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.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

TIME FOR GOODBYE

Sniff, sniff....they just left!  The Dear One is driving them to the airport for their flight home.  It was a wonderful visit.  I enjoyed them so much!  But a whole week has gone by and now it's time for them to leave again.

Usually the "goodbye" picture is taken by their car, all packed up and ready to go.  But this time the DSIL had to stay home for work reasons, and they didn't drive.  So here's an indoor goodbye picture, and that actually works better--no one's squinting into the sun.

Goodbye and God Bless!  For another year.

One of the sad things in my life is that we never have and probably never will live close to growing grandkids.  Some things in life are just the way they are and have to be accepted!

We did have another nice day out together yesterday.  We went to the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller--the Dinosaur museum.  On the way we took a little detour through the country in order to cross the Red Deer River on this little ferry.  The kids had never been on a ferry before.  About 45 years ago the Dear One and I crossed with this ferry.  I should dig out the old slide of the ferry to compare with this new one.



The trip is SHORT!!!  Just 344 feet.  The kids comment was, "Why not just build a bridge?"  I mentioned this to the nice young man operating the ferry and he replied, "No one would come here if there were a bridge."  He's probably right.  We came just to give the kids a "ferry experience."


The weather was beautiful, the drive was enjoyable and the countryside looked quite lush, considering this is Alberta and the middle of August!

I had been to the dinosaur museum a few times already.  In fact, way back in the '70's the Dear One and I visited it when it was in a small building long before this "world-class" museum was built.

There were many exhibits I hadn't seen before and everything is very well done, but I have a few negative comments, and probably wouldn't have noticed these things except for our recent visit to the Telus Spark Science Centre in Calgary.

First: there aren't nearly enough ladies' washrooms.  There are just two washrooms for women in the museum, and there are long lineups whenever you want to use them.  They need at least twice the washroom capacity.

Second: The museum is laid out in one very long continuous gallery.  That's not very family friendly!  The Science Centre has all separate but connected galleries, so you can go from one to another, or you can return to the centre atrium.  The Tyrell does not have a central atrium, just a rather modest (considering the number of visitors) space beyond the entry kiosks.

Then when you want to take a break for lunch you need to finish walking through, go to the cafeteria and then try to re-enter against the traffic flow, unless you want to repeat the whole journey through the long, winding gallery.  The two grandkids were going to go ahead of DD. and myself, and were stopped by a "traffic police" and told they were not allowed to enter unless they showed proof of payment.  We were not each given a pass, we had just one for the whole "family."  So they came back and waited for us.  That could be dealt with in a better way.

And then lastly a minor "quibble": everyone must exit through the gift shop.  I rather object to that in principle, as it seems a little too pushy to me.  But just practically, it created a real traffic jam, as there was only a narrow aisle between displays.  Someone was trying to push a wheelchair through and had a tough time of it.  Someone else was walking with a cane and also could hardly manage the congestion.

I guess that was not "lastly" as I have one more comment: It's not really a good outing for young children.  Once a three year old has seen a few dinosaur skeletons, they've had enough.  They are just not good for two or three hours of the same.  There are no interactive displays, and I can understand why, so there really is nothing for the young ones to do.  The newer beginning area of the museum was a very "intellectual" display that children under 12 would not relate to at all.

It is a really excellent dinosaur museum, but it's really not a "kid-space."  There were quite a few unhappy children there--a complete contrast to the Telus Spark Science Centre in Calgary.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

BEEN BUSY

Saturday I picked up D.D.#2 and her two children, 16 and 12, from the airport.  We had a nice supper at Smitty's on the way home and got back to town early enough to pick up a few groceries for the next few days.  It's a treat to have a visit with these dear ones!  And we miss her husband but his job with the post office is too new for him to qualify for holidays in August.

Tuesday we went to the Telus Spark Centre in Calgary, a fairly new and exceedingly good science centre, with tons of interactive displays for children to learn about science. There are about 5 different galleries, organized around different topics.  There's also a theatre, but we didn't go there.  Outdoors there is a very "stimulating" playground, aimed at developing physical and mental abilities.

