6/14/21

Powerless

What a dismal day yesterday! It rained the whole live-long day, for one thing. I did some slow-stitching in the morning, and then did some housework. After lunch, I turned my attention to the binding for the farm quilt. I'm limiting myself to two lengths of thread, but still managed to turn the first corner.


As I was folding it up, the power went off. It was around 2:30 p.m. Okay, so that pretty much put the kibosh on anything else I might have had planned for the afternoon. Thank goodness I finished my housework!!! So, anyway...a little power outage can't come between me and my slow-stitching. I had a full charge on my rechargeable headlamp, and so there was just one thing to do. I sat and stitched, and stitched, and stitched on Calendula Patterdrip until I finished the section I was working on.


Meanwhile, Smitty sat outside the window on the wood box, willing the weather to improve.


The fattest squirrel you've ever seen sat nearby, mocking him. Oh, the humanity!


I just moved my hoop and continued on, filling in the next section too.


Now I've moved my hoop down, and to the left, and I'll pick it up there this morning. I think I'm about halfway across the third block for this quilt. We're heading to Eastern Washington tomorrow morning, and this will be a good take-along project. Even if I finish the third block, the fourth one is right there for me to start on.


Okay, so the day was kind of a bust. We ended up going out for dinner since we didn't want to open the refrigerators. The power outage was caused by some limbs falling on power lines. There was a severe ice storm in our area this past winter, and there are dead limbs hanging from trees everywhere. With so much rain, they've been heavy with moisture, and now they're falling down and causing a different kind of trouble. The power came back on around 9:15 last night...right after Mike started up the generator. (Of course it did.) I worried with so much slow-stitching that my thumb would be punishingly painful today. As insurance, I splinted it last night, and it feels fine this morning. Apparently, no harm done.

So today I'll be packing the truck camper and doing some cooking. Recently, I found a leftover half package of Jimmy Dean sausage in the freezer. The only thing I ever use that for is Frozen Breakfast Burritos, and so I'll make some of those today. Heck, I even have half a jalapeno pepper to use for the same dish! It's almost as if it were meant to be! That will be breakfast for the next few days. Also, I'm making a favorite sandwich spread from Giada DeLaurentiis. I love her Curried Chicken and Apple Wraps. Those will keep us in lunches for the next few days. I have some frozen entrees to take along for dinner as well. We'll have steaks one night, and so I'm making my favorite marinade ahead of time. I just pack it in a jar, and then pour it over the meat when we're ready for it.

The food will be pretty easy for this trip, and it's just a few days, so there won't be much else to pack either. The kitties are staying home this time around. I've left strict instructions that there be no mouse parties. They are to lay off the catnip, and absolutely no meowargaritas. Cats these days.... You have to stay tough as a cat mom. 

We're heading to a place in eastern Washington we've never been, Palouse Falls State Park. We read about it...somewhere...I can't remember where. I've seen some spectacular photographs of it. Here's one from Creative Commons.

(Image credit: "Palouse Falls Eastern Washington" by Knowles Gallery is licensed under CC BY 2.0)

You can see another one at that link I've given you. Visiting in May or June is the best time of the year when the snowmelt is still strong, and there's plenty of water flowing. And so, I'll be taking a few days off from blogging. I'll be back later in the week to tell you all about it. Until then, stay strong and sew on.

6/13/21

A Slow Day

It rained for most of the day yesterday. It makes me fear for things in the vegetable garden. We planted our first garden in many years last summer. Prior to that our last garden had been in 2012. The long gap was due to a gardening season like this one, when it rained and rained and rained right after we'd planted our seeds. 

In 2012, absolutely nothing came up. It's a lot of work to plant a vegetable garden, especially one the size of ours. So we gave up on gardening for many years until last year when we planted one to fill about 1/3 the space. Everything grew and thrived, and we were happy. Here's a picture taken at the end of July last year.

