Next Steps

Good morning, my friends. Although it has been snowing off and on for the past couple of days, there's been no new accumulation. That's very good news. Yesterday as I looked out the window, I noticed the heather is blooming. We planted it for its winter blooms, and it looks pretty with the snow.

As expected, I finished May's block for the Joyful Journey quilt. This one is called "Butterfly."

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

Then, I went back to work quilting Mr. MacGregor's Garden. The diagonal grid was near completion. I finished that off, and then I went to work quilting a "paper clip" motif in the first border.

In the outer border, I quilted a "ribbon" motif.

And then it was finished! I took it downstairs where I have the best light for showing the texture.

Here's how it looks from the back. 

I'm so happy to have used only fabrics from my stash for this. Of course, looking at my stash, you'd never know anything was removed. Even the binding was from a scrap binding, although I had to add more fabric to make it long enough. The quilt ends up at 40 x 51 inches.

For now, I'll set this aside with the Dream Big Leaf quilt, and I'll hand-sew the bindings for both when we go camping next month. Camping at this time of year always includes rain, and so having plenty of hand-stitching along is a good idea.

There was no kitty help yesterday. When I came upstairs from having finished the binding, I found Sadie curled up on the lowest rung of the kitty tree. She likes this spot because the birds come to the bush outside the window, and she can watch them from there.

And look at this cat...dead asleep. He's exhausted after a night of keeping us both awake.

There's another Tiny House to work on today, and then I'll get busy quilting my "maps" challenge quilt. I've been looking forward to this. It's going to have some fun quilting on it, if I can pull it off.

My body sets limits on how much time I can spend at the quilting machine. For breaks from that, I'll start sewing together the quilt top for Calendula Patterdrip's Cottage. When I worked on it last, I had it this far:

It has a row of traditional quilt blocks all around the outside edge, and so I'll be making lots of quilt blocks for this. It's a good change from spending time at the machine doing free motion quilting, and it makes both jobs go a little easier.

So there's plenty to keep me out of trouble today. Right now, it's time for breakfast. My growling stomach is telling me it's time to get on with my day. For slow stitching, I'll be taking the first stitches on the newest blocks for "The Story of My Day." 

And there you have it...the story of my day...yesterday.


Ricochet Rabbit Quilting

Good morning, my friends. I'm so happy to announce there is NO NEW SNOW today. I repeat: No New Snow! This is a good thing. I saw this meme on Facebook this morning. It is perfectly timed for our spring weather.

Yesterday's goings on were pretty much as expected. I started some pulled chicken in the slow cooker and made some coleslaw. It was my day for walking, and I started watching a new Boston Strangler movie while I was on the treadmill. I'm a fan of true crime stories anyway, and I read the book decades ago. The new movie is less about the "strangler" than it is about the two women reporters trying to make a name and a place for themselves in what was then almost exclusively a man's world. I'm only barely started on it, but it's a good movie so far.

After taking care of my adult responsibilities, I was able to get to work sandwiching Mr. MacGregor's Garden. I can do small quilts like this in my sewing room.

Since I do spray-basting, I usually do this in the garage, where I can open up the door for good ventilation. Usually, I'm using 505 basting spray, which needs to be used in a room with good ventilation, or else outdoors. When I'm doing it inside, I use this product from Sulky: KK 2000 temporary spray adhesive.

It's more expensive, and it only comes in small cans. I like it for use indoors because it doesn't put off the toxic (and flammable) fumes, and it sprays in a more confined pattern. Ordinarily, I'm only using it for small wall-hangings, and so a single can lasts quite a while. One of my friends told me about it some time ago, and it's a great product. I forget who told me about it, but if it was you, then thank you.

After that, I traced the next two blocks for "The Story of My Day" quilt. 

I'm barely started on this quilt, having done only two of 20 blocks. They are small, and so I'm doing them two at a time.

We made a short trip into town, and then I was able to get started on the quilting. For this quilt, I'm doing the center bunny panel in a diagonal straight line grid.

My "Line Tamer" ruler is an invaluable tool for doing straight line quilting. It fits around both sides of my foot, making it easy to hold steady.

