6/17/19

Quilt On

After our Father's Day brunch yesterday, it was a fairly easy afternoon. I got in a nap, which was nice. Last week and the week before seemed terribly busy, and so an opportunity to slow down was welcome. This whole week will move a little more slowly than last week, although Sadie has an appointment with the vet on Thursday...always a delightful chore (cough). There's nothing on my calendar for today, however, and so Monday is going to be NBS.

There was a little time for slow stitching yesterday morning, and I barely got a start on my latest stitch sampler when it was time to quit.


After my nap yesterday, I was able to quilt four more of the blocks and their sashings and cornerstones. Now the quilt blocks are 2/3 finished.


Here's a closer look at the block in the lower left corner. It's quilted all the way around.


And here's how it's looking from the back.


The machine is set up to start on the middle block of the top row. It should be easy to finish up all the quilt blocks today, and then I'll just need to do the outer border. I haven't decided for sure what I'm going to do there yet, and so inspiration needs to come and bonk me on the head before I'll be able to finish it off.


Speaking of head-bonking...Smitty offered up his moral support from the safety of a doll quilt I had spread on the floor.


When I awakened this morning, Mt. St. Helens was barely peeking above the clouds. It appears the valley is socked in this morning, while we, here on the hill, are bathed in sunshine.


The only thing I need to do today is get out to water the flower pots and fill the bird feeders. Aside from that, it's going to be nothing but sewing. Quilting is on the menu for today.

6/16/19

Happy Father's Day

The whole gang was here for a breakfast/brunch this morning. While we were having our family get-together last weekend, we hatched a plan to have Smoked Salmon Hash to celebrate Father's Day this Sunday. Yesterday, Mike smoked a Copper River salmon fillet for use in the hash this morning. The recipe for Smoked Salmon Hash is the same one that used to be served at Portland's own Heathman Hotel. The restaurant at the Heathman closed several years ago, but the recipe lives on. It was a Portland favorite. I served it alongside this Watermelon Salad with Rum and Mint.


And I'm not sure it's possible to serve a brunch on Father's Day without including Mimosas, and so we didn't even try.


As for yesterday, I finished off September's heart.


These are half finished now. Here are all the hearts I've completed so far.


Then I got to work free motion quilting the Home & Heart quilt. For the embroidered blocks, I did a simple vine meander with heart-shaped leaves.


In the 9-patch cornerstones, I did a different kind of a heart.


For the sashings, I'm doing a kind of heart-shaped feather.


When it was time to quit for the day, I had two blocks and their associated sashings and cornerstones completed.


Today I'll continue on with this. I'm hoping I can get at least four more blocks finished. There are nine in all, and so I don't expect this quilting to take very long.

As I'm writing this, I'm reminded why I don't usually drink alcohol before dinner. It makes me sleepy, and so it seems like a nap is a good idea. I'll probably do that first, and then get back to my quilting.

6/15/19

Procrastinator's Pizzazz

It took me a while to get going yesterday. First, I gave myself extra time to work on September's heart.


It was tempting to finish it off, but I was kind of tired of stitching by that time. Nevertheless, it gave me a reason to make up the next one, thus giving me extra time to put off a particular housekeeping chore just a little longer. This is another small stitch sampler. 


You might remember I stitched this one recently.


They are approximately the same size, and so I'm going to put them both into a single wall-hanging configuration. It didn't take too long to trace it onto the same background fabric.


Then, there was some coloring to do. I used crayon for this one. Really, I prefer the colored pencils. They go on more smoothly. The difference is that I need to use an extender with the colored pencils to permanently fix the color. With crayon, a hot iron is all I need.


So it's ready to go, and I've hooped it for starting. Probably I'll finish up the heart this morning and get started on this one tomorrow.


So, I could put off the dreaded household chore no longer, but sewing awaited me when it was finished. I sewed the pinwheels together for the Paintbox Pizzazz quilt. Just as I was getting ready to take their picture, Smitty decided to rearrange them a bit.


There we go...vastly improved, I'm sure.


Then he held them down while I finished sewing the black and white corners to them.


Apparently, I neglected to take a picture of them finished, but here they are laid out with the rest of their brethren.


When finished, there will be 48 blocks. Now, I have 24, and so it is halfway there.

It was late in the day by this time. We had dinner and then wandered around the yard a little. Mike and I were discussing our cherry tree. You might remember when I wrote earlier that it was loaded with ripening cherries. Here's the picture I posted at the time. So, let's just take a look here...the cherry closest to the camera lens is a little larger than the ones behind.


So fast forward to yesterday and Mike and I both noticed a dearth of cherries on the tree. There are a few, to be sure.


It isn't shedding its cherries because there are almost none on the ground below. But take a look at this, and we find this all over the tree.


So, my first thought is that this is a pollination problem, and so I inquired of my friend, The Google.