For me, one of the most enjoyable activities was in the large airy atrium where there were lots of big blue blocks made of some sort of rubbery substance, in several different shapes that made building things easy.  Young children were having a wonderful time with them, running around, building things out of their imagination.  Some made up a little "teeter-totter" with them.  Others created a pile to jump over, others made a sort of rocking horse. I saw so many happy children there--that was a treat for me.

In the "Being Human" gallery there was a fountain--as part of a toilet!!! Its purpose was to illustrate instinctive recoils.  There was a sign saying it was clean water--go ahead and drink!

That's the granddaughter overcoming her instinctive dislike of "drinking from a toilet"!

Yesterday DD and the grands went to town, visited the library and the very fine book/gift store in town.  The kids picked out a game each and DD found an interesting cookbook.  While they were away I finished sewing the binding on the quilt, "Entwined."  It's complete now, and she can take it home with her.




It's pictured in our bedroom where it would also look very good.  It's not quite as big as my usual bed quilt.  I like to make them reach to the floor.  But they have a dog who would chew on the quilt that reached the floor, so it's somewhat abbreviated.  To that end, I also rounded off the bottom corners which would otherwise "pool" on the floor.

This quilt was an enjoyable project from beginning to end.  I seldom make a quilt from all new material, but the materials for this top were all bought in one greatly fun, afternoon.  The Fabric Nook, our local quilting shop, was having their semi-annual 50% off sale and I found everything I needed for the top.  The pattern had the darker colours all one dark blue, but I decided I'd prefer using a mixture.  I love how it turned out!

Next up: sandwich and quilt the Picket Fence.  That will hang up in The Fabric Nook with a sign advertising a demonstration day in September at which Brenda and I will show how to cut and sew a Picket Fence quilt.  That will be fun!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A QUILTY DAY

No picking or juicing happened today because last night we had a thunderstorm that stayed around for a long time and dumped about 1" of badly needed water on our area.  While we were thankful for that moisture it made everything too wet to be out in the bushes picking cherries, etc.  Plus, it was a dark, gloomy day and one that stayed cold (not enough sunshine!).  The high temperature for the day at our place was a steady +15ºC, or 59ºF.  Not too inspiring for working in a garden!

It did seem like a good day to work on quilts!  The Raggy Quilt is finished!  Here are a few photos:
Snipping of seams finished, before washing and drying:
That's the special scissors there on the quilt.  It springs open after each cut, and that saves a tremendous amount of wear of your hand!  Here's a close up of the snipped but not washed and dried seams.

Here's what the quilt looks like after two trips through the washer and dryer:
And here's a closeup of the seams after the washer/dryer treatment:

I'm pretty happy with this bright, fuzzy quilt, and also happy that it's finished (except it needs a label on the back) so early.  It's for a baby due in November!

Later today I sewed the label on the Entwined quilt and am working on finishing the hand stitching of the binding to the back of the quilt.  This one needs to be finished before Saturday.  

With that and the cleaning that needs to be complete before the weekend, I'm giving up the idea of finishing the scraping and painting of the downstairs door and window frame.  It can wait a while.

Monday, July 31, 2017

A "FOODY" DAY

In the morning (and sometimes the night before) I make plans for what I should accomplish that day.  Today I planned to clean downstairs where the spare bedroom and bathroom are, because on Saturday DD#2 and her two children (16 and 12) are arriving for a visit.  We look forward so much to this as all our children and grandchildren live at least a day's drive or an airplane ride away.  I am blessed to see them once a year!

But after my friend M. and I did our 2 1/2 mile walk this morning she gave me some zucchini.  This year we have no zucchini in the garden--so my friends can "unload" some of their extra on us.  You always have extra zucchini when you have any in your garden!

