Saturday, September 27, 2014

Second Finish in One Week!

This coming Tuesday our quilt club will go to the local "Continuing Care" to donate several quilts for the comfort of those patients.  
The quilt I had intended to donate was the one my friend Susan chose this past week. So I realized I needed to finish up one of the other tops I made earlier this summer.  Since this was also intended to go to Continuing Care, this is the one I finished yesterday.

I stitched "in the ditch" between each of the blocks and between the blocks and the border, using invisible thread.  That will hold it pretty well.  But the blocks needed some stitching also.  So, with the invisible thread I stitched the quarter circles around the fans and around the "hand holds" at the corners of the blocks.  That left the full fabric blocks.

Quilting is so much a matter of making decisions: what pattern? what material combinations? what arrangement of blocks? what quilting patterns to hold it together?  I chose to echo the shape of the fans, and then had to make up a method to achieve that?  Here's my solution: use the cardboard template to echo the hand-hold.  Stitch it with two pink threads at the same time, in order for it to be "deeply coloured" enough to stand out on the black background print.

So far, so good.  What next?  Because it was very hard to make any temporary marks on the black background fabric to guide my stitching I came up with this:  I cut a 16" strip of blue masking tape into 1/4" wide strips.  Found a pleasing arrangement to imitate the fan design, and stitched alongside the tape with the same doubled pink thread.  I had to be sure to always stitch of the left side of the tape, or the sections would have been unequal.

I like the result.  Now I have five sections to stitch in the manner, snip a few hanging threads and the quilt is finished!  And it's not even due until next Tuesday 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Quilting Fun

In stark contrast to last week when I did no sewing, this week so far has been practically nothing but sewing!  What a blast!

On Monday my friend Susan, who often gives me odds 'n ends of fabric, lots really, asked if I would be willing to make a small quilt for her from some little boy printed flannels.  Of course, I'd be delighted.  She brought over seven different materials.

I thought at first that a sized-down "Turning Twenty" would look good.  But as soon as I had made it, I decided it was a "no go."  The orange and yellow are too dominant!

That was Tuesday morning.  I needed a different idea.  But I had another obligation: I was teaching "Delectable Mountains" at our local quilt club from 1 p.m. to about 8 p.m. on Tuesday, so I had to set aside Susan's quilt.

Wednesday morning I was back at it.  I had actually cut out four of the above quilts.  They would be small lap quilts, finishing at about 36" x 36".
So I rethought the project and came up
a different idea.  This was more like it!  By Wednesday noon I had this top put together.  I took both over to her house, and she agreed that the second idea is totally the way to go.

In the afternoon my friend S. and I sorted material, so there was no sewing done that afternoon.

This morning I finished sorting and "filing" material.  Everything was organized again, and I had time to sew.  I made the "sandwich" and did the machine quilting, using stitch in the ditch, which went very fast and looks good.

Then I did the binding, a 2 5/8" bias strip which I sewed first to the back and then turned over the folded edge and edge stitched it to the front.  I should have cut the binding a little wider as it had to be pulled over pretty tight, but it's good.  It's very rare for me to finish a quilt with a light coloured binding.  I usually feel that they need a "frame" much like a picture does.  But somehow this quilt called for the yellow for a binding.  I really like the way it finishes it.

Here's a close up of that cute print:

The final quilt did not use all the fabrics.  The orange and one of the lighter diamond prints were left out.  They can always go into another quilt, right?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

No Sewing

The past week and a half there was no time for sewing.  Happily, I did manage to finish up several tasks that had been bugging me.

On Monday I cleaned the garage and Jim and I made a trip to the recycle centre.  Wow, I sure like how the garage looks, quite a bit neater.

I also invited S. and her sister and her daughter in law to come and raid my stash of knitting yarn.  It has accumulated over the years to fill several bins in the garage, some drawers in the sewing room and a shelf or two in the sewing room cabinet.  There were some real finds in there: balls and balls of White Buffalo yarn, bought at a bargain in Woodwards in Lethbridge in the 70's and never used.  (There's a lesson here: buy yarn ONLY for a particular project, not on spec.  Same goes for quilting cottons.)  There were a few projects near completion, one in particular: a lovely sweater/coat in beige with intarsia in a varicoloured yarn.  Very pretty, but going to turn out to small for me to wear.  I started that in 2008.  I didn't like how loose the knitting was on the suggested needles and so I moved down a size.  In the meantime I, myself, moved up a size.  The discrepancy was too large to overcome and I couldn't think of a good solution.  Giving it to someone who would finish it and enjoy wearing it was the best way to go.

