Sunday, March 22, 2009

It's that time of year. All the kids are doing it. I have decided to join the fun.
I'm taking a spring break. Be back soon . . .

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

This morning started out with a tour around the yard. It quickly turned into a scavenger hunt with some very pleasing results. Hiding on the backside near the fence, I found this pretty yellow rose.
At the opposite end of the fence line, I found a tiny little apricot growing on a low branch. I hope it has invited lots of friends.
In any case, I want that little apricot to be safe. I don't care to take the chance that an uninvited bird would decide to dine on it. So my good friend Hootie has taken up a perch in the branches of the tree.
I hope that the coming weeks bring more and more fun surprises outside.
Inside I decided to have a little cutting party. I need just a couple more strips to complete the light round on the hexagon stars.
I keep the fabrics for that project in a separate bin so I don't inadvertently use the fabric on another project. While the bin was out, I decided to cut some strips of black. I'll be needing it soon for the last round of the stars.
As long as the cutting board was set up, why not cut some for the diamond project?
Three strips from a fat quarter is enough to make two diamonds. I cut enough today for 34 diamonds, bringing my total to 50. I think I'll need around 80 to 100 diamonds to get a bed sized quilt. It will be slow going, but I'm enthusiastic.
Hubby's birthday is right around the corner. This year he needs to renew his driver's license. In California, if you have a good driving record, you can just pay your fee and be renewed. After a couple of cycles of pay-by-mail, you are required to go in to DMV for an eye test and new photo. It is recommended that you call for an appointment to expedite the process. I received the following e-mail an hour ago:
Hubby definition - show up at designated location at designated time,
be attended to, conduct business, leave.

DMV definition - show up at designated location at designated time,
get number, sit and wait, just like those without "appointment".

Hopefully the DMV definition ends the same way as the Hubby definition, but
we'll have to wait and see.