I remember the first time we grew zucchini.  We had no idea!  We planted three long rows.  The harvest amounted to a few tons.  We finally used them for "green" fertilizer.

So I came home from the walk and started slicing and sautéing zucchini--for about an hour.  Then I added a can of diced tomatoes--we are all out of our own canned and frozen tomatoes--onions, garlic, loose-fried ground beef, oregano, basil and a little seasoned salt. Together with a few ears of delicious fresh corn from the garden, it made a very lovely dinner for us.

In the meantime S. had been picking the last bucket of raspberries.  There will be more, but no more bucketsful.  The rest we'll eat as they come.  That was enough for 2 1/2 quarts of freezer raspberry jam, bringing the total to 17 quarts.  That might be enough.  I gave away a large container of it on Saturday to the young couple who moved into the north house across the road as a "welcome to the neighbourhood" present.  They'll surely enjoy that.

Have you ever made freezer raspberry jam?  For four cups of crushed raspberries, put one and a half cups of sugar in a measuring cup, mix in one package of freezer jam jelling powder, add the sugar/jelling powder to the crushed raspberries and stir for 3 minutes.  It's ready!  Put it into containers and freeze it--makes about 6 cups, or just put it in the fridge and spread it on your breakfast toast.  DELICIOUS!!!  It tastes very different from cooked jam--a much "brighter" flavour, slightly on the tart side.  YUM!

Then she picked 3 ice-cream pails of Nanking cherries.  There's only one quart of cherry juice left from last year.  They went into the steam juicer and here's the result:

Six jars of ruby red cherry juice, all set to make syrup or jelly, or just use as juice.  YUM again!

Tomorrow, hopefully, there will be more picking and more juice making, storing up the summer's goodness to enjoy throughout the year.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

RAGGY QUILT

The sewing of the raggy quilt is finished just now.  It's a very quick quilt to make--up to this point.  Now it needs to have all those "on top" seams clipped, then it needs to be washed and dried at least once.  Because it's flannel it should fray quite well.  I will post a picture when it's finished.  So far I like it a lot.

I added an extra fabric, 1" wide, around the edges and then pressed it over.  That will give the edges the same amount of "rag" as the inner seams.

I sewed this quilt on my portable Janome, the School Mate that I bought when I first started going to the town quilting club.  The bigger machine that I had at that time was not suitable for taking to those meetings.  This is a mechanical machine and utterly reliable.  It was an excellent investment (a little dark in this photo as the sun was shining brightly behind it.)

Next up: My friend Shirley (one of three Shirleys whom I count as friends) was kind enough to make this label for the "Entwined" quilt for me on her embroidery machine.  I really like that she put the design alongside the letters, as the design is entwined!

I'll press this, iron on some wonder under, and apply it to the bottom backing of the quilt.  That needs to be finished before next Saturday, as DD#2 and the two "grands" are arriving for a visit that day.  Much to look forward to!

Friday, July 28, 2017

CORN and DISEASE

Today I picked the first three ears of corn for our dinner.  They were very good.  Picked, shucked, boiled for one minute, served with butter, salt and pepper.  That's hard to beat!

The first time I served corn to the Dear One shortly after we were married he looked at it and said, "That's pig food!"  He had grown up in the Netherlands and had never had sweet corn, so, yes, field corn, is animal fodder.  But I told him it was my favourite vegetable.  He dared to try it and he found, yes, it's a great vegetable.

He did somewhat the same thing with pizza.  Early on, if I made pizza for the kids and myself, I had to make him a "regular" dinner.  Dutchmen love their potatoes and veggies!

When I was just a babe sitting in the highchair my mom gave me corn cobs to suck on to keep me happy while the rest of the family had their dinner.  My cousin Marilyn went home scandalized and told Aunt Sue, "Aunt Jo gave the baby corn cobs for dinner!"

