for your viewing pleasure. Unlike yesterday’s image, it s not trimmed and bound. I don’t have a destination or purpose for it—it is a good size for covering a lap while watching Netflix or Prime or even one of those DVD’s stuffed in the cabinet under the television.

Any takers? (after being binding is applied)

Finishing Up

Destined for Boys Haven, I finished the binding on this one last week. That is a large fish on this side and the back is football field. It joins two others waiting for times to return to ‘normal’.

Powering up after Hurricane Laura

jetsam-mAccording to the National Weather Service, Hurricane/Tropical Storm Marco was responsible for the last minute wobble in Laura’s path to deviate into Louisiana instead of here in Beaumont Texas. Just east of us in Orange County and I’m told they had significant damage. We were on the ‘clean’ side of the hurricane and outside of a lot of small twigs and a carpet of crepe myrtle leaves on our lawn escaped most of the damage.

fern20jetsam-mHowever, our power went out and some neighborhoods will not have power until sometime this next week. Our internet which is quixotic in the best of times is even less reliable.

live20oak20cluster-mFriends and family have called to see if we are okay….now that we are in the ‘feeble three legged cane’ age group—although neither of us possesses such a thing. Running a generator to power our refrigerator, a box fan and our freezer took some doing including dismantling my pantry shelves to get at the plug for the refrigerator—why don’t appliance people put an accessory plug somewhere near the front of the machine?

pink20vine-mWe have power now and we are trying to clear up some of the trash left behind. I took a few photos around the neighborhood—while I could focus on the things that have destroyed or the boarded up buildings, there are plenty of those photos taken by others.

purple20flower-mIt is hard to get back to ‘normal’ whatever that is in these days. I decided I would clean out my sewing machine desk drawers—what a wealth of useless stuff I found! Instruction manuals for a DVD player long consigned to the trash as non-functional, several packages of rotary cutter blades–like most I use mine until they cut like I am chewing on the fabric instead of cutting it cleanly.

down20the20street-mYesterday I brought back an unused cart from the shop to see if I could put the bits and pieces of fabric—too big and good to toss—seems I am related to my grandmother who lived through the Depression and World War II rationing. Today I might do some sorting and see if I can use that new saw I bought to cut up some of the larger limbs so I can haul them to the side for big trash pickup day.

Tomorrow is a new day—we have tonight’s meal planned—pizza from the freezer.

 

You are Never Too Old

A happy childhood is never out of reach according to Tom Robbins. I have never read one of his novels; but this quip has been oft repeated.

One of the things I never did was fingerpaint. Maybe it was deemed too messy or too frivolous or too expensive. We did not have art until fourth grade and the messiest project was the one where we colored a piece of paper with our crayons, then painted it with black paint and scratched out a drawing as we removed some of the black paint.

Recently I thought I might try something new—making books. One of the projects was making paste paper. This is adult finger-painting.

The steps are simple. Start with paper–a fairly heavy paper. Wet it on both sides. Spread some paste (I used pre-mixed wall-paper paste) colored with acrylic paint( I bought a six pack of acrylic paint from Dick Blick for about $6 several years ago), then manipulate the paste/paint into designs.

I used a cut-up foam brush; the bottom of a thread cone; some sort of rubber grid from the grouting section of Home Depot and a scrubbie. The paper was ‘pastel’ paper.

I hung it to dry on my makeshift clothesline. paste20paper20lineup-m

Now I have a nice selection to use as book-covers or maybe even the pages of a hand-made book.

It has been fun learning a new craft–the terms, the forms, the artists. And a challenge to use what I have. I have no idea why I had pastel paper; I don’t recall ever working with pastels—but experimenting and learning new things is a happy childhood.

Here are closer-ups of the papers;paste20papter202-mpaste20paper201-m