Sunday, April 25, 2010

Some of My Favourite Things...

It came and it's gone, thank goodness!
Yesterday we had lots of warnings for severe weather,
tornado watch and so on...
I heard rumbling and lightning and thundering during the night,
but nothing really major here.
Outside today the sun shines on the trees with a new clean shine
and everything looks fantastic!
But not for some folks tough...
I've just watched the news...
at least 12 died in Mississippi after the tornadoes hit!
My heart just shrinks every time! Poor, poor people!
I hope they can get some help really soon!, to start over really... It's so sad!

Well, in a lighter note,
I've accomplished a few things this week.
I've been working outside, trying to clean up and mulch and get the gardens ready for the blooms... and I did quite a bit,
...with my friend's help...
but... still have a long way to go...

Also, I've worked on some Lolitas
and they're ready now for their individuality.

I've finished my curtains!
Chocolate and pink,

checkers & dots & pastoral scenes!,

those are just a few of my favourite things!...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Strip quilting, new curtains making and J's shower

Another week went by, and I didn't succeeded on my purpose
to publish my posts more often...
The truth of the matter is I keep really busy all week long,
more now than in winter time
because of all the outdoor work that has to be done.
Oh!, but I'm not complaining, no...
keeping busy is good, really good!

During the week we had several thunderstorms warnings
but never got any rain.
this post today
is really to let you know what's been going on...

So, a few time ago I started a new quilt,
it's called strip quilt and it's made very much the same way as a selvage quilt (I've been collecting the selvages for ever!,
but still didn't make anything with it).
I've been sewing the blocks and I'm still kinda playing with them,
rearranging the patterns to see which way to go...
Here's what I've got so far:

I'll show you when it's done.

Also this past week I received my fabric order for the new curtains.
Remember when I told about the curtains I've made that I didn't like very much?, I told you about it in this post here.
OK, so I decided it was the right time to make new ones
(ah!ah!, tax refund time!).
And I've been working on it too.
I will show you how they came about when I'm done.

Today was J shower day,
and I thought about showing you all a little bit
what it is like giving him a shower.
I do it every other two days
(remember I am totally on my own for all of his care).
I've started around 9:00 AM and finished around 1:00 PM
(from the moment I start getting things out to the moment I finish cleaning the bathroom, after J is totally done and ready back on his bed).
I get the lifter out,
get the shower chair ready and in position
and when is already rolled in the bathroom,
waiting on me to shave and shower,
I'll make the bed,
getting it done and ready for when we finish the shower
(I'll be showering him with my bathing suit on, 'cause I'll get totally wet).
As soon as he's finished and dry,
it's time to lift him back from the chair and into his bed.
The bed has a low air loss mattress system,
which has been terrific all these years
(J doesn't have any pressure ulcers, aka bed sores).
This is the little engine gadget that inflates and alternates the air in the mattress.
After he's back in the bed, I still have to do his trachea care, change wet dressings, roll him over again and again to get the sling from under him and then again to wash his back (which I can not do while in the shower since he's sitting on the chair), do the breathing treatment, and so on and so on...
After all that, have to clean the bathroom and do the laundry (3 loads every time).
And that's why it takes me 4 hours to shower J.
But let me tell you:
J loves all this routine,
and I would do it every single day if I could.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Quilted wind roses and gardening

Spring has finally sprung:
out with August like temperatures, in with the 70's more April like!

I've been busy busy...
trying to get my flower gardens cleaned up and mulched, mowing the yard, washing the decks and outdoor furniture...
slowly but surely, as J used to say.
I'll get there, eventually!

Just look at my phlox this year!
It's gorgeous, don't you think?
I still didn't mulch these beds, but I did clean them up, trimmed and weeded...
The willows are dressing up really nice
and everything else is coming back as it should.
It really is the most pretty season of the year. I love it!

Besides gardening I've been doing some other stuff too.
Look at this cute fabric paper doll I made
for one of our grand daughters birthday:
I bought the fabric online, a panel with 4 wonderful paper dolls.
I still have 3 left to make.

On YouTube,
I found a very interesting craft, 
a quilted Christmas ball ornament;
so I've tried it and made a couple already:
Thank you for sharing angiejanca.
They're really easy and fun to make.

And because of this project  
I thought of another one,
different but using the same quilting/folding concept: 
It's a wind rose, or compass rose.
Just draw a circle on a cardboard, and fold the 3" fabric squares in a triangle and then glue them in a circle like a wind rose.
I already made a couple,
one red and I called it Fleur Rouge
and the other one is purple and I called it
La Douce Violet.

When my niece saw them she begged me to help her make one...
And here she is, doing a real great job!
She called hers Pink.

