4/23/14

Wet Wednesday

Today was a day at home for me. In exchange for going to Zumba on Monday, I gave myself the day off from exercise today. April has been a busy month, and I haven't had many days to stay at home in my sweats. I've taken to referring to them as my "daytime jammies". Wasn't there a time a generation ago when women had clothing they referred to as "loungewear"? Or am I confusing that with something else?

For example, this pattern from the 1930's:

1930s vintage sewing pattern pajamas loungewear




Love those polkadots!

Okay, so rather than embarrass myself, I decided to Google that term. I came up with this article entitled, "Loungewear, the New Streetwear", written by "Erin B." for Yahoo Voices...a publication I only just now became familiar with. According to Erin B.:

Loungewear is clothing you wear to be comfortable, whether lounging around or not. Loungewear can be fashionable or frumpy. However I prefer the fashionable kind.

Fashionable? Really? Not in my world, Erin B. Sorry. You and I obviously are not going to be best friends. But I digress.

So here's what's up today. It's raining sideways for one thing...definitely a good day to stay in. I did some laundry and then I got to work on my "Let's Book It" project for the month of April. Recall that I am making this quilt:


From this book:


Actually, I started on it yesterday when I did all of the cutting, which involved cutting little tiny pieces, including 168 one-inch squares. The entire quilt is doll quilt sized at 24-1/2 inches square. I cut the pieces for the cats from these fabrics:


I'm using the same white background used in my Rainbow Ladies Scrap quilt. There were quite a few strips left from that quilt, and many of them were already cut to the right width, which made it nice.  It was good to have all the cutting finished ahead of time, and then this morning I started piecing them together. I started with the ears:


Fabric or fur, I love kitty ears.

Then I sewed the cats together.


And then I sewed the center panel together.


When I left off this afternoon, I was starting to sew together the spools for the border. That's where all those one-inch squares come in. I'm making pretty good progress on this quilt, and so I'm hoping to have the top finished within a couple of days...time permitting, as always.

Also, I'm making pretty good progress on my embroidery. There are three stitcheries for the next section of the Gardener's Journal quilt, and I already have the first two finished. They are quite small this time around. Here is the violet wreath:


And the seed packets:


So I'm pausing a little bit in the day here to write this blog post and do some housework. I'm hoping I can get some more done on piecing the spools together this afternoon.

How is your day going?

4/21/14

Unexpected Delivery

Okay, so the day started out normal enough...given that it's my house, "normal" is always a relative term. I drank my usual gallon of coffee, read my email, checked in on Facebook, ate some breakfast, worked on my stitchery. Then, I headed out to check on the annuals that I repotted yesterday. They were looking a little sad from getting too dry, but they'd perked up today, just as I knew they would.


I gave the blue jays some peanuts, and then I checked in on the lettuce. Finally, it is germinating. Only the red leaf is visible, and only four of the five seeds I planted, but it's a welcome sight. From years past, I recall that the lettuce has been surprisingly slow to germinate. Now I have hope, even if I don't yet have enough for a salad...or a hamburger...or anything.


And everybody else is looking good too.


While I was out there, I took note of a bird that was scolding me to beat the band. I looked up to see what all the fuss was about. Not surprisingly, I found this little intruder on the roof, no doubt causing great consternation to the bird.


It was a Zumba day, and I can't even begin to describe the ways in which I dragged my feet getting out the door. Since my goal is to exercise four times per week, and I now have five activities per week scheduled on my dance card, I promised myself I could skip Wednesday's Zumba class if I promised to go swimming on Tuesday and Thursday. Of course, Sue and I will do our regular walk on Friday. Such is my commitment to exercise. I'll admit that Zumba gets easier and easier, and today I actually added a little hop to some of my steps, and even added in some arm movements occasionally. I imagine I only succeeded in making myself look even klutzier, but I felt empowered nonetheless.

My reason for being so forceful about getting out the door for today's class was that I was heading over to my quilter's house afterward to pick up the Intel Underneath quilt. My quilter Erin did her usual good job. This design was nothing special...a pantograph I saw online that I thought fit nicely with the printed circuit board fabric. It's a large quilt...queen size...and so I can't really get a good picture of it all spread out. I'll just give you some peeks until I get the binding sewn on, and then I'll enlist Mike to help me take a better picture of it. For now, here's what you can see of it.


