What a fun idea!

On the Cup Of Jo blog a while back, Joanna Goddard wrote about a fun thing that she found on photographer Katie Sokoler’s blog, Color Me Katie.

In this post, Katie shows how she cut up a variety of photos of family and friends and planted them around her house. These guys crack me up!

I’ve cut up my own photos before. This is me with my oldest son, Chris, being held up in a magnetic photo holder that happens to look like a friendly alligator. But I know I need to put more of us throughout the house. Isn’t this a fun idea!

Easy sauteed sweet potatoes…

My husband, Steve, does all our cooking (except desserts, that’s me). This is a dish he cooks often that I told Mary (from New Braunfels) that I would share with you. It serves six; may be scaled for larger or smaller amounts:

Six medium sweet potatoes (if you can’t find medium ones, get two small ones per person or one large one for every two people)

About a tablespoon of olive oil (maybe a bit more)
2 tablespoons butter (optional)

Cut the ends off of the sweet potatoes. Peel using a regular potato peeler – you may have to give some areas of the sweet potatoes two passes to get them peeled properly. For irregularly shaped sweet potatoes, you may need to cut them into smaller pieces so they peel more easily.

As you peel them, put the sweet potato pieces into a bowl with water. Drain the water off of the sweet potatoes, and cut them into bite-sized pieces.

I cut the pieces in half longitudinally first, then slice transversely into pieces about 1/4 inch thick. This gives half-round pieces that cook evenly. For big sweet potatoes, cut them into quarters longitudinally and 1/4 inch slices.

While you are preparing the potatoes, heat a skillet that will accommodate the amount of sweet potatoes you are cooking. A wide and flat skillet works better than a rounded deep one, and a well-seasoned heavy-duty non-stick skillet works better than other kinds.

Heat on medium-low heat until warm. Add olive oil to skillet, swirl to coat (remember to scale the amount of oil to the amount of sweet potatoes) and add the sweet potato pieces. Swirl them around in the skillet to coat the bottoms with oil.

Adjust the heat so that the sweet potatoes cook, but so that they don’t cook too quickly – too much heat and they will burn. Allow to cook for several minutes, swirling a time or two to keep them from sticking. Turn with a wide spatula. Allow to cook several more minutes, browning the pieces slowly. As the sweet potatoes get more cooked, turn down the heat and turn the potatoes more frequently. When you turn down the heat, add the butter. Cook for several more minutes, and the sweet potatoes will become softer and browner. As they get more cooked, turn the heat down and finish them slowly. Overall cooking time is about 40 minutes for 6 sweet potatoes.

Serve with grilled salmon, Korean barbecued chicken, pork tenderloin, or just about anything else. I like them left-over as well. Enjoy!

Rosy finches…

The birds are waking up here in Texas. They are noisy in the mornings and flocking to my feeder. I took the screen off of the window in front of my sewing machine today and raised the window so that I could take pictures of them.

The cardinals and Downy woodpeckers wouldn’t sit still long enough for me to get a good shot. Maybe tomorrow.

These are rosy finches. Of course, it’s the males who are “rosy”. The females are quieter in color.

Interesting designs…

I read and look at the images on a variety of design websites, blogs, and publications. These are mostly graphic design sites – not quilt-related at all. But you never know when good design in one area will influence you in another. nHere are some blogs/sites that you might like too:

Chuck Green’s PagePlane blog, and his newsletter, are very good. Most of the sites listed below I found first in his newsletter.

Check out the Book Cover Archive. The rocking chair on the the Steinbeck cover reminds me of a drawing I did of my mom’s rocker. That rocker is in my bedroom now.

Issuu is an interesting site with electronic magazines. You can make your own magazine and upload it for free! Sounds like fun if I can stop quilting long enough to actually do it.

The Arts & Letters Daily looks like a great place to find all sorts of interesting information. My husband, the professor, has long talked about the Chronicle of Higher Education. Who knew it was so interesting?!

And this is one of my favorite blogs, de(coeur)acao. It’s in Portuguese (I’ve been told) and I am not bilingual so I look at the pictures and wonder what the words say. I love this 2-tone wall treatment and am going to try it soon in my bedroom.

Happy surfing!

Christmas all year round…

I taught in New Braunfels, TX, Friday and Saturday. The New Braunfles Area Quilt Guild is full of very nice ladies and we all had a good time. On the drive to and from class, I got to see some of the town and I want to share a bit of what I saw.

I sincerely hope that this building used to have balconeys in front of those doors. It’s a long drop to the ground!

This building and the historic courthouse on the downtown square is made from the white rock that is famous in this part of Texas. I think it’s limestone.

Mary says that this Victorian house has amazing lights at Christmas. The owners keep it decorated for Christmas all year round.

The sleigh is an interesting touch – especially at this time of year. Spring has sprung in New Braunfels and hot summer will be here before you know it. I think those folks in the sleigh need to take their jackets off before they melt :-).

Mosaic "how to’s"…

I did promise to share the mosaic a table top instructions. Here is the short version:

1. Make sure the surface you are going to stick the mosaic to is hard. If the surface has any give, the mosaic could crack.

2. Clean the surface from any debris and dirt. If is it bare wood, I would prime it.

3. Buy mastic. This is the “glue” that holds the tile pieces in place. Read the information on the bag or can. I used dry mastic that had to be mixed with water. Follow the directions precisely.

4. Buy grout. This is the stuff that goes between the tiles. It comes in a variety of colors, with sand and without. I used sanded grout because I knew I would leave large gaps between tiles.

5. You will also need a notched trowel to apply the mastic and a grout float to apply the grout.

6. Buy or find tiles, plates, and/or other ceramic objects.

7. Break any ceramic objects that aren’t flat. I put my plates between 2 pieces of cardboard and whammered them with a 4 lb hammer. Wear protective googles!!! Pieces that don’t sit flat are going to be hard to use. Discard what you can’t use.

These broken bits have sharp edges! You can file the edges of each piece. Being in a hurry, I did not. In most cases the grout covers the sharp edges. Unfortunately, my table still has some sharp points that stick up. I’m going to use a hand-held power sander with the appropriate emory sandpaper when I put the tabletop back in place.

8. If you’re smart, you will plan exactly where you want each tile piece to go. If not, you’ll need to work fast and hope for the best. Do some web searching and I’ll bet you’ll find a variety of instructions on how to prepare mosaic tile. In fact, check out the Mosaic Tile Guide!

9. Read the directions and mix and apply the mastic. Don’t put down too much at any one time because it takes longer to place those tiles than you think it will.

10. Read the directions and mix and apply the grout after the mastic has set. Enjoy!