My strategy for this is to stitch a line to the first border and then "ricochet" off in a different direction. I'll keep going until I'm forced to cut thread. I've done it this way many times. Usually, I can get the quilt about 80% quilted with a single line of stitching. When I can no longer "ricochet" to an unstitched area, I'll cut thread and start filling in the gaps.

As I was thinking about how to describe this, I was remembering a cartoon from my childhood: Richochet Rabbit. Who's old enough to remember Ricochet Rabbit and his sidekick Droop-a-long? He was on for just two seasons in the mid-sixties, although he also made guest appearances on some other cartoon shows. Please tell me I'm not the only one old enough to remember him.

Okay, and so I was getting tired of quilting, and so I left the rabbit needle down, and did some more slow-stitching. I'm very nearly finished with this now. It should be finished up this morning. Good thing I made up the next stitcheries, huh?

Today, I'm hoping to get Mr. MacGregor's quilt to binding stage, although that could be an optimistic forecast. When I'm finished with that, I'll start quilting my latest challenge quilt. Remember the "maps" prompt? 

I can only show you the quilt back. It's been hanging on my quilting chair for the past couple of weeks, waiting its turn under my needle. I really like this back fabric.

The reveal will be May 1st, and so I need to get it finished up. I'm hoping to have three quilts for binding to take along on our mid-April camping trip.

There's not much more on today's agenda. It's going to be a mostly quilting day. It's also my day for working out on The Rack, and then I'll get busy with my sewing.


Border Bunnies

Good morning, my friends. The snow was mostly gone when the sun set yesterday evening. Then, another five inches or so accumulated overnight. There's no denying it makes a pretty landscape.

The birds are appreciative of our keeping the feeders filled. This Northern Flicker was enjoying the suet cake.

After writing yesterday's post, I finished off the stitching in my hoop.

Now I've moved my hoop to encompass most of the last of it. I'll have to make up the next slow-stitching piece today or risk running out of stitching. With snow on the ground, that could be nothing short of catastrophic.

Next up, I wanted to try a different recipe for chocolate mousse. You might recall that my last effort was less than satisfactory, and I wanted to try again. When all was said and done, I had it ladled into two ramekins. From there it went into the refrigerator to set up for our dessert last night.

There was one housekeeping chore, and then I headed into the sewing room to finish off the tenth tiny house. Smitty helped by using his pointer tail to select the purrfect fabric for my little house.

Recall that I was sewing together the sections as I was able to. I like doing it that way better than waiting until the end. When sections H, I, and J were complete, I sewed them to the top section.

The kitties don't like paper-piecing any more than I do, and so Smitty was suddenly overwhelmed with fatigue and decided to spend the rest of his sewing day at his office in HR (He Rests).

Sadie took over from there.

Oh joy. More papurr-piecing. I'm thrilled. You're going to owe me your share of treats after this, Smitty.

With her help, I finished the final sections and sewed the whole thing together.

I've been pulling leftover strips of binding to make the borders. Here's the finished Tiny House #10.

Here's my tiny 10-house neighborhood.

The only other sewing I did was to add the borders to the bunny quilt. I'm thinking of calling this quilt "Mr. MacGregor's Garden."

I'll use that same border fabric for the quilt back. Today I'm hoping to get it sandwiched for quilting, and then to at least get a start on the quilting. For this kind of a quilt made up of lots of little squares, I like a straight line grid, and so it shouldn't take long to finish the quilting and get it to binding stage. I'll hold onto it for our April camping trip and hand sew the binding then. Oh yes, and you probably forgot all about the Dream Big quilt. It's still waiting for it's turn at hand-sewing the binding.

Okay, but what about that chocolate mousse, you ask? We added a healthy dollop of whipped cream to it for dessert last night, and this was a winner. It was tasty without being too sweet, and it had a nice light texture. 

So, I promised you I'd share the recipe when I'd perfected it. Well, this is a different recipe, adapted from America's Test Kitchens to make it a mousse "for two." One for me. One for you. None for tomorrow.

Dark Chocolate Mousse for Two
adapted from America's Test Kitchens
serves 2


4 ounces bittersweet (60% cacao) chocolate chips
1 tablespoons cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-processed)
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
2-1/2  tablespoons water
1/2 tablespoon brandy
1 large egg, separated
1 /2 tablespoon sugar, divided
pinch table salt
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream (9 tablespoons)


1. Melt chocolate chips, cocoa powder, espresso powder, water, and brandy in medium heatproof bowl set over saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from heat.

