We had to make up for our slug day from the day before by doing something more productive yesterday. It was a busy day from start to finish. Today will be busy too, but in a different way. My own day started with a trip to the garden. I could see that more sunflowers and wildflowers were blooming, and so I took pictures of every blooming thing. This first one is the Red Lemon Bicolor Sunflower.
The Ring of Fire sunflower (one of my favorites) is blooming now too. My image was blurry, and so I stole this one off the internet.
As for the bee garden, there is lots of color appearing now from the wildflower seed I threw out at the beginning of the season. I don't know the names of most of these.
This next one is just a pink version of the weeds we expect to see. Ordinarily, we see only white and a few yellow ones.
In the next image, the bright blue one in the upper right-hand corner is a bachelor's button, but some people call it a cornflower.
Yeah, and then I don't know these...we have them in several color combinations.
The cosmos was a bit of a surprise. These grow fairly tall, and they should reseed themselves.
The pickling cucumbers have finally taken off and are growing well. I had the hardest time getting these started. I planted seeds in small pots first. When I transplanted them to the garden, they were inundated by rain and they all died. So I planted some more seeds, and those all died too. Then, I picked up starts at the grocery store, and those didn't do well either. They didn't die, though, and now they've grown fairly large.
They're turning out to be very prolific. Yesterday, I harvested one cucumber, but there will be lots more. I decided to leave some of them for a day or two more, but I'll be checking these plants every day now until I have enough to make a batch of pickles. At the rate they're growing, it shouldn't be long.
The corn tassles are becoming more visible. I can't say for sure, but I think I'm beginning to see some ears of corn too.
The plum tree is loaded with plums now. The plums are about the size they will be at maturity, but they won't turn purple for another month or so. Just puh-leeeeze do it before we leave on our trip in September!
Also the sad little apple tree has a couple of dozen apples now. I don't get enough apples to do much, but I can sometimes add them in a few desserts.
And I harvested a few more beets. I have about 6-1/2 pounds now, and I'm planning to can them tomorrow after I make one final sweep of the garden. There are still jars of pickled beets left from last year, and so I'm going to can these as Plain Old Beets. That will require getting out the pressure canner.
Back inside, Mike requested a skillet cookie. We love the skillet cookies, but I've been wanting to try cutting the calories and fat in this. For this one I used the King Arthur Baking Sugar Alternative as a substitute for the granulated sugar. And then I found this Swerve brand alternative for the brown sugar found at my grocery store. Finally, the recipe calls for one egg yolk. This time I used the egg white instead, as a way to cut some fat. When I baked it off, it came out much in darker color than my usual cookie.
The texture was a little off compared to the usual cookie, made with the usual ingredients. I probably should not have switched out the egg white for the egg yolk this time around because now I don't know if it was the sugar or the fat that made the difference in texture. As Mike said, "You'll just have to make it again." Okay, but not today. It was edible, but I'd still like to try for a better texture.
All right, and so after lunch, I finally got started on the Dream Big panel. I'd already selected this Star Variegated thread for the quilt top.
I bought a whole pile of colors way back when...I hate to think how long it's been. If memory serves, these were originally made by Coats & Clark, but then C&C stopped making them. They're still available on Amazon.com, but just now I found all the colors on Red Rock Threads. You can see all the pretty colors right here. And, yeah...pay no attention to the website listed on the label below. The website doesn't exist. I still have an idea these threads have been discontinued, which is too bad because I love the colors.
I considered using the same thread in the bobbin...it's a 30 weight thread. But then I found these Sulky 30 weights in my thread stash.
These were a gift from my friend, Ila. I decided to use them. Sorry for the blur in the image below, but I wanted you to see the color. It's another variegated thread, but fairly neutral.
And then I used a practice piece to check the tension. This is the biggest bugaboo on my Babylock Tiara. It's very hard to get the tension adjusted properly. I've had good luck using a Towa bobbin tension gauge. If I have the bobbin tension adjusted correctly, then I only need to worry about the top tension. This looked pretty good on top.
On the bottom it looks like this. And I'd say the top tension is a little loose here. You can see the little bits of the darker variegated thread coming through from the top. I really love this little graphic from Superior Threads for remembering which way to adjust the tension. Thinking of it as a "tug of war" between the threads is something my aging brain can assimilate.
Okay, and so then I flipped the quilt back to the quilt front so I could test the tension on the actual quilt.
This is looking pretty good. Checking the back, I don't see any of the top thread coming through.
Okay...time to get sewing. I'm using a diagram I printed off Pinterest for inspiration. Some of these are a little fancier than I want to attempt, but it gives me some ideas.Hera marker, I made a circle to use as a guide for size.
You can see how this puts a crease in your fabric without leaving any marked lines.
And then I sucked in my breath and started sewing.
Fortunately, my emotional support cat was on the floor behind me, doing her part toward the effort.
Then I did another one. Mine didn't end up with the tear drop shape around the outside as it showed in the diagram. I was thinking about this though. Free motion quilting someone else's design is a little like trying to copy someone else's hand-writing. It isn't going to be exact, but it will still get the job done.
Checking the back, it looked like this:
Yeah, and I think I adjusted the top tension when I saw this too. Continuing on, I started doing my own thing with this design. I didn't like the straight lines from the diagram, and so I made some flaming arms of the sun.
Here's how that looks from the back.
By then, I was kind of bitten by the quilting bug, and I was having fun with this. I took it downstairs to show it to Mike. It was late in the day and time to stop, but I had an idea about where to go from here. So I outlined the next outer petal...only then, I had some ideas about how to fill it in, and so I did that too.
And by then, It really was time to stop, but not until I outlined the next petal. It was hard to walk away, but here's where I left it. When I get back to the machine, I'll fill in this section. With what? I don't know yet. I'll have to wait and see what my hands do.
After so much sewing, the kitties were 'zhausted. Smitty was sleeping on the floor behind me. Yes, he does have dirty feet. A man's gotta hunt for field critters, doesn't he?
Sadie moved to the chair beside me.
They were too tired to try negotiating for a new labor contract, but clearly, longer bathroom breaks and more snacks are going to be on their list of demands.
Okay, so this morning Mike and I are going to go ride bikes again. This morning we'll set up some cones in a simple obstacle course. It won't be anything difficult, but I'm returning to the bike slowly and working at building up my confidence and courage when it comes to maneuvering the bike around people, trees, and woolly caterpillars. After that, we'll do some grocery shopping and then head for home. I'm anxious to get back to the quilting. Despite years of avoiding it, I'm having fun with the panel.