Thursday, October 30, 2014

Binding the Supernova Quilt

Well, it's all but done, now and I am super-excited!

I'm stitching down the binding and I used all the bright colors I had left-over from the blocks so it sparkles and flickers all the way around the edge.

I think the quilting design in the background helps anchor the overall explosion and the wavy lines in the diagonal arms moves the eye so it never settles in one place.

BTW, all those rock and pebbles take forever to machine stitch...... this was quilted on a Tin Lizzie with no stitch regulator or computer-aid. So it was a long slow slog but so much fun to wander around with. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Decisions, Decisions - Supernova Friendship Swap

Now that the final Supernova Friendship Quilt quilt-top is complete, I turn my attention to the backing and quilting motifs and try to decide how I would like to see this lovely creature look at the end of the project.

Here are the added borders:

I decided not to use the original darker smoke grey fabric for the extensions along the border but rather go with more color from the blocks themselves. As I suspected, it leaves a less unified result but I want to expose more color.

The nine blocks (out of 11) I chose to use have a more scattered effect owing to neither of us knowing what the other was going to use each month. We relied on the original photograph

for consultation and my partner also tossed in batiks for good measure. It was always thrilling to receive a package because hers were delightfully modern and unpredictable!

(Aside-  Now when I stop and look at that photo and the colors I chose to use once more, I realize that I completely left off the green tones! Interesting!)

In my first blogpost, I wrote that Kim had sent the raspberry block (right) and decided to withdraw it and replace it with another block.

She had been waiting for a shipment of Cotton + Steel fabrics at her LQS. Once they had arrived, she got busy and sent both the replacement and the next month's block together. She also sent me a selection of fat quarters so I started adding a little of them in my remaining blocks.

A week ago, I received her final blocks and quickly threw them all up on the design wall and started playing with them. As, I wrote, I had 2 additional  blocks left over and wanted them to be a part of the quilt so I pieced them into the backing.

  I chose a Kate Spain fabric from her Honey Honey collection for the backing as I had also used it in several of the blocks. I love her fabric designs and the cotton is so soft. Thank you, Moda!!!!!

Here is the backing on my Tin Lizzie frame, all ready to rock!

 Now, for the real work to begin! How do quilt this Modern quilt design?

I have been pawing at the modern quilt edges for a couple of years now and get great ideas form Angela Waters and Pinterest. Up til now, I have focussed on getting better at feathering and McTavishing but for Supernova, I really wanted something that would accentuate the explosive quality of the block design itself.

I also want to use modern quilting motifs so in the grey open (negative) spaces, I am using pebbles to make the background recede. This is going to take quite a long time.

So, you can see pebbles in the background negative spaces, wavy lines on the diagonal arms and vines and leaves on the axis'.

Still to decide are the 9-patch squares... I am uncertain at this point what I will be doing. I have a few ideas but am unsettled on all of them. Hoping I get a flash of inspiration in my sleep!

To see another finished quilt, click here to go to Late-Night Quilter.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Supernova Catch Up

OK, it's been a few months since I wrote my first post about the Supernova Quilt Block Swap project. Good reasons for that.

1. My daughter got married at the end of August and gearing up for this event took me away from the quilt room at times. But I did finish the wedding quilt in time. The groom (right) and his brother are holding it up for the photographer (bride). I love Kaffe Fassett fabrics and the Quick Curve Ruler makes the Double Wedding Ring pattern a  breeze!

2. My partner's daughter graduated and went off to college, which took her away from her quilt room as well.
3. I have been working on projects for the store where I work and Soldier Quilts. We are trying to raise 168 quilts to be given to our National Guard Unit here in Louisiana.

But, Kim and I are back at work on our blocks and are now sprinting towards a strong finish.

Here are four blocks at play!

And six blocks gathered.

At this point in time, we got together and discussed the final two blocks because they were integral to the look as a whole and decided to send each other both of those blocks so we could see what was happening and make changes, if necessary.

Being flexible and adaptive is important, I think, because when all is said and done, you want the finished product to be as strong as it can be. Sandra, Stephanie's partner in this Supernova Friendship Swap, writes here about remaking an entire block as she was unhappy with the first one.

So after I received Kim's last two blocks last week, I started messing around with layouts. Here are 2 versions, the first with nine out of 10 blocks.

This one I liked with the orange in the N, S, E and W positions but I was unhappy with the exact locations.

