Saturday, April 29, 2023

Elephant Parade and Giveaway Winners

Let’s just start right off with the winner of last week’s giveaway for a copy of Sew Preeti’s new pattern, A Fishy Story.  Mr. Random Generator chose:

Grandma Judy B

Congratulations, Judy! Preeti will contact you to get your information and get you squared away. For the rest of you, thanks so much for taking the time to drop by last week and enter the drawing. Be sure to stop by Preeti’s Etsy Shop to pick up a copy of this delightful pattern! 

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We had another crazy week here at Chez Kizerian. Bruce’s vertigo is finally abating, although he had to postpone his driver’s license review (an annual meeting required in Utah for amputees) until May. I had a Most Dreaded Procedure done this week. You know, the one where the prep is a hundred times worse than the procedure itself (which they knock you out for). Anyway, all is peachy-keen, and I don’t have to do that again for 10 years. And who knows, maybe the 2-day fasting will help me shed a pound or two. Although I would rather not lose it like that!

But the procedure - plus rain one day and working out in the yard hauling soil and digging grass out of flower beds - limited my sewing room time. First, let me show you the last of my Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks for Purple April. I’m going to link this post up to Scrappy Saturday at Angela’s blog.

This week, being the last week of purple scraps, meant I was dealing with crumbs. So I made 8 - 8” (finished size) crumb candy blocks. 

They won’t be laid out like that in a quilt, but it was fun to try it for a picture. The only other color I plan to make of these candies is orange, then I’ll be able to assemble a quilt top.

The rest of the crumbs went into two 6.5” crumb blocks.....

... which in turn have been added to my Purple Creature Quilt (as in creature like Frankenstein’s monster). I have fun using old orphan blocks, scraps, chunks and such to put together something in the color of the month. 

Obviously, this is only pinned to the design board at the moment. I plan to get it sewn into a top over the weekend. Then I can quilt it AND the green one and two donated community quilts in the next week. I’ll show whatever I finish next week.

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And now it’s time for the Elephant Trunk Show!!  Grab your coffee and a comfortable seat and let’s get started!

Late in 2021, I bought the pattern Stomping Ground by Wendy Shepard. I love elephants, especially after having spent time in Kenya in 2018. I tried making a few and really liked the pattern. So all throughout 2022, and part of this year as well, I made elephants in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge color of the month. And as the months went by, I began assembling them into what would end up as 7 quilts - all donated to Quilts for Kids here in Salt Lake City.

I think that for many of you, like me, this will be a fun stroll down memory lane. At least I hope so!

These first two quilts were finished in June. I absolutely loved that blue and green border fabric and ordered it from two different places. Since I had a ton of green and blue scraps, I decided to double the fun! These Jungle Elephants definitely loved their time browsing in the lush greenery!

Both of these quilts ended up at 42x47” - perfect for a child.

The next quilt to reach the finish line was this little number, Pink and Green Elephants. As with all these elephant quilts, the elephant colors were determined by the yardage or scraps that I wanted to use for the border and/or backing. Finished in August, this one measures 40x48”. The fabric came from some yardage I found at a thrift store.

Rainbow Elephants, finished in November, was the fourth finish.  It measures 40x47”. That adorable elephant border fabric (also used on the back) was given to me by Nann

In December I finished Wild Elephants, which was the largest of any of the quilts. It measures 43x54”. 

As usual, in this quilt the elephant colors were (generally) derived from the colors in the backing. There wasn’t enough of this delightful fabric (also from Nann) to use for borders. so I just added more elephants!

And that brings us to this year’s finishes. This bright Happy Elephants quilt was finished in February. It measures 39.5 x 49.5”.  This was a favorite of so many visitors to the blog.

And finally, here is Bubbly Elephants.  The inspirational border fabric was a piece I acquired from one of my Quilts for Kids friends. The picture below shows it basted and ready to be quilted.

I did manage to quilt it last night. Here is a closeup of the simple loop quilting. I still have to bind it, and it’ll the first order of business when I get back in the sewing room this weekend. It measures 38 x 48.5”. I’ll show a full completed picture next week.

So, there’s my trunk show.... er, I mean, the elephants’ trunk show. Which one is your favorite?

