Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Adventures of Foster the Finch

On Sunday morning, my brother was about to shovel some organic food waste into our compost pile, when he saw a small bird resting by the side of the pile. Luckily it moved a bit or he might have given it quite a nasty ride in a shovel!

Steve fed it some grapes from our vines, and the bird seemed to gobble them up. And he didn’t really seem afraid of Steve, or myself, or Bruce, or Cousin Kim when she came over for our regular sewing day.

We moved him to a box and into the shade of the patio. He hopped out of the box pretty quickly, though. Steve fed him some water from a bottle cap, which the bird gustily dove his beak into repeatedly. We also filled a saucer with water and he trudged through that, too.

I went around to the neighbors and asked if anyone knew who might own a lost bird. No one claimed him. Bruce and Kim looked him up online and found out that he was a Zebra Finch - and definitely a male. Also, the banded leg signified that he was imported, in this case from Australia. Australia and Indonesia are apparently homes to zebra finches in the wild.

Our neighborhood also belongs to an online app called Next Door, and we posted a picture and information about the bird, whom Steve had now named Foster. Why Foster? He named it after the Australian beer, whose tag line is “Foster - it’s Australian for beer!”.  In his best Australian accent (and it’s a good one), Steve decided that “Foster” was now Australian for Finch!

While Steve and Foster bonded (and napped) on the patio, Bruce went to three stores (Petco, Wal-Mart and Petsmart) before he found a reasonably priced cage and some finch food.

In the online neighborhood app, we listed the finch in Lost and Found and extolled his many virtues. We said that we were owned by two cats and therefore would not be able to keep him, but that if anybody wanted to care for him, we would throw in the cage and food with Foster.

An hour later, four siblings came to the door, ranging in age from about 6-16. They live down the street and are known to us. In fact Jessica, the oldest, used to model headbands for my Etsy store a few years ago. They are a great family and have been unable to have feline or canine pets because of their parents’ allergies. Anyway, they wanted to adopt Foster!  Their mom and I chatted to verify the arrangement. She even offered to pay for the cage and food, but we declined their offer.

So naturally, we had to get a group photo!!  Smiles all around!!

Later that evening, another neighbor offered to adopt Foster, but we had to tell her that he had already been adopted....

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Tuesday evening update:  The kids came to our door to return the empty and cleaned cage and food. They were so sad. Foster had died. He had trouble keeping his eyes open (Steve had noticed how much Foster seemed to sleep) and apparently was sick. They looked up what they could online, and Jessica even stayed up with him most of the night. He died this morning. My heart breaks for these sweet kids who were so thrilled to have a pet to care for.

Looking back, I think someone probably had this bird and let it go, knowing it was sick. Why would someone do that? A tame house bird can’t fend for itself in the wild even the “wild" of a suburban neighborhood. Did they think that the bird's death would be quicker or more natural? If you are going to catch and cage a bird in the first place, and that is all it knows, shouldn’t you see the creature through thick and thin?

So, unknowingly, we came to its “rescue" and got some big-hearted kids involved. And in the process, several hearts were stolen, then broken. I have such conflicting emotions here over this little bird; anger at some owner I don’t even know, embarrassment over making such a big deal about it in the neighborhood, sorrow for breaking the kids’ hearts. And yet we all feel we did the right thing...... or did we? What would you have done?

Cathy maroon

Friday, August 25, 2017

Sewing in Neutral

I feel that my sewing life has been in neutral this past week. And not just because light neutrals are the color of the month for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

Steve watching the eclipse in our front yard

With my brother Steve living here with us, bless his heart, there seems so much more to do that takes me away from sewing. Like helping him fill out paperwork and chauffeuring him around for Social Security, Teamsters retirement, to say nothing of helping him cancel his AZ benefits and see about Utah benefits (a ‘no go’)..... health insurance, drivers license, etc etc. Calgon, take me away!

But enough of my whining. Steve is here and we do enjoy having him. He has a hilarious sense of humor, loves the cats (and Alfie adores him), and is a considerate, fastidious house guest. He has started us composting, keeps the cars clean, and has planted a late season garden that is doing well. And he, like Bruce, loves my cooking! So it’s all good.

