Saturday, June 30, 2018

Totaling Teal and Aqua and Turquoise....

Today is the last day of June, and time to recap our scrappy work on the aqua family of colors for the month.

The following collage shows most of what I got done for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. For more colorful scrappy goodness, hop on over to Angela’s Scrappy Saturday blog linky party.

This month I completed:
4 Bowtie blocks
3 Linked Squares blocks
17 selvage squares @ 6.5”
6 selvage squares @ 4.5”
2 Squared Away blocks
13 Quarter Log Cabin blocks
2  “lollipop blocks” @ 6.5” (forgot the picture!)
7 crumb blocks
for a total of 54 blocks

By accident I included the mostly-aqua baby quilt top I made this month instead of the lollipop blocks.

Weight-wise, I gained instead of losing this month. I was up almost four pounds over two weeks, but have lost half of that already. I’ve been so busy that I was not being mindful of what I was stuffing in my mouth, nor have I had the time (or weather) to walk outside as much as I’d like. I finally had a DUH! moment - if we can use the mall for walking in the morning in the winter because outside is too cold, we can also use it in the summer when the weather is too hot. *facepalm*  But the temporary gain was a good wake-up call, and I’ve put the brakes on! No more snacking on popcorn all afternoon. There are so many great fruits and veggies available now. Back to walking - my clothes fit better. It’s hard keeping it all together (imagine me juggling lots of balls) as I prep for my Africa trip - just one week away! - but I can do it.

My last post, by the way, for those of you who just visit for the RSC linkup, showed my finished Farm Girl flimsy and the current garden shots. You can visit that HERE.

DGD Lauren
Today is my son Shane’s birthday but since he doesn’t read my blog (what self-respecting 30-something son would read his mom’s blog, right?), I’ll save the birthday wishes until we head out for dinner tonight at Red Lobster. The choice of restaurant has become sort of a tradition, because his daughter (my DGD London) always loves to look at the live lobsters in the tank, and then she and grandpa (Bruce) name them all.....

And in a few minutes I have a travel training online meeting to attend. We’re getting down to the wire. I’ve started gathering my packing. We got the last of the large suitcases this week but are still waiting on the Tiny Tim’s toys (wooden toys) that we will use to fill a couple of them. We (me, DIL Kim and DGD Lauren) are each allowed two 50-lb suitcases. The toys will fill 20 lb in each of ours. The rest of my suitcase(s) weight will be taken with flannel fabric for the Days for Girls operation in Narok, personal care items, Instax film (like polaroids), and puzzles. On the way home, we can fill them with souvenirs - African fabric and other items bough in the markets.  This cute picture is my DGD Lauren and some of the toys and bracelets she’s made from little colored rubber bands to take for the kids we meet in Kenya. Isn’t that awesome??

Have a great week!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Just Call Me “Farm Girl”!!

Yehaw!  It’s been a hot and busy week here, and the theme around our little homestead (all .25 residential acres of it, LOL) has been farming.

Let’s start inside where the air conditioning belies the heat outdoors. I got a wild hair this week to pull out a well-aged UFO and stitch it up. Don’t ask me why - I guess I’m just sick of my UFOs nagging me.  These Farm Girl Vintage blocks date back to 2015 (I could’ve sworn it was longer....) when Lori Holt published her Farm Girl book. Anyway, I have way more blocks than would ever fit in a single quilt, so I picked my 30 favorites that were left (some I used in my Autumn Sampler quilt) and finally tackled this beast.

I call it a beast because I’ve been dreading putting it together. All I can say is that my piecing accuracy has greatly improved over 3 years. These blocks that were supposed to be 12.5” unfinished, actually ranged from 12” to 12 1/2”. I had to sew little strips on a couple to make up the difference that I couldn’t cover with the sashing. But I did it, and I can’t even say it’s even close to the worst quilt top I’ve ever pieced, LOL. Seriously, it measures 70x84” consistently. Whew, I dodged a bullet. It also helped that I decided to forgo cornerstones...

The backing is a cute farm-y print that I picked up from Connecting Threads for $2.76 per yard about 18 months ago. The five yards were the perfect amount that enabled me to sew a backing with just one vertical seam. Now, both the top and back will go onto hangers in my stitching room closet until next quarter.

