Friday, January 29, 2010

V is for Victory

Yea me!!!! I finished piecing the last blocks of 18.

Liberty Star, Airplane
Brave World, Victory Block (my least fav..)

However, this does not mean I finished a quilt. I've only BEGUN.

Now, back up the truck..... you might recall I made one block too small and had to redo it. That would be this:

The one on the right is the new one and you can easily see it is larger. Considerably. If you ever decide to make this quilt, remember to sew a scant 1'4", especially on this block. Tricky because there are ALOT of bias edges. I didn't have enough of the dark blue fabric to repeat the first one and the shop had sold out of the bolt...... note to self: buy slightly MORE than you need. You might NEED it!

Here is a shot of all 18:

They will be "on point" eventually but you get the general idea of the blocks themselves.

As I wrote, I have only begun. The Hard Part: Applique

I hates it. I do I do I do..... root canals are preferable but I love the way it looks. So I am getting busy and here is the first of the last of the (blurry) blocks. Avec Applique

If you wish to read more about this, go here and scroll to the bottom of the post.

Monday, January 25, 2010

WHO DAT?!!!!!!!


From AP photo Bill Haber



Quilt in a Day Goodness

Here's a quick story to tell:
I have been working my thru the book, as you probably know by now, and when marking a template from the supplements in the back of the book, I noticed that I didn't have 6" Fala patterns. Or 6" Bride's Bouquet! Hey, what's up with that? So I popped over to Quilt in a Day website and shot off an email question. (Don't you LOVE LOVE LOVE technology? Back in the day, this might takes weeks by snail mail or a pricey long-distance phone call)

I got a response from one Jeanne S*******. who thru a quick series of emails BaF and one phone call, resolved the problem in just a few hours. The solution? So glad you asked.

The 6" patterns were already printed at the back of the book, just a few pages shy of the cover and of course, it didn't occur to me to thumb around first. Remember what I said about READING instructions thoroughly?

No, neither did I apparently.

Thanks Jeanne!
PS there IS however a correction for page 222 on the website. I figured that much out on my own. Not completely useless.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

12 Eggs in 5 Days

At this rate, we'll be swimming in eggs!

Yesterday we spent several hours burning 5 piles of tree trash and other wood John had dragged out of the triangle last year. This is the second or third burn we've worked on and as you can see form the photo, we have a ways to go.

But it's getting there. What you don't see is how little of all that is left. That's sort of a In the Middle of, not a Before or After shot.

And hanging around back there beside the run gave me a chance to "observe" the chickens and their behavior. The two Wyandottes were fluttering in and out of the runs and generally hang out. The other three wandered in and out of their newly cleaned coop as if to pass judgment on our housekeeping skills. Q kept wandering in and out as well. I had to keep my eye on her. Alot of wandering around, if you ask me.

It was a beautiful day to be out there and I pottered about in the garden itself, making mental notes of where I'd like to plant what when the time finally comes around again. It is a mistake to be lulled into thinking spring is upon us. We can have a freeze into March up here. Apparently.

We harvested the first brussell sprouts. They are quite small but flavorful. And along with kale, shallot greens, carrots and lettuce, we used 6 of our egg-take to make this meal:

Yes those are our pickled jalapenos! Sweet and sour.

Below you find 4 more blocks for the Victory quilt from Eleanor Burns. They are turning out beautifully, especially as I read the instructions more closely. I recommend this to anyone reading. If instructions are included in a project, it behooves one to actually read them and not assume being in the same room is sufficient.

Bride's Bouquet, Hope of Hartford
Army Star and Propeller

I've lost track of how many are left to make before I begin assembling the quilt. Go on, click on the pic and check out the "points". I am rather pleased with the result take my time accomplishes.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Stay Away From MY Chicken Eggs!!!!

Last week, John introduces the chickens to the veg garden and we have been allowing them to enter and scratch for bugs and whathaveyou. This may be another problem.

A few days ago, i walked out and saw all the straw mulch had been kicked to the walk paths! What a mess. A thorough job of it, as well. They don't mess around when they start to mess around.

So, now when I am out there, messing around myself, I let them in and do their chicken thing. It's putting fertilizer back in to the beds as well. May I call that "side dressing"?

Here you see they found the kale. This could be another problem.... if they only work that bed, it leaves some for us in the other bed behind it. But I have noticed they take that "All your greens are belong to us" attitude.

Since Monday, our little pile of eggs have been steadily growing to 9, count 'em, 9! But I am starting to feel more like a weasel or ferret. Or a RAT! Or a Gouana!!!!! I'm stealing their eggs! Oh they are delicious, too.

