Category Archives: Gardening

Long Overdue Mercyful Quilts Update

Oh my gosh, I have been going a million miles an hour lately. Sometimes life is like that. We have had a trip to San Diego (family wedding), tons and tons of gardening because my farmer husband planted so much this year, and fire season has begun in fall force. So, I am behind on blogging and blog post reading.

My immediate family!

This picture was taken at the recent wedding. My parents are standing on either side of the bride and groom. Just to explain; my parents had six kids, who then provided 21 grand children to the group. Following that, those grand children produced (so far) 16 great grands. This picture shows our family less about 15 people who weren’t able to get to the wedding. I love our huge, very noisy family.

When we got home from the wedding there were four quilts waiting for me! It was like Christmas morning!! Let me show them to you.

Positivity Quilt made by Cheree L.

Just gorgeous and if these colors don’t make you ache for autumn, than nothing will! Cheree blogs over at the Lively Latte and she actually made two quilts during the Positivity QAL one of which we were fortunate to receive!

Positivity Quilt made By Janine H.

Here is Janine’s version of the Positivity Quilt. Adding the triangles gives it such a different feel. She blogged the details for this quilt here. She also pieced the backing which I love!

The color sequence she used is so pretty. This is a double sided quilt, if you ask me!

Donation Number Two by Janine!

Janine included a second quilt in her box. I remember when she made this one and I just love it. Looking at the quilting design, I suspect it stayed hidden in my brain and was my inspiration when I quilted the Ninja baby quilt I just finished. ūüôā Janine based her design of this quilt on a pattern called Nines in the Middle by Doris Rice for Moda, The blog post with the back story is here. Also, she made sure to tell me that she received the fabric from Louise of My Quilt Odyssey . So actually, this pretty quilt comes from both Janine and Louise!

Another beautiful quilt back!

Looking at the back side, you will see that Janine made another pretty, pieced backing with her leftovers. This side also really shows the quilting pattern off.

Positivity Quilt, Pieced by Julie K and quilted by Rebecca Grace

This beauty was also made by a participant in the Positivity QAL. Julie K pieced this pretty quilt. The blues on a scrappy neutral background are so soothing. She sent it over to the talented Rebecca Grace to be quilted. Rebecca did a custom quilt motif on it using several different patterns. The effect is really fantastic. I offered to bind this quilt so that Rebecca could send it directly to me as opposed to sending it back to Julie for binding and then sending it to me. Might as well save on some postage!

Another pretty backing!!

Isn’t this a cool backing? I love the huge plus or cross, depending on what you want it to be, with the blue fabric. I have enough of the blue fabric to use as binding and hopefully this will be done soon.

Let’s move on to summer gardening! Like I said earlier, Ray put in a lot of plants this year. With just the three of us here, there is no way we can eat all of it. We share it with neighbors, friends and family but there is still too much! I have taken extra fruits and veggies over to our local food ministry twice now.

These peaches all went to the food ministry yesterday!

We have had grapes for at least five or six years now. Usually the raccoons and birds take most of them and the individual berries on the plant are quite small. Not so this year! We have beautiful clusters and, as you can imagine, more than we can possibly eat. So I have been taking those to the food ministry as well.

Poblano and Anaheim Peppers

The peppers are very happy this year as well. I will be roasting these in the next day or too. We love roasted peppers on sandwiches, in omelets and in salsa.

As far as the shop goes, the sale continues and the number of bolts on hand has been steadily decreasing. I appreciate all of your support. Whether by shopping or sharing the word about the close out sale, you are such a help!

The regular price fabric is now 30% off! Patterns and notions are 20% off and ship free. The clearance and remnants are 10% off. Come by and browse the sale; see what might strike your fancy!

OK – this post is getting on the lengthy side. I will close now and hopefully get back into a better blogging schedule. I hope all of you are well and happy!

A Bit of This and a Bit of That

Life has been fairly busy around here – lots of garden time, some visiting with friends, reading books and, of course, some sewing. Let’s see what I can share with you today!

First up, I received two incredible quilts for Mercy Hospital! These were quite unexpected and I am thrilled to have them. My friend, Stephanie, is a local long arm quilter with a passion for purples and blues and a strong love of Kaffe Fassett. When she offered these two quilts to me for Mercyful Quilts, I was over the moon. Want to see them?

Isn’t this stunning?

This quilt is so, so pretty! Love the design, the fabric and the quilting. The backing is the same fabric as the outer border. I love it and I am sure someone will be so happy to have this as a remembrance of their loved one.

