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Thursday, July 28, 2016

When Life Gives You Apricots.....

Make apricot everything. And that, in a nutshell my friends, is how I have spent the greater part of the month of July. And we have ONE apricot tree.

This tree has borne enough fruit to feed a third world country, which I think I may have said before. But now, after over four weeks of bearing fruit (it actually started around July 2), I want to show you the pictures I took today, Thursday, of our tree.


This is the never-ending apricot tree.  WE GIVE UP!!!   Lots of the fruit is too high for us to reach, even with our ladders. We hope the birds are enjoying the high fruit, but much of the lower stuff has yet to even ripen!


And I am running out of room. Today I made an apricot pie at hubby’s request. Yes, the crust is a little overdone (he swears he loves it that way, but it was not intentional. This is the real world, folks, so no perfect pie pictures today).


And in the big freezer downstairs we have frozen apricots (about 19 quarts)


Apricot Jam, picture #1


Apricot Jam, picture 3 (there is a row of strawberry in there too). 


In all I made 10 batches of jam, yielding about 7 pints per batch. We have eaten at least a half dozen this month, and given away more than a dozen. Some of the jam is in special jars (gold lids on hexie bottles that we used to buy our honey in and also in small half-pint jars) and those will be for neighbor gifts at Christmastime.

And we have gorged on fresh apricots, too.  I know my cats think I have neglected them, but every evening I have a lap at the ready for Darla, and Bruce and Alfie do their male bonding thing (sleeping) in the recliner. But Alfie is insisting on some time now, so I am going to turn it over to him......

Cathy maroon




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HI PEEPLES! IT’S ME, ALFIE, AGAIN.
Oh, I am not supposed to use all caps, am I?  Sometimes I can’t help myself, like when Daddy wants to play. I will roll over on my back and rabbit kick, and when he tries to tickle my tummy, I bite. I can’t help it! Well, it’s only a love nip really, but Dad always says “NOBITE”. I think that means I win and he gives up.  But I have something important to tell you. Over at the Lily Pad Quilting blog, the annual Pets on Quilts contest will be held next month! Just click on the link in the sidebar. Yep, I added it there myself. Really. Well, OK, Mom did it, but only because she got to it before me.....




So this morning Mom decided to start taking pictures of me and Darla. There we were, napping innocently on our bed under the fan (where we let Mom and Dad sleep at night), and Mom comes in snapping pictures. Sheesh.

She started with Darla, so I decided to help her by coaching Darla along. After all,  I am her brother. But I’ll save some time and just relate the conversation as we went along.

Alfie: Smile, Darla!

Darla: like this?
 Alfie: Um.... no. Let’s try something else.

Darla: I know! A full body stretch so they can see my polka dot tummy!
Alfie: That’s much better, but you look rather Diva-ish.
Darla: I AM a diva!
Alfie: Hmmm.... your eyes are so green, and you’re laying near the green section of the quilt...Mom, why not focus on her face?

Darla: I think this is the right combination of sultry and innocent. And green eyes.
Alfie: That’s it! I’m a genius!

And then it was my turn to pose. First we tried this pose of gazing up and off camera. Hmmmm .... too preppy.


And then just a more down-to-earth off-camera gaze. It was good. I’m not on a quilt, but we will have to save that for another day. This will just be my official Pawtrait for my fan club.


So, that’s about it for now. I hope you have enjoyed my post for today. Well, I’m The Cat, so how could you NOT????  This is Alfie, signing off.......

*wink wink*
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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Rolling in the Pink

This week I had a few couple-hour stretches where I was able to make some good progress sewing on my pink scraps. I’m still rolling in the pink scraps (and yes, I listened to Adele when I sewed this week).  Today I’m linking up with the other fun and crazy ladies who participate in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, so come visit us at SoScrappy!


Above are my 16-patch blocks of 2.5” squares. Every month this year I’ve made ten, so I now have 70 on hand. Since we’ve got 3 more months of color before we begin RSC quilt assembly, I should end up with 100. Or maybe just 90, depending on what the colors end up being. At any rate, that should make at least a couple decent-sized quilts. Or I may save some to use as alternate blocks in a future quilt. So many options.

Next up are my vintage sheet rail fence blocks. These were a blast and a breeze to make. How appropriate, since the weather here has been blasting hot and any breeze is appreciated!


These colors and sheet fabrics just make me so happy! Don’t you love their cheery, blowsy patterns??  The addition of this color to the quilt is really going to round out the palette. All I have left to make for this are the yellow blocks when that color comes up.


