Thursday, August 30, 2007

My Four Seasons Quilt Swap piece is complete . . . almost. Pieced, quilted, bound and laundered - all that's left is to stitch the label to the back. It can then begin the journey to its new home.
When I first signed up to participate in this swap, my head was swirling with ideas. Then reality hit - I needed to accomplish a piece that not only made me happy but someone else. I hope the new owner enjoys the plaids being crooked and cut off-grain. Funny, I never worry about these things when I make a quilt for myself. I aim to please but want my style to come through as well.
Then there is the label. Let's just say I'm not always the best when it comes to labeling quilts. But a label on each swap was part of the deal. It had to be done. I tried to write a poem of my own. Something that would bring together fabric and word. Here's a flash - I AM NOT A POET! This morning I found this quote by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Oh Joy! A perfect description of fall and quilt all in one.
Now I'm off to work on the first quilt from Prairie Children and Their Quilts. I've decided to just start at the beginning and work my way through all 14 quilts. I have my fabrics selected and some of the cutting done. Hopefully you will find me at the machine by late afternoon.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I like old things. I have a special affinity for pieces that were used in keeping the home - doing laundry, sewing, and the kitchen. When I was a teenager, my mom watched The Walton's every week. Mom was a young woman during The Depression and identified with all they went through in each episode. If Mom watched it - I watched it. I grew to enjoy it almost as much as she. I particularly liked when the scenes took place in the kitchen with Mama or Grandma doing the cooking or other chores. I could always spy a bowl or two in that kitchen. I liked those old bowls and wished we had some like that in our kitchen.
The bowls that we did have were Pyrex stacking bowls from the late 40's or early 50's. Those bowls were put to good use over the years. Many a tasty food was prepared in them. Over time, I learned to know what the menu might be based on the color of the bowl. Blue- tuna; red- pimento cheese; green- a homemade cake; yellow-potato salad. While each bowl's use was not restricted to it's particular food, it was usually a pretty good clue.
After Mom passed away, we divided her household items. It was accomplished in a loving, caring way - not a single argument over anything. The bowls didn't come home with me. Sometimes I would spy a set for sale in an antique shop and think about Mom. A couple of times I almost bought a set, but before I made it to the register realized it wasn't really the bowls but the memories. I always put them back.
I have over the years collected my own set of 'stacking bowls' Each found sitting on a shelf in an antique shop or sale. I wonder if there is someone out there with fond memories of any of these? Certainly they have been used to make all sorts of wonderful things from daily meals to holiday fare, dishes for pot lucks or a grieving family, cakes for celebrating a birthday or a school bake sale.It's a happy accident that they nest together so nicely. So far they don't seem to have their own assigned food. Since all but one is mustard-y color that is probably a good thing - the mustard -for tuna; the mustard- for pimento cheese . . . it just doesn't have the same ring.
I'm in the process of getting my swap quilts and Pay-It-Forward pieces in the mail this week. Keeping all these secrets has been hard, but it did give me the chance to share my love for these bowls. Sometime soon you will find a quilt related post here.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Home again, home again . . . we are getting settled in after a whirlwind of a full weekend. Hubby and I went back to the area of the state we grew up to attend his high school reunion. Because he was able to take Friday off from work we got to spend a little time looking around the towns of the central coast of California that we love so much. We stayed in San Luis Obispo, a town set in the foothills of the Santa Lucia mountains home to one of the 22 missions and Cal Poly State University.
This is a view of one of the main streets in downtown. We enjoy walking along, doing a little window shopping or actually stepping inside a store or two for a closer look.

