Thursday, July 2, 2015

Little flag quilt

Every once in a while around the 4th of July, I itch to make something flag-ish. This little quilt was the inspiration, although I changed the block sizes to make them slightly bigger, and drew different birds.  I even tea dyed the white sashing, something I haven't done in years.  You can see in the photo below how the fabric darkened up a bit in the tea bath.  I soaked my quilt top in a big spaghetti pot filled with hot water and 6 black tea bags.  When it got dark enough for my liking I rinsed it under cool water and hung it on the clothesline to dry.
I took these pictures out by the garden, where the tomatoes are really starting to pop out.  I've been eating a toasted tomato and cheese sandwich almost every day this week.
Here's how I make it.
Lightly toast a thick piece of sourdough bread then spread on some mayonnaise.  Next add your just picked tomato slices, salt and pepper, and top with a few slices of your favorite cheese.  I'm really hooked on this one lately.  Put it back in the toaster oven (or under the broiler) for just a few minutes to get it all melty.  Pour some lemonade. If it's nice out, sit on the porch and devour it.  If it's 102 degrees (like yesterday), sit in the air conditioned kitchen.  It tastes good no matter where you eat it.
Almost every closeup I took had a fly on it.  Can you find it?
I ended up tying each flag corner with gold embroidery floss to finish it off.  You can see a few of them above where I was just starting.


Little quilt size 27 x 31 inches
Made with scraps
Backing fabric from French General




Thursday, June 25, 2015

Throwing potatoes

I'm a bit sleep deprived these days. Here in the valley during summer we have a very short season to sleep with the windows open at night. Soon it's going to get too hot and we will have to keep the house closed up and the air conditioner running, sometimes for 24 hours.  But it's not the heat keeping me up at night, it's the birds.
Mockingbirds like to sing at night because all the other little birdies are quietly tucked in dreaming about tomorrows worms, and therefore they have the whole stage to themselves.  With no other noises competing for air space, they sing long and loud to attract a mate.  Long. And. Loud.  Usually right outside our bedroom window.
Wednesday at 3:30 am, after listening to a series of twitters, whistles, trills, squawks, peeps, and a sound that eerily sounded like my daughter calling the dog "Come here!" (Only like a bird on crack "C'mere!C'mere!Cmere!", I decided I'd had enough.  Yes I know, I could have just shut the window, but the breeze was so nice.....
Anyway after slamming the screen door a few time to no avail, I started to look around for something to throw. There was nothing heavy enough in my closet I was willing to risk breaking.  So I went downstairs and pulled a russet potato out of the pantry.
Now before anyone gets cross with me for throwing something at a bird let me tell you no mockingbirds were harmed during Wednesdays' potato toss.  There are 2 reasons why this would never happen,
Reason 1
I am barely 5'2.  The chances of me heaving a potato up into a 20 foot Camphor tree in complete darkness, and actually hitting a bird were very slim.
Reason 2
I really like birds and I was just trying to get it to fly off and find another tree.  Preferably next door.
I also own a  Sibley's field guide, binoculars recommended for use when birding, and have 2 bird identifying apps. on my phone. There.  Not a bird hater.
So.  The potato soared into the tree and landed on the other side with a soft thud, and the bird took off. Finally.  Peace at last.
Back in the house I faced my sleepy husband.
Him: (calmly)"What are you doing?" (Translation, "What are you doing now, Crazy?")
Me: (through giggles and snorts, realizing how ridiculous a 56 year old woman, in rumpled pajamas and wild bed hair must look, throwing potatoes in trees.) "I threw a potato at the mockingbird."
 No need to over explain.  I went back to bed.
Afterwards, when I was almost asleep, I could barely hear the Mockingbird at the back of the property, running through his litany and taunting me with "C'mere!,C'mere! C'mere!"
Yeah I'll come over there alright.  I have a whole bag of potatoes.

The green quilt is almost done, but I'm heading to Napa with the husband for a couple of days.  I will not be bringing any potatoes.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Summertime blues

The blue May stash buster quilt is done.  I hand tied every other square with black Perle cotton #8 and added a cut-on-the-bias navy and white gingham border.  After a trip through the washer and dryer, (the quilt, not me) I took it outside to snap a few pictures.  It was a hot afternoon, with a warm breeze blowing and I had a hard time getting my quilt holder to focus on her task.
this one is called "quilt with boobs"

Here are the details:
 Twenty five 16 patch blocks made up of 8 light blue squares and 8 med/dark blue squares cut at 3.5 inches
Block size (unfinished) is 12 inches
3.5 inch border using Kona Snow
Quilt measure 63.5 inches
No fabric was bought, all courtesy of Mr. Stash

Three things caught my fancy this week.  This rope bowl, this paper pieced block and this little quilt which I would tweak a bit in different colors, maybe like this. As usual there are not enough hours in the day.  It's a nice place to be :)
 
Now it's onto the porch for some iced tea and hooky time before moving on to the green quilt for June.  Have a great weekend!
a little something for the 4th of July......