Stephanie doesn’t do custom quilting. She uses edge to edge designs. She does a lovely job quilting her pieces.

Another pretty quilt!

This quilt was made with a jelly roll. These fabrics have a bit of a metallic shimmer to them and the theme of the line is dragonflies. The backing is a soft purple flannel. Lush!

Pretty Dragonflies are quilted along with a looping design.

I looked for some information on dragonflies because I know some cultures feel there is a symbolic meaning to the dragonfly. I loved what I found.

From Dragonfly-Site.com:

“The dragonfly, in almost every part of the world symbolizes change and change in the perspective of self realization; and the kind of change that has its source in mental and emotional maturity and the understanding of the deeper meaning of life. 

The traditional association of Dragonflies with water also gives rise to this meaning to this amazing insect. The Dragonfly‚Äôs scurrying flight across water represents an act of going beyond what‚Äôs on the surface and looking into the deeper implications and aspects of life. 

Reading this, I couldn’t help but think this quilt was meant for Mercyful Quilts. The recipient of our quilts may very well be struggling to understand a deeper meaning of life as they grieve the loss of their loved one. It is always our hope that Mercyful Quilts bring comfort during this process.

As for my own sewing, I finished a baby quilt that will be shared in a week or so as a part of the celebration of Cheryl Brickey’s newest book; Just One Charm Pack. The quilt is adorable and you’ll just have to wait a bit to see it!

I am also working on matching outfits for my grand daughters. I have one outfit done, for the younger one.

I also have a pair of shorts finished for the big sister. \

There is even a little label on the back to help her know which way to put them on. I have yet to cut out or sew a shirt. I am hoping I can figure out how to do this with the remaining fabric. (The leftovers are in odd shapes and sizes). Cross your fingers for me! If it all works out and the outfits actually fit the girls, I will share a picture later on.

Last fall we bought some new furniture, including the chair you see above. I wanted something to rest your feet on but the ottoman that matched the chair was too big for the space and too pricey for my wallet. Some years ago, I bought this little footstool thinking I would one day re-upholster it. Of course it sat in a closet ever since. But it was the perfect thing for this chair so I ordered matching fabric to cover it with.

It was a fairly simple project and it didn’t hurt any that Ray did most of the work. A staple gun and a fair amount of hot glue was all it took – and the muscle to be able to staple gun into this very hard wood. I don’t think I could have done it, truth be told. But I was a very helpful assistant. Honest! He actually covered it during the Christmas holiday but again, it sat. Waiting and waiting for us to make and attach a band around the perimeter to hide those staples. That finally happened last week and it is finished. This project took much longer than it should have!

It is that time of year when the garden is producing in full force! Ray dug up potatoes twice already; there is an abundance! Tomatoes are starting to really ripen as are the green beans and cucumbers. For some reason the crook neck squash are weirdly small. He yanked that plant out as it really isn’t worth picking those miniature bits.

Check out the size of this boysenberry!! We have the hugest berries this year. Yum – sooo good! Both the boysenberries and the blueberries are about finished for this year. We were able to freeze about twenty pounds of blueberries which is far more than usual. It is so nice to have them all year though.

Let’s take a look at some silly girls, shall we?

Dad decided it was time to play with water balloons for the first time! This picture couldn’t be better – he caught the splash as the perfect moment!

I love this (slightly blurred) picture showing the girls playing together. Little sis will do anything big sister says. Here they had a little game going on that reminds me of a Conga line! They are so funny.

The clearance sale continues! Prices are now discounted by 25%!

I am getting closer and closer to retirement! The sale is now set at 25% off so be sure to come take a peek!!

Linking to my favorites. Check them out at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

Spring Break

I have been absent from blog land for a bit. Julia was on spring break and we had a lot of time to hang out together. It was really nice to have her home relaxing, not working on homework.

The break started with my son and his wife here for the weekend. Julia picked out her pig for this year and they wanted to come and join in on the fun. (My son raised market hogs during high school too and really enjoys this common interest he has with Julia.)

Leo, hiding in the corner while Julia waits patiently.

Let me introduce you to Leo. He is about 11 weeks old and has a very sweet personality. When Julia brought him home, he was very skittish. Poor little guy was so shy and wanted to hide in a corner of the pen, behind some weeds. Julia was very patient with him and just stayed near him but didn’t try to engage very much at all.

