Thursday, July 31, 2008

How lucky can one girl be? A package arrived on my doorstep yesterday afternoon. My Four Seasons Quilt Swap has arrived. 'Summer Sunflowers' I just love it.My partner Dixie does not have a blog, so this it the very first public reveal. I sure think this quilt says, 'Libby.'
Dixie sent a couple of other fun goodies, too. A Mary Engelbreit journal and notepad - just the right size to drop into my purse and make notes when I'm out and about. I used to carry a similar one, that's now full with sayings and quilt ideas that inspire me wherever I go. I'll enjoy doing that again with a fresh, new book. Thank you, Dixie!
Last weekend, I pulled out my hexagon basket to assess where I am with this project. I have been working on this since January 2006. I cut lots of strips of fabrics, then started basting hexagons.
The original plan was to baste everything before I began stitching the blocks together. About 6 months of that was all I could stand and I started assembling stars. I finished 9 stars all the way before I ran out of black hexes. Then I assembled more stars until I ran out of cream hexes - 14 more.
Then came the decision on how many stars I wanted in my quilt. I came up with 41 and I constructed the centers for those. Now they wait for cream and black which is yet to be cut and basted. I still don't know how many diamonds I need, but I have a good stack assembled. I will probably have to cut more fabrics for them and baste again.
When I ran all those scenarios through my head, I decided I just couldn't wait any longer to see how it was all going to look when put together. Two and a half years of delayed gratification is all I could take. Here is what I've stitched so far.
There are enough completed stars and diamonds to complete the second row. Then back to basting for me. I'm glad I chose to stitch them together. It's just the inspiration I needed to kick start the project into high gear again. There's probably another 2 1/2 years . . . or more left in this project. It'll be worth it in the end.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I got to spend a little quality time with my sewing machine yesterday afternoon. What fun it was to sit down and stitch something quick and easy.I picked up this pattern at the quilt shop in Sedona during our visit a couple of weeks ago. Fall is my favorite season and I have quilts that reflect that, but I don't have many purely Halloween quilts. The bats in this pattern just tickled me. I need to applique down the bodies and the monogram. Then there are spiders to be added. The pattern calls for buttons, but I'm thinking yo yo's.
I also started getting some of the wool ready to stitch from the kit I picked up at Primitive Gatherings booth on Sunday.
I don't normally make a placement guide - Wing It - is my motto. However, the background piece was so generous in size, I decided to do my best to save as much of the excess in one piece as possible.
The sample shows the finished piece in a frame. I think I may choose instead to make a pillow. Wall space is becoming a premium, but I can always use one more throw pillow.
A trip to the mailbox yielded a fun surprise. A package from Valerie of Pumpkin Patch Quilter.
I was the lucky winner in her prize drawing. Isn't it just darling? My favorite - fall. Valerie hand quilted fans in the center and did a tiny meander all around the outer edge. A perfect addition to my fall collection. Thanks, Valerie.
This morning we had another follow up appointment for Harper. Everything is healing nicely. The last of the stitches were removed. Best of all - permission has been granted for short walks of 5 to 10 minutes. We are all practically giddy with excitement.
Also she is allowed to relax outside on the patio. This spot is one of her favorites on a hot summer afternoon. It doesn't seem like those rocks would be comfortable, but the concrete is cool and well shaded by the tree. We must be mindful to not be tempted to charge after a squirrel lest there be a huge set back in recovery. You'll find me sitting nearby with my squirt gun to keep them at bay. Fun for everyone . . . except the squirrels.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Here it is: Monday once again. Where did the weekend go? I enjoyed all of the lovely comments on my bloggiversary. I just can't say enough what a wonderful experience blogging has been for me. Hubby joined in the celebration with a gift. Here is my new toy.
I've already had a lot of fun taking pictures, trying out odd angles, close-ups, distance shots, self portraits. I can hardly wait for the next full moon - now the camera can remain still for the longer exposure time - no more fuzzy or heart-shaped moons. I'm telling you, Hubby is just the best! I'll share another treat soon.
Oh, here's another something extra fun . . . Fever is on the bed! We have slept under it for several nights now. Just love it.
As I anticipated, it shrank quite a good amount when washed. Since I don't pre-wash, I have had to learn to compensate for that when calculating the finished size I ultimately want. This time it turned out to be a perfect fit. I would show you the sides, but there is currently no dust ruffle making for a rather unattractive view of the box spring. Guess that will be my next project.
On Sunday, Hubby and I drove to Long Beach to attend the International Quilt Festival. This was the first year it was held near me and I was anxious to see what they had to offer. Oh my! I have never seen so many vendors. We walked and walked and walked through aisles of vendors. These purchases all came from the Primitive Gatherings booth.
I think I showed great restraint. I could have easily taken one of everything and maybe two of some. Lisa and her husband were both delightful to chat with, offering help and suggestions with my choices. The same cannot be said for all of the vendors, some merely grunted monosyllabic responses to questions. They didn't get any of my business either.
I carried my camera but didn't take a single picture. Many of the quilts had HUGE signs forbidding photography. I don't really understand the thought behind that, but I did follow the rules.
And because I haven't been working on anything new lately, here is one more look at my Four Seasons Quilt Swap summer quilt. It is now living happily in its new home in The Netherlands.
The quote on the label is from Elizabeth Lawrence and says, 'The hum of bees is the voice of the garden.' I thoroughly enjoyed participating in every season of this swap. I enjoyed making each season's quilt and love each that I have received. I wonder if there will be another swap for the coming year.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