We stayed in a historic bed and breakfast. Such a lovely building and filled with antiques.It's nearly impossible to resist a stop and look-see at Gum Alley . . . and yes, I have a piece of gum up there - circa 1978. It's on the wall on the right and very near a particularly artistic interpretation of Mr. Bill.
I have always just loved this old theater - inside and out. From the pink paint to every little art-deco detail. Hubby and I used to go to Friday night midnight movies here back when we were dating (and were young enough to stay awake that late and still thrive.)Just look at the box office and that floor!Another thing I love about this town is the creek. It runs right through town and is an integral part of daily life. There is dining with a view.
A path to walk along the creekside.And my favorite - an outdoor patio where most any weekend you will find live entertainment.This building is a Carnegie Library building. No longer a lending library, like the other two that I grew up near it is now a museum filled with items of local history.Hubby and I were up VERY early on Saturday morning enjoying all these wonderful places that hold such dear memories for us. I needed a boost . . . yes, my drink had 4 shots. There was still a long day ahead of us.
This is a view of some of the Santa Lucia mountain range. I find this a beautiful view any time of year . . . but there is a special magic when spring arrives, such a vivid green.
We also spent time in Paso Robles. This is the small town where my grandma lived when I was growing up. Still small by the standard of many, it has changed and grown over the years. This is the Carnegie Library building located in the park in the center of town. I've spend many happy hours in this park at the library and on the playground, too . This picture was taken on Friday afternoon.And this picture was taken Saturday morning. There is a Farmer's Market held at the park each Saturday morning. But this weekend we were in for a treat - it was the Olive Festival. We made our way through all of these booths, tasting various olives, tapenades and olive oils. Yummy!
There was plenty of time for a visit with Hubby's folks in the town where he grew up. After a little rest back at the B&B, we got ready for the reunion. It was fun watching Hubby connect with friends he had not seen since the last reunion and some not since high school. A very friendly and happy group of folk.
As we got ready to call it a night, we took one last drive past that old theater to have a look at the neon sign.
And yes, we have the radio tuned to the same station we listened to back when we were dating.
I'm glad that some things never change.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I have been having a tough time this year with the flowers in my garden. Where last year they flourished - this year they wither and die. No amount of remedial attention seems to help and now I throw in the towel of surrender and I'll try again next year.
In the meantime, my green-thumb has been hard at work inside. I have a hydroponic garden (of sorts) flourishing in my kitchen window. While I was busy tending to the needs of the dying in my flower beds, I forgot to plant any basil in the little red wagon on the patio. Oops. When the tomatoes began to ripen, I had an urgent need for basil - fresh and ready to use. I quickly went to Trader Joe's and picked up a nice, big bunch.
It was big - too big for two people to consume easily before it spoiled in the fridge. Then I remembered . . . I could put the cut stems in a glass of water in order to keep the leaves supple and fresh. I replenish the water every couple of days or so and look what has happened. I have a thriving crop of basil right on the kitchen counter. You can see there is quite a healthy root system - I may just have to plant this out in the wagon after all.Today I went to the San Diego Quilt Show. It is a 3 day show that is held at the Convention Center right at the edge of the Gas Lamp Quarter, across from our new Petco Park and very near the water. A lovely setting any way you look at it. This was the first quilt show I ever attended - 6 or 7 years ago. I was practically beside myself with anticipation. The quilts - the vendors - such an inspirational paradise for a gal just starting her quilting journey.
It seems that the show has gotten smaller over the years, there's less anticipation and not nearly as much inspiration. I've become a better shopper and don't feel that I need to buy something from every booth just because it's there. Still I didn't want to miss out. You never know what might be there.
I was in and out in just about an hour. I arrived shortly after the doors opened. There were far less quilts this year than ever, but I knew if I went to the farthest side of the hall, I could make my way through without having to jockey for space or position should I wish to take a photo or just linger a little. I do have a few pics on my phone that I will upload and share in a future post.
Once I entered the vendor area, the crowds had grown a bit larger - but still manageable. I skipped over a lot of booths - things that are not my style and the shops where I do most of my business anyway. Instead I looked at many antique quilts for sale, but beyond my price range for inspiration, lingered where there were many books, picked up a few notions, some wool for making a punched rug, a nice bundle of older brushed cottons, and a silly little sock coin purse to use on an upcoming vacation.
Was it the best quilt show I ever attended? No. Will I go back again next year? I'm sure I will.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I do believe that to be true. However, I'm starting to fear that Dawn from Quilts and Pieces may be beginning to view me as some sort of cyber-stalker. I just love all of her quilts and want to make each and every one.
Over the weekend, I was standing and staring at my fabric stash and quilt books all the while lamenting to Hubby that I just couldn't decide what to work on or start next. Being the wise man he is, he said, "Just pick up the closest thing and work on it first." Still nothing seemed closest and I ended up doing nothing.
Enter Monday - a fresh new day on a shiny new week. I decided to sit down, read all the blogs that I had been neglecting, make comments, and write emails. I know that when I do this I always see some fabrics , a project in progress or a photo of an antique that gets me anxious to get at the machine.
Monday was no exception. There is was - right there on Dawn's blog. A darling little quilt that she made from one of Lori Smith's patterns. Just the thing to get me kick started.
I spent a little bit of time thinking about what fabrics I would use, made my mental decision, then grabbed completely different ones from the shelf. A little cutting, a little sewing and TA DA . . .It looks like Black Licorice and Butterscotch. I started hand quilting last night. Thanks, Dawn!