This one has the blue-centric blocks in N, S, E and W positions but the center block (the 10th) was not playing nice with the others and no matter where I positioned it, I had the same unease result. SO, this block will be added to the backing and quilted in.

Here is the final layout I will be going with.

 Now, in fairness to the color in the blocks, ..... the room where I work, and these photos are being taken, has a yellowish tinge from the overhead light so this is not a true representation of the color palette. I have to piece the quilt together and get it outside in natural lighting for a better view.

Ah ah ah.... not so fast, sister! What about the outer border?

When Kim and I were deciding on our color palette, we settled on a soft grey for the background and a darker smoke grey solid for the 'connector' segments. But that was then and this is now and I really think I want to use more of the blues and oranges, instead. I think it will move the explosions further outward and make the dramatic effect more, well, effective.

Questions, we get questions!

Two of the last questions posed to us was 1. what are some of our favorite memories and 2. unexpected blessings.

The second was easy for me because I believe have been extraordinarily blessed, from genetics to marriage to location. I have so much to be grateful for and I thank God I am alive here and now everyday.

The first one caught me off-guard. Not because I don't have good memories; quite the opposite! Surely, anyone with enormous blessings in life should also have had some pretty good memories back there, too. The problem was the overwhelming sensations of sorrow for the loss of the people in those memories. The floodgates of tears came rushing over me which, at times, can be cathartic. This time, it was more bitter than sweet because of the release of emotions of what I can't get back but also what was happening with my daughter marrying and moving far away.

Anyway, it was nice to acknowledge the memories and share them with someone completely unfamiliar with my history. I hope to meet Kim one day in person!

One of the things I find funny is how similar Kim and I are. Our grandmothers taught us to crochet at very early ages, we both make jelly from black berries and raspberries, we like to to shoot guns, and we both 'marvel' at the fact our husbands married us!

Kim is far more creative than I, however. She takes the time to hand write her answers while I whack them out on the computer!

While I don't know it for a fact, I'd wager she is (FAR) more organized than I am and this is something I (should) aspire to. Maybe this will be a New Years Resolution!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Supernova Swap with LateNight Quilter

A few months ago, I happened to scroll through the FaceBook feed and noticed a beautiful image that stopped me in my tracks.

The message was that a person looking for a partner to work on a quilting project together: a SWAP!

I am all in for these things because they are mysterious by nature.

Now, the Supernova Friendship swap was being started by a Blogger called Late Night Quilter, so I popped over to the  Blog and read up on the requirements, etc.   "Who's in?"

I'm IN!

I found no one to pair up with me so I wrote to the woman who mentioned it in the first place, asking if she still needed a partner. Alas for me, she already had one. Oh well, keep looking.

I don't think 3 days passed before I heard back from her, telling me she DID need one! Hurrah! It was meant to be!

So Kim A and I are quite the couple and she found some beautiful photos to use as the basis of our color palette. We settled on one, THIS ONE!

Isn't it pretty?

So the first thing we did was head over to Bright Hopes Quilting in Mandeville and start pulling bolts to match these exact (or as close as I could get!) colors.


Pretty good, no?
(that bright blue didn't make the final cut)

Full disclosure: I WORK at Bright Hopes so I am rather spoiled in selection of outrageously  beautiful fabrics to play with and several other lovely quilt shops all within a 50 mile radius of house in the off-chance Pearl doesn't have what I need. But my partner, Kim, lives in a quilt fabric desert in an Eastern state and she had to look a little harder.

So, off we went , back in our corners and whipped up our first blocks. 
Now along with the swapping, the first thing we had to think about (besides, accurate slicing and stitching) was to write up 25 Things we didn't know about each other.

Lots of partners were already friends but some of us were strangers when we started down this mysterious path.

I wrote out my 25 Things, packed up the envelop and sent it on to Kim. 

I got hers the same day she received mine.

I won't show you what she wrote but I want to say it was hand-written out in colorful pencils and thoughtfully created.

What she got from me was a single white boring page of numbered single-sentence itemized check-list facts in sans serif Helvetica.  12 pt. Black ink. I didn't even italicize it. 

 I'm surprised she didn't fall asleep reading it.

Anyhoo, here are our first 2 blocks, side by side.  

After a few weeks went by, Kim wrote back and said she going to remake the one on the right to remove the raspberry magenta fabrics. So when I receive that replacement block, I will drop it into this post.