Now, this year, we're having another wet year, and things are just too wet and too cold to do much growing. Most everything has come up, but not in the numbers I planted. And I've replanted several things at least twice. Sigh. When the rain came down hard last night, I decided we'd get what we get and be happy. At this point, we're planning a travel adventure for next summer. There probably will be no garden. Perhaps by 2023, we will have forgotten the disappointment of 2021. Time will tell. And maybe it's too early for such gardening despair. One can only hope.

It was a pain day yesterday. I had several things on my list to do, but it seemed my arm had other ideas related to sitting and being quiet. Some days are like that. My shoulder hurt, and my thumb was on fire for most of the day. No idea why, except possibly wrestling with And On That Farm may have taken a toll. Where slow stitching is concerned, I just stitch through it. I finished up the section I was working on:


And then moved my hoop up to the next section. I'll be finishing off the tops of some of the bottles in the next round. There's a little more higher up and outside the hoop, and then I'll be moving to the right.


Also, I managed to get the binding sewn onto the farm quilt. All that's left now is the hand-stitching and the embellishing. And thanks to everyone who chipped in about the bushel basket. I'm going to leave the handle off.


Now let's just turn our attention to the cats of the Three Cats Ranch, shall we? As I mentioned, we purchased a Litter Robot for them several weeks ago. Mike, the Pooper Scooper, is loving it, and it's working out great. It makes it less worrisome to leave the kitties for a few days when we take a short trip.


With that addition, there was just one more thing we wanted to try to improve: treat dispensing. When they're left for a few days (never more than three nights running), they have their catio, they have plenty of food, plenty of water, and they have each other. I'm sure they're happier staying home than they would be if we took them along. The one thing we still felt guilty about is that we aren't here to dispense treats for them pretty much every five minutes. So Mike invested in this automatic dispenser. 


Now they get treats every several hours. It's been a good investment because it means they aren't begging from us constantly. The treat dispenser takes us out of the equation. Now they have a Litter Robot to clean their litter box and they have a treat dispenser. Pretty soon we will be completely irrelevant, and they'll ask us to move out so they can redecorate and have mouse parties. It's every cat's dream, dontcha know.

And speaking of cat dreams, I caught Sadie lying on the catio catwalk yesterday. I've never seen either of them climb the ladder we provided (although I have seen cats climb ladders), but they do like this little cat walk that extends to the corner shelf.


And today is Sadie's "Gotcha Day." She joined the cats at the Three Cats Ranch five years ago today. We had a pre-celebration Bees Knees for her yesterday evening...which is just another reason it ended up a slow day. It did make my shoulder feel better though. A little honey, lemon, and lavender, spiced up with a helping of gin, and all your aches and pains fade into the background. Just sayin.


Today my shoulder and thumb are feeling pretty much back to normal. I was thinking of hoeing the garden, but I'm afraid I'll just be walking into a mud hole. It seems like a better choice to stay inside and make my way around the quilt binding.

Right now, though, it's time for Sunday morning Blueberry Oatmeal Pancakes, and so that's where I'm headed next.

6/12/21

Harvest Time

It's a farm quilt right? When it's nearly finished, it would seem appropriate to start the harvest. And when it's all finished, the harvest will be in, right? It makes me think of that old church hymn, "Bringing in the Sheaves." So, yeah. I'm so old I've actually sung that song in church. It might even have been the day it was written, or certainly when it was still listed in the Top Ten.

So the quilting is finished. YAHOO!! I can't even tell you how much I dreaded this project. Now that it's finished, I'm wondering why I thought it would be so awful. Of course, my little quilting cat was by my side throughout, and I'm sure that made it easier. Certainly it made it slower.


I needed to finish quilting the sashings and borders. I used this motif I found on Pinterest:


It was easy to do, and it made me think of rolls of wire used for fencing. When it was all finished, I took it off the machine and laid it out on the floor.


Here's a peek at the back:


Smitty was exhausted after that effort. He needed a neck massage.


