Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Goofin' Off With a Sweet Mystery Continuation

It looks like I may have a little time on my hands to read a book (or two) just for fun in the not too distant future. I don't get to enjoy mindless reading very often very often, but when I do, I love a good, simple mystery. The first real mystery I read was back in grade school. It was an Agatha Christie. I have read her classics several times each and never get tired of them. But sometimes...just sometimes...I need something a little more mindless.

Talking of mysteries, this past weekend I spent every spare moment I could find into working on my mystery quilt that I introduced in last blog post. Although I am almost finished, I'll post the results of the first three clues here, and then share the last three with the final reveal in the next post later this week. I should have a finish to show off by then. 

Here is the result of Clue #1:  

Clue #1 Finished

And Clue #2:

Clue #2 Finished

And Clue #3:

Clue #3 Finished

Clue #1 actually took the longest to complete because there were a ton of those little buggers. Clue #2 took almost as long. But Clue #3 went together pretty quickly. I can't wait to show you the results, but you'll just have to wait.

Since I have been kind of on a "sweets" kick this month...and since Mickey and Pirate Friends was at a good point to set aside for a week...I decided to start a couple of small stitching pieces. The theme for these, of course, was also "sweet". The pattern set is titled "Frozen Fun" and designed by Jane Prutton. They can be found in August 2017 issue of Cross Stitch Crazy magazine. 

Here is where I am at in my first stitching piece:  

Frozen Fun Piece #1 - as of 08/15/2017

I am thinking of completing two of the six designs in the set. I think I have decided how I'll finish them but keep it a surprise in case I change my mind. I do that sometimes...change my mind. 

There does seem to be a theme of sweets and mysteries here. So I guess it shouldn't surprise me that as I was searching for a good mystery or two to read I noticed another trend. Some of my most favorite book series right now include...wait for it...sweets and mysteries. Actually, this trend has been going along for a while not just the past few weeks. I've decided to give you a list of my favorite mystery series at the moment.  

My first pick is the "Cupcake Bakery Mystery" series by Jenn McKinlay. She writes of a cupcake shop owner and her co-workers that somehow always find themselves in the middle of a murder mystery. At the end of each book is a half dozen or so specialty cupcake recipes. Yum...

Cover Photo as Found on penguinrandomhouse.com on 8/15/2017

Another sweet series the "Paws & Claws Mystery" series written by Krista Davis (whom also has another delicious series titled "The Domestic Diva Mystery which is equally as appetizing). In this series a young woman goes to help her grandmother run an inn that tailors to travelers who travel with their pets. Apparently, murder and mayhem abound in this quaint little town. Again, at the end of each book is a few recipes for food served at the inn...both food for humans and food for their pets. 

Cover Photo as Found on penguinrandomhouse.com on 8/15/2017

The last series I've chosen for my pick is the "Emergency Dessert Squad Mystery" series by Laura Bradford. This series follows a baker who has inherited an old ambulance from a elderly neighbor. She transforms the ambulance into a business where she caters and delivers desserts on an emergency basis. Of course, as in all good murder mystery series, she always finds herself in the thick of a murder probe. As with the two series mentioned before, the back of the book will find you with a number of delicious dessert recipes.

Cover Photo as Found on penguinrandomhouse.com on 8/15/2017

So, apparently, I have a thing for books that are full of mystery and contain lots of new dessert recipes. I really like the fact that these books are good and clean...occasionally there is a side romance, but things never get smutty. They are also all very easy to read...but do often make me hungry.

I do not have any affiliate links at this time on my blog. These are my sincere "sweet" mystery series recommendations. If at any time I choose to change my blog to contain affiliate links, I will be sure to notify my readers. 

Do you have any series that you enjoy reading? Please leave them in the comments below. I am always looking for a new, good series. 

My thought for the day:
"It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all."  --Laura Ingalls Wilder

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Goofin' Off With a Sweet Mystery Start

I’m up bright and early this morning for my mystery quilt. The clues should be starting to come in at any time now. In case you don’t know what a mystery quilt is, it’s a quilt where you have no idea what it’s going to look like when you’re finished...it's a mystery. 

