Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Oh boy, now I've gone and done it. I have avoided doing this for a long time, but this time it just couldn't be helped. I have taken a true, honest and accurate assessment of the UFO's that now languish in the new garage cupboards. It didn't turn out to be as painful as I feared it might. I think there is a good chance that just about everything can be finished or reasonably dispensed with without too much trauma. I have to admit that the list is not nearly as long as I feared yet it is longer than I would like .

Peaceful Garden Path - first attempt at needle turn appliqué. Abandoned due to a critical eye. Current assessment - not as bad as it once seemed, there's hope.
My Country Week - didn't keep up well in a very fast paced class. Buried but not forgotten in a box. Current assessment - maybe I should start this one again, I have a better stash of wool now which would make for a better variety in the blocks.
Liberated Quilt - class with Gwen Marston. Made liberated houses, stars, and log cabins in class - managed to assemble a little top by the end of the day with every intention of putting some appliqué in the border. Current assessment - the intention lives on.
Garden Gatherings BOM - seemed like a great idea at the time. I felt that I was ready to take on needle turn again. Instead of completing Peaceful Garden Path, I started something new. I know I don't work well with block-of-the-month patterns. I have struggled mightily to finish the two or three others and should have known better than to start this. Current Assessment - it's totally abandoned. I should turn the completed blocks I have into pillows and put all the unused fabrics into my stash.
Hexagon Stars - a project for the ages. I expect to be working on this quilt when I arrive at the 'old folk's home.'
Bob - feathered star medallion - Flying by the seat of my pants, I attempted to design my own medallion quilt as I went along. Bad judgment call in attempting a mitered border. Current assessment - maybe if it waits a while longer those miters won't look so bad.
Whole Cloth - a winter only project. A minimum of two and probably more winter's worth of work left in this one.
Snail's Trail - Quilted. Needs to be trimmed and bound. What's the hold up? This is the second quilt that I quilted on my Grace Frame. The quilting is not very good and I managed to make a hole. Current assessment - I think I can put an 'artful' appliqué to patch that hole. Will make a fine donation quilt.
Fever - Top completed, waiting to be quilted. The top is too large for the Grace Frame but I know I can quilt it on the table top machine. Just waiting for The Princess' room to be empty (before the bed comes back in) to lay it on the floor to layer and baste.
A Penny Saved - another by hand only project. My hands can only do so much. It will get done . . . all in good time.
Rail Fence - Top completed, waiting to be quilted. A possible project for a hand quilting class this summer.
Crazy Court House Steps - Top completed, waiting to be quilted. A possible project for a hand quilting class this summer.
Mourning Quilt, a doll quilt - Partially hand quilted, set aside in favor of the Secret Deadline Project.
Secret Deadline Project - current focus. Starting to see the light that it may not be done by the deadline. A valiant effort will bring some brownie points.
There it is for all the world to see. My name is Libby. I'm a quilter.

Monday, May 26, 2008

How I spent the three day weekend.
With The Princess soon returning to temporarily live with us, I needed to find a new place to store my quilting supplies. Seems that she is going to want to hang clothing in the closet of her bedroom. On Saturday, Hubby put up two new cabinets in the garage for just that purpose. Yesterday I tried to organize and move things in.
The first cabinet holds fabric. The second has just a little bit of everything - books, magazines, and patterns; UFO's and future projects; orphan blocks and left over bindings; batting scraps; along with notions of all sorts. The tops of both cabinets have storage bins with more of the same.
This quilt ladder found a new home in the dining room. Rather than a place to hold projects that are in progress, it now displays finished quilts.
This part of the backyard has always been an eyesore. While I have long wanted to improve its looks, I never knew just what to do. And it's easy to stay on the other side and not think about it.
I picked up a magazine at in the grocery store last week and found this article. Quick as can be I was on my way to my favorite junk store.
I'm not sure if these are from fences or banisters, but they will do the trick. The drawer will work just right for the planter box on top. This week I will work on moving that pile of rocks to make room for the raised bed box. I can hardly wait.
We even made time to see a movie . . . in the theater. We saw Young @ Heart. Unlike the latest installment of Indiana Jones, it's not playing on many screens. But if you can find it playing somewhere near you, please consider seeing it. It will make you laugh and cry, but it will remind you to live life to the fullest every day.
Which reminds me, earlier this month, I was tagged by Diane from California Girl in Oz to list 7 random facts about myself. I have been mulling it over and over in my mind all this time and finally it came to me just what I wanted to share.

