Thursday, February 26, 2009

What a wonderful response on my previous post about the hexagon project. All of the positive comments keep me inspired to go forward with my plans. It's funny how I just can't seem to get enough of them. I'm working diligently toward a logical stopping point on the stars before I begin the Martha Washington's Flower Garden. It seems that I have my basket of pieces within arm's reach at all times these days as get closer and closer to my goal.
Still all work and no play makes Libby a dull girl. I've been playing with my new phone off and on, learning more about some of the features and practicing taking and retrieving pictures. The photo above was taken with the phone - not too bad.
Still I am getting quite a collection of photos like this:
An extreme close-up of my hand as I'm talking on the phone. It seems the button to turn on the camera and snap the shutter are right a spot where it's comfortable for me to hold the phone. I'm no longer going to fight it. I've made a folder on the computer to store my 'phone finger photo' retrospective. It might make an entertaining slide show someday.
Last night we had a quick dinner of burritos. My tortilla had a face.
Hubby thinks it looks like Jack from the Jack-In-The Box commercials. I wonder if I should have saved it. People make a fortune selling stuff like that on eBay.
I haven't been neglecting all of my other quilting projects while I indulge in phone fun and hexagons. I have the applique pieces for Old St. Nick prepped and ready to stitch down.
A new batch of movies from Netflix should arrive in the mailbox today. Plenty to keep me entertained while Hubby and The Princess toil through the weekend once again.

Monday, February 23, 2009

All the best intentions were there for me to spend the afternoon in the cubby yesterday. But with Hubby and The Princess working away so diligently in the main part of the house, I felt isolated and lonely all by myself. So I turned off the machine and settled in my favorite chair with my hexagon stars project. I have been working on this since January of '06 and have shared some of my progress here, here, here, here, and here.
I been working on these stars a little each day for the last couple of weeks. As the stack that needs a round of cream gets smaller, the stack that needs a round of black gets bigger.
I'm going to have to stop soon to baste some more pieces for the cream round.
I have lots of pieces ready to become diamonds.
The stars are really fun to see all strewn around. I have a lot of stitching in my future to get that black round done on the stars.
Taking this picture provided a mountain of inspiration to keep working.
There will be four rows like this one and a final row of five stars to even it up. Then lots of diamonds and partial stars to fill in around the edges and 'square it off.' For more hexagon inspiration, tips and tutorials, visit The Great Hexagon Quilt-Along blog. I've been lurking there lately. On the side bar you'll see a picture of this quilt. Because I just can't leave well enough alone, I'm going to be starting one of my own very soon. It's a sickness - but one I'm very glad to have.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Weekend plans. Not many of those being made around here. At least not the type that involve fun outings or little getaways. When Saturday rolled around, Hubby stationed himself here.
His weekend office.
It doesn't take long to find The Princess. Just turn around and she'll be found right here.
Her after class study hall.
Once they were settled and busy, I headed off to the cubby and got stitchin'. This is the center applique background for Old St. Nick.

It was fun to prep the hst's.I paired the strips of fabric right sides together before I cut them. The brushed cotton makes it a breeze because of the way it clings.
In no time at all they are all chained together.
Now cut apart, I just need to have a little pressing party. And trim off the little bunny ears and start assembling the borders.
Did someone say, 'Bunny?'
If a bunny should be spotted, Harper is at the ready to give them a sporting chase.
Today will bring more of the same. Hopefully everyone will be at a nice stopping point when the Academy Awards ceremony starts. Haven't seen a single one of the nominated movies this year, but my Netflix queue has been updated to include several. Good luck to all the nominees.

