Tuesday, December 12, 2017

LATEST SOCKS

Last Friday I woke up feeling like myself again.  What a surprise!  There were still a few "hurdles" to accomplish, but today is my first day completely free of headaches and feverish feelings.  What a blessing!

I was able to go back to my latest sock knitting project:
This is a pair for our grandson, Zack who has a birthday on December 20.  I made a pair of socks for Zack some years ago and he loved them.  So here's a new pair, made with Patons Kroy Sock yarn, a colour called "Singing the Blues."  I like how they are turning out.  

When I use self striping yarn I try to get the two socks to match, by pulling out the yarn end from both balls (socks take two 50 gram balls) until I have a colour match.  Thought I had it here, but it's a little off.  The finished sock ends with three repeats of the medium blue.  This second sock with need four repeats of that blue stripe instead of three.  Hope that doesn't matter!  I don't think Zack will mind.

Also today my quilt club back home in Alberta held its annual Christmas party.  We have some fun with gifts each year.  We don't draw names, but we each bring a hand made gift representing about $15 to $20 worth of materials--or whatever.  I had a bit of fun with that this year: I bought a gift certificate to IDA where we buy our yarns and fabrics, wrapped it in a little note that was a gift certificate for a pair of made-to-measure, hand-knit socks that I will make for the person who dared to choose as their gift a tiny envelope.  I wonder who will get the socks!  And I wonder what present my friend Carroll picked for me!  Lots of fun!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

BEEN SICK

I've been missing in action here--been quite ill with a variety of infections and headaches. It was diagnosed last Friday as Sinusitis and I've been taking antibiotics since then, but am still troubled with headaches and feverish times.  If I'm not recovered by Monday, when the antibiotic series is complete, I'd better go back and get some more help.  Hope to be back in action pretty soon.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

A COMMENT

A comment arrived in my email--sometimes the comment section just won't work; email me instead and I will publish it.  My cousin Joan wrote: I was beginning to think that Marcy was working on an elephant costume for a play or next Halloween.  Also, I was glad that it's your project and not mine!

Well strictly speaking it's Marcy's project, but that makes it mine, too.  I still really like that pattern.  I'm eager to see how it turns out when it's all sewed together!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

FUNNY

I tried to reply to Kathy's comment, but it doesn't publish, so I'll do it this way:
Well, we can look into that!
A note to others: She's my daughter, so it's possible I'd make her a jacket like this.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

YES, A JACKET

Yes, this is a jacket from a VERY interesting pattern:


We're making the light beige version on the right.  Marcy picked a very appropriate fabric, a charcoal knit with a fair bit of "body."  She has the nifty button and frog for it.  We still need to sew in the sleeves and turn the huge collar inside to make it a facing.  I think it will be very stylish and very comfortable.  In fact I like the pattern so well I bought a copy for myself.  

We are both puzzled that it's labelled "EASY stitch 'n save" as this pattern is NOT easy at all.  I have about 65 years of experience in sewing clothing, but I have to read the pattern carefully to figure out what goes where.  Marcy is gone on a Caribbean cruise right now, so there's no progress being made at the moment.

I had a dear friend since High School/College days visiting the last 10 days, and thus didn't have time to sew anyway.  This Thursday Dear Son #1 will arrive for a visit.  December looks to be as busy as Decembers usually are!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

REGARDING WHAT IS IT?

Clue: It's a garment of some sort that Marcy is making for herself.

Monday, November 20, 2017

WHAT IS IT?


Marcy and I are deep into a sewing project.  Who can figure out what this is?

Friday, November 10, 2017

I LIKE THIS

Just now I hung the new Thanksgiving Banner on the patio wall.




This was a panel to which I added a colourful border.  Appropriate for November here in AZ!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Bye Bye Hide-a-bed

 Last Saturday was quite busy.  In the morning Marcy and I were sewing together.  Rather, we were trying to sew together.  We had just endless troubles with our machines.  One of the problems was the material, a fairly dense stretchy knit.  There were SO MANY skipped stitches.  We tried all sorts of fixes.  We also discovered that the tension on the bobbin was so tight that the thread could not be threaded through the proper slots.  We fixed that and we tried other needles.  Yesterday I bought some ball point needles.  I looked for stretch needles but didn't find any.

Then shortly after she left Dear Son #2 called and we had a nice phone visit.  He gave me some good news: dear granddaughter #2 had been the highest scoring grade 4 piano student in their area.  She was invited to play in a concert and receive a trophy, and she will do that.  We're so proud of her!  Then he mentioned that the four of them would like to come for a visit the week after Christmas.  WONDERFUL!

