Sunday, October 19, 2014

She started it

Deep in the belly of my fabric stash, in the darkest corner of the closet, there is an old canvas tote bag embellished with buttons, doilies, embroidery and other sewing paraphernalia that I made years ago (and will never, so help me ever, be seen on my shoulder in public) stuffed with a jumble of old scraps, notions and orphan quilt blocks.  I haven't peeked into it in years, and to my delight, found a strip of seven blocks made with old feed sack fabrics, that I had bought at a quilt show for $3.
 Someone had started a quilt, and never finished it.  Now why does that sound familiar?  The blocks were pieced both by hand and machine, and not always accurately.  I would have run away screaming if I had to sew just one of those blocks.  I'm surprised she made it to 7.

I imagine her tossing it aside in a fit of impatience, (oh wait, that would be me) or stuffing it into a canvas bag in the back of her closet to be dealt with later (me again).  Or maybe she just lost interest and started something new.
Somehow, the old blocks found their way to a quilt show sale table, where I snatched them up. Now I don't care if you quilt, knit, crochet, or do underwater basket weaving, you probably have several projects on the go at once, and if you're anything like me, you approach said projects like a chain smoker, starting up a new one before the last one is done. So why would I want to work on someone's unfinished project when I can't even finish my own?
Closure, I suppose, for a very talented quilter who came before me.  Someone who inspired me to make a table runner out of her handiwork and show everyone that her efforts were not in vain.   Besides, I know what it's like to not finish a project.
Despite the wonky mismatched seams, the pink fabric bleeding onto the white, (things I hardly tolerate in my own work. Hmmm something to think about there) I love her quilt blocks. 
I kept 6 of the blocks together in their original order and added the crosshatch border fabric.  Then I hand quilted it with running stitches.  The binding was sewn onto the back by machine, then flipped to the front and hand sewn with more running stitches using two strands of blue embroidery floss.
I backed it with a bright yellow calico, and used the 7th block as a giant label.  The runner measures 63 x 15.  Look at all those seams!!  Curved piecing too!  That black fabric with the roses is my favorite.

After I took these pictures, I went back and added my name to the label.  I don't know who started it, but it's finished now.

I hope she likes it.

Monday, October 13, 2014

What did you say?

Well here I am again without a finished bit of anything to show you.  I've been released from Physical Therapy, so I'm back to walking again in the mornings and it feels so good.  The dog likes it too.
Last week I got a burst of energy and repainted the kitchen, and it looks nice and clean and fresh and ready for the holidays.  I got rid of a lot of clutter, cleaned out cabinets, the oven, and the fridge.  It wiped me out though, and I felt like I had been dragged through a knothole backwards (my Grandma used to say this quite often, with her feet propped up after a long, hard day.)
Anyway, when we moved into this house over ten years ago, my good friend Erin, who is an interior designer in Colorado, came out for a visit, drew up new kitchen blueprints, met with my contractor and ordered cabinets. After living 3 months with a gutted kitchen, and our refrigerator  sitting in the dining room, our new kitchen was born. I wish I could find the "before" pictures to show you.  They were really hideous.
I think it's held up pretty well don't you?

So here's what I'm messing around with this week.  I had a gift certificate and bought a bundle of 30's reproduction fabrics from my local fabric store. This wouldn't have been my first choice but honestly there was nothing else to pick from.  The owner really needs to step up her game and start ordering some new lines of fabric.  There is so much out there to choose from and she keeps bringing in the same old crap stuff.  When I came away from the store I was completely uninspired and felt as though I was buying something just to use up my certificate.  Pooh.

I'm almost done with my family signature blocks. When I started this quilt a few months back, I figured I had plenty of time before Thanksgiving to finish it up so everyone could sign it.  Oooops.  I need to get a move on.

Now, not only do I have my own WIPs to finish, but I decided to take on something that was started by someone else.  Nothing big, and I'm enjoying it.  But really, another WIP and it's not even mine?
More on this next time.