The fabric requirements are given out ahead of time, so you can be sure you have enough of your fabrics. I wrote about my fabric choices way back in July here. I chose the sweet treats fabric to be my main focus fabric. These sweet designs sure do make me hungry.  Hmm…maybe I’ll have to go make some cookies.  

Fabric Choice for Mystery Quilt - From Stash

Close Up of the Focus Fabric...Very Sweet

A couple of weeks ago, the cutting instructions for the mystery were posted online.  I have gone ahead and cut out the fabrics as indicated. Now I just have to wait as patiently as I can for the first clue to come out...any time now...

Mystery Quilt Pieces All Cut Out - What Will It Look Like?

Each clue will give further instructions on how to sew all the pieces together that you cut out. Clues are given out and pre-determined intervals. For this particular mystery, all clues will be given out today. Yippee! You’ll have to come back next week to see how my quilt is coming along. 

Since I have been patiently waiting for the clues to come out, I went ahead and finished another small section of my Mickey and Pirate Friends stitching.  I have decided I’m at a good point to set it aside and am going to do a couple of smaller stitching projects…inspired by the “sweet” fabric I’m using for the mystery quilt. 

Mickey and Pirate Friends - as of 08/12/2017

And since I didn’t quite have all the threads I need to get very far on the stitching yesterday, I decided to make some cookies to tide me over. They are key lime yogurt cookies…very moist and cake-like with just a hint of key lime. The recipe is one that I created that was based off of a lemon cookie recipe I've had for almost 30 years.  Here is the recipe:  

Ingredients

Ingredients
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup key lime yogurt
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.  

Grease cookie sheets or cover them with baking parchment to keep cookies from sticking. 

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.  

Beat butter and shortening with an electric mixer until well creamed...approximately 30 seconds. Add sugars and continue beating until fluffy.  Add egg, vanilla, and yogurt and beat well.  Add dry ingredients to the beaten mixture and beat until well combined.  

Drop the cookie dough from a spoon onto a cookie sheet...space approximately 2 inches apart. 

Bake in 375-degree oven for approximately 8 to 10 minutes.  

Remove and cool on a wire rack.  These usually make 30 to 36 cookies for me.   

***Mr. Goofin' Off is not a huge lemon or key lime fan, so I finished these off with a little buttercream frosting. You could just as easily sprinkle them with powdered sugar...or use a glaze made from powdered sugar, milk, and maybe a little key lime juice (Nellie & Joe's Key Lime Juice is a favorite in the bigger family) if you're a key lime fan.***

Goofy Admiring the Sweets On The Table

As you can see, Goofy stole a plate for himself and sat down at the table to eat them. I just noticed how well they match the fabric for the mystery. I guess if he drops some frosting on the fabric, it won't be too noticeable.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Goofin' Off With Some Toy Story Buzz

Recently, there has been a bit of buzz around the Toy Story franchise. And I'm not just talking about my nephew's wedding a couple of weeks ago or that flying space ranger. Keep reading down below if you want to see what all the buzz is about and a Toy Story project (or two) I've got planned.

I'm so excited to show off my latest quilt finish. Sunday night I arranged the blocks for the center and sewed them together.

Center Assembly of Chef Freddie's Favorites

On Tuesday, I attached the borders and, voila, here is the final quilt top.

Chef Freddie's Favorites - Quilt Top Finish

Mr. Goofin' Off said that he liked all of the different patterns that showed up when I put the blocks together.  The quilt top and the colors seem a little bit bright, but that was on purpose. When sewing quilts for Project Linus, I like to use cheery and bright colors. I hope it helps to brighten the mood of the recipient.

The quilt blocks were my own variation of a block I had found in the book "501 Rotary-Cut Blocks" by Judy Hopkins. This book is my go-to for inspiration and a springboard for me when coming up with ideas when a fabric is screaming at me to be used. I've made a note to myself to write up my pattern for the block when I get a chance and put it up on my blog for all of you. 

I got a little stitching time in over the past few days and I am seeing just a slight bit of Goofy's nose appearing. If you know much about Goofy, you'll know it may take a bit of time for his entire sniffer to appear because he's got quite the schnoz. 

Mickey and Pirate Friends as of 08/09/2017

Several months ago, I saw on fatquartershop.com some fun Toy Story Fabric. I signed up to be notified when the fabric arrived. My notification that the fabric was in stock was sent to last week. 