1. I have never seen any of the Star Wars movies.
2. I have never seen any of the Indiana Jones movies.
3. I have never seen any of the Harry Potter movies.
4. I have never seen any of the Lord Of The Rings movies.
5. I have never seen any of the Die Hard movies.
6. I have never seen any of The Matrix movie.
7. I have never seen any of the Rambo movies.

This list has become a badge of honor to me over the years and I wear that badge with great pride. You can see that I am not one to go for big budget, special effect, trilogies and sagas. Just a nice little slice of life served up with some popcorn and a soda.
I hope you all have enjoyed your Memorial Day weekend. Please take just a moment to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wow! I never realized what a universally loved piece of equipment a clothesline is until this week. What fun to read all your comments of enjoying one or supporting me (and countless others in the same situation) in being able to continue using mine. I say it often, but I think it bears repeating - it is often the simplest things that can give us the greatest joy.
There has been precious little sewing going on around here this week. My little quilting hand has been sore. I don't want to end up with a serious repetitive motion injury, so I have tried to find other ways to stay busy and amuse myself.
After finding only bare stems on my cucumber plants, I have launched an all out assault on the squirrels. I spied from my kitchen window one of the enemy combatants stealing from the neighbor's bird feeder. He looks like the same fella that I drenched with a hose earlier today.
Boy that was fun. These guys don't seem to learn very quickly that they are not welcome around these parts.
I'd like to introduce Hootie, the latest addition to the garden pest patrol. I had hoped he might strike fear into the squirrels but that does not seem to be the case. He will still be worth his cost if he saves the apricots from the birds.
While I didn't spend anytime sewing this week, I did occupy my time in the kitchen. Along with another round of bread making. I tested out a recipe for Stuffed Squash Blossoms. With just a little searching, I found one that did not call for frying them. Instead they are baked in the oven. I chose to omit the bruschetta, but decided to add that garlic to the filling. They were quite tasty and I'm sure we will enjoy them again before the summer is through.

