Monday, March 31, 2008

Have you ever been on the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland? I very distinctly remember exactly when I realized that the information they were giving on the cruise was silly jokes. My favorite of those jokes is when they take you under the waterfall to see the 'back side' of water. In that vein, I present the back side of my quilt. Just a few more little stitches and my Spring Four Seasons Quilt Swap piece will be ready for the mail. All that is left is to stitch on the label. The nursery rhyme was going through my head all the time I worked on my piece. I certainly enjoyed making this piece and the other seasons before it. I'll reveal the finished front once it is received by my partner.
With apologies to Chris at Cats On My Quilts, I am closing with a backyard photo. With the abundance of rain we had this year, the wildflowers have been glorious this spring. And like the websites for finding fall color in New England there are sites for wildflower viewing updates. The best viewing is now past, but there are still some varieties blooming in my backyard.
This may very well be the most beautiful California Poppy I have ever seen. I had a lot of fun just looking at the petals waver in the breeze while I attempted to capture its essence in digital form. I'll look forward to its seeds bringing more brilliant color to my yard at the same time next year.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

I'm still here and I'm still catching up. We have had a whirlwind the last few days and it sure has been fun. First, a very exciting package landed on my doorstep. I was lucky enough to have my name pulled in a drawing over at My Yellow Farmhouse. Karen offered up a little Celebration of Spring giveaway. Just look at that checked tissue.The potpourri smells heavenly. Inside the tissue wrapping, I found this happy pillow that is now displayed on a chair in our bedroom. Also a coordinated set of dishtowel, notepad and pen. The dishtowel is my very favorite sort. And look at that pen . . . it's a little rolling pin. Thank you, Karen! I love it!
In my last post, I mentioned we were expecting some company. My sister-in-law, who lives in Alaska; and her sister, who lives in Oregon arrived on Thursday. They are in the midst of a months long driving journey around the country, visiting family and friends, as well as journeying off the main highways to explore some of the wonderful things that we don't always see in our travels.
Friday we headed over to a neighboring city to visit one of the California Missions.
It was a beautiful, sunny day. Perfect for wandering around the grounds.
I couldn't resist taking a photo of the iron in this display of textiles.
And isn't this wisteria vine beautiful?
Hubby spotted this little (okay - really large) fella gathering nectar.
Don't you think this wall painting would make a lovely quilt border?
We visited the site of the first pepper tree planted in California. I hope to look so good at age 179.
These are the steps to the lavanderia, an open air laundry area. Imagine hauling your baskets of wet clothing up and down them. Sure makes me grateful for my automatic machine.
No visit to southern California is complete without a trip to the beach. We decided on a walk on the pier. This is the view looking north.
And south.
Nary a cloud in the sky. A good sized pod of dolphins swam passed while we were at the end of the pier. Too bad it was also the end of my camera batteries. Hubby and I do see dolphins fairly regularly, but never have I been so close as they broke the surface on their journey.
It was a wonderful, but short visit. Lots of laughter, good foods and just plain catching up with folks that live so far away. Maybe it won't be such a long time between visits next time.
Look at this wonderful keepsake I have of their visit. SILS (sister-in-law's sister) does beautiful work in fused glass and just happened to have a few examples of her work with her.
I thought about just trying to slip one into a cabinet while her back was turned, but she kept a good eye on me. Instead we brokered a very lovely deal. This precious piece now lives with me and SILS took home a little quilt. A perfect solution for everyone and one I may attempt to employ again in the future. I think now I may have to try making a quilt in the same design as the glass piece. What do you think?
It is now back to our regular daily routine. I have a mountain of laundry to catch up on and a mountain range of your blog posts to read. I will get to them all. And if I don't leave a comment at each and every stop, I hope you will understand.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Oh my - it seems that my days can easily be summed up with the statement,' The hurrider I go, the behinder I get.'
Yesterday afternoon, Hubby and I returned from a quick trip to Las Vegas. We went in celebration of his birthday and boy was it fun. Fast, but fun. We had tickets to see Mama Mia and built the rest of our trip around them.
This is the view from our room through the lens of my cell phone camera . . . why didn't I remember to bring the digital camera in from the car? (That's Luxor hotel and casino with the strip beyond that.) We arrived Sunday late afternoon, enjoyed a nice dinner then walked it off on the strip. Where do all those people go?
Monday morning Hubby planned a tour at Hoover Dam. We drove over it once a couple of years ago and that was plenty for me. I don't like being up that high. So I white-knuckled my way through that drive and have kept my fingers crossed that I would not have to go back again.
Seems that Lady Luck was on my side. In Boulder City, just a few miles from the dam, there is a quilt shop for me to hang out in while Hubby toured. The shop is called Fiddlesticks and is right in the center of town.
There is a nice mix of fabrics with lots and lots of embellishment and decorating ideas. The gals were so friendly and chatted with me about all things quilts for more than an hour. I came away with a nice selection of fabrics - all from the sale area - a few yards of a nice green rick rack and a Lori Smith pattern.
They sweetly offered to hold my bags and directed me to a gift and consignment store near by called Goat Feathers Emporium. With a name like that, I had to go investigate and was not disappointed. Lots of antiques, crafts, candles and the like to wander through. Some of the vendors were very creative in setting up their space. Once was like an old time general store with everything displayed behind the merchant's counter.
I have to say that I enjoyed Mama Mia far more than I anticipated. I never cared for Abba music when it was popular and could really see no reason to revisit it now. That said, someone is very clever to take those songs that were really unrelated and weave them into a story. After the show, we were treated to a backstage tour. The Princess' best friend from high school(TPF) works in costuming for the production. How interesting to see all the workings from a different point of view and to know all the work that is going on behind the scenes. And particularly special to see TPF in her work environment, living the career dream she has had since junior high.
As you might guess, I am terribly behind in reading blogs. Sadly, it's going to get worse before it gets better. Company is coming tomorrow and I have much to do yet to prepare. Time to get busy with those things or they will never get done.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter to one and all!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

