9/24/18

Road Movers

As I'm writing this post, I can hear big earth moving equipment up on our dirt road. We've waited the whole summer for this week to arrive. The road paving project was supposed to start today. Mike talked with the county workers as he left home this morning. They're laying down several more layers of gravel and then rolling over it to make a nice sturdy road bed for the pavement to come. We're expecting nice weather...even hot weather...all week long, and so our paving project should be completed soon. It can't come soon enough. We and all of our neighbors are going to be so happy for an end to the summer dust and the winter mud. Pictures to follow. You might want to fasten your seat belts for that.

In sewing news, I spent some time yesterday morning getting my floss bobbins cleaned up from the last Sundress I stitched. This one is just barely getting started, but my floss bobbins are all tidy now.


I'll work on this some more when I finish writing to you guys.

We were expecting dinner guests yesterday evening. My only job for the day was to make a salad. For that, I needed to harvest some tomatoes. It was surprising to not find more Romas on our plants. We have a lot of green ones, but not many ripe ones. There were plenty for the salad, but not enough to make canning them worthwhile. I'll check again at week's end and see if I can come up with enough to fill a few more jars. For now, this was it, and a lot of these are from our greenhouse cherry tomato plant. I used those in the salad. I'll save the Romas for canning, if canning there shall be.


With more than a week left in the month of September and all of my monthlies complete, I had some time to start a new little quilt. I'm calling this project "Starry Night." It's a little wall-hanging for the new RV. I'm combining the background of the Little Camper pattern from Patchabilities with the Fifth Wheel Camper Mug Rug pattern from Sher Hastings Designs. I've had the fifth wheel pattern for some time. I don't know when I found the Little Camper pattern...probably in one of those late night forays on my iPad...when resistance is futile.

I had the hardest time picking out background fabrics for this...maybe you'll see why in a minute. Finally, I settled on this grouping...all scraps from my stash.


Then I added the background from the Little Campers pattern. Mine is adapted just a little to accommodate the different shape of the fifth wheel. Also, I added the second tree from the left. It was blank there...or maybe there was some quilting...I can't remember. It looked funny to me, and so I cut one of the trees again and added it in.


The "star" fabric is actually a Christmas fabric. That's supposed to be snow falling, but I thought it could just as easily be a starry night sky.

When I had those pieces in place, I added the fifth wheel and camp fire from Sher Hastings' pattern. The fussy cut kitties were my idea. One should never travel without one's cats.


That was as far as I took it. It still needs top-stitching, and I'll add in some details to the fifth wheel...the windows, the steps, the jack at the front end...and then it will be ready for quilting and binding. I have a day to relax at home today, and so I'm hoping to get well along on this before day's end.

A package from Australia was delivered yesterday. I'd been waiting for this for a couple of weeks. (It takes a long time for things to travel from Australia.) This was more booty from a late-night iPad foray. Like I said, resistance is futile. For whatever reason, I was looking at the Hatched & Patched website from Anni Downs, and I came away with this book.


It has several patterns between its covers. The one I'm interested in is "The Story of My Day Quilt."


The quilt ends up at 62 x 62 inches. Here's what the finished quilt looks like. The quilt blocks are embroidered patches of things one might do during one's day. Her drawings are primitive and so cute. Like I said...resistance was futile.


You can find the book right here. I already have her "Some Kind of Wonderful" book, the quilt not yet started. Also, I made her Gardener's Journal quilt some time ago. You might remember it.


There are so many embroidery patterns in my library now that I can't possibly live long enough to finish all of them. Nevertheless, it makes me happy to have them, and so I'll just keep stitching as fast as I can.

This morning I noticed the maple tree at the far end of our field is in its full fall regalia now.


While I was out, I noticed this snapdragon growing from one of the annual pots. The snapdragons come back each year, but I don't recall planting this one. The other one in the pot is yellow. This might be a volunteer from seeds dropped by a squirrel or a bird. However it got there, it's a pretty addition to the pot.


As I said earlier, it's going to be a relaxing day at home. The relaxation starts now.

9/23/18

The Usual

We're back to passing for normal around here. We briefly considered trying to fit in one more camping trip before the rain moves in for good, but then decided against it. I guess we're at home for the duration. The trailer is unpacked, and so I'm back to my usual day-to-day stuff. 

Our Sun Gold cherry tomato has been unbelievably prolific this year. First thing yesterday morning, I went out and harvested the most ripe tomatoes. I'll tell you what I did with these babies in just a minute. Aren't they pretty?


You might recall that some critter ate the poor plant down to a bloody stump shortly after I planted it last spring.


It's grown to immense proportions and is busily making tomatoes as if it didn't even notice what happened to it earlier in the year. Kinda makes you wonder, doesn't it? What if I planted them every spring and then immediately cut off everything it worked so hard to attain. Would it produce mountains of cherry tomatoes again?

After that, I was fresh out of slow stitching, and so I traced out the 8th of 12 of the Sundress blocks.


Now it's hooped up and waiting for me downstairs. You gotta love a design that fits in a single hoop. These stitch up pretty quick, except for those damnable tiny chain stitches. I usually work just one length of floss on those and then move on to something less tedious.


