4/24/14

Spools Aplenty

It was one of our usual spring days when the weather can't quite decide what to do. Rain? Sun? Hail? Take your pick. Actually, take all three. It was also supposed to be a swimming day, but when it came time to go, I laid down and went back to sleep. Even though I felt as if I slept well last night, I found myself barely able to keep my eyes open, and so I took a nap...and I slept hard...which would indicate that I needed the sleep more than I needed the swim.

When I woke up, I left to go to the grocery store. Mike and I have been outfitting the camper, and I needed to return a few items that were duplicates, or else we decided we just didn't need them. Also, I picked up a few items that were still on our list. And I dropped off my Similac sampler pack at our local FISH food pantry. They were happy to get it. After that I bought my groceries, came home to put them away, and then I was able to get some sewing done.

Now you can see where the 168 one-inch squares went...they went into making 42 spools for the border. Today I made all the spools and sewed them together for the four borders.


Tomorrow I'll sew them onto the quilt. There is another white border on the outside of the spools, and I'll get that one sewn on too. After that, I'll probably set the quilt aside and work on something else for a while. I'll have to sandwich it and quilt it before I can sew on the little aprons, and I'm feeling as if I want to work on something else for a while. 

Next, I want to start on my official April NewFO project, which I'm calling "Happy Campers". Portland artist, Rachel Austin, has graciously given me permission to make a wall-hanging from her original art. These are the four mixed media pictures I'm working from. Tomorrow I want to start doing the fusible applique for these four blocks. I have some really cute fabrics to use, and so I'm kind of excited to get started on it.


In yesterday's mail, I received the pattern for the block I chose for a hand applique class I'm taking through my guild. I've been wanting to learn to do hand applique for quite a long time, and so I'm excited for the opportunity coming up next month. The class is being taught by Connie Sue Haidle of Apple Blossom Quilts. We had our choice of about a dozen blocks, and this is the one I chose. 


It will make a 16-inch block. If you click on this link and scroll down to the floral blocks, you'll see the others we could choose from. The list we were given had the blocks ranked according to difficulty, and I chose one of the easier ones...although looking at it, it doesn't look all that easy. If I end up liking this method, I might make some of the other blocks she has available on her website. Or...I might just add some borders to this and turn it into a table topper.

So that's about all that's going on at the Three Cats Ranch for today. Tomorrow I'm walking with my friend Sue. I'm sincerely hoping the weather gods will smile on us tomorrow because the last few days have been less than ideal walking weather.

In closing I just want to say that I'm receiving regular lovely comments from quite a few of you who are set at no-reply. If you comment on my blog and don't receive a response from me, it's because I have no way to contact you. It always makes me feel bad when I can't respond, especially when you ask a question, and I can't answer. If that's okay with you, then fine...but if you want a response, you'll need to email me and I'll tell you how to change it.

4/23/14

Wet Wednesday

Today was a day at home for me. In exchange for going to Zumba on Monday, I gave myself the day off from exercise today. April has been a busy month, and I haven't had many days to stay at home in my sweats. I've taken to referring to them as my "daytime jammies". Wasn't there a time a generation ago when women had clothing they referred to as "loungewear"? Or am I confusing that with something else?

For example, this pattern from the 1930's:

1930s vintage sewing pattern pajamas loungewear




Love those polkadots!

Okay, so rather than embarrass myself, I decided to Google that term. I came up with this article entitled, "Loungewear, the New Streetwear", written by "Erin B." for Yahoo Voices...a publication I only just now became familiar with. According to Erin B.:

Loungewear is clothing you wear to be comfortable, whether lounging around or not. Loungewear can be fashionable or frumpy. However I prefer the fashionable kind.

Fashionable? Really? Not in my world, Erin B. Sorry. You and I obviously are not going to be best friends. But I digress.

So here's what's up today. It's raining sideways for one thing...definitely a good day to stay in. I did some laundry and then I got to work on my "Let's Book It" project for the month of April. Recall that I am making this quilt:


From this book:


Actually, I started on it yesterday when I did all of the cutting, which involved cutting little tiny pieces, including 168 one-inch squares. The entire quilt is doll quilt sized at 24-1/2 inches square. I cut the pieces for the cats from these fabrics:


I'm using the same white background used in my Rainbow Ladies Scrap quilt. There were quite a few strips left from that quilt, and many of them were already cut to the right width, which made it nice.  It was good to have all the cutting finished ahead of time, and then this morning I started piecing them together. I started with the ears:


Fabric or fur, I love kitty ears.