Tuesday I went to R.D. for my biyearly mammogram.

Wednesday and Thursday I worked on cleaning our car, a 2000 Toyota Camry, which had not had a cleaning for over a year.  It was surprisingly still not too bad.  The exterior had been washed by rain showers a few times.  Plus, it's that ubiquitous silver colour that was so popular about that time, and that doesn't show the dirt too badly.  The mats were the worst part.  I put them on the patio and vacuumed them thoroughly.  Then I scrubbed them with a strong solution of Folex Instant Carpet Spot Remover, and rinsed them again and again with a power washer.  When the rinse water was coming off fairly clear, I hung them up on the clothesline to dry, sidewise, with many spring clothespins.  It worked like a charm.  They were cleaner than they had been for years, and were dry before suppertime.  The Folex worked many times better than the Bissell rug shampoo I usually use.

Friday I finally got around to washing windows.  This was a wonderful week to do that; the weather has been super nice.  I had washed windows earlier in the summer but there were the two windows by my sewing machine that hadn't been cleaned for over a year, and one in our bedroom.  What a treat to have clean, sparkling windows.  And especially, to see the white vinyl sills clean again.

This morning I scrubbed up all the bird shit stains on the balcony flooring, and rinsed it all with the hose.  Ahh!  Looks very good for now!

What a lot can be accomplished if I just stay away from the sewing machine for a while!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Abundant Apples

This has been a banner year for apples.  Our trees are loaded.  Here's the Kerr (apple/crab) that is part of the backyard deck.  It produces every other year and you can make very nice apple juice from these apples.

We planted that tree and then built the deck around it.  In the background are some of the raised vegetable beds in the garden.

This next
is a Dolgo Crab Apple Tree.  The apples are small, bright red and oblong.  They make a very nice, deep pink applesauce.
I haven't made any this year because we still have lots in the freezer.

I tend to freeze, not can, most produce because I always have trouble with lids not sealing.  Freezing eliminates that problem.

Also as part of the deck is what we call the "old apple tree" which was in the front when we bought this property.  We had it moved to the back.  We don't know what variety of apple this is, but we do know that you need to wait until a good frost has passed over it for the apples to be mellow.  This is also good for sauce, and I've also used it to make apple wine.

The tree itself is just bowed down beneath the weight of all the apples.  It has already dropped whole baskets full on the deck flooring.

These are just three of the apple trees we've planted here.  There are several more.  One of them near the #1 greenhouse produces excellent apples which we've already picked. I made two batches of apple butter this past week.

Here's a picture of the batch that I bottled yesterday morning.  I like to start by making fresh apple sauce in the afternoon, then packing that into the crockpot for a slow overnight simmer.  In the morning I take off the lid and let it cook down (on medium) to about 2/3 of what went in.  Then I bottle it in pint or cup jars that have been soaking in boiling water, slip on a lid,  and set them on towels to cool.  It's a delight to hear the lids snapping shut, sealed until we need the contents.

Put 12 cups of (fresh) applesauce (unsweetened) into a crockpot.
4 cups of dark brown sugar (Demerara)
6 tsp. cinnamon
3 tsp. allspice
3 tsp. cloves
3 tsp. nutmeg
Cook on high until it begins to bubble.  Cook on medium or low (depending on how hot your crockpot is) for about 12 hours, stirring every now and then.  Take off the cover (or put it ajar to catch the spatters but still let out the steam) and cook until the apple butter is reduced by about 1/3.  Use your judgement according to how thick you like the apple butter.  Spoon into hot, sterilized jars and top with clean, hot lids.  Screw the bands on tight and place the jars, spaced apart, on some towels to protect the countertop.  Listen for the snap.

This is especially delicious on cinnamon/raisin bagels, but I'm sure you can think of many other uses!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Winter? Gardening

I went out to pick what's left in the garden this morning.  It was cold!  Right around the freezing mark.  I found lots to pick, but after I finished I had to warm my hands for about 15 minutes before they stopped hurting from the cold! Here are the peas and beans.

The beans are a little hard to see because they are Royal Burgundy, which are purple when on the plant, but turn green when cooked.
I grow only the Royal Burgundy beans because even when they become quite large they aren't very "fat."  The seeds don't become too large and the bean is still good to eat.

My favourite variety of peas is Green Arrow.  They have fairly long pods and average 8 to even 12 peas per pod.  They don't mind this very cool, wet weather.  There are still plenty pods on the vines, which is a wonder after the deer have munched on the tops of the vines and the slugs have despoiled the bottoms.  We're due for warmer weather over the weekend, so I left the underdeveloped pods in the hopes of another meal or two next week.

I believe that this fresh produce picked this morning to be eaten this noon contains the most health-promoting food stuffs there are.  Besides, they simply taste so superior!

It was a very poor summer for some crops: rhubarb and raspberries, at least here on our place.  I picked rhubarb only once, but used it in a recipe my friend M. gave me.  It's delicious:
Put 5 cups of cup up rhubarb in a 9" square pan.
Sprinkle with 1 1/2 TBS lemon juice.  (I forgot to do this and it didn't hurt the pudding.)
Mix together:
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 TBS margerine
1/2 cup milk
Spoon this mixture over the rhubarb.
Mix together:
1 cup and 2 TBS sugar
1 TBS corn starch
1/4 tsp. salt
Spoon this mixture over top of what's in the pan already.
Pour 3/4 cup of boiling water over all.
Bake at 375ºF for 40 to 60 minutes.

Enjoy warm (with vanilla ice cream, of course!)

Monday, September 8, 2014


Yesterday the thermometer read 24ºC at about 4:30 p.m.  Soon after that a cold front arrived and the temperature fell rapidly.  During the night it rained.  It was raining this morning when I got up.  Some time this morning rain turned to snow.  At times today it snowed heavily.  When our friend Jan came for dinner at 2 p.m. she said there were white-out conditions on her drive from town (just a mile and quarter, fortunately).  Now the snow is falling lightly but steadily.  The greenhouses, sales building, shrubs and trees are all snow covered.

There will probably be some damage to tree limbs as it's a heavy, wet snow and all the leaves are still on the trees and shrubs.  I had hoped to pick apples today, but don't really feel like doing that in this weather.  Better luck tomorrow!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Two Weeks

These past two weeks have just whizzed by!  When I last wrote on a Saturday, I was preparing to play for a church service.  It had been a whole year since I touched an organ.  My friend Jan gave me a key to her church (which we formerly attended) so that I could practice on the organ there.

I was surprised to find a new (hand-me-down) organ there, much nicer and bigger than what they had before.  That was a treat!  Then I had a second, nice surprise: my feet still knew where to find the pedals!  I thoroughly enjoyed that practice time, even though I had decided to simply play hymns for prelude, offertory and postlude, as I hadn't had time to prepare more complicated music.

Tomorrow will be the third Sunday that Jim and I go to Rocky Mountain House, he to preach and I to play organ for the morning service there.  We are usually invited for those three Sundays when their regular pastor is on holidays.  Last year we still did both the morning and evening service, but we both found that was a little too much effort for these senior citizens!  They agreed this year to have us come for just the morning service.  We always enjoy that congregation, and I especially enjoy playing organ for a group that sings so heartily!

Then on Monday, August 25, Dear Son #2, his wife and two daughters arrived for a visit.  We love having kids and grandkids over, but it does make it busy!  We had a really good visit with them, including attending the RCMP Musical Ride here in our little town.  Quite an event!  Even the girls (somewhat blasé teens) enjoyed it.  They visited Bow Valley Museum in Calgary one day, and also spent a day at Heritage Park.  Both are very worthwhile to take in.

And on Saturday DDIL, I and the DGDS went to Cross Iron Mills to do some pre-school clothes shopping.  To say the mall was crowded is an understatement!  So many people!  So many sales!  It was very noticeable to me that Caucasians were in the minority.  There were shoppers there from every corner of the globe, it seemed.  Perhaps the Inuit were the only group not represented.

What was very noticeable also was that, though the mall was crowded, there didn't seem to be any cross, angry people.  Everyone was pleasant and courteous.  It was a good time!

We got home a little too late to make our usual Saturday hamburgers, so we called ahead and the DS ordered pizza, which we all enjoyed.

The next morning we left for Rocky Mountain House at 7:15 a.m. and they left for B.C. at 8:30.

It has been a wonderful year for visit with the family.  I've seen everyone except #1 grandson, who is teaching in Japan.  Next year we hope to have everyone here at once around Thanksgiving,  to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary, which happens in June.

This past week I concentrated on the machine quilting I had started before all that.

This quilt is having the binding hand
stitched to the back:

The two folded quilts on the dresser are completely finished.  The quilt on the ironing board has been machine quilted and needs the binding sewed on.

Underneath it are three more lap quilts that need to be machine quilted.

On the design wall is a lap quilt that has all the blocks made but not sewed together.

I wonder how much of this I will be able to finish this month!