It awaits me downstairs, and so I'll work on that next.

When I had my housekeeping and gardening chores done, I went to work on September's Tuxedo's Tales block. It was fused, but I needed to add the top-stitching and embellishing. Now it's finished.


Here are the nine blocks I've finished so far.


As for those cherry tomatoes, I had plans for them. We're always looking for ways to use CSA veggies, and this recipe from Smitten Kitchen for Burst Tomato Galette with Corn and Zucchini was a great choice. Tomatoes, corn, and zucchini are always served up in abundance with our CSA shares this time of year. However, the veggies for this galette were mostly from our own plants. You saw the cherry tomatoes, and we have lots of zucchini. The corn from the CSA share never lasts more than a day or two, and so I used frozen. If memory serves, the scallions were from CSA.


It was a bit of a production to make, but not overly difficult. I first made the crust, which had to chill in the fridge for an hour. While that was chilling, I made the filling, (chilling and filling...pure poetry) and that needed some time to cool. And so with some planning, it turned into a nice dinner without a lot of fuss. The crust was a dream to work with. It was very flavorful, especially with those Sun Gold cherry tomatoes. I'd definitely do this again.

We have a small dinner get-together planned for this evening. Our neighbor is coming by and Matthew will be joining us. I made the stuffed pasta shells main course before we left on our camping trip, so I just need to make a salad and serve it all up with some crusty bread. We're also going to have some of those little plum shortcakes I made while we were camping.


Easy peasy. Plus...if we never had people over, when would the house get cleaned? It's a win-win, if you know what I mean.

So with that update, I'll get to work. It's a pretty day here. How's this new fall weather treating you?

9/22/18

Fastest Needle in the West

We had a wonderful week at Ft. Stevens State Park in Warranton, Oregon last week. There was a weak cell signal, and so no blogging for me. The signal was strong enough to tease, however. Occasionally, we could pick up our email, and I'd see tantalizing headlines, but no way to click on the link and read the story. Like this one: Chevy Chase: He's 74, sober, but no one will work with him. Really? Is that guy still alive? And sober? I didn't even know he wasn't sober...ever...and he wants to work? Geez. It's the price you pay when you no longer read People magazine. I stopped reading people about 30 years ago, when I no longer recognized the names of any of the "People" in the magazine.

So...anyway...here's what happened. I have lots of pictures. I'm hoping I don't overload your computer with them. We arrived at Ft. Stevens late afternoon on Monday. Right away, Mike flipped the switch on our fake fireplace and built a fire for me. He's such a romantic.


For all I've smirked about how ridiculous the fake fireplace is, it does make a nice room heater. It's kind of interesting to watch and speculate about what makes the flame look like that. But mainly, it's just an electric heater that makes almost no noise...a good feature. Fairly soon, we were joined by Miss Sadie.


And Mr. Smitty. He was still looking for those cubbies. It must be so confusing for them. We don't think they realize this is a different rig, and so they don't understand why things are rearranged. They kept returning to the old location for their food dishes too.


One thing I like about this rig is that I can sit and look through the window and see the kitties on their catio.


Smitty takes refuge there...it's the only thing that's still in the right location.


It's share and share alike for the catio. Sometimes they go out together, but mainly, they just seem to have worked out a way to share the space.


When I laid out the new kitty quilt, Smitty took to it immediately. We noticed he stopped looking for the cubbies too. We believe he just wanted a space to call his own. They both used this little quilt during the trip, taking turns as they do with the catio. There's another kitty quilt on the "dresser" in the bedroom, and they use that one too.


Okay, now remember the Caramelized Plums I made last week? We had them over ice cream originally, but we both thought they tasted a lot like strawberries when they're dressed up to be strawberry shortcake. And so I made some Bisquick shortcakes and we gave it a try. And, whoa...that was really good. The plums are tart, and the sauce is sweet, and so it's a very nice combination. I've linked to the recipe back there. These are so good and you can make them in just a few minutes.


We were lucky to have fantastic weather for the week...always a gift on the Oregon coast, but especially in late September. The first day we got out and did a little sight-seeing in the park. Ft. Stevens State Park is enormous, with an enormous campground. It's possible to drive out to the mouth of the Columbia River from there. Interestingly, when you visit the little town of Astoria, you might think you are at the western-most point of the state. In fact, Warrenton is on a kind of "cape" that extends farther west toward the Pacific Ocean. From this spot, we could see the huge bridge in Astoria that connects Oregon and Washington. It's difficult to see in this image. I'll show you a better one a little later on.


Looking in the other direction, we could see the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse on the Washington side of the river.


Our shadow selves were in fine form. They always look their best on a sunny day.


Driving on, we came to the South Jetty observation tower.


This is a busy port with ocean-going vessels coming up the Columbia River heading for Portland and points beyond.


Here's a little information about the jetty and its function.


There were two large ships coming in.



From the observation tower, we had a better view of the lighthouse.