Then I sewed the cats together.


And then I sewed the center panel together.


When I left off this afternoon, I was starting to sew together the spools for the border. That's where all those one-inch squares come in. I'm making pretty good progress on this quilt, and so I'm hoping to have the top finished within a couple of days...time permitting, as always.

Also, I'm making pretty good progress on my embroidery. There are three stitcheries for the next section of the Gardener's Journal quilt, and I already have the first two finished. They are quite small this time around. Here is the violet wreath:


And the seed packets:


So I'm pausing a little bit in the day here to write this blog post and do some housework. I'm hoping I can get some more done on piecing the spools together this afternoon.

How is your day going?

4/21/14

Unexpected Delivery

Okay, so the day started out normal enough...given that it's my house, "normal" is always a relative term. I drank my usual gallon of coffee, read my email, checked in on Facebook, ate some breakfast, worked on my stitchery. Then, I headed out to check on the annuals that I repotted yesterday. They were looking a little sad from getting too dry, but they'd perked up today, just as I knew they would.


I gave the blue jays some peanuts, and then I checked in on the lettuce. Finally, it is germinating. Only the red leaf is visible, and only four of the five seeds I planted, but it's a welcome sight. From years past, I recall that the lettuce has been surprisingly slow to germinate. Now I have hope, even if I don't yet have enough for a salad...or a hamburger...or anything.


And everybody else is looking good too.


While I was out there, I took note of a bird that was scolding me to beat the band. I looked up to see what all the fuss was about. Not surprisingly, I found this little intruder on the roof, no doubt causing great consternation to the bird.


It was a Zumba day, and I can't even begin to describe the ways in which I dragged my feet getting out the door. Since my goal is to exercise four times per week, and I now have five activities per week scheduled on my dance card, I promised myself I could skip Wednesday's Zumba class if I promised to go swimming on Tuesday and Thursday. Of course, Sue and I will do our regular walk on Friday. Such is my commitment to exercise. I'll admit that Zumba gets easier and easier, and today I actually added a little hop to some of my steps, and even added in some arm movements occasionally. I imagine I only succeeded in making myself look even klutzier, but I felt empowered nonetheless.

My reason for being so forceful about getting out the door for today's class was that I was heading over to my quilter's house afterward to pick up the Intel Underneath quilt. My quilter Erin did her usual good job. This design was nothing special...a pantograph I saw online that I thought fit nicely with the printed circuit board fabric. It's a large quilt...queen size...and so I can't really get a good picture of it all spread out. I'll just give you some peeks until I get the binding sewn on, and then I'll enlist Mike to help me take a better picture of it. For now, here's what you can see of it.


Erin used a lightly variegated green thread, although it's hard to see the color in these images.


Recall that this quilt is for Matthew who will be receiving his engineering degree this summer. I call it Intel Underneath because he was doing an internship at Intel last year. Do you think I can still call it Intel Underneath now that he has a job waiting for him at Hewlett-Packard?

Here's how it looks from the back. I gave it a plain black backing, thinking that the back would look like a giant printed circuit board.


Okay, so I suppose you're wondering what the unexpected delivery was. I have a few things on order. When you live as far out of town as we do, you do a lot of online shopping, and I'm usually expecting at least one delivery...more often than not, I'm expecting several. So when I saw this box at the door, I was a little surprised by the packaging. I said to myself, "Oh, cute...somebody with a new baby used their Similac box to ship something to me."


And I looked at the shipping label to see who sent it.


And I was surprised to see it looking very official. Hopefully, I've obliterated enough of the identifying info that no one will be able to track me down.

So, then I slit the tape holding it shut, and saw this:


And as I opened the lid, I was thinking that it looked astonishingly like an actual box of Similac.

And my chin hit the floor when I opened it all the way and...STFU! (Google it, if you don't know what that stands for.)


It was an actual sample pack of Similac...complete with nipple!


