Sew and Sew Sunday

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Last night's dinner was a complete success, and we had a very enjoyable time with our friends.  It had been quite some time since we'd seen them, and so we enjoyed catching up.

The food all worked out, and I especially liked the Margarita Grilled Shrimp marinade I used.

If you're looking for something quick and showy for a summer meal, it's a great choice.  The recipe landed in my email inbox just last week before I'd decided on the menu.  It looked like a good and easy main course, and so I decided to give it a try.  When I went to the grocery store, I found cleaned large shrimp already skewered in the seafood freezer, so it really couldn't have been any easier unless someone else made it. In a way, someone else did. Some packing house somewhere made the skewers, and Mike grilled them.  All that was left for me to do was mix up the marinade and get it ready to go.  

I did make one change to the recipe: I substituted a quarter teaspoon of Tabasco for the 1/4 teaspoon of ground red pepper.  I'm not a fan of cilantro most of the time, but in this case, I let the shrimp marinate for three hours.  I think that gave the cilantro time to mellow out a little because I didn't notice its flavor overpowering the dish.

So this morning I was dead tired because I woke up at 4:00 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep.  On my best nights I'm only good for about six hours of sleep, but this fell far short of that.  Nevertheless, I was awake and got up around 5:00 a.m., no less tired than I was when I woke up an hour earlier.  I sat and worked on my embroidery for quite some time.

It's getting close to being finished now.  Lots of stitching in this one, and I am so glad I didn't have to trace all of those little spokes on the motorcycle wheels.  When it's all finished, I'll dunk it and give the Sticky Fabri-Solvy its final test on whether it's a great product, or a dud.  So far, I'm thinking it's a great product, but the final analysis will be in how easily it rinses away from my stitching.

There are a couple of moments in sewing, I've realized, when you know you are close to finishing something and you are propelled forward by the momentum.  One of those is when, as here, I've moved the hoop for the last time, and the entire remainder of the design can be contained within the entire hoop.  In this case, there is just a smidge of the "S" in "Motorcycles" that is outside the stitching area, but it's pretty darned close. 

The other time like this that I've identified is when I have enough binding clips to clip the remainder of a quilt binding that needs to be hand sewn.  I only have enough clips to go so far, and then I have to clip more as I move around the binding.  (I hope you know what I'm talking about.)  These are the clips.

At some point, I clip the last of the binding, and there are still clips left in the box.  That's when I know I'm almost finished and I am propelled forward by the momentum.  These are monumental observations, as I'm sure you will agree.  And if you don't know what I'm talking about, then you'll probably be saying to yourself, "That woman really needs to get more sleep."

So once I'd had enough embroidery, I went outside to see what Mike and the cats were up to.  Mike was busy doing some badly-needed pruning.  He fertilized the tomatoes today too. They haven't grown in as lush and thick as last year's crop did, and I'm not sure why.  

It could be that they simply need more fertilizer.  It could also be a case of too much water. We've turned down the length of time they are watered, since they are set up on a timer. Also, they could have some sort of fungus.  We're trying different things, but it has become clear that I am not going to have enough tomatoes ripening at the same time to do the level of canning I want to do.  Do you see the plant at the end of the walk...it's the one in the upper right-hand corner of the image above.  See how yellow it is?  And it has only produced one green tomato so far.  We are especially suspicious that too much water is its problem since it is at the literal beginning of the water stream.

Still, there are quite a few ripe tomatoes, as you can see.  I'm just probably going to have to supplement them with some from the farmer if I want to make salsa and pasta sauce.  Which I do.  That means I need to get busy getting some on order because I'm going to need quite a few.  Despite my worries about the health of the tomatoes, I am getting some nice ones. Gracie is impressed by the one in the image below.

["Patooooie!  Silly, lady.  Cats do not like tomatoes.  Sheesh.  You'd think you'd never been owned by a cat before.  Haven't you learned anything?"]

The dahlias have started blooming.  These bulbs were a gift from our former neighbor, and the flowers are huge!

Also, the hydrangeas are very pretty this year.

So once I'd wandered around outside for a while, I went into the sewing room to do some sewing.  Next weekend, my friend Carla is coming to the Three Cats Ranch B&B for the weekend.  Carla is the friend that Lisa and I had lunch with during Lisa's visit.  Carla lives literally in downtown Portland, and I invited her out to the country for a weekend of peace and quiet with the promise of her own room and bathroom.  She jumped at the opportunity.

Carla is the one in the middle.  The three of us went to high school together in Vista, California, and we were all in the band. Lisa and Carla played flute, and I played alto clarinet. Those were fun times, but when they were over, we scattered like seeds in the wind. Lisa married first and moved away to Arizona (I think) with her chef-to-be husband.  Carla was the best student among us, and she ended up going to some pretty fancy schmancy colleges.  Me, I married three years after high school and, in time, moved away to Oregon. Lisa and I found one another quite a few years ago, and Carla and I got reaquainted after she moved to Oregon a few years back.  For whatever reason, we're only just now getting serious about rekindling our friendship from decades ago.

So all of that to say that last summer, Carla asked if I would teach her to quilt.  She was half-joking at the time, but never joke like that with a quilter.  Am I right about that?  "Of course!"   I jumped at the opportunity to mold a new quilter in my own image...which is something of a frightening thought, but there it is laid out for you.  Don't tell the quilt police, okay?