It didn’t take more than a few days before he would sniff her hands and come closer to her. She continued to just be with him, letting him approach her.

One week later, Leo is so much friendlier.

After the five days or so, Leo became very comfortable. He has gotten very social and loves to be scratched and rubbed whenever Julia is out with him.

Look at his cute smile!

Now they are best friends. He will not leave her side if she is in the pen. He nuzzles her legs and wants all of her attention. She did such a good job of gaining his trust and this will make it much easier for her when she starts to train him for showmanship.

Buttermilk Bend Trail on the South Yuba River

In between playing with Leo, we did go do a few fun things. One day we took a hike on the Buttermilk Bend trail along the South Yuba River. The wildflowers are gorgeous this time of year.

Globe Lillies

These wild lillies are one of may favorites.

With so many wildflowers, comes an abundance of butterflies. There were many and we enjoyed watching them.

Try as she might, Julia couldn’t get one to land on her hand.

Cherry Blossoms

At home everything is blooming too! This is our cherry tree. Each season it is anyone’s guess whether we will get cherries. Judging by the incredible bloom we have this year, I am feeling hopeful we will have fruit. The birds take more than their share, but I think we will have some to enjoy as well.

Asian Pear Apple Blossoms

We have two Asian Pear Apple trees, each of which are about four or five years old. This is a strong blossom year for both of them so maybe we will get fruit! Last year I think we only had two or three apples and they were not very big. Crossing fingers for this year.

Mason Jar Cozy

My quick sewing project for last week was this cozy for a pint size mason jar. My daughter in law takes jars of layered oatmeal (I think she puts fruit, milk and yogurt with the oats) to work and cooks them for her breakfast. She wanted a cozy for the jar because it gets fairly hot in the microwave. This isn’t exactly gorgeous, but I am fairly happy with it. First I measured the girth of the jar and the height I wanted. I cut two rectangles of fabric and one of batting, each 4 3/4″ x 11 1/2″. I also cut two circles of fabric and one of batting, 3 1/2″ in diameter. Then I quilted the batting to the exterior fabric. Stitching a seam along the short side first, I then pinned the outer fabric circle to the cylinder I had made. That was the most difficult part.

I couldn’t get it to fit correctly without a few tucks along the way. I did the same with the lining (except no batting this time). Then I stitched the lining and outer fabric right sides together around the top opening of the cylinder, leaving a couple of inches open so I could turn it right sides out. It worked well enough but I am sure if I made a few more, the aesthetics would look a bit nicer. (I did make a mock up with some ugly fabric before I started so I could be sure it would fit the jar.)

The week went by so quickly! School is in session again and we are back to our routine! Today I even did a bit of quilting on a baby quilt I am making. I love the way these flowers look. I backed the quilt with a vintage sheet I had thrifted a long while back. It is so soft! I will share this with you again when I get it finished up.

I hope you have been enjoying springtime! We are definitely in full spring season here in Northern California.

Weekend Fun

How was the weekend?? ¬†Mine included almost zero time in the sewing room. ¬†But that is fine – it was a really nice weekend filled with little projects and lots of family time. ¬†We were fortunate to have unseasonably cool weather over the weekend. ¬†As I get older (which in and of itself is a mystery) I have become much less tolerant of the heat. ¬†Anyway, it is going to be up into the low 90’s this week so we chose to spend the weekend outside.

I hung two baskets of flowers (which I purchased Рrather than plant myself) in the trees along our front lawn.  They look really pretty and appreciate being in a mostly shaded spot.

As long as I can remember to water them, we will be in good shape!

Our property includes a portion of a large (6 acre) pond. ¬†Technically it is called Pine Lake but it feels more like a pond to me. ¬†ūüėČ Ray and I had coffee out there early Saturday morning and he did a little fishing. ¬†There are a lot of bass in the pond though he tossed them back this time. ¬†It is so peaceful up there in the mornings and we forget to go and use that space.

olive

Now that finals are done and summer is here, Julia spent a lot of time training and working with Olive. ¬†She discovered that walking Olive in the evenings is a frustrating experience because Olive is really ornery. ¬†She does much better in the mornings. ¬†These photos from Friday night are so funny. Olive wasn’t having any of it.

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She is a really sweet animal though.  Her personality is just precious.