While I was still on the phone with him these fellows who work in the village showed up to pick up the old hide-a-bed.   When we bought the new one we moved the old one to the patio, but it isn't really patio furniture.  Goodwill won't pick up anything that involves beds or bedding, so what to do?  We were told that the workers here, pretty much all of whom are immigrants from Mexico or countries in South America are very willing to remove any furniture that we want to give away.
About five or six fellows from Guatemala showed up and loaded the hide-a-bed on their truck.  We were happy to give it away and they were happy to receive it.
I hope it stayed on the truck all the way home!

Last night I finished a pair of socks for the Dear One's birthday.  That's in December, but I didn't see a reason to wait until them to give them to him.  As he said, It's not a secret.  They are the beige pair.  

The blue ones are for my sister's husband.  They are flying in from Michigan today and will have dinner with us this evening and I'll put the socks beside his plate for a surprise.  He loves these hand-knit socks and uses them to keep his feet warm in bed.

So when the Dear One's socks were finished (before bedtime) I cast on another pair.  The blue and grey striped sock will be for a grandson's birthday in December.

I went to Michael's yesterday to buy some yarn for his socks and found that Patons Kroy Sock yarn is on sale this week.  Just $4.99 a ball--a pair of socks takes two of these 50g balls.  So I bought enough for three pairs of socks.  At the checkout another 10% was taken off.  WOW!  I should go back to load up on sock yarn.  Except that I now have 12 balls of sock yarn in the closet.  That's not counting the two for Zack's socks, the newest pair on the needles.  Maybe that's enough?

Friday, November 3, 2017

BEFORE AND AFTER

Last week all our time in the Sewing Room was spent sorting fabrics.  We received two enormous donations, having already received another rather large donation earlier.  Because this is a 55+ community we do experience the loss of members frequently.  Some die, some move to care centers.  Often their heirs are confronted with a house full of accumulated  possessions, and this sometimes includes a sewing room and we are often the recipients of that accumulation.

One of the donations was HUGE!!!  It was only when we were almost finished sorting that we thought of taking this picture:

This doesn't begin to show you the PILE of boxes and bags.  There were at least a dozen of the big black garbage bags filled with material and accessories for quilting.  Joan and I both took home a new, clamp-on magnifying light for our sewing tables.  I also "inherited" a 6" x 24" quilting ruler and a cutting mat.  In addition to the bags there were maybe six or seven big cardboard boxes also full of fabric.  It was overwhelming!

We made piles of this and that kind of material: pieces large enough for quilt backings, medium sized cuts, maybe a yard or half a yard, fat quarters (18" x 22"--a standard quilting cut), cut squares of several sizes, 2 1/2" strips, and even several half finished projects.  The quilt in my last post was one of them.

And this was only one of three donations in the past three weeks!

Quilters prefer to use only 100% cotton fabrics and many of these fabrics were cotton/polyester, slinky knits, dressy materials or even drapery fabrics.  There were bags of lace.  All of these other fabrics went back into boxes and bags.  Joan and her husband stuffed their car full and took them to Goodwill to donate them there.

Finally the sewing room was almost back to normal.  
 

Now we have to go through all the materials that we saved and ask each other: Will we ever use this piece?  We need to do a further cull.  Otherwise there is enough fabric here for each of us quilters to sew with until we're 100 years old!  And there would probably be some left then.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

AN INTERESTING SHRUB

Before The Dear One had his Garden Centre, I would have called this a "bush" but now that I know it's a "shrub" it's kind of hard to say "bush."  Leave that for "W".

I call it a "Purple Flower Bush" oops, Shrub.  It has a botanical name, but I don't know what that is.  It's very pretty.  The picture doesn't really do it justice.  And very interesting: Every day it is covered with these pretty purple flowers.  At night it drops them and the next day it produces a whole new crop.  How does it do that?

Friday, October 27, 2017

JUST A LITTLE QUICK PROJECT

Last Saturday my friend Marcy and I were in the sewing room when a realtor we know stopped by and delivered several (lots and lots) of boxes and very large garbage bags full of materials.  She had listed a home here in the village of a woman who had entered a care facility.  I don't know how that woman stored all of this fabric.  Marcy and I called Joan and she came over to the sewing room.  The three of us worked all morning sorting the fabrics.  Quite a few were good for quilting, but there were also a lot that we sent on to Goodwill.  By a lot I mean that Joan and John's car was STUFFED with boxes and bags of fabric.

