Friday, May 29, 2020

Two More Quilt Finishes and May Recap

Happy weekend! Summer - or a very warm spring - has arrived here in the Salt Lake Valley, and we finally had to turn on the central air conditioning. But we keep it relatively warm-ish (78 degrees F) in the house because I prefer warmth to refrigerated cold. At night we open the windows and turn on the ceiling fans, and the cats jostle for best position under it on the bed.

The vegetables wasted no time in appearing in the garden and are loving the warmth too. My mouth is already watering at the thought of the early veggies - peas, spinach and lettuce. The rhubarb plant is still producing, but I’m trying to make strawberry-rhubarb compote with it after scratching our “pie itch" and making one (spectacular) raspberry-rhubarb pie.  The thought that I’ll not spend all of July putting up apricots is mostly very freeing, but sometimes there is a twinge of remorse that we had to chop the tree down. Luckily, there are enough frozen apricots, jam, and dried apricots to last another whole year.

My first finish this week was the garlic knots quilt that was a Rainbow Scrap Challenge project I began in 2019. It was also my OMG, One Monthly Goal, for May.  So, I’m linking up with Patty at Elm Street Quilts to share my finish there. As always, Patty, we appreciate your help in keeping us moving forward with our goals!

So, the official name for my garlic knots quilt (traditionally the block is called Arrowhead Puzzle) is Garlic Breath. Why? Because it’s just plain silly, that’s why!

My official quilt holder (hubby Bruce) is no longer qualified for the job since he had his right arm amputated last month. So, Cousin Kim, who came over to sit and stitch and gab on the patio (properly socially distanced of course) held this up for me. Wait, I held it up and she took the picture.  

This is the back. I had the perfect twin sheet in rainbow colors for the back. But the stripes were wonky, so in straightening it out and cutting off the wonkiness, I lost just enough to have to insert a piece of one of my all-time favorite backings.

Garlic Breath measures 64x80”, and like real garlic breath, it is heavy!!

This one is a keeper!

I had a few things to finish up for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge’s month of dark green scraps in May. First were these two International Sisters blocks. These are not African fabrics, so they will go in the rainbow Sisters quilt I’m making for myself.

And finally, there was the dark green scrap quilt I make (almost) every month from all my leftover scraps, test blocks and orphan blocks.  I call these my Creature quilts because I give them silly names - because they are silly quilts - yet they provide creature comforts to the charities to which I donate them.  So, without further ado, meet CREATURE FROM THE MOSSY MOUNTAIN:

And here is the story of the Creature from the Mossy Mountain:

     Deep in the lush green mountains lived a young one named Fern. Shy Fern had always been misunderstood and ignored. Even as a tender sporeling, she hid in the shadows and was passed over as attentions were showered on the more vivid sprouts. The bright flowers snickered behind their sepals when they thought Fern wasn’t looking. All spring and summer the flowers and other plants were plucked up and carried away, one by one, from the meadows and hillsides. Alas! Green with envy and chlorophyll, Fern hid in her shady bower to photosynthesize alone.
     Then, one late summer day, a pair of famous botanists hiked to the shady glen deep in the mossy mountains. They were hunting for a rare, exotic specimen to become the centerpiece of a grand botanical garden at the palace. There in the shade they spied Fern. “Oh! What a magnificent and verdant Creature you are!” they exclaimed. They lovingly took Fern to the palace where she became the star of the garden ... and lived happily ever after.

If you look at the quilt, you will see mountain ridges, a gray “rock” outcropping, fern-y fabric with little woodland creatures and a big, ostentatious flower. And lots of little snips and bits shoved in there to make all the odd sizes work together, LOL.

Here’s the back, pieced from green chunks and leftovers. Creature measures 41x44”.

I’m also linking up to Scrappy Saturday at Angela’s Blog. It’s month-end, so you’ll see lots of colorful inspiration and finishes. And a lot of excitement as we begin June’s new color, PINK. But first, here’s my dark green May recap:

My green blocks this month totaled 43.  

