Saturday, April 21, 2018

THE BIG MELT

The snow has been melting very gradually, until today.  Now the BIG MELT in on!  Here's the end of our driveway and the road out front:





But it's not to wet for the Dear One to be out in the landscape pruning off the old, dead ends of shrubs and perennials.  Just happy that it's warm enough to be outside!


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

SPLIT 9 PATCH FINISH

Just now I finished putting the binding on a Split 9 Patch quilt, one of the UFO's from the fabric closet.  This is a quilt that I demonstrated last summer at IDA, our local quilt store.  That's always a fun time.  I set up my sewing machine, a design board and start making blocks.  There's a handout showing each of the steps in the process and quilters drop by during the day to pick up a set of directions and watch the process.  It means I go home with quite a few finished blocks that need some more blocks made and then they can form a quilt.

There were some of these Split 9 Patch blocks in the fabric closet, and this is the second finish of those UFO's.  Two other projects ended up in the burning barrel, a Jacob's Ladder (9 blocks of varying sizes) and a failed denim bag.

I made the extra blocks and put the quilt together.  Then I picked out borders.  Here are  two possibilities:
It looked to me that the blue was a "hands down" better choice.  So that's what I went with.  The first time I applied the borders they were too "wavy."  That happens when a border that's a bit too long is sewed to a quilt.  They needed to be taken off and be shortened.

I took a short cut and ripped them off.  Yikes!  Yes, just remove a bit of the seam, take hold of the quilt top in one hand and the border in the other and give a good hard pull.  The border will separate from the quilt.  I should have pressed the borders after that maneuver, but forgot to do that.  That meant that one side of the border was longer than the other.  Now that's not too bad if you sew the longer edge to the quilt.  That will make the borders nice and snug on the outer edge.  Three of them were sewed on that way; the fourth had the stretched outer side to the outer edge.  Well!  That was quite a few missteps along the way.  But I went ahead and made the 3 layer quilt sandwich.


 Yesterday at the town quilt club meeting I got most of the machine quilting done.  This morning I finished up that step, made the binding (same fabric as the border) and got that applied.  I sewed it to the back of the quilt, folded it over to the front and top stitched it down.  All that needs to be done now is to snip off the thread ends on the back of the quilt.  The back is also from the stash, a large piece of polkadot flannel, cut in half and a fairly large piece of blue flannel.  The blue flannel is in the middle, with a wide strip of polka dot flannel on either side.
This next photo shows the border with the binding, and the variegated thread stitching on both sides:


Another finish, this one two weeks ago, was a pair of hand-knit socks, a Christmas gift promised to Lola in the Christmas gift exchange of the town club.  She chose the yarn and I knit this pair after returning from AZ.  I hadn't sewed in the end thread, just in case they needed some adjustment.  But they fit beautifully just this way.  I finished them at the club meeting two weeks ago and they went home with her.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

LEARNING SOMETHING NEW

Today I am trying out something I haven’t done before—using my new iPad to make a blogpost.  AND I want to learn how to import a photo from the camera.  So here goes.
* * * * *
Well, that was a bust!  Couldn't find the way to get a photo taken with my iPad to the blog post, written on the iPad.  Someone will know how to do that--I'll ask around.

A FEW THOUGHTS ON THIS DAY

We got up this morning to another new layer of snow!  This is a winter that just won't quit.  And we are all so ready to see some green!  I thought about complaining.  Then we watched the latest chapter of The Kennedys on CNN.  So much talent, so much promise,  So Much Tragedy!  It's heart wrenching even now. fifty five years later.

On the day JFK was killed I was in my first year of teaching.  It was a Friday afternoon, near the end of the day.  My fifth grade class was busy with an art project.  The principal came to our room and delivered the dire news.  Who doesn't remember where they were and what they were doing when we heard the news.  If only. . . .

When that program ended we turned to CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) and watched the last part of the service in Humboldt, Saskatchewan.  This was a community service following the dreadful accident on Friday that killed 15 members of the Humboldt Broncos Hockey team.  What we saw of the service was very good.  The politicians in Humboldt had decided that the leaders of faith--the pastors of the various churches there--should be in charge of the service.  There were hymns and prayers in the part of the service that we watched.  One of the hymns was "What a Friend we have in Jesus."  Would you hear a hymn like that sung in a memorial service in Toronto--or any other major city.