We were up at my mom and dad’s on Sunday morning and I brought home plants. ¬†They have a gorgeous yard and it is like shopping at a nursery. ¬†There are always starts of something or other and my father digs them up for me to plant. ¬†I came home with Bells of Ireland and a large succulent of some sort. ¬†Julia came home with small succulents to pot for her room.

house

Our lower patio project is really coming along.  The contractor and his team were here all last week working.  It is a big project and will be another couple of weeks before it is done.

shop

In need of more shelf space for my shop downstairs, I gave a desk to a friend which freed up some room.  Then I tore apart the room and rearranged things and added a long shelf.  I will show you a picture when I get it put back together. My husband was really helpful with this and gave up several hours to work on it with me.  It is going to be more spacious and perfect timing since I have quite a bit of fabric arriving this week.

Hannah

Finally, I want to share this picture of my sweet grand baby. ¬†She spent the morning “gardening” with her mama and found a strawberry. ¬†She couldn’t believe her good fortune!! ¬†Julia and I are taking off for Vermont at the end of the month and we are giddy at the prospect.

This week I have lots to do! ¬†All fat quarter bundles were on sale over the weekend so I have orders to pack and ship today. ¬†I have a set of Chemex and French Press cozies in process and want to get those finished up and listed in the shop. I am meeting with a rep for Free Spirit on Tuesday afternoon. ¬†I have been debating adding a new manufacturer to my list of accounts and Free Spirit would be great as it would enable me to carry some Tula Pink, Anna Maria Horner and Denyse Schmidt (to name only a few). ¬†Also I have a twin size quilt from our guild’s Community Service group to bind as well as my Twisted quilt to layer and baste. ¬†What are your plans? ¬†Monday is a great day to set a plan for the week. Hope you had a great weekend and this is even a better week than the last.

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Dog Days of Summer

It is so hot outside, really just too hot. As I write, the thermometer on the deck reads 95 degrees, in the shade. This means it is about 100 billion degrees in the sun. Hence the reason I am inside playing on the computer! When it is like this, I try to go out early in the morning to do any chores that need to be done. Yesterday I was out early, dropping Julia off at the high school. ¬†(She is volunteering as a teacher’s assistant for a class taught by her English teacher to a group of exchange students from France.) After dropping her off, I worked in the garden, dead heading roses. We have a nice selection of roses which we have to keep inside the fenced area to protect them from the ever hungry deer that wander our property.

The roses are slowing down a bit due to the heat but we still have some really pretty ones.

I spent about an hour working in the yard and while I trimmed and clipped, I listened to a recent podcast from While She Naps by Abby Glassenberg. ¬†Episode 100 was an interview with Alissa Carlton of the Modern Quilt Guild. Even though I was familiar with much of the origin of the MQG, it was interesting to hear Alissa’s perspective as one of the founders of this ever growing organization. The podcast was made even more interesting when Alissa talked about her other job as a casting director for the reality TV show, Project Runway. I recommend this episode (and really, all of Abby’s podcasts) as it covered a lot of interesting topics.

This girl’s been working. Check out these boots.

Because Julia was working at the high school for the day, I helped her out by feeding and cooling off her girls, Ella and Daisy. Ella and Daisy are two market hogs Julia is raising as a project for 4-H.

Measuring Ella to monitor her growth.

This has been a great experience and I think she enjoys it for the most part. As with any animal project, she has had a few issues to deal with. ¬†Ella, the show hog that Julia has been training to show at our county fair, is oddly uninterested in eating. ¬†She isn’t gaining near the weight she needs to gain to qualify for showing at the fair and for selling at the auction at the end of the fair. This is baffling but Julia is treating it as a science project and trying her darnedest to get Ella to gain weight. She is mixing raw cow’s milk with her feed three times a day to entice Ella to eat more. (She gets the raw milk from her very kind 4-H leader who has a dairy cow.) She also makes tons of scrambled eggs to mix into Ella’s feed to make it more desirable. ¬†So far, Ella isn’t having any of it. She snacks a bit and then gives the rest to her roommate, Daisy. ¬†You can see where this is going. Daisy is gaining all kinds of weight!

Ella and Daisy keeping cool in the mud.

Besides concocting these meals for Ella three times daily (which Daisy eats for the most part!) Julia also has to keep them cool during these dog days of summer. Pigs do not tolerate heat well as they have no ability to sweat.  When Julia and Ray built the pen for the girls, they put misters in which is a great help. Julia also goes out multiple times throughout the day to hose both pigs down.  They LOVE this and it is adorable to watch how the play in the spray of the hose and try to drink the water.