Monday, January 18, 2010

We Have The BEST Little Girls!!!!

and by that I mean chicken girls. The other girls are pretty okay also.... but they don't LAY EGGS!!!!

For a couple of days, when I'd walk around to the coop, I'd find Ginger IN the coop and sitting in the nest boxes..... I didn't think much of it because as the weather was coldish, I figured she was in there, nestled in the straw and keeping warm. Also, I'd look in the boxes every time I opened the door to see if I found an egg. I mean, Come ON..... I'm feeding them. They need to hold up their end of this relationship.
But no egg has been seen since the first few days when we were "gifted" with five eggs. Total.

BTW, don't you just HATE the use of the word "gifted"? When did THIS sneak into our vocabulary as a VERB? You are presented. Not gifted. You are presented a gift. Not gifted a present.

Back on track.... yesterday a friend gave us a dozen free-range eggs because she was "gifted" (HAHAHAHAHAHAH) 2 dozen and she is very generous.... and she knows we are completely surrounded by no eggs. And today, another friend gave me a dozen eggs from her beautiful flock of productive hens! What kind benevolent friends I have!!!

So I get home from the shop this afternoon and scoot the black and whites I spot pecking around the front yard back to the coop and find Ginger is missing. After I stop panicking, I look in the coop and she's staring back at me with one beady eye and I coo at her, "what a good little girl!", thinking that would send her flying out to the run. They usually flee at the sound of my voice. She sits there.

I move closer. She clucks at me as thought to say, "Stand back sister....." I cannot help but see two brown eggs and when I get her shifted around, I spy a third!!!!

So!!! Either she is one very slick, crafty customer and able to HIDE her eggs, or the others have begun to ovulate with her.

Whoo-hoo indeed! Houston, HEY HOUSTON!!! We have eggs.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

More For The Quilts

Still sewing on the BOM series for Sharp Needles (which means I haven't touched the Victory Quilt for quite some time now) and I have been playing with that 16 patch arrangement.

These for the "oriental" motif and I really like the pinwheel effect

Seeing these together tells me they will finally placed far apart in the final quilt; they are too similar in design to be neighbors.

Okay, quick playback. This series started last fall with a quilt design made up by Leslie (who's moving soon to the East. Boo) and MY personal goal was to use NO NEW MATERIAL, only scraps from my stash. But as I could not decide whether to make a Christmas theme or a "brights", I said to myself, "Self, why not make two?" So I did but in searching through the stash(es), I found I had other packets (ok ok, I knew I had other packets. Somewhere) and said, "Self, use it up! What are we saving this for if not for this very thing?"

So I have 6 quilts working at the same time and making slight variations on a block if I believe improvement can be made. The ones I have been displaying recently are blocks 3 and 4. 9 to go for each and the center one, No 13, is huge. It's a Rosette and I am going to request that we not wait til the last month as I know I will need larger bits of fabric to complete it alone.

Linda Kay, If ever you read this, heads up!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Oh My Aching Back!

I bought the Gypsy Sit Upon at the shop yesterday in great hopes that it will help me work on the ol' stomach muscles... it certainly doesn't hurt that it also alleviates back pain because it forces me to not slump towards the computer or sewing machine. It's an air-filled pillow that makes any shift in position cause another shift in center of gravity so the person sitting on it is in constant movement and rebalance. Pretty cool, really.

I am heroically attempting to get caught up with the BOMS the Sharp Needles began in the fall. I am actually making 6 simutaneously in different color schemes and have the Christmas and Swedish themes done thru the 4th month. Here are the two new sets:

If you compare the two sets you'll notice that the half-square triangles block are arranged differently. I think I like the Flying Dutchman better, but every time I convince myself of this, I change my mind...... they both work. I have four more to go so I will (probably) continue to make both blocks.

I have ripped out seams several times in the construction of the two on the right in order to make perfect points and I appreciate the accuracy all the more.

Linda Kay and I have begun our new series of Beginning Quilting classes and if nag the students to be as accurate as possible, it is only right that follow my own emphasis. True.

Now I have to show this:

Is that not the most whimsical pincushion ever?

Is this not sweetest cat? I think so!

Have a Great Day!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

They Grow Up So Fast!

Now that the weather is improving (it only dropped to 25 degrees Tuesday night)(remember please, this IS SOUTH Louisiana) the chickens are venturing outside the coop with greater frequency. But my hopes that the untimely demise of Big WO would keep the remaining duo from wandering past the run are dashed. Over they go and now they are hunkering down on the fringes of the forest. So every few hours or so, off I go in search. It's nervous-making from my POV and I am not happy about this. This is NOT what I had in mind when I asked (begged, mewled, cried) for chickens.