It's here - the first day of spring. It said so on the calendar and even in the garden. I spied my first rosebud from the kitchen window.The calendar also tells me that Easter is almost here. I have done no decorating this year. The box is still safely tucked in the rafters . . . next year. Instead I picked a polish the color of jelly beans and decorated my toes. The first day of spring cooperated enough to let me walk barefoot through the backyard.
Festive nail polish is a far cry from the work my mom used to do to ready me for Easter. This photo is from 1963 and I had just turned 3. The dress is a very pale blue (no past tense because it is here in the house, tucked safely away in the cedar chest.) The slip is made from tulle and was itchy as all heck. I remember the terrible time I had with those silly gloves - always wanting to put more than one finger in slot. Such a struggle. And what is up with that thing on my head?!?!
It was worth all the itching and pinching when I got to hunt for eggs or have some chocolates before lunch. But I do think that this is photographic evidence of why my wardrobe consists of jeans and t-shirts now that it's all up to me.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Hope everyone is enjoying their St. Patrick's Day. We celebrated early - corned beef and eggs for breakfast - a very delicious treat for sure and far more visually appealing than the green beer that is being served in the Irish pubs downtown.
I'll be celebrating National Quilting Day today and tomorrow - no time to sew over the weekend. So far today I finished stitching together the top with the Dresden Plates. I'll add an outer border and it will be ready to layer and quilt.Speaking of 'layer and quilt,' the time has come for me to pay the piper. Seems I have been very lackadaisical recently about getting my tops quilted and bound. Certainly not my usual M.O. I have only actually completed a couple of quilts this year but I have this top, and this top, and this top ready to go. The time is now and I plan to spend the remainder of my quilting time this week getting to work on finishing these projects.
In addition, my Four Seasons Swap spring swap piece is progressing. I have added some other elements to the border since this photo was taken and I'm ready to begin quilting it as well. I don't normally cut the scalloped border until after the quilting, but I just couldn't seem to visualize where to place things when it was square. So I just grabbed my scissors and cut away. Seems to have worked out okay.
Poor Harper is a little grumpy about the garden work that is being done. She enjoys spending a sunny afternoon with her nose poked between the pickets watching the comings and goings in the green belt below.
Last year we fought squirrels all summer long. Hubby installed a bit of rabbit wire along the bottom of the picket fence to deter them passing in and out. Well, they just used that wire as a step ladder to hop on over the bottom rail, come on in and dine on my garden. There will be no more of that! This year Hubby installed screen above the rabbit wire. Thwarts the squirrels but my girl can't look out her fence into 'The Promised Land' What she doesn't realize is that soon there will be little plants growing in that dirt and she won't be allowed to lay there any more either. Good thing I keep the treat jar well stocked in an effort to make up for her inconvenience.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Remember that unseasonably warm weather from a couple of days ago? Like Elvis, it has left the building. I am trying to not be melancholy over it - I know that come August, I will be complaining mightily, when the mercury reaches the exact same spot, that I am too hot. In order to keep spring (or the hope of spring) alive, I have started work on my spring piece for the Four Seasons Quilt Swap.I am using a pattern by Cheri Payne as my inspiration. When I pulled out the pattern, I discovered that the finished size would not meet the swap guidelines. So I resized the center block and I'm working out some ideas for sprucing up that border.
