Sonora Sparkle

The window washer guy didn't show yesterday. The best laid plans sometimes don't make it onto the calendar. No worries. We were here the whole day anyway, and we'll just try it again in a week. It'll be another excuse to spend the whole day sewing. But I didn't spend the whole day sewing. I took a little walk out to the vegetable garden. Some of the sunflowers are having trouble standing on their own, and so we got some sturdier garden stakes while we were grocery shopping earlier in the week. I've been checking them each day to see who might have fallen over in the night. Sunflowers...hard partiers, no doubt.

While I was out, I took a few pictures of things that are growing there. I was sad to see two more of the green bean plants had been bitten off at the ground level. I'm left with just three bean vines now. We won't get many (if any) beans at this rate. We've come to the conclusion that a gopher is to blame, and now Mike has set a trap where we found some tunneling. 

We're having more success with the melons. I found three flowers on a single plant.

In my wanderings, I discovered some of the beets were ready for harvest.

Checking on the sunflowers, I found some new ones in bloom. This one is called "Joker."

This next one is called Sunrich Lemon. It's hard to see, but there's a big bumblebee in the center.

This next one is called Floristan.

I needed to get a big bucket to harvest the beets, but I first harvested some of the baby zucchinis. These are about the size of a human finger. They're the perfect size for the Canal House Marinated Zucchini. I'd like to find a couple more before I make that salad.

Then I went to work harvesting the beets. About half were ready.

I separated them from their greens and then bagged them up for the vegetable crisper. Not sure yet what I'm going to do with them, but they'll keep for a while. I still have 5 jars of pickled beets from last year, and so I don't suppose I'll do any more. I may just can them as plain old beets. Or maybe we'll just eat them. The sky's the limit.

I used some of the greens to make Beet Green Pesto. If you've never tried making pesto from anything other than basil, just know that the two are indistinguishable. Possibly if you tried them side by side, you might be able to tell the difference. I've made pesto from all sorts of things: kale, sorrel, and nasturtiums come to mind. We had some spread on crusty bread with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. It's so good, I could easily make a meal of it. 

I'm going to use some of it to make this Fettuccine with Asparagus, Beet Green Pesto, and Poached Egg.

When I was finished with my outdoor activity, I left Smitty nibbling the tall grass in one of the larger weed beds. This area was replanted recently after removing two enormous butterfly bushes. Despite Mike's best efforts, the grass has refused to grow, but the weeds have come along fabulously.

Back inside, it was time to get started on my sewing day. With great trepidation at using so many metallic threads of different brands and colors, I used a small strip of scrap fabric to create a little tension check point. The fabric isn't exactly the same as what is used in the quilt, but it was close enough.

My tricks for using metallic thread are these: (1) massage Sewer's Aid into the thread. It's a silicon thread lubricant, and it won't stain your thread or your fabric, but lubricates it for when it passes through the needle. It also lubricates the eye of the needle. (2) Use a thread stand set a distance from the machine to give the thread plenty of time to uncoil and relax before it passes through the needle. (3) Use a large-eyed needle. I was using a 90/14 metallic needle for yesterday's quilting. (4) Finally, check the spool for any burrs that might catch on the thread. You can use an emory board to sand them smooth.

Starting with a sky blue metallic thread, I stitched several curvy echoing lines across the blue portions of the sky.

Since I hadn't decided whether that was the plan for the whole quilt, I took it off the machine at this point and checked in with my quilting snoopervisor. She approved, and so I continued on my merry way.

I added a white metallic to the white portions of the sky, and then set my sites on the sun. I had several ideas about what design to use there, but then just let my hands decide on the final pattern. Here, I used a gold metallic.

And then, I just continued on from top to bottom, switching thread colors as I moved to a new color on the quilt.

It's a little hard to see the sparkle of the metallic in a photograph, and so I took a series of photos from different angles.

The metallic thread sewed perfectly yesterday. I had not a single episode of breaking or fraying.

I was using a reddish-brown cotton thread in the bobbin, and I switched to the same thread on top to quilt some saguaro cactus into the border.

When the quilting was finished, it looked like this:

I was just getting started hand-stitching rays from the sun using a gold metallic embroidery floss when I decided to quit for the day.