If Ella’s slow weight gain continues, Julia will end up showing Daisy at the fair and auctioning her off instead of Ella. ¬†Daisy is bred as a feeder pig, to be raised for meat. ¬†She will not do well when shown at the fair but whomever is kind enough to purchase her at the auction will have a freezer full of great quality pork. Ella will be fed out until she is large enough and has put on enough fat to be butchered. It isn’t what Julia expected but this is life, right?

Even with all that has been going on around here, I had a bit of time to sew this week. I wanted to catch up on my blocks for the Sewcial Bee Sampler. Hosted by Maureen Cracknell and Sharon Holland, this has been such a fun project. They created it to increase the connection amongst the on-line quilters and it has been really successful. Check out the #sewcialbeesampler on Instagram – there are more than 6,400 photos posted to it.

I have fallen behind on my blocks but I did get a few made this week. I tried to combine solids with fabrics by Maureen Cracknell, both her Garden Dreamer fabric line as well as the earlier line, Fleet & Flourish. But I was running dangerously low and still have several blocks to complete.  I had a funky size scrap of 1/2 of one Ex Libris panel by Alison Glass that I have been hoarding. I knew I would find the right thing to use it for and this is it. The colors work perfectly and I can fussy cut the bits of the panel to use just the parts I need.

Here is another block with a bit of Ex Libris in the center.

Sewcial Bee Sampler, 20 of 25 blocks

I had all of the blocks thus far completed arranged on the floor to look at the flow of color. I need to make sure the last five blocks are made with colors that balance well with what I already have. I think I want to frame one more with the light green and another with the mustard yellow. ¬†As I looked at these, one block jumped out at me – How come I didn’t see the mistake??

I need to spend a few minutes taking apart the upper left corner. Oops!! There is one more block to be released this week and I have four that I still need to make. Then we will sash the blocks and start assembling the quilt top. I really love the blocks I have made thus far – this one is a keeper. It should finish at 72″ square.

Linking up with Oh Scrap and a few others.  Please check out the links at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

Have you signed up for the Needle and Foot News yet? Published monthly, this newsletter provides an update on the latest fabrics to arrive at the shop, as well as any promotions or events happening at Needle & Foot. Click here or use the sign up form at the right side of the page, toward the top!

 

Spring Blossoms and a Finish

Oh my gosh, my garden is exploding right now. Our property looks its absolute best in spring and fall.  We have gorgeous flowers this time of year, including iris, roses, clematis, peonies, columbine and coral bells. Once the heat arrives everything begins to look stressed and overheated (including me.) When fall comes along, all of the dogwood and maple trees give us a wonderful show of color. The property was the main draw when we bought this place, the house was definitely secondary.

After a recent rain, our roses just shimmered.

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So many gorgeous colors.

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Completely surrounded by six foot tall deer fence, we don’t have issues with the bajillion deer and rabbits that wander through our property each day.

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Up against the south wall of Ray’s shop we have a few climbing roses and this year, they are just monstrous. This picture was in the middle of the day and doesn’t do them justice. They are gorgeous. Ray had to actually reinforce the trellis they are on; it seemed like the weight could cause them to break away from it.img_20160503_5035

Back to the subject at hand, sewing! ¬†Last week I shared a bit of a project that I was working on. It was a gift for my mom for Mother’s Day. She and I both like vintage pieces and I managed to swipe a crocheted doily from her house when I was there a couple of weeks ago. ¬†I thought it might look pretty quilted to a simple rectangle to be used under a vase of flowers.

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Overall, I am very pleased with how this turned out. Because I was sort of creating without much of a plan, there are things I would do different the next time around. To make this, I made the quilt sandwich and pinned the doily to it. Using a zig zag stitch and my walking foot, I stitched around it in three places. First I stitched the innermost circle, moved outward to the next circle, and then I stitched around the first set of petals. Finally, I stitched around the outer edge. My mistake was adhering the outermost edge before I did the cross hatch quilting. I was constantly butting up to the edge of the doily. If I had left that edge loose, I could have stitched right under it, backtacked, and snipped my threads. It would have been so much easier.Lesson learned.

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After I stitched the doily, I began working on the framework of the FMQ. I did the little scrolls and loops all the way around the edge (leaving about 1/2″ to use for squaring up and binding). After the first pass, it looked too sparse so I echo quilted the¬†little scrolls and loops. Were I to have the chance, I would add more detail to this section. It is a little narrow for the scale of the mini. Finally, I worked on the cross hatch lines. For this, I used my trusty Hera marker. Wow, I love that thing. I could mark one whole quadrant at a time and the lines stayed visible. No ink or chalk to deal with made this so easy! I made 3/4″ blocks in the cross hatch which worked out well.

