3/28/17

Something Else

There was plenty of time for sewing yesterday, but I found myself dragging my feet about getting into the sewing room. Does it seem like I've done some sewing pretty much every day for the past month? It kind of does to me.

So I considered other options: baking bread, for one thing. I'm fresh out of toasting bread (aka "bread I've baked"), and so I set to work on a No-Knead Crusty White Bread from the King Arthur website. This is a super easy recipe. No special ingredients nor techniques required, and it makes a whole lot of dough. I baked off one loaf yesterday, and there is still dough for at least two more loaves. It has one initial room-temperature rise of 2 hours, then it is put into the refrigerator for anywhere from 2 hours up to 7 days. I was wanting bread to bake yesterday, and so I gave mine just another two hours. The remainder is still in the refrigerator to be baked another day.

After that it was formed into a loaf and then given another hour at room temperature before baking. It was a little disappointing in appearance since it didn't rise much on this third step. Nevertheless, it was very tasty, and it made a nice side for our dinner last night.


I toasted some more for breakfast this morning. Toasted slices of homemade bread have become a favorite breakfast food. For the two loaves I still have to bake, I'll give them more time on that third step and see if I can get a little more height.

As for dinner last night, that is a Sweet Potato Breakfast Skillet. I think I shared this recipe the last time I made it. It's so good, and easy to make. It takes about 15 minutes to get all the veggies ready to go, then another 15 or so to cook it. It has chopped onion, green bell pepper, garlic, shredded sweet potato and baby spinach. You can shred that sweet potato in about two seconds in a food processor. It's all cooked up in the same iron skillet. Then you make four wells, crack an egg into each one, and then put it under your broiler to cook the eggs. Garnish it with some avocado and goat cheese, and serve it up in the same iron skillet. Yum.


Mike likes his with Chipotle Tabasco Sauce. I put salsa on mine. So tasty...and it uses up some of the accumulated farm eggs.

As you probably know, bread-baking is a whole lot of waiting without much hands-on effort, especially for this no-knead variety. So that left me with plenty of time on my hands for doing other things.

Here was my list in order of preference:
  1. Poke a fork in my eye
  2. Clean the interior of the refrigerator
Okay, so neither of those really sounded very appealing. Instead, I decided to get to work organizing the reams of travel articles I've been collecting for approximately 20 years. It's true we aren't taking off on our USA loop until September; but I worried it would take me that long to get organized, even if I started right away.

When I had all the articles sorted and divided up by states, they covered the entire large dining room table, and the peninsula in the kitchen.


Oy. From there, I made manilla envelopes for each state. Sorry, New Hampshire and Vermont. You have to share an envelope. Eventually, I had it all filed away alphabetically in one tidy box of envelopes. This represents all the articles for the lower 48 states. (Alaska and Hawaii...we'll get to you eventually. Except...RVing in Hawaii? I don't think so. Not until they build a bridge...which I would prefer to a wall any day of the week.)


When I counted the folders, there were only 45. If you add one for New Hampshire and Vermont, that still only equals 46 states. So who's not doing their part? Huh? Well, I'll tell you: it's Delaware and Connecticut. What's up with you guys? You're going to get a reputation for being lazy, tourism-wise. Guess I'll have to contact your state tourism centers and see what's going on.

With those finished, I sorted through campground directories and more tour guides and put those all in one box.


Finally, the coveted AAA tour guides and maps.


I totally love the AAA tour guides. Mike and I prefer staying off the interstates when we're traveling. With my AAA tour guides, even the tiniest little towns can become endlessly fascinating. Not every place in America is included, but there are enough that mine become worn out and dogeared by the end of a trip. How do you think I found the actual birth place of the Jolly Green Giant?


It's in Blue Earth, Minnesota. This fun fact comes to you courtesy of the AAA tour book. Never travel without them. 

And if that doesn't excite you, maybe the bobcat coming right up to the bird feeders yesterday will.


He just strolled on through like he owns the place. I imagine he thinks he does.


When I snapped these images, I was really wishing I could get a picture of the backs of its ears. I found this one on the internet this morning:


This one is from the Virginia Living Museum where they tell me that the ears are marked in a pattern called “false eyespots,” an adaptation used by many animals to fool would-be predators. Interesting, huh?

So that was a lot of excitement to pack into one day. This morning I finished up the last of Block 10 for Hocuspocusville:


The next time I work on this, I'll be doing Spooky Lou's.


By all rights, I should be starting on the next block for the Wine Country quilt, but with so few days left in the month, I'm going to get an early start on Gertrude. She's the next Bag Lady.