In May I finished 6 quilts; two yellow and green giraffe-themed donation quilts, the Harambe Sisters wall hanging, the blue and pink happy blocks donation quilt, Garlic Breath and Creature from the Mossy Mountain.
But wait! There’s more!

Yep, once Angela announced pink for June earlier this week, I’m sure lots of us got crackin’!  I started by clearing out the biggest mess first - pink selvages.  The result was 16  half-hexie selvage blocks and lots of leftovers that I’m collecting to pass on to someone at the end of the year.

I’m also going to be working on the zipper blocks like Sally and Wanda (pattern courtesy of Lynn at kleinmeisjequilts). Here are my first two. I love the fabrics, but I’m not happy with the blocks. They’re too matchy-blendy. The solids (or near-solids) need to contrast more. So the one on the left will get dark orange for contrast and the one on the right will get gold for contrast. I should have them corrected (and hopefully another one made) by next week.  There’s potential here.

Stay safe, and if you venture into public, please be cautious and sensible. xo

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Our Late May Garden

I like to do an early garden post almost every year. So I figured I’d better get to it. We’re way behind our usual schedule this year, so a lot of the weeding/grooming and mulching haven’t been done yet. But hey, it’s reality and not an audition for a garden magazine, LOL.

The vegetable garden is planted. That was the first priority once Bruce was able to work outside and the weather cooperated enough to allow it. Here you can see the onion bed (foreground) and the potato bed behind it.

Along the wall, the irises were beginning to open up, but the roses not so much.

Here are some closeups of the irises along the back wall.

 This one is my favorite. I wish it were as prolific at reproducing as some of the other ones!

Also in the very back, the pollinator habitat that we built last year is beginning to “wake up”. Our trumpet vine was planted in the corner so that it could climb the metal trellises to its left and the telephone pole behind it in the neighbor’s yard. It looks like the neighbor’s ivy (full botanical name: Damn Ivy) has beat it to the pole. I have hope, though. I read in our Neighborhood App a couple days ago that our neighbor is looking for a couple kids to help him work to clear out his ivy. I sure hope he means this ivy! I try to kill any ivy that encroaches on our yard from that side or from behind the gray wall.

The stump of the apricot tree is rather forlorn. Our lawn guys are going to cut off about another foot off the stump and level it so that I can display a flower pot or bird bath there or something. He’s waiting for his chain saw to be repaired. With the apricot tree gone, that corner is much sunnier, and the hollyhocks are loving it (and so are the two irises I tucked in there last year, apparently!)

Here’s another hollyhock planted in that same corner. And Boomer’s headstone. 

And my Chihuly rose is really blooming nicely and finally growing a bit this year.

I think the fiery yellow and orange roses of Chihuly bush perfectly evoke a sense of his unique glasswork, don’t you?

We have little grapes forming on the grape arbor, but the picture I took was backlit terribly, so I’ll try again with those another time.  But these snapdragons came back with a vengeance this year, which is surprising. They’ve never acted like a perennial for me before! There is a glass pelican hanging nearby, plus the woody bases of the grape vines. You might also notice some un-pulled grass *cough* in the bottom left corner. What can I say? It’s a process.... that bed is only about two thirds done.

Moving to the east side yard, our poppy has opened. I used to have a monster bush here on the side yard, but I think I tried to do something dumb like divide it and ended up killing it or something. At any rate, I immediately replaced it about 3 years ago with this poppy, and it’s just now finally condescending to bloom for me.

I think there were a total of about 5 or 6 flowers this year.  Sorry the picture’s not too great.

The bump-out on the brickwork of the house is the chimney. We used to have a snowball bush planted there, but it died and we had to have it pulled out last spring. We replaced it with a burning bush (small green clump on the very right); it will take time to grow. In the meantime, we have plenty of spring color there with the irises and the yellow stuff. Usually I know my flowers, but this one has slipped my feeble mind.

Moving on to the front, there’s not much to show because we are still working on getting the grass out of the flower beds so I can plant the rest of the annuals. But I can show you my lovely rose at the corner of the front walkway and the driveway.