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The binding came from my stash of vintage fabrics. Remember the story I shared about the wonderful woman in Downieville who gave me her mother’s fabric stash from 1940-1950? This piece was from that amazing gift. It is a sweet print that adds a pop of color to this mini. The fabric was only 32″ wide, selvedge to selvedge which confirms it’s age. (I have actually been dying to start another project with these fabrics. So many project, so little time, right??)

This mini was a sweet project and I think Mom really liked it. It fits her house just perfectly.

I will finish this off by showing you the baby geese that we have been watching. They live up on our pond and are just adorable. Ray took this shot from our deck with a telephoto lens.  The geese are very protective and no matter how quiet we try to be, we cannot get very close to the family.

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Linking to my favorites. Find the links at the top of the page under Link Ups.

 

Remember:  In celebration of their 5th anniversary, Craftsy will hold a great sale of kits and supplies beginning today and running through the 15th. Kits are a great way to buy coordinating fabrics at a wonderful price Рeven if you decide to use it for something other than the pattern it is sold with. Check it out here!

may craftsy

 

 

Weekend Staycation

Today Ray and I celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary. Eighteen years on the 18th of April. I like when numbers line up like that. ūüôā This is one of my favorite shots from our wedding.

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We decided to have¬†a night away to celebrate over the weekend. Ian was available to come hang out with Julia which was just perfect. We stayed at the same hotel that we had our wedding reception at in town, The Holbrooke. ¬†Like many things in this area, it dates back to the Gold Rush and is really adorable. The best part was we didn’t have to spend any time driving so we had time to play in the garden, visit with Ian AND spend a bit of¬†time away. Isn’t it funny how we take what is all around us for granted? We live in such a pretty little town but we leave to relax.

Mom and Dad knew we were staying there so they stopped by with flowers and a card and asked the girl at the desk to put them in our room. When Mom explained why we were staying there, she upgraded us to the Bridal Suite. We felt very special!

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Needless to say, no time was spent in my sewing room. I have so many projects going right now so I want to be diligent this week to make some progress on each. I have been successfully using my Quilter’s Planner to keep my to-do list organized each week. ¬†This is the list for this week:

  1. Complete the block assembly for Stepping Stones QAL. (I have about 1/2 of the 143 blocks complete.
  2. Make two items for my Etsy Shop. I need to build up inventory and if I don’t do a little at a time, it just doesn’t get done.
  3. Finish quilting the art quilt I mentioned in my post the other day. I have just one border left to quilt and I want to make it look like wood grain. Lori has an excellent variation here that I plan to use. Last night I practiced it on paper and it is a simple motif. Should go together with ease.
  4. If time allows, I will face or bind the art quilt.

OK Рmy list is now public and hopefully I can achieve each of these goals.  What is the plan for your week? Does listing your goals help you keep things straight?

Just for your enjoyment Рspring is here!  A few pictures of what is happening in my garden this week.

The clematis are fully blooming.

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This squirrel decided to hide out in a birdhouse. Last year some sort of critter chewed the opening to enlarge it on two of our birdhouses. I actually made (with help!) this birdhouse one afternoon in Ray’s shop. He was giving me a woodworking lesson which was a lot of fun.

imageRoses are all starting to bloom.  They will be spectacular in a week or so.

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Artichokes are growing! This plant is fairly prolific. We will probably yield a dozen artichokes from it.  Ray has all sorts of lettuce growing and we should be picking some by the weekend.

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Hope all of you get a nice mix of outside time (weather permitting in your area) and sewing time!

Linking up (for the first time) with To Do Tuesday at Stitch All the Things.

 

Spring Veggies

I have been looking at the weather on the East coast and reading about snow and freezing temperatures this first week of April. Yuk. We lived in Pennsylvania for a couple of years in the early 1990’s. While I did love living in State College, I remember those winters felt really long. ¬†One year my mother ordered an arrangement of blooming daffodils because she knew I was green with envy that she was having spring in Northern California while¬†I was still dealing with snow.

