Thursday, September 21, 2017

FALL EQUINOX

I had in mind that today was the fall equinox, but discovered it is actually tomorrow.  However, I was a bit shocked to get up to this sight this morning:

There had been rain overnight and it turned to snow this morning.  I thought that "Fall" not "Winter" followed the fall equinox!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

MORE PICKET FENCE FUN

It was fun for me to buy the fabrics for the new picket fence quilt, but it was probably even more fun to spend the day at The Fabric Nook in IDA yesterday demonstrating how to make a picket fence quilt.  I was all set up by 9:30 and began sewing blocks.  As women stopped by to see what was going on I showed them how to cut and sew the blocks for a picket fence quilt.  Twelve women were interested enough to pick up an instructional hand-out.

By 5 p.m. half of the blocks needed for a lap quilt were already finished.  One row of blocks was sewed together.  I think it will be quite attractive:

But now take a closer look at the block on the cutting board.  Can you see a difference?  This is something that puzzled me earlier.  I made about three blocks for this quilt before yesterday, and noticed that the "pinwheel" or "star" or whatever you call that gold figure slanted in a different direction.  I wasn't sure what made that happen.

Yesterday I figured it out: it just depends on how you lay the cut pieces.  If the 45º cut slants to the left, you get one sort, if it slants to the right you get the other figure.  It's the same piece; there's only one way to cut it.  But when you lay the first piece down you are deciding which way the pinwheel will slant.  Thus or thus:


The  instructions will have to be rewritten to include this important information.  I suppose that this is a problem only with batiks.  One sided material would be obviously unable to slant either way.

So the upshot is that I will be making two of these lap quilts, since there are already 3 blocks finished with the left hand upward slant.  There are 6 blocks finished with the right hand upward slant, and that's half the number of blocks needed for the quilt.  Now it's time to purchase more of the deep yellow fabric (looks orange in this picture) enough to complete a second quilt.  

Again, one quilt leads to another!

Oh, and the "Autumn" quilt is finished and being machine quilted.  I hope to complete it this coming weekend and leave it for a "comfort quilt" donations to the local group.  When it's all quilted and bound I'll post a picture.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

SOME FUN TODAY

I had some fun today!  It's always fun to buy some new material.  Usually I make quilts from my stash, but today I bought 9 fabrics to make another "Picket Fence" quilt.  Brenda and I are planning to demonstrate making that quilt on Tuesday, the 19th of September in the local quilt store, the Fabric Nook, part of IDA.

We're doing it to promote the 2 1/2" strip sets for sale there, but this time I bought yardage.  A while ago I made a Picket Fence from one of their strip sets, plus some left-overs and it turned out very nice.  It's hanging up in IDA to advertise the demos we plan to do.  But I will need more material to sew on the day of the demos, so I looked for something today and this is what I found:

The gold on the left will be the "pinwheels" or "stars" and the other fabrics will be the darks.  You need twice as many darks as lights.  See July 8 of this year, where I talk about this same quilt.

I was eager to start cutting 2 1/2" strips from this new fabric and putting together a few of the blocks.  Most of the blocks will be made during the 9:30 to 5:00 demos, but there should be a few ready ahead of time, and most of this fabric should be cut up into 2 1/2" strips.

But I restrained myself and went back to the "Tessellated Leaf" pattern that needed about 10 more blocks made to complete it visually.  So here it is with all the blocks.  The right hand vertical row and the bottom horizontal row are the new blocks.  All made, and I'm happy with them, but just not sewed together yet.  I hope to do that sometime this weekend.

I plan to add a narrow border of the red material and then a wider border of the lightest background fabric, and then bind it with the red.  So I did buy another 1/2 meter of the red this morning, along with another 1/2 meter of a nice batik to bind the very large quilt I was working on earlier.

On another front, here is what Jim and I accomplished with a harvest of tomatoes last weekend: 18 jars of stewed tomatoes, all ready for winter suppers.  As we eat our hot meal around 2 p.m., supper is simple: a piece of bread and cheese, or a bowl of soup.  Stewed tomatoes count as soup!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

HARVEST TIME

Harvest is well under way here.  We've had unusually warm weather for September, with one day this week predicted to go over 30ºC (close to 90ºF).  That, combined with very little rain the last month, means that everything is very dry.

When my friend and I were going to a walk recently two huge combines rumbled up the road.

