Sunday, April 23, 2017

ALMOST TWO THIRDS

 
Almost two thirds of the blocks for the new quilt are now finished.  This photo shows the right hand two thirds (almost).  This second photo shows how the blocks are put together.  There is one large square block, surrounded by four oblong blocks with 4 small square blocks as cornerstones. 

I should have taken apart the block on the right as that one has all the parts in place.  This block needs the lefthand bottom cornerstone, the left oblong and the left upper cornerstone added.  

Each block is made exactly the same, but because the squares of some are cut 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" (the large square blocks), others are cut 2 1/2" x 1 1/2"(the oblong blocks), and some are cut 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" (the small square blocks), they turn out differently.  But each block has the same amount of seams and the same construction.

Right now they are laid out on the backs of two cheap vinyl, flannel-backed tablecloths.  That way they can be rolled up, transported, and still be kept in the same order.  Before I sew the blocks together I will do some repositioning, as there are places where identically coloured squares meet.  I want to keep it as random as possible.

There are three more of the big square blocks sewn and one more of the small squares.  That's 32 out of 53 finished.  So I'm feeling past the "doldrums" on this quilt.  There's always a slog through the middle part of making a quilt.  Beginnings are exciting, and galloping toward the finish line is also gratifying.  I'm not there by a long shot yet, but am feeling much more hopeful.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

TREE REMOVAL

There is a blight in certain trees on our property: Maydays, Schubert Choke Cherries, others of that family.  It results in "cankers" -- black nodes on the branches.  Eventually it will kill a tree.  One Mayday just by the garden was severely infected.  Yesterday Jim took his hand saw and started taking limbs off.




This is what was left of the tree this morning when I left for my walk with M.


Just as we finished our walk we heard the tractor and saw Jim leaving the driveway, dragging that last upright section behind, heading for our little "dump" of vegetation in the corner of our field that lies south of the buildings.

Seems like quite an accomplishment for a 79 year old fellow!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A GOOD BOOK AND A RECIPE

My friend M. loaned me a book last Saturday, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.  It's one of those that you can't put down.  So I finished it yesterday.  I highly recommend it!  It's about a recently retired man who is at loose ends.  Although he and his wife still live in the same house, they are effectively estranged.  He is also estranged from their son, an only child.  There are hints of past tragedy.

Harold receives a letter from a colleague with whom he worked whom he had not be in contact with for the last 20 years.  It was brief and stated that she wanted him to know that she was in the last stages of an inoperable cancer and was in a hospice.  He wrote a reply and when he went to mail it the next morning he somehow kept on walking, past several post boxes and out of town.  It was the beginning of a walk of over 600 miles, begun without thought or preparation, or even a goodbye.

Now, how can a book that begins like that be interesting?  Well, it's about character development.  This is one of the best books I've read lately.  I read three or four books a week, and this is one that I am enthusiastic about.  If you like to read books about people and their relationships, you don't want to miss this book!

Now, a new recipe.  This was given to me, also by M., as "Harvest Loaf."  I've changed it somewhat and now it's "Pumpkin Muffins."

PUMPKIN MUFFINS
Mix together:
1/2 cup of packed brown sugar
2 eggs
3 TBS canola oil
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup cut up dates or raisins

In a separate container mix together:
1 1/2 cups white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ginger

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until all is moist.  If the mix is too wet, add some whole wheat flour.

Spoon into muffin cups (parchment preferred) and bake in a 350ยบ oven for 25 minutes.
Cool and store in an airtight container.  Can be frozen.

These are very nice just plain, heated, but also go very well, split, with a bit of cream cheese spread.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

YEP, A PLAY DAY

 You wouldn't think that a play day meant standing by the cutting table, cutting 3" and 2 1/2" squares all morning, would you?
But that's what happened.  Dig through all the leftovers and scraps.  Press and cut, and soon there are enough squares for half of a planned lap quilt.

The tall piles contain 120 cut squares.  I found a few ready made 1/2 square triangles.  And even cut a few more 3" and 2 1/2" squares for the second half.

In a few weeks I will spend a day sewing at IDA where we have a fine fabric section, complete with thread and notions, even yarn for knitting.  If we didn't have that here in town, we'd have to drive a hour to access a fabric store.  So I try my best to support our local quilt shop.  The plan is that I will demonstrate a Split 9 Patch some day this summer, by sewing in the fabric department for most of the day.  In preparation for that I'm cutting squares.  