Woody Fabric by Camelot Cottons

I ordered a bit of these two fabrics (and possibly a bit more--but don't tell Mr. Goofin' Off).

Buzz Lightyear Fabric by Camelot Cottons

Remember my nephew who got married a few weeks ago...with a few Toy Story subtle references worked in to the ceremony? Well, I've decided to make them a couple of quilts using this fabric line. One will be a Woody quilt and one will be a Buzz Lightyear quilt. His and her quilts to snuggle under during those chilly Idaho winter evenings while they study and finish up college. You can look forward to those seeing more of the quilts coming up, hopefully, next month.

And in other Toy Story news. Last week Disney Parks shared the following picture announcing the laying of the final track for the "Slinky Dog Dash" roller coaster which will be opening up in the summer of 2018...yes, that's next summer folks. 

Photo Retrieved From Disney Parks Blog Aug 09, 2017

According to Thomas Smith at the Disney Parks Blog, here is what we can expect from this special coaster:  "Slinky Dog Dash will be a family coaster attraction where you'll zip, dodge and dash around many turns and drops that Andy has created to really make Slinky and his coils stretch to his limits."

Family coaster...yep, that's my coaster intensity level.  

Also shared was this artist's rendering showing what the Toy Story Land will look like.  

Photo Retrieved From Disney Parks Blog Aug 09, 2017
According to Jennifer Fickley-Baker of the Disney Parks Blog, there will be much more than the coaster...this is going to be an entire land.  Here is what she wrote:  "In Toy Story Land, guests will shrink to the size of a toy and explore the world of Andy's backyard. Fitting with the theme, Slinky Dog Dash will to be a coaster track that Andy has built over his backyard using his Mega Coaster Play Kit - as well as some of his other favorite toys."

Do I have to wait a year for this fun to open? Really? Actually, it will most likely be much longer than a year because, you know, I don't live anywhere near Florida. 

Well, friends, thanks for joining me today. I am always so thrilled to see the comments all of you leave. I have enjoyed connecting with some of you through e-mail, too. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Goofin' Off at the Hydro Races

We had a fantastic day yesterday. One of Mr. Goofin' Off's vendors offered him VIP tickets to the Seattle hydroplane races. VIP tickets you ask? We'll be happy to take a few tickets off your hands.

But first, I desperately wanted to finish off the second set of blocks for my Chef Freddie's Favorites quilt. Yay! I finished them up! I am hoping to have the quilt assembled by my next post. I'm crossing my fingers that I have clear calendar this week so I can get it assembled.

Second Set of Quilt Blocks - Chef Freddie's Favorites
I am still in love with the adorable frog in a chef's hat print that was the center of the blocks. This was my third quilt using this fabrics, and I had assumed I would use it all up. But, alas, I still have one 3-inch strip and one 4-inch strip of the fabric left. Why do scraps seem to multiply like tribbles when I make a quilt meant to use up scraps and stash?

I've made some slight progress on my Mickey and Pirate Friends cross stitch piece.  

Seafair Pirates Invade Our Skybox at the Hydros

Hey, that isn't Goofy. And those certainly aren't the Pirates in the Caribbean (sorry, friends, no surprise visit from Johnny Depp). Them thar are Seafair Pirates. They invaded our Skybox for a few minutes and tossed out some Seafair pieces of eight and some stickers to the kids. It was fun to have them drop by.

Mickey and Pirate Friends Cross Stitch as of 08/06/2017

Now there is Goofy. And he's really keeping an eye on me now.  Those pupils are starting to show up.

The hydro races were so much fun!  I really want to thank the folks at Oracle for hosting us for such a fantastic VIP experience. From the moment we arrived, we were given drinks, snacks, and views that just couldn't have been better for the races. 

The Boys Getting Settled In For The Day

The covered tent area behind where the boys are sitting is where the food and swag was. There was food of some sort available almost the entire day. They also had some fun swag including hats and sunglasses. 

We chose seats in the shade. The sun was just slightly behind us the entire day, so we were very comfortable on a warm day. 

Crane Placing the Hydros in the Water

Since our seats were on an elevated platform, we could see all the action. Above you can see them placing the hydros into the water for the races. 