My day started out muy calliente. The first order of business was to pick all the jalapenos I could find. I then assembled all the necessary tools and ingredients to make jalapeno pepper jelly.Six half-pint jars and a clean kitchen later-I am just as happy as a clam. Not only did I make the jelly myself, but I grew the peppers in my very own garden. I was feeling so good I decided I should share the bounty.
I took the stems, seeds and veins that I cleaned from the peppers and deposited them under my tomato plants and the two latest S.P.O.E.'s (squirrel point of entry.) *mwahahahahaaa* If nothing else, I should end up with a multitude of volunteer pepper plants next year.
Today is my 2-year bloggiversary. My how time flies when you are having fun. Of course I had no idea when I began that I would have such fun, find and build friendships with people all around the world, or that I would be inspired daily by the creativity and kindness that is found in this blogging community. Here is my very first post:

Monday, July 24, 2006

It Must Be The Heat . . . After months of reading and enjoying the blogs of others, I have come to the conclusion that I, too, have things to say, photos to share and sometimes just plain rants to get off my chest.

I hope to share events from my daily life. From mundane chores, to amusing anecdotes, quilting adventures, triumphs in the garden and adventures into the world away from my own backyard.

Today I'll share a photo of my friend and nearly constant companion, Harper. She is a 9-year old Australian Shepard/Golden Retriever mix. On one of the luckiest days of my life, we locked eyes at the local animal shelter and the rest is history.

In looking back, it reads a little like a mission statement - but I think I have been accomplishing just what I set out to do. I hope it continues on for years to come. I enjoy the time I spend writing my blog and hold fondly to the friends I have found because of it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I think it's high time for a 'Harper Update.' So here we go . . . We seem to have come to the part where boredom has set in. At the last vet appointment, part of the sutures were removed but not all. This was due to the fact that she was going to the Pet Hotel for a few days while The Princess and I were gone. We chose this option in order to alleviate some boredom, but the vet feared she may do some unauthorized licking and chewing, so he left a few sutures in place for good measure.
Our next appointment is in a week. I am hoping with all my might that we may be allowed to take some short walks. Even a couple of short trips to the mailbox would suffice. Her she is looking wistful at the front door. I think her thought bubble says, 'Remember when we used to use this thing.' Notice she is showing her 'good side' again.Here she is plotting an escape to the backyard. No worries over showing the bad side - she just wants to find a way out!
We experienced an unauthorized jump into one of the chairs on Monday. She used to lay her head down on the seat, look imploringly, and wait for permission. Not any more. Now if there is not a hiney in a seat, the furniture looks like this:
and this.
Yes, that is Fever on the ottoman. I have been working a little each evening stitching down the binding. It's a BIG quilt, those scallops make the perimeter even BIGGER! I'm currently working on the third scalloped edge, then it will be just a straight shot across the top.
I thought the pest damage in the green beans was some sort of bug when I shared it yesterday. In the afternoon, I went out for a closer inspection to determine what sort of thing I could use get rid of them. You guessed - not bugs at all but a doggoned squirrel came scampering out of there. With no dog on patrol and no humans around for a few days, seems the squirrels moved in for a buffet. Well, the sheriff is back in town. If there is any good news in all of this, it seems they only ate the leaves. This morning The Princess and I picked a colander full of beans for dinner tonight.