The fruits and veggies in the basket are this week's delivery from Garden of Eden. It's like a little surprise to open that box and see what the week's bounty will be. Now to get them incorporated into our daily meals.
And finally I have refilled that ever empty jar on the kitchen counter. Seems like that empty canister shows up in a lot of my kitchen photos. Frankly I was getting tired of looking at it. I pulled out a recipe for granola from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook and got to work. We have been enjoying it on cereal in the mornings or a little yogurt as dessert in the evenings. Looks like that jar is going to stay filled now.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I sure enjoyed reading all the comments on my last post about clotheslines. Many of you asked why they are not allowed in our neighborhood. Since the question came up multiple times, I thought I would answer here rather than sending individual emails with a reply.
Our home is in a neighborhood governed by a home owner's association. One of the rules in the CC&R's concerns the installation and use of a clothesline. I am guessing that there is likely a very standard set of CC&R's available whenever a developer is starting up a new HOA. I don't think that our association in particular has anything against the use of a clothesline, rather the rule against them is just part of that standard language.
There are steps that can be taken to have the rules changed. I'm sure in today's climate of trying to be more environmentally friendly and energy efficient, the board of director's would most likely be in favor of an amendment. I just don't happen to be the personality type that would take on such a task. But if a petition were to begin circulating, I'd be more than willing to sign it and help with the process if needed. It certainly would be a change for the good.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Shhhhhh - don't tell anyone, but we installed a clothesline yesterday afternoon in the backyard. Although clotheslines are not welcome in our neighborhood, I have longed to have one for sometime time now. How much harm can one 40' retractable line cause?I only plan to hang linens and the occasional 100% cotton shirt or pant. No 'unmentionables' will be paraded about. Hubby installed the line to be very low so it can only be spotted if you are peaking over the fence. The inaugural basket has already come in to be folded - the smell of those towels made my heart sing.
We continue to have unseasonably warm weather - today's high is predicted to be 80 degrees while the average at this time of year is 66. Harper has found the best seat around, under the shade of the ficus with her belly on the cool, cool concrete.
I have always known that she is a smart girl.
We were out of town over the weekend, but before we left on Thursday I took some pictures out in the garden. Then this morning I went out for another photo session.
At this rate, we'll be eating zucchini by next week.
Same goes for yellow crookneck squash.
There will be Anaheim peppers in the salad before you know it.
Sadly the cucumber plants did not survive. With just a brief let up in the assault on the squirrels, those little devils apparently moved in and finished them off while we were gone. Not a single blossom or leaf left, only a few bare stems *argh* I hope to get a couple more plants this week and try again. I refuse to admit defeat!
Not only did I come home to surprises in the garden, but a surprise in the mailbox, too! Look at these little goodies that arrived from Dawn of Quilts and Pieces. There was a lot fun packed into that little envelope! A mini quilt - the entire piece is a mere 6" - also a darling little brushed cotton and wool needle case along with a zippered thread keeper.
She even pieced the back of the quilt! Could it be any cuter? I hope you can see the quilting on both the quilt and the thread keeper. I am sure to be the envy of all my classmates at the next retreat I attend.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