And I also knocked out 2 Dresdens, although I’m thinking I should start calling them Dread-sdens. I do NOT look forward to doing them any more. They are getting boring to me.


But I do like the centers and the varied backgrounds of plain pink, yellow and blue.


And I really like the various doilies and vintage crochet pieces and yo-yo’s in the centers.


So now I have 14 blocks, and I will make two more; one red and one yellow. The blocks will then be set 4x4, so the quilt will end up being approximately 76x76”.

I’ve also begun quilting a quilt sewn by my cousin Kim, and she did it all by hand except sewing on the border. I’ve finally convinced her to return to sewing with her reliable old Kenmore. If she doesn’t bring him (Ken, the machine) when she comes to sew, she can use my reliable old Kenmore. The Ken twins. They’ve never let us down.  But I do prefer to sew on my Bernina, Bernadette. (You DO name your sewing machines, don’t you?)  But I digress... getting back to Kim’s quilt; I’ll show a picture of it when it’s done. Hopefully later this month.

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It’s still Apricot Madness here at our house. The poor apricot tree had its tallest branch break just as everything ripened. Then we cut down two more branches (and picked all the fruit) that were going into the neighbors yard, as well as cleaning up the apricot mess for them. We have two more huge branches propped up, and Hubby picked then pruned one that was up on the rooftop.


The tree is in the backyard, mostly, but some branches spread out to the front side yard. Below is a picture of the one large branch that is supported and just now ripening in the back.  We are starting our THIRD WEEK of apricots


Below is a picture of the other branches that are supported by a 2x4 AND by the former broken branch. It had a V at the end, so we used it to help prop up the over-laden branches. Picking on these branches will probably begin today. These will be made into fruit leather, because I am up to my eyeballs in apricot jam, puree, dried and frozen apricots.

view from front side yard
My hydrangea bush finally decided it likes where it’s growing in the front flower bed, although this picture was taken past its prime. I should cut some blooms and bring them in to dry.


My flower pots are looking good, but I only put 7 out in front this year. Please excuse the drip irrigation lines leading to each pot. They rather destroy the aesthetics to a degree, but are so necessary. A couple of the larger pots even have two lines. We have them set to water with the sprinkler system.


And if my porch pillars look a bit rough, well, we are working on them. I have scraped them in preparation for a new paint job. Hubby removed the old rotted wood bases and is replacing them with composite bases (after waterproofing the wood).


The one below has the C-clamp on it. The above one gets it next when the 4th side is added. I hope to get them both repainted this coming week. I will re-do them mostly brown, but want to add some color in, like yellow and orange to match the house and front door.  There is even some pale lime green I may add. I’ve been saving Pinterest ideas, but I don’t know how bold I’m willing to go. We will just have to see!


The contractors finished with our rain gutter re-routing and soffit repairs. My new kitchen light fixture arrived. Now I need to get my contractor out to paint the kitchen ceiling so I can paint the walls. Hubby will then hang the new fixture and take the old window coverings off. The new shutters will arrive mid-August. Slow progress, but progress it is.

Cathy maroon
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Saturday, July 16, 2016

In the Pink - Finally!!

With the busy days of summer, I thought I would never get to sewing my pink scraps. I’ve had the cats/kittens and Dresdens cut out for a couple weeks, along with the RSC Sampler blocks. But other things intervened until mid-week, when I was finally able to put the (sewing machine) pedal to the metal!


What would pink be without two litters of kittens with their mamas? If it looks like other colors are showing through, that’s because they are. Ahem. I just lazy-pinned these over my Aria quilt blocks on my design board.

And then below are the Indian Hatchet blocks for the RSC column-along. I decided to do those in the darkest and brightest shades of pink. They are sewn into one long strip but sort of U’ed for this picture. Again, lazy.


But you can see them below, actually sewn in what will be their permanent position between the teal pinwheels and the brown whatever-they’re-called’s. Until the other colors are sewn, this is as far as I care to venture with putting these together. They will not be in rainbow order, obviously.


I mentioned in my last post that I had been to a Farm Girl Vintage Retreat last week (I went to one last year, too, since they are local). Lori Holt has released a cute new Farm Fresh fruit stand pattern as well as four new blocks: watermelon, peach (in my case I am calling it an apricot), peas and carrots. Any of her 6” block patterns fit into the jar, and I plan to complete my fruit soon. There are nine jars, and my first two are below.