Another way I am working at keeping the hope of spring alive is by starting my very own pineapple plantation. Okay, it's not exactly a plantation . . . but I do hope to have success with one plant.
Lisa Boyer shared a photo of a mature pineapple plant the other day and I was inspired to give growing one of my very own a try. Did you know that pineapples are a member of the bromeliad family? I have made an attempt at this once before but never got a mature plant. I got far enough to plant in soil and then I just neglected to care for it properly. This is why I am a better quilter than gardener. When I temporarily lose enthusiasm for a quilt it will wait . . . plants just die.
Good news for any of you who happen to be fans of Gilmore Girls. Amy Sherman Palladino, that show's creator, has a new show joining the Fox lineup tomorrow night. I'm so excited that I already have my dvr set to record pilot episode of The Return of Jezebel James. I have great hopes that the show will be as smartly written and sharply acted as Gilmore Girls. Parker Posey is the star and is always such a hoot in the Christopher Guest movies.
Shelina tagged me with 'You Make My Day' award. How very sweet of her. It is so flattering to be selected . I am terrible at passing these awards along - I don't want to single out just a few when each of you make my day. So if you are reading this, know that I have tagged you.You make my day.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Only a little bit of quilting and a whole lot of playing outside has been going on around here for the last few days. We are having an unseasonably warm spell that has been quite delightful. There just was no keeping us indoors this weekend. A lot of digging, a little planting and some varmint deterrent work . . . those squirrels really get on my nerve.
I wanted to share a photo of my iron. Dot had put out a request last week that we share our make and model of iron along with likes and dislikes.
I don't know the exact model of this Rowenta, but it's the one they sell at Costco. I believe this is my third one. The first stopped heating and the second developed a nasty leak in the water tank (a large contributer to the condition of my ironing board cover). Thanks to Costco's liberal return policy, I've been able to box them up and bring home a shiny new one whenever trouble ensues. (I do keep the box and receipt handy.) I always keep water in the tank, even when I don't want steam. I like the extra weight it gives to press out those nasty cotton wrinkles. I have gotten used to the auto shut off. This particular iron seems to reheat more quickly than others.
I found this happy bundle on my front porch last week. It's an entire roll of Quilter's Dream cotton batting. It is my favorite and I love the luxury of having a whole roll at hand whenever I have a batting need. I purchase it on-line at Quilternatives. I think this is my third order from Terri. This last order had a shipping glitch (not from her end) and she stayed right on top of it for me . . . we had quite an email trail going for a week or so.
The little bit of quilting resulted in this little project that came from that scrap basket. The plates are only glue basted right now. I found a delicious rusty orange that I plan to use for the center. There will be a little sashing made from the scraps of the Tail Of Two Kitties blocks.
It's going to be fun to see just how many quilts are going to come from that basket. I have to laugh at myself a little bit - I remember a time when I feared I would never have enough leftovers to make a scrap quilt . . . ahh the naivete of a new quilter.