They're here! I picked up my first box of CSA fruits and veggies this afternoon. Such a wonderful assortment they have provided for us.Head lettuce, two kinds of greens, a sack of herbs, cucumbers, zucchini, avocados and onions round out the vegetables. Grapefruit, oranges, lemons, cherries and apricots fill the fruit portion. Oh how I wanted to eat every one of those apricots on my way home and pretend like it didn't happen.
This organization is just a little different from the last one we used. They work as a co-op and pick up produce from several local sources. Just like they claim on their website, this allows them to offer a much greater variety in their weekly deliveries. If this week's box is indicative of their regular supply, I can see that we will be with them for a long time to come.
On the quilting front, my work on the Secret Deadline Project continues. Hand quilting is slow, but so very satisfying. It will be well worth the effort in the end.
On Tuesday night I was happily quilting away and decided I should stop and give my sore finger a little break. The next thing I knew, I had crawled beneath the quilt to have a look from below. I loved to do this when I was little with a tattered old basket quilt from the '30s. When the light shines through, you can see the outlines of applique and dark lines where seams are pressed together. To my child's eye it looked just like the big stained glass windows at Grandma's church.
Soon I crawled back out, went for the camera, back under again so I could try to take a picture. It wasn't long before Hubby inquired, 'What are you doing under there?' I guess from his vantage point all that rustling, flash firing and shutter clicking didn't bring out the wonder that I was seeing beneath those layers of fabric. It's still a magical sight to me.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bliss!Bliss with jam on top!
Hey Kids! Do you know what time it is? It's sign up time for the summer installment of the Four Seasons Quilt Swap. Space is limited and it fills up quickly. Hurry on over and secure your spot.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Today the sun broke through early. We never know what to expect in the months of May and June. Yesterday not a single golden ray made it's way through the fog cover and there was even a small sprinkle just before bedtime. This morning with the sun out strong, I thought I'd go out and see how things are growing in the garden.
Here's one of my little cucumber plants. After an assault from that dastardly squirrel, I gently swathed them in tulle. There are still sad little stubs in places where there should be healthy looking leaves. But look straight down the center and you'll spy the very first little blossom.Last year I didn't come up with a way to protect the cucumbers and lost the plants. This year I am remaining vigilant. Score one for Libby.
Now look at my little hydrangea plant.
When I brought it home from the nursery last year, it was a large, vibrant and healthy plant. It was very unhappy with the place I chose to plant it. Even though it looked like a complete goner, I took a chance and moved it too a new spot. All winter it looked like a small bundle of sticks sprouting from the ground. It must have had just a little bit of life left in it when I replanted and now I have been rewarded with two sweet little blooms. I think it's going thrive in it's new location.
It's the time of year for the Jacarandas to bloom.
They are so pretty. Particularly when you can get a view of several growing in the distance.
Soon this whole tree will be covered in lovely purple blooms.
The downside . . .
they are the messiest trees. All those little purple blooms fall, turn brown and leave stains on the sidewalks. Soon there will be no green grass visible in this corner of the yard.
I entertained myself today with a recipe from The Bread Bible.
Oh how I wish my blog had a scent feature. The entire house smells just heavenly. I haven't tried a slice yet. Still I am pleased with my results and feel there has been an improvement over previous recipes. I'm already anxious to have another go with it. I know I made a couple of errors that probably lead to the loaves not rising as high as they could have. The learning curve for me seems quite steep.
I have been playing with fabric, too. Isn't this little pinwheel sweet?
I stumbled upon a new to me blog recently, PolkaDotPineapple and found a post where she shared a photo of her fabric pinwheel. I followed the links to the tutorial. So simple to do - and still the learning curve for me is steep. I meant to have the fabrics alternate. I know next time just what to do. They are too cute to not make more. And it really spins, too. What more could a girl ask for?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day is over and now the fun begins. Well, the day itself was very lovely and filled with special treats. But the fun of playing with those special treats will bring back warm memories of the day.
Some years back, it occurred to me that I much prefer to be at home than out with the brunch crowd on occasion days. Above most all other meals, I enjoy fixing breakfast and on Mother's Day it's no different. Just as we finished up the last bites, Hubby told me to close my eyes and hold out my hands. When I opened them, I spied this longed for book The Bread Bible. I have dropped some hints here and there about this book recently. And also talked of purchasing a food scale for measuring ingredients. After a quick cleanup of self and kitchen, we went on a shopping excursion to purchase a food scale. My baking arsenal is growing and improving all the time.I have long hungered to make a good, light and tasty loaf of bread. I could hardly wait to dive into the pages. With just a little bit of reading, I already feel better equipped. I have always understood that yeast is a living, breathing thing that is to be respected. Still I had innocently been killing the yeast with my methods leaving only the heartiest among them to attempt to raise the dough. Now armed with complete information and instructions, I hope that the yeast will thrive and *burp* happily away yielding wonderful results for our table.
It was afternoon here when The Princess finished her work day and was able to call. A box had been dropped by UPS earlier in the week and I was finally able to open it. Of course, it turned out to be a box in a box in a box with lots of tissue, bubble wrap and pretty, crinkly shredded paper before I reached the prize: Tess - the garden whirligig. Isn't she darling? When the breeze hits the flower on the end it spins around and lets Tess water her garden.
It is always fun to chat with The Princess, to hear about her day, her upcoming travel plans and the most important talk of all: who should win Survivor. Communication is so easy these days. I think nothing (well, I do calculate the 9 hour time difference) of picking up the phone and giving her a call to ask a question or report a silly little triumph in my day. I well remember when Hubby and I were first married and he was serving in Japan. The going rate was more than a couple dollars per minute and one single call could easily mount up a bill that was overwhelming. Now we are just weeks away from having her back on the same continent, same country, same time zone, same state, same zip code. It's going to be fun to have her so near.
Let me leave you with the first recipe prepared from the new book - Pizza Bianca - white pizza - served with a little green salad on the side, it was simply delicious.
I hope to have some fabric/quilt related photos next time, but I've been having such fun in the kitchen of late there has been precious little quilting to share.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Just like Grandma's dish towels - Wednesday Is Baking Day. Well, I don't know for sure that it was Wednesday. But this morning the bananas had reached their peak of over-ripeness. Time to bake some Banana Nut Muffins using a recipe from my favorite cookbook.
Here's all the ingredients ready to be mixed.Guess who got to lick the bowl?
The first of two batches cooling on the counter before they go in the freezer.
Banana Pecan Muffins *
1/2 cup butter 1 cup sugar 2 eggs, beaten 2 large ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup pecans*, chopped 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter milk

*Use nuts of choice or omit, if you like. Today I used walnut.