A couple posts ago I mentioned that I was doing a red, white and blue flag block as a surprise for the retreat guest of honor, Cathy P from Tasmania. Well, actually I did three (as did most of us); one for CathyP that we each signed, one for Lori Holt, and one to keep for ourselves. So we all signed each others’ blocks, and mine is below. I will finish it into a quilt sometime next summer before 4th of July.  No rush now, hehehe.


The pears and the strawberry are for future jam jars. I have no idea why I sewed my strawberry pink. I am going to re-do it in reds because strawberries are red, aren’t they? I also want to do honey (using a 6” bee block), cherries, blueberry (using blue fabric on the cherry block), and then a couple veggies I haven’t decided on yet.

And that’s it from my sewing room for now. I expect to work on my pink Dresdens and pink vintage sheet rail fence blocks this week. But every day next week I have something going on: Monday my granddaughter Lauren will be here. Luckily, she loves to sew (and I bought her some cute flamingo fabric), so we may get some sewing in. On Tuesday they’re FINALLY coming to do our rain gutters and heat tapes. Wednesday is pretty open, but Thursday will be spent with my cousin and her daughter to help them set up their Etsy shop. I have given them most of my inventory (vintage patterns, vintage fabrics and other things). I will probably keep my vintage sheets for a few more months - and the laces will be sold off at a retreat I will be attending in September. Then I’m free!!!

I’m linking up to Angela’s Scrappy Saturday. Why not come and check out the pinkness?

Have a great weekend!

Cathy maroon
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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Quarter Three Finish Along Goals

Hi! I’ve been so busy for the past two weeks, I sometimes don’t know if I’m coming or going.
I will share some pictures below, but first I want to list my goals for the 3rd Quarter Finish Along. The Finish-Along is hosted by several lovely ladies who work their tails off to coordinate our goals with our finishes, hosting link-ups and gathering prizes from so many fantastic sponsors. If you have never looked into this, try the linky in my sidebar or go HERE to see the 3rd Quarter Goals of the many participants.

Without further ado, here are my goals:

1.  Shane’s Magic Carpet.
You’ve seen it in my goals before, but hopefully this will be the last time before I finish it. I intend to work more on finishing quilts this quarter rather than starting any more.


2. Notting Hill Quilt.
This project has always been to add 2 blocks per month to what I had at the beginning of the year. I have sixteen completed and plan to do 2 in July and 2 in August. It then just needs to be sashed, quilted, bound.


3.  Aria Quilt.
The blocks and rows are all sewn, and about half of them are sewn together. A good hour would allow me to finish this top. I will have to piece a border and backing with all the leftover fabrics. I plan to send this ASAP to a professional quilter because it will be a queen bed-sized. If I hurry, I can get it back by the end of the quarter.


4. and 5.  Cat Quilts.
I have 8 litters made. Each litter is a 24x24” square consisting of a 12” mama cat in the middle surrounded by twelve 6” kittens. The litters will be set 2x3 with sashing and should finish about 54x74”.  The two quilts will have some different colors, so when I finish, you’ll be able to see that they are actually two separate quilts. I have some cute cat fabric to back both of them. They’ll be Christmas presents for the 2 granddaughters who are cat crazy like their grandma.


6. Farm Girl Quilt.
This one has been on and off my lists for a year. I have enough blocks to finish the quilt in a 7x7 setting. (By the way, see the new watermelon block? I just made that at the Farm Girl Retreat last wee - more about that below).


The problem here is that I was really a beginner last year when I started these. Yes, I had been quilting for 2.5 years at the time, but I had never learned the finer points of flying geese, measuring 1/4” seams, etc.  The blocks range from 12” to 12.5” finished, in various eighth-inch increments.  I hope I’m up to the challenge of fudging on the sashing to make up the differences. And I think cornerstones would accentuate the issue, so those are out for sure. We will see how it goes. Needless to say, I am much more careful on getting my blocks more accurate. It’s a continual challenge...

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Last week we had another Farm Girl Retreat at Thimbles and Threads with Lori Holt. This was called our Instagram Farm Girl Retreat  (#igfarmgirlvintageretreat) because we were there to greet our friend Cathy (Tazzie) Purdon from New Zealand, who is visiting the USA for 5 weeks. So the whole IG group of friends was there, as well as some of Lori’s “peeps” - her personal group of crazy and delightful friends. There were 22 of us, including teacher Lori and guest of honor Cathy.