Love you
The guy sitting at DMV P'town
At least it seems as though he still has a sense of humor. Let's hope it holds.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Today I took a little break from gardening to play in the kitchen. Not only did I have a hankerin' to bake something, but I decided it should be chocolate. Brownies. I found a recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook that fit the bill nicely - I already had all of the ingredients on hand.
I also got the opportunity to play with a toy Hubby gave me at Christmas - a Broom Cake tester.
Just break off a straw and insert in the middle of your cake.
If it comes out clean, the cake is done.
If brownies are good, then brownies with frosting are even better . . . right? Chocolate cream cheese frosting, that is.
Sorry Harper, this is not a doggy treat. Don't worry we'll find her a suitable snack.
When I said there was no gardening today, I only meant outside. In the kitchen windowsill, I found a little sprout poking through the soil.
Can you see that teeny tiny little green sprig? It is supposed to grow into a Christmas tree. It will probably be a long time before I have a nice, full 6-foot tree to decorate at the holidays. But I can wait.
Speaking of holidays -Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone. I'm off to frost the cake, then lick the spoon.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Here it is nearly the end of the weekend and not much to share in the way of quilt progress. Still the days have been full and productive. On Friday I was looking back at some older blog posts. I realized that I had done a lot more work and planting in the garden by this time last year. Time to get away from the computer and get to work.
We happen to live in a spot where the soil quality is poor at best - mostly sand with a little bit of clay. Each year I dig and dig to loosen things up then start adding bags and bags of store bought soil. It's not easy work, but it pays off in the long run.
I picked up some little veggies to put in the freshly amended soil. We have eggplant, cucumbers, broccoli (or Brussels Sprouts depending on which little spike you choose to believe - we'll all be surprised together,) jalapeno and Anaheim peppers.
I also have seed packets with some herbs, beans and squash. Tomato plants will follow shortly. The peas are starting to climb up the trellis. And the time has come to thin some of the lettuce as well as plant another round to keep the harvest coming.
I found a fun place to put the little fairy chime that Julie gave me this week - she's keeping the chives company.
I've been wanting an ornamental windmill for some time now. There are a couple of them in the Lehman's catalog. Luck was on my side when I spotted one at my favorite local junk store while Hubby and I were out and about doing errands.
Already a little rusty, a much smaller price tag and no shipping costs, it fit the bill in every way. I know I'm going to enjoy seeing it out in the garden for a long time to come.
Spring just wouldn't be spring without some good old-fashioned cleaning. The whole family joined in on the fun. Hubby washed windows and cleaned all the really high, hard to reach spots. The Princess did lots of detail work - moving furniture and getting into those nooks and crannies that are easy to overlook. I concentrated on some organizing and decluttering.
We use the third bedroom more like an office. For the last several months it has turned into the dumping grounds for anything that didn't really have a place to go. Things had piled up to the point there wasn't even a place to sit on the love seat.
That's much better. There's not even anything hiding behind the pillows.
The bookshelf and closet each got a turn at being straightened up. Much better.
As long as we were doing all that clean up and rearranging, the time seemed right to bring out the spring quilts. Here's a couple that I don't think I've shown before. Butterflies from a Cheri Payne book. The blocks came from a swap at my local quilt shop.
This quilt is from a kit that was put together at a local shop. They offered two different fabric options. I chose the one that had colors that rarely make it to my stash.
I think the pattern is called May Day by Buggy Barn. Someday I'll learn to label my quilts. Then I won't strain my pretty little head so much trying to remember these things.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sometimes I am able to set a goal and work happily toward achieving it. Sometimes I will think of a treat to reward myself with - sort of like dangling a carrot. And sometimes goals and rewards go right out the window in favor of instant gratification. That is exactly what happened this week.
I have been steadily working toward a goal - to finish the cream/beige round of hexagons on my star project. The carrot was that I could start working on the Martha Washington Garden diamonds. It was a simple plan, but the plan failed. Still failure isn't always a bad thing. I've found renewed excitement in the old project as well as great desire to continue working on the new.
I just can't get over the size difference in the two pieces.
The diamond in the top of the picture is made of 1" hexagons while the diamond at the bottom is made with 1/2" pieces.
Here is the complete diamond.The new and improved plan is to alternate - complete one star, assemble one diamond. Seems reasonable. Let's see how long it lasts.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tuesday finally arrived - a long anticipated day. You see Julie from Through the Barn Door is staying in my neighborhood right now and we had a date. A date to visit some quilt shops, enhance our stashes and help out the economy. This week just happens to be the Quilt Shop Hop in the area. We didn't plan to complete the run, but we joined in the fun at the shops we did visit.
First stop was Rosie's Calico Cupboard. We found a 'sidewalk sale' of sorts before we ever entered the shop. Bolts of sale fabrics, notions, magazines and an 'employee stash sale.' I picked up these three books so fast I almost made my own head swim. At only $2 and $3 each, I just couldn't leave them on the table.
Once inside the fun continued. We were offered lollipops with wrappers that could possibly have a prize - no prize for us other than a tasty treat. I used great restraint and tried to only pick up things I truly need like the needles. I probably didn't really 'need' the buttons, but my button jar is getting pretty well picked over and could use a boost. The fabrics were end of bolt purchases of fabric that I have been drawn to before. It felt like my last chance.
Our other shop of choice is just right down the street - The Country Loft. As soon as we stepped through the door we were handed tickets for a 'bell ringer drawing,' directed to the sale fabrics on the back porch, and tips on the new patterns, fabrics and antiques all around the shop.
It wasn't long before my arms started filling up - a couple of fat quarters, a few pieces from the new Jan Patek fabric line, and some darling tape measure twill tape.
Then out to the garden shed where I found this little gem.
I'm pretty sure I heard it call my name. It's going to be just perfect for carrying the new hexagon project I'll be starting soon.
That was the end of the shopping time for Julie and I, but not the end of our visit. Hubby and I were invited to join Julie, her Dear Hubby and Sweet Mom for dinner. JDH (Julie's Dear Hubby) prepared his dinner specialty - seafood crepes. Okay, here's the deal - JDH should open a restaurant and serve only this one dish. They were melt in your mouth delicious, filled with shrimp, scallops, crab and covered in a decadent creamy sauce - a flavor I want to experience again and again. Asparagus with hollandaise and fresh fruit salad completed the main meal.
JSM (Julie's Sweet Mom) baked apple pie for our dessert featuring her famous crust,. I would love to have a lesson on making crust from JSM, it was light, flaky and tasty, too. A slice of pie, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a little coffee and an evening of friendly conversation. Is there a better way to cap off a fun day?
Normally the answer would be no, but this time there was presents! A miniature rose bush, a wind chime and some seeds for the garden, a tin of hand cream, and a scissor pouch.
Oh wait - do you see that little crow? Isn't he just perfect? I could hang him on the Christmas tree, but I think he needs to stay out all year. What a fun day we had. I'll be counting the days until we can do it again.

Monday, March 09, 2009

I can't believe it! I lost another hour today. How does this keep happening? We have a dvd player in our bedroom that resets itself automatically when the time changes. It did not receive the memo that the time change occurs earlier in the spring. So when I woke up, I thought I was way ahead of the game . . . . until I stepped out of our bedroom only to find another hour was *poof* gone. About the time I work it out the time calculations in my head, that clock will reset itself. Maybe then I'll get my hours back.
No stitching on the bunny quilt last night. I decided I wanted to add just a little more than the bunny. This morning I pulled down the box of wool and cut out a few eggs and a second bunny friend.
I'm glad I decided to wait. Hopefully tonight the stitching will get done and the quilt can make its table debut in the morning.
I'll leave you with a Harper picture. This spot under a lavender bush seems to be her current favorite place hang out. Clearly the lavender is doing its job - that is one relaxed puppy dog.
Still that ear is cocked up just in case there's a noise and she needs to launch into action.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

As if time were not passing by quickly enough, I lost a whole hour today. Normally I try not to let those kinds of things get in the way. But this time, Daylight Savings Time completely slipped my mind. I thought I was getting a jump start on the day by slipping quietly out of bed a few minutes past 5 only to discover half an hour later that it would soon be 7:00.
Can't let time get in the way - there is a weekend to be enjoyed. No big events, just dabbling here and there. Yesterday Hubby and I made a return trip to the Farmer's Market. We came home with two good sized bags of goodies, including lettuce. I remember when The Princess thought that red leaf lettuce was the fanciest salad maker in the world.
In the early days, our grocery budget wouldn't allow for anything more than a head or two of Iceberg lettuce. When we would visit my mom, The Princess thought Grandma's salad with red leaf lettuce and ranch dressing served from a dainty ceramic pitcher was the key to becoming a true gourmet. It made me smile to think about The Princess and 'Grandma Lettuce' while I was whirling away at the salad spinner.
Our Meyer lemon tree has given us an abundance of fruit this year. I picked a bucket full of lemons this morning.
I don't know of enough uses for that many lemons all at one time. Instead I freeze the juice to use in cooking. Slice the fruit in half, squeeze the juice, remove the seeds, and pour into an ice cube tray. When the juice is frozen, pop out the cubes and store in a zip top freezer bag. It's so easy to pull out a cube or two of juice whenever the need arises.
I pressed that bucket into service again later in the morning. Here is the first bit of compost from the worm bin.
It is certainly not enough to cover the entire garden, but not bad after only six weeks with one small bin.
On the quilting front, I finished top of Old St. Nick.It has grown to be a pretty big quilt. I would love to big stitch quilt it with perle cotton. We'll see. I've got a lot of hand work on my plate already.
One will get checked off the list tonight. The spring/Easter quilt is ready for me to applique. I stitched down the binding while we watched a movie last evening. Added it to a load of laundry and pulled it from the dryer this morning. I'll get that bunny stitched on tonight while we watch The Amazing Race.
Just looking at it makes me want some jelly beans.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Doing handwork leaves the mind with lots of time to think. I've been doing a lot of handwork lately which has lead to whole lot of thinking. Now that I've solved all the world's problems - hear that world leaders? Just give me a call - my mind begins to wander to other things. What better thing to ponder than the next quilt. Why stop with one when some things are just better in twos?
I've been wanting to make a Lone Star quilt for some time now. I tackled one in a class very early in my quilting career. It wasn't pretty. I struggled with every seam. Most were sewn at least twice. It is not a very flat quilt. It is not a very square quilt. But it is a done quilt and I learned a lot.
I went out to the stash cabinets and pulled these fabrics for my latest attempt
They had been earmarked for another project that has never gotten off the ground. It turns out that I have just the right amounts of each for what I want to do. Clearly this was the reason I never started on the other project. Sometimes fabrics are smarter than we are.
While I was in the cabinets, I brought in these charm packs.
I have been wanting to make a spring/Easter quilt with them for two years now. How do I know that it has been two years? I blogged about them in this post. My plan is to make a small table topper using the disappearing 9 patch.
I have this pattern by Lakeview Primitives. That bunny will make the perfect applique embellishment.
Just a few more stitches of handwork and I'll be back in the cubby.

Monday, March 02, 2009

While winter continues around the northern hemisphere, I've decided that I'll just have to embrace the mild season where I live. I can enjoy the snow through others. Maybe my early spring exploits will bring a glimmer of what's just around the corner for everyone else. Hang in there, Chris!
Now this does not reflect what the temperature really is. The sun is streaming directly on my window thermometer all morning long. In truth we expect a high of 76f today and the sun is shining bright.
Conditions are just right for pulling out the clothes line.
I can hardly wait to bury my face in these towels and drink in the fresh smell that only comes for drying laundry outdoors.
This morning I planted a container with blueberries. They are dwarf plants in two different varieties. The nurseryman assured me they would be happy all in one container.
My friend Mr. Hawk was back this morning.
Hubby tells me that Mrs. Hawk was with him earlier. I wonder if they have a nest nearby. There are plenty of little varmints out on the hill behind us to keep the entire Hawk family happy and well fed. Welcome to the neighborhood!
On the quilting front, I'm slowly but surely closing in on putting away the star hexagons for just a while. As soon as I start on the diamond piecing I'll share a picture of my progress. The applique for Old St. Nick is going okay. I'm going to pick out a small portion today. I don't like the placement. Hopefully I'll have some photos that feature fabric next time.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

After the last of the garden was pulled up in fall and the CSA subscription was put on hold in November, this how the counter has looked for the last couple of months. It felt like time to add a little color.
We have decided not to renew our CSA subscription this spring. While we enjoyed the weekly box contents last year, we felt a little stifled by some of the produce that showed up week after week. We are fortunate to live where each community hosts a weekly Farmer's Market - some large and others with only a handful of stands. Hubby and I decided to visit one of the larger markets in a neighboring city yesterday. We came home with a bag filled to the top.
The tomatoes were most likely grown in a hot house, but they were grown right here where we live. Where else can you buy dandelion greens at 2 bunches for a dollar? I was so disappointed last week while in the big chain market near my home. Nearly every item in the produce department was labeled as a product of another country. Except for a small bunch of cilantro, I left it all there. It makes me happy to know that by shopping at our local mid-week Farmer's Market and the Saturday market a couple of miles down the road along with our own backyard garden, we should be able to have local produce most of the year.
Only Harper is a little saddened by this plan.
Some of her favorite spots to lounge are soon to be filled with seeds and new plantings. She'll adjust . . . . it happens every year.