Thoroughly Thursday

Lots of stuff going on today in my world. It was a swimming day, but it could have been a stay-at-home day if I'd just bagged swimming. I decided to go, and I was really glad I did because I was able to swim 50 lengths for the first time today, which is the most I've done since returning to swimming at the first of the year. My shoulder gave me no trouble at all, and even my knee is settling down when I swim.

Smitty and I started the morning feeding the birds. He's been getting lazy lately. I think he's developed a taste for the nice warm house. I imagine that will change once the weather outside warms up and the mice start running again. For now, he's only going out when I go out, and then he comes in for more treats.

Poor little thing only has old dead catnip to eat when he's outside. It's a good thing the cat mom is liberal with the kitty treats or the poor thing would starve to death.

It was looking like a pretty nice day, and so we set up the birdcam once we had the feeders filled and then we walked around the yard just looking at how terrible everything looks. It's hard to walk around the yard at this time of year because the winter kill is everywhere and it's still too wet and muddy for any serious gardening. The only thing there really is that's picture worthy are the water drops on everything. Here's one of our European spruce trees.

This next one is one of the blue spruce trees. We hardly planted any of the trees around our place. The previous owner did some landscaping just before selling the place, and he planted some really pretty trees.

Daffodils are coming up all over now. Here are some poking there heads up through the pine needles dropped by our sugar pine.

Also, there are a few tulips that haven't yet been devoured by deer or squirrels, "yet" being the operative word in this sentence.

And what is this weird stuff? It's growing on the insides of the whiskey barrels where the tulips are planted.

After that I headed off to the pool. When I got back I got dinner going. I'm trying a new recipe I found on Bon Appetite online. This is their image posted along with the recipe.

It's an unusual recipe, and I learned two new things making it. For one thing, it uses "flanken" style shortribs. They're the ones that are cut more in a strip rather than in a block like the shortribs I'm used to seeing. Also, they are "marinated" overnight in what the recipe calls a "marinade", but actually amounts to a paste made from dried and toasted "New Mexico chiles". Now, I'd never heard of New Mexico chiles, and I wasn't at all sure I would be able to find them. But there they were in abundance in the ethnic food section of my grocery store. They are kind of the shape of an Anaheim pepper. So you toast them, remove the stems and seeds, then soak them in boiling water to soften them. Then you puree them with some other liquids and spices and when you're all done, you have a paste that you rub all over the ribs, and then let them sit overnight in the refrigerator. Then this afternoon when I was ready, I just added some chicken broth and put them in the oven for two hours before the next step.

While I was waiting for the two hours to pass, I started on my February NewFO project, Duluth Trees.

The last time I was in my sewing room, I just briefly perused the pattern for this quilt. When I went down this afternoon, I had a preconceived notion about how this was going to be made, and when I started reading the instructions more carefully, they were completely incomprehensible to me. That was okay because I already had an idea how to do it my own way. It's unusual for me to be so bold and strike out on my own this way, but there you go. I swam 50 lengths today, and so those instructions weren't going to hold me back.

I kind of adjusted my fabrics a little from what I had chosen originally. I had decided to use this one that has been in my stash for a long time, but I was a little worried about that leaf design on it. Nevertheless, I went ahead and pressed it, and then cut off about half a yard. I was going to free cut some rectangles that will serve as the background for the trees.

So, I opened it up, and oh my. It's prettier on the wrong side than it is on the right side!

So when I saw that, I decided to use the wrong side on the front of the quilt and use the right side for the back of the quilt. And this is one of my oldest fabrics, so I'm glad to finally have a good use for it.

Here's what the pattern looks like. I'm just going to be free form cutting strips and rectangles and sewing them together, essentially, every which way. 

So there are my first rectangles, cut approximately the size the pattern suggests.

Then I started making strips of little rectangles to use for the second strip from the left on the pattern, and then there is one sort of in the middle. I am making three strips, and I might add another one somewhere. So I cut some of the fabrics into strips, and then cut them into rectangles. No measuring here. And then I just sort of piled them up and started closing my eyes and picking from the pile.

And I started sewing them together. When these are ready to be sewn into the quilt, I'll smooth out the edges a little.

My only rule was not to put the same color side by side, and if the rectangle before was narrower at one end, the next one had the narrower end next to the wide end of the other, if that makes sense. I was concerned about having the strips end up curving into a semi-circle if I wasn't careful, and I want to keep them more or less straight.

And when got to that point, the timer went off for me to go do the next step for my dinner. I didn't do any more sewing today, but I did take pictures off the bird cam. I had the usual Flicker visitor.

And then I was excited to see this new bird, which turns out to be a European Starling...the pigs of the bird world.

They are beautiful, but they will eat an entire suet cake in a day. Also, they sometimes bully the other birds. Here are two.

Also a red-breasted nuthatch.

And a chestnut-backed chickadee. Aren't they pretty?

Whoa! Okay, now there is a gang of starlings, and I'm sure there will be more.