Monday, August 20, 2007

It seems that lately there have been several posts sharing bags - new patterns, new designs and many already completed bags. Bags really are great. You can tote your stuff from one place to another. You can fill up a bag and simply use it as a convenient storage receptacle. In an effort to be kinder to the environment, I now have reusable bags in my vehicle to carry groceries. It's fun to have a special bag to take along to guild meetings, classes, or retreats. You know the kind . . . the really cute ones that make the other ladies swoon.
Making bags is really not my forte. Oh, I have made a couple in my day. I wanted a 'make the ladies swoon' version for my first quilt retreat a few years back. It wasn't easy. There was lots of stitching and re-stitching. But I completed it, I was proud, but I have officially ended my bag making career.
The bag I want to share is THE BAG. It really is a prize possession. I've had this bag for over 30 years now and it has been in use for almost that entire time . . . as my purse. It is an old friend - we've seen a lot together- me and my backpack.
At the time I bought it, it seemed like an outrageous purchase. $50! Earning only $1.25 per hour at an after school job, not only did it take my whole paycheck but it required an advance on a future check. While it seemed foolhardy at the time, I think even my dad would have to agree this is the best investment I ever made. I've replaced the leather lace used to draw it closed many times. There has been one repair to a strap. It has picked up a very nice patina over time.
In an effort to look business-like, I've had hand bags, but they are just not me. I would switch back to the backpack for the weekends and sometimes not bother to re-switch to a purse come Monday morning. For me - this has been the ultimate bag. It's a perfect fit and I'm sure I will use it all of my life.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I most surely am feeling the effects of the dogs days of summer this year. This week has most certainly been the most lackluster week that I can recall in sometime. I haven't been able to focus on anything. It's hot! I'm hot! I want to stick my head in the freezer. I shouldn't want to rush time, but I do wish fall would get here . . . fast!
I was pondering all of this a couple of days ago. Feeling too sluggish to even read blogs and make comments, I sat down in front of the computer to play a mindless game while having a fan blow directly on me. All of a sudden Harper gave a little growl and bark toward the front door. I turned around just in time to see the mailman dropping a box on the porch. I'm not expecting anything. I do have a couple of things ordered, but none expected to arrived for a few more days. It's not any one's birthday, our anniversary, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Christmas . . . the mailman must have been mistaken. We have a neighbor with a similar last name and sometimes our mail gets crossed. I picked up the box - wait, I recognize that return address! That is my name on the label! A package from my friend Melanie at Covered Porches and Wooden Screen Doors - a little treat because she is sweet and just in time to save me from melting into a pool of heated boredom.
Here is a peek at what she sent. Americana napkins with flag napkin rings. Very fancy. I've never had napkin rings in my life. Mel knows I have some nice red spatterware dishes that will look great when set on the table with her treat. Maybe I feel a picnic coming on.Since it has been so warm, I just can't bear the thought of cooking or eating a hot meal. The best solution would be to eat out, preferably somewhere air conditioned. But that's a luxury that's not going to happen anytime soon. For lunch today, I tried to recreate an antipasto platter we've had at our favorite local Italian restaurant. Doesn't it look yummy? There's roasted red peppers, marinated artichoke hearts, cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto, mozzarella, kalamata olives, sliced tomato with olive oil and basil, and a bit of toasted baguette on the side.
And where there's cheese - there's Harper. Not much gets passed her, but when there is cheese she goes on high alert. With a face like that - who wouldn't want to share?

Monday, August 13, 2007

The lazy days of summer must really be upon me. There hasn't been much blogging going on this so far this month. I have been working on projects that I just can't share right now. It has been hard for me to keep them to myself. Soon they can be revealed.
Good news over the weekend. I received the name of my swap partner in the Four Seasons Quilt Swap. I had been mulling over many ideas and designs since signing up. When I received the name drawn for me and her preferences, I quickly settled on a pattern and began sorting through fabrics, then got right to work.
Here are my little flying geese - all carefully arranged just the way I wanted them. After this picture was taken, I stopped sewing for the night and left them here to be stitched together in the morning. The next day the ceiling fan went on - full tilt- and spread my little geese all over the table. They are now stitched together in a new and improved arrangement.Next came a couple of stars.
Now the little top is beginning to take shape. More fabrics to pull today and a little more sewing will be all that it takes to have a completed top.