In the meantime, I need to fulfill THIS month's Question:

Without any physical or mental limitations, or personal obligations such as children or money, if you could hold any occupation or talent what would you choose and why? Would you be a great artist, an Olympic athlete, a neurosurgeon – the possibilities are limitless – share with your partner what it is about that talent or profession that inspires you.

Off I go!!!

While I am working on this, if you wish to see more lovelies in the Swap, Head over to Late Night Quilter's Flickr page and browse to your heart's content!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Leeks and Beets

No, I am not.

I am NOT holding these veggies so that they look humongous.

 I'll prove it. There they are, on the ground with a quarter for reference.

I really wanted to show the scale because I think I have figured something out.....

When I am out in the garden, harvesting, I will pull a leek or a beet or a carrot and think to myself, why isn't it as large as the ones I see in the grosch? Then I get them inside and really understand just how big they truly are and I think the reason may have to do with SCALE. When I am outdoors, I have all this huge space around me so what I might be looking at in the ground doesn't look particularly impressive but bring it indoors and I can really grasp the true size of a leek. Or a beet. In these cases, they are wonderful in size! Not so big that they are woody and not so small that I think, hmmmmmm... what didn't I do right here?

So, the question(s) is/are: How did I get them this big this year when our winter growing did nothing until March? Why did the half the blueberry bushes not bloom out when there was every reason and evidence it was going to be a terrific flowering? Why did the plum tree grow and fertilize massive amounts of fruit this year and nothing on the peach trees?

I have no idea. 

We planted beets and carrots four time during the fall and NOTHING came up. until March! I planted the leeks in Mid-February. We planted potatoes in early March & I planted more beets and carrots in March after the last hard freeze. 

The deal here in this sector of the South is we are too far north of Lake Ponchatrain to get any warming benefit from that massive body of water during the winter months and not far enough North to get there right number of chill hours for certain trees. And timing is everything when you grow in the South. Well, anywhere this is probably true but down here, we have the added bonus of growing something to eat year round and this is NOT true of lots of States. But, again, timing is critical and if you miss the time-frame or if we have an unusual weather event, even the best-timed plantings can go awry.

Now, we've grown some nice leeks in the past but this year is awesome. Everything timed out perfectly for them and I think it helped that I have been diligent in fertilizing every three weeks. The results speak for themselves.

Ditto with the peas and carrots. I love that combination and for the first time, we managed to have them ripen at the same time. Yeah Yeah, I can always freeze one or the other but fresh peas and carrots are outstanding!

AND NOW!!! for the potatoes..... We did plant these in March and here it is the fourth week of May when these gems are being harvested. This is the yield result of 12 plants. You can see four more rows behind the trolley. 

All I know is, we're gonna be eating like kings and trolls this year! hurr hurr hurr!

I just have no clue where I am going to store them all!!!!

Monday, May 19, 2014

(Coz we gotta get) Back to the Garden

 This is the time of year when the winter crops are about to play out and the summer crops are just starting to flourish and so, I am posting a few shots of what we are harvesting at the moment.

Here are the winter carrots that took forever to germinate this winter. We planted them 4 times over the fall and only started seeing any green sprouting in March. BUT, the wait was worth it and they are so sweet! You are also looking at the first zuc of the year..... I love zucchini!  

And right in time for peas and carrots, you see a tidy saucer of peas and there on the lower left are French Shallots.

We grow shallots year-round and these little gems are NOT the California giants you might be accustomed to seeing and buying at the grosch.... these are from Louisiana, taste like a cross between garlic & onion and are so easy & fun to grow because once you get them going, they just don't stop.  

Now, what you are looking at below is how they appear when they are ready to harvest but you gotta help them get to that point, first. They look all spent and tired. But when they are young and growing, they look an awful lot like pencil onions or green onions and you can eat them like that, by snipping off the tender green shoots.....but....

......once you start seeing any little shoot that look like it's going to turn into a flower, like these do below  you need to cut that off down low. Why? well, all the energy that the plant needs to make that flowerhead could and should be used in the growing of the bulb down below the soil line. If you let the flower go to head, you will only end up with a little bulb no bigger than your fingertip. 

They're good too, and great for replanting, but the bigger ones make for good eating.
So, snip off those flower buds long before they start opening. Cut them as soon you see them start to form. You can also add fertilizer to the soil at this point to help plump up the bulb.