Could it be that being sophisticated means losing something deeply basic and comforting?

Also, this afternoon I finished reading one of Jodi Picoult's latest books, Small Great Things.  I heartily recommend it!  I hope that many people read it and take its message to heart, a message that is desperately needed in these times of deep divisions and hatreds.

Friday, March 30, 2018

HOW I WILL MISS HER!!!

My dear, dear friend Marcy died yesterday.  It's an awful blow to everyone who knew and loved her.

I knew Marcy for just short of six years.  In 2012 Jim and I bought a condo in a gated community near Phoenix, AZ where my sister and brother-in-law lived.  I knew that community very well from having visited there and walked extensively through the village.  I had researched it for some time on line and when we made an offer on a unit it was Marcy's listing.  That's how we came into contact.

The first year we stayed there for just six weeks so it wasn't until later years when we extended our stays to four months that I got to know Marcy.  The clincher in our relationship came when she asked me to teach her how to sew.  She had had a bad experience in "Home Ec" but really wanted to be able to make clothing for herself and for gifts for friends and family.  We usually spent several hours once a week creating first simple things and then increasingly more complex items.  She has appeared on this blog a few times, celebrating her finished projects, most recently the rather complicated jacket that she finished early in February, just before we left to come back to Alberta.

When Marcy was born the doctors told her mother not to let her siblings bond with her because they thought she wouldn't live more than six weeks due to congenital heart problems.   Her mother, good for her!, ignored that advice and Marcy was cherished as part of the family.  Marcy survived not just six weeks, but babyhood, childhood, adolescence and well into adulthood.

It wasn't easy for her.  She was often unwell, but had an indomitable spirit.  She truly maximized her life, becoming very involved with family, with friends, with church and with community.  She did a great amount of volunteer work.  Marcy loved to take classes and learn new things.   She also loved to travel.  She loved to help people, even some annoying, demanding people whom others would have dumped!  Marcy made the world a better place!

Marcy said the nicest thing about Ron that  I've ever heard a woman say about her husband.  One day when she was talking about the blessings in her life she numbered among them: "I have a husband I just adore!" And she let her friends know that she loved them also.  Marcy had a great heart!

Unfortunately, her physical heart was not doing well.  The last four months of her life were a daily struggle.  The doctor at UCLA who specialized in her particular problem had suggested an operation designed to give her better quality of life, although it was an experimental procedure.  After resisting for quite some time, she and Ron finally agreed to have the procedure done.

I asked all my friends to join me in praying for her on Wednesday.  She faced the operation with courage and calm.  On Tuesday evening at 9:45 p.m. she wrote to me: "Tomorrow is my surgery date.  God is with us and is in control.  I love you and will talk with you after the surgery.  Bonnie will give you updates tomorrow.  Marcy"

The operation did not go as we all had hoped.  Marcy never regained consciousness and very early Thursday morning she passed on into the next life.  Bonnie said something to me yesterday that struck a chord, "For the first time in her life Marcy has a whole body."

I'm so sad that she is gone.  She was only 53 years old, but had really lived those 53 years.  For Marcy herself, I'm glad.  She's free of pain now.  She was the most truly Christian person I've ever met and I have no doubt about where she is now.

Bless you, Marcy!  We love you!

Monday, March 26, 2018

WE GOT IT DONE!

Every year after the plants that overwinter in the solar space are moved to the greenhouse, S. and I need to scrub up that space for summer use.  Today was the day.  There was not that much to do in the greenhouse, I was available and the sun was shining brightly, warming up that space.  Actually, we had left the doors open all night to insure that it was warm enough to work in.

The "solar space" is the area underneath the balcony that we had enclosed many years ago with walls of windows.  The glass is double glazed, but clear and lets in the full spectrum of sun's rays.  It serves as a good area to overwinter several plants and also for the smaller plants that have been seeded and now are a few inches tall.  It's a kind of intermediary space between the basement room with its benches and grow lights and the full greenhouse.

We started at 10 a.m. and worked like ???--like we were twenty-year olds!    Jim and I had swept up the worst of the dirt earlier and this morning S. swept the windowsills and the floor and then vacuumed the floor.
Even after the sweeping and vacuuming it was very dirty:
This year S. and I worked out our best arrangements yet.  One of us dropped hot, soapy (Palmolive dishwashing liquid) onto a 3 x 3 tile area, and another tile area and then scrubbed up the tiles in 3 x 3 tile sections with hot soapy water and a stiff scrubbing brush on a long handle. That saves going down on our hands and knees for scrubbing.  If any stains remained we "blasted" them with Fantastik with Bleach.  Poof! the stain scrubbed up.  Then the other on of us using the small shop vac vacuumed up the soapy water and OOOH, just lovely--all clean!