Now that our temps are warm, my husband has our spring veggies planted. He put in lettuce, kale, broccoli, chard, and seeds for green beans, snow peas and carrots. All of these can handle our nights which are still dipping down into the 40’s. I decided to share a quick idea with all of you, but especially those of you who aren’t yet able to be outside digging in the dirt and planting veggies. Have you grown sprouts before? I love fresh sprouts in salads and sandwiches and have them growing regularly¬†in my kitchen. It is especially nice in the winter months when I can’t grow anything outside.

This is all you’ll need:IMG_0822

  • One bag of Mumm’s Sprouting Seeds (they have various flavor combinations and one bag will last for a very long time!)
  • One quart size Mason jar
  • A scrap of netting or tule & an elastic band

To start a batch, place one tablespoon of seeds into the clean Mason jar. One tablespoon will fill the jar once they all sprout.

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I keep the extra seeds in the freezer. They will keep indefinitely if frozen.  Put cool water in the jar to cover the seeds by an inch or two.

IMG_0826.Cover the jar with the tule and secure it with an elastic band. Let the seeds soak in the water for about 4-6 hours. After the time has passed, drain off the water. Set the (inverted) drained jar of wet seeds in a bowl.

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Leave the seeds like this. Rinse the seeds twice each day, morning and evening. To rinse them, add cool water to cover however much they have grown.

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Give a gentle swish and then drain off the water. These twice daily rinsings will keep the sprouting seeds moistened.¬†(If a child is draining the seeds, have them hold the jar with two hands that are gripping the elastic band. That will help to ensure they don’t dump al the seeds out if they drain “vigorously”.)¬†They can sit wherever you have a spot, but if they are in a window with a bit of sunshine, they will sprout faster. You’ll see they grow quite fast. With warmth and consistent rinsing, you’ll have a jar of sprouts within about five days. ¬†If your house is cool, it may take a bit longer but they will grow.

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Because they are stored upside down, the sprouts will be peaking through the netting. Just give them a gentle shake before you rinse them to get them into the water. Soon your jar will be brimming with fresh sprouts.

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At this point, gently pull them from the jar. It is likely they will be in a tight clump. Gently pull them apart so air can flow through them.

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They will keep in the refrigerator, in a covered container, for about five days. The fresh sprouts seem to stay fresh longer than those I buy in the market. I think this is a fun project for children. There is enough change day by day to keep them interested. It is a wonderful experience for them to grow something on their own and this is completely doable for school age children.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments. Hope you will give this a try and soon after you will be out in your yards enjoying spring!

Linking up, for the first time, to A Little Bird Told Me.

Winter into Spring

Earlier this week I was catching up on some of my favorite blogs. One of those is Frugal Little Bungalow.  Deb, the author of this blog, often posts about the simplest parts of life and she usually reminds me to slow down, stay in the moment and appreciate all that I am blessed with. A talented quilter, Deb often quilts her work by hand and her stitching is lovely.  A few days ago she wrote about the passage of the seasons and how often we spend our time looking toward the next season, instead of staying present and enjoying what the current season has to offer. How true. She finds herself enjoying winter and all it brings, rather than wishing for spring. Her exquisite photos illustrate her point beautifully. Take a peek at this post. You will be happy you spent a minute with Deb. I promise!

I find myself thinking winter is coming to an end far too quickly. I have enjoyed this winter season with all of the rain and snow we have received. I want more! We need more! Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen temps in the mid-70’s. My yard thinks spring is here. No, not yet!! It is unavoidable; with the sunny days we have had, everything is beginning to bloom.

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My camellia’s are putting on quite a show this week.

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The magnolia blossoms are just starting to open. These are likely the most dramatic blossoms in the yard.

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The peach tree is starting to bud.

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The almond tree is beginning to blossom. (Side note: In the seven years we have lived in this house, we have NEVER eaten an almond off this tree. This tree is apparently grown for the squirrels only. They do not share with us!)

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The critters know it is spring as well. Geese are everywhere.IMG_0974

The girls in the coop are laying eggs with serious intent and it won’t be long before they become broody and snap at me when I come to get the eggs. (I bring them grass clippings since they don’t have¬†the freedom of foraging the property. We have far too many predators nearby, such as bobcats, hawks, foxes and coyotes.)

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I know that we will still have bits of winter. It is very common for our area to have this burst of spring and then have a cold snap in March and again in April. For the most part, spring is making itself known in these parts. As for me, I am trying to hang on to winter for just a while longer.

