Saturday, August 18, 2018

Orange Birds

I didn’t get too much orange sewing done this week because I really didn’t start on it until Thursday. My energies prior to that were focused on garden veggies and finishing a quilt. First, the vegetables. Bruce, for some reason, thought it would be a good idea to plant three yellow crookneck squash plants. Suffice it to say that besides eating it and freezing it, we’ve been passing it out to the neighbors and I’ve been taking a basketful (15-20 pieces) to Weight Watchers every week. Our WW leader even called me the Vegetable Queen, lol.

And speaking of Bruce, he loved his Groovy Guitars quilt that I finished this week. Thank goodness and hallelujah!!  You can read about it in the previous post, or click HERE. But I’m ready to talk about sewing on my orange scraps, and there are a lot of others who are too. You can check out their work at Rainbow Scrap Saturday over at Angela’s blog.

It’s been about 3 months since I’ve worked on my birds. That’s because the colors I’ve chosen are that of the focus fabric; rich blues, greens, pink, yellow and orange. My notes told me I needed to make four of these 10” (finished size) birds; two facing right and two facing left. I cut the pieces on Thursday and then set out to work yesterday, listening to my Aretha Franklin tunes in memoriam of the Queen of Soul.

Each bird is different, not only in the fabrics, but in little piecing variations. The pattern I’m using is my own adaptation of Margot Langedoc’s Feathers pattern, which makes an 8” block and a free online pattern here, which makes a 12” block. My birds are 10” (finished size) and have a rounded wing (suggestion from Sally) and a haphazard way of adding partial triangles at the bottom of the forewing.

When I do birds of a given color, some are all in that color, like the two orange birds above, and some are mixture of two of the main colors. I’m hoping this will help tie all them together. The bird below is the first one in which I used four different fabrics.

I will probably have one or two leftover birds (that sounds funny....) and if so, will use them on the back.

Here are all the birds of an orange feather, flocking together as they do.

And then I sewed up a couple more of the Irish Chain (“lattice” blocks) so I could lay out all the different colored birds. More than anything, I wanted to see how the spacing around the birds worked with the lattice blocks.

Hmmm.... yes, I like it. No, I LOVE it!!  There will be a total of 31 bird blocks and 32 lattice blocks. Next time we have a blue month, I’ll be sewing up the remaining 28 lattice blocks. And there are lots more blue (7) and green (4) birds to sew. This is on track to become a 4th quarter finish, at least the top.

Oh, and we had some orange interest in the garden this week. Sunflowers!!

These were taken earlier in the week; we have at least 5-6 open now and they’re always covered in bees. YAY!

We also have lots of pumpkins (large and Jack-be-Littles) turning orange already. I guess they want to match the still-smoky skies.

The front planters are looking pretty good these days....

And the flower pots along the front walkway are really doing well. You can click to enlarge... That little rose tree was planted just this spring and has already had two flushes of yellow roses. I’m sure we’ll have at least one more before the cool weather sets in.

Also new this year was this coneflower. We used to have these all over the garden, but the last few years they went away. So I’ve been adding them back in here and there.

Pretend you don’t see the weeds in the above picture. It’s been too hot and smoky to work outside any longer than necessary (to pick vegetables). Today our lawn guys, who are also arborists, are coming to trim the apricot tree, a couple trees in front, remove a few problem things and that da** umbrella tree that you can see two pictures up beyond the flower pots.  My roses and hydrangeas, among other plantings there, need more space and sunshine.  After they’re gone, I’ll be making plum jam and a huge triple batch of chili, using garden tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.  And then I can sew all afternoon!!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Groovy Guitars - Finished at Last!

This has to be my biggest quilt finish of the year! Not in terms of size but in sheer weight off my shoulders. I’ve been struggling with this beast quilt for my dear husband Bruce for over a year. It’s been in Time Out, it’s been cussed at, it has narrowly escaped being butchered with shears, and I’m sure there is plenty of blood, sweat and tears in there, too. But this afternoon I finished sewing on the binding - by machine, because the sooner it was done, the better - and I will never have to labor over it again. Hallelujah!