Finishing a big quilt like this always kills my sewing ambition for the remainder of the day, but I did take the quilt down to my work table and square it up for binding. The binding strips are already cut.


I sorted through the remaining scraps left from the quilt and put those away. I had some nice sized pieces of yardage that I can use in another quilt, and I had lots of little pieces left. 

While I was at it, I took a look at the embellishments. They aren't as involved as I thought they would be. I'll be adding apples to the apple trees, and a bell to the cow.


Also, there's a handle for this "bucket." It doesn't look like a bucket to me though. It looks like a bushel basket, which wouldn't have a handle. What do you think? 


I'm seriously considering leaving the handle off. Besides, I'm not sure how to sew it on. A zig-zag stitch over the ends might work. Now here's a question: how many of us learned the measures of a bushel and a peck in about the second grade, only never to see them ever again in life? 

Also, I'm going to add some black beads to the cat's eyes where I couldn't keep those little black pupils attached. And, point of reference, cats' eyes do not have round pupils. They are elliptical in shape. Sadie was extremely offended by this.


So today's sewing effort will be to get the binding sewn on by machine, and then begin the long journey of hand-stitching it down. This might be a good project to take along on our camping trip next week if I haven't finished it before we go. For sure, I'll be taking along some slow-stitching.

Speaking of camping, I need to make a short trip to the grocery store today. Saturday...I know...a person could die out there among the English. Like I said, it will be a short trip. And then, I'm still hoping to get a start on the pattern for the Sonora Desert Landscape. It still sits where I left it days ago.


Also, I brought out my next quilting project, and it's draped over my sewing chair to relax the wrinkles from it. Here's a picture I took as I was sandwiching it for quilting in December of 2018. Consider that for a moment. That was a full year before the pandemic started. Good grief. It's been waiting its turn ever since.


These panels were created by Hoffman, and they come in many different colors. You can see more of them at this link. I decided to buy one while watching others quilt them on a Facebook free motion quilting group. It seemed like good practice, and that's all I'm doing with it. I've seen some others that were all fancied up with borders and quilt blocks. Mine will end up a nice sized lap quilt or a wall hanging when I'm finished with it. Mainly, my goal is practice. It'll be at least a week or two before I get started on it. 

So aside from grocery shopping, I'll get back to my quilt binding and my slow-stitching. It's a day to relax, I think.

6/11/21

On the Border

Quilting on the farm quilt is coming to an end. I believe I'll get it finished today. Finishing off the quilting will be the day's top priority, although I have some other non-sewing things on my list as well. Yesterday I quilted in some clouds in the sky and some ripples in the hillside background.


As I've been doing the top-stitching, I've been trying to clip all the jump stitches and thread tails. I took the quilt off the machine at this point and then ran my hands over the top looking for any I'd missed.

The back was a different story. For that, I went over it with fine tooth fingers, turning it at all angles and clipping as many as I could see. Standing at different angles and turning it in different directions revealed any I'd missed. And I'm sure I've missed some, but I'm calling it good for now. I'll probably find more as I sew on the binding. For now, here's how it looks from the back. This first image is the basket section where I started.


Here, you can see the cow.


This next image shows the goat with a quilt in his mouth.


This next image shows the pig and the sunflowers.


I chose a simple loopity-whoopity motif (technical quilt terms), and I was just barely getting a start on quilting the borders and the sashings. By then, though, I was kind of tired of wrestling with it, and my shoulder was moaning. I decided to quit for the day and take it up as today's task.


Lately we've been watching the news with Shephard Smith. We like Shephard, but mostly we like that his show comes on at 4:00 p.m. By then, we're both ready to call it quits for the day, and it's early enough that I can sit down and watch, rather than listening from the kitchen while I make dinner. And all of that to say that I'm getting double the slow-stitching time these days since I can sit and stitch while we watch the news. Yesterday, I finished up the first/next hoopful of Calendula Patterdrip's Cottage.