She snapped a picture of me to give some idea of the size of this equipment.  We should have one of her standing beside the wheel.

Here's a field of swathed canola across the road from our place.  Last Saturday evening we had a time of heavy winds and that really messes up these nice neat swaths.  I wrote about canola a few years ago back in '11.  You can check that out in two posts, one on July 8, 2011 and the other on September 6, '11.

Here's this year's harvest of canola, swathed and ready to be combined.
 
Yesterday afternoon we had a visitor.  We've seen him several times recently.  He's quite at home here but will quickly disappear if he notices us.  He's in the driveway just outside the back door and I took these photos through a window.  In the first photo he checks his surroundings while eating a mouse he found in the shrubbery.

He then goes back to see if there are any more where he found this one.  It was a dead mouse that I had thrown out earlier.

Nothing there.  If we catch a mouse I usually throw the body between the spruce and the rosebush just behind him.


So he gradually moves off.  He went down into the garden area, scratched himself leisurely with his hind foot and then trotted away.


He's not very red, but you can tell by his tail and also his size that he is a fox and not a coyote.  We're hearing their choruses most nights lately.  Sounds like at least six of them out there.  We do enjoy the wildlife that takes advantage of all the food available here, both the berries and the small critters.  This is the time of year when the mice are trying to find a warm winter home and we appreciate the help of Mr. Fox in keeping the mouse population in check.

Some years ago we had two young fox kits that came and played on the bark chip pile in the parking lot every morning around 5 to 6 a.m.  What beautiful animals they were!  And what a treat to see them grow that summer.  I posted about them also, but will just repeat one of the best photos of them:


Saturday, September 2, 2017

CATCHING UP

or trying to catch up a little.  Two weeks ago my laptop crashed and I took it into to be repaired.  I got it back a week later and now will try to catch up a bit of what happened since.

I was very, very happy to sell my Nilius/Leclerc floor loom.  Years ago my friend Hilda bought this 36" floor loom and began weaving.  We were living in the same town at that time, and I did some weaving with her.  When she moved into a condo and didn't have room for the loom I bought it from her with the thought that when I turned 65 I would have a new craft to get involved in.  But by that time I was so completely into quilting that I never did put on a warp and start weaving.

I advertised the loom on Kijiji and had a few inquiries, and then someone who was looking for just that sort of loom called and arranged to buy it.  She came with her two sisters and took the loom, the bench and all the accessories and even agreed to take the whole stash of weaving and knitting yarns.


It JUST fit into her van.  Four women were happy! 

Craig, who helps us with cutting down trees and such, showed up for work one day with ragged jeans.  I was teasing him that he needed to do some mending and he replied that when the jeans get too bad, he gives them to his brother, who makes quilts from them.  Well, that gave me an idea!  I knew I had some 6" squares of denim, so I went and cut some more, and an equal amount of 6" flannel squares and made another raggy quilt!   This one is for the baby's big sister, so she doesn't feel left out.  Here are the sets of squares:
Here's the front of the denim quilt:
And here's the back:
 
That was all a lot of fun!

And it seems that one thing leads to another.  I had made lots of jelly and syrup lately and felt like there hadn't been enough sewing,  SO I picked another pattern:
This was originally used to make placemats, but I had an idea for a lap quilt using a few beige backgrounds and some nice fall coloured batiks.  The squares in the original pattern are just 1.5 inches.  For the lap quilt I enlarged them 7.5 inches.  For two days last week I sewed like mad, using what there was in the drawer of batiks.

Partway through the orange/green fabric row I ran out of that fabric.  I burrowed through every fabric in that drawer, and OH GOODY! at the bottom of the drawer was another hunk of the same orange/green!!!  what a relief!

It's paper pieced, and when the blocks were all made and the paper removed, I carefully pressed the quilt, front and back and hung it on the design wall to admire it.  OH DEAR!  As soon as the quilt was up on the wall it became evident that it wasn't complete!
When you look at the two-colour pattern, it looks fine.  But when you see it in this combination, it is definitely unfinished!  The problem is, there is not more of the orange fabric to make a few more squares.  I dug through the batik drawer again, but didn't have the same luck.  However, there is a piece of fabric that will be close enough, I hope!  So that's what I going to do now with my Saturday afternoon.  Wish me well!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

CHERRIES, CHERRIES, CHERRIES!!!