Am I pleased with how it turned out? Well, yeah, I am. For the most part. The picture above was snapped just awhile ago in the shade of our backyard apricot tree. Please excuse the dappled sunlight that shows.....  Groovy Guitars finished at 52” x 69”.

Here is the back.

I used batiks for all the bright colors - the colors that were picked, along with the black background, by Bruce. He loves bright and he LOVES red.  I enlarged the pattern to make the two guitars on the ends complete. I also completed the bottoms of the guitars and the head stocks so that the entire group floats rather than being cut off at the borders. Cutting all the interlocking pieces (and working in reverse, with extra additions) was a challenge for my brain. Once that was done, the worst was over. It’s just that after that, I didn’t even want to look at it for awhile. 

I am a mediocre quilter at best, but I did do some different things on this quilt. All the black background areas were stippled with black thread.  The large orange guitar with the circle-print orange batik fabric got quilted swirls. I’m not very even or proficient with them, but no one is going to sue me over it, LOL. The guitar necks were all given straight line treatment to mimic guitar strings.

This yellow electric guitar body got some angular quilting.

The head stocks mostly got quilted with echoing lines. The rest of the pieces here and there were treated with straight lines, swirls or stipples.

After the outside photo session, we came in and I threw the quilt in the washer with 2 color catchers. We may get more pictures after it is washed.  Bruce loves the quilt! And I love that it’s done. finished. gone. over. completed.

This is my OMG - One Monthly Goal for August. I will link up to Patty’s completion linkup when it goes live at the end of the month.  This also checks off my Goal #8 for the Quarter 3 Finish-Along, which I blogged about HERE.  I’m also linking up to Sarah’s Whoop Whoop Friday, because I really am happy dancing over this finish! 

Now I can put the pedal to the medal and finish up the next 4-5 quilts in line. They should be a breeze after this one!

By the way, Blogger has been acting up again - has anyone else been having problems? I missed several days of comments from Saturday the 11th through yesterday, the 15th. I reset everything once again and it seems to be working again. For now. However, there are several people who commented over my last few posts (Pets on Quilts, Africa Final post and Orange Saturday at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge) that I cannot respond to as I don’t have your email addresses. Please accept my thanks for commenting and apologies for not responding personally. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Final Adventures in Kenya (Part 8)

This post will wrap up the travelogue of my adventures in Kenya last month. There is a lot to cover, so I probably won’t go into as much detail as normally (thank goodness, eh?). And it will be a picture-heavy post. Mostly I’m just picking up random things here and there throughout our trip, and therefore they aren’t meant to be chronological.

On our way driving to the Maasai Mara for our safari, we stopped at a Maasai manyatta village. The Maasai have historically been semi-nomadic as shepherds of their beef and goat herds. Many still live in the mud hut villages called manyattas. The villages are built in a square or rectangle around a center area. At night, the animals are returned from their daytime grazing to the center square for protection. There is usually additional fencing around the village. And in the winter or when predators are about, the animals may even be brought indoors. The houses are built by the women and are identical in floorplan. Each hut contains a room which can be used for the animals, if necessary. During the day, the children play outdoors and are watched by some of the women of the village. The families usually eat, play, work and tend to chores together. No doubt you’ve heard the expression, “It takes a village...."

Because the huts are relatively small, we were divided into two groups and given a tour of a home. Again, they are built identically. This is the kitchen area - with custom cabinets! There is a little window above the cooking area, which you can see in the photo below.

There is even an electric light (solar-generated), although it is not bright.

This is the parental sleeping area.

They had an area set up in the back of the village where they sold trinkets, and of course most of us took advantage, buying jewelry, masks, scarves and the like. It’s one of the ways they support themselves.