We’re expecting a beautiful sunny day today, so I plan to get out in the yard and work in the flower beds while Bruce works on getting the drip irrigation set up for the vegetable garden beds. A trip to the big box hardware store is probably in order, which is always fun. And usually followed by a Barnes & Noble coffee date!  Sometime next week - on a weekday, definitely not on a weekend - we’ll head to a garden nursery or two to begin buying new perennials and annuals. I can’t wait!

Have a great week!

Saturday, April 22, 2023

A Fishy Story - and a Giveaway!

Welcome, friends!  

I have a lot to share with you today (even some pictures for a change!), so let’s not waste any time! I’ll begin with A Fishy Story...... hehehe. My dear friend Preeti. who is also an Island Batik Ambassador, has a great new pattern that she is calling A Fishy Story. She tells the tale on her blog, which you can visit HERE if you haven’t already seen it.

Preeti asked me to be a pattern tester for her, and I excitedly agreed. Why? Because I saw the pattern and knew that this would be the perfect opportunity to learn how to make HRTs, or half-rectangle triangles. Well, also because I love Preeti to the moon and back, but that’s another story.....   Anyway, it was a super quick timing window, so I only had the opportunity to make a wall hanging. But rest assured that these fishy beauties are going to be a super Rainbow Scrap Challenge block for me in 2024! I need more of my fishy friends in my life (said the Pisces girl!)

Without further ado, let’s first view the “class picture” of this school of fish, shall we? I’ve got to add a disclaimer here. The last several days have been cloudy, dark and blustery. So I apologize for the (lack of) photo quality. Outdoors was not an option, and indoors was gloomy. Except for this lively school of fish!

Look - I cropped the nose off the lead fish with the camera. But let me tell you, there is NO chance of that happening when you are sewing them and following Preeti’s stellar pattern. Her directions for making the HRTs are so clear and concise - I felt as though she was there in person, guiding me along step by step. 

I made two of these batik buddy fish (individual class photos, LOL).

This one’s body is a different batik, because..... variety is the spice of life. And after all, they aren’t twins! But look at their nice fins!!

Speaking of twins, I did make two of these aquamarine fish. Preeti’s pattern has you make them in pairs to save fabric and time. It’s a slick technique!

The quilting, some serpentine lines done with my walking foot, were supposed to be random widths apart, but I don’t think I made them random enough. Live and learn. Next time I’ll just use a regular straight stitch and sew the wavy lines more organically/naturally.

You can find the A Fishy Story patten in Preeti’s Etsy shop. In addition to the adorable pattern, the directions for making precise HRTs alone are totally worth it! And for the next week, the pattern will be on sale for 20% off, so don’t wait. 

So, here are my silly fish, clowning around on the design board. First they decided to swim one direction....

And then they decided to swim a different direction.... They must be in middle school, LOL!!

I told the class that they were going to have to make up their minds so that I could sew on a hanging sleeve. They finally calmed down enough to decide to swim west.....

And that’s where they’ll play for awhile on the living room wall. 

Now it’s time for the giveaway announcement! Preeti is giving away a free copy of her pattern to one lucky person who leaves a comment on this blog post. All you have to do is tell me what your favorite type of fish is - whether that favorite type of fish is to eat (don’t say it too loud, we don’t want the class to hear! Wink!) or just to look at.  I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winner and will announce the winner next week here on the blog. You have until Thursday, April 27 at midnight (Mountain Daylight Time) to get your comments in. Also, please leave your email address in your comment if you’re a No-Reply Blogger.

Don’t forget to check out Preeti’s blog post and her Etsy shop!

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Oh, and of course I didn’t forget my Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks this week! Here are the 37 - 6” (finished size) purple string blocks I sewed. Two sets of 15 will go to Quilts for Kids to be used in quilt kits. The other 7 will go into the ever-growing pile of assorted blocks and scraps that will eventually become a Purple Creature quilt. 

Next week: Giveaway winner announcement and the long-awaited Elephant Trunk Show! That is, if I don’t spend too much time in the garden hauling fresh new soil into the flower beds. We’ll see which way Mother Nature and her April Showers vote! 

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Progress - Mostly in the Yard!

It was a fun and busy week, but I would have had to take before and after pictures of my rose bushes (all pruned!) and flower beds (good progress on weeding and dead growth cleanup) for you to really see anything. Bruce and I did make a run to our favorite nursery (not a chain garden center) to pick up our seed potatoes, garlic bulbs and onion starts. They go so quickly that we weren’t taking any chances this year! I bought a tea rose bush while we were there because I can’t help myself. It’s way too early to plant anything, but better to have what we need on hand.