A little after noon, the hydros took a break, and we were treated to an air show over the water. One of the highlights of the air show was the Blue Angels flying in formation. I apologize that the picture isn't a close up, but I was having too much fun watching them. 

Blue Angels Flying in Formation Over Lake Washington

My favorite hydro of the day was the Oh Boy! Oberto. Maybe I like it because its sponsorship has been around for as long as I can remember. Maybe I like the colors. Or maybe, just maybe, it's because I love the Oberto Beef Jerky. Does it really matter? We got to see her race twice yesterday. 

Oh Boy! Oberto Hydro in Action

Now, should any of you think that the Goofin' Off family has such fantastic adventures every weekend as we have the past few weekends, I'm sorry to disappoint you. The next few weekends should be pretty mellow around here. But that should give me plenty of time to cook up some fun new projects and posts for you.

Hope you all have had a great weekend. Does your local community have any fun festivals or fairs? What's your favorite to take part in? I'd love to know. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Goofin' Off With Another Wedding

As I mentioned in my last post, last weekend we had another family wedding. I have five nieces and nephews getting married this summer. It's been a lot of fun. But this particular wedding had a first for us. I'll get to after the updates to my projects.

I managed to finish the all of the sub-units for the second set of blocks and have begun the assembly of the the blocks.

Beginning of Block Assembly

Last Sub-Units Assembled for Quilt - Woo Hoo!

And now for my to my cross stitch project...Mickey and Pirate Friends. You can see the top of Goofy's second eye beginning to appear in this one. Every time I work on this I can hear Goofy in my mind saying, "I'm watching you."

Mickey and Pirate Friends as of 08/03/2017

Now back to the wedding we went to last weekend. Last weekend was a first for the Goofin' Off family. My nephew and his wife asked Mr. Goofin' Off to perform the marriage. Mr. Goofin' Off was very honored and was happy to do it for them. However, Mr. Goofin' Off had never performed a marriage before, so he had to go about getting ordained in order to perform the marriage. Mr. Goofin' Off is pretty resourceful, so he had no problems there.

Mr. Goofin' Off With the Happy Couple During Rehearsal

A few weeks before the wedding, we had the happy couple over for some sweets and to go over what they wanted in a ceremony. The groom has been a huge Toy Story fan since he was knee high to a grasshopper (yes, I get the family started on Disney at a young age), so we asked if they were possibly interested in a few subtle Toy Story references in the ceremony. They embraced the idea. They shared with us that during one of their first dates/hangouts they had a Toy Story marathon and watched all three of the movies. Happily, they were married not just till death do us part but to infinity and beyond!

The Wedding Party

The day of the wedding arrived last Saturday. The weather could not have been more beautiful that day. Although the groom looked handsome, the bride looked absolutely stunning. I am so glad to have her as officially part of the family. She adds a beautiful sweetness to the family.

At the end of the ceremony, Mr. Goofin' Off handed the bride and groom a permanent marker and told the them that they should write each other's names on the bottom of their shoes to show they loved and belonged to each other...just like the character Andy did in the movies. After the ceremony, as the bride and groom left the room, they played "You've Got a Friend in Me." And, in case you were wondering, they did write each others' names on their shoes...wish I had gotten a picture of that.

The Bride and Flower Girl Checking Out the Bouquet Together

I know that the bride had picked out her colors for the wedding long before we met and talked about adding a few subtle Toy Story references. The colors she chose for her wedding were purple and green...and they went beautifully well together. But, still...

Wedding Cake

...am I the only one who knows what character is white with accents of purple and green?  Anyone?  Anyone?  I'll give you a hint, if you don't know, you can re-watch Toy Story again.  Let me know in the comments if you know who I am talking about.

And to all my friends and family who read this blog, have a magical day!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Goofin' Off With a Whale of a Day

This past weekend was filled with a lot of fun times with family.  You may recall we had a family wedding about a month ago.  Well, we had another wedding this past weekend with family that came in from out of town. As I mentioned in my last post, we had a family whale watching trip that we planned for last Friday.  The question of the day is...did we see any whales...oh, and how did the buckle compare?  Well, if you're dying to know, you can skip down past the project updates.