Every year we get two great shows from this bush.

You’ve already seen our front walkway lined with the Mexican Talavera flower pots we like to collect. But here is a shepard’s hook on which I hang a pot of store-bought petunias to give a little height to this front bed. Behind it are irises, a lily and in the very lower left is - goldenrod?? There is a small lupine in there somewhere too.

Our house faces north and this portion of the bed doesn’t get too much sunlight. So the hostas, irises and brunnera (with little blue flowers, below) love it.

Below is another hosta and one of the delphiniums that has grown and spread. It already needs to be re-staked. I’ll show pictures again when these beds are weeded, mulched and the flowers really come into bloom.

As for the west side yard, move along folks, there’s nothing to see there. Except more irises and grass up to our knees. We’ve already removed a couple wheelbarrows-ful of weeds and grass. If you listen, you can probably hear us crackin’ the whip as we get that yard into shape!

And last but not least, here is the revised fabric pull for the new project I hinted at in my Saturday blog post. I’m joining in with Erica Jackman of Kitchen Table Quilting for the Tessa Quilt Quarantine-along.

I’ll be making a lap-sized quilt. Today I made time to color in my coloring sheet and figure out fabric placement and yardages.  Woo-hoo! Now to begin the cutting!

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Two Finishes

It’s been a good week all around. The vegetable garden is all planted, and Bruce even got the drip irrigation lines set up for our front walkway flower pots. I have some pictures of the pots later in this post. We also spent an hour yesterday morning digging out the overgrown side yard on the west side of the house. The grass and weeds love it there in the flower beds! We have a ways to go to get the beds in shape, but we’re pacing ourselves. We’ll get there, but I’m sure not enjoying it like I used to ten years ago. Every spot on my body aches!

I finished up the quilting and binding on my second double-sided wall hanging for Harambe Humanitarian, the non-profit organization on whose Board I sit. Let me show you that finish first. This wall hanging has the International Sisters blocks on one side and an African mandala print on the other side.

The fabrics are all African prints except the plain white and the complexion fabrics. It measures approximately 28” x 48”.  The picture below shows both wall hangings completed so far. Two down, six more to go over the course of this year. They will be sold for Harambe fundraising purposes, and these two are already spoken for.

The hanging sleeve is on top so that it can be hung either way. Both of these use the same mandala print on the back, although I have a couple panels that will be different in future wall hangings. 

Harambe Humanitarian is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. We are working with the Maasai tribes of Kenya to provide menstrual supplies for girls and young women in order to keep them in school. We also provide menstrual and health education for girls, plus income opportunities for women. Also, we’re in the process of setting up a library for the community in the Tenkes area of the Mau Forest .

This month we’re doing an online fundraiser (the pandemic has put a crimp in our revenue stream) to purchase more menstrual supplies and educational materials. I would love for you to check it out. You can visit Harambe Humanitarian on Facebook or our website.  The fundraising site is here at SafePad Kenya (scroll down to the May 15 post with the picture of the four girls in white). Asante sana! (“Thank you very much” in Swahili). 

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Although I didn’t get this dark green “Creature” quilt finished this week, it is a finished flimsy that’s been basted and is waiting for its turn to be quilted in the next week. Also basted, but not shown, is the garlic knot Rainbow Scrap project.

However, I did finish this blue and pink quilt, polishing off lots of leftover fabrics. 

I haven’t given this one a name; it’s a donation quilt going to Quilts for Kids. It measures 40x50”. I used the leftover blocks on the back, which helped stretch my chunks and pieces to fit.

Our friend Terri came over last Monday and brought lunch from one of our favorite delis. The three of us spent a lovely couple of hours out on the patio talking and laughing. We maintained our 6’ distancing, of course. Terri brought four cute quilts she’d made for Quilts for Kids as well as some kennel quilts for the Best Friends animal rescue. I’ll add those to my collection to deliver hopefully sometime this summer. Thank you, Terri! xo

I’ve had a hankering to start a new quilt lately. I’m holding off until I get a few more of my UFO’s finished up, but I couldn’t help doing a fun fabric pull. I’ve got a couple ideas floating around in my head (along with all the other detritus that floats around in there), and these bright pieces are chunks  and fat quarters that seem to play well together. This could be a fun June project, so stay tuned.

