Sunday, July 24, 2011

Done, Done, Done!!!

I am done with my summer externship!!  Thanks to all the employees - managers, waitstaff, S. A's, kitchen crew, prep, cooks and dishwashers and the owner for putting up with me for the four weeks of my training.   I learned a lot, got some great insight into what it takes to run a successful restaurant and catering company.  I got lots of ideas I plan on implementing into my kitchen at school and how I want my students to run our restaurant.  It was a lot of hard work, sore, achy feet  and lots of sweating!!  That kitchen is extremely hot and having over 100 degree weather almost every single day that I was at work was not fun.  Everyone said that working char - the steak grill - would be one of the hottest places to work, but I beg to differ.  At least working char there is a place you can stand to catch some cold air.  In the kitchen working the line or expoing there is NO cold air!  It is just hot all the time.  I know I am going on about it being hot, but I am one person that thinks the hottest it should ever get is 72 degrees!  I am all for 40 degree days, everyday.  I am a cold weather person.  I am not one of those that relish the heat and laying out on the beach soaking up the sun.  I am all about the mountains and cold running rivers and opening up the windows and let the cool breezes blow through.  So, needless to say, I was miserably hot this summer and I wasn't even out in the sun! 

I have one more week of summer volleyball league - if they want me back since I have been gone so much of it this summer.  Then, I have an entire week of NOTHING!!! before I have to head back to school for a couple weeks of inservice training.  I can't believe it is almost August.  School will start back - with students - in 4 weeks.  Incredible.  My summer has really been packed with working, conferences and family reunion, but mostly working.  I am one of those rare teachers this summer that is actually looking forward to school starting so my life can settle into a slower routine.  Even though my life is not that slow.  Along with school, the restaurant, possibly a coffee bar, and quilting.  I will be keeping the books for Permian's volleyball team and possibly - depending on who the new coach is at OHS - keeping OHS's books, also.  So, for the first few months of school, my life will be as full and hectic as my summer has been.

I am heading to Staples tomorrow to purchase one of those calendar notebooks so I can keep up with all my coming and goings.  The more I think about it, my life may not slow down until NEXT summer!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Great Food

What is it?  Shrimp and Grits.  I had never tried shrimp and grits before, but have heard a lot about them in the last few years.  They are one of Paula Dean's favorites and she even had another chef challenge her in her magazine.  At least I think that was what that article was about.  I didn't read the entire thing and it was several months ago.  I digress.  Shrimp and Grits.  Last weekend I got the privilege of attending the Culinary Educators Conference hosted by the Texas Restaurant Education Association and the Texas Beef Council.  It was awesome!!  I learned so much and got to practice a lot of what we were learning.  Wonderful conference.  One of the best I have ever been to and I hope to go back next year.  Enough gushing - on to Shrimp and Grits.  Like I said, I had never had theses before, but they have become really popular recently.  We had the honour of having the executive chef from Sandra Bullock's restaurant, Bess, in Austin, come and demo for us.  She made and served everyone this wonderful dish.  Along with her husband who is a chef/teacher at Escoffiet - another culinary school in Austin.  We were at Le Cordon Bleu.  Even though we ate and cooked most of the weekend, this is the only picture that I took.  Period.  I didn't take any other pics the entire weekend.  Okay, what is in this pic?  White cheddar cheese grits topped with spiced grilled shrimp, bacon, chives and a red wine vinegar gastric.  Delicious!! 

Nighttime sewing - Challenge block gone awry.

 I got out of work early last night and found some time to sit and sew.  I decided to make the newest block of the month from 15 minutes play.  I read through all the directions and started in to sewing.  Cut out some reds/pinks/oranges/purples for my flower portion and rummaged through the scraps to see what I could use for the leaves.  There were some greens and blues, but not in big enough strips so I just sewed them all together to make that 7 inch square that was needed.  I cut out my background - going with the darkest gray on this one.  Got the leaf elements done, made the stem and now it is time to square up and put this puppy together.  Decided that it would be easier to make my squares with a 6 1/2" square ruler so I got it out, cut all the squares the same size, sewed it together and it went together like a dream.  One of the easiest blocks to make.


I was happy with the look - even though the stripes on the leaves are going differently than what I wanted, it was still okay. I put it on the wall with the other blocks and . . .