First off, I managed to completely finish the first set of blocks for the Chef Freddie's Favorites. Below is a picture of the first set of completed blocks. I love the bright colors. I am really happy with how they turned out.

First Set of Blocks Completed

I also managed to get pretty far on the putting together the sub-units for the second set of blocks. The block design is the same, it's just that the blues are a lighter shade of blue. I am more aware of how these blocks go together now, so this set of blocks should go together much more quickly.

Sub-Units for Second Set of Blocks - Sorry Camera Washed Out the Colors

Below is the latest update for Mickey and Pirate Friends cross stitch.  I got about 300 stitches in and added some more to Goofy's pirate hat.  

Mickey and Pirate Friends - As of 07/31/2017

Now more about our day of whale watching.  The day started early as we had to be down to the boat by 8:45 a.m. Our tour was running at almost full capacity.  They did have comfortable seats for everybody and our group of 7 was able to sit pretty closely together. We went through a short safety spiel and were on our way.

The naturalist on board had explained to us what to look for when spotting whales. Fortunately, I listened closely on my Alaska cruise a few years ago and knew exactly what to look for...the water spouts. You always see the water spouts first when they come to the surface. 

About 15 to 20 minutes after the left the dock, I saw a water spout and pointed it out just in time for the people around me to see the tail fluke go up into the air and under the water.  Everyone clapped. Pondering it later in the day, why is it we clap for such things? It's not like the whale was performing for us. He was just doing what comes naturally. However, we were smitten with this huge creature. 

Back of a Humpback Whale - Center of Photo

The captain, Captain Christopher the day we went, slowed the boat down to an idle as everyone scurried outside to the observation area to look around. After the whale didn't surface again for a few minutes, the naturalist saw a small pod of porpoises off the side and asked if that is what I had seen.  I said, no, I knew it was a whale and not a porpoise.  This thing was humongous. The naturalist estimated between 40 to 50 feet long.  We waited a few minutes more and then...another spout of water as the whale surfaced and we caught another shot of the tail fluke going under.

Tail Fluke of Humpback Whale

Another Picture of the Tail Fluke of Humpback Whale
We spent about 45 minutes watching as this beautiful creature would resurface every few minutes. Law requires the boat to turn its engines off if a whale gets within so many feet...and we were lucky enough at one point that we had to turn the motor off.  Yay!  We didn't get any pictures at that time because we were all so busy watching the whale. And that's where, I believe, things started to go wrong with the whale watching cruise. But more on that in a moment.

After about 45 minutes we were all herded back into the cabin of the boat as we were going to head out to where the Orca whales usually are. That's when we were served up the blueberry buckle. As I mentioned in my last post, I had been looking forward to trying the buckle because I'd had one at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival last year that was heaven sent. Would this one compare? Um, not really. It was really more of a blueberry coffee cake than a buckle. It was good but not like what I had partaken of at Epcot that has me drooling every time I think of it.  

Blueberry Buckle - Whale Watching
Berry Buckle - Epcot

About the time we finished our buckles, the captain came on the speakers and said we would be making an out-of-the-way detour because there was a medical emergency. When the boat had turned off the motor for the whale, the boat had done quite a bit of rocking and bobbing. Apparently, this did not sit well for one of the passengers who appeared to get very seasick very quickly.  We headed in towards Deception Pass and waited for the passenger and her group to disembark and get picked up by an ambulance. This took us way off course and took up a large chunk of time, so there wasn't enough time left to get out to the Orca whales that day. 

Overall, I'd give the trip a four out of five stars. The boat was clean and comfortable. The viewing platforms were tiered so everyone had no problem seeing the whale...even from the back of the platform (which is important since I am only 5'1" on a good day). The blueberry buckle was really blueberry coffee cake and not a buckle but still moist and good. 

The tour company guarantees you see a whale or you get another excursion free. We did see our whale, so we didn't expect to get a free tour.  However, since a good part of the trip was spent taking a detour for a medical emergency, it would have been nice if they had offered at least a $20 discount toward a future excursion.  We did miss out on potentially seeing more whales because of the detour. 

And that, my friends, is my whale of a tale today. It also has me thinking, if you could see any type of wildlife in its natural habitat, what YOU like to see? I guess I still have Orca whales on my bucket list, what's on yours?