Thursday is our regular quilting day.  When I arrived at the sewing room Joan was busy sorting another fabric donation.  She and I worked until 12:30 that day, sorting and putting away more and more and more fabric.   From this donation we are sending 6 large cardboard boxes and 4 large garbage bags of fabric to Goodwill. There were also some half finished projects.  I took two of those home with me and last night I was going to finish one of them.

This is fabric that is already quilted.  I just needed to apply some binding.  That didn't go without problems, though.  There was some deep pink double fold binding with the project and I began applying that to the edge.  It was going well.  This wasn't going to take much time at all!  And then, slightly past half-way the binding ran out.  Awww!  I went to the sewing room in the Community Center to see if there was any more of that binding in the last bag of "give away."  No luck.  But I did find some other, slightly light pink binding and took that home with me.

This afternoon I ripped off the deep pink binding--yes, literally ripped it off.  Then I applied the new binding, finishing it nicely with a bias seam to join the ends.  Of course, if you do a 45º angle seam on bias binding, you are no longer on the bias but on the straight grain.  It turned out well, I thought.  It will be useful to someone.

When I put the finished quilt back in the bag it came in I found an unopened package of the deep pink binding.  Oops!  Could have finished it last night if I realized there was more of the binding in the bag.

Then I started on the second second-hand project.  This was a little more complicated.  It was a 40" x 42" quilt top of strips, serged together.  I pressed all the seams carefully in one direction.  There was a piece of backing just the right size.  I went to the Sewing Room and picked up a piece of left-over batting that just fit this project.  But there was no binding for this project, so I finished it another way:  I spray basted the batting to the backing and then laid the quilt top on the backing, right sides together.  I pinned it carefully all around the edges to keep it from shifting and sewed all but about 12" on one side, turned the quilt right side out and stitched the 12" shut by hand.

This needs to be machine quilted, but I don't have the right thread here.  I'll have to go back to the sewing room tomorrow and see what thread there is for machine quilting it.  I'll post a picture of that quilt as soon as it's finished.

So, two quick easy finishes in just a few days.  These will go to the "Love House"--a local shelter for abused and abandoned children.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

TWO FINISHES

Last Friday at Art Group I finished the basket of fruit picture.  I guess I'm satisfied with it. It was a "lesson" picture in a workbook.  I did change it just a bit, especially in that I gave it a background.  The original was also very light.

And just now I completed and hung up in the second bedroom the quilt I started the middle of August when DD#2 and the two wonderful grandkids left after a week's visit.


That was originally a paper piecing pattern for a placemat.  I drafted it up a whole lot and then took fabrics from my stash to create it.  The red is a bought fabric.  There just wasn't an appropriate fabric in the stash.  I'm calling it "Autumn" because of the colours and because the original pattern is called "Tessellated Leaves."  I had intended the background to gradually become darker from upper left to lower right, but one of the fabrics does not fall in the right order for that.  It was discovered too late to remedy, so I decided to just accept the way it is.

When I made it I had no idea where it would end up, but after buying the new (second-hand but in prime condition) sofa bed I realized that "Autumn" should grace the wall above the sofa.  All in all, I'm pretty happy with it.

I have another finished painting from last year that needs to be framed and hung in that room also.  I do love handmade things!

Friday, October 20, 2017

WHAT'S FOR DINNER?

Well, let's look in the fridge and see what's there.  Hmmm, some lovely Steelhead Trout.  Let's thaw that and use it.  What else?  Oh, here are three yellow zucchini that are getting rather past their best-before.  Let's use them.  Oh, and this bit of left-over broccoli.  What else?

As usual there are some mushrooms, some onions (red this time), red peppers--all the usual.  

First let's mix together 1/4 cup Quinoa and 1/4 cup Basmati rice and get that started.  The last 10 minutes we'll sauté the trout fillets in a little bit of water with some Club House la Grille Vegetable Seasonings.  And the last five minutes we'll heat up a bit of Canola in a large frying pan and quickly stir fry the vegetables.  Sprinkle them with a little garlic powder and some more of the Vegetable Seasonings and top with some sliced green onions.

It turned out to look quite attractive and was positively delicious.

Monday, October 16, 2017

NOT GOING ANYWHERE

We learned something about living in Arizona yesterday.  Something about car batteries and high temperatures that we weren't aware of.

Our church has three services on the weekend,  Saturday evening, 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning and 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning.  Usually Chancel Choir sings at one service on Sunday morning and Celebration Choir sings at the other service.  The first two Sundays of the month it's Chancel Choir's turn to take the 8:30 service and the last two Sundays of the month Chancel takes the 10:30 service.  Of course, Celebration Choir's schedule is the opposite.  If there is a fifth Sunday, one of the choirs takes an extra turn or there is other "special" music.  Because not all our "snowbirds" are back yet, the two choirs are now
combined and yesterday the combined choir took both services.