But IIWII and trudge I do, shaking the undergrowth and herding them back. The looks they throw at me would amuse. I found them at one point dusting themselves at the base of a tree and it reminded me that I had intended to put out a sand bath tub for them so I made one and deposited it in the run and watched the "good little chickens" - read- anyone that doesn't jump the fence! - dust themselves in the dirt on the ground. Kids! Give em a toy and they play with the box it came in.

But while I am out there, I can't help but notice the little ones are not so little any longer. Compare November with January.

And I stood around trying to get photos but they move so quickly in and out of the viewfinder, I started to get annoyed with them altogether.

Here you can compare the young multicolored chicken I feared was a rooster to the more mature chickens. By that I don't mean mature as in attitude. At least, not as far as the Wyandotte is concerned. Ginger is the best chicken out there; she never leaves the run and keeps an eye out for the younger two. But as I was saying, the biddies are catching up and so far, I see no evidence that that is a rooster! No crowing attempts, no long tapering feathers, no spur bud so maybe just maybe that's a hen after all. Wouldn't that be great!

Here you can see the beautiful markings of that one's feathers. He's/She's very mottled. I still can't decide if he/she is beautiful. Her/his face is lovely (I can't believe I just wrote that..... it's a CHICKEN!)but so far, I don't know she's/he's going to be a classic beauty. (Oh lord, I am completely beyond the pale now) He/she is definitely NOT a pureblood....... just look at him/her!

SOMEone's been fooling around to produce this!

One more for fun

And I finished the first "quilting" of the year. This sweet blanket was sewn by Kathy and I really love the colors. It is so cheerful. The layout is completely swipeable and I intend to! Love it. It was a pleasure to start the new year off so happily.

And this is the first of the BOM I will make this year. Just in time (HA! I am a full month ahead, for once) for Valentine's Day

Lastly, this is what we got from the fourth dye session last week. Again, they are pretty but so very similar to the Change of Seasons batch. Oh well, not the end of the world.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Because This Was Brilliant......

.....then and it is timely now:

The genius of Garrett Morris 1977

Harry Reid, 32 YEARS later. Progress!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Down Comes Christmas

I may well be the last person to take down Christmas decorations. I drag my feet on this every year. Not because I don't like the WORK of it, it's saying good-bye to the season and celebration. I always look so FORWARD to Christmas-time and family gathering. I love all Autumn and really, Christmas so barely falls in Winter..... From October onward I just come alive.

And then it's New Year. A clean slate but wiping it down with disinfection is tough on me. No, getting myself to DO it is tough; the actual act itself is really therapeutic for me. And I thought about this yesterday afternoon as I began undecorating the tree.

It's a slow-go. I haul out the various boxes and with no particular method pluck ornaments off, wrap them in tissue or repackage them in their original containers. It's a RITUAL, I learn. I do this every other year. This tree is the 'ornaments' tree and I alternate with a silver bell tree on even numbered years. All of the ornaments I took down yesterday have either been given to us or made/collected by one of us through-out the years and I'm going back more than 30 years here! They fill 3 plastic bins. They'd all go in one if I just chucked them in...but I wrap them all carefully.

And whether I am wrapping them for storage, or unwrapping them to hang in November, I trip down memory-lane every time. We got this one from Julie when we lived in Brunei, this one came from Grandma when you were born... we painted these with Inka in '98. You bought Marley in New York the year you played in the Christmas Carol as a memento. It's wonderful and as I said, therapeutic because I DON'T just chuck them in a box and dump them in a closet. I linger over it, like Slow Food. And remember.

Barbara gave us those when she lived next door after her house was wrecked by Katrina. Fain sprayed those gumtree balls from our old house silver and gave them to us. Oh look, the Okra angel. (really) One by one, down them come.

And I tell myself, only 22 months to go before I get to see them all again. Like old friends. Next year, I will polish the silver-plated bells and retie all the colored ribbons. Those go back to 1976. Really old friends. It takes a long time.

It's a pretty tree.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Grieve, Grieve!

The Big White One is gone. She was killed today by what I do not know and I am so sad.

The coop seems empty without her bossy bossy ways. I think I will have to rethink this whole thing.

Good bye girl.... you were beautiful!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Wicked is the Weather -Up-Dated

and I am braving out in it to purchase, hopefully, tickets to the show in March. Or April.

With great anticipation. However.... the weather has been brutal these past few days and I don't relish the idea of driving across Lake Ponchartrain to get to the Mahilia Jackson Theatre before 9am. This is the time they begin selling tickets to the plebes and with luck the line will be short. Cold yes but short.