But back to today.  I picked three nice ears, the first ones ripe enough to eat.  Then I saw some ears trampled over, the stalks lying down on the ground.  "Well those blasted deer," I thought, "if they don't eat it, they wreck it!"  I pulled up the broken stalk and realized it was probably not deer depredations: it's probably some disease in the corn!  I went online and looked at many, many pictures of diseased corn.  There was nothing that really matched what our corn looks like:

Does anyone know what this problem is?  And what to do about it?  How to prevent it from happening in the future?

When the afternoon cools down a little I need to go out there and remove all the ears that have become diseased, in the hope that it doesn't spread to the good ears.  I love corn and want to enjoy the fruits of all my work to bring it to the table.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

SOMETIMES....

Every now and then a project--sewing, knitting, fixing up our house, etc.--falls into an "On Hold" category and languishes there for years.  One that comes to mind is a nice soft red cardigan for myself that I started knitting as a "travel" project in 1997.  Now that's a long time ago!  It's currently residing atop a cabinet in the sewing room.  But that's not the project that I'm trying to resurrect today.  This project began over ten years ago.

Our house was built in 1979 and we bought the place in 1997, but didn't move in until 1999.  For the previous 20 years no repairs or repainting had been done.  It was just not a priority for the people who bought it from the builder.  I think they had lived here for something like seven years.

We added a "solar space" to the downstairs.  There had been a balcony around the dining/living room on the second floor since the house was built.  It was open underneath and we enclosed it with a stucco wall that was about 1/2 window, maybe more.  Here are a few photos:




In the spring we use it as a growing space for the very small plants until we open up the big greenhouse, about the middle of March.  At this time of year it's a really lovely place to spend time in the afternoon and evening.  We open the windows, the breeze blows through and we hear the gurgle of water in the little pump and barrel that are just visible in front of the windows.  The Virginia creeper climbs up the screens and gives leafy shade.

Sometime before the house became ours someone repainted (or perhaps painted for the first time) the woodwork surrounding what were then the doors and windows to outside.  There's a door on the south with a window on either side and a door on the west with a window on either side.  But somehow or other that paint job wasn't done well.  To me, it looked as if whoever painted applied the paint without any preparation.  Frankly, it looked as if a whole lot of "fly dirt" (just plain fly feces) had been painted over in the corners of that woodwork.  YUUCK!!!

So several years ago I told the Dear One I was going to redo that.  He pitched in and did a lot of scraping.  I did lots more scraping, including softening the paint with a heat gun.  Finally we were down to the bare wood.  I applied the undercoat and then two coats of a nice brown paint.  The door facing west along with its windows, which is where the new outside door faces, were complete.  It looked great.

I started on the south door, and that's where the project stalled.  One window is finished.  The door and the other window are only partly finished.  Today I got out the scrapers and the heat gun and began working on it again.

This time I hope to finish the job -- all scraped, primed and painted by (I hope) the middle of next week!  Wish me well!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

THE NEWEST MEMBER

Something very exciting happened in the sewing room this week: we welcomed a new member whose name is Q'nique 14+.  She came in two big, heavy boxes:

The flat box holds the table.  The bigger box holds "Q".  She arrived on Thursday evening and wasn't "deboxed" until Friday, table first.  I had a few issues assembling the table but managed to solve them.  Later that day I "deboxed" Q herself.  She's pretty impressive, big, heavy and strong.

The first job was to slide her into the table opening and that proved impossible just then.  I huffed and puffed but couldn't make it work.  There just wasn't enough clearance between the top of her legs (you can't see them in this picture) and the table.  After a sweaty try of about 1/2 hour I gave up and took a shower.  I emailed the friend who sold her to me about the troubles I was having, also sent a message for help on the website.  They will get back to me on Monday morning.

Then on Saturday I had a call from R. and he could come and look at the problem.  I had already figured out that something needed to be taken off her front legs.  Unfortunately the directions for set up did not mention that.

R. came over and the whole thing was taken care of.  Thanks!  So here she is, all set up in front of the window overlooking the back yard.  Too much light coming in the window to get a decent picture, so I pulled down the shade.