And naturally, they performed and jumped for us. But our host OD had to get into the act, too, and show off his jumping skills!

As we left and said our goodbyes, the animals were coming home for the evening.

On another day, prior to the safari, we made another trip up the rutted road into the Mau Forest again. Our aim was to visit a girls school and do a Days for Girls program. The problem is that it had been raining, and the rutted road up the mountain was now rutted and muddy.

So, we decided that we could hike the last quarter mile up the road and let one of the vans go with supplies only, lightening the load.  Up the road we hiked.

The next picture I thought was rather funny; a local couple taking a picture of us. Naturally, I had to take a picture of them, too. This is a good shot to show you the condition of the road.

And then one of our ladies tripped and fell in the mud. She was not hurt, but we decided not to continue on. We returned to the vans and sent a message up to the school. So instead, the girls came down the road TO US!

We passed out composition books, pencils, stickers, and toy cars for either them or their siblings. Here is my friend Mary Ann with some of the students.

Our friends Janet and Ann from the Days for Girls organization (see post HERE) were on hand, so they were able to walk up to the school later and conduct the menstrual training for the girls.

Here is a video of the girls just before we left. They didn’t understand the word “smile” so you can hear some Maasai talk, with someone (OD?) telling them to show their teeth. I hear me saying ashe oleng, which means thank you in Maasai.

On our last day in Kenya, we were back in Nairobi before catching our near-midnight flight. We visited the giraffe sanctuary. Here were my highlights.

We learned how to feed the food pellets to the giraffes by holding them in our mouths with the pellet sticking out, like a cigarette. The giraffes very deftly came up and grabbed it with their tongue. Here is DGD Lauren feeding one of the little giraffes.

I tried it too, and it wasn’t gross or anything. Just a warm nuzzling feeling with their breath on your mouth area. Some people do it on their own tongues, but we didn’t go there!!

I was just mesmerized at how beautiful these creatures are! Look at those spots and the long, soft eyelashes!

Here’s the cute sign on the gift shop.

And finally, we had a 5:00pm appointment at the Sheldrick Wildlife Sanctuary to go visit our adopted elephants from the previous week.  Since this is open for adoptive parents only (not the general public), it wasn’t very crowded. We got to see our elephants in their own pens and visit with them as they were getting ready for bedtime.

We (Bruce and I) adopted Sagala, a female, for one set of grandchildren.

And we adopted Ambo (short for Amboseli) for our grandkids in Colorado. Amba is a sleepy boy.

Isn’t this sign in the entryway cool??? Can you see that it’s an elephant?

And that just about wraps it up! Thanks so much for reading and commenting on the previous posts! I hope you’ve enjoyed the pictures and stories.

The following are just a few random pictures from our trip - in no particular order.

Taken out the van window. Vendors selling roast maize (corn). We bought and sampled them - yum!  No GMOs!!

Mary and Mary Ann in the Mau Forest, showing off their Maasai toothpicks and toothbrushes!

And we can’t forget one of our favorite beverages...... (the most popular, however, was Stoney’s Ginger Beer, nonalcoholic).

The last little bag of the toy cars. Toward the end, we were just stopping whenever we saw kids and passing them out!!

The Benes Family (Lonny, Mary, Becky and Hannah) - the movers and shakers behind all the Days for Girls work we did. It was Mary’s Girl Scout Gold Project. I understand that when she gave the presentation once back home in Texas (complete with media program), she got a standing ovation. Well deserved!

We though this sign at the Nairobi airport was cool...

Dear Jonathan is a friend of OD and Marilyn’s and was with us every step of the way. He was also a great shoulder to lean on at times. We all love him! Jonah (which is how the Kenyans shorten Jonathan) also acts as the nanny (or “man-ny” as Marilyn says) for their kids, and he was amazing. He’s single and a real catch, let me tell you!

Here’s Jonathan with a goat. His family are goat herders.