In about 6 weeks or so, you see that the plant looks half-dead but it isn't. All that growing is going on where you can't see until you take a spade and lift it up. It is easier to do if the soil is dry.

Grab hold of the stems to help ease the whole clump out and you will see beautiful green/white bulbs ready to wash and separate.

Once the soil is washed away, you can see how the bulb is growing attached to each of the stalks.... just pop them off , keep all the big ones for cooking and all or just a few of the little bulbs with roots still attached can now be replanted about 8 inches apart for your next crop. You really only need 6-10 for your next crop, unless you love to cook, a lot!

Just plunk them in a new hole and leave the tip sticking out.... water it well and frequently if the weather is hot and you should see new green leaves start showing up in about 3-4 weeks. It take about 5 months to get them to a good size, so try digging up a small clump halfway through it, separate them and replant.... this way you have a new batch to cook with every few months.

Here is a quick shot of the tomatoes we planted in the upper raised beds... these are romas.

And I have to show this shot, only because it drives John nuts. We planted a bed of zinnias last year and the seeds just went everywhere! John hates it that I won't let him spray the walk-path between the beds but, that's where all the flowers are!

Thornless Rosebushes

Every now and then, something amazing happens to me........ case in point:

Last week, I received my credit card bill and I did not recognize a charge. It was relatively small, only $36.00 but still.... "What is this!", I thought to myself.

So, I did the first thing that came to mind, I called the credit company to see if they could identify the business. As I waited for the interminable auto-answering laundry list of selections to flip-flip-flip it's way to where I actually found a human, I popped online to see what this could be. ACT........ 

About the time a human on other end joined me, I figured out it was for a magazine subscription! This was one that I took a trial subscript on back in November of 2012, I kid you not. Back when I registered for the Rock n Roll Marathon!!!!!

Do you remember what you did 15 months ago? I don't, and shame on me. So, I meekly explained that no, this was not a fraudulent charge..... it was something I authorized and just have no memory of until the clues all fell in place.

I might add here, the YOUNG man on the other end had NO, none, nada, zero, nyet reaction. Total silence. Not a chuckle of understanding, or tsk tsk finger-wagging, or joking sympathy for my aging. All my (weak) attempts of humor fell flat. oh well.

I mediately called the magazine distributor who was very kind and helpful and cancelled the subscription (I have totally stopped running since that marathon!) and was told I would be receiving a refund in 2 billing cycles.

So, now keeping with this trending forgetfulness, I set the credit card bill aside to pay and promptly covered it with other clutter. And today, as I go to pay bills, I find... ho ho! What's THIS!?  I forgot to PAY the $36.00!!!! and NOW I see since it IS late, there will be an additional $35.00 Late Fee. 


What to do, what to do? I called the credit card company (again) to throw myself at their mercy only to hear the auto-answer voice tell me I have a $27.00 CREDIT!!! The refund came through immediately.

 GO Figure!

Every now and then, I fall off a balcony and into a thornless rosebush.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Things That Make Me Go "Mmmmmmm"

A year and a half ago, I all but walked away from this blog. I metaphorically threw myself out a window and had very little to say. So, that being the case, why bother writing it all down?

It has taken me all this time to come to grips with the realization that I didn't like the person I had become. Now, think about that.

How do you live with someone you don't like and can't escape from?! I am who I am. Or am I?

Was I always that way or did I evolve? Can I revolve? Can I reinvent or recreate or merely tap into all that I want to be and quietly walk away from the rest? I think focussing on that 'quietly' part is going to take some doing, some real discipline.

I have also learned that everything I fear comes to me. Isn't that interesting?

Well, on my road to 100 Happy Days I am finding that I can refocus my attention to all the things out there in the vast world that makes me happy and by doing this, I can, well..... not ignore but also and more importantly not embrace that which makes me angry. I learned that I cannot change those things. They have to change themselves, if they want to.

I WANT to. I want to go back to writing about the things that made me start this blog: Cats and Quilts and the odd occasional chicken. Toss in growing vegetables and the odd bread recipe to two and you've got a pretty happy person who loves being alive.

This is me, today:


Monday, February 10, 2014

I Swear This Happened to Me

Some years ago, it was around summer 2004, I had the opportunity to travel to Rio de Janeiro for a 5 days and went with John. 