And HERE SHE IS!!!


She is strictly for machine quilting and has no feed dogs.  She can be set up on a large quilting frame, but I don't have room for that.  I've done a few trial runs especially to regulate the tension.  The directions say to adjust the tension every time you change threads, so I'd better get used to it.

There are several very good videos on YouTube by Leah Day showing how to use the 14+, and I watched some today.  Then I did some experimental sewing and it went well.  I will do some practice quilting before tackling some of the projects lined up for finishing.

By the way, those two dark sticks behind her are not part of the machine.  There's a small inkle loom on the window sill.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

THE OLD APPLE TREE

There was a ragged old apple tree on our place when we moved here.  We had a tree mover dig it up and replant out back, in a cut out of the deck.  Jim trimmed and shaped it nicely and  it flourished there for many years (almost 18 now).  It was a prolific producer of apples, which made lovely applesauce if you were patient enough to wait until a good frost had gone over them.

This year it was well on the way when disease struck.  At first we thought it was wind damage as we had had some very heavy winds.  Leaves turned brown and curled up.  But, wait, the damage was all over the tree, not just on the windward side.  It was a disease of some sort.

Today Jim got to work on it, cutting off the branches one at a time with a hand saw.  When he had a few cut off he loaded them onto the tractor bucket and took them out to the corner of the triangle field where we have a brush pile.

There's one big branch to go, but he decided to let that wait for The Helper, Craig, who comes to do jobs that are too heavy or big for us to handle.  He really is The Helper!

We'll miss the shade provided by this good old tree.  We had a bench there to sit and enjoy the shade and the breezes.  But a diseased tree must be cut down before the blight spreads to our other apple trees.  Fortunately, the best "apple sauce" tree is way down by the #1 greenhouse, presumably still safe from whatever killed this tree.

*  *  *

Craig showed up about 30 minutes ago and finished the job:

THE DANGEROUS WAY

It took an hour and 15 minutes to correct the wrongly sewed seams on the "raggy" quilt.  It had taken a long time to pick out all the seams with a stitch ripper after the first mistake.  After the next 5 strip sets were also wrong, I chose the dangerous way to remove stitches.

Start the seam ripping with a seam ripper.  When there is about 2" taken out, lift the top fabric, hold the bottom fabric taut and aim your rotary cutter at the stitches that are exposed.  Make little jabs at the exposed stitches with the open blade.  Just be very careful NOT TO JAB THE MATERIAL, or you will get a nice hole where the seam should be.  This is the fast way, and it is effective.

Then take a good pointy tweezers and remove the bits of thread left behind.
 

Now you're ready to cut the strip into the appropriately sized squares.  These are 7 and an 8th inches.  The 8th extra is just because that's how wide the strip set is vertically.  That's good, because they will be sewed together with 1/2" seams to provide a nice bit of "chenille" at the seam lines.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A REALLY BIG JOB!

Yesterday, because I had the time and the weather was right, I tackled redoing the surface of the balcony floor.  It's covered with Ducan decking, a vinyl sheet material.  At the beginning of the summer the floor needs to be scrubbed up well.  The vinyl decking has little bumps and divots in it, to give it texture, but they tend to fill up with dirt, and there's always lots of dirt flying around here--a combination of farmers tilling fields and winds from the west.

Once in a while it also needs to have a coating of "Refresh"--a kind of vinyl paint, as far as I can figure out.  It gives a good, fresh new surface to the decking.

So at 10:30 a.m. I started the scrubbing process: first wash with the power washer, then fill a bucket with "The Duke" a very strong cleaner (diluted 1- 10 with water), applied with a scrubbing brush.  Fortunately I have one with a "stand up" handle, so this doesn't need to be done on hands and knees.  But, OH, it's hard work!  It needs and really good, stiff scrubbing to loosen all the dirt.  And then that all gets power washed off, twice to get get rid of the cleaner.  That took until 1:00 p.m.  And then I was "washed up" myself--pretty well finished!