These are the first I have ever grown. Something tells me they are going to be the best I've ever tasted!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The good, the bad, the ugly, and a little bit of tasty are all here for your enjoyment today.
Let's take the ugly first. Here is a picture from last Tuesday of the garden trellis. I just couldn't be more excited with how this has turned out. On the same afternoon, I harvested a bunch of basil and made the most delicious pesto for our dinner. There are blossoms on the beans. Life is great.This morning's picture is not so happy. Seems that some garden pest moved in and had a little dinner and dessert while I was out of town. I'll be at the garden center later today looking for something to remedy this little problem.
Now for some good. Just a couple of steps away from the trellis is where you will find the gourds. Apparently gourds are not so delicious as beans. For that I am grateful.
The watermelon is looking happy and healthy. There are several blossoms on the vine.
Still getting roses. This bush has the most brilliant orange blossoms. I have no idea the variety. All the roses were here when we bought the house.
The sunflowers are going to burst out any day now.
The tomatoes are looking good. They suffered some squirrel damage while I was gone. Hubby informed me there had been a breach in the perimeter in the southeast corner. I found evidence of half eaten green tomatoes along the fence line. We re-fortified the spot they broke in at with more rabbit wire. In order win this little war, I must remain ever vigilant!
Just look at those jalepenos. The picture looks a little funny because the best view was through the window screen. I plant to have a big picking party Thursday morning and then make jalepeno jelly. I can hardly wait.
There was already a picking party at the Anaheim pepper plants this morning. Five dozen peppers roasted, peeled, seeded and divided into freezer bags to enjoy later. I always use these peppers in taco meat and they are delicious with scrambled eggs.
Oh my! The freezer is getting so full. I stopped baking zucchini bread and muffins. They did not make for efficient use of freezer space. Instead I grated the zucchini and froze portion sizes just right for the bread recipe. I can also use it in soups this winter. Also there are some blueberries and nectarines that will be delicious come winter. It's a good thing we don't use our ice maker - I need the storage.
I made a fresh batch of granola this morning. The jar had been empty for nearly a week. I use the recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook - you know, the one with the plaid cover.
I hope to get some bread started later this afternoon. Things in the kitchen are really looking good.
Now for the bad. Well the bad is just me, the rest is good.
Last month, Stephanie was so very sweet to give me the Arte y Pico blogging award. Stephanie has been more than patient and sweet waiting for me to acknowledge this honor. I have excuses - The Princess arrived, Harper had surgery, I was out-of-town - still I should not have taken so long. Really she should take it back . . . but I won't let her.
Then as if to prove I'm really not all that worthy and awfully doggoned slow, Paula flattered me with the Brillante Weblog Premio 2008 award last week. Her kind words really did make me blush and caused my head to swell just a little bit. But wait, it swelled just a little more. Katie also bestowed the award on me. Hubby tells me I must be careful or soon my head won't fit through the door.
It really is humbling to know that folks enjoy stopping by and feel entertained by my little stories and the minutia of my daily life. Now I am left to nominate others - a thing I am not good at. It is nearly impossible for me to single out just a few when I find kindness and inspiration at each place I visit. If you are reading this post, please consider yourself nominated.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Many hours of driving later, The Princess and I arrived home from Quilt Camp In The Pines yesterday afternoon. Driving through the desert excepted, we had a great time. Camp itself lasts all week, but I had only signed up for one class. That left us girls with a couple of days to play in Flagstaff.
First on the agenda was Riordan Mansion. Completed in 1904, the home is built and furnished in the Craftsman style popular at the time (and still with me.) Just like at Hearst Castle, I am most fascinated by the kitchen. It would be like a dream come true to spend a day working with the utensils and cooking with the appliances.
Here is The Princess smelling a tree on the grounds at Riordan Mansion. I'm sure you are wondering, 'What's wrong with that girl? Are you sure she is right in the head?' Let me explain. One of the things I love most about Flagstaff is the aroma of the pine trees all around town. It's just delightful to step outside and take a deep breath and be greeted with that refreshing scent. But a funny little quirk about the Ponderosa Pines - the bark smells of butterscotch. The only way our girl would believe it was to step up and take a whiff for herself.
We also enjoyed an evening at Lowell Observatory. There is a wonderful Visitor's Center where you can explore and learn all sorts of things related to astronomy. We decided to wait until the sun went down for our visit. Waiting offers the opportunity to looks through the telescope (s).
There is no flash photography allowed at the observatory, so these photos were lightened up with the help of Picasa. Doesn't the moon look heart-shaped? I must have wiggled a little while the shutter was open. I Heart Flagstaff!
Here is another without the wiggle.
We got to look through the big telescope for a view of the M11 Star Cluster. In the 16" telescope offered a view of a dual star. In the 10" telescope, we looked at Jupiter and four of its moons. A second viewing at the 10" telescope offered an amazingly brilliant and close look at the full moon.
One day we took a drive down to Sedona through Oak Creek Canyon. I am always amazed on that drive. You just mosey along through the pine trees, round a corner and suddenly there is this amazing canyon just opened up before your eyes. Just as you are about to adjust to the new scenery, you round another corner and there is the red rocks of Sedona and a whole new landscape. All of that in a short 28 mile drive.
I almost forgot. We came here to go to Quilt Camp. My class was Big and Little Stitch Hand Quilting with Joe Cunningham. Since it was a technique class, there's not much to show. But I do feel like I learned quite a bit. I'm not so afraid of those tiny little betweens needles anymore, I made real progress in getting my stitches on the top and back of the quilt to look the same, and my big stitches are much improved as well. I made some new friends in class, met fellow bloggers - why didn't we exchange emails? Joe not only gave some great quilting help, but told a lot of fun stories and played his guitar for the class in the afternoon.
He was also the featured entertainer at the banquet Saturday evening - his musical quilt show on the life of Joe The Quilter.
The whole trip was a lot of fun and I hated to leave Flagstaff. But I missed Hubby and Harper and was anxious to get home again. Now it's time to pay the piper - the laundry hamper is filled to overflowing, the garden needs a little tending, the fridge looks a little empty, and the unread posts on my Bloglines list is in the triple digits . . . what I really want to do is practice my stitches. I bet I can fit a couple in here and there while I get caught up.

