7/7/15

On the Border

The whole day was devoted to sewing yesterday, which was quite a treat. I did take time in the morning to walk on my treadmill. After that, sewing, sewing, sewing. Before my treadmill walk, however, I stitched up the latest block for the Vintage Kitchen wallhanging.


With that one finished, I was clean out of hand-stitching projects. Momentarily, it seemed as if it was a good time to get those hanging sleeves sewn on two of my quilts for the Oregon State Fair. "Nah," I said. Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow, especially when there are fun new projects to start?

Yes, that's right...a new project. I've been waiting for weeks to get started on the Hocuspocusville quilt from Crabapple Hill Studios. It will look something like this when it's finished.


This pattern has been on my shelf for at least a couple of years. When I saw it at a quilt show recently, I decided it was next in line. The quilting on this one pushed me over the edge.


So, I got to work tracing out the first block, which is the one in the upper left corner. It's hard to see, but the design is there.


This is stitched all in black, but I'm going to use orange on any pumpkins I see. Sadly, my Pigma Micron black pen is nearly out of ink, and so I went straight to Amazon and ordered some more. There are many more blocks to trace out with that pen, and yesterday's block was quite a chore making sure everything was showing up. I hope I'm able to see it as I stitch along. In any case, it's hooped up and ready to go.


That took quite a while, but then I was ready to get going finishing the To the Rescue top. When I left it, Section F was laid out on my work table, but not yet sewn together. That took just a few minutes.


Then I had just one more section to complete.


It was time to fuse and stitch the last of the firetrucks. The dog needed his French knot eye and nose too.


When that was finished, it was time to piece together Section E.


Mike was on his way home when I started piecing all of the sections together, and I took the last stitches just as he came through the door.


All that's left now are the three borders, and the top will be finished.

As glad as I am to be finishing up this top, I'm looking on my next sewing task with great trepidation. I have four quilts to sandwich. It'll be nice to have all those projects ready for quilting, but sandwiching quilts is my least favorite part of quilting. If I could pay someone just to sandwich my quilts, I would gladly do it.

In addition to sewing the borders on, I need to pick up my next CSA share today. Most of last week's share has been used. I'm hoping for some different vegetables in this week's share. The last several shares have contained more bitter lettuces than we are prepared to eat. I've been mixing them with our own red leaf lettuce from the greenhouse, but most of that has been harvested. It's time to start some more. It's been so hot I'm going to bring the planter box into the house and start it inside. I'm afraid those tender little seedlings will fry in our hot greenhouse. Even with the window and door open, it's been frightfully hot inside.

That's my agenda for the day. What's on your list of Tuesday to-do's? 

7/5/15

Hosed

Before I tell you about today's sewing adventures, I want to tell you a little about our 4th of July celebration. In a word, it was hot. Hot, hot, hot. (Technically, that's three words.) The actual temperature probably didn't reflect how uncomfortably warm we all were. The humidity was the culprit. We were all grateful for our Arctic Chill Towels. Erik and Mike were particularly stylish in theirs:


Obviously, Erik has his on his head. Mike has his draped rakishly around his neck. First, you saturate them with water, and then wring them out. They are damp, but not uncomfortably so, and they don't really wet your clothing. As they dry, they feel cool against your skin. When they stop feeling cool, you simply snap-stretch them out again, and that re-cools them. Eventually, they become too dry, and you have to re-wet them. We were wetting them with the ice water in our ice chests. Ahhhhhhh...they made the heat bearable.

Aside from our cooling towels, we had a pop-up canopy we kept adjusting for the angle of the sun. Mae had her own private umbrella canopy. It kept the sun off, while conveniently showing her Oregon State colors.


As you already know, we had a couple of side salads and some blueberry hand pies. Erik barbecued some delicious ribs that were marinated in an Asian style marinade. Dee-lish.


When the sun went behind the buildings, the temperature dropped to a very comfortable level. In previous years, we sometimes donned coats at this time of day. No need for that yesterday. The night air was delightfully comfortable after the hot afternoon. The barge pulled up directly in front of us as we waited for the sky to darken.


We were treated to a pretty sunset, and about an hour later, the fireworks display started.


A few more of Erik and Mae's friends joined us toward the end of the day. You can see their heads at the bottom of the image. It was a long and hot day, but enjoyable as always. I don't know why, but the time passes quickly.

This morning I stitched up the June stitchery for the Vintage Kitchen quilt. I'll finish July's tomorrow.


Then I went back to work on the To the Rescue quilt. Today I made the two hose applique blocks.