The Dear One very sweetly offered that we could either order take-out for dinner (2 p.m.) or go out to a local restaurant.  We did go out to Harvest House, where we ordered our favourites: his: lasagne, mine: chicken quesadilla.  Well, that was a treat, and perhaps, a deserved treat.  It was nice for both of us.

After eating he bought some broccoli for today's stir fry and went to get the mail, and I went to the Fabric Nook for some flannel for the latest quilt, the "raggy quilt" that I showed last time.  We came home and I relaxed with my library book for a few hours.

By 5:30 I thought maybe I could manage some more, and I mixed up the "ReFresh"--the kind of paint for the vinyl decking, and got to work again.  You're not supposed to use it when it's over 30ºC, and I'm pretty sure the decking itself was too hot, but I started anyway.  By 7:45 the painting was complete and I was "knackered."  I can't use a long handle with my paint roller because a handle broke off once in it.  I have to try to remove that bit so that I can screw in a handle, but just haven't done it yet or figured out if that's even possible.  So this was accomplished down on my hands and knees, and sometimes just squatting when my knees hurt too much from the bumpy surface.

Then I was really finished for the day.  It was hard to stand up straight!  I took another shower, poured myself a cold drink and "zoned out" until bedtime.  Fortunately I had a good 8 hours of sleep and, amazingly, today I don't feel any worse for the wear.  But I have taken a day off.

A friend dropped by for some help with her knitting and we had a nice visit.  Then I spent some time trying to figure out just how long it's been since I "refresh" the decking.  I think it's been three years.  Should be good for another three or four now.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

UNBELIEVABLY DUMB!!!

The newest quilt project (What? another?) is a raggy quilt in three bright colours of flannel.  It's a baby quilt for the daughter of my best friend.  She's expecting her second baby, and this quilt is very different from the one I made for her first baby a few years ago.

Out of the stash came these three nice flannels, cut into 3" strips, of approximately 36" each.  I sewed three strips together, pressed the seams and cut them into 7 1/4" squares.  That turned out very well.  This quilt is a "go."  BUT...because it's so ingrained in me to sew right sides together, that's what I did for the next four strip sets.  However, for a raggy quilt the seams must be WRONG sides together.  After all the seams are sewn you take a special scissors and snip all the seam allowances.  Then you throw the quilt into the wash machine and dryer and it comes out all fuzzy and smooshy.

I'll post some pictures of the process as the quilt is made.

After removing the 36" long seams in the four strip sets and resewing them with wrong sides together, I set them out on the floor in the rail fence pattern:
Then I sat down and sewed the remaining 5 strip sets, all three strips---RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER!!!  OUCH!  Now I have to sit down and pick out all those stitches, carefully remove the bits of thread that proliferate, and resew all 10 seams.

What can I say?  It's an easy mistake to make?

Saturday, July 8, 2017

THE THREE DAY WONDER

I'm calling this quilt the Three Day Wonder--it's real name is Picket Fence and the pattern was published in the November/December issue of QUILTMAKER magazine.  A woman I know was cleaning out her sewing room and came across several old quilting magazines which she passed on to me.  The Picket Fence quilt pattern caught my eye and I made one.

On Wednesday Brenda (of The Fabric Nook) and I were discussing putting on another "Demo Day."  We decided on the second week of September and the Picket Fence pattern.  I bought a 2 1/2" strip set to make a demo quilt to attract interest.

Thursday I was up early and devoted the extra day time to cutting out the quilt.  (See the last post).  Thursday I sewed pretty much all day, Friday a good part of the day, and today some of the afternoon.  The quilt top is complete!!!

The original pattern called for 3" strips, so I had to redesign for 2 1/2" strips.  That wasn't too hard, but of course the finished 3 x 4 block quilt is smaller.

This quilt used 18 of the 24 strips.  The others were too light to make the contrast.  The yellowy fabrics were left over from the large quilt I made two years ago that's on our bed in Arizona.  I like the combination.