We worked really, really hard until 11:30 and reached the halfway mark.  Time for a cup of coffee and a cookie!  Then we were back at it, just as hard, having switched jobs.  By 1 p.m. the whole place was slicked up!  Jim helped us carry the "summer furniture" back into this area.  Looks wonderful!
This is the southern facing side, now sporting two day beds.  And this is the western facing side, with a futon, a rocking chair, a coffee table (used as a footstool) and a pretty comfortable upholstered chair.  On the far side is a nice wooden desk with a chair.
All we need yet is a lamp beside the futon and a hanging plant in the corner.  We spend lots and lots of time here on spring, summer and fall afternoons.  It's a very pleasant space that looks out over the blooming gardens in summer and also allows us to keep an eye out for customers coming to the greenhouses.

It left behind somewhat of a mess in the t.v. room where all the solar space summer furniture is stored over winter.  Guess what's next on the To Do List?

Saturday, March 24, 2018

IT'S SPRING!!!

That doesn't look very spring-like, does it?  Neither does this:

But, still, it's spring-cleaning time!  

I used to devote a whole day to spring cleaning the kitchen.  First I would wash the ceiling.  Then the wall above the cupboards and the tops of the cupboards.  It's amazing how dirty the unseen top of the cupboard becomes!  Then empty the cupboards, wash the insides and maybe apply a bit of paint.  Wash everything in the cupboards.  Wash the outside of the cupboards, reload the cupboards.  Empty the fridge, wash, discard some out of date or rotten things from the back of the shelves, reload the fridge.  Clean the oven and the sides, front and top of the stove.  Wash underneath, behind and the sides of the cupboards beside the stove.  Shove the stove and fridge back--oh, don't forget to wash the wall and sides of the cupboards alongside the fridge, and the floor beneath the fridge.  Also remember to take out the "drip tray" from the very bottom of the fridge and wash and disinfect that.  Aaaah.  Now strip the old wax from the floor, scrub and rewax the floor.  ALL DONE!  

Sometime in there--a good eight hours of intensive effort--take a break for a coffee and another for a sandwich and glass of milk.  When you're finished, take a shower, wash and dry your hair, put on fresh clothes, take an admiring look around the kitchen and sit down with a nice glass of wine and a burger or something else easy to make for supper.

That happened once a year for decades.  I LIKED it!  Well, at least I liked it--really enjoyed it a whole lot--when it was all done!  I love clean, neat and well organized.

Nowadays it doesn't go like that.  Today was pretty typical of the way spring cleaning gets done nowadays:   Empty the forks/knives/spoon drawer:
Wash the drawer organizers:  I have a secret ally for this: Fantastic with Bleach.  Takes care of all those difficult stains.  Let them soak for a little while, scrub out the a scrubbing pad, rinse and drain.
The the drawer to the back hall and scrub it out really well, getting rid of all the accumulated sticky stuff.  Let the drawer dry.  Throw away the old drawer liner.  
Detach the front of the drawer and discover that between the front piece and the drawer itself is a massive stain.  Spray the drawer front and the back of the front piece.  Scrub off the stain.  Make note of the fact that there are a few places where the finish has worn off. 
Get out the spray paint, shake the can for a minute, spray the drawer.  Oooops!  Overdid it and made some runs.  Too impatient to spray lightly several times.  Well, it will be covered up with the tacky drawer liner.  Let it dry. 
Reassemble everything.  Make yourself a nice little pot of Bengal Spice tea and sit back to enjoy the beautiful clean drawer.  Be sure to open it every now and then for a little sigh of satisfaction.

Friday, March 23, 2018

SCRUMPDILLYICIOUS!!!

We had planned to go out for dinner today (Yeah!) but the way the day was developing we decided to postpone for a day or two.  So what to serve for dinner?

Yesterday I was responsible for lunch for Shirl's Girls quilting group and that could be anywhere from four women to twelve women.  So it has to be flexible.  To me that says "Chilli"  or better yet "Texas Chilli."  Now, I don't know if this is a bona fide Texas Chilli, but this is what we were introduced to when we lived in Oregon.