 

 

Gorgeous Grays

Yikes. I think it has been a week since I wrote a post. My routine got all turned around and all of a sudden a week passed by. (Were you sitting and waiting anxiously for another amazing read on Needle and Foot? My apologies for the wait!)

As things often do, one project led right into another. I have been making blocks for the eighth row of the Classic Stitches BOM (led by Mari over at Academic Quilter). The color for this month is either indigo blue or gray. I went with gray. We have already done two rows in shades of blue and I didn’t want to add a third. I am loving this gray row. For August, Mari wrote a tutorial for a quick block called “True Blue”. She explained that it was a block which dated back to the Civil War years (on the Union side, hence the name True Blue.) It is a really simple block utlizing four patch squares and HST’s. I chose to make the blocks in the 7 1/2″ size. This is the second row of 7 1/2″ blocks for the quilt, the rest are 6″ blocks.

I don’t know how everyone else does it but I am sort of ADD when I am making blocks. I cut for a while, piece a whole block, cut some more, piece a few more. It is really inefficient and makes me crazy. I end up cutting more than I need of one fabric¬†and not enough of another. (I know, It¬†is so silly. I highly doubt that my methodology is taught in any of the billions of quilting books out there, due to the inefficiency of it.) I vowed to make a change with this project!¬†For these eight blocks, I cut the pieces for all of the blocks, stacking them in nice orderly piles. Then I made the four patch blocks. (I used strip piecing, sewing long strips and sub-cutting them into pairs, which were then joined into four patch blocks.) Next came the HST’s. Doing it in this amazingly organized manner, I had my HST’s all prepared. It was so much better – the best part of piecing is putting the actual block together, right? Once all of the tedium was done, those blocks went together in ¬†a snap. It was much better than my usual “a little of this, a little of that” method.

Plus, when I had that stack of HST’s, I started playing with them. I spent some time laying them out in different patterns, which is pretty fun with HST’s. (It’s kind of like playing with Tangrams.) I found a design that I really liked and decided that is what I would use for my New Blogger Block Hop project. (Remember, I posted last week about having to make a block with a tutorial for the project sponsored by Fabri-Quilt?) This made me so happy. I have been playing with fabric and mocking up blocks (a version of a Herringbone block and a version of a Plus block, neither of which I liked.) Seeing this simple little pattern (which, as far as I know, isn’t some really common pattern?) was the perfect inspiration.

Back to the row of True Blue blocks. Take a look. Here they are before sewing them into the row. I enjoy playing with them and getting an idea of how the blocks would look as a quilt of their own. These blocks are fairly busy. I don’t think I would do a whole quilt with only these. It makes my eyes go a little crazy. ūüėČ

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And now a row of True Blue blocks (that are gray instead of blue!)  The pasture behind the blocks is looking a might dry, right?

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I hung a few of the other rows with this newest member of the family. They all look great together.

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It is amazing that eight rows of this project are complete. Summer is ending, fall is on its way. ¬†This is very apparent in our garden these days. The squirrels are making a huge mess each day, eating the pinecones and dropping the pieces all over the deck. The apples on our tree are growing and it looks like, for the first time, we will have apples. The tree is about three or four years old and¬†hasn’t really produced any¬†apples yet. These look great though.

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I have mentioned before that we didn’t put in a vegetable garden this year due to the drought in California. We had a volunteer plant come up though and Ray couldn’t resist watering it just a little. We were very negligent and only gave it a drink every now and then. The foilage looked like squash and it was in a bin where we had spaghetti squash last year. We figured that was what it would be. What a surprise to see these growing on it.

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In the next bin over, we had planted decorative gourds last year. They were so much fun and we had tons of them. Apparently there was some cross-pollination going on and we now have a plant bearing some weird combination of spaghetti squash and decorative gourd. They are hard, bumpy and dry, like a gourd, They have that cool coloring of a gourd, but the shape and larger size of the spaghetti squash. ¬†We had so much fun trying to figure out what they would be. (Doesn’t take much to amuse us.) I am fairly sure they are not edible but they look pretty.

IMG_20150810_3670Finally, I leave you with this gorgeous picture of our front lawn in all of its droughty glory. (I know… I made that word up.) It is criminal to waste water on growing green grass so we are only giving it enough that it doesn’t totally die on us. This is the year though, right? Rain all winter long. (Please?)

 

Linking to a new linky party over at What a Hoot as well as Freemotion by the River, Let’s Bee Social, and Crazy Mom Quilts. Links to the last three sites are available at the top of the page, under Link Ups.