During the day, I was with two other women and we had the occasion to have a driver who knew everything and everyone in Rio, it seemed. No matter where we went, people were waving to him and talking...... he was extremely personable and knowledgeable as well. We did all the sight-seeing, like the gondola up Sugar Loaf and jewelry stores with mining museums....... we ate in some very interesting 'salad bars'. 

But for the last day, I went solo and this was the day to visit the cathedral and then up to Christ the Redeemer.

I pause now to state that I had an HP digital camera which used 4 lithium battery or 4 AAs. The lithium was recommended for this camera and I brought 4 spare along because I wanted to have plenty of battery life for the whole trip. What I didn't count on  was taking as many photos as I did on this trip. 

This camera showed how much cell life was left as I took photos and I was able to extend the life as the batteries were dying out by turning off and on the camera and grabbing an extra shot or two. Or three. 

The morning we set out to see the cathedral and Christ the Redeemer I checked on my the barry levels of the last 4 batteries and I saw they were less than half strength so I stopped at a shop and bought 4 (expensive) AA batteries... just in case. There were so many things to photograph this day and I wasted no time in doing so. 
We buzzed past the stadium were Carnival begins. Along the beachfront. Then on to the cathedral.

The cathedral in Rio was so unique and modern in the manner that anything from the 50s is modern.  From the outside you would never think this was a Catholic Cathedral.

From the inside, however, it is unmistakably so.

Around the inside were all the stations of the cross and seating was plentiful. I spent an hour inside, taking photos and within a few minutes, the camera batteries died. No sweat.... I planned ahead. I was not using the flash at all and figured that would save the life of the batteries.

We left the cathedral and started up Corcorvado and stopped at a scenic lookout. From this elevation, Rio de Janeiro is exquisite.

 After I had taken only several shots, I checked the battery icon and it showed there was very little life left! What! I just bought them! 

Oh well, oh well. I turned the camera off to save what was there. And I had that little trick as back-up.

As we continued up the mountain, the driver filled me in on the history of the statue, the visit of Pope John Paul I in 1980 and how Brazil had modernized the entire facility to accommodate disabilities with an escalator to the base. Finally he finished with "There are 220 steps up to the statue." 

Oh really? He left me there and I told him I'd be back in about and hour or so. I checked the battery level and was real disappointed to see the icon read on tick away from empty. I turned it off and said to myself, "well, just take a few images as you go up and shoot the important ones on the way down." I hit the escalator to the base.  From there, the view looking up is enough to make me dizzy, I took the camera out and shot a picture immediately.

As I climbed the steps to the statue, I encountered stopping points with patios where I could rest and enjoy the sights of the city from various viewpoints. For my part, I was more interested in the Redeemer. While this picture below looks exactly like the one above, you can tell it is not taken from the same location  by looking at the vegetation on the left side and compare it's location to the other photo. At this point in time, I checked the battery icon and I swear, I swear this is true. It was full.

Well, okay. That's weird. I left the camera on and continued counting steps to the next patio.

At each of these you can look up and see another angle of the statue.
I am almost to the platform at this shot.

Now I am standing amongst 300 people or more on a huge platform that angles out and away from the statue so the viewer can get a real good look at the face. All these people are milling about so I try not to get in their way.

From the farthest place on that patio/platform you can look down on the city and get a good idea how far up the mountain is.


There are plaques that tell the story of the construction and reconstruction at the foot and the viewer can walk completely around the statue.

But back to the statue..

 It is stunning. On a beautiful day, every angle was inspiring so I kept shooting. I had to wait for people to move away before I could take up a position and sometimes I was on the ground aiming upward. All of this took considerable time.

This is when I checked the battery icon and I SWEAR this is true. It was full. 

 I started my way back down and started counting again the steps to double check and be sure I had the right count. And I took more shots as I went, this time focussing more on the hillside.

 I thought this shot was beautiful.

As I walked off the last step, the camera shut off. The batteries were dead.

I can't explain it. I can't understand it and I can't deny it is sounds like a lie. But it is the truth and I never turned the camera off. I had been up there for around 80 minutes with that camera on the whole time.

And yes, 220 steps, up and 220 back down. 

I am not saying this is a miracle but there is an energy field on that mountain and at that statue. 

I swear this happened to me.

If you want to see some exceptional photographs of this remarkable statue, check out this site.