We arrived at church just before 8 a.m. because the choir reviews its music before the service.  We were ready to leave close to noon, and were one of the last cars in the parking lot.  It was scorching hot there--the temperature was in the high 90's and that meant in the full sun on a paved parking lot, things were really roasting.

I turned the key and heard just that ominous "clicking" sound that means the battery has died.  Oh, oh, what to do?  I went back into the church to find someone, anyone, who could help us.  It turns out that the most knowledgeable person around is the senior pastor, Pastor Steve.  Fortunately he was still there--pastors are generally about the last person to leave the church!

He came over with his car and jump cables and gave us a boost that got the car running.  Thank you so much!!!  I said, "There's a sermon illustration in there!" meaning something about being dead and needing life power from some other source.  Wonder if he'll use that.

That afternoon Jim took the car to Walmart, bought a new battery, had the oil changed and the tires looked at.  They take care of tires free if you have bought them at any Walmart.  And by any, I mean any--U.S. or Canada.  They will rotate and balance them free for the life of the tires.

We were very, very grateful for the boost, and now know that batteries do not last long in a hot climate.  I don't know why, but it is evidently true.  I'm just thankful it happened yesterday when people were around to help and not this morning when I went to practice organ.

Monday, October 9, 2017

SINCE THE LAST TIME

The day after my last post we left for AZ.  It takes us three days, two nights to get here.  And the trip was true to form: it rained in Salt Lake City, not as hard as last year, and actually a little bit north of SLC.  Can't quite figure that out.  Why does it always rain during the hour we are driving through SLC?  Other than that, it was a good trip, and we do enjoy taking the shortcut around Las Vegas.  We actually went through that area Sunday morning, and then heard on the t.v. on Monday about the horrendous shooting there.  How discouraging this whole trend is, more and more of these terrible happenings!

We had decided to replace the sofa bed that came with the condo, which we bought furnished.  None of our guests have actually managed to sleep on it; instead they've hauled the mattress off every night and slept on it on the floor.  I wasn't looking forward to the shopping involved in finding a new, good sofa bed.  

While we were at the pool on Thursday I went to look at the residents' bulletin board where we may post ads for selling or renting condos, vehicles, furniture, etc.  And there was an ad for a sofa bed, in great condition, asking only $125.  I called and went to see it. It was in absolutely new condition, offered by someone who had bought a home here and didn't want the sofa bed.  So I was thrilled!  No shopping, no hassle and about 10% of the new price.  It's due to be delivered here anytime.  He said late morning, but I know how that goes when you're trying to get a lot of things accomplished.

In the meantime Jim hauled the old sofa bed out onto the patio in preparation for receiving the new one.  Then he had an idea:  why not enjoy the comfort on the patio. 
 Works great for him!  But we are still going to get rid of it.  Maybe the next thing we'll look for is some comfortable patio furniture.  What we have now are two of the wicker chairs that I bought two years ago for $5. each, painted them and made cushions.  But they are not the most comfortable seating and really don't compare with a sofa  --  or, what I'd like to get now is a comfortable love seat and two chairs, or maybe just two nice lounge chairs.  We'll see what turns up.

This past week was busy: three big grocery runs to stock up on everything.  Need a few more things yet.  The condo needed cleaning--dust builds up over the months.  I also had the treat of going to orchestra (Wednesday morning), church choir (Wednesday afternoon), quilting (Thursday morning) and art group (Friday morning).  I finished a "lesson" painting of a basket of fruit--although I might do a little "adjusting" on it yet.

It's on a stand on the kitchen counter.  Jim commented that it was awfully light, but that is the way the lesson was.  Still, I think the lemon in the left front side should have the colour deepend, and the apple? next to it needs to have a little more work done.

We both were very happy to attend the Evangelical Lutheran church that we belong to here this Sunday.  Such good preaching, such a good liturgical service, such wonderful music!  In the evening we went to a candlelight service on the Sun Village patio, to pray for the victims of the summer floods, fires and the shooting in Las Vegas.  It was very touching.  Part of it was the singing of "Let There be Peace on Earth"--words by Saint Francis of Assisi.  It was very touching.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

BEAUTIFUL FALL COLOURS

A friend who has a drone/camera took a few pictures of our place showing the absolutely gorgeous fall colours this year:


Credits to Tim Arnold.  THANKS!

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.