And this gives me the perfect opportunity to remind all you folks who are stitching along that the linky party goes live on Friday. You don't need to be finished to link up and win a needle threader. Just come on over and join the party, ready or not. It's a come-as-you-are kind of gig. I'll probably still be in my pajamas.

Since I was such a sewing room slug yesterday, I'm going to make a concerted effort to get going on the next block for It's Raining Cats and Dogs today. It's another gloomy day of weather, and so you'll find me hanging out in the basement where the fireplace is.

3/27/17

OMG: March Goal Complete

My brother's quilt so took over my life this month, that I had no expectation of finishing up my monthly goal for OMG. Then, it all happened faster than I thought it would. I give credit to the crappy weather, since there isn't much else to do around here. 

When I started the EI-EI-OH section of And on that Farm, I was thinking all of the three poultry pictures were roosters. Actually, the middle section of the triptych is a hen. Sorry, ma'am.


When she was finished and fused down, Sadie wondered if she could help with the third portion.

Looks like you're in need of a feline papurrweight!


Let me just smooth out the wrinkles in these papurrs you have here.


Yes, and this job was made so much easier with help from my furry friend. The second rooster was finished in no time.


Eventually, these will be sashed together, but that will have to wait for when the quilt is sewn together in the end. This is only the second section of eight.


The next time I work on it, I'll be doing this section, entitled "She Had Some Chicks." And kittens too, apparently.


Today I'll be linking up to:


and


The remainder of March will be spent on blocks. Next up is the 6th of ten blocks for It's Raining Cats and Dogs. Here's the picture from the pattern.


If I can get that finished, I'll work on the next row of blocks for the Hobo quilt. It seems like its been ages since I've worked on either one of those.

This morning, I'll be working to finish up the 10th block for Hocuspocusville. There's just the remainder of the tree and a little bit of clothesline to do in the upper left corner. I don't know if I can get it finished this morning, but I'm going to try.


Our dreary gray skies and rain continues through the week. I was hopeful we'd have a nice weekend, but that isn't in the forecast. It's a long time until Saturday though, and things can change.

3/26/17

Coming Up...Spring!

Smitty, do you want to go outside? You never have to ask him twice. He's always up for a good meal of mouse. Since building the catio, he's mostly limited to going outside when we are out with him, and he's not very happy about it. Also, he hates our weather. He wanders around whining and crying and looking for the door that leads into summer.


The past week's deluge stopped for a while yesterday morning, and so the two of us went out to fill the bird feeders. While we were out, we saw definite signs of spring. There are tulips growing in the whiskey barrels.


Also, the first white daffodils are beginning to open. I've been seeing them in the valley for at least a week, but ours are just getting started.


Also, the heather started blooming this past week. It was looking pretty scraggly after its rough winter, but it's a hardy thing.


The poor daphne has lost most of its leaves, but it is covered in blooms right now. When these open all the way, they are very fragrant. This was a gift from my daughter-in-law, Mae.


Even the potted Asiatic lily is making a comeback. This might have been the biggest surprise of all. 


Mike brought this orphan home last year. He saw it in a grocery store for $2. It had already finished blooming and was on its way to the trash heap. He picked it up thinking he would plant it and hope for the best. Right, I thought at the time. As you might guess (since it's still in a pot), it never got planted (as expected), but there it is...ready for this year's bloom. With retirement looming, maybe someone will actually stick it in the ground this year.

Oh yes, and the catnip in the Gracie Memorial Catnip Garden. The catnip doesn't always come back, and so I'm happy this has survived the hard winter.


Before getting outside yesterday morning, I moved the hoop on the Hocuspocusville block. At this point, I've actually stitched quite a bit beyond what you see here.


This one should be finished in the next couple of days.

After the birds were fed, I got back to work in the sewing room. My goal for the day was to make the next Solstice block, and catch up with those. This next block is called "Honey Bee." The center was supposed to be a 9-patch, but I left it whole so that I could use the lighthouse fabric. It marks our trip last weekend to Cape Disappointment, Washington, and the North Head Lighthouse. The yellow and blue petals represent the blue skies and sunshine we enjoyed. North Head Lighthouse wasn't pictured on the fabric, so I picked the Yaquina Head and Haceta Head lighthouses in Oregon. They kind of look like the North Head Lighthouse.


As I was finishing up the top-stitching, Mike came downstairs carrying an extension table for my ironing board. He was planning to build one for me when he retires next month. This item has been on his honey-do list for about six months. Then, I saw this one on Massdrop, and so I showed it to him. "Buy it!" He practically ordered me to do it, and so I committed at the lowest price. You gotta love a man who knows what he wants. Even more, you gotta love a man who knows what you want.


