Wednesday, May 25, 2016

SOME RAINY DAYS

We were blessed over the past weekend with about 2" accumulated rainfall!  The forecast for the coming weekend also includes some showers.  This is so welcome!

The irony of it was that last weekend was the first long weekend of the summer season.  In Canada we celebrate the third weekend in May as Victoria Day (on Monday) in memory of England's Queen Victoria.  Most people have off from work, and lots and lots of people go camping in the foothills to celebrate the coming summer season, pitching tents, camping trailers and hauling their ATV's.

This year that first long weekend was frigid, rainy, and in the foothills snowy.  Those who went camping got very muddy!  The snow didn't reach us, we're about 50 kilometres east of that, but we did have very cold, rainy weather.  The temperature hovered around 0ÂșC.  That made it a good weekend to be home, to do some quilting, to have a mug of hot chocolate and read a good novel.  I enjoyed it!

This is almost traditional weather for the Victoria Day long weekend.  Seven out of the last sixteen years that weekend has been cold, rainy and snowy.  But we did set a record this year--it was the COLDEST Victoria Day in forty years!  Home was the place to be.


SOME QUILTING AND GARDENING

The latest quilt is the result of a combination of problems.  I planned to make a "summer quilt" using the "Tradewinds" quilt top I recently made.  In the local quilt store I found a perfect fabric for backing, lightweight cotton in a lovely purple shade.  I bought 3 meters, took it home and washed it, using a "colour catcher" sheet to check if this material bled.  WOW, it sure did!  I washed it five times, and each time the colour catcher showed it was still losing lots of colour.  I can't use this for the backing of a good quilt, it would ruin the quilt.

I went back to the store and told them what had happened and showed them the 5 colour catchers.  They will contact the rep of the company they bought the fabric from and explain the problem and be reimbursed.  But, they said, we need to reimburse Louise too.  I had thought much about this and told them my plan.  Since the fabric cannot be used in a quilt, I thought I'd get another 3 meters and use the fabric on both sides of a light weight summer quilt.  That way it will be washed only, ever with just that fabric, so if it bleeds, it won't ruin anything else.  They immediately agreed to give me the extra 3 meters.  That way all my material is half priced, and I'm satisfied, and they've compensated me for that situation.

Over the weekend I washed and ironed the two pieces, which at 108" x 117" each, are very large pieces to deal with.  Then I laid out some 100% cotton batting bought a few years ago on the floor downstairs and smoothed one of the pieces over it, spray basted and smoothed everything out.  When I went to put the other purple on the back of the batting, I found out something strange: it was 2" wider than the bottom piece.  That's from selvedge to selvedge--from the same bolt.  Hard to understand how that can be.  So I rewashed it in warm water and dried it in the dryer twice.  It's still almost 2" wider than the first piece, but had shrunk in length by 1".  Well, whatever!

I made the three piece "sandwich" and marked off the quarter sections with masking tape to help me keep oriented when doing machine quilting.  So here's the great big quilt on the table.  Half of it has been quilted.
The line you see at the back of the quilt marks the middle.  There's that much fabric hanging down the other side.  It's really big.  Not as big as I had planned, though.  I was aiming at 105" x 105".  The fabric was supposed to be 108" wide.  It is actually 98" wide.  That's o.k. though, because that cotton batting is also just 98" wide.

Here's a close up of the meander machine quilting:

On another topic, our junipers are suffering a massive infestation of juniper/saskatoon rust.  This is a fungus that spends part of the year in junipers and part of the year in saskatoons.  To get rid of it we'd have to get rid of our four rows of saskatoon bushes in the shelter belt.  We just hope it doesn't damage the junipers too badly!

Yesterday S. planted the corn I'd grown in 4" pots in the greenhouse, starting the last week of April.  It was nicely rooted and vigorous looking.  Providing we have some warm, sunny weather it should do very well.

Not a whole lot, just 39 plants, but a good amount for fresh eating.  There is NOTHING more delicious than an ear of Peaches and Cream corn, picked, tossed into boiling water for one minute, taken out and served with butter, salt and pepper!