Friday, February 20, 2009

I hope you won't mind indulging me. I just couldn't resist one more picture of the baby quilt. It's done, bound, washed, dried and deliciously all crinkly.I couldn't be more pleased that it finished up the way I saw in my mind. I have another baby quilt to make soon. I think I'll do something similar. The Sarah Sporrer book has other pull toy applique patterns, just to change it up a little.
I celebrated the finished quilt with a trip to the quilt shop. I always check the sign just outside the door to see what is on sale. Look what came home in my basket.
All brushed cottons in the shop were on sale. That sale had my name written all over it. Still I think I showed great restraint. They have all found a happy home in the fabric cupboard just waiting for the perfect project to come along.
A good rule of thumb is: If you put something in the fabric cupboard - you should take something out. This bundle is now on the table in the cubby.
It is a kit to make Old St. Nick from the book Primitive Christmas from Primitive Gatherings.
I think if I start now, there's just enough time to finish for Christmas 2009.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I have developed a love/hate relationship with technology. It is wonderful having instant access to the internet. In the time it takes for a couple of keystrokes to be logged I can check in on blogs around the world, find out the latest news and weather, shop from the comfort of my home (in my pajamas,) find information on just about any interest that might take my fancy, and keep up-to-date with those near and dear via email. Then this . . . came into my life. Hubby and I decided that the time had come to change our cell phone carrier. A change in carrier means a change of equipment. How can something so small cause so many headaches? Thank goodness they were able to transfer all of my contact information. But learning how to use the camera, take and send pictures, and customize ring tones has been quite the ordeal. Yesterday I was ready to cry, 'U-N-C-L-E!' and return the doggone thing.
This morning I took up the battle anew and I have emerged victorious. Now I see Hubby's smiling face when he calls. I can listen to the music of my choice, apply that music as a custom ring tone, even take and send pictures. I think we might become friends.
After so much geek stuff, I needed to put it all away and get some fresh air. The rains have left us with a crisp clear day. The Old Farmer's Almanac 2009 tells me that the moon phase is right for planting lettuce.
Into the planter box went seed for one row each of red leaf and romaine lettuce. I'll plant more in the next couple of weeks to keep a nice rotation for harvesting when the time comes. I also planted bunching onions. They will make a tasty addition to summer salads.
Before I could put in the seed, I needed to make a quick harvest.
These carrots were stragglers from last year. You want to know what really sends me over the moon about them? I'm going to put the tops into the worm bin. My worms will be making compost from food grown in their very own backyard. It might sound silly, but it just tickles me no end.
Look who else got out into the yard today. I think she might be trying to hide from me. I told her not to lay in the mud.
I'm not sure she's exactly following that admonition, but she sure is happy to be out of the house. Even though it's wet and a little muddy, I just couldn't make her stay in one more day. There is only one little cloud in the sky. Hey - is that snow? Yes, it is. I can see snow from my backyard!
It takes a lot of zoom lens to see that snow. But it can be seen.
It's still chilly enough for me to be wearing socks. This might not be winter for everyone - but it's the only winter I get.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

At last we've had some wintry (well wintry for us anyway) weather. The rains have been with us for about a week. And the temperatures have been cool enough to consider wearing shoes and socks!
These are just the kind of days to hunker down in the house and get some projects done. Or much closer to done anyway. Yesterday I pulled out my trusty old friend and set up to do some quilting.
I started small to get the feel and the rhythm.
Then I moved on to bigger things.
Now for a good movie while I stitch down the bindings . . . . my favorite part.
Look at how happy my little peas are. The rain kept them from getting thirsty.
Now they are almost tall enough to start climbing the trellis.
Harper was happy to get outside for more than just a moment. She isn't always a fan of the 'rainy day protocol' - quick trips outside and right back get her toes dried off.
It looks like she's pleading to stay out for just a little while longer. As soon as I turned my back, she'd be laying in the mud.
In other backyard good news, looks like we have a new neighbor. I was able to sneak this picture from the kitchen window.
For several days now, he has been seen scanning the area for a little snack. I'm ready to install a neon sign directing him to where the squirrels live on the bank just behind my garden. Welcome to the neighborhood. I think we are going to become the best of friends.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day! It is often said that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. I cannot disagree. I would only add that it is also the way to a daughter's heart. With that in mind, I spent the afternoon in the kitchen preparing our Valentine's Day dinner and dessert.
Here are some of the fixin's for a 5 cheese vegetable macaroni and cheese dish.
It came mostly from memory from a meal I had when we visited Paris a couple of years ago. I loved that the flavors of the cheese were all there but it was the vegetables and pasta that really were the stars. I think I came pretty darned close to the original.
Here is a look at the assembled ingredients for dessert. Can you guess what it is?Creme brulee. Today was the day to try out the flame thrower I got for my birthday.
To be honest, I've been a little fearful of using that torch. It wasn't so scary. There a lots of safety features built right in.
Rave reviews all around - but the empty dish really says it all.There are 3 more servings in the fridge. Guess what we're having for breakfast?