Bottom layer in your bowl or plate: broken tortilla chips.  Then ladle on a good bit of home made chilli (recipe follows).  Layer on grated cheddar, shredded lettuce, cut up tomatoes, onions and green peppers.  Top off with sour cream.  On Wednesday I prepared about 7 quarts of chilli.  I might as well make lots when I'm doing that, because it's so handy to have in the freezer.

It was a big hit, but we were a small group: just six women.  So I had lots of those ingredients left over.  I packed up one quart container and a larger, about 2 1/2 quart container of left over chilli and put that in the freezer.  The other extra ingredients went into the fridge.  For dessert: cherry/chocolate cake (recipe follows).

Also in the fridge was half of a family-sized package of lean ground beef.  Half of that went on the stove to be fried up loose.  Usually I have some seasonings on hand, but not today.  I went to the internet and got a recipe for taco seasoning and another for refried beans.  Two 14 oz. cans of kidney beans went into a skillet with the seasonings for the refried beans.  The lean ground beef got about half the mixture of taco seasoning.

Here's the taco on the plate:

Could it even be folded?  Yes:

Held together with a large wooden tooth pick.  DELICIOUS!!!

VEGETARIAN CHILLI (a recipe found in the newspaper many years ago)
2 TB olive oil
1 1/2 chopped onions (more or less)
3 large carrots, cut up
2 green peppers, diced
1 red pepper, diced
5 cups sliced mushrooms
1 medium zucchini (I used shredded zucchini from the freezer)
1 1/2 cups black beans
2 - 28 oz. cans red kidney beans
(I add some pinto beans and white kidney beans also)
2 - 28 oz. cans plum tomatoes
1 - 13 oz. can tomato paste
2 cups corn kernels
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 TB ground ginger
1 TB garlic powder
2 TB Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup red cooking wine
2 TB cumin
1 tsp chilli powder
1 TB coriander
1 TB paprika
1 TB oregano
1 TB basil
1 TB dill
1 tsp dry mustard
2 bay leaves (remove when cooked)

Put all ingredients in a large pot or crockpot and simmer for several hours until the veggies are tender--especially the carrots.

I always add a good amount of loose fried lean ground beef.

Best made a day ahead.  Freezes and thaws well.

CHERRY/CHOCOLATE CAKE
1 pkg. chocolate cake mix
1 can cherry pie filling
3 eggs
2 tsp almond extract.

Mix all ingredients together.  Bake in a parchment lined 9" x 13" pan following directions on cake box.  Cool and frost with chocolate icing.
Quick, Easy, and always moist and delicious!
                                               *   *   *   *   *   *   *
UFO count.  After cleaning and organizing my fabric closet I started tackling the UFO's.  I didn't count how many there were.  That would be too intimidating!  UFO #1 was a denim bag with a chenille inset that didn't turn out very "fluffy".  That got thrown in the burning bin.  All done #1.  

UFO #2 was the children's single bed-sized quilt.  That's finished and sprucing up the futon in the solar space.  

UFO #3 -- there were 5 1/2 finished blocks of a Jacob's Ladder quilt.  I finished the 1/2 block, made three more and was going to put it together in a 3 block x 3 block quilt.  Sad discovery: the blocks were not all the same size.  I wondered what to do and solved the problem by dumping that UFO (nearing 20 years in the making) in the burning barrel! 

Here's UFO #4.  This is not SO old.  I think it was just last summer that I taught this "Split Nine Patch" at the Local Quilting Store.  This is the completion (well the blocks are all finished) of the blocks I made as samples demonstrating the method.  I had to finish up three more blocks to make the 4 x 3 setting.  This was the project yesterday at Shirl's Girls.  At the end of the afternoon I laid it out for inspection.  BIG SURPRISE!  I had made 13 blocks.  I guess the 13th block is the beginning of another quilt.  This needs to be sewed together and a border added.  Then layered and quilted and it will be finished.  Hope to do that by the end of next week.  Should work since the town quilting groups meets on Tuesday.


One last thing to show for the past week: a sock and 2/3:
These are the socks promised at the quilting group Christmas party.  The woman who received the certificate chose the yarn.  The picture is a little dark, but my iPhoto is iffy so I don't dare fuss with it.  I'll finish the second sock by Tuesday when the group meets and Lola receives her "made to measure" socks.