The first link I found was to this article about immature cherries dropping from a tree. But that didn't really fit because there are no cherries. They aren't falling from the tree...they are nonexistent. So what happened? Inquiring further of The Google, I found this article, and it was a short answer to a question. I can snip it and post it in its entirety. I was especially happy that this question comes from someone just south of us in Eugene, Oregon.


So, having read that, I looked again at the original image, and it all makes sense. To be clear, we have a pollinator cherry in our Black Tartarian tree. The tree in question is a Bing. We can only think a spate of warm weather, lasting about a week, is to blame. The cherry trees seemed to bloom early this year, and I think the flowers arrived before the bees. Whatever the reason, it doesn't look like we'll have the bounty of cherries this year as we did last. Bummer. Oh well.

Today I'm heading out to the Portland Farmers Market with Erik and Mae. Maybe I'll find some cherries there, but I doubt it. We're still a little early here in the Pacific Northwest. There's really nothing on my wish list for today's market, but I usually find something. Mainly, I just want a yummy breakfast of huevos rancheros, and they have the best food cart at the farmers market.

But first, I'm going to try to finish up September's heart. Have a good Saturday, everybody.

6/14/19

Summer Blues

It isn't quite summer yet, but our weather doesn't know it. It's been warm and nice here...windy, to be sure. The wind died down a little yesterday, and it wasn't as hot. We're expecting much the same weather today. I'll start off today watering the annuals and filling the bird feeders. I'm sad to say some of my sunflowers didn't survive the windy weather. It was actually my fault, I think. I had them loosely staked, and I think the tie around the stake slid down, taking the flower with it, until it's spindly little stem broke off. Not to worry because I have more. I'll just replace the broken ones, remove the stakes, and pretend this never happened. You won't tell, will you?

When I was able to make my way to the sewing room I was finally able to catch up on the Tiny Tuesday blocks. First was this Grandmother's Fan. I did mine a little differently than the instructions. Mine is appliqued to a whole background piece.


The next one was this "block with no name" created by Cynthia Bruinz. In my tiniest blue scraps, I found some little mini-charms, and I used those for the lightest blues in the center.


Cynthia invited us to come up with our own name for this block. With coyotes on the prowl, I'm calling mine "Target Practice."

Sadie helped me make these blocks. She kept the itty bitty bits that fell on the floor in check. They were ready to start flying all over the room, when Sadie took over, keeping them safely corralled.


When I laid them out for their picture, she helped flatten them out.


Eventually, I convinced her that napping would be her best way of helping, and I was able to get this picture. I have 24 blocks, while I'm really supposed to have 23. I'm not sure which one is not like the others, but somebody got in here that doesn't belong.


Sadie tried to help me figure it out, but eventually took refuge on the quilts-to-be-quilted pile.


After that, I started working on the Paintbox Pizzazz blocks. The half square triangles are finished and trimmed. They're laid out, but I'm not sure if this will be the final configuration. I might decide to rearrange them.


Today, I'll finish these off, and then I'll move to the upstairs where Eliza and I will get busy quilting the Heart & Home quilt. It's a lap-sized quilt, and so it shouldn't take too long to finish it off.


This is how our day went yesterday. Every time I think the kitties are resigned to their new and (hopefully) temporary status as indoor-only cats, they let me know that this arrangement is not acceptable to them. They spent the entire day whining and yowling and getting into whatever mischief they could find. Yesterday's photo-a-day prompt was "open up," and this seemed like a perfect image.

Open up the door....puh-leeeeeze!


Their size difference cracks me up. Smitty is an unusually big boy, while Sadie is an unusually petite little girl. And please be polite by not mentioning anything about the length of their tails.

On a positive note, Coyote Man was here yesterday to take a look at the property and work out a plan. He says he'll be back next week to set some traps. We saw both coyotes again late yesterday afternoon. When we see them, it's always the same pair, and they're behaving in the usual way, running across the bottom of our field and through the tree line into the neighbor's field. Sometimes they'll stop and try to nab a gopher along the way.

Today I'll do some work outside, and then I'll get back to my sewing. It should be another fairly easy day, although Smitty and Sadie could decide to make it a day for testing patience as well.

6/13/19

OMG: A Finished Flimsy!

It was another busy day yesterday, and it was HOT! It was up to 95°F. by day's end, which is the warmest day so far this year. We turned on the air-conditioning for the first time too. It cooled off enough after dark that we were able to turn it off and open the windows. I don't know about you, but I like sleeping with the window open. Better to hear the howling coyotes, don't you know. Still no word from Coyote Man, but I'm going to call him if I don't hear from him by noon today. Smitty has pretty much given up on life:


There were some things to do in the morning, including a short grocery shopping trip. When I got home, I finished off the last of the Chicken Buffet flimsy, adding on a dark purple border.


This is the fabric I'm using for the quilt back. It has a story.