Part 2 of this Farm Girl saga is a tour of our South Forty. That’s the south 40 square yards of our backyard, LOL. I may have mentioned that we’ve been feasting on spinach and lettuce over the last couple weeks. This week we’ve added peas and yellow crookneck squash to the mix. We could add apricots if there were more than 23 on the entire tree, LOL. No, I didn’t really count them....  But the birds are getting most of them because they are too high up for us to reach, even with the ladder.

I was hoping we’d get enough so that I could make one batch of apricot jam, but at this point we’d settle for each munching on one unblemished apricot that falls to the ground without bird pecks on it. Yeah, that one above looks nice, doesn’t it? But you ought to see the reverse side....

So, look at the growth! Those in the front left are tomatoes. The early girls are in the lead, naturally. They’re about the size of a small plum, but still green. That’s OK. I’m hoping they hold off until I get back from Kenya around the 21st of July. Maybe, maybe not.

The grape vines have covered the trellis nicely, giving us lovely deep shade on the patio. Of course, most of the time it’s too hot now to be out there between 11am - 7pm. But we do have the occasional cooler morning or evening, and we love to eat out on the patio when we can.

Here is a picture of the crookneck squash. There are three in the picture below, and they will be the next ones to be ready, probably in 2-4 days. We are having the very first one, already picked, with our chicken mole’ (the Mexican dish, not the varmint, LOL) for dinner tonight.

And here are the peas and the Tom Thumb butter lettuce. We get our seeds from Cottage Grove (Oregon) Seed Company, and they say this lettuce is their staff favorite. It withstands the heat well and is mild and delicious. For many vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, tomatillo, onions, potatoes), we use starts from local nurseries.

The spaghetti squash are already growing like.... squash. Since scale isn’t obvious in this picture, you’ll just have to believe me when I say this one is already about 7” long. Most of the other ones are smaller, which is good. I’m hoping that they too will hold off for 2-4 more weeks.

My newly-planted coneflowers are blooming. The picture below should be considered proof of Truth in Gardening. See those weeds all around the rock? They were not there when I pulled weeds on Monday, three days ago. I shudder to think of how many weeds I’m going to have to pull when I get home from vacation...

And here are the flower pots along the front walkway. Someone asked me (when the comments feature was broken) what Talavera was. These pots are Talavera - Mexican folk art. I love the bright colors patterns.  In the neighborhood, we are known as “the house with the colorful flower pots”.

And here’s a view that shows all the pots, the walkway, some newly spring-planted perennials to fill out some of the front beds, and the green (some) and parched (some) grass. Again, Truth in Gardening.

And speaking of parched, I’m going to go treat myself to a diet root beer float (a glass of Diet A&W root beer with a scoop of Halo vanilla ice “cream”). Two Weight Watchers smart points.....  I’ll see you back here on Saturday for my scrappy sewing June roundup.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Hooray - Blogger is Fixed

FINALLY!  We are once again receiving comments in our email. YAY! I always love and appreciate your comments and am so happy that Blogger has restored our ability to receive and respond to them. Blogging without two-way conversations is like living in a vacuum, so let the chatter commence!

Last week I said that I’d finished all my regular teal/aqua blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. But that didn’t mean I was finished with the color yet. A few years ago I had purchased a charm pack of Kate Spain’s HORIZON line and I decided that it was time to do something with it, since it was mainly aqua.  So I whipped out some additional scraps and an oatmeal-colored neutral (not my fave) and whipped up this baby quilt top:

After this picture, I fixed that wonky bottom border and then pieced a backing. And that’s as far as I’ll take it for now. It will be a quick process to baste and quilt it for donation when the time comes.

While checking out Pinterest or Instagram (sorry, can’t even remember where let alone who) I saw a great block that used scrappy crumb blocks. Since I’ve been making 6.5” scrappy crumbs all year without a plan, it was good to finally have the perfect plan for them:

I just sashed them with a black 1.5” strip, and they will finish at 13”. So, as time permits, I’ll go back and begin combining the smaller crumb blocks into these larger blocks. Going forward into next year, I’ll make the smaller blocks (or finish up a color) in sets of 4.  With what I have already, they could be assembled into a baby quilt, but I would prefer to go bigger. So, that’s the plan for these crumbs.