Last week, I was touched to receive this award - not once, but twice - from Bren at Pieces From Me and Doreen at Vermont Harvest Bears and Primitives. Ahhh - you make me blush.I must say that I have found quilt bloggers to be some of the kindest people around. Of all that I have communicated with over the last year, there hasn't been a clinker in the bunch. I think that says an awful lot about each and every one of you. I gave up my quilting 'friendship' group this year because I was left feeling there wasn't much friendship happening anymore. But here I have found a camaraderie and warmth. A place to share not only quilting but events in daily life and a chance to take a peek into your day too.
Now it just wouldn't be nice if I didn't share this 'award' with others and I'm sure they will each want to do the same. Please go visit these five gals and see if you don't agree with me that each one surely proves that Nice Matters.

Melanie at Covered Porches and Screen Doors
Finn at Pieces from my Scrapbag
Paula at The Quilter
Dawn at Quilts and Pieces
Judy at Quilting with Ragdolls

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Today was just peachy. After lots of dreaming, talking, thinking, reading, supply buying, and encouraging - I got up this morning and jumped right into making jam. It was every bit of fun that I thought it would be and maybe even a little bit more.
The fruit really was at its peak this morning. I pretty much knew it would be. I got out my supplies and ingredients. Read over the instructions and hints I've received here then just jumped right in.
With no radio or television to distract me, I enjoyed every aspect of the process -the feel of juice running through my fingers, the sound as the knife sliced through the fruit, the aroma of peach floating through the kitchen, seeing the color become more intense as the process went along, and the chance to lick the spoon after the last jar was filled.
Here's the first batch - ready to cook.Getting juicier and juicier all the time. Almost ready.
The first jar.
Twelve jars of yummy golden goodness, right on my counter top.
And a bit left over that wouldn't fit into the jars, poured carefully into a bowl to become topping for waffles - tonight's dinner. I wouldn't have done it without the encouragement and helpful hints from all of you. Thank you . . . today was just peachy.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

I am still here and I am still jam-less. I know it has been a week since I last posted and so many of you thought that perhaps I was up to my elbows in jam with fingers too sticky to use a keyboard. But my silence had more to do with the fact that it was hot, I was cranky and I couldn't think of anything fun to say.
As far as jam making goes, I'm still going to go for it but I got a bit scared off when I read the book. At the beginning there is much talk of all the dread things that can go wrong - creepy little bugs that invade your work and give you things like salmonella or botulism. So I began to worry that I may have taken on more than I can handle. So I reread all the instructions and asked Hubby to do the same so we could discuss areas where I had questions or concerns.
During all that reading and discussing, the fruits that I had were not going to hold their freshness and I ended up freezing all of it. Today with renewed optimism, I will buy more fruit and at last begin the jam making. I've had so many encouraging comments, helpful hints and tips on where to seek answers if I have questions. Stay tuned - there is bound to be a counter full of jars brimming with tasty goodness to share with you all before you know it.
On Friday I did receive the most lovely surprise package in the mail from Finn. Like a child on Christmas morning, I just could hardly wait to open the package. As the layers of tissue paper came away, I gave a little *gasp* when I spied the fabric peeking out at me. Just so delicious in it's vintage look.Once the paper was completely removed, I unfolded the most wonderful, vintage apron. Finn tells me it most likely dates to the early 20th century. It is quite long (nearly to my ankles) to protect the longer skirts of that era. Just think of the stories this apron could tell of it's owner, her family, the meals and cleanup . . . . Thank you, Finn!
Even in the heat of the week, I did manage to get a little quilting in. And now Kentucky Wildflower is complete.

It is all hand applique and hand quilted. Initially I planned to have it never touched by sewing machine. When it came time to apply the binding, I quickly changed my mind - and I'm glad I did. The border applique made and additional layer to be stitched through all the way around. Combine that with extra fabric at the top for the hanging sleeve and my poor little fingers would have been mince meat.
Also this week, I joined a new swap that is forming. You can read all about it and consider joining the fun at Four Seasons Quilt Swap. Already my mind is swirling with thoughts of what I shall make for the first swap. Since the quilts are small, I can probably make more than one of my ideas before the first deadline.