I’ll revisit more of the garden news later in the post, but first I’ll show you the blocks I sewed up for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge’s April color of purple.

First up, five Chaser blocks. I may come back to these and make more blocks with purples, but for now here are the finished ones.

I also completed 8 Split Nine-Patch blocks to add to the pile.

The remainder of my studio time (two afternoons) was spent on some secret sewing that I can’t share just yet. But stay tuned for that in the next week or two!

On Tuesday evening, I went to my friend Ruby’s house for our monthly “card night”. Six of us from our Weight Watchers group have become fast friends and gather at one member’s home (we rotate) to play Hand and Foot. We were having so much fun that we kept going until just past 10:30. I didn’t get home until past 11, had to unwind before getting to bed (gulp - after 1 a.m.). I was wiped out the next day! Haha - no one will ever accuse me of being a party girl!  But we did have a small party / family gathering here for Easter with DS Shane and DGD London. 

Bruce was gone on Wednesday and Friday, attending “Myo U”, as they affectionately call the training sessions (usually held 2-3 times per year in Salt Lake) for prosthetists. Bruce is a “model”, since he’s an amputee. He has a blast because he used to work with guys in this company (Motion Control) when he (Bruce) worked back in the day with Robert Jarvik on the (artificial heart and) the Utah Arm projects. Anyway, the participating prosthetists this time came from Norway, Sweden, Ireland, India, Guatemala and the US. 

So let me show you - now that the snow has finally melted - what’s happening in the front and east side yards.

This first picture shows the new gravel that replaces the old grass along the driveway. That grass strip was just narrow enough to always look raggedy from lying between the house and driveway. And the rock matches what we already have in the front parking strip (the area between the front sidewalk and the street). Come to think of it, it also matches the cement border edging (mow strip) and the faux-flagstone front path from the driveway to the front door. Cool beans. 

Much tidier. The sprinklers were capped and drip irrigation lines were installed. Please forgive the rough nature of all the beds I’m showing today. We lost some plants to winter kill and others were likely destroyed with the digging for the drip lines lines. The beds are being cleaned up - slowly and methodically - by me. We have soil to spread (see the next picture), but that can’t begin to happen until after Monday. That’s when the contracted clean-up team will be here to remove all the styrofoam pellets that contaminated our yard from the demolition doc an old furniture store on the lot behind us. That story is here if you need a refresher on that fiasco (last part of the post). 

Obviously, nothing is blooming yet and the grass is only half awakened from winter. The wonky solar lights are now gone and will be replaced when the landscaping basics are done. Consider these to be “before” shots of this year’s beds!

I haven’t seen a trace yet of my bleeding heart bush in the planting area below, so if it didn’t survive all the digging, that’s one I’ll definitely want to replace. And note to self: the snow shovel and bucket of ice melt on the porch need to be put away!!

Much of the new soil will go in the bed below to fill in the area under the overhang and contour the bed to slope slightly away from the house - and fix the grade overall from years of digging and transplanting. A fresh start! 

I’m so excited to do some planning and plant shopping and digging and planting. Mother Nature, are you listening???

Have a great week!

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Maybe Spring is Really Coming!

Our weather forecast (10-day) here in the Salt Lake Valley has no snow in it! As of Tuesday last week (an incredibly snowy day and our Weight Watchers meeting was cancelled), we broke the all-time snowpack record for the state. It would be an understatement to say I’ve got cabin fever. I’ve been using any excuse I can to get out of the house over the last two clear and sunny days.  We need more bananas? Hey, I’ll run to the store!  I should check to see if I have enough self-tanning lotion for the season. What - not enough? Ok, I’ll hit the drugstore. My underthings are sure getting baggy. Maybe I should head to the mall and shop for new ones! (Note: any other time besides this never-ending winter, shopping for underthings is akin to being waterboarded). 

On Thursday, I did walk to Wheeler Farm, a block away, so I could get some pictures of our snowy mountains and cloudless blue sky. 

There’s not that much snow here on the valley floor, but up in the mountains there is so much that in the Park City/Heber Valley areas, many people have snow up to the eaves of their houses - and no view except snow out their windows (how claustrophobic that would be!) And many structures and roofs have collapsed.