There should be plenty of time today to finish the hand-stitching, and then the quilt will be ready for binding. I've worried I wasn't going to like this quilt, but it's working out okay. I'll be glad to get it finished. It's been on my to-do list for many years.

So today will be another mostly sewing day. I'll need to get out and water the flower pots. It should have been done yesterday, but my sewing kept me occupied, and I didn't want to stop. Also today we need to give the kitties a second dose of worming medicine. It's hard to convince either of them that this is good medicine. Don't let Sadie's tiny stature fool you into thinking she doesn't pack a punch. She does. 

This could be my last blog post. If I'm not back again tomorrow, you can assume we were ripped to ribbons trying to administer medicine to Sadie. Yeah...just look at that sweet face. Evil lurks under those ears.


Barbara said...

If I had a dollar for every time my cat made me smile, I would be the world’s richest person by now. ~ Ernest Hemingway

Katie said...

My formerly feral kitty, also tiny but packs a big punch, recently needed to be on pill meds for a few weeks. I purchased the Churu treats (my mom said it remind her of tiny GoGurt, if that helps!) at my local pet store as a bribe. She couldn't get enough of them and quickly learned to lick them as I squeezed them up. And by about the third pill day, she was mewing at me, pacing, waiting for her treat when she had just only heard the pill bottle. Not sure how much that will help with the less frequent worm meds, but that treat turned a wary, crazy wild child into something much easier to stuff a pill into - even if I had to do it more than once due to fancy tongue action. (That sounds dirty, but I assure you it was not, just slobbery!) The quilt is looking great and you've made quick progress on it!

Quilter Kathy said...

I have really enjoyed watching over your shoulder as you have created this amazing quilted landscape. I love the sun design and the cactus design in the border... so creative! And the hand stitching adds another layer of enjoyment!

QuiltGranma said...

We have been "not at home" but near by as we try to fix our a/c, visiting our fur babies every evening, except this week when we were gone due to family emergency. Last night and this a.m. our (today she is 1 year old) kitty sure is a love bug, saying I'm so glad you are BACK! And I am so glad to be back with them!

Crew at Cabin Central said...

Just gorgeous!! You have done a magnificent job with this one! I like all your other projects as well, but love how you took this from a photo and made it into a quilt. Awesome!!

Robin said...

This just keeps getting better and better. It's beautiful! I love the cactus quilting. A piece of whimsy that you have to be paying attention to see.

Quilting Babcia said...

I trust you survived Sadie's wrath and can read this. Sonoran landscape just keeps getting better and better. And I imagine it's even better in person where you can see the full effect of the metallic threads. Of course you just happened to choose my favorite colors for this one, so loving it wasn't hard to do!

Christine said...

Love, love, loving this quilt!!! Sunrays....fabulous addition
Hope you survive the tablet taking.

piecefulwendy said...

All those beets - yum! Your Sonora quilt really finished up nicely! I hope the worming medication process went well.

Susan said...

I wasn't sure about this quilt when you first started it with all those tiny pieces, but it has turned out very well in my opinion. I can actually see the resemblance to the original picture. You have done a great job on it.

Magpie's Mumblings said...

I think this quilt is probably one of my favourites. I like landscapes, as you know.
Hopefully there wasn't too much blood letting that happened - yours OR Sadie's!

SJSM said...

Beet greens are good so many ways. Have you tried carrot greens pesto? My daughter introduced me to that one. I liked the concept of the Sonoran quilt from the get-go. It’s turning out beautifully.

Beth said...

Condolences on needing to medicate Sadie again. I'm having a similar experience. Our boy Carter has been jealous for years that we give his brothers and mother medicine every single night (due to asthma and cardiomyopathy). He prowls around, and appears every time the pill daytimers come out. He uses his charms. He is so curious about the cupboard where some of the meds are kept. Finally, after having to spend the night at the hospital for a mysterious case of just-not-himself, he needs oral antibiotics every night. Turns out, he hates medicine! Fights me like a Tasmanian devil. Stares at me as if he doesn't know who I am but I'm about to learn a thing or two about what a cage match is like. I will be very glad when this is over, although I have no idea when that will be, because the bottle is opaque and the instructions are, "give until gone". Ugh.

Shasta Matova said...

Wonderful vegetables. That quilt is so beautifully executed - great landscape!