And we're trying this for a deer repellant:
Two aluminum pie plates hanging across one entrance to the vegetable garden, gently swaying and clanking in the breeze.  Since these were hung up there we haven't seen any deer in the garden.  I really hope this does the trick!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

THE OVEN OVERHEATED!

Saturday night is hamburger night here.  But we were out of buns, so I started them in the breadmaker, took out the dough and formed two trays of nice, big buns.  I always set the timer when there is something baking in the oven.  If I didn't I'd burn everything!

So I was shocked when about 8 minutes into baking the buns I smelled a "close to burning" smell and sensed too much heat.  Just as I went into the kitchen the smoke detector started shrilling.

The problem: I had put two large trays of buns on the top shelf of the oven.  That's the position I like for baking them, but I usually bake just one tray while the rest of the dough rises as a loaf of bread.  Today, because I want to go to town for a few items, I made all the dough into buns and tried to bake them at once.

I think because the oven shelf was completely full, the rising heat was not able to reach the sensor on top of the oven.  It kept calling for more and more heat.  I wonder how hot it became?  It surely smelled way over heated.

I turned the oven off and moved one of the trays down a shelf so the air could circulate.  I left the buns in the oven for the normal amount of time--the last half of their baking time the oven was off, but surely still hot enough.

So here they are:
The bottoms are singed, all right!  I think we'll be able to scrap that off.
The tops look fine.
But I guess the parchment paper is finished.

It's very, very rare that I burn anything.  I bake very carefully because I want good, even outstanding results.  I'll never fill up an oven shelf completely again!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

DIRTY WORK

Lots of people think it would be nice to work in a Garden Centre, surrounded by blooming flowers.  People often ask us if we need any help.  What they don't know that Garden Centre work, like gardening, is heavy, wet, dirty work.  Have you ever hauled around a long length of hose to water plants?  They are heavy.  Have you ever watered hanging baskets higher than your shoulders?  You get pretty wet!  Have you ever transplanted seedlings into pots?  You get very dirty!

We use gloves when we are working that way--cheap, thin, knitted gloves.  They are o.k. for most of the jobs we do.  But they get wet and dirty really quickly, so into the washer with them.  Then hang them out on the clothesline, because they take so long in the dryer.
Be sure you have more on hand by the backdoor, as you need lots of them!

On Tuesday I planted eleven rows of veggies in one of the garden beds: lettuce, spinach, carrots, beets, beans, etc.  But I found I'd forgotten to order pea seeds.  I'll have to buy some today in town, because I really love fresh peas from the garden, and I even enjoy sitting in the shade on a hot summer day shelling peas.  I freeze some too, to use over the course of winter, even though it's possible to buy good frozen peas.

Yesterday I planted out a lot of onion seedlings.  They had been seeded into small containers and were ready to be separated.  In fact, the roots were quite tangled, and the little onions had to be carefully teased apart, very much like untangling snarled yarn.
With careful "jiggling" they came apart without tearing off the roots.

We have raised beds in the garden, but they are only about 18" tall.  I can't squat or kneel for as long as needed to plant these, so I went to the storage shed and found a large, fairly strong plastic pail, the sort a tree would come in, to sit on.  That worked quite well.

Some time later the task was finished.  The little onions were in a row around the periphery of the potato bed.

I hadn't worn gloves for this job, so my left hand needed a good scrubbing!
The rest of me needed some cleaning up as well.

The weather changed overnight.  Now it's much cooler and windy, so I'm thankful that the planting is finished for a few days.  Next week I'll plant the corn and the squash, which have also been growing in the greenhouse for a few weeks.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

TURNING TWENTY

There's been a very large ziplock bag of bright children's material in my quilting closet for a few years.  Just the very thing for a "Turning Twenty" quilt to donate to Fort McMurray.  Monday evening I got the fabric out and began cutting.  "Turning Twenty" is a very simple, quick pattern, and gets its name from the fact that it calls for twenty fat quarters to make the quilt.

I didn't have twenty fat quarters, but I had lots of odds and ends big enough to cut out the necessary pieces: a 3 1/2" x 16 1/2" piece, a 6 1/2" x 16 1/2" piece, a 10 1/2" x 10 1/2" piece, and a 6 1/2" x 10 1/2" piece.  That evening I cut fourteen of each of those pieces.