At the retreat, Lori introduced four new blocks (coming soon) and her Farm Fresh Quilt Pattern (now available at the Fat Quarter Shop). It was pure craziness and laughter with all these women. Beth B (@kitqueen) made everyone their own IG block. Isn’t it cute? She has the most infectious laugh! And several other ladies, including Lori, passed out gifts for everyone.


Here is Lori and Cathy P just as they were presented with the USA Flag Blocks that each of us made for them. They will each have enough (signed) quilt blocks to make their own quilt.

Lori Holt and Cathy Purdon
L-R: Cathy K, Betty, Kristie, Rae Anne, Suzanne

Joanna Cotton and me
Can you believe this amazing dress (below) that Cynthia Horst (@dreamquiltcreate) made for herself from selvages?!?


I met some incredible ladies and had a blast. Yes, I did feel totally out of my league, but as always, I learned a lot and made new friends. It was wonderful, and I was certainly humbled to have been invited.

Finally, apricot season is here. If hubby and I are not out picking apricots (and cleaning up our and our neighbor’s yards from them), we are dehydrating them or I’m making jam or freezing quart after quart..... It looks like an apricot tornado in my kitchen. And did I mention that my daughter Megan is visiting from Seattle this week??

And then there are the contractors. Today they measured for new sliding shutters for our sliding glass doors. The rain gutter/soffit contractors will be here Tuesday to do their repairs and install heat tapes. DH has just about finished making the new porch pillar bases (they are 3/4 installed), so I will be painting the pillars next week. And I have a month to paint the kitchen (and get someone in to paint its ceiling). The shutters arrive 3rd week of August, as does the custom light fixture we are having made from a woodworker on Etsy. Once the kitchen is done, the living room demolition will start. And somewhere in there will be vegetables to harvest with grapes following after that.

At least I’m not bored!!

Cathy maroon
Saturday, July 2, 2016

Looking Through Rose-Colored Glasses, er..... Drawers

July is here and the new color of the month for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge is PINK. Angela and Vickie put the emphasis on hot pink with lime accents. Of course, we don’t discriminate against any pinks, so all are welcome. And I’ll keep most of the lime accents for my margaritas, LOL.

So, since July is all of a day old, I haven’t done much sewing-wise. But, I have searched through all my drawers and piles and stacks, etc., to gather up anything that remotely thinks it’s pink. And I have even begun cutting out cats and kittens so certain feline members of my household will not nag me.


And take a look at the pile of pink sheets below I have to work with. The three at the top of the picture are uncut top and bottom sheets. And they may stay that way for quilt backings or for sale in my Etsy shop, because look at all the other scraps I have without them. I will be making my usual 9.5” rail fence blocks with these scraps. But how many can I make? I`ll probably stop around 15-18 and then cut the remainders into 6” blocks for a future quilt.


And look at how fun some of these are! See the one with the lime accents? I used that as a backing on a small quilt I made last year for my cousin Emma.


I will be going to Missouri again this year (In September) and hope to swing by and visit Emma, Aunt Maria and my Uncle Bela. Uncle Bela is 97 and very sharp of mind. He also still walks unassisted, cooks elaborate Hungarian meals, attends church regularly and knows exactly what is going on in the family and the world. He’s the last of his generation (my parents’ generation) left in our family, and he is totally amazing.

But first I will be attending a local quilting retreat where Lori Holt will be the teacher. The event is private, and there will be about 20 of us there to welcome our IG friend Cathy “Tazzie” Purdon to the USA. We’re all having lunch together on Tuesday, then a trunk show by Lori on Wednesday evening. The Farm Girl retreat itself will be all day Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. So I won’t have anything to report to RSC until Sunday, if I’m lucky. Anyway, I`m in mad preparation for the retreat....


Above: laid out piles of scrappy fabrics (minus the pinks; I need to get my RSC sampler pieces, cats and Dresden fans cut out first). And my poor Aria quilt on the design board is once again tabled.....

I`m also going to make a single block of this flag pattern for a purpose I can`t talk about yet. But that should only take a half hour.....


And if all that isn’t enough, the apricot tree is s-l-o-w-l-y ripening and going to want picking beginning in a few days. I checked it this morning and the only fully ripe branch is a high vertical one that hubs had talked about cutting back. My guess is he is going to want to do it tomorrow or Monday (his days off) so we can use the salvageable fruit. We lost 2 largish branches last week due to breakage from weight, so all the rest are propped up. So, the color of the month may be pink, but the fruit of the month is apricot.

I’m linking up to Angela at So Scrappy for Scrap Happy Saturday. Come visit!

Cathy maroon