Erin used a lightly variegated green thread, although it's hard to see the color in these images.


Recall that this quilt is for Matthew who will be receiving his engineering degree this summer. I call it Intel Underneath because he was doing an internship at Intel last year. Do you think I can still call it Intel Underneath now that he has a job waiting for him at Hewlett-Packard?

Here's how it looks from the back. I gave it a plain black backing, thinking that the back would look like a giant printed circuit board.


Okay, so I suppose you're wondering what the unexpected delivery was. I have a few things on order. When you live as far out of town as we do, you do a lot of online shopping, and I'm usually expecting at least one delivery...more often than not, I'm expecting several. So when I saw this box at the door, I was a little surprised by the packaging. I said to myself, "Oh, cute...somebody with a new baby used their Similac box to ship something to me."


And I looked at the shipping label to see who sent it.


And I was surprised to see it looking very official. Hopefully, I've obliterated enough of the identifying info that no one will be able to track me down.

So, then I slit the tape holding it shut, and saw this:


And as I opened the lid, I was thinking that it looked astonishingly like an actual box of Similac.

And my chin hit the floor when I opened it all the way and...STFU! (Google it, if you don't know what that stands for.)


It was an actual sample pack of Similac...complete with nipple!


And an invitation to join a support group online. Really?


And coupons! (I do loves me my coupons.)


And an invitation to log onto the Abbott Nutrition website to leave feedback!


"Strong Moms" indeed. Well I had some strong words for them. Holy shitamaroo! (That's a term I made up a while back. It works in these kinds of situations.)

So, of course, I checked with certain family members, just in case the names and addresses got mixed up somehow...although I can't even imagine how that could have happened, any more than I can imagine how I ended up receiving this rather expensive (I'm assuming) sampler pack of a product that I do not now--nor at any time in the future expect to--have any use for whatsoever.

To quote Winston Churchill: "It's a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma."

Weird, huh?

4/20/14

A Little of Everything

We got another slice of sunshine today...a sliver between two periods of rain. Mike and I used the time to do some badly needed work in the yard. Mike did some mowing and as I'm writing this, he's outside pressure washing all the green slime that has accumulated on the patios and sidewalks over the winter. I walked outside last night to snip some chives for my linguine dish and nearly slipped and fell. Oy. I can tell you this...at just a few weeks away from my 60th birthday, I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in breaking a bone. Can I get an Amen on that?

Speaking of my linguine, I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that it was so yummy, and so simple. Honestly, don't be intimidated by clams. Nothing could be simpler. Here's how it looked when I served it up:


This is a recipe from Bon Appetit called Spaghetti alle Vongole (which translates into spaghetti with clams...appropriate, wouldn't you say?). I had a package of linguine open, and so I used that. It makes enough for two, and I'll tell you that the recipe calls for a whole teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes. I was afraid it would be too spicy, but it was just right for our palates. I like spicy food, but Mike is a little more sensitive. We both agreed it was a good amount of heat. Anyway...simple and quick. Give it a try, even if you've never tried doing fresh clams in the shell before.

So once the weather warmed up a little I filled the bird feeders, set up the birdcam (Yes! the Goldfinches are back!) and then went to work planting my annuals. Mike helped me heft some bags of potting soil around because some of the larger pots needed more dirt added to them. I planted Gerbera daisies:


Marigolds (things are looking a little bedraggled because I just doused them good with the hose):


Geraniums...I used to plant petunias here, but I switched to geraniums when the squirrels devoured them one year.


Also, I planted a sun sugar cherry tomato in one of the whiskey barrels formerly occupied by tulips (cue a trumpet playing Taps for the tulips...eaten by our friends the squirrels)


And I planted daisies, pansies, and what I've always called a "cock's comb" in the three pots on the upper patio. I've always planted too much in these pots, and so I exercised a little restraint this year. (Does exercising restraint count as one of my four days of exercise for the week?)


These got a little dry sitting in the greenhouse and they kind of fainted. They should be fine now that I've given them some water and some nice new dirt in which to wiggle their toes.



And I've thwarted the squirrels from eating my petunias by putting them in hanging baskets at the corners of the roof on my greenhouse window.



They will be hanging in pretty tendrils of blossoms in a couple of weeks.