Grease muffin cups or line with paper.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in bananas, pecans, and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
Add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk to creamed mixture. Mix just to moisten.
Spoon batter into muffins cups. Bake until lightly golden and muffins test done, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool slightly.
This afternoon I'm going to drop off the paperwork to join a local community supported agriculture program. We have used CSA in the past and enjoyed it very much. We stopped because the pickup point was a fair distance and a very inconvenient time. Searching the internet earlier this week I found another cooperative that has a pickup location that is easy for me to reach and doesn't require that I negotiate the freeway during heavy commuter traffic.
I'm looking forward to picking up my weekly box of fruits and vegetables. You never know what you'll get until you get there. It's fun to come home and plan meals around fresh, seasonal produce. It can be a challenge at times, but it sure keeps you from being in a rut of preparing the same 4 or 5 dishes again and again. Check to see if there is a program in your area. It really is fun.
The other item on today's agenda is to finish basting the Secret Deadline Project. At the last minute I decided to add a little more applique to the top which the last stitches went into last evening. Here's the back - all ready to go.
The project has grown much larger than I originally anticipated. Still shy of twin size, it is certainly a very generous lap quilt. I think I can still finish on time. Better get busy.

*** Rabbit Stitchings asked, "What is that ratings thing at the bottom of the post?" I don't know! It seems to have appeared from nowhere and I'm not sure I want it. If anyone knows how to remove it, send me a note. Thanks.

***This morning it disappeared just as mysteriously as it showed up. Go figure.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Tools of the trade. We all have them and use them for every day tasks such as for cooking, housecleaning, and laundry. We also have them for hobbies like quilting, knitting, drawing, painting, and gardening. The list could go on and on.
These are tools I use for pest control. The pests - birds in my garden. This Mylar ribbon is sold specifically for this purpose. I staple it on the fence and tie it on branches or plant stakes.The ribbon blows in the breeze and makes a noise as it rubs against itself that sounds like a predator to the birds. It also catches the sunlight which is somehow upsetting.Some things are not specifically marketed for this purpose. But they work just dandy and are a lot of fun to use. I keep this filled daily to deter birds from becoming too comfortable here. I have been known to pump a blast of water right through the window screen. Hubby says it takes care of two jobs at one time: scaring away the birds and keeping the screens clean. Little kids would get a huge kick out of that, wouldn't they.
Here's the back fence after ribbon has been installed all along. You can make the picture larger to see the ribbons more clearly. Right now I am most concerned for the apricots that are weeks away from being ripe enough for humans and the sunflower seeds that I would like to put in the ground this week.
When I have not been outside protecting the garden, I've been working diligently on the 'Secret Deadline Project.' I've almost completed all of the applique and the pieced border sections are assembled. Soon I'll be putting the top together and I can start hand quilting. I'm not yet relaxed, but I feel as if I might get done on time.

Friday, May 02, 2008

With apologies to Dean Martin, 'How lucky can one girl be? I went to my mailbox and what did I see? A beautiful quilt made just for me. Ain't that a kick in the head?' Okay, not exactly the correct lyric but I have had the tune in my head since yesterday.
Imagine my surprise to find a package from Lucy of Quilting With The Past in the box. I had seen this sweetie little quilt when Lucy shared it on her blog and never dreamed that it might be coming to me. I commented then that those little teeny blocks made me smile. Oh boy, my cheeks are going to ache from all the smiles as I get to enjoy it every day.Here is another look with a penny for perspective. Oh my, the pieces and stitches are just so teeny.
Thank you, Lucy for such a special treat. I'd say one girl can be pretty lucky. That's sure how I have felt this week.