The big chunky ribbed crochet blanket is about halfway done and I LOVE it.  I would like to add some faux fur like the throws they sell at Pottery Barn.  I feel a hack coming on.  No picture this time, because it looks almost exactly like the picture from my last post, and I don't want to bore you with the same old baloney, just warmed over (Grandma again).  Do you guys have family sayings or quotes that get repeated over and over like that?  Or lines from movies. "I'll have what she's having"(When Harry Met Sally) or "You're killing me Smalls" (Sandlot), are a couple that usually find their way into our conversations, along with song lyrics, which must be sung while you're at it.  I dunno, maybe we're just weird like that.
 I also started a crocheted scarf using Berroco Flicker in an indigo blue.  It has silver threads throughout and is quite soft, but the stitch definition is not very pronounced, despite trying out three different patterns.
Not quite what I expected so far, but it's better than a kick in the butt with a frozen boot (Grandpa).

Saturday, October 4, 2014


A ribbed throw for the couch.  I started it last fall...and look, it's fall again.  Let's see if it gets finished before next fall rolls around.
I'm off to buy more yarn at Joann's.  This thing is hungry for more.
Half double crochet in back loops only, using Wool Ease Thick and Quick.
A hook the size of a baseball bat.
This one's a snuggler for sure.

Two cookbooks are on the way (I bought used copies), Delancey and A Homemade Life.  Both by Molly Wizenberg.  I can't wait to read them and cook something delicious.  You may have heard of her blog, Orangette.  Beautiful photos, yummy food.  I love finding new blogs.  I turn into an instant stalker, multiplying their page views by about a thousand. I found out about Orangette from this blog.  I spent a long time at that site too. 
So there you go, some weekend reading suggestions from yours truly.
Have a good one!

Saturday, September 27, 2014


There was a helluva thunderstorm last week.  We took the dogs out to the side yard and watched the clouds swirl, and the sky turn to a sickening yellow gray.  It looked like scene from Wicked
Amidst our frolicking, and oohing and aaahing, lightning struck very close (I do not recommend you frolic in a thunderstorm unless you have very good life insurance and a change of underpants), followed by the loudest thunderclap I have ever witnessed.  My ears are still ringing.
We practically tripped over each other running for the back door, the dogs way ahead of us.  Big dog sailed like superman into the pool (weird), little dog hit the screen door running (no time to check if it's open when your life's in danger) and bounced back 4 feet. Safely inside, we began talking loudly all at once, excited to still be alive. We watched the storm for another 10 minutes, before it moved quickly to the next county.
That was my excitement for the week.  Get a life right?

The first cold/flu bug of the season has arrived, and each of us came down with it within 2 days of the person before them. With so much coughing and nose blowing and moaning, our house sounds like a hospital ward.  Since I was last to be infected, I was beginning to feel a bit smug.  Look at me, and my stellar immune system, I thought.  I'm not going to get this!  Ha!  I ended up with bronchitis and a sinus infection for which I was given an antibiotic that doesn't like me (adverse reaction) and switched out to another one which doesn't feel like it's doing anything but screwing with my digestion. So, I haven't accomplished much this week, except pushing the vacuum around one day, and laying on the couch hand quilting. Thank goodness I had something portable to work on.

I sewed the block together by hand, then attached the borders and binding by machine, followed by hand quilting.  That's my kind of excitement.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Made from scratch

This is my third attempt at making a sourdough starter from scratch.  By just mixing flour and water in equal parts every day and leaving it out on the counter, you should be able to capture the wild yeasts in the air and have the makings of fresh bread without using commercial store bought yeast.
I don't know what's happening in my kitchen, but it ain't bread.  So I'm going to keep trying until I nail it.  The little bubbles you see in the second picture means the yeast is active.  My last batch had bubbles too, but I probably got overly excited at the bubble sighting and used the starter too early. My bread loaf didn't rise worth a darn and could have been used instead as a weapon or door stop.  A friend of mine fed her starter for several weeks before making bread (whoops! I only waited a week!)  I'm going to have to find some patience and just feed the little yeasty beasties for a while longer.  I'll let you know how it turns out.