Monday, July 14, 2008

There is a flurry of activity and a whole lot of list making going on around here today. I'm packing up and on my way to Quilt Camp. I have been eagerly anticipating this week for a good long time. What's not to get excited about? It's quilting held in my favorite place to visit. This year The Princess is joining me. She won't be taking any classes, but we are going a couple of days before my class so I can share some of the things I most enjoy doing when I'm there. I've overheard her on the phone explaining to a friend what she's doing, 'No, they don't have campfires and things. There are quilting classes at the college. There's a barbecue on the last night with a quilter who will speak.' The Princess has asked for a camp t-shirt as a souvenir. I'm taking the camera so there should be lots of pictures when we return.
Dawn asked some questions about the fresh figs from my last post. We had fig trees in our yard when I was growing up. I forget that not everyone does. My dad really enjoyed the fruit. My mom said the trees must taste good, too. The gophers were always eating the roots and nearly killing the tree.
There are many varieties of figs, but the only one I am familiar with is the California Mission Fig. They were brought to California from Spain to the missions (thus the name.) There are little seedy things inside, but you can just eat the whole thing. They are very sweet, kind of fleshy but not juicy. The are very popular with 'foodies' who like to do things like stuff them with blue cheese and wrap in prosciutto or serve with balsamic vinegar. Being a 'simple girl,' eating out of hand is just fine for me.
Today the weather was warm so I opened up the front door and worked at my sewing machine getting whiffs of fresh air whenever a breeze would blow my way.
I heard a little rustle out on the lawn. When I looked up I spied one of those dratted squirrels. Seems they had opened up a new supply line from the neighbor's trash cans through our backyard out to the hill behind us. Clearly they understand they are not welcome here because the little critter didn't tarry a moment on his way through.
Once I installed this little road block, they were not seen again. This weekend Hubby will do a more esthetically pleasing job of blocking the low spot in the fence. I'm sure they'll find a new spot. They like to try to stay one step ahead of me but I will not give in.
Be back next week with Tales From Camp.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Princess has finished her project and our Number One Patient/Model is here to show you the completed piece. The decision to use ribbon for the ties was a good one. The pieces provided were far to short. I do think The Princess enjoyed working on her project. Surely more will follow.
Notice that Harper is showing her 'good side.' She continues to improve every day. Now we must be extra vigilant to keep her from jumping. The good news is she is not very subtle and will telegraph what her intentions are. This leaves plenty of time for us to holler, "NO!" The next vet appointment is this Wednesday.
We do plan to ask for a special dispensation to go outside in the afternoons. This time of year brings a weather pattern that includes tropical storms that come up from Baja California making it very humid in the afternoons. It is so refreshing to go out in the yard about 3 in the afternoon for a break from the stuffy house. I think we should get the okay, if we promise to keep a girl on a short leash. That would stop any sudden urge to chase an errant squirrel or random cat that could come into the yard.
There were a couple inquiries about the quilt that can be seen behind The Princess at the sewing machine. It is Sweet Land of Liberty BOM by Cheri Payne. It was a class offered at my local quilt shop a few years back. I always look forward to the 'patriotic' season when I can put this quilt up each year.We had a very nice delivery this week in the CSA box. That is the biggest avocado I have ever seen. I made carrot bread with those red carrots. Everyone is looking forward to eating the figs. I think they will become tonight's dessert.