The Great Salt Lake has already risen 8 inches from its record-low levels just from direct precipitation into it. Reservoirs are filling up. And the spring melt and runoff hasn’t even started! We’re hoping it’s a gradual warming over three months, but we already have a couple days next week forecast in the high 60’s and Tuesday is supposed to get to 70! However, the rain showers return later in the week. 

I did spend some time in my studio this week, even though I was really good at finding excuses to not be there. My first and only accomplishment for Purple April for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge was to get my Four-in-Nine blocks sewn. 

Two with a dark gray constant … 

And four with a navy-colored constant …

And it took Miss-Ants-in-her-Pants (me) four sessions to quilt and bind the jewel-toned jelly roll race quilt. I opted for a sort of water-ish motif. Here’s a closeup of some of the (less than stellar) quilting. 

The finished quilt measures 54x62”. I’m going to keep this one.

And here is the back. 

In the next week I’ll work on lots of purple RSC blocks, assemble and pin baste the latest elephants quilt, and the three other quilts waiting patiently in line to be basted. But today - I’m going out into the yard to prune my roses and the blackberry bush. Sunday is Easter and I’ll be roasting a turkey breast for us and DS Shane and DGD London, who are joining us for dinner. It’s going to be a great weekend. I hope yours is too!

Saturday, April 1, 2023

April Fools’ Day

OK, who knew that there is properly an apostrophe after “fools” in April Fools’ (plural possessive) Day?  Not me! I just thought it was a day in celebration of the Fools of April, without any possessive rights. But grammar aside, it also means that Angela at So Scrappy will be announcing a new Rainbow Scrap color of the month for April. Personally, I was rooting for yellow because I’ve kinda-sorta forgotten what yellow sunshine is like. But, it’s Purple!

On Wednesday, the rain and/or snow kindly paused just long enough for Grass Masters to come in and rip out the grass/sod in the east side yard and the front yard between the walkway (that leads from the driveway to the front porch) and the house. They capped off the old sprinklers, installed new drip lines and valves so I have plenty places to tee-off drip lines to my front walk flower pots. The grass was replaced with a weed barrier and small rocks that match the front parkway. It’s all so neat and tidy, and the remaining flower beds are almost ready for planting. We have a load of soil coming next week to even out the grade along the front flower beds. It’s something I’ve needed to do for a couple years. But do I have a picture? NO! It has snowed every day since Wednesday, and you can’t see anything under the snow! So stay tuned as I play with this new project this spring!

Wet weather outside means sewing time inside. I knocked back a lot of my smaller green scraps by constructing ten candy blocks measuring 8.5”, unfinished size.

They were followed by fifteen 6.5” crumb blocks.

I also finished assembling the green scrappy “creature” quilt (so named because my Creature Quilts, like Frankenstein’s monster, are assembled from scraps and bits and leftover and then “reanimated” into a quilt). In the case of this green Creature from the ???, I also had to assemble a backing from scrap strips and chunks. (No picture). It’ll be pin-basted and quilted next week, fingers crossed.

But I did manage to quilt, bind and label two Community quilts (pictures coming when I finish the other two of this batch) and baste my batik jelly roll race quilt. Oh, I love these colors!

And finally, the elephant blocks have a turn on the design board. The quilt will have Kona Snow vertical sashing between the elephants in a row and between each row itself. But I’ve decided to make the perimeter stop border in magenta - or whatever you want to call it - before adding the final gray print border. See the pinned-only sample, below. How do you think it will look?


Three miscellaneous things; two good and a rant.

1.  Celebrating: I hit the 45 pounds-lost mark this week at Weight Watchers! I’ve started riding the exercise bike indoors 3 days per week too. I’ll add walking outdoors to the routine for 2-3 days per week once the snowy and icy weather passes.

2.  Pleased: Former President Donald Trump has been indicted! And although these hush money payment charges are the least grave of all the pending investigations and alleged crimes being investigated, we are ever hopeful that the other DA’s and Special Prosecutors will be following through with their charges later in the year. 

3. Rant: Old El Paso taco shells. They didn’t change their packaging, the item count, the contents net weight or the nutritional information of their crispy taco shells, but look what I discovered when I put a shell from an older box (on the right) next to a shell from the new box (left)…

How is it possible that twelve of the new smaller shells are EXACTLY the same as the larger, older shells? I know it’s just a devious way to screw the customer - give less for the same price, a perverse price increase. Yeah, I know, I know…. First world problems….

Have a great week!