And the faithful scrub jay. They must have emptied the peanut feeder by this time because suet is their second choice.

Oh and look over yonder! It's the black-backed Oregon booby. She likes to inhabit the compost pile occasionally at this time of year. She's wearing her winter plumage right now.

And that's what I did today. What did you do?

Time to finish up dinner. I'll let you know if it's any good. (Updated to say that the ribs were soooooooo good!)

22 comments from clever and witty friends:

Tami C said...

The "weird stuff" growing on the barrel is wood fungus. I think the back side of your fabric is perfect for your project and the right side for the back of the quilt is great!

Dasha said...

The wood fungus is actually rather beautiful, and develops with all sorts of wonderful colours. Not good news though as it develops where wood rots, so that barrel is done for :-( The Starlings in the UK are actually black without the markings those birds have. All the birdcam photos are marvellous.

WoolenSails said...

We got rain all day and still raining, surprised the snow isn't gone. Love that quilt and your fabric choices, can't wait to see more. Love your bird shots, you really got some great ones today.


carla said...

HI!!! Love your little birdie pics!!! I like the way you just push the pattern to the side and create!!!! Love the back side of the fabric!!! Thanks for the fun!!!

crazy quilter said...

I truly enjoy seeing your bird cam. Living in Texas I have never seen birds like these. Love your trees I think it will turnout fabulous! Glad the shoulder is feeling better and the knee too.

KatieQ said...

What a great feeling to have your body behave and do what you want it to. The shots of the flickers are wonderful.

Junebug613 said...

You go Barbara!! Glad you had such a nice swim and I can't wait to see the new quilt develop.

Dixie said...

What a delightful post. Black-backed booby, what a fun sighting! They are common around my yard too.

Vroomans' Quilts said...

Great swim! Enjoyed the bird cam today.

otterdaughter said...

Hey sweetie, your black-capped chickadee picture is actually a red-breasted nuthatch! They are easy to identify by their sound even when hiding in the trees, a nasal "Nya nya nya".

A pox on those dratted starlings, darn invasive pests that don't even belong on this continent! We had to stop feeding suet for a couple weeks to get rid of some that were muscling in on our local birds.

Oh, and I use the 'wrong' side of fabrics, too. I figure I paid for both sides, so I can use whichever I like best!

Brown Family said...

How exciting to step outside your comfort zone and make the pattern fit your ideas!

Lyndsey said...

Great news on your 50 lengths and no grumbling from the shoulder or knee.
The wrong side of that fabric is so pretty and I love the free style approach. Beautiful bird pics as always.

Dana Gaffney said...

I'm enjoying the drip photos. That fabric is so pretty and I do that all the time, use the wrong side of the fabric, lots of times it's just what I want.

Jacque said...

Apparently there are a lot of us rebels that use the wrong side of the fabrics! :) Love the chickadees, they are adorable. Glad your exercise is going well.

Scrapatches said...

Great photos. I like the new pattern and fabrics. Please give Smitty a scrunch behind the ears from me. Have a happy heart day ... <3 Pat

Mary said...

Love to see your birds. They are great pictures.

legato1958 said...

Oh, those European Starlings really are such huge pigs at the feeders! They empty ours in a few minutes, and seem to come in as a flock all the time!
You made me laugh out loud at the black-backed Oregon booby sighting... I actually thought I missed seeing that bird!


Janarama said...

Love your nature pictures. I cracked up at the black-backed Oregon booby. Too funny. Can't wait to see your tree quilt finished.

Kate said...

Looking forward to seeing your tree quilt come together. Love the fabric you are using.

Congrats on reaching one of your swimming milestones.

Wonderful bird photos. Thanks for the good giggle I had over the black-backed Oregon booby, though I think black-backed Oregon Stitchbird would be the proper nomenclature for that species.

quiltzyx said...

Yay! More swimming!

I'm so proud of you doing your own free-piecing & doing the pattern how it feels right to you. :D

Love looking at the bird cam pics - especially that last one....

Yesterday Mary Ann & I actually turned on her brand-spankin'-new commercial embroidery machine for the first time. We will probably be needing lessons before we actually put fabric & thread together though. Then it was guild meeting time. We had Cindy Myers as our speaker & she was wonderful! She is also a certified Judy Niemeyer instructor - amazing paper piecing quilts! http://www.quiltworx.com/instructors/cindy-myers/ She uses some fun techniques for her backs - an enlarged "jelly roll race" style & she's started using some of her UFO tops as backs! Very fun.

n Carter said...

Wow, that first picture of the European Starling just blew me away. There is such detail in the markings on that bird - so beautiful. And by the way, my yard is still covered in that dratted white stuff - completely covered. As it has been for weeks and weeks now. But I'm happy for Smitty that he can enjoy being outside.

Dar said...

You are so funny. I cracked up when I got to the bottom of the bird cam pictures and saw your Oregon booby sighting. Your trees are looking great.