And an invitation to join a support group online. Really?


And coupons! (I do loves me my coupons.)


And an invitation to log onto the Abbott Nutrition website to leave feedback!


"Strong Moms" indeed. Well I had some strong words for them. Holy shitamaroo! (That's a term I made up a while back. It works in these kinds of situations.)

So, of course, I checked with certain family members, just in case the names and addresses got mixed up somehow...although I can't even imagine how that could have happened, any more than I can imagine how I ended up receiving this rather expensive (I'm assuming) sampler pack of a product that I do not now--nor at any time in the future expect to--have any use for whatsoever.

To quote Winston Churchill: "It's a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma."

Weird, huh?

4/20/14

A Little of Everything

We got another slice of sunshine today...a sliver between two periods of rain. Mike and I used the time to do some badly needed work in the yard. Mike did some mowing and as I'm writing this, he's outside pressure washing all the green slime that has accumulated on the patios and sidewalks over the winter. I walked outside last night to snip some chives for my linguine dish and nearly slipped and fell. Oy. I can tell you this...at just a few weeks away from my 60th birthday, I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in breaking a bone. Can I get an Amen on that?

Speaking of my linguine, I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that it was so yummy, and so simple. Honestly, don't be intimidated by clams. Nothing could be simpler. Here's how it looked when I served it up:


This is a recipe from Bon Appetit called Spaghetti alle Vongole (which translates into spaghetti with clams...appropriate, wouldn't you say?). I had a package of linguine open, and so I used that. It makes enough for two, and I'll tell you that the recipe calls for a whole teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes. I was afraid it would be too spicy, but it was just right for our palates. I like spicy food, but Mike is a little more sensitive. We both agreed it was a good amount of heat. Anyway...simple and quick. Give it a try, even if you've never tried doing fresh clams in the shell before.

So once the weather warmed up a little I filled the bird feeders, set up the birdcam (Yes! the Goldfinches are back!) and then went to work planting my annuals. Mike helped me heft some bags of potting soil around because some of the larger pots needed more dirt added to them. I planted Gerbera daisies:


Marigolds (things are looking a little bedraggled because I just doused them good with the hose):


Geraniums...I used to plant petunias here, but I switched to geraniums when the squirrels devoured them one year.


Also, I planted a sun sugar cherry tomato in one of the whiskey barrels formerly occupied by tulips (cue a trumpet playing Taps for the tulips...eaten by our friends the squirrels)


And I planted daisies, pansies, and what I've always called a "cock's comb" in the three pots on the upper patio. I've always planted too much in these pots, and so I exercised a little restraint this year. (Does exercising restraint count as one of my four days of exercise for the week?)


These got a little dry sitting in the greenhouse and they kind of fainted. They should be fine now that I've given them some water and some nice new dirt in which to wiggle their toes.



And I've thwarted the squirrels from eating my petunias by putting them in hanging baskets at the corners of the roof on my greenhouse window.



They will be hanging in pretty tendrils of blossoms in a couple of weeks.

Also, I planted some Italian parsley and some sage in the culinary herb garden, and then I was finished. Just before going back inside, I snapped this picture of the Bleeding Heart that is in bloom now.


And then I took the images off the birdcam. Yes! Goldfinches!




Those are all males...Here is Mrs. Goldfinch.



This is a House finch.



And a Purple finch...all dressed up for the ladies.


Looks like he found one...


So, aside from finishing up my embroidery, I didn't do any sewing today. But I did finish up this piece. It's quite small. As I've said before, this is a gift, and so I'm pixelating the words. I'm afraid the words will give it away. This is a design from Jenny of Elefantz.


And with that one done, I'm doing the next section of stitcheries for the Gardener's Journal quilt. There is just one more section after these are complete. This fabric doesn't photograph well, and so these are little hard to see. The first one is "Seed Packets".


This one is a "Violet Wreath". (Looks a little like a crown of thorns today, doesn't it?)


And this one is the "Garden Tools".


So, that's about it from me today. A busy day. I feel like we got a lot accomplished. We didn't do anything special for Easter, but I did pick up a small ham. I wanted it for Denver omelets tonight, and that's what we're having.

I hope you've had a lovely Easter, spent the way you like best.