On Monday we all watched the eclipse, naturally. Here in the Salt Lake Valley, we were in the 91% zone. The sunlight became weaker as the eclipse progressed, but even at its peak, it was brighter than you would have guessed for only 9% of the rays coming through. However, it was quite dark in the house when I ran in to get my cell phone. I had to take pictures of the light through the trees (left). I love the crescent-shaped shadows and from other people`s pictures online, I believe lots of us were fascinated with them!  It was a fun late morning event in the ‘hood, and there was even a Solar Eclipse Party down the street at Wheeler Farm (hence all the cars parked on the street).

As far as sewing goes, I did finish the rest of my neutral string blocks. There are 168 of the 4.5” (unfinished) blocks. Ready for when I decide to tackle the Jamestown Landing quilt by Bonnie Hunter next year.

Yep, that’s my funky tomato pincushion in the center. And also yes, I do have lots of other pincushions - all cuter. But they are too cute to use. so they are just on display on shelves in my sewing room. When the tomato dies, I will select a different one down the road.....

This next picture is not too impressive, but let me explain. I have finally started Bruce’s Groovy Guitars quilt, which is a pattern by Robbie Joy Eklow.  This is the piecing diagram, and I decided that if I was going to have any chance of getting this done in any orderly fashion, I would have to color the diagram so I would know which color goes where. This was NOT colored with an eye toward any type of artistic effort - it’s just a quick-and-very-dirty "fill in the blanks” effort for placement purposes. (Yes, I can color better. And so can my 4-year-old grandson). But you get the point, right?

The drawing above is in reverse, because you trace the pieces onto the paper of the fusible webbing, then fuse to the backside of the fabric. Then you flip and fuse it to the background. The background for Bruce’s quilt is solid black Kona cotton. The other colors are the three primaries (red, yellow, blue) and the three secondaries (purple, orange and green). My only changes are that I will make the orange guitar (on the left of the diagram) whole. Same with the yellow/red one on the right. If I still have any sanity left, I may make their headstocks complete, too.

So, what did I do first thing? Fused the orange guitar to the wrong side (left) of the fabric, instead of the right. That’s what I get for changing it to a complete, symmetrical piece. Luckily, I had enough orange to re-do it, and the missssssnake on the black fabric will be covered down the line....

My progress has been frustrating and painfully slow. I have made every conceivable mistake  that can be made. But I am learning! Learning that this will be the LAST EVER fusible project I will ever inflict upon myself. I have a hard enough time thinking in reverse (paper piecing comes to mind), but add fusible webbing, huge pieces, and no instructions (other than basic How to Fuse), and it’s recipe for disaster. My brain just does not work that way!

But so far, everything has been fixable. Except my poor ironing board cover, which I will have to use inside out from now on. But we will just skip that story. I see you shaking your head....

So, I put Groovy Guitars in Time Out for a few days and decided to start on some kennel quilts. I got 2 of them done on Friday afternoon.....

The cats won’t care if they are perfect or not! That gray backing on the top quilt says “You’ve got to be Kitten me”.  It was a remnant I picked up at JoAnn Fabrics.  Two down, a half dozen more to go before the end of the month......

And finally, you might remember that when my DGD Lauren visited a couple weeks ago, I mentioned that we painted a wooden garden ornament - a cockatoo - together. I finally got a picture of it.


He is a handsome fella, isn’t he? For the picture he is sitting on the living room mantel, but his natural habitat is out on our patio. The other side is just more of the same.......  We just used acrylic paints and sort of figured it out as we went along.  Not bad, eh?

That about wraps things up for this week. Hopefully by next week I will have finished the rest of the kennel quilts and made good progress on the Groovy Guitars. If I can survive that monster, I can survive anything.

I’m linking up to Angela’s Scrappy Saturday post for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

Hugs and prayers for the safety of our friends and families who are in the path of Hurricane Harvey, due to make land in Texas as I write this.....

Cathy maroon

Friday, August 18, 2017

Finally - I finished a YELLOW Project!

This project is two months behind, color-wise, as yellow was the Rainbow Scrap Challenge color for June. But it is finally done, and I have a couple pictures to share.

Pineapples finished at 63x82” (60x80” after washing). I love this picture out in the backyard, with the hollyhocks blooming in the background. My brother is standing on a chair holding it up.

And here is the back. It is an old bedsheets that cousin Kim gave me - a two-toned green pineapple print. I had enough of the fabric left over to use it as binding too.  That upper left  corner in the picture? Steve is pinching the quilt as he holds it, LOL. I guess I am going to have to give him a crash course in holding quilts for pictures.