We could also look far down the beach and see the wreck of the Peter Iredale, and so we drove on to get a better look. We've visited here before, but never in such nice weather, and so I can't say for sure I've ever stood this close. You can read more about it right here. It was a large ship that ran aground in 1906. Most of it is buried in sand now, but you can stand at this end and see the tops of the masts (I presume) and get some sense of how big it was.


It's a little spooky walking around it, knowing how long it's been there.




I always enjoy seeing footprints of various critters in the sand. This is a seagull, I presume.


But I wondered about these tiny paw prints. They were about the size of a dime. What kind of critter do you suppose left these?


From there, we drove on to Battery Russell. You can read more about it right here. But first, be warned.


There was a time when I would have laughed about this, but with two cougar attacks (one deadly) here in the Pacific Northwest this summer, it's no longer funny to see this sign.


As for Battery Russell, here's the beginning. From there, one walks up a long flight of stairs to see the rest.


And there it is.


It was home to some very big guns.


I don't have a lot to say about this, and so I'll just show you some of the pictures...



It's woolly worm season. This was just one we saw during the week.


From Battery Russell, we drove on to the museum where I picked up my first refrigerator magnet of the new RV.


And there...we saw more evidence of Fort Stevens. Some of this predates the civil war.


You can read more about Fort Stevens right here.


You can impress your friends with this bit of trivia: Fort Stevens was the one place on the American mainland hit by gunfire during World War II. Here are some headlines about it.



It was a Japanese submarine firing the shots. The Americans did not return fire, although the reason is unknown. Speculation is that they didn't want to give up the location of these big guns.


Here's a replica. They were on a piece of equipment that raised them above the wall to fire, and once fired, they came back down, hidden and protected.




Here's a photograph from the museum.


We walked out beyond the fort to see this one.


Here's a sign explaining it.


There was also a rose test garden there.


That was all the sight-seeing we did on that day. When we got back to the RV, I started on the newest Friendship's Garden block and stitched the entire first hooping.


We had no plans for our second day, but I tried again to make a good Dutch Baby pancake in the RV oven. This time I tried combining the best of two recipes, and it turned out great.


This is my customized recipe. To serve this up, I just sprinkled it with confectioner's sugar and drizzled a little lemon juice. Sometimes I add maple syrup, but these were good without anything added.



So except for a little shopping excursion, we hung out at the RV all day. For our shopping, we were on the hunt for a couple of things. For one thing...espresso cups. We like a cup of espresso after lunch, and the cups we had were chipped and kind of messed up after years of traveling. We found these at a local Starbucks. Cute, huh?


They're part of a series of "Been There" mugs...and who knew? Apparently, one can register and sign-in and report being there...wherever "there" is.

Also, we've puzzled how to deal with these shelves above the couch. Without doors, we haven't been very successful in our efforts to put stuff up there and not have it come crashing down while we go down the road. There is a lip on each shelf, but not enough to stop things from toppling over in a hard stop.


So we looked for some tension rods. These can be taken down when we're standing still, and then put up when we want to go down the road. We wondered if there was enough "tension" to hold things in place. As it turns out...this works. We rode home with no problems.


On our third day, we visited Fort Clatsop, a part of Lewis and Clark National Historical Park.


Again, I don't have a lot to say about this, and so I'll just show you the pictures. This is a replica of the place Lewis and Clark stayed during their winter in Oregon.


Here's a little information about the structure.


And here are some pictures of the rooms and their sparse furnishings. Consider the wet, cold, rainy Pacific Northwest, and then consider spending months cooped up here. It's no wonder one of them described this as a "dismal niche."





After exploring the fort, we took a short hike out to where their canoe landing was. This part of Oregon is the home of the big Sitka Spruce trees. I had Mike stand next to this one for scale.


It was very peaceful out there. The wooden pilings you see in the water there are leftover remnants of the logging industry.


And I took pictures of a few little things we saw along the way. These were about the size of ball bearings.


There were still a few wildflowers in bloom.


And wild berries ripening.


Cattails. I love cattails, even when they aren't attached to actual cats.


There was a fancy footbridge across the river.


And more peace and quiet.


On our way back, we ran into this guy.


At the visitor center, I picked up another refrigerator magnet.


From there, we drove into Astoria. The town is named for Jacob Astor. He was a wealthy businessman who went down with the sinking of the Titanic. You can see the huge Astoria bridge mentioned earlier there on the left.


Back home, I worked some more on my embroidery. I was able to nearly finish this piece during the week with the help of my little cat Sadie.


You can see how tense she is.


Now we're back home, and I finished the last little bit this morning.


Here are the five blocks I have finished so far. There are four more to do.


Just before leaving home on Monday, I did the fusing for the September Tuxedo Tales block.


I'm hoping to have some time today to top-stitch the pieces and stitch in the details. Here, I've drawn in the lines and laid out the buttons. I'll sew them on last. The squirrel has a hot-fix nail head for an eye.


When that's finished, I'll have some time to work on a little wall-hanging for the RV. For this, I'm putting together two patterns...the fifth wheel PDF from Sher Hastings Designs, and the background from the Little Camper pattern from Patchabilities.


So...I hope you've enjoyed this little tour of our week-long trip. Time to get back to business...business being mostly sewing, but also a little cleaning.