Friday, March 07, 2008

It's funny that a basket of scraps and a post about my home town took me a little further down memory lane. Before my very eyes I had a quilt top that tells a tale.

A Tail Of Two Kitties

Just west of town, you make a left turn on the old lonesome road where stray flowers bloom.
You will pass by farm houses once on the same party line. Further up the canyon is a culvert to the fresh water creek, shaded by eucalyptus trees and it's banks teeming with poison oak. There in an opening is the house where I grew up. On the other side of the fence just beyond where the county road ends, our nearest neighbor's horse pasture joined with our field. That fence held no meaning for these two kitty cats - ours named Tiger and the neighbor's Billie Manure - they had work to do.

The two felines were the queens of that canyon. They earned their keep by being great huntresses. They kept the barns free of mice and made valiant efforts to keep the fields and pastures clear of gophers. They were prolific in every aspect of their lives and each gave birth regularly to the next generation of hunters.
And this is where the fun begins. While they had mutual admiration for the other's hunting skill, each fancied herself a superior mother. So when Billie Manure would leave her progeny to go out for a hunt, Tiger would stealthily kidnap Billie's kittens. Suddenly a litter of 5 or 6 at our place would become 10 or 12.
And in just as methodical a plan, Billie Manure would retaliate as soon as the opportunity was afforded to her. In the blink of an eye, Tiger's kitten family would be down to zero. It became a community of cats that both our families cared for in a neighborly fashion.
It was a fun thing to watch - a mother cat carefully carrying kitten after kitten gently in her mouth across the field. What those poor kitties must have thought, when they soon realized they would be making the return journey in the next day or so. We never knew whose cats were whose except those two females - Tiger and Billie Manure - I bet some of their descendants are still hunting in and around the buildings and fields in that canyon today.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Sometimes Hubby calls me a snob. He means no harm in it. If the truth were to be told, he is right. It's because he doesn't just call me a snob, he says that I am a 'Flower Field Snob.' You see, I grew up in Lompoc, a little agricultural town on California's central coast. It was once known as The Flower Capital of the World - more flowers were grown for seed than anywhere else. Among the varieties grown are stock, sweet peas (my favorite) and nasturtiums. If you can find nothing else nice to say about Lompoc, it smells good.
We lived outside the city limits, a short drive up a canyon on the west side of town. On the left side of this photo you can see a splotch of white, a fire break cut into the hill near our house. So you get an idea of what my trip to the school bus stop was like each spring. I don't remember being told, but I knew I was never allowed to go into the fields to pick flowers, but some strays always managed to grow outside the boundary. Those I gladly picked to fashion into a little bouquet for my teacher in the morning or my mom in the afternoon.In addition to flowers, edible crops are grown as well; beans, artichokes, asparagus to name a few. These 'pinquitos' are an important part of 'Santa Maria style-barbecue' I remember in the 60's and 70's, crewel embroidery was very popular and many women were collecting empty bean sacks to practice their embroidery stitches on. It was the rare business that did not sport a framed example of this handiwork.
I never really thought about how wonderful all those fields were or how lucky I was to enjoy them during my growing up years. That is until this little touristy spot opened up near where I currently reside. One 50 acre plot where they have the NERVE to charge $9 a head to walk along the furrows and look at the flowers. It's a beautiful sight as you drive along the freeway, but I don't think I will ever be able to open my wallet in order to walk the fields for a closer look - it is only one field afterall. It is a great place for student field trips. With so little agriculture in this very urban region, it's a great way for kids to learn about the work involved in farming.
Instead I'll save my cash and look for flowers all around. Harper and I took a short walk around the neighborhood and came upon all these little pretties. There's ice plant, vinca vine and even a few weeds.

I'll take the name Flower Field Snob and wear it proudly as I look for beautiful blooms wherever I go.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Are you sick of hearing about that silly scrap basket yet? To be quite honest, I'm getting rather sick of it myself. After spending most of Sunday working my way through the remaining cutting, I just had to stop and try something new. That last stack waiting to be trimmed down will still be there when I get back.
So here is the first project that came out of that basket - all quilted and bound. I used a selection of 5" squares for the front. I can only show the back for the time being. It's a gift and I don't want to reveal more than this. I'll share the front after it has been received at the other end.Still not ready to get back to the cutting, I next grabbed the basket of 1 1/2" strips. It was filled to overflowing. I still have a pretty happy basket filled with scraps after these were taken from it. I intend to add some plain borders and embellish them with applique.
The weather here has been gorgeous, so quilting has been interrupted with digging in the yard. I have been mentally planning a garden for a few weeks and now the time is here to begin putting the plan into action. I hope to be putting in more vegetables this year than in the past. First thing on the agenda - a salsa garden- peppers, green onion, cilantro and, of course, tomatoes. I can practically taste it already.