And then two stars. Actually, I made three stars because one of them had a brown spot on it that seemed to materialize out of nowhere. I tried dabbing at it, scratching at it, scraping it, coloring it, yelling at it, threatening it, stomping on it...all to no avail. And in the time it took to do all of that, I could have simply made another one, which is what ended up happening anyway. So...I present to you two hard won stars.


Then I was ready to sew together Section B,


which was sewn to the right side of Section A, finishing the upper section.


Then Section C was pieced together.


Then I laid the four completed sections together, and that was where I left it. 


There's still time to do a little more sewing today, but the air-conditioning in my basement sewing room had me shivering with cold. I needed to move to a warmer part of the house.

Since there's nothing else on my agenda for tomorrow (except perhaps some laundry), I think it's a good bet I'll get the top finished. I still need to make another fire engine identical to the one in Section A, and there are three borders, which always take longer than you think they will.

While I've been sewing, the Resident Engineer has been installing a ceiling fan in our bedroom. This is a project that's been on his honey-do list for approximately eight years. It has taken record-setting temperatures during the month of June to move the ceiling fan to the top of his very long list. That's not a complaint...would I do that? No. It's just an observation that the blades on the fan sometimes turn very slowly. So, here it is. Nice, eh?


And while you're admiring the ceiling fan, be sure and cast your eyes to the right where the window was replaced last month. You can actually see through it now!

When you live with a Resident Engineer, your walls often look like this. Engineers are nothing if not excellent interior decorators.


And they love their remote controls. We have approximately 874 remote controls in our house. Make that 875, as of today. I gave up trying to understand which one went with which television, amplifier, fireplace (really!), kitchen appliance long ago, let alone how to operate any of them. Nevertheless, I think I can handle this one. The large round button at the bottom is to turn on a light (if we had the one with a light, which we do not). Then starting with the littlest button they go in this order: Off, Slow, Medium, Fast. I think even my feeble mind can comprehend that level of difficulty.


After he had it installed, he laid on the bed and took a nap while it blew a nice breeze over the top of him. He declared it heavenly. After waiting eight years for it, I just know I'm going to like it too.

That brings you up to date on happenings at the Three Cats Ranch. How are you spending this 5th of July?

7/4/15

Happy 4th of July!


It's one of my favorite days of the year because I'm just about to head out and spend the day with my kiddos on the East Bank of the Willamette River. We set up early to get primo seats straight across the river from the Waterfront Blues Festival. We tune the radio to a station carrying the blues, and listen from afar. Erik and Mae always bring something to barbecue, and I bring side dishes and dessert.

Yesterday I spent the day making a Seven Layer Salad the way my mother used to make it. It's Erik's favorite, and so it's practically required. Also, I made a Seafood-Pasta Salad with Lemon-Saffron Herb Dressing that appeared in Bon Appetit in August, 2005. That too is a family favorite. It has shrimp and crab. I usually serve it as a main dish, but it works as a side salad too. However it's eaten, it's supremely yummy. 

Also, I made the crust and filling for my blueberry hand pies, and then this morning, I baked them off. Red, White, and Blueberry Hand Pies. I've had very good luck with this recipe from King Arthur Flour. Usually, I top them with raw sugar, but today I used some red sanding sugar, which looks a little sick in the picture.


That wasn't everything from the kitchen yesterday, however. I also made this Fennel Coleslaw. It allowed me to use the green cabbage, fennel bulb, and sweet onion from this week's CSA share. I added in the red cabbage. It was kind of okay...a little too much vinegar for my taste. If I were to make it again, I would probably substitute some orange marmalade for the triple sec to sweeten it up a little. 

Also, I made the dressing for these Green Goddess Chicken Sandwiches. That allowed me to use the herbs and lettuce (in place of spinach) from my CSA share. Those were totally delicious. I'll definitely be saving that recipe for future reference. By the way, I just sliced the chicken off one of those whole roasted chickens you can get in the deli section of your grocery store. It was so much easier, and I didn't have to turn on the oven.

So by that time, my feet and knee were screaming. I sat down for a while and iced both. And speaking of ovens, Gracie and Smitty don't like this hot weather. Gracie has taken to spreading out on the leather recliner, which is nice and cool. She spreads out her ample girth to take as much advantage of the cool surface as possible.


She and Smitty are getting along pretty well these days. She's figured out that his "bites" aren't so much bites as they are him getting a mouthful of her. She's so delicious, after all. Last night we saw her licking him and cleaning his face for him. That's what friends do for one another, right? On the other hand, Sue always yells at me when I try to lick her on the face. Some people just don't understand "cat" as well as others. 

Gracie's fur is mostly grown back now, and I think she's forgiven Smitty for his kittenish pranks.