We interrupt this blog post for a message from Her Royal Highness ....

Um, never mind. All Darla really wanted was some attention from her loyal subjects.

Oh, and I mentioned some pictures of the front flower pots. I’ve taken lots of pictures of the flowers and garden over the last week. For now, I’ll just show the flower pots and save the rest for a separate blog post in a few days.

The pots were planted a couple weeks ago? It’ll  be interesting to get pictures of them in July or August when the flowers grow and fill in. But they still offer a lot of refreshing, fun color even now.

The pot below is the new one we bought when we were in Arizona in February.

Here’s a different view. I still have annuals to add to the walkway bed around the rose tree. All in good time! It’s been raining like crazy here for a day or two, so that won’t happen until next week.

Have a wonderful week, and stay safe!

Linking to Scrappy Saturday for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Garlic Knots and Green Things

Is it just me, or does it feel as though we’ve moved through the Bubble of Slow Time and are beginning to acclimate? This week went fairly quickly, with doctor appointments and errands. I did plenty of housework, laundry and sewing, and  the garden is mostly planted  - Bruce will finish up the carrots, pumpkins and sunflowers today.

As far as the stores and economy opening up, it’s way too soon in my opinion. But that just means that we’ll continue to stay home and only venture out as necessary. We still have to do occasional grocery shopping and pharmacy visits. I’m glad our grocery store is maintaining their senior/high risk hours and social distancing. We wear gloves and masks when we go out, even to the nursery (to buy some vegetable starts to supplement our seeds). Restaurant dining? Maybe outdoors somewhere down the road, but not now. We do some drive-through food ordering (warm food only. Salads and drinks we’ll furnish). I’m over 60, overweight (pains me to say that), with sleep apnea, rheumatoid arthritis and high blood pressure (controlled with medication). I’m a walking high risk poster child person.

But you’re probably here for the sewing part, so let’s get to it. May is for sewing our dark green scraps in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. It’s so nice that there are plenty of greens outdoors now too. I’ve got to take a walk around the yards and photograph some of the trees and flowers!

Anyway, here are 9 Split Nine blocks. I love playing with all the potential layouts with these versatile blocks!

I needed one dark green Beachcomber block, so that was next.

Here is a sampling of some that I’ve sewn so far. It sorely needs some red and yellow, don’t you agree?

And then the strings. Always strings! There are 14 of these 6.5-inch (unfinished size) blocks. Some may go into a “Creature” (miscellaneous color-themed) quilt. Maybe, maybe not. I’ll be playing with some green orphan blocks this next week to see if I have enough to do something.

This is how I’ve been doing my string blocks lately. Last year I was given a large roll of sheer fabric (think sheer curtain fabric, probably a polyester or other synthetic). After donating yards and yards to some of my Quilts for Kids friends, I saved several yards of this wide fabric for myself, and cut it into 6.5” strips. From those strips I cut out 6.5” blocks. I use them as the foundation for piecing my string blocks. It has the advantage of being lightweight and doesn’t need to be removed like paper. 

The only disadvantage is that they have to be pinned to my design wall, because the sheer won’t stick itself to the flannel. But that’s so minor. They wash up beautifully, too. 

And then I used the rest of my small crumbs to make six crumb blocks. These will go into the orphanage or a that green Creature quilt if it materializes. 

Last week I was pondering layout ideas for my RSC garlic knot blocks, and asked for your input. First, thank you to everyone who responded. Between the comments I’ve had over the last two or three weeks about Bruce’s surgery, the Paula B Blog Hop and the garlic knot dilemma, I’ve been overwhelmed with comments. Thank you! It’s so nice to know that you lovely people are reading along, offering kind words and opinions and just generally being supportive. I’m still working on responding, although I know I won’t get everyone. And several of you are No-Reply commenters, so I have no way to personally express my thanks.