You might remember when we were doing the Let's Book It challenge with Sharon V. At some point, and I can't remember the context, Sharon told me she had this funny chicken fabric and she doubted she'd ever find a use for it. So, I piped up and said, I have a PERFECT quilt for that. I hadn't yet started on it, but I'd had the pattern for many years. Sharon sent me the fabric, and Chicken Buffet was next on my list for the Let's Book It challenge. So, thank you, Sharon. Your fabric was the perfect size for this quilt. I cut the length in half, sewed one seam, and I had a quilt back...just like that! I love it when it works out so easily.

The fabric for the binding was selected at the very beginning when I cut all the pieces for the whole quilt. I laid the strips beside the border so you can see how it will look when it's finished.


This is my goal for June's


and so I'll link up there at the month-end party.

It was late in the day by then. Mike came home early to do some mowing. While he was doing that, the kitties and I relaxed and waited. It's not often I get a two-cat lap. Smitty is not amenable to sharing on most days. Being so depressed from his confinement to the house, he satisfied himself with a threatening glare. Sadie ignored him.


Being such a hot day, I was happy to have some beautiful crispy fresh lettuce from our CSA share. We also had some leftover grilled rib-eye for a steak salad. I added a few vegetables from the grocery store, a nice white wine vinaigrette, and some blue cheese, and that was a tasty meal with no heat applied.


I'm feeling pretty much caught up with household chores now, and back on schedule with my calendar assignments. There are a few things to do today, but most of the day will be spent sewing. I'm going to get caught up on the Tiny Tuesday blocks, and then I'll probably get a start on the Paintbox Pizzazz blocks. These are the blocks I have so far.


This is my second Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilt for 2019. I'll be adding blues to the mix this time around.

6/12/19

Catching Up

Yesterday's comings and goings were a little less hectic than Monday, but I'm still getting caught up on busy work things. My first task yesterday was to churn some strawberry ice cream. All the component parts were made, and so I turned on the ice cream machine, and let her rip.


After about 15 minutes of churning, I added in the strawberries.


Mmmmmmmmmmmm...


When it was approximately soft serve consistency, I put it in a container and then popped it into the freezer.


We had it for dessert last night, and oh my. It's no wonder I'm willing to cut all the seeds off those strawberries because this is seriously good ice cream. I'm using the recipe from Cook's Illustrated which, thankfully, someone posted right here.

With that done, my next most urgent task was to plant the sunflowers. Some of the earliest ones have grown tall, leggy, and spindly. This year, I'm trying an experiment of growing them fairly close together in two of the whiskey barrels where things haven't done much. This first one is around the back side of the house. It gets full sun in the afternoon. In the center is the next batch of poppies.


It was a hot and windy day yesterday. I worried that the wind would blow them over, and so I staked them loosely to give them a fighting chance. Around the front of the house, the rest are planted in the whiskey barrel near the front door. There are some bulb flowers growing here, but they only come up in the spring and then die back. If the sunflowers make a go of it here, it might work out year after year. This one gets full sunshine at mid-day.


That takes care of almost all the sunflowers. There were a few planted later that will get put into the ground this weekend. We're kind of between blooming things right now. The day lilies and the echinacea will be next to bloom. For now, the sage is in bloom. Sage blossoms are edible and good in salads.


Also, the lavender is in bloom, and you know this means just one thing: Bees Knees cocktails. There are lots of recipes for Bees Knees, but this is the one we use. When the lavender is finished blooming, I'll collect the blossoms and dry them for next year's lavender syrup.


Also, the little rose bush has been allowed to bloom. It's very fragrant. One might say this is the upside to having coyotes around. They've kept the deer away from the roses.


Back inside, it was time for some sewing. I had just one block to finish before adding it to the third row of the quilt top.


When I laid it on the floor for its picture, Smitty walked across to make sure there were no loose chickens.


He was testing its napping capabilities when I disturbed him for this picture.


Sadie is still appalled at how the squirrels are being allowed to roam free outside with no cats to harass them. It's a crying shame, and she is thoroughly fed up.


By the end of my sewing day, I had all the blocks sewn together. Now, just the border is left. I should have time to finish it off today. I really like those random wonky stars in the sashing. They were so simple to do, and those could be used in any quilt.


After that it was time to pick up our CSA share and try to wrap my head around what should be done with things like kohlrabi and collards. I have ideas for both.

This morning, my first task was to strain the strawberries out of the infused vodka and bottle it up again. It's resting easy in the refrigerator now. Pretty, huh?


Today's tasks include a trip to the grocery store and getting a start on the laundry. When that's all done, I'll get back to the Chicken Buffet quilt. Things should settle down a little after today. Still no word from Coyote Man. I'm hoping he'll get out here in the next day or two. I heard the coyotes howling in the middle of the night...close by...and then again this morning from down in our woods. I'm almost certain they are living there.