Now, I've moved the hoop up to the next section. It's always a question whether to move from side to side or else up and down. In this case, up and down will be the pattern. It's a large piece and difficult to keep it tidy and easy to hold. Now that I'm in the middle section, there's less drag from any one side, if that makes any sense. It's a little easier on my thumb.


Regarding my thumb, it continues to improve, but it still hurts like a mother at times. I've figured out that splinting it during those hurting times will give it a rest and let it settle down some. I don't know if it will ever stop hurting, but I'm optimistic.

After dinner, I realized I hadn't paid the tomatoes a visit in several days. I went out and brushed all the flowers. They were given a shot of fertilizer the other day and there were lots of flowers and a few little tomatoes. The plants are looking good.


The poppies are mostly fading, but there are still a few buds. The rest are going to seed for next year's crop. They've really put on a show this spring, and I've enjoyed them.


Now the lavender is blooming. Yesterday, I pinched and rubbed one of the flowers. Such a lovely fragrance.


If the weather ever improves, I think we'll be ready for Bees Knees cocktails. They seem like a summer drink to us, and so we're only motivated to make them on a sunny day. Today is not such a day. As I'm writing this, it's raining hard. And, honestly, we've had enough rain. Please bring on the sunshine.

So that's all I have for you today. Time for breakfast and some slow-stitching. A finish is in my future. It will be a big relief to have the farm quilt to binding stage by day's end. After nearly five years, I'm more than done with it.

6/10/21

Barns and Farms

It doesn't seem as if much was accomplished yesterday. Having PT in the middle of the day throws me off my stride. Obviously, no jury duty for me today. And thus ends my second week of jury duty without having to report even once. I'm pretty happy about that too. We have a trip planned for next week, and so I'm excused all week. I won't have to call in again until June 20th. No complaints here about my jury duty commitment.

Not much has happened outside for the last few days. Coolish and unpredictable weather have discouraged me from spending much time in the garden, but I'll get out and hoe some weeds today. There was time yesterday morning to finish off the second Heartland Barns block. These are turning out so pretty.


Here are the two blocks I have for this quilt so far.


Weirdly, the pattern called for five skeins of that dark brown floss. I'm down to just two skeins left and three blocks to go. The center block is a large one. Clearly, I'll need more floss, but it makes me wonder why it was so badly underestimated on the pattern...or maybe the designer used a different size floss skein. In any case, more is on the way. Not to worry.

With that one finished, I'm circling back around to continue work on Calendula Patterdrip's Cottage. You might recall that I'm working on Blocks 2, 3, and 4, which are all on one large piece. I've stitched the 2nd block, and now I'll continue working my way through the third block. The whole piece looks like this.


And, yes, it's nearly impossible to see those traced lines on the background fabric. Imagine how I must feel as the one doing the stitching. It requires keeping the pattern with me so I can make out where the lines are. I got a little start on this last night. I'm starting in the lower left.


As for the farm quilt, I've finished top-stitching all the applique now. Yesterday's effort was to top-stitch/quilt the appliqued border.


Now I have the largest section lined up for quilting some clouds in the sky and some hill detail in the hills. After that, I'll take it off the machine and remove all the jump stitches from front and back. 


When I've removed all the jump stitches, I'll go back and quilt the outer border and the sashings. When that's finished, all the quilting will be finished. Yay! I'm going to be happy to have this quilt out of my life. It will still need binding and embellishing, but the quilting has been the part I've dreaded most.

For dinner last night, we had an interesting meal from our diet. These are Double-Layer Beef Tacos. I didn't take a picture of ours, and so I'm swiping the picture from the internet.

You can find the link to the recipe right here. They use crunchy taco shells and soft flour tortillas. You spread some refried beans over one side of the soft tortillas, then sprinkle them with cheese. The recipe has you broil them to melt the cheese, but I did mine in the microwave. When the cheese is melted, you carefully hold them around the outside of the crunchy taco shell until they adhere to the outside. Then you fill them like any taco. It was a little like eating a hand-held taco salad. Pretty tasty and different. The ground beef is cooked in some tomato sauce. It gave me a chance to puree some of the tomatoes I froze from last year's harvest. 