It's a lot smaller than the other blocks.  What could have gone wrong?  I did everything right so something was off.  Maybe the sizes.  No, 6 1/2 and 6 1/2 sewn together is 12 1/2 so that was correct.  What could be wrong.  WELL, let me tell you.  That 6 1/2" square ruler that I thought was 6 1/2" square?  It is only a 6 inch square ruler!!!!!  Why would I have one like that in my stack of rulers?  I know it's an old one and I even thought last night while I was cutting that I needed to get a new one since this one was looking all ratty tatty and the edges were a bit sliced, but still, you would think I would know better than to make that big of a mistake.  I was too tired to do anything about it last night and after sleeping on it I may just leave it smaller.  I am going to "sash" this quilt together anyway, so the "sashing" around this block just needs to be a bit larger.  Who knows, I may just have one or two more mess-up-small-size blocks to go with it. 

You may be asking yourself why I put "sash" in quotations like that and it is because even though I know this quilt will need some separation between the blocks that sashing provides, it may not be a typical sashing.  So, I put the word sash in quotes to show that it probably won't be a single strip of fabric and the blocks may not be set in straight rows/columns.  I don't have an idea in my head how to put this quilt top together because we haven't done all the blocks.  Who knows what else is in the works for this block challenge.  It has been fun making all the blocks though. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sewing Time Again

I finally found some time to sit and sew!!  I planned on doing more this summer, but I have been really, really busy as those of you that know me can attest to.  I have this entire weekend off so I sewed and watched videos yesterday, put them in the mail this morning so I can get some more in the series - True Blood, season 3 from Netflix, I only saw the first disc yesterday.  I can't wait to get the next ones. 

Sew, back to sewing - I worked on the blocks of the month challenge from 15 minutes play and made the three newest blocks.  This first one is called, Beacon Lights.  I wasn't too sure about it when I first saw it on the blog, but it has grown on me.  I was worried about my center block with the large patch of purple left of center, but in the picture, even though it stands out some, it doesn't look as bad as I thought.  And, with all the blocks together - see end of post - it might just blend in with the blocks, especially if I use a large chunk of that fabric in a later block.  I am not changing it like I wanted to at first.  After making each section of this block I started piecing it together and it just wasnt' working.  I thought I had cut things wrong; the directions were off,  I didn't know what was going on.  Then I realized that I needed to square up the quarter square triangle blocks to 3 1/2" and it was amazing how easy the block was to put together then.  some of the blocks were as much as 1/2" off and when you put two of them together it just didn't fit!

I made this Cactus Flower block first and had to find a green that I wasn't going to use a scrap piece in the made fabric.  When I squared up the stem/flower body part, I didn't really center the stem and it is a little bit off, but if I hadn't pointed it out to you, you might not have even noticed.  Here again, I wasn't going to go back and fix the problem.  I am letting everything stay as is for now. 

The last block I put together last night was this courthouse steps.  I knew when I saw the block on the blog that I wanted a red center.  That is what the old log cabin blocks used for most of their centers.  However, I didn't plan on reversing the made fabric and the background until I realized that I was going to have to make some more fabric if I wanted to make it the original way since I didn't have enough for 2 - 12 1/2" strips.  Here is where I had to piece the background fabric in the 6 1/2" strips to get enough fabric to work.  Thank goodness this background fabric has a little print to it or it would have stood out and been very noticeable if I had used the first gray fabric.  I can't even see where the seams are in the picture.  Each of the two side pieces are pieced 2 times.  One of the solid squares from one of the two blocks above is also pieced, but just on one of the corners. 
Here are all 5 of the blocks on the wall together.  I was worried about not having the same background fabrics on my blocks, but with just these two fabrics it is not too bad.  I have several more background fabrics selected that I am going to use for the next blocks.  I think the one I used last night was probably the lightest gray I got.  It will be fun to see them altogether at the end of the year - I think we are doing this for a year, I am not sure, though.  I will have to take their picture somewhere else since my bulb burned out on my halogen and I only have 300 bulbs left and not the 500 that was previously in there.  (I bought a bunch of bulbs on clearance several years ago and am down to some of the lower wattage bulbs.  I could go to the store and purchase some new ones, but why?  That would mean braving the crowds this holiday weekend and I just don't want to do that.  I would rather sew which is where I am heading soon after I go back downstairs and check on the dogs)