And the final pic (because this is the order they loaded in) is of women and children doing laundry, on the rocks at the river, on the way up to the Mau area on our first visit. 

If you’re interested, here are the links to all my other Kenya travelogue posts:

Part 1 - Elephant Orphanage and The Escarpment
Part 2 - Tenkes Elementary and the Mau Forest
Part 3 -  Days for Girls and Lunch in a Mud Hut
Part 4 - Maasai Warriors and Around Narok City
Part 5 - Cute Kids and Fantastic Foliage
Part 6 - On Safari, Day One
Part 7 - Kenya Safari, Day Two

Friday, August 10, 2018

Even the Skies are Orange

Because of the fires in California (and probably other places too) over the last week, we’ve had orange, smoke-filled skies here in the Salt Lake Valley. Yesterday was the worst yet because there is also a fire burning in Utah County, just south of this valley. Orange skies might match the Rainbow Scrap Challenge color of the month, but it’s something I’d rather do without.

So, I’ve stayed indoors, used eye drops and sewed.  And boy, have I ever been slaying those orange scraps! To see more orange scrap carnage, hop over to Scrappy Saturday at Angela’s blog.

I like to sew these Linked Squares blocks close to the beginning of the month, before I’ve used my scraps for the other project, because they require some larger pieces. I sewed up these two blocks, which completed the last 2 of 20 total blocks. They measure 16.5” each.

And since the planned layout was a simple 4x5 setting, I stitched up the flimsy in no time. It  measures 64x80”. The backing will be a single fabric (rainbow abacus).

But it won’t be basted for at least a couple weeks, because I have 3 flimsies ahead of it to be quilted.

Moving along with the scraps, I sewed up two of the Squared Away blocks. I used orange with brown accents in keeping with the suggested alternate color. I’m saving my darker browns for a limited-color quilt I have planned for wintertime.  As usual, these blocks were fun and the directions were perfect.

Then I checked my plans for the All You Need is Love quilt I’m doing for my daughter. It seems I needed two Friendship Stars and two lollipop blocks. 

And this is how it’s looking so far. It needs some darker blues. I’d love to add some greens in there too, so I foresee some fiddling around with this down the line. After this round is sewn on, there will be a small black and white checkerboard round next, and then a border of 52 pink hearts that I sewed when the RSC color was pink.

After the pink hearts - there HAD to be hearts for All You Need is Love - I have an 8” border to do. I’m torn between doing a round of 8” Sawtooth Stars (do I want more stars?) or two 4” borders of rail fence pinwheels, then bowties. If I do the 8” Sawtooth Stars, the centers could be some of my 4” selvage blocks, or anything for that matter..... I’ll just have to see how it all looks when I get to that point.

I love sewing these quarter log cabin blocks. They sure eat through a lot of scraps and strings. They measure 6” (finished) each. 

And since brown is sort of a footnote color this month, I decided to sew up my brown selvages to clear those out. They made 9 blocks at 6.5” each.

Finally, this month’s hostess for the Block Lotto assigned a block she calls California Poppies. The colors were to be brights (oranges, red, yellow, golds, - poppy colors) with a four green squares running diagonally through the piecing.  Here are my 8 blocks:

All that I have left to do with orange are the bird blocks (2 facing right, 2 facing left) and then my crumb blocks with all the leftovers. My goal is also to begin and even FINISH quilting Groovy Guitars. I’ve been putting it off, I admit it. Where’s that da** magic wand when you need one??

Alfie and Darla have written and entered a post in the annual Pets on Quilts show at Lily Pad Quilting. You can read their post HERE

I’m nearing the end (two more posts should do it) of my Africa Travelogue series of posts. Here is the most recent post, #7, which is the conclusion of our Kenyan safari. Lots of great pictures of animals, and the post contains links to all the previous posts. 

Sunrise on the Maasai Mara
Now THAT’S my kind of orange sky!!