4/20/19

Something Old, Something New

We were back to our usual Oregon gloom yesterday, and so I spent the day inside. I was in the process of making the first row of blocks from my newest project called "Jenny's Flower Garden." Eventually I'll give it a different name. The 49-patch blocks were finished, but I needed to make the "blanks." Smitty was very helpful in that regard.


He first helped with fabric selection, and then again with layout of the blocks.


This is a triple Irish chain, and I wasn't sure how all those randomly placed scrappy colors were going to look. This is just the first row of blocks, and I'll work on this project one row at a time. It's a little hard to tell with just seven blocks, but I think this will be fine when it's all finished. There are still many more blocks to make.


While it's tempting to sew together the rows as I make them, I'll keep going until all the blocks are made. I'll probably get a better and more random mix of fabrics that way.

From there, I caught up on the latest Tiny Tuesday block. This one was designed by Mari at The Academic Quilter. It's a cute "spinner" block.


As I mentioned when I worked on this last time, I seem to be one block ahead. We are supposed to be on Block #15, but I have 16 for some reason. When the quilt is finished, I'll use any extras on the quilt back. For now, here they are all laid out together.


From there I moved on to the oldest of my projects, the Mulligan Stew quilt. I've been working on this quilt for so long it isn't even funny, and I've written about the project many times. If you're new to this blog, you can read about the project and the book where it originates right here. There are 60 blocks in the quilt I'm making, and I've been making them five blocks at a time. Now I'm on Block #56, and so I'll complete all of the blocks in this go-round. Block #56 is this one:


Here's the story associated with it:


And here's the block I made:


I was ready to move on to the next one...this one:


with its associated story:


But then I kind of lost my sewing mo-jo for the day and decided to quit. I'll get back to it today. Three of the four remaining blocks are applique, and I needed to copy the pages from the book so I could make templates from the drawings. Instead, I went back to the April Heart embroidery that was nearly finished. I finished the last of it this morning:


And then I moved on to the May block. It's just barely started.


In the I'm-crabby-about-the-weather-and-so-now-I'm-going-to-complain-about-everything column, there's this:


Recently, I stopped ordering from Fabric.com because their website is so freaking slow on my computer that it's impossible to use. And so I've been doing any online ordering from Fabric Shack. Besides, Fabric Shack is a good source of solid fabric. They have good prices. Sadly, their shipping practices leave a lot to be desired. They stuff way too much fabric into a flat-rate envelope, and the envelope bursts in shipping. You might recall this order I received back in February:


I wrote an email to them at the time, and they assured me this wasn't their usual practice. Now, the same thing has happened again, and in wet, wet, wet Oregon, this sort of thing is really unacceptable. It's unacceptable no matter where you live, but it gives me another opportunity to whine about the weather. Anyway, I wrote to them again this morning with these words included in my message: "Strike Two." I'll move to another website if I receive another order like this.

Okay, so I seriously need an attitude adjustment. The sky is brightening up some, and it's supposed to be a dry week ahead. Mike and I have plans to get out and clean up the greenhouse today. I'd like to get some plants going in there this week, but it's full of dead tomato vines and their rotten progeny. We do this every year, and so we'll have it spic and span before you can say Bob's Your Uncle. But you might want to hold off saying it for just a bit, okay? I need to drink some more coffee first.

4/19/19

Saturday on Thursday

Every lawn mower on our hill could be heard running yesterday. It was a single dry day in a month of rain. We and all of our neighbors were itching to get outside and beat back the weeds. Mike stayed home to spray and mow, and so it felt like Saturday. My goals for the day were to weed and clean-up my culinary herb garden (check), deadhead the hydrangeas (check), and to weed any areas that Mike couldn't hit with his spray (mostly check). It was a knee-killer of a day, and it caused me to weenie out on my walk with Sue this morning. My knees need a day off.

So I started where the echinacea and lily are planted and pulled weeds from all around those. I was happy to see that at least three of the original six echinacea plants are still going. Also, the lily we planted last year is coming back. I looked up to see Sadie halfway up the cherry tree.


The cherry tree has more blossoms on it. I expect we'll see it in full bloom within a day or two.


Most of the star magnolia blossoms have been bruised by the rain, but I was able to find a few that are still perfect.


The tulip at the front door was completely open.


These that share their whiskey barrel with the poppies were looking in fine form too.


Smitty waded through the weeds to have a little munch on the catnip. It's the best thing in the yard, as far as he's concerned....except for maybe the mousies.


Mike mowed the entire field...about five acres, so no small task. We have about 7 acres of property, but some of it is wooded.


By day's end, we all were pooped pups, having spent the entire day outside working on stuff.


After icing my knees, I got to work trying out this new recipe from the diet. These are Red Lentil Rice Cakes. The recipe includes a "simple tomato salsa," but we had ours with some of my homemade tomato jam.