The early part of the summer is a good time to do repairs and painting around the "homestead" because by this time there is an huge of amount of picking, juicing, canning, freezing, making of jellies, juices, jams, syrups and sauces.  I used to do lots of freezing, but since I sold the big freezer and now have only a modest sized freezer, I need to do more canning.

S. picked and I juiced lots and lots of cherries this week.  The trees are just loaded.  It was the same with raspberries, Nanking cherries, red currants and it will happen again with apples this year.  Maybe everything is producing like mad because we started the summer with lots of ground water.  We sure notice that the weeping willow at the foot of the garden seems to have almost doubled in size this year.
The red currant bushes were likewise thriving.  We have lots of red currant juice put up already.  Enough for now....

Here's just a small portion of the cherry tree.  The branches are so loaded with fruit they are hanging dangerously low.  But that does make picking cherries easy!

What a lot of goodness!
                                  
Here are three ice cream pails of picked cherries.  This makes one nice big load for the steam juicer.

I wash them, load them into the juicer and steam them for three to five hours.  Depending on how ripe and juicy they are that will yield about 6, sometimes 7  quarts of pure juice.  Often I can the juice directly from the juicer.  It's perfectly hot and when loaded into a hot, sterile jar, will seal the snap lid very nicely, and store well until needed.  But sometimes I make something further and this is what I did yesterday.  Twenty pints of cherry jelly which includes one pint of cherry syrup.


This morning I made 15 pints of cherry syrup.  The first time that happened by mistake.  I like to make jelly with about half the usual amount of sugar.  That gives a nice, tart jelly.  And if I use "No Sugar Added" jelling powder, they turn out nice and firm.  But the local IGA didn't have the "No Sugar Added" so I bought the 30% less sugar kind.  With just two cups of sugar to four cups of juice it did not jell, but formed a nice sort of syrup.  Since I had bought several packets of that jelling powder, I simply made syrup from the juice.  The Dear One enjoys a breakfast now and then of couscous with fruit syrup.  This will fill the bill very nicely!

Next up are the apples.  I plan to can several pints of unsweetened applesauce, maybe make that quarts.  And also make maybe 7 or 8 pints of Apple Butter.  This is the Dolgo apple tree in the back area.  it's super loaded this year.  These apples will turn a very deep, almost a burgundy red.  They make a nice sauce, but these are going to go for the birds and coyotes, because there is a tree down by the greenhouse that makes really good unsweetened applesauce.  That's on the To Do List for tomorrow.

Our helper S. can help me pick,  wash, quarter and core the apples.  

That's what goes on at this time of summer.  It's too late for scraping and painting!  The neglected project of the downstairs door will have to wait one more year.  But it won't rot in the meantime, and all this fruit will if it's not taken care of promptly.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A VERY SPECIAL PRESENT

Our daughter who just visited us gave me a very special present!  A few years ago she took up pottery, a creative activity that takes a lot of skill and training.  Last week she gave me a bowl that she had made, a very, very nice bowl:
It's placed on the sofa cushion to show how well it coordinates with the upholstery.  In this next picture it is on the coffee table, which will be its special place in the living room.


I really love anything made by hand.  Handmade objects show time and skill, and a willingness to use them to give something of value.  

In the 80's I taught Suzuki violin in Kelowna, B.C. for five years.  When we left for Regina, my students' parents got together and bought several pieces of pottery from a local studio as a goodbye gift for me.  I thought it was about the nicest present I had ever received.  There was a coffee pot, a sugar and creamer,  six smallish mugs, a dinner plate and rice bowl (for snacks) and 6 luncheon plates, all decorated with a "soft fruit" design, such a very Okanagan icon.  The Okanagan is THE PLACE for soft fruits.  Many orchards offer U-Pick and it's possible to pick, for instance, huge ripe peaches that come off easily into your hand.  It's just not possible to buy that kind of fruit in any grocery store!

Within a year I had accidentally broken the coffee pot, so I simply ordered another one from that pottery studio.  I also ordered 5 more dinner plates and 5 more rice bowls and a serving bowl.  We still have the coffee pot, the sugar and creamer, 6 mugs, the serving bowl, 5 dinner plates and 4 luncheon plates.  All the delicate rice bowls are history.  These are the dishes we use every day, and you can be sure that I think of all those good people in Kelowna and feel grateful very often!

I don't plan to use this new bowl that way.  It will hold place of honour in the living room for as a long as I'm here.