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Stuck in the middle

Oh I'm in the middle of too many projects at once and it's getting to me. I work on something for a bit, put it down because I just saw the pile of blocks for another quilt and need to move that one along, and then remember to add a few rows to my crochet scarf, and sew the last 2 blocks of the Hillside houses quilt.  Gaaah!  It's like the wheels are spinning but I'm not getting anywhere.  Time to bear down and focus on one thing.  The top priority is the blue May scrap quilt.  Just have to sew on the binding.  Okay that's easy.  
Then the green June scrap quilt.  I'm sewing the last 5 blocks together before I cut and piece the sashing (by the way sashing is a real thing you stupid computer.  Quit underlining it and making me doubt myself and repeatedly put it through spell check.)  Doable by the end of the month (fingers crossed).

Then I have to stop and make some muffins..
These are Banana Crunch Muffins from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.  The crunch part comes from the addition of granola in the batter and sprinkled on the top.  They're also really sweet, and I cut the 2 cups of sugar back to 1 1/2 cups and it didn't affect the taste.  The bananas make it sweet as well. Great for breakfast with coffee or tea.
And just as I get all organized and prioritized this happens...

Basket blocks from Liberated Quiltmaking II by Gwen Marston.  Somebody slap me.


Monday, June 8, 2015

House blocks and a scarf

Only 3 more blocks to go on my Hillside Houses quilt.  I  like the way it's turning out, especially with the little bits of Liberty prints added to the windows. It's been really fun piecing it together.
I finished my infinity scarf just as the weather reached a scorching 104 degrees.  I guess I won't be wearing it any time soon.  I ripped back the pattern I started here and switched to this one instead.
It's was so easy to crochet, you know the meditative kind where you repeat row 2 and 3 until you run out of yarn or fall asleep with the hook in your hand.  Now I'm looking around for the next crochet project.
The last picture is a female Bullock's Oriole getting ready to take a dip. Can you see her on the edge of the bowl?   She was just sitting there looking cute, while two young males were practically knocking themselves silly trying to get her attention.  It's the first time I ever spotted them in my backyard, and it was quite entertaining.
My son comes home from Australia this week, and I can't wait to hug him and hear all about his trip. I'm told he has a full beard.  He ended up staying a few extra days and went over to New Zealand by himself to visit the Shire.  His sisters are beyond jealous.  Of the Shire, not the beard.
So I'm going to make his favorite sweet and sour chicken for dinner and stock the bathroom with razors.  Hurry up son, your mama's waiting.
Have fun making stuff this week.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Going green

We are at peak "green" season here in the central valley.  June is always so pretty and fresh, the green vibrant.  Sometime towards the middle of this month the heat builds, the grass turns golden, the green gets heavy and darker looking.  Here in my yard the Crepe Myrtle trees are blooming and the lemons are popping out in little bouquets that look more like limes than lemons.  Also last year I had thrown the Halloween pumpkins into the compost pile and never gave them another thought.  Now there are two large vines growing in the corner of the garden.  I love it when that happens.

My stash quilt for June is made up of green log cabin blocks. I'm including a yellowish/gold calico center and sashing to represent the transition from green to gold here in California.  In addition to the ongoing drought and water rationing, we won't see any significant rainfall until the end of October.  Maybe.  So it's going to get very dry and un-green very quickly.
I decided to hand tie the blue May quilt, and cut some navy/white gingham on the bias for the binding. It's turned out to be the perfect "on the porch" project, where I can sit and admire the greenness.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Fifty shades of blue


I finished the quilt top for my monthly stash buster challenge.  The color for May is blue, and let me tell you I could have made 3 more like this.  Not just because I love blue, but because I have a crazy amount of blue stash and this quilt didn't even put a dent in it.
Hopefully I can get it quilted and bound this week so I can start the next one.  The color for June is going to be green and I already have little piles of green fabric marching across the floor of the sewing room waiting to be cut up.
One more blue thing.....

This blueberry cobbler was really good.  However the center came out a bit undercooked because I

1. added more blueberries than the recipe called for so the berry-to-batter ratio was off (you'll notice mine doesn't look a thing like hers, however this did not stop the shark-like feeding frenzy that began once this thing cooled.  Forget the fork, just put your face right in it).
2. undercooked it by about 5 minutes because I am scared of my new oven.  It's like I went from driving a Toyota Corolla to a Hummer. And my feet don't reach the petals.
 Must keep practicing.