This finish crosses off #6 on my list of 3rd Quarter Finish-Along goals, which can be seen HERE

And below are some of the tulips I did. My friend Terri is doing the other half and is using some gold color in a few of hers, too. We are both using several of the same Joel Dewberry fabrics with a few others added in as well. Next time we get together we can lay them all out on the design board and sew up the top. I will quilt it (probably just a simple loop or stipple, then Terri will bind it.  There is no rush on this, however, as it is meant as a Christmas present. We both are working on other projects in the meantime, so this will now be set aside for a couple months.

I didn’t work on any neutral scraps this past week. But in addition to the pineapples and tulips, I did some mending and have mostly completed two large Euroshams to match my Aria bedspread. I don’t know why I’m actually doing them, because I like the clean look of the bed without all the big pillows on it. But I have the leftover fabric and the large fluffy pillows have to be put SOMEWHERE since my closets are overflowing with quilts again.

This coming week: more neutrals for sure! Plus finishing up the Aria shams and making a start on the guitar quilt for Bruce. In the meantime, why not join us over at Angela’s blog for Scrappy Saturday??

Cathy maroon

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Working those Neutrals

It’s been another busy week here, but at least I was able to spend lots of time down in my studio, sewing my cares away. There was quite a variety of things to work on this week. My ADQD (Attention Deficit Quilting Disorder) was in overdrive, so I switched between sewing neutral string blocks, quilting the pineapple quilt, and sewing tulips and leaves. And mending clothes, sewing on buttons, etc. Life in the fast lane. Not.

But there is a method to my madness. The needle in my machine needed changing, so I figured that sewing on a paper base in order to do the 4.5” neutral string blocks would be better on the old needle. Therefore, for three days I cut, sewed and trimmed blocks. The result was 78 (of 168 needed) neutral string blocks.

There are plenty more strings and scraps and fabrics where these came from, and I will be working on them throughout the month.  Come visit us over at Angela’s blog for Scrappy Saturday. Lots of us are working through our neutral scraps this month!

Anyway, by Wednesday I put a new needle in the machine and switched to quilting the pineapple quilt, which I had basted on Monday. The first thing I did on the pineapple quilt was to stitch all the vertical seams in the ditch with my walking foot.

And then I began doing X quilting in the pineapples themselves. So much moving and shifting the quilt around (!) and my Bernina has an average-at-best harp space. My shoulders hurt after quilting five pineapples. So, I set myself a goal of quilting 5 pineapples a day. With 24 pineapples in the quilt, that will take 5 days. To date, I have completed 15; 9 left to go. I’m using a light, icy yellow on the front instead of white - not that you can really tell from this picture. The thread on the back is a variegated light green. When I finish the quilt next week, I’ll have pictures.

After quilting my quota of 5 pineapples a day, I figured it was a good time to start assembling tulips and leaves for the quilt that my friend Terri and I are making for our friend Diane.

I originally added the gold color in because there is gold in the small pink floral print that you see in almost every tulip. But I think the gold strips overpower the pastels and need to be taken out and substituted with another pastel (probably that aqua with pink strawberries). What do you think?

All the tulips will have a stem and leaves; that is the next step. And this is only half the tulips anyway; Terri is making the other half of them.

So now I am a stem-and-leaf-making fool, and hope to get those done this week in addition to finishing the pineapple quilt and making the rest of the neutral strip blocks.  The next project on the horizon is Bruce’s guitar quilt....

Finally, if you have a moment, why not stop by Lily Pad Quilting and the Pets on Quilts Show for 2017. Darla, my sweet quilting tabby, is entered in the Cats on Quilts category. You can visit the linky party HERE. Voting will open next week, and we hope you will consider voting for Darla, the Quilting Cat!

And now, it’s back to the sewing room for me...... unless Darla is using the machine! (wink)

Cathy maroon

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Darla the Quilting Cat

Hi Friends! It’s me, Darla the Quilting Cat. Yep, it’s true; my mommy taught me this year. I even have pictures to show you in a moment. But first, I am so thrilled to be joining the Pets on Quilts parade for 2017! We always have fun visiting other animal friends online, and I especially want to thank Snoodles, Padsworth and DragonDrop at Lily Pad Quilting for hosting the fun!!