What is maddening is they have not posted the price of the tickets anywhere so this may turn out to be a total waste of time and bust. If we wait til they are on sale at Ticketmaster (at noon today), the seats may well be all gone. We are wanting to go for the 2pm matinee. The theatre isn't huge and I suppose any seat will be good (with binoculars) but will they be available at all after this morning is the real question. So I will go. Because, honestly, who can resist this:

"think if it as personality dialysis!"

PS saw the Sherlock Holmes flick...... heeheehee good fun!

Up date: Done and done. Four tickets for April 4. The theatre looks very nice... if the seating is as good as the drawing shows, we should have a good view of the stage. Very thrilling.

The line was very long and the wait seemed forever and it was entirely indoors. I had expected to be standing out in the cold. But here's a most surprising thing: The theatre offered gratis coffee from Cafe du Monde and donuts! to us. How nice was that?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Think. Thinking Out Loud

A friend passed away the other day. We went to his funeral yesterday.

This death makes a lot in life seem so ......... unimportant.

This was a good person. Devoted father, husband, teacher. Very patient. Very calm.

Just a nice man. It wasn't due to anything he did in his life, or with his body. His heart wasn't as strong as his spirit. But he really never gave up. He fought for his life.

And he was unfailingly nice. I need to remember this. Every day. WWJD.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Dyeing to Quilt

was the title of a book I bought many years ago (now) and aptly titled it was. Three years ago, at the Houston Quilt Show, I bought 5 dyeing kits from Pro Chem and Dye.

Last year, before she left for the Northeast, Kathy and I tried our hand at the dyeing process with two of the kits and ended up with this:

Stones and Shells

Flower Garden

but life has a sneaky way of getting in the way of the creative process and the holidays came up quickly. All that now behind us, we thought we'd get to business and shoot a few shots as we went.

Carefully measuring each dye bath

Very carefully pouring into each prepared jar.

Tamping down the fabric to ensure coverage.

Here you can really see the progression from one color to the next.

We left them in their jars overnight and Kathy did the rinsing and washing and this is what we got:

Change of Seasons. Really? What seasonal change would you say this represents?

Afterwards, we dyed the 4th set:

They look much darker on their sides.... Kathy will do the rinse again this morning and see what we end up with This set is called Painted Desert. The "red" is gorgeous!!!!!!! I really hope it doesn't wash out to to a dull orange.

You really don't know what it will end up with. The Flower Garden dyes were brilliant and held very true to the bath. I seem to recall having greater expectations for the shells and stones but they looked very faded. They are nice, don't misunderstand, but the dye baths were more vibrant than the fabric ended up as.

It is ALOT of fun doing this and more fun having a partner to share it all with. Do be prepared to spend a good three hours just mixing and pouring and turning. I have no idea how long it takes to rinse 30 pieces of fabric because Kathy has all that done before I show up and start squealing, "Oohhh!! HOW PRETTY!!!!!!!"

Friday, January 1, 2010

Oh Happy New Year

All clean and unblemished, as of yet.
I rejoice in this new slate on which to write.

Shortly I will put a pot of peas on the stove and prepare for a few friends to cheer on 2010.

I saw my mother- and sister-in-law off at the Louis Armstrong airport yesterday afternoon and although it was a mere 3.5 hour travel, they didn't get back to Corpus Christi until sometime after 11:00pm! And that was after being rerouted to San Antonio and back to Houston for refueling. I can't wait to hear the whole sordid story. I feel awful for BOTH of them. It isn't easy for the anyone these days traveling by air but add to that being over the age of 70 for one and not partial to the whole Let's-cram-ourselves-into-a tight-cylinder-and-hurl-it-into-space for the other and flying then takes on a new version of torture. They could have driven home int he time it took them to "fly." I really don't want to fly EVER again. The thrill is GONE.

2009. I am glad it is over, done with, history. Shut that door and put nails around the frame and cover it with yellow police tape and hazard stickers.

Wonderful things happened for us, it is true. I have my whole family still intact and good friends. I will cling to this and remind myself of it daily. But sheesh, I am so ready to embrace 2010 and make it an awesome year.

Goals, it important to have firm goals:

1. Plant blueberries and grapes. QUICKLY
2. Get those seedlings started within 5 weeks! Spring'll be here before I know it!
3. Get the pruning and spraying schedule up to snuff.
4. Quilt at least 1 quilt-top a month EVERY month until the stack has been dwindled down to half.
5. Begin preps for Christmas in June, regardless how hot it is outside.
6. Get better exercise for both of us, daily.
7. Never buy another bag of white rice. Brown is better.
8. Bake a loaf of bread every other week, if not more often. How hard is that, honestly?
9. Reduce time spent on the computer to 3 hours a day. (seriously)
10. There should be 10 but I am drawing a blank.... I'll leave it for now.

I want to be this totally relaxed when 2011 rolls in: