Thursday, May 28, 2009

It's that time of year again in my neck of the woods - May Gray/June Gloom season. Some folks really suffer during this time. I feel a little sorry for tourists who have come to the coast in search of 'fun in the sun' all the Chamber of Commerce brochures tout. But I was born under a fog bank and it doesn't much get to me. The heavy mist and lack of hot, scorching sun are good for the garden and it really feels like soup weather.
I started yesterday by making broth from the Beer Butt Chicken carcass Hubby barbecued earlier in the week.
This morning I strained out all the bones and used up vegetables, added chicken and new veggies and let it simmer all day long. Then I got to work on a new rye bread recipe. It sure does smell wonderful in here.
I've been chatting with Carole about homemade pastas recently and decided that some nice egg noodles would be just the right touch for the chicken soup. I think I won't need to cook again for a couple of days.
That will leave more time for quilting. I haven't been able to put the hexagons down lately. In addition to the star project, I'm also keeping up with the larger diamond project.
There are 16 complete diamonds. My goal is 100 - I'm nearly to 20%!
I also pulled out the scrap bag and made my selections for the next block in The Garden Club project.
I won't be working on it until this time next week, but having that stack of fabric on the cubby table keeps the anticipation high. My plan is to work through the book in order and the coming chapter is not my favorite block. I'm hoping my little mind game works.

Monday, May 25, 2009

On this Memorial Day, please take a moment to remember those that have given all so that we may enjoy all that freedom has to offer.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

With Memorial Day weekend comes the unofficial start of summer. Time to dust off the Weber kettle, set out the lawn furniture and get down to the business of enjoying all that summer has to offer. For us it started by seeing the No Doubt concert on Friday night.
The concert was great - far better than the pictures I took with my phone. There were two opening acts, The Sounds and Paramore. They got the capacity crowd of around 20,000 up and on their feet. Note to the foul mouthed guy in the row behind us, that's what people do at rock concerts - get up on their feet, dance, sing and cheer. If you expect people to sit in their seats with hands neatly folded in laps, consider symphony tickets next time.
I've been adding stars to my hexagon project for the last few days. I'll have 2 more rows added when I finish with the stars and diamonds I have completed.
I can't believe how quickly the rows go together when the assembly of the blocks seems to take so long. It's very inspiring for me to look at the progress. I think I'll continue to add 2 rows at a time as I complete the stars and diamonds. I'm not sure, but that may just be a bit of light I see at the end of the tunnel.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I'm on my way! The first block(s) of Garden Club are all stitched together and I couldn't be more happy about.
Even with all the anxious anticipation, I got off to a slow start and didn't accomplish a thing on the first day. But I made up for it the next day by getting all the applique prepped and ready to stitch down. With several reality shows wrapping up with hours long season finales, I got all the handwork done in the evenings.
Paper piecing the stars for the flag was a bit of a trial for me. My first star is beautifully stitched and completely backwards - blue star on a tan background. It will look great as part of the quilt back. The second star only had a couple of seams stitched, unstitched and restitched. By the fourth star, I had the hang of it.
Similar stars show up in the quilt later on. I bet I will go through the exact same learning curve when I get to them. I'll look on the bright side - it will just be more pieces for the back of the quilt.
About a month ago, I shared 'A Day In The Life Of A Simple Girl'. In it were some blocks that I was working on. I think it is probably time for me to share the completed top. The pattern is called Star Sprinkles by Terry Atkinson.
Just like my struggle with the paper pieced star from the Garden Club block, I managed to turn this pattern wrong-side out. Unlike those stars, I chose not to begin again. Instead I'll have a quilt that is uniquely my own. That's what I'll keep telling myself anyway.

Monday, May 18, 2009

April showers bring May flowers - or so I've been told. In my little corner of the world, we didn't have a drop fall in April or many of the months that preceded it. I've been keeping my garden watered with the hose, but soon that may end with mandatory water restrictions effective at the first of June.
It shouldn't come as a surprise to any of us. If we faced the truth, we live in a region more like the desert. Yet we insist on planting lots of green lawns and shrubs that are not native. All of that requires water and plenty of it. We try to not be wasteful. Most of the strictures that are to come in a couple of weeks our family already employs. I do hope that I can keep my garden all summer long. I'd much rather let the grass go brown in favor of using the water for my veggies.
We had our first squash with dinner on Saturday night.
The pumpkins and potatoes are looking good.
Soon I'll be harvesting ribs of celery to add in salads.
I've never grown eggplant before. The plants are just beautiful to look at. I can't wait to see what they look like when they start bearing their fruits.
Just look at the broccoli. Maybe I should have allotted a larger space. Can you see my inflatable snake in the tree? Neither birds nor squirrels fear it. But I do get a laugh when I see it, so it will stay.
The lettuce is doing well, too. I think it might be time to plant a few more seeds.
And then there's the 'puppy patch'. Harper is doing her water conservation part. I dare not plant a thing in the spot where she keeps watch for squirrels.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I have always loved hand stitching down binding more than any other part of quilt making. I can't really explain why, I just know it's true. One thing is for sure, it means that a quilt is just about done. Spring Clean Up is now done. Binding stitched down and currently displayed on the chest by the front door.
I can't take credit for the quilting on this one. The friend that brought home the KitchenAid mixer earlier in the week, wanted to take Caasi for a test drive. I'm tellin' you, I think I'm on to something here. A friend that will do your errands and your quilting, too, is a friend that you always want to keep close.
In my last post, I teased some fabrics for an upcoming project. Yesterday was the planned start date for The Garden Club Quilt from Country Threads.
When this quilt first became available as a block of the month, I was a brand new quilter with none of the skills or confidence needed to tackle this project. Later the patterns were presented in book form, but I took a pass because I was already struggling to finish two other primitive block of the month quilts. I sort of forgot about about it until I came across the book on a dollar table a couple of months back and shared my triumphant purchase here.
That's when the idea to start the quilt with a few other blogging friends began to form. I can hardly believe that I've actually started. Our little Garden Club has grown now to include Karen, Colleen, Kim, Beth, Yvonne, and Stina. It's easy to see there will lots of inspiration and encouragement.
I have chosen to start at the beginning of the book and work my way through chapter by chapter. I hope to use only fabrics from scraps and stash. After a sluggish start yesterday where I only managed to trace my applique shapes on to freezer paper, I got much more accomplished today.
The applique is prepped for the basket block.
The saw-tooth stars are pieced and just a dab more applique is prepped.
The stripes for the flag are pieced together. That's where I stopped.
The stars for the flag are pieced with templates. Templates are not my strong suit and I plan to paper piece. That's a technique that I'm only slightly better at than template piecing. I'll save that for a day when my brain, my eyes and the coffee are all fresh.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Welcome home, friend.
Two weeks ago today, I was happily kneading dough in the early morning when suddenly my Kitchen-aid mixer just plain stopped. The motor would run, but the hook refused to budge. Hubby did some on-line research and attempted a repair. Soon he came to say the repair was beyond him. So we bundled up the machine drove a couple of towns over to the 'authorized service center.' With estimate in hand, we came home to wait the 7-10 days for our turn in the repair line-up.
A friend who lives near the repair shop graciously offered to pick up and return the mixer home. This morning with a brand new gear, gasket, and freshly packed grease, Kitchy and I got to work.
With bread fresh from the oven, lunch was just delightful. No more store-bought bread.
And as long as I was in the kitchen, why not make a little sweet treat, too?
Won't The Princess be happy to find cookies and milk waiting when she gets home from classes this afternoon.
Yesterday, Karen mentioned starting a new project on Friday. I'm going to be joining her and others in a project that is best taken on with encouragement and inspiration from friends. It will be a no rules, no pressure agenda with the goal of having one beauty of a quilt in the not too distant future. My excitement has nearly reached the level of a child waiting for Christmas to finally get here.
So much so that like a naughty child, I cheated just a little. While pulling from my scrap basket for another little project last week, I couldn't resist putting these pieces aside in anticipation. Now I see this little pile of scraps on the cubby table each morning as I count down to Friday. Friday sure seems to be taking a long time to get here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ahhh, what patient waiters you have been. Finally a peek at that recipe I tried over the weekend - Pappa al Pomidoro. After a quick trip to the store for a couple of ingredients that weren't on hand, I got busy chopping.
In no time at all the soup was simmering on the stove top.
Bread cubes ready for the oven to become croutons.
And in no time we were ready to enjoy our delicious dinner.
For our family of three, there were two full meals and still enough for Hubby and I to have lunch. This one is definitely going into the file to be used again and again.
Now for a look at my recent hexagon progress. I've been basting pieces for the stars.
That's 1/3 yard of fabric reduced to 1/2" hexagons - enough to complete 6 more stars. Once these are used up, I'll still have about 20 stars to go.
Also my little stack of small diamonds is growing taller by the day. I still haven't figured out exactly how many I will need.
Honestly, at this point I don't think I really want to know. It will be a lot and I don't want to get discouraged.
It's getting close to the end of the semester for The Princess. A couple of evenings back, she asked Dad to give a critique on a class project. Don't they look intent? I hope she never stops coming to us for help or advice.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Ya gotta just love the Internet. So much information available with just a couple of quick keystrokes. Yesterday I was in the market for a quick, easy and smallish quilt pattern that could be made up in a jiff. I checked in at a couple of bookmarked sites and soon found a pattern that fit the bill in every way including - it was FREE!
The pattern is called Spring Clean Up and can be found at This-n-That Creations. By leaving out a border for applique, my top finished at about 29". I think it took longer choose my fabrics than it did to assemble the top.
Tonight I'm going to try out a new recipe from this cookbook. I saw Ina prepare it on her Food Network program this morning and couldn't wait to give it a try. I'll share the results with you next time.
For all of you who are mothers, have a mother, hope to one day be a mother, have a special mothering relationship with someone - Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Isn't this a sad sight?
The squirrel assault on the garden has begun and the green beans were the first casualty. As I recall from last year, it was the green beans that started it all. When I saw the first evidence of foliage pilfering, I chose to just pull up my tender little spouts in hopes that once the delicacy was gone further dining would be avoided. The beans didn't seem to mind 'taking one for the team' and I haven't seen a squirrel since.
In good garden news, I've begun prepping my worm bin to harvest the compost.
Not much to it. I just pushed them all to one side of the bin. Next I'll prepare a new little bedding/next for them on the other side. A few tasty tidbits over on the clean side will be all it takes for my little wormies to move on over. Then it will be easy to remove the castings and begin again.
On the quilting front, I finished up a little quilt I had been working on.
The pattern is called Polka Dots, Paisleys and Plaids by Vogies Patterns. It went together quickly and easily and brought some welcome relief from stitching hexagons. I think it's going to look great on the dinner table. Making quilts is such fun!

Monday, May 04, 2009

More garden goodies. A nice bowl of lettuce that became a wonderful lunch salad.
Shelled peas to serve with dinner.
The pea pods will feed the worms.
While I was busy getting excited over this - I completely overlooked an even bigger surprise.
And not to let the garden completely outshine quilting, the baby quilt is done - quilted, bound and washed.
Okay, I know it needs a label . . . . but I still have a couple of weeks. Don't want to rush anything.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Three little ingredients.
That is all it takes to turn a plain old Saturday night at home into a party! The marshmallows were toasted over the remaining coals from cooking dinner making for sticky fingers and gooey grins all around.

Friday, May 01, 2009

This morning felt just a little like Christmas to me. As I was opening the windows when I first woke up, I spied a golden surprise in the garden - the first squash blossom.
I quickly grabbed the camera and headed outside to see what else I might find. And there is was - another little surprise. A little potato poking its way out of the soil.
The potatoes are an experiment 'to see what will happen.' I had some potatoes sprouting in the pantry and decided to plant them. I cut each little sprouting eye and planted separately. Keep your fingers crossed. This could be really fun.
Just look how the broccoli has grown.
The lettuce keeps producing nicely.
The peas are plump and yummy right off the vines - pod and all.
Harper has staked her claim.
I promise I won't plant anything in her favorite viewing spot. This is where she stations herself to keep vigilant squirrel watch. So far this year we are squirrel free. I don't mind giving up a little patch of garden for that.
Today's 'Top of the Closet' quilt is from my first quilt camp. There's no label and I can't recall the name but there was something about plaid in the name. That's what drew me to the class and I couldn't sign up fast enough.
Then armed with my supply list, I didn't select a single plaid for the entire quilt. That's just my nature. This is the only quilt I have given to a long-armer to quilt for me. It doesn't feel like my quilt anymore. Someday, I will pick it all out and quilt it myself. Then it will belong to me again.