And there is lots more aqua inspiration over at Angela’s Scrappy Saturday. Come join us!

And speaking of baby quilts, AB Baby was gifted to my step-daughter Stacy on Tuesday afternoon, just before she left for her OB doctor appointment.  The doctor told her she was already dilated to a 3, and the next day (Wednesday the 20th), she felt achey and unsettled. Then the labor started and WHAM! Baby Evie was born within a couple hours. She came so quick (18 minutes after Stacy got to the hospital), that no epidural was even given. And here is the little cutie herself:

Isn’t she adorable? I love the little cap with a bow that the hospital uses to keep their heads warm!  Mom and baby (6 lb. 13 oz) are back at home and doing great.

The preparation for my trip to Kenya (leaving July 8) is continuing. This week we had another online meeting/travel training. We won’t be taking any blow dryers or curling irons, so I think I’ll get my hair trimmed again just to keep it short and simple. And after price shopping for the required malaria pills, I was able to get them (21 days’ worth) for $50.60 instead of $125+. Our Kenyan visas have been approved, and all our plane flight seating assignments have been secured. Oh, and I got some support hose (YUK) for the loooong flights.

I also prepped some handwork (embroidery) for the long plane flights. Last month when Cousin Kim and I went to the quilt show, I bought a few 8x10 (ish) embroidered designs. This week I cut and stabilized some fabric, then pressed the designs on. This is a new-to-me product by Adorn-it, and one is just supposed to stitch through the design layer. Then the design sheet melts away with a quick soaking. We’ll see how that works - it was an alternative to marking the design directly on the fabric.

All I have left to do now are pull the threads to bring along. My granddaughter Lauren, whom I’ll be sitting with on the flights, loves flamingoes. So I’m hoping she takes an interest and maybe even give embroidery a try. Just in case she wants to, I’m packing two designs and two hoops.  Muahahahaha.  Method to my madness.....

And finally, more work on Groovy Guitars happened.
I had originally planned to do an all red border, but didn’t have enough of the red - or any other single color for that matter. So, the border was constructed of all the colors except purple.

Here it is in all its carnival-like goodness.

All the machine appliqué is complete. I even did all the large round circles on the machine.

All that’s left to do by hand are the 24 small yellow circles (on the blue and red headstocks) and the three small green circles on the small middle-isn guitar.

Here are some close-ups.

My goal is to have the hand stitching done before I leave for Kenya. Then when I return, I’ll still have about 10 days left in July in which to finish the quilt by layering, quilting and binding. My plan right now is to quilt the background in a black stipple. The guitars will need quilting, too, but I’m not certain yet how I’ll proceed there. Certainly I’ll match the thread to the colors. And then just perhaps some shape echoing or simple crosshatch.

Thanks for dropping by!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Teal Zeal

I guess I could’ve titled this post Aqua-something or Turquoise-something, since those are all the colors (not blue but not green) that we’re working with for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge this month. But it’s summer and I’m lazy, so there you have it. Teal.

My scraps this month are tamed as much as they’re going to be. Lots of nice chunks got put away to use for next year or for when I decide what other teal/aqua/turquoise blocks I’ll need for other WIPs.  For now, here’s what I finished up this week to share.

I made 13 - 6” (finished size)  quarter log cabin blocks. It always seems as though I have an odd number of these blocks when I make them. 

This month there will be no birds sewn because that color is not represented in my Birds in the Lattice quilt. So, the final blocks for this month (unless I begin a new project) are my 6” (finished size) crumb blocks. I got seven of them before the smaller scraps ran out, and really didn’t want to cut down any bigger chunks.

So, that leaves me a couple weeks to twiddle my thumbs sew on other things. So, just for the sheer joy of piecing (because I already had all the orange lozenges and a large pile of black and another of white 1.5” squares), I worked on these lozenges.