And that's it for today.
I've been working on another quilt project that I just love,
but that will have to wait for another post!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Portuguese Cod Fish Stew (Caldeirada de Bacalhau)

Cod Fish Stew
(caldeirada de bacalhau in Portuguese) 
is one thing that always reminds me of my mom...
I've learned from her how to make this dish
(among lots and lots of others).

this dish was made by fishermen while at sea.
They would use whatever kinds of fish they had caught
and cook everything using sea water.
For those of you who don't know Portugal (my home country)
is the most western country in Europe
and it boards at South and West with the Atlantic Ocean.
For that reason fishing was a way of making a living
for lots of people in the past. Not as much anymore,
but fresh fish is still one of the most important aspects of Portuguese cuisine.
This being said,
I'm going to share with all of you the recipe for this Caldeirada.
Once again I'll have to thank my sister for sending me the dried salt cod fish I've used for the stew.
You will need (for 3/4 people):
  • 6/7 potatoes
  • 2 large onions
  • 3/4 cloves of garlic
  • 4/6 fresh tomatoes or 1 can whole or stewed tomatoes
  • 1 fresh bell pepper
  • 3/4 pieces of dry cod fish (after rehydrate for at least 24 hours) or fresh cod fish
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup white wine (optional) or fish broth or water
  • 2/3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Start by peeling potatoes and onions.
Slice the onions and garlic fairly thin
and the potatoes about 1" thick.
Slice the bell peppers in strips
(I've used frozen bell pepper from my last year's crop)
and cube the tomatoes if using fresh tomatoes
(I've used canned stewed tomatoes, 'cause I didn't had fresh ones).
Cut the cod fish in medium chunks (it will have bones and skin if using the salted cod fish).
In a large pot, start by layering  1/3 of the onion and garlic,
then 1/3 potatoes and the bay leaf,
then 1/3peppers and 1/3 tomatoes.
Salt and pepper on top. Repeat this layer 2 more times.
To finish top with the cod fish, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and the wine, broth or water.
Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low/medium and let it simmer for about an hour (remember, slow cooking).
Let it sit for about 20/30 minutes before serving to enhance the flavour.
It's really good!
Cut some bread pieces to soak in the sauce... homemade, or Italian or french, I would recommend.

Oh, by the way, I will post this recipe also
My wonderful daughter-in-law Rochelle is the editor
for the English version of the site and you can read her daily blog about food and food related stuff.
It's well worthy it!
And you can find mine and other recipes under Recipes
(mine are posted using my name, Helena).

Monday, April 5, 2010

Acorda a Alentejana recipe, Pin Cushion Mobile/Wall hanging

It's finished! The mobile/wall hanging with the pincushions
I've talked about here... it's done!
I used some ideas I found in different places
and put everything together as a mobile/wall hanging.
I think it came out really pretty.

This last week has been busy,
and I have been multitasking,
doing this and that almost at the same time,
busy busy busy...

J has been fairly alright,
except he kinda gave me a big scare yesterday,
breathing problems,
and then I realize what had happen:
I had changed the vent circuit like usually,
but decided to add the extra 20 inches tubing that comes with the circuit
(as the RT had suggested before)...
it really worked well, not pulling as much on his trach, or so I thought,
till his pulse and blood pressure started increasing...
a whole bunch!
As I kept wondering what could be the reason,
I decided to remove the extra tubing, just to make sure...
and there it was!
Everything went back to normal!
Isn't that something?...
I was almost considering call 911 to take him to the ER... just imagine!
I'm just so glad I didn't!

Yesterday was Easter Sunday (Happy Easter you all),
but I didn't get to make anything special...
My sister had sent me some Easter candy and dried cod fish
(obrigada de novo Isabel!),
and I had been wanting to make a Portuguese dish
(acorda a alentejana)
that I've been craving a lot
(it has been way more than 10 years since the last time I made this dish).
It's really easy and traditional from Alentejo,
the Portuguese region that names the dish.
So, this is how I remembered it (will serve about 2):
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 pieces of cod fish (the dried kind, after being rehydrate for about 24 hours)
  • 2 eggs
  • 6/8 slices of day old bread
  • cilantro
  • salt & pepper to taste
In a medium pot boil about 4 cups of water, the olive oil and the garlic.
Add the cod fish and let it simmer till it's cooked.
Remove the cod fish when it's cooked, let it cool for a bit,
and then remove the skin and bones. Flake it in small pieces
and returned it into the pot.
Let it get to a boil again and then poach 2 eggs (open the eggs one a time into a small cup and just let it slide into the boiling water).
Decrease the heat and let it simmer for about 10 more minutes.
Slice some day old italian or french bread and place it on the serving bowl.
Pour the broth on top of the bread, with cod pieces and one poached egg.
Season with a pinch of salt & pepper and top with fresh cut cilantro.
If desired sprinkle it with a little bit more of olive oil.
Yummy! I was really craving it!