The nosegay block pattern above is something I have been meaning to try since last year.   I copied the templates from here, glued them to thin cardboard, traced them onto the back of the fabric and then cut everything out with scissors.  Those scary Y seams aren't going to intimidate me, no sir.  Even though it's a slower pace, sewing them by hand makes me feel like I have more control and I like how it's turning out so far. 
Sourdough bread and quilt blocks from scratch.  It doesn't get much slower than that.

p.s. Thanks for the kind thoughts about my Dad.  He's home from the hospital and back to his usual shenanagins.  Whew!

Friday, September 12, 2014

A few things

I figured I better pop in with an update since I haven't been around lately. I've been going to physical therapy 2 times per week for a low back issue that's working it's way down to my foot.  I haven't been able to go on my walks for a while now and it puts me into a funk. I know it's important to keep up my appointments, (and it's helping a lot!!) but it sure sucks time out of my day.  Also, my dad is in the hospital with an infection of some kind, so there's an element of worry floating about.  As a result I don't feel very creative lately.  I open the door to my sewing room, throw something on the cutting table, close the door behind me.  Ugh.
A few things though, helped improve my mood.

 I received some yarn in the mail for a wrap I have been dreaming about for a while now.  It's an alpaca, rayon blend (Berroco Folio) which feels amazingly soft against the skin.
The first part of the pattern is a mind numbing 22 inches of single crochet.  Just the kind of project where you set yourself on auto-pilot and hook away while watching baseball games and taped episodes of Property Brothers.  Perfect.

Then my new cookbook arrived.

 Lots of fresh simple ingredients and everything made from scratch.  The book is organized by seasons so you can cook with what is available during summer, fall, etc.  There is also an ongoing commentary in the side bars about the authors' life on her farm, so it makes for a very enjoyable read.
morning glories sharing sun with the cantaloupes in my garden

You will find ideas for cooking with all those great fruits and veggies you grow in your backyard (or buy at the farm stand), like carrots, kale, butternut squash, corn, beets, rhubarb and berries.  Recipes for paella, Thai shrimp, pot roast, molasses cookies and a tomato tart are on my list of things to make.
Oh yeah.  Feeling better already.

This small grove of Redwood trees is at the side of our property.  I was walking around checking it out yesterday, because we have had a family of 7 raccoons (!!!) and 2 feral cats hanging around the house and in the garage.  But all I found was this...
I think it's a Robin's nest.  It fell from the tree and didn't even break apart! I love how it blends right in like it's always been there.  I almost stepped on it!
Thanks to the birds for sharing their gift.
And thank you for visiting! 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


I dug out an old crochet blanket WIP the other day and added more blocks.  I have four (!!) crochet blankets on the go, in various states of completion, and this one seemed as good as any to work on.
Still not feeling the quilting love.  Guess I'm a bit burned out. And September is here with all it's seasonal changes so I'm distracted.  Here's what I notice about September...

I want to crochet something warm and cuddly

Noisy Canadian geese flying overhead

Baseball and football on television at the same time

No one is interested in swimming in the pool lately except the dog

The leaves are raining down from the willow tree in the front yard reminding me to rake

Halloween candy is on display at the supermarket

The grasses and fields are dry.  Farm equipment stirs up dust in the air while harvesting wine grapes and the last of the tomatoes

The nights and early mornings are cooler so little dogs need their hoodies

He has black whiskers on one side and white on the other. Cute eh?

I feel like baking

Irish soda bread, recipe here.  Tim thought it was a giant scone.  Don't do what I did and substitute half the white flour with spelt flour.  It was really good, but too heavy.  Like, I could have used it as a stone on the curling rink, heavy.  All it needs is a handle.  But yummy with jam.  And tea.
Summer is leaving.  I can run the oven without breaking a sweat, work on wool blankets and drink hot tea in the afternoons.
Oh yeah, I love September.