So it arrived last week, and it's been sitting at the front door all that time. It was too heavy for me to carry downstairs by myself. It folds in the middle and has a handy carrying handle...not that I could actually carry it. It also came with a pad and cover, and it works great! I worried that it might be wobbly or not fit over my regular ironing board. No complaints, and it was great for getting to work on the next section of "And On that Farm." So that's one honey-do item crossed off his list, and he hasn't even retired yet. He's very efficient that way.

Next up, he cut the riveted buttons off the little OshKosh overalls I'm parting out to use in the Snips and Snails quilt. We studied the buttons together and decided that cutting them off was the best approach.


There's really no way to reuse them with riveting, and they don't have holes, so they can't be sewn on. He used a rubber mallet to pound them flat after cutting them off. I'll use a hot glue gun to glue them onto my quilt when it's finished.


Also, I considered using the actual fasteners on the quilt, but I've kind of decided against that. Instead, I'm going to use them as models and then use some metallic thread to quilt them onto the quilt. That will be a better option, I think. I'm afraid these would be too bulky and distracting.


Finally, there's this label from the back. I'll probably use that somewhere on the back of the quilt, most likely in the quilt label. For now I'm leaving it attached to the overalls. These labels aren't hemmed or finished in any way at the edges, and so it'll probably be safest to leave it attached until I'm ready to sew it someplace else.


When that's removed, there won't be much left except the denim. I figure I got my money's worth out of this purchase. 

Next up, I was ready to get started on And on that Farm. Section 2 is a Triptych of three roosters.


The first step was to cut the three backgrounds. Each is 8 1/2-inches square.


Say, thanks! Don't mind if I do!


From there it took me about an hour to trace, cut, and fuse the pieces for "Rooster A."


The pieces were a little tedious to cut with so many little nooks and crannies, but take a look at the scale of the eye. I've laid my tweezers there in the image below so that you can see how tiny the little black section is.


Not small enough for you? Well, don't worry because another of the roosters has a piece even smaller.

So that was my sewing day. I'm hoping to get the other two roosters finished today. If not, then tomorrow for sure. This is my goal for OMG this month, and I didn't think I was going to get it finished. Now, it looks as if it will be smooth sailing.

3/25/17

Lazy Friday

Yesterday was a continuation of my stretch of sloth days. After quilting into the early morning hours Friday morning, there wasn't much energy left for Friday afternoon. I don't know about you, but I can never catch up on a night of missed sleep, even with an afternoon nap. No worries though. I made up for it with a good night's sleep last night. Today, I'm raring to go. If, by "raring to go," you mean putting on my slip-ons and filling the bird feeders. That's probably about all the energy I'll muster today for anything other than sewing.

Fortunately, I had my feline friends to keep me focused. Actually, Smitty is only interested in the catnip.


Sadie looks like she could use some catnip too.


No thanks. I tried it once, but now, I never touch the stuff. How do you think I ended up with this one white whisker? Yeah, I've learned my lesson...and here's the purroof. Look at Smitty's whiskers: All white. It's a cautionary tale.


So, if only for the catnip, I did make my way into the sewing room yesterday. When I finish a quilt top, I like to finish the back too. There's nothing worse than having to make up a pile of backs for a quilt sandwiching session. At this point, I have four quilt tops ready to be sandwiched. A couple of them are small enough that I can do them in my sewing room. I might get started on that because I'm wanting to get back to some quilting on Eliza. 

For the back of Snips and Snails, I'm using one of the oldest fabrics from my stash. This shoe fabric was picked up from a remnant basket a long time ago. 


I'm using this same green stripe from the snake for the quilt binding, and so I cut the strips for that.


There was enough width, but not enough length of the shoe fabric for the quilt back, and so I used some of the green stripe to give me a little more length.


And there's my quilt back ready to go. By then I'd sewn exactly two seams. How much more could I accomplish on a lazy Friday afternoon?

Well...I turned my attention to Block 13 of the Solstice Challenge. This block is called "Studio Time." Mine is made for St. Patrick's Day. Yes, I am a week behind, but I'm catching up.


Today I'll make the next block, and that will bring me up to date. I'm torn on whether to make a block for the first day of Spring or whether to honor our trip to Cape Disappointment. I picked up some lighthouse fabric while we were visiting the Great Lakes a couple of summers ago,


but the block choice for this week's Solstice Challenge isn't going to work for the scale of my fabric. I haven't really looked at the fabric, but I don't think the North Head Lighthouse is one of the choices. Nevertheless, it's a good thought, and so I might just make the block to accommodate the fabric.

When that's finished, I really am going to get to work on the next section for And On that Farm.


At long last, it's day has come.