I just freeze them, then thaw them, and puree them in my blender to make fresh tomato sauce. 

So today I'll get out and so some more work in the garden. I have one housekeeping chore to accomplish, but I'm really hoping I can tell you the quilting is finished on the farm quilt by tomorrow. 

6/9/21

Divine Swine

We were up and out early yesterday to finish up our grocery shopping. We have a short camping trip planned for next week. Most of the food for that is already made, and so I'm hopeful we can get by for another week or two without having to make another major trip. When we got home and had things put way, we set free the cats, and I took a walk around to check in on the blooming things. 

The Fairy Princess peony continues to thrill and delight. It puts on more flowers every day.


Also, the rose bush is covered in flowers and buds. The deer have left it alone this year, and so we're enjoying it.


Speaking of deer, they haven't been by to nibble on the newest geraniums. Maybe they don't like the pink ones. You can see the chewed off stems of previous generations of flowers in the image below.


As I made my rounds, I caught Sadie on the hunt. She refused to look at me, and she shushed me...I was blowing her cover.


Smitty was really hoping she'd bring him something good to eat.


Then...she sprang! Didn't catch anything though. Bummer.


Back inside, I went to work top-stitching/quilting the pig. It was the last animal on the quilt. Yay!


Now, I have the machine lined up to quilt around the appliqued border. The end is in sight for this much-dreaded project.


There is still a small amount of quilting to do in the outer border and sashings, and I'll probably add in some details here and there. If I can avoid jury duty tomorrow, I expect I'll have the quilting finished by Friday.

After that, I sewed together the next row of blocks for the City Bank quilt.


There is just one more row of six blocks to go before I'll be able to start sewing it together. Here are all the blocks I have so far.


When I finish my quilting today, I'll start working on drawing out a pattern for the Sonora Desert landscape quilt. I've been thinking about how to do this, and I've decided to do it in the way Ruth McDowell might tackle it. I'll draw some vertical lines, and then divide them up horizontally. And if this doesn't make sense, I should have some pictures to show you tomorrow.


For this project, I'm going to be using the pretty fabrics Lyndsay brought back from Bali.


Okay, and I'm just about ready to wrap up the second Hartland Barns block. While we watched the news, I stitched up most of what was left in my hoop.


Moving the hoop, I encircled the last of it. That's what I'll do this morning, although I can't say for sure I'll finish it off today.


This morning, I have PT, and then I'll get back to my sewing. We had some good rain showers yesterday, and so there's no need to water anything. I'll give myself a break from hoeing on a day when I have PT. My shoulder is doing great though. I've made some progress on the last range of motion challenge, which is to be able to raise my arm straight overhead. Time, patience, and exercise...that's the key.

Before I go, I want to tell you about a web page I found. I've been trying to unload an old iPhone 4. There's nothing wrong with it aside from being old, and no longer supported by Apple. 

(Image credit: "iPhone 4" by superstrikertwo is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

I tried giving it to my kids and my friends. I tried listing it on Freecycle. Literally nobody wants it. Then, my social worker brain recalled reading somewhere that phones could be recycled for use by people escaping domestic violence. Even a phone that has no data plan can be used to dial 911. And so I Googled it, and came up with this website that tells 20 Ways to Donate Old Cell Phones. There is a nice listing there of organizations that will accept them, and it explains how they will be used. 

The organization I was hoping to find is 911 Cell Phone Bank. It's the first organization listed. All I have to do is pack it in a padded envelope and use the prepaid postage label they provide. Then I'll drop it in the mailbox this morning, and my phone will be gone to be used by someone who needs it. It's easy for me, and it won't end up in the landfill. Consider this your retired social worker PSA of the day. Let's see...that would be RSWPSA. 

And now...I'm off. But you already knew that, didn't you?