Smitty, for his part, has decided to sleep off the heat. 

"Wake me up when it cools off."


So while I was baking my hand pies this morning, I finished off Block #21 for the Live, Love, Teach quilt. This is Emily's block submission:


Something makes me think that Emily was a student teacher in Lisa's classroom, but Lisa will have to correct me if I'm wrong. Anyway, here is Emily's block rendered into fabric and floss. Also, I used some crayon of my own to shade the embroidered crayons.


Finally, I wanted to show you the fabrics that came in yesterday's mail. I've been using a  metallic gray fabric until it's almost all gone. I purchased just a small amount when I made the little Halloween quilt, The Grim Ripper.


Then I used the rest of it making moons for the Shine On quilt


and then for the Over the Moon table runner top I finished recently.


I've been using it for the bumpers on my firetrucks, and since it's been such a great fabric, I decided to purchase more. The silver has been so useful, I decided to buy it in gold as well. It's been available for quite a while, and so I had a little trouble finding it. I finally found it at Loving Stitches Quilt Shop in Marysville, Washington. We're practically neighbors! It makes me want to jump in the car and drive over there...except that it's about a day's drive away. Another time, maybe. 

Anyway...the fabric came fast, and they included a fat quarter as a gift. Nice! 


I'll admit I balked at the purchase when I saw the shipping charges. There was also a note that shipping charges would be adjusted if necessary, and indeed, they were. They charged me less than half the original charge shown when I made my purchase, and so I'm a happy quilter.

Okay, so that's about it from me today. Time to get packing and get going.

7/3/15

Slow Stitching on a Hurry-Up Day

There's lots of cooking on the agenda today, not to mention watering, and feeding the starving birds. That didn't stop me from taking the last stitches on the latest block for the Gingerbread Square quilt:


This is the third of nine blocks. Here are the three I've done so far:


The next time I work on this quilt, I'll be doing the gingerbread church:


Next, I traced out some new little ones to work on. First, was Emily's block for the Live, Love, Teach quilt. This is Emily's submission:


The "beta" block I created to trace from doesn't show the many colors of the crayons, and so I'll need to try to make myself a copy with more true colors. My plan is to embroider them in the colors Emily used. I'll satin stitch the ends of the crayons. I've used my own crayons for the dark shading in the center of each crayon. Here is the raw, unstitched block: 


When that one is finished, I'll be catching up on the last two blocks for The Vintage Kitchen. June's block isn't yet stitched, and now July's is out. These are small, however, and so each one can be stitched in one sitting.



So my slow-stitching work is cut out and traced for me. Those will have to wait, however, because I have promises to keep and salads to make before I sleep. (Move over, Robert Frost.)

7/2/15

Sparky and the Fire Truck

Well, I'm having so much fun stitching this "To the Rescue" quilt. Today I top-stitched the pieces I fused yesterday. I started with the fire hydrant and stitched a buttonhole stitch around the outside edge. I used a triple stitch to fill in the details.


Then I stitched Sparky riding on his truck:


There are two of these trucks and dogs on the quilt. I gave Sparky two French knots for his eye and his nose.


Then I pieced Section A together.


Section A is in the upper left corner of the quilt. Next, I'll start on Section B right beside it. Section D just below Section B is finished.


It's moving right along. I'm hoping to have it all finished before the weekend is out, but the 4th of July weekend always ends up busy. Tomorrow I'll spend a good part of the day making two salads for our celebration on the east bank of the Willamette River in downtown Portland. Also, I'll be making some coleslaw and some sandwich spread for dinner tomorrow. And all of that to say that I don't know if I'll have time to do any more sewing before Sunday. Finishing before the weekend is out might be overly optimistic.

I'm hoping I'll get a little more time to sew today. We've been running our A/C and my basement sewing room starts feeling like a meat locker since it's the coolest part of the house. I had to take a break and come upstairs to warm up with a little housework.

If I don't get another chance to post before the 4th, I hope my American friends have a safe and celebratory holiday. For you folks from other parts of the world, excuse us while we go a little crazy on our Independence Day. 

7/1/15

Keep on Truckin'

My plan today was to get my hair trimmed and then go to the grocery store. Since I was already going to be on the other side of town, I had planned to shop at a strange grocery store. And since you know how I feel about grocery shopping, then you won't be surprised to know that it was easy to change my mind and go tomorrow when I can go to my regular store. With that in mind, I had some more time for sewing today.

First, though, I paid a visit to the tomatoes. Mike has been monitoring them lately. Somehow our automatic sprinkler system magically reset itself to water them four times per day. They were way too wet, which would explain