My first quilt was a nine-patch and rail set on point, which was a good learning quilt.  I learned a lot about quilting from that one single quilt.  Here it is:

My first quilt took several weeks to construct, and I learned it over three classes.  I was looking for a project that would teach Carla the same things I learned from this quilt, but could also be done in a matter of days or hours.  I settled on this little doll quilt that I made several years ago.  It was the first doll quilt I ever swapped. I called it "Lime-Ade".

I used a free pattern I found on the internet, not that you need a pattern for this.  Beware though, the internet pattern has quite a few errors in it.  Anyway, this pattern has the same elements my first quilt had, and we should be able to make them up to the point of hand sewing the binding during her weekend stay with me. Doesn't that sound like fun?  I think so. I'm really looking forward to her visit.

Also, since I'll be making a quilt along with her, I'm taking the opportunity to make a doll quilt for another friend who lives in Colorado.  Karen and I used to share office space when I was a working person.  After she moved to Colorado, she had a baby girl who is now about four years old, I think.  I asked her what her daughter liked and what her favorite colors were. She told me she likes blue and pink and Hello Kitty.  So I'll be making the same quilt Carla is making, and I'll be using these fabrics.

I purchased a yard of that Hello Kitty fabric, but the rest are all from my stash.  I'll use Hello Kitty for the borders and the back, and I'll use the other colors in the nine-patches.  I think it will be cute.

So once I had pulled the fabrics for that little quilt, I went to work on one of my August goals.  I made the two apple blocks for the Debbie Mumm "Mumm's the Word" sampler.  And I don't know when I've made so many mistakes on such simple blocks.  What I didn't cut wrong, I sewed together wrong.  And what I didn't sew together wrong, I just plain messed up.  Sheesh.  My sleep-deprived brain was really showing on these.  They worked out okay eventually, but it required a lot of swearing.  I don't know about you, but salty language is just what the doctor ordered sometimes.  These blocks have been on my to-do list since June, and so it's good to be able to cross them off. 

Here's what the whole quilt will look like when I'm finished.

The next time I work on it, I'll make the two fish blocks that you see kind of right in the middle of the quilt.

Once I had those done, I was tempted to get to work on the little ladies for my Rainbow Scrap quilt.  I need to make two months' worth of those blocks, teal from last month and red for August.  I have my fabrics picked out now.

These blocks have a paper-pieced section, and they use a lot of little pieces.  Given my experience with the two apple blocks, I decided a nap was in order before I did any more sewing.  And that's what I did.

And now it's dinner time, and that's all I was able to muster in the sewing room today.  It's enough.  The nap felt good too.  There's always tomorrow.  I'm going to have to pick up some things for dinner tomorrow, but otherwise, it's going to be pretty much a sewing day all day.

It was a good weekend at the Three Cats Ranch.  I hope you had a good weekend too.

14 comments from clever and witty friends:

Teresa in Music City said...

What a cute picture of Gracie and the tomato! Love it! I do know what you mean about "momentum" moments - I love getting to that point and feeling the push! The dahlia literally took my breath away!!! I hope you have a wonderful visit with your friend - old friends are by far the best!:*)

Vroomans' Quilts said...

I understand the 'push' when reaching a point - and I do that whole thing with the clips, too. Oddities or a sisterhood? Oh, I thought my dahlias were big - whoot, love them!!

quiltzyx said...

The motorcycles are coming along nicely, but I'll bet you'll be looking forward to not working black-on-black!

I agree with you on the forward momentum point - especially on binding!

Smart Gracie, such a smart kitty. :D

Your first quilt is so bright & cheery - do you still have it, or did you gift it away? I think the pattern you chose for Carla will be a very good one to start on. I love 9-patch blocks!

Dasha said...

Love the Dahlias and the Hydrangeas Barbara. I can't seem to grow Dahlias, they are just miserable when I get my hands on them, but I do have lots of Hydrangeas in our garden. They are of course all dormant at the moment as its winter. There is a lovely blue Lacy Hydrangea out the front. I'll send you a photo when it begins to flower.
Just thought you might like to know that a lifelong friend of mine lives in Eugene. I visited with her some years back, and we drove up to Portland for a day's sightseeing. Gorgeous country!

Lyndsey said...

I love your photos Barbara especially Gracie and the tomato. Your first quilt is so cute and that doll quilt will be perfect for a quilting lesson over the weekend with Carla. It's such fun teaching someone how to quilt. I loved teaching my younger daughter but now I have to keep a close watch on my fabric stash as pieces I've got plans for have a tendency to vanish.

Celtic Thistle said...

The grilled shrimp looks and sounds lovely. Well done on beating those apple blocks into submission too :)

Sherry said...

Not only are you a great quilter but your culinary endeavors look wonderful too. It is always so much fun to introduce quiltmaking to a newbie. I know you will have great fun and you have chosen a wonderful "first project".

ANudge said...

I really enjoyed this post: the flowers are gorgeous, your time with your friends sounds fun and the quilts are great. I'm so glad I'm one of your readers.

Diane Wild said...

I'm trying the Solvy product also. Seems kind of stiff to sew through but I'm hoping it works. My gosh, your first quilt looks great. I had no clue what I was doing on my first quilt. Fun to break in another quilter.

Brown Family said...

Have a good visit with your friend!

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

You are now an enabler! Woohoo! Keep on converting them.

Kathy Felsted Usher said...

I really, really love that Mumm's the Word sampler

Kate said...

Sounds like you had quite a weekend. Love the new projects you've got in the works. It's so much fun to start something new.

Valerie Reynolds said...

I use the same clips when binding!! Second, LOVE the peek at SPring you gave us...and your MUM quilt is right up my style!! Thanks for re-sharing this post!!