I was sewing these into 3x2 blocks, then sewing those together. Only I kept going and somehow got the starting colors reversed. But this is still early days in this quilt top, so it will be easy just to add to the bottom part before proceeding. And that little lozenge in the second row, fourth from the left - that has got to come out. That fabric needs black corners. But that, too, is an easy fix. Anyway, I’m liking it. I don’t know when we will have orange month for the RSC - hopefully not next month when I’m gone for half the month - but I plan to work on this pretty heavily this year in order to finish it up by Christmas. It’s already 2 years old. At least 90% of the cutting is done. 

And then, guilt struck. Bruce’s poor Groovy Guitars flimsy shamed me mercilessly (“Having fun piecing, are you? What about me? I need to be appliquéd!"). And finally when I found one of the tiny purple circles that represent a tuning peg, I caved and switched gears yet again.

You may recall, the top looks like this:

After reattaching the errant purple tuning peg, I began hand sewing those down. That was no fun. Well, it was, but the other larger pieces are not taking well to being scrunched while I hand sew. So, I actually began machine appliquéing them down. All the blue parts are done, and now I’ve started on the yellows. They’re done with the exception of one seam.

The very fine thread I bought for the appliquéing of Groovy Guitar didn’t work out. It was just too fine. Originally this was meant to be a wall hanging, but Bruce wanted a useable quilt. So I expanded the edges and filled out the guitar shapes, adding headstock motifs, etc. to make them all float on a larger black background. The fusible, per the instructions, was not lightweight, but a lighter medium weight. It has changed the hand of the pieces and I hope it will soften after washing. But at this stage, using a fine thread was not cutting it. So, I’m back to my 50-weight Aurifil and it is behaving admirably.  

Today I’ll finish up the yellow and do the orange and perhaps move on to the green and purple. I’d like to be able to sit down and enjoy some slow stitching of all the tiny dots once everything else is secure. Then I’ll probably add a red border. My goal is to get this ready to be basted by the end of July. 

This garden photo was taken last Monday, and the garden has grown even since then. The various squash plans (left side, middle area) all have blossoms now, as do the tomatoes and the tomatillo. We’ve finished up the radishes (“we” meaning Bruce, because I hate them) and are feasting regularly on spinach. And I’ve been making lots of rhubarb-strawberry compote for the freezer to enjoy during the off-season.  

And the white climbing rose in the middle on the back wall is now blooming mightily. It’s lovely to sit out on the patio and see it all!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A Quilt Finish!

More exciting to me than finishing this quilt (although that is exciting) is learning how to use my new phone (a Samsung Galaxy S8 with an Android platform). I’m really an Apple girl, so this is my first venture outside that realm. But my last iPhone,  a 5-something, was a piece of garbage that always seemed to crash when I needed it most. Good riddance!  So now that I’ve finally been able to transfer some pictures from the phone to my computer, I can do a catch-up post. No thanks to Dropbox, which is not communicating with itself from my phone to my computer, even though they’ve been synched. I hate this tech-y stuff with a passion.

So, the AB Baby quilt is done. This was my One Monthly Goal (OMG) for June and also #2 on my Second Quarter Goals for the 2018 Finish Along.  I’ll be linking up to both those online challenges as the link-ups become available.

The quilt will be for our soon-to-be-born granddaughter Evie. The letters were cut from a panel from the fabric line Nature Walk by Tamara Kate, and the pattern was published to go along with the letters. I used fabrics mostly from about 4-5 of her various lines (I love her stuff!). There are some other fabrics in there too, but the lion’s share is Tamara Kate fabric. And so is the backing. This print comes from her newest line, Joy, and I thought with its gentle print of butterflies and flowers, etc, it was the perfect complement to the top.

The quilt finished at about 52x62”. I used a plain ol’ stipple to quilt it, and then bound it with the gray stripes print that had originally be auditioned (and rejected) for the sashing strips.

My original goal-setting post for June’s OMG can be found HERE.

And since I had another recent photo on my phone, I’d thought I’d share with you a picture of Mr. Cat himself - Alfalfa. I can’t imagine anyone would mind a picture of such a handsome chap!