So, let me introduce my furry self.

My name is Darla (“The Girl with the Polka Dot Tummy"), and I am a 4-year old tabby. I live with my mom and dad and my litter brother Alfalfa. Alfie is an orange tabby. He didn't want to be in the show this year because he's been spending much of his time on Neighborhood Watch duties at the windows, keeping an eye on the birds and other critters that visit. It is an impurrtant job too.

By the way, I have the softest furs EVER invented! Silky smooth, I am. I can’t help it!  All the better to leave them behind on the quilts I get to test. Besides being a sewing cat, I also lay on quilts to hold them down (we don’t want them to fly away, you know) and test them for snuggle-ability. It’s my favorite part of the whole quilting process.

Now I would love to show you my sewing lessons to purr-oove my quilting abilities.

First, here I am watching while Mom explained how to use a rotary cutter. She helped me cut squares out for a quilt. Because I don’t have opposable thumbs, she used the rotary cutter while I held the fabric down or held the ruler. Or both. I`m good like that....

Then I learned to thread the machine. Can I tell you how much I love playing with thread?? I like Mommy’s machine. I think it’s a Purr-nina.

Here I am guiding the fabric through the machine, being careful to catch WATCH that quarter-inch seam.

Sewing is hard work, and as quilters we all must remember to take frequent breaks to relax and stretch our muscles. Here I demonstrate my PROVEN technique. Mommy wonders exactly what it is I’m trying to prove, but sometimes she’s no fun! 

And the finished result!  How can you argue with success?!

When the voting begins in a few days, I hope you will come back and vote for me! I can’t promise, but I might even sew a quilt for you!


Friday, August 4, 2017

Searching for the Neutral Zone

The last week has been fun and busy as we have settled into having my brother Steve come live with us. Unloading, rearranging, cleaning out...... Plus two days this week were also spent tending granddaughters, which was seriously fun but a detriment to my productivity. But we only live once, right?

On Sunday and Monday, I was able to finish up the pineapple quilt top. It will be basted this weekend, after I clean the hardwood floors.

On Tuesday, granddaughter Lauren (age 13) spent the day with me. She is such a mature, delightful young girl. We mostly spent our time painting a carved wooden cockatoo (an old salvage rescue my brother brought me for the patio). We painted it in bright colors, like a parrot, then sealed it. It turned out great, but I have no picture yet.

Then on Thursday, one of Bruce’s days off, we (along with my brother) took all the kennel quilts to Best Friends Animal Shelter up in Salt Lake. One of the dogs wanted to adopt my brother, and one of the kittens wanted to adopt my dear husband. I had to put both feet down. We all walked out with misty eyes. And that is why I sew kennel quilts instead of volunteering my time, and also why I will take the quilts in by myself in the future.

After finishing the pineapple quilt top, the only other sewing-related thing I did was to pull my light neutrals. I can’t wait to work with them. I am in serious need of zen sewing time! So, even with this meager contribution, I am linking to Scrappy Saturday for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

Since neutrals won’t work for my regular RSC blocks, I have another plan. One of the quilts I have wanted to start for awhile is Bonnie Hunter’s Jamestown Landing. The link will take you to one of her posts from 2015 where you can see the quilt made of blues and varied light neutrals. I may use both blues and greens for the colored portions, but for this month I plan to move full steam ahead on all the neutral strippy blocks.

Yesterday (Friday), granddaughter London came over, as well Cousin Kim’s two granddaughters Zoe and Trini for their final summer play date before school starts in 2 weeks. The “twins” London and Zoe were crazy girls all day. Our poor cats Darla and Alfie will probably need therapy!

In the morning we took the girls to Michael’s to buy craft supplies: Play Doh, foam crowns to decorate, wooden face masks (kittens) to decorate, scepters/batons, and more. They decorated their crowns and masks before lunch. After lunch, Trini (who is 12) watched the younger girls swim and play in their kiddie pools and break occasionally to play with Play Doh out on the patio. For three hours, they were busy outdoors. Kim and I got to relax and read indoors. We finished the day with my son Shane and Bruce joining us after work; pizza for all 8 of us.

Today, I recover and clean house. The pineapple quilt will be basted sometime this weekend, and then I can Sew Like The Wind next week.

Cathy maroon