I finished quilting Fever! Can you believe it? When I got down to the last pass, I told Hubby that I was getting a little sad. I feel like I've working on it for so long now, it's kind of hard to see it end. He quickly reminded me how happy I will be once it's on our bed. He also pointed out the fact that I will have such fun picking out the next project. Smart man that Hubby.
I'm making a scalloped edge finish on three sides. The top will be straight. I don't want those scallops flopping me in the face all night long. A dinner plate made the perfect template.
Then I made what seems like miles and miles of bias binding.
I hope that tonight I'll be working on hand stitching the binding down. That is my absolute favorite part of quilting.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Be still my heart . . . is that The Princess at the sewing machine? Why yes, it is! She wanted to make a housewarming gift for a friend that just moved into new digs. She decided on an apron. We searched the Internet, found a nice tutorial, then changed our minds. Instead she chose a darling little panel at JoAnn's, brought it home and went straight to work. The neck and waist ties were clearly made for a 3 year old, so she's going to buy some coordinating grosgrain ribbon to make her project adult sized. I think a new sewing machine might be on the gift wish list this year. She's made some curtains and expressed interest in making some skirts. I don't know if she'll ever become a quilter, but you never know.
I finished the last stitches in the binding of the courthouse step quilt this afternoon. It was a fun little quilt to make and a great way to use up some fabrics that were languishing in the cupboard. It will most likely end up as a gift.
Harper is doing well. After the pain patch had been off for nearly a whole day, she finally ate some food. Let me tell you, I was getting quite worried. The vet assured me she was fine, but what reasonable person wouldn't worry after a whole week with just a few bites of chicken and a couple of doggy treats. We are still giving her an oral pain pill to help at night. She has never been one to complain or show pain - so we are guessing.
She keeps eyeballing the ottoman - a piece of furniture she's allowed to jump on. There are weeks to go before jumping is allowed. We leave a big basket on the ottoman and fill the easy chairs with pillows when we leave the room to discourage a girl from trying to get too comfy. Every day is one closer to being allowed to do all the things a puppy dog enjoys. This, too, shall pass.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

It's time again for the 'Tuesday Tour.' Yes, that is me in the backyard each Tuesday morning, still in my pajamas taking pictures of the garden. Certainly this confirms to my neighbor that I am out of my mind. Today is a collage of the trellis progress - from an ugly pile of rocks in May to a thriving planter that has offered up harvests in just one month.Can you believe it? I went back and checked the dates. I planted the herb plants and seeds in the planter on June 3rd. I think maybe they were magic beans after all.
Later in the day, I sat down at my machine and quilted. I made up the quilt sandwich on this crazy courthouse top over the weekend. I wanted to practice a little with quilting on the tabletop again before I began quilting Fever.
It took just a little over an hour to quilt up. I'm going to stitch down the binding tonight and have a complete quilt real soon.
That was just the inspiration I needed to get going. Here is a look at Fever in the machine. There's a lot more quilt to stuff through than the courthouse steps. I'll work from the middle toward the edge, making each pass a little easier before I flip and go the other way.
I can hardly believe this quilt is nearly done. It began last fall when I was wanted to find something quick to 'whip' up while Hubby was away for a week for work. Silly me - things just never work out that easy. Still it will be well worth the wait. It'll be on the bed before we know it.