Now I think it's time to start sewing on the big project, the Entwined Quilt.  It would be nice to make some progress on that quilt.

PLAY DAY


When the day is like this I retreat to my sewing room and play with fabric!
I took a video of the snow falling, but it doesn't transfer properly to the blog, so we'll settle for the photo.


A TIME TO PLANT

Remember that song from the 60's, Turn, Turn, Turn?  A community choir here is learning a very nice arrangement of that for a concert.  One of the lines (from Ecclesiastes) goes: A time to plant, a time to reap....

Yesterday was my time to plant.  We've done a lot of transplanting this spring, taking finger-nail sized plants from trays of 500 and placing them in the 4- and 6-packs in which they are sold.  That's pretty boring work!  And very dirty!  I wrote about that recently.

Well, yesterday I did some seeding.  Here are the pots I seeded:

From the left: a lone Buttercrunch Lettuce in an oval pot.  These are THE BEST lettuces to buy in the supermarket.  They come in individual plastic containers and still have the root attached.  They stay alive in the fridge for ages, opposite from other lettuces that very soon turn slimy.  This time of the year I save the last few leaves and the root and plant the lettuce in a pot.  It will spread its roots and keep on producing.  I can pick the outside leaves, enough for a salad, once a week, and the plant will continue to produce more leaves.  Later I'll add another plant to this pot and have a continuous supply of absolutely fresh lettuce.

There are several rather large (4" pots), each containing one corn kernel.  By the end of May, each of these 40 pots will have a nice, sturdy corn plant, ready to go into the garden bed and produce ripe corn (if the weather cooperates) by the end of July.  There is NOTHING as nice as an ear of corn, picked 5 minutes ago, boiled for 1 minute and dressed with butter, salt and pepper!  Food to be savoured!

You can barely see a rim of a blue ceramic pot behind the corn.  There are a few basil seeds in that.  Hopefully the will sprout and there will be a pot of fresh basil on the patio this summer.

The oblong pot to the right rear has a dark leaf variety of lettuce.  Another pot for the patio growing fresh salad greens.

The oval pot has been seeded with spinach.  This is just for now and will also be on the patio.  Quite soon lettuce and spinach can be seeded in the garden beds.  But this gives a jump start to harvesting fresh greens.

In front of the oval pot is a rectangle of Walla Walla Onions.  I sewed whatever seed was still in the packet from last year and hope to have some fresh, sweet onions in the garden beds.  I'll have to hide them in the middle of the corn or potatoes because the deer ate even the onions in the garden last summer!  Because of the deer depredations last year I plan to grow only corn, squash and potatoes in the beds this summer.  I'm just not interested in providing tender bean and pea plants for the "Deer Buffet" this year!

And last, but not least are several small pots that have three "Sweet Million" tomatoes seeded.  These will be transplanted to larger pots when they have grown sufficiently.  Some of these will be on the patio, and some will join the large tomato pots that we plan to keep in the #2 greenhouse over summer this year.  Have you ever tried the Sweet Million salad tomatoes?  Actually, most of them are eaten right off the vine, whenever one of us happens to pass by and see a few red, ripe gems.

This was dirty work to get it all seeded, but worthwhile.  I hope to have some wonderful fresh eating from this salad "buffet."

Sunday, April 9, 2017

NO PROGRESS

Not such an inspiring Title to this post!  Last Monday I wrote about how well the big, new quilt is coming along.  Well, that was it for this past week.

I don't know where the time went, but when I did go to quilting in the country group I decided to take along two unfinished projects.  One was a very large purple quilt that I made last year.   I had bought some 108" wide backing and found it didn't stop bleeding in the wash.  So I got another 3 meters and made a not-so-heavy quilt with just the purple.  That way it will be washed by itself and not have a chance to spoil any other material.

The other project was just a "use up what's left" idea.  Some years ago I made two lap quilts from fruit and vegetable prints.  There were some fabric scraps left and sometime during the past year I started sewing them on half squares along with a green and black print.  I used up pretty much all of the fruit/veggie fabric and then cooked up a layout:


It's 36" x 36" and will make a nice table topper.  I hope to finish this this week.  The last Tuesday of April the town quilting group will have its "Show and Tell" to which we invite lots of friends.  We display what we've made and then have snacks and sometimes some games.  It's always a fun time.  And, since I have very few things to show--just this and the finished donation quilt, I'll take along some older quilts that haven't been shown lately.

I plan to use a simple fabric for the batting and the same green print for the back and the binding.