If you were following along when I traveled to Ireland, you might remember when I visited the Avoca Weaving Mill. We ate at the associated cafe there, and I had the most delicious lentil nut loaf. It was so good, I ended up purchasing their cookbook containing the recipe. When I got home, I tried it for myself. It was good, but the tomato chutney was missing, and the dish suffered some for it. Fast forward a few years, and I've learned to make tomato chutney. Even better is the tomato jam that has taken the place of tomato chutney. I can't decide whether I like Amy's Tomato Jam or Tomato Jalapeno Jam the best. Both are delicious. Also, I've learned they cook down much faster if cooked in a skillet rather than a pot.

Anyway...all of that to say that the Red Lentil-Rice Cakes are a good stand-in for the lentil nut loaf, and they can be made in smaller batches. I've linked to the recipe back there above the image, but I should add that I made a couple of changes. I used dried dill in place of the fennel seeds. I'm not fond of the licorice flavor imparted by fennel, and then there's the whole problem of seeds. Also, I used half the amount of dried basil since I didn't have any fresh on hand right at the moment. The only other thing I would add is that they should be scooped up in packed one-third cupfuls. I plopped mine in the skillet and then pressed them relatively flat with a spatula. They're easier to turn that way, although you'll need to turn them carefully. Even if they break apart, you can use your spatula to kind of press them back together, and they'll be just fine.

Okay, so that was yesterday. It was an interesting sky this morning, and we're expecting rain by noon today. It's the last gasp of rain (if you believe the forecast) before a dry week next week.


My next task in the garden is to do some planting. The annual pots still need attention, and I haven't planted a single seed for anything yet. It's time to get going if we're to enjoy any sunflowers, lettuce, or tomatoes this year. That will be for next week. As for today, I'll get back to my blocks and some inside-the-house chores.

4/18/19

A Sunny Day and a Winner


Purrhaps I should choose a winner for my birthday purrty giveaway. Purrmit me to spin the dial. The winner is:

#36 Connie H

Congratulations, Connie! I've sent you an email so check your inbox. And thank you to all who wrote to wish Smitty a happy birthday and to share your pet stories. I really enjoyed reading them.

Yesterday was spent mainly sitting in my hairdresser's chair getting my hair permed. I had a few errands to run afterward, but arrived home just after noon. The kitties were itching to get outside by the time I arrived, and so we opened the door and set free the cats! Smitty likes sitting in this particular spot on our (dirty) deck. It displays his tail so nicely.


I filled the bird feeders and then took a little walk around. We had a relatively mild winter, and so most everything has survived. The catnip is taking off like the weed that it is...although this was planted especially for kitties.


 Also, I noticed the cherry blossoms are beginning to open. These were high overhead, but there are tight buds covering both cherry trees.


When I had the outdoor things finished, I went back inside and finished off the "flower" blocks for the Jenny's Flower Garden quilt I'm making. This is a triple Irish chain. It's going to be hard to judge how the bright scrappy fabrics are going to look without more blocks. For now, this is all I have.


Today I'm hoping to finish the three "blanks" that will fit in between, and that will finish off the first of seven rows.

It's going to be a nice day today...the warmest day of 2019 so far. Mike is home from work today. The yard is downright scary right now. He's home in order to mow the field and spray the weeds. I'm going to join him to clean up some of the winterkill and prune back some of the dead blossoms from last year to make way for this year's blooming things. We thought we might get a pretty sunrise this morning, but it never moved beyond what you see in the image below. Still, I liked how the rising sun shown red on the plumes of industry in the valley.


After two days of stitching, I have the April heart this far along. These might actually take longer to stitch than I thought, but it's too soon to say for sure.


So if there's time for sewing today, I'll try to finish off the three blocks for the first row of Jenny's Flower Garden. Then, I'm needing to catch up on this week's Tiny Tuesday block. If I finish all of that, I'll be ready to finish off the remaining blocks for the Mulligan Stew quilt. It's the oldest of the oldest of my UFO's at this point, and so it'll be good to get the blocks finished.

We're looking forward to a nice day of weather here. I hope your day is a good one too.

4/17/19

All New

All new, except for this one last block from an old project. The last of the Sundress blocks is finished.


Probably I won't get around to sewing this one together until the end of the year since I have six quilts ahead of it, but having the embroidery done is a big step toward a finish.

Recently, I've been finishing up a lot of my piecing and embroidery WIPS..."finishing" being a relative term. None of them are sewn together, but they've reached the next stage of the process. And all of that to say that I'm starting a lot of new projects right now. The finish of the Sundress blocks leaves me with an empty space on my embroidery dance card, and so I get to start something new.

This is a little group of stitcheries I picked up when I visited Creations in Kerrville, Texas, a little over a year ago. I'm calling this project, "A Year of Hearts." There is a little heart embroidery block for each month of the year, and I'll be starting with April.


These are from "The Basket Case Needlework Therapy." I looked for a website, but could find nothing except abandoned URL's and one abandoned blog post, and so I can't say much more than that about the designer. These are very small blocks. There is no quilt pattern, and so I'm not sure what their original intended purpose was. I'll be making a small quilt from them. Since they are small, I've decided to stitch them three at a time. It took me about an hour yesterday to gather supplies and trace them out, but now April, May, and June are ready to go.