Bruce is off work for this week, so we have been puttering around the house. Yesterday was garden work (in the morning) and errands (in the afternoon). Today was cleaning (Bruce - his bathroom and man cave/laboratory) and for me it was Weight Watchers, sewing, and the phone-techy stuff. Tomorrow we’ll probably go visit Red Butte Garden again in Salt Lake to see the roses at their peak and to get some sunshine, then go out to lunch. The weather here has been mild (mid-seventies) this week, so we’re going to enjoy it to the max!

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Teal Time

Hi! I can’t believe another week has rolled around this fast. Summer is in full swing here, with temps in the nineties and the flowers and veggies all snug and happy in their warm beds. We’ve already been eating rhubarb (a spring harvest) and radishes and spinach. The apricot tree keeps dropping occasional green apricots to the ground, so it gives me hope that there are some where I can’t see them and they will eventually ripen. Then I may need to fight the birds to get any, but I guess we’ll see how that goes. Just my luck they’ll ripen when I’m in Kenya in a month....

But for now, let’s talk about the color teal (aqua, blue-green, turquoise, etc). I got lots of sewing done this week on my Rainbow Scrap color for June. I’m joining up with Angela’s Scrappy Saturday and look forward to seeing what other quilters around the world are making with their teal scraps!

First we have three Linked Squares blocks (16.5” each, unfinished)

And next up are the selvage squares. I made 17 in the 6.5” size and then with the remaining scraps made 6 in the 4.5” size.

And this month’s Squared Away Sampler, courtesy of Mari (Academic Quilter), is this lovely little number. They actually remind me of the Irish Chain blocks I’ll be doing for my Lattice Birds Quilt. Anyway, I made two of these that will finish at 10” each.

I did some other sewing this week, but nothing exciting. I added some lace to the hem of a blouse I recently purchased in order to make it longer. Then on a pair of cargo shorts I have, the pocket tops kept flipping up. Since I don’t need the pockets on the legs to be useful, I stitched them closed. And finally, I did some mending for my DDIL. All of the clothes stuff was in preparation for our Kenya trip next month. Later in the week I’m going to do a separate post about the humanitarian group we’re going with, some of the things we’re collecting to take along, and all the other preparation going on. It’s been crazy!

But I’ll leave you with a picture from the Shop Hop that cousin Kim and niece Jenny and I joined in on last week. The theme was Party Time, and each shop had a different party theme, like Girls Night Out, Slumber Party, Halloween Party, Luau, High School Reunion, Hootenanny, etc. These pictures were taken at the Slumber Party at Pine Needles quilt shop in West Jordan - one of our favorites. We thought this was a cute idea for photos....

Jenny and Kim

Kim and Cathy
That’s it for now. I do check in daily on my Blogger dashboard and read your comments. They are always appreciated. I know we’re all still waiting for Blogger to get their act together and solve the commenting email issue. You’d think that something as big as the implementation of the GDPR would have been planned for. But obviously they didn’t. Anyway, I will make time this week to go hunting through my old files to dig up email addresses and cut/paste/reply manually where I can.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Summer Reading - Books and Book Blocks

You know I love quilts. But I love books too. And if you combine them, that’s nirvana. You may remember the Reading Rainbow Quilt that I finished last year.

Through a year of scraps with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, this was a labor of love.

And now, with the Block Lotto, our monthly hostess for June is Nann, and she has given us a fun new block to try called Summer Reading.  You can see her post on the Block Lotto HERE. Her post contains a link to the actual pattern for the block.

Here are the six blocks I made for this month:

As I did in the Reading Rainbow quilt, I added “titles” to three of the books. They are gleaned from my stash of selvages and stitched on the “spine” of the book with a small stitch length for security.

And just to let you know that I love REAL books too, here is my current read. A recent article in the Washington Post had a great list of summer reading titles from various people. When I saw that this book appeared more than once, and read the reviews of this, it became a Must Read for me. I’m about two thirds through, and am savoring every bit. Two thumbs way up!