Anyway, the most popular option, which also happened to be the one that Bruce and I were leaning toward, was the scrappy mixed color layout with the blocks all facing in one direction. So, that’s what I sewed together this week. 

My goal for the coming week is to get Garlic Knots layered and basted, as well as the pink and blue Happy Blocks flimsy. As far as quilting, I’ll focus first on another International Sisters wallhanging, then move on to Garlic Knots and Happy Blue and Pink as time permits. 

Bruce continues to improve. The picture below was taken a week (maybe 2?) ago. The “We’re #1” foam hand was sent as a joke to Bruce by his daughter Emily and her husband Chad. They know his sense of humor, and they were spot on! 

This past Tuesday, Bruce had half of the stitches removed from the amputation site. The swelling has really gone down. He goes back in about 10 days to get the rest of the stitches out. He also had a long planning meeting with the prosthetics people, and some of the parts and things for his custom prosthetic have been ordered. He will soon begin wearing a special sock over the stump which will help shape it for accepting the prosthetic. The process will take a few months, but it is well underway. Meantime, the only thing Bruce hasn’t been able to do is trim his left hand fingernails or cut his meat. But I bet that will change when he gets his prosthetic! Seriously, his can-do attitude and total lack of self-pity have kept his (and my) spirits elevated. It does my heart good to see him out in the garden planting and doing all his puttering around. Life is good!

Linking up to Scrappy Saturday for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Dark Green for May

Things have been busy around here. Today, with the help of extended family members, we are going to be tilling up the raised garden beds (we have a tiny tiller just for that purpose) and installing the drip irrigation. If we have time, the planting will begin. Since it will all be done outdoors, it should be easy to maintain our proper 6’ social distancing during these crazy pandemic times. No masks, but no hugging either. And sometime this weekend I’ll plant flowers in my Mexican Talavera pots for the front walkway.

It finally feels as though I had time to do some quality sewing this week, and I made a good start on May’s Rainbow Scrap color, dark greens. I’ll be linking up to Scrappy Saturday to share and see what other quilters have been sewing up.

Here are the 10 Twin Sisters blocks I sewed yesterday (above) and the Scraptastic Star block, below.

It was quick work to get the pink and blue Happy Blocks sewn together into a flimsy, which used up all of the leftover Monet-like floral sheet I had left from other backings.

I also sewed up a backing for this with leftover blocks and some pieces of pink and blue fabric, so this can hopefully be sandwiched up soon.

But the fun project I’m working on this week, and it’s my One Monthly Goal (OMG) for May, is sewing up the garlic knots into a flimsy. But I have a decision to make about the layout, and I’d like your help.  I’m not sure if I want to do a random, scrappy layout or a rainbow color wash (gradation) layout. And should the blocks all be facing the same direction or turned to form linking chains? My design board isn’t large enough to hold all the blocks at once, but the quilt will be 8 columns across (shown) by 10 blocks down. I could only fit 6 rows for these examples; the teals, blues and purples are not shown, but will be included in the final quilt.

Here are the options. Which one(s) do you like?

A.  Color gradation, same direction

B.  Color gradation, chains

C.  Scrappy, same direction

D.  Scrappy, chains

I should tell you that I plan to quilt it in an overall pattern, something simple as usual. Even if I end up going with a chain pattern, I won’t be doing any fancy patterns in the white areas. In fact, I’m not overly enthusiastic about all the white areas (give me COLOR!), but as this is a potential gift quilt, I’m trying not to let that “color” my choice. Pun intended.

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Alfie and Darla have been having lots of fun over the last couple weeks with a pair of blue scrub jays that have apparently set up housekeeping somewhere nearby. Whenever we have the front or back doors open, leaving the screen or storm doors, the kitties like to lay nearby and watch “cat TV”, most especially the Bird Channel.

The scrub jays are large and loud and relatively fearless (like Magpies), for a bird.  I’m not sure if they are taunting the cats or trying to communicate.

For Alfie and Darla’s part, I’m pretty sure they’re just considering menu options.