For borders I'm thinking a 3/4" inner border of teal batik and a 2" outer border of the darkest fabric, with the same fabric for binding.  I'll have to see what's available.

This is a very easy quilt as there are really no points to match.  Each block was trimmed to a pretty precise 6 1/4".  If I had made "skinnier" seams they could have been 6 1/2" blocks.  That's trimmed, ready to go into the quilt, finishing at 6".  But I like to have fairly substantial seams to give the quilt strength.

It was also very easy to sew together because of the squaring up to 6 1/4".  There were no problems whatsoever.  I do like to "nest" all seams, and that turned out to mean that I couldn't "rosette" all the intersections, i.e. spread them open.  So I just pressed them all in the same direction, and the quilt top is quite smooth.  

I'm very happy with it, and had a very good time making it these last few days.

Friday, July 7, 2017

A SIGHT THAT WARMS MY HEART

This is what was up on my design board yesterday:

These are 2 1/2" x 5" pieces cut for a Picket Fence quilt.  There are 12 in each stack.  That's enough to make a 36" x 48" lap quilt.

The darks are from a strip set that I bought at The Fabric Nook on Wednesday.  The lights are leftovers from the Cascades quilt that I made two years ago.  That was a Lorraine Stangness pattern and she didn't have a kit for a queen or king-sized quilt, so I bought two kits for single bed quilts and enlarged the pattern.  It turned out really nice and is on the bed in Arizona.  There were lots of leftover fabrics from those two kits and these deep yellow/orange fabrics are just right for this Picket Fence quilt.

We had so much fun doing the "Demo Day" last week that we are planning another Demo Day for September.  We will be using the Picket Fence pattern for that, so this will be a sample quilt to (hopefully) spark interest in that demo.  More pictures as the quilt develops.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

FROM 9:30 TO 4

I worked on this quilt from 9:30 this morning to 4 this afternoon with a short time off for a bite of lunch.  The top is together!

Looking at it from two different angles, on the downstairs floor:


It makes me happy to have accomplished this today.

By the way, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CANADA!!!  Happy Canada Day to all my friends and readers here and elsewhere!

AFTER A FINISH....

After a big project is completed, IF it has been a new project, the rule is: finish TWO old projects.  Why?  Because it's so much fun to start a new project, but the closet has MANY partly finished projects.  If the ratio is one new project finished to two old projects finished, there's the possibility (with lots of self-discipline) of someday actually reaching the point where the old projects have been completed.  I've never actually been there, but hold out the hope of getting to that point some day.

So, since the "Entwined" is almost complete--the binding needs to have the second half hand stitched to the back (after Shirley makes a label)-- I took out an unfinished projects from some time ago, maybe a year or so.  I'll have to check back in my photos for the dates.  

This is called "Trade Winds," a pattern that I bought some years ago on a shop hop with the quilt club.  Laid out here are three rows sewed together, on the left, and two rows sewed together on the right.

This section is also two rows sewed together.  When these three sections are sewed together the quilt will be six 15" blocks by seven 15" blocks.  The pattern called for six blocks by six blocks for a king size, but I was ambitious enough to decide that six by seven would be better.  It's enormous.


I made a large lap quilt from this pattern but that hasn't been claimed yet.  Making the blocks is not hard, but sewing them together is!  There is a killer intersection where you have four parts meeting, and each of the four has five layers of fabric!  And the sticker is that the intersection forms the heart of a pinwheel, and is therefore VERY NOTICEABLE!

At 9 a.m. I started working on this.  I had a block to add to the bottom of each row, and then began sewing the last two rows together.  Thirteen seams later I'm ready for a break!

Friday, June 30, 2017

A GOOD WAY TO....

Here's a good way to control a long strip of binding while applying it to a quilt:

I've posted this some time ago, but it's such a neat trick I thought it worthwhile to repost.  After the binding is made and pressed in half, roll it up and slip it under a leg of your sewing table.  It stays put and unrolls just as needed.  Works like a charm!  And yes, that is the "Entwined" quilt all finished and being bound.  Now it just needs a label and it's ready to be given to our daughter and her husband.