Friday, February 13, 2009

These blocks are about to begin the long journey to Oz.
Surely most everyone has heard or read about the devastating fires in Australia. A request was put out by Tracey for blocks to assemble a quilt for a young mother whose family lost everything in the fires. A quick dip into the stash, a few moments leafing through a block book and in a jiffy I was stitching up these 12" blocks.
The request was for plaids, checks, and cream based colors rather than whites. Those were all easy finds in my stash. I started looking around the cubby and spied the starburst blocks I had been working on. Stripes, plaids and a nice golden tan background . . . . . hmmmm.
Why not send them along, too? I started the project to increase my confidence when working with piecing diamonds and set-in seams with the ultimate goal of piecing a Lone Star quilt. It wasn't the struggle I thought it might be, so off they go to find a new home down under. I'm sure they will be very well loved.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Most of my adult life, I eschewed the idea of using a cookbook. I have committed to memory the meals that I learned from mom and make again and again. While I have no problem following a recipe when baking, I find it bordering on torture to do so when preparing a dish for dinner. Still there are times when you just want to expand your repertoire and even stumble on a recipe that gets added into the regular meal rotation.
Over time, I found I had an unruly pile of magazine and newspaper clippings and stacks of recipes printed from internet sources. I came upon a plan to organize them in a scrapbook where they are easy to locate. That scrapbook became my cookbook and lived on the kitchen counter. Funny thing about cookbooks - they are quite social. My little scrapbook cookbook was soon joined by friends. Precious counter space was being eaten up by my latest collection. Hubby suggested I start looking for something practical to use as a bookshelf in order to reclaim the counter.
Sometimes you don't have to look any further than your own backyard - or living room, as the case may be. It dawned on me that one of wire baskets from a stacking set might just be the ticket. See for yourself.
Plenty of room to hold the books that I refer to most often with room to spare as more books are added to the library. I want to pick up some little 's' hooks so I can dangle some little utensils in handy reach from the handles.
I was so pleased with the idea that I used another of the basket set to tidy up the cubby. Most of my quilt books are stored in the cabinets in the garage. Still I like to have a few on hand to leaf through for inspiration.
Now there's a little more room on the sewing table to spread out.
As I was rearranging and reorganizing, I came across the kit for this paper pieced star. I purchased it at The Country Loft last fall on a shopping trip with Julie from Through the Barn Door.
Word on the street is that Julie might be back in the neighborhood soon. If we are able to get together for another shopping excursion, I wanted to do so with a clear conscience by getting the kit put together. I changed out the border to add just a skosh more to the finished size.
I also finished up my first star burst block.
There is just a touch of ripple in the center. Part ripple/part optical illusion from the stripe in the fabric. Nothing that can't be overcome with quilting. I feel confident enough to go forward with the project. I'm off to cut and sew more diamonds.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

As much as I love scrap quilts - and I REALLY love scrap quilts - there comes a time when you just have to search the stash and cut into some new fabrics. I can always tell when the time is right. It is when I get the feeling that things are starting to look an awful lot alike. Then I know it's time to start working on something fresh and new.
I got out into the cabinets this morning and pulled out this happy little grouping.
I have been thinking about stars lately. Lone stars, star bursts, radiant stars. Those designs seem to appear frequently in some of the books featuring antique and vintage quilts that I enjoy leafing through regularly. After a brief internet search, I found instructions for making a block. Like Santa in Twas The Night Before Christmas, I got straight to my work.
Don't think there wasn't a struggle. I only had to sew, unsew and resew a couple of times before I got all the pieces oriented in their proper spot.
Then it was a snap to assemble the remaining pieces.
Next I need to pull out my copy of The Art of Classic Quiltmaking and refresh myself on assembling blocks with set in seams. I'll construct blocks until I've had my fill or I use up these fabrics - whichever comes first.
I'll leave you with a little peak of The Princess. She has been rather elusive of late.The new semester of school has begun. She has a hectic class schedule and all her free time seems to be consumed with homework. One class even had an assignment before they had their first meeting. This is pretty much the only view we have of her - or just a blur heading out the door to class.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Now that's more like it! We have had a nice rain storm come our way. Weathermen had been predicting the arrival all week long. Still at 2 p.m. yesterday, you could have fooled me. The sky was blue, the sun was bright and it felt like a late spring day. 30 minutes later, the sky was dark, the drops were falling and it was time to cozy up inside the house. It rained most of the night and we're told it could continue all the way until Monday. What good news for our neck of the woods.
I got out into the yard this morning to look around and see if everything was happy with the fresh drink of water. My little pail of mint is looking very refreshed.
I found this little, lone nasturtium poking out in a spot nowhere near where they were planted last year. Still it looks happy in its new home.The quilt on the gate looks fresh and clean, too. It will get a fresh coat of tea dye once the rainy season has ended.Yesterday I finished sewing the braid strips together . . . . for the second time. When, oh when will I learn to read ALL of the directions?This top has now been stitched up twice. The first time, I failed to read the instruction to trim the top edge. Good thing I did get the part about not trimming the sides in order to avoid the bias. I would have had one huge, terrible mess on my hands if I had needed to unsew the strips with all of the bias edges.
Next I need to raid the fabric cabinet for border fabrics. But that will have to wait just a bit. I want to get the baby quilt layered, quilted and bound this weekend. I think we are going to have the perfect weather for it.