Tuesday afternoon and evening the quilting group had a get together to plan next year's agenda.  We gathered at one member's home at 3 p.m. and hashed out all our plans and issues.  Now I have to get them typed up into minutes and emailed out for the members to check and see if everything was included.

When we finished all that we gathered in the kitchen to put together our "potluck" supper.  It's always fun to see what's on the menu!  This year we had one hot casserole, a pot of chicken soup, some pigs in the blanket and some cheese biscuits.  There were two macaroni salads, one lettuce/tomato salad and one jello, whipped cream, fruit salad.  And there were six or seven desserts!  Probably because last year we were very skimpy on desserts!  Of course, each dessert needs to be sampled!  Talk about feeling too full!

Wednesday morning I cut the remaining pieces and started sewing.  But 6 p.m. the quilt top was finished except for the top and bottom borders.  I took a break and after watching the evening news went to finish the two borders, about a 15 minute job--so I thought.  An hour later it was finally completed--a task that had included cutting down one of the borders pieces which was too long for its spot, and taking out seams around one of the blocks to cut down another piece (same material) which was also too big.

Here's the finished top:














Hopefully this will brighten some child's heart--some child who has been through trauma and loss in the fire disaster.

I've also been struggling with the backing of the Tradewinds quilt I'm working on.  I found some perfect fabric, a purple with a small print, nice and lightweight as it's to be a summer quilt.  I pre washed with a colour catcher sheet and then rewashed with a sheet.  I did that four times and the colour catcher sheets turned just as pink every time.  I soaked the 3 meters for a whole morning in cold water with vinegar and salt, as per instructions on the net.  Then I washed it again and again the colour catcher turned just as dark pink. I don't dare to use that fabric.  I could ruin my beautiful batik quilt.  I guess I just have to source some other backing fabric.  Sometimes there are problems along the way!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

DEER PROOF

The deer continue their depredations on our landscape and vegetable garden.  So far we've planted a bed full of potatoes, which are not showing above the soil yet, and renovated our strawberry bed.  The strawberry bed is covered with large, heavy wooden frames with screening over them.  Pretty soon it's time to sow seeds for our summer's vegetables.

I had two good Butter Lettuce heads growing in a container on the back patio which the deer dined on, reducing them to little stalks.  Fortunately the lettuce are growing back.  There's also a container of spinach.  Now I hide both the spinach and the lettuce under lawn chairs on that patio over night.

For Mother's Day I took a beautiful hybrid rose bush from the greenhouse, planted it in a big pot with five sprigs of ivy surrounding it and placed it also on the back patio.  Just right now Jim is bringing some planters filled with purple and yellow pansies to set beside the house on the east side.  Such beautiful flowers.  To protect the rose I found a large cardboard box that I can put over the bush at night.

I knew that deer did not like and would not eat daffodils, but it seems that they also avoid the perennial Spurge which is spread around the front yard plantings.  There are even a few tulips amidst the Spurge which have not been touched.  This is quite a discovery!  The Spurge are the greeny-yellow flowers.  They are flourishing!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

ALBERTA ON FIRE

Several friends and relatives have expressed concern for us in relation to the devastating fire at Fort McMurray.  So I've clipped this map that also shows the distance.  If there were an expressway direct from Three Hills to Fort McMurray and you got on and drove at a steady 100 km/hour, equivalent to 60 mph, it would take you close to 6 hours to reach the Fort.  Of course, the roads are not like that and you would have to get through or around Edmonton which would delay you some.










But, anyway, that gives you some idea of the distance.  Because the winds are generally west to east, we haven't even had smoke from that fire.  However, all of Alberta is extremely dry, and all of Alberta is under a fire ban, meaning, no outdoor fires permitted at all, not in burning barrels, not in campgrounds, nowhere.

Fort McMurray has been devastated, large areas completely destroyed.  90,000 people were evacuated with just 5 minutes notice.  Please pray for those people.  If you have it in your heart to help them, you can donate to Red Cross and indicate that it is for Fort McMurray.