I’ve got another half dozen on hold. I’m hoping that at least a couple come up over the next month so that I can load them onto my iPad and have some reading to take with me for my Africa trip in July. That’s when I love digital books - traveling without adding the extra weight of physical books. Because except for my personal carry-on, all my luggage weight allowance will be devoted to humanitarian items (toys, fabric and personal care items) for our Kenyan non-profit project. 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Goodbye Pink, Hello Aqua!

With the beginning of a new month comes another color to work with for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. But before we get into June’s color of aqua (or teal, or too-green-for-blue or too-blue-for-green), let me do my Pink May recap.  I finished sewing more birds for Birds in the Lattice. Here are the seven pink (or pink with another color) birds:

And then since I had birds in almost every color there will be in the quilt (except a yellow-orange pair), I sewed two of the Irish Chain “lattice” blocks to see how they would play with the birds.

I think I love it!!  The final quilt will have a total of 63 blocks, measuring 10” each when finished. They will be set 7 across by nine down (70x90”) before adding a stop border and then a large border of the main fabric, the blue floral print you see in the blue birds, the central square of the lattice blocks and on the wing of one pink bird. Queen-sized quilt.

For May my pink blocks were:
8 (4” finished) bow ties,
54 (4” finished) hearts, 1
2 (6” finished) quarter log cabins,
7 (10” finished) birds,
3 (16” finished) Linked Squares blocks,
4 (6” finished) blocks for the All You Need is Love quilt,
15 (6” finished) selvage squares,
3 (10” finished) Squared Away blocks, and
13 (6” finished) crumb blocks.
That’s a total of (wow, even I’m surprised...) 119 blocks. But that is all the sewing I did (other than to finish sashing the quilt top, above, at the last minute). So, there is progress, but nothing finished to show for it!!

And in the couple days since Angela has announced June’s color, I’ve managed to sew a whopping four bow tie blocks. But if you join us for Scrappy Saturday, you’ll see lots of other fun projects!

Today I’ll be spending the day with Cousin Kim and niece Jenny as we head on out to do another day of the Utah Shop Hop. It started Wednesday, and Kim and I had fun hitting the stores up around Park City and Midway. Then we drove the Alpine Loop down to Utah Valley (Provo/Orem area), passing Sundance, where the annual Sundance Film Festival is held. It was breathtakingly beautiful, reminding me of the Austrian Alps. I was driving, so I couldn’t get any pictures. However, we waved to Robert Redford as we passed by his place (wink!)

Anyway, today our quilt travels will take us north to (maybe) Logan, but definitely Brigham City, Bountiful, and finally a couple shops here in the Salt Lake Valley. We have been buying some fabric. Kim bought some old-fashioned purple fabrics to make a Hunter’s Star quilt for her son and I bought some Pepper and Flax fabrics (grays, yellow and greens) to make a quilt for our yellow guest bedroom. We are, however, suffering from sticker shock to see fat quarters priced at $3.50. Needless to say, we are mostly sticking to the sale tables.

And here are some pictures from our garden this week. Most were taken on a cloudy day, and the first three are along the back wall of the backyard garden.

The rose bush below (no filter or editing on the pic) has gorgeous magenta roses. This was the first one to open, but the bush is getting up to full bloom and should peak in the coming  week.

This is my favorite rose bush, in the front yard. The blooms are a lovely yellow-orange to salmon color. But some winter damage a couple years ago in the center has made the bush a bit lopsided. I’ve tried to prune it to compensate, but it looks best from this angle. This fall I’ve got more woody canes to get rid of and some more shaping to do.

And then I decided to cut some of the irises and roses to enjoy indoors in a bouquet. Before retiring from the workforce, I’d always bring flowers to have in my office and for the reception area.

Finally, a couple pictures from our Red Butte Gardens visit last week. The pictures didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped, nor did I get many before my card filled up. But here are a few...

From the Xeriscape garden area, looking up into the canyon.

And then looking down and out west along the north half of the Salt Lake Valley.

The next shot is near the area where they hold weddings and is one of the few decent pictures I got.

By the next time we go, I’ll have a better phone/camera. And if Bruce takes the pictures, we’ll have a better photographer too!

Have a great week, friends. I miss talking to you and replying to your comments. But I hear that Blogger is hoping to have a fix to the problem this coming week. Fingers crossed!