When those were finished, my little helper cat was ready and willing to help me cut the remaining 80 2 x 2 squares for Jenny's Flower Garden.


It took some time to cut the remaining scraps, and then there was just a little bit of time left in the day to begin sewing the rows together. I'll be making four of the "flower" blocks and three "blanks" for this grouping. These are the outermost rows. I'll have some time to sew the middle rows together today. Just maybe I'll have some finished blocks by day's end.


I'm realizing my quilt isn't going to look anything like the one in the book since her scraps were all pastels. Mine are brighter. Those are the scraps I have to work with, and so we'll see how it turns out. The main purpose of this quilt is to use up scraps, and it will do that.

Today I'm getting my hair permed. Love the perm, hate the process. Today is the last day to enter Smitty's Birthday Giveaway. I'll announce the winner tomorrow.

4/16/19

Morning Walk

The day got away from me yesterday. I did my slow stitching in the morning. The last of the sundresses is this far along, and I expect I'll finish it off this morning.


Although I reported sunshine yesterday morning, the clouds moved in before I was finished with my slow-stitching. Checking the forecast, the rain wasn't predicted to start until the afternoon. It took a bulldozer, but I got my lazy self out for a walk. Below is our neighbor's house. Smitty and Sadie are working tirelessly at evicting him from the propurrty.


Straight down our driveway, our human neighbor planted daffodils along the portion of the driveway shared with our three closest neighbors. Many years ago, I recall reading in our local paper that bulbs for either the white or the yellow daffodil with the orange center were becoming a rarity. The article requested folks with that particular variety share bulbs at some collection point. Although I've searched for the article, I can't find it. (It was long enough ago to be pre-internet.) So, I can't recall whether it was the white one like this one below...


...or the yellow one like this one below. In either case, our neighbor has us covered.


Still on the shared portion of the driveway, I noticed these tiny flowers hanging from one of the trees along the way.


Also, a pair of Cooper's hawks were circling. They must have a nest nearby. We get a lot of hawks for the same reason cats like it here...there are lots of little munchies running around in our field.


Nearly to the main road, I caught up with our friendly neighbor the horse. Thank goodness, I had a bag of horsey treats in my pocket.


He's sharing his pasture with a different mule from the one we see ordinarily. This one was smaller, and it wouldn't approach the fence no matter how many cookies I offered up. Nothing doing. Our neighbor often boards large equine animals for friends and family, and so I suspect that's what's going on here. He's probably mad about being left behind with strangers.


Okay, so here we go, officially on our way. Some of the blooming things I saw yesterday are common weeds, and it's often difficult to tell whether I'm looking at a flower or a flower bud. Just to be sure, I took pictures anyway.


At the top of the hill, this neighbor has some beautiful blooming trees in their yard.


Here's another of the weed shots.


In a long-ago blog post, I was able to identify this one, but I can't remember what it is.


This is some kind of wild fruit tree.


Here's something new with the red flowering currant in the background.




In the "every little thing" category...this fungus. The cap was smaller than a dime.


Oh, and lookie here...this is something I haven't seen yet this year.


I'd reached my turn-around point by then and took a picture of the valley below.


Testing the new camera's zoom capabilities, I zoomed in on this red barn. You can see it in the image above, about 1/3 of the way down the photo and near the middle.


You can't see this next one in the larger photo because it's outside the frame. But I zoomed in on a barn much farther away to see how well the camera could do, and it isn't too bad.


Then, I zoomed way, way out, far off in the distance. When the camera's lens is extended as far as it can go, I can activate the digital zoom to get even closer. That's what I did in the image below. Digital zoom isn't as good as the zoom provided by the lens, but this isn't too bad. It's a little grainy, but see for yourself.


So, I'm pretty happy with the camera's capabilities, both far away, and close-up.

On my way back home, I noticed this trillium nearly ready to bloom. I love the trilliums. The are my favorite of our native wildflowers.


So you can imagine how excited I was when I found this cluster in bloom just a little way on.


Here are just a few more I noticed toward the end of my walk.




It was already 1:00 p.m. by the time I reached home again. I was starving for lunch and also surprisingly tired. I ended up taking a nap in the afternoon, but got busy on my new sewing project before the end of the day.

My goal was to get all or most of the cutting done. I've cut all the "constant" pieces I'll need for the whole project.


And then I got to work cutting up scraps for the random 2-inch squares. I'm using my smallest scraps for this. Anything that can't be cut into a 2-inch square is getting thrown in the trash. Scraps are taking over my sewing room, and this project is designed to get rid of a goodly portion of them. To complete the first row of blocks, I'll need 180 of these 2-inch pieces. Yesterday I cut 100 of them.


They actually go pretty fast, and so I expect I'll be able to cut the remaining 80 and then start sewing before the end of today.

But first...grocery shopping. I still have food to get through the week, but we are out of our favorite Dove sorbet bars. You have no idea what a disaster that is, and so grocery shopping is a must. Hopefully, I'll have some completed blocks to show you tomorrow.