I had a lot of fun yesterday: I was demonstrating Split Nine Patch blocks at the Fabric Nook, our local source for everything quilty and sewing supplies.  They had had one of my Split Nine Patch lap quilts hanging up for quite a while and had received several comments of "how is that made?"  So Brenda and I decided I would spend a day making Nine Patch blocks there, with an instructional hand-out available.  We did that yesterday.


You can see the 2' x 3' portable design board made out of rigid pink insulation and some batting.  It worked very well to keep things organized as we went along.  Here are 3 1/2 12" blocks that are finished.  Two of them have been moved to the design board above the cutting table.  I'll make 20, I think for a 4 x 5 setting.  

I cut all the 2 1/2" and 3" squares ahead of time and had them sorted by size and dark/light in four separate containers.  We had fun choosing which fabrics to use where, and the blocks seem to have turned out very nicely.

The Fabric Nook is located in the local IDA and is a very good source for quilters and home sewers.  If it were not here, we'd have to drive an hour to buy a spool of thread.  So anything I can do to help them thrive, I will!

Friday, June 23, 2017

USING A STEAM JUICER

We have two freezers, one quite large and the other medium-sized, a legacy of the days when we grew lots and lots of veggies and fruit.  We've cut way down on the amount of veggies we grow--a lot because the deer ate almost everything we grew last year.  I'm not interested in providing a buffet for the overgrown deer population!  But also because we are away part of the year now and just don't eat as much over the winter months as we used to.

The freezer in the house was the large one and held everything we were currently using, including the meat and fish we buy in "family sized trays," a good supply of frozen vegetables and all the done-ahead baking of bread, buns and muffins.  That freezer was running almost empty lately.  The freezer in the garage held the processed veggies from the garden, lots of quarts of frozen applesauce, and several ice cream pails of fruit--raspberries, cherries (two varieties), red currants, black currants and Saskatoons.

On Sunday our neighbours called and asked if we had some freezer space they could use.  Their freezer had started sparking and smoking.  The yanked it away from the wall and unplugged it.  But what to do with all the frozen food?  Fortunately I had a lot of space they could use.

I had been thinking of selling the larger freezer and using the smaller one in the house instead.  So when they came I mentioned selling the freezer.  Just what they needed!  So the deal was made.  This worked out very well for us because he would come with some of his hired men and do all the transferring.

But in the meantime the garage freezer had to be emptied, ready to come inside.  There were at least 12 gallon ice-cream pails of frozen fruits in there, so I got busy Monday morning with the steam juicer transforming the frozen fruit into fruit juice in canning jars.  That was a timely thing as our supply of canned fruit juices (all home canned) was getting low.

The Steam Juicer has four parts: a large bottom section to hold boiling water, a middle section that allows steam up through the center and has a spout to pour out the collected juice, a sieve-like upper section that holds the washed fruit, and a lid.

I've set a scalded quart jar under the spout and will drain off a quart of extremely hot juice.  Then a scalded snap lid is laid on top and the screw ring screwed on finger tight, the jar set aside to cool.  The loud snap when it seals itself is such an encouraging sound!

Here's a sieve full of Evans cherries ready to be steamed.  The colander section is on top of the lid for now, to prevent juice leaking on the counter.


Every now and then I lift up that section to see how much juice has collected.  There needs to be about 1" in the pot to fill a quart jar.

Here's the bounty so far: 19 quart jars of pure, home-made fruit juice.  At this point that's all that's in the jars.  When I use the juice I can add some sweetening, thin it with water or 7Up, make syrup for pancakes or jelly for toast.  Jim drinks some juice every day, so this will store nicely in the downstairs closet and be ready for use at any time!  No additives, no "flavourings," no aspartame, just plain good fruit juice!