2. Whisk egg yolk, 3/4 teaspoons sugar, and salt in medium bowl until mixture lightens in color and thickens slightly, about 30 seconds. Pour melted chocolate into egg mixture and whisk until combined. Let cool until just warmer than room temperature, 3 to 5 minutes.

3. In clean bowl, beat egg whites at medium-low speed until frothy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add remaining 3/4 teaspoons sugar, increase mixer speed to medium-high, and beat until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Whisk last few strokes by hand, making sure to scrape any unbeaten whites from bottom of bowl. Using whisk, stir about one-quarter of beaten egg whites into chocolate mixture to lighten it; gently fold in remaining egg whites with rubber spatula until a few white streaks remain.

4. In now-empty bowl, whip heavy cream at medium speed until it begins to thicken, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, about 15 seconds more. Using rubber spatula, fold whipped cream into mousse until no white streaks remain. Spoon into 2 one-cup ramekins or goblets. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set and firm, at least 2 hours. (The mousse may be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.)

* * * * *

Oh yes, and I almost forgot. These two visited one of our shrub areas yesterday. They're no more than ten feet from our patio door. Sorry about the reflection, but look on the left and right sides of the image.

Two coyotes, hunting for squirrels. Holy crap! Well. The kitties aren't going out without us for a while. It makes me sad to have to keep them confined, but these guys would just as soon have a cat as a squirrel any day. With so much snow lately, I can imagine they're having trouble finding food. Mike is keeping a rifle ready. When they come so close to the house like this, they're too close for comfort, and they aren't particularly afraid of us. We're going to have to take drastic measures, or they'll have to move along. A few summers ago we had them coming around too often and too close, and that was when we built the catio for the kitties. I'm hoping these two won't hang around for long. If they do...well, let's just hope they move along. 

Okay, so I've already told you my goals for the day. I need to make up my next embroidery project, and I'm hoping to at least get started quilting Mr. MacGregor's Garden. We need to make a quick trip into town too, but we'll wait until the snow melts off some. Also, it's my day to walk. Clearly, it's going to be a treadmill day.


Spring in Oregon

Good morning, my friends. Or should I say good mourning? We're mourning the end of spring and return to winter this morning. The weatherman told us this might happen, but it was still a bit of a surprise to open the curtains and see this:

Sigh. We're promised this won't last long, but one never knows these days. Weather gets weirder and weirder. Fortunately, I started some overnight oatmeal before getting into bed last night. Somehow oatmeal seems like comfort food on a morning like this. 

Quite a bit was accomplished in the sewing room yesterday. I started by sewing together the pieces for the left bunny foot.

The section to its right contained the bottom portion of the carrot.

Smitty was there to help. His job was to sit on the bunny's face, but he lost interest when he heard treats being dispensed upstairs.

It was hard to continue without a kitty helper, but I somehow managed to pull myself together enough to finish off the last section and the right bunny foot.

It occurred to me that I should stitch the mouth(?) nose(?) of the bunny to the middle section before sewing the bottom section to the whole. I did this with the triple stitch on my sewing machine.

And then I sewed the whole thing together. Ta-da!

Now he just needs borders, quilting, and binding, and I'll have myself a finished quilt to greet the newest resident of Planet Earth. And how could I go wrong when I had the assistance of such an adorable helper?

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I'm setting the bunny aside for a bit while I finish the 10th Tiny House. I'm determined to keep up with these week by week. This is the house I'm making next. It has the most sections so far, labeled from letter "C" to letter "O".

Yesterday, I had time to piece together sections "C" through "G". Up until now, I've been making all the sections before sewing anything together. This time, I decided to sew them together as I go along, as much as I'm able. This is where I left it when I quit for the day yesterday.

Some of the pieces are so tiny I have to stitch forward and backward to avoid having the threads pull out of the fabric as I pull it away from the needle. (I hope that makes sense.) 

Today I'll get back to work on the tiny house, and that should be easy enough to finish off by day's end. After that, I'll get back to the bunny and his borders. I want to sandwich him for quilting and then get going on it. Right now, though, I'm ready to drown my snow sorrows in some oatmeal. 

What's going on in your sewing room today?