Also, I planted some Italian parsley and some sage in the culinary herb garden, and then I was finished. Just before going back inside, I snapped this picture of the Bleeding Heart that is in bloom now.


And then I took the images off the birdcam. Yes! Goldfinches!




Those are all males...Here is Mrs. Goldfinch.



This is a House finch.



And a Purple finch...all dressed up for the ladies.


Looks like he found one...


So, aside from finishing up my embroidery, I didn't do any sewing today. But I did finish up this piece. It's quite small. As I've said before, this is a gift, and so I'm pixelating the words. I'm afraid the words will give it away. This is a design from Jenny of Elefantz.


And with that one done, I'm doing the next section of stitcheries for the Gardener's Journal quilt. There is just one more section after these are complete. This fabric doesn't photograph well, and so these are little hard to see. The first one is "Seed Packets".


This one is a "Violet Wreath". (Looks a little like a crown of thorns today, doesn't it?)


And this one is the "Garden Tools".


So, that's about it from me today. A busy day. I feel like we got a lot accomplished. We didn't do anything special for Easter, but I did pick up a small ham. I wanted it for Denver omelets tonight, and that's what we're having.

I hope you've had a lovely Easter, spent the way you like best.

4/19/14

Market Dash

It was overcast when we awakened this morning. The weather seemed harmless enough, however. Erik, Mae, and I had a plan to go to the Portland farmer's market this morning. We found a parking place right next to the market, which was nice, and then we headed up the hill for our customary huevos rancheros served up with lots of veggies. Yum. Definitely one of the most important parts of farmer's market days. Everything smells so good while it's being cooked up.


We were able to sit and eat our breakfastin peace. Just about the time we finished, the skies opened up and it started to rain. In Portland, we often get a soft drizzle that doesn't much bother us seasoned rain veterans. Today's rain was something to contend with, and it rained harder and harder while we made our way around...going faster and faster, eventually looking only for the items we came for specifically. I did pause long enough to admire these pears. Aren't they pretty?


I was in the mood for some clams to try out a new recipe I found online last night, this Spaghetti alle Vongole


from Bon Appetit. I already had almost everything on hand to make it, but I needed the clams and some fresh Italian parsley, which was available at the farmer's market. I'm using linguine since that's what I have open. And as long as I was standing there purchasing clams, I picked up a dozen oysters so that we could make our favorite Oysters Rockaway.


So we finished up our market shopping pretty quickly this morning...not taking any time to browse. It was too wet. Oh well. Such is life in Oregon.

After that I came home and took a nap. I'm not saying I'm sorry I did four days of exercise last week, but it did wear me out. I was really tired both Thursday and Friday afternoon and pretty much slugged around both days. It was nice to just lie down and surrender to it this afternoon. Besides, it gave me some energy for sewing.

My next task was to put together the sampler top for the long arm class I'm taking later on this month...a week from Monday, in fact. It's a simple design: six 6-inch strips of fabric, with two 10-inch strips at the bottom. 


Not a very good picture, but there you go. I'm using a pink tone-on-tone for the back, and I also needed to cut two 72-inch long and 3-inch wide strips of "extra fabric". I'm not sure what those will be used for, but I have them ready to go.

After that, I started pulling fabrics for my next project which will be my "Let's Book It" project for the month, this "Mom Cats" quilt:


I don't have a lot of calico prints in my stash, but I did manage to find four that I thought would work for the cats. I'm using a solid white background, and I'll pull some scraps for the spools.


I've also pulled out some vintage hankies and doilies from those my grandmother made. Now that I've pulled them, I'm having a hard time deciding to cut them up. I think I'll probably stick with the hankies since they are well-worn and some of them have tears in the fabric. I'm still making up my mind, but I'll take pictures and show them when I've decided. A few are stitched with some interesting techniques...some would appear to be done by machine, but I happen to know they were done by hand. It makes them all the more amazing to me. More on that later.

So it was kind of a nasty day, but when I looked outside just before sitting down to write this post, there was a rainbow.


I had to bump up the saturation on that a little bit to make it visible. Here's a zoomed in bit of it. So pretty.


The best thing about spring rains in Oregon, I'd say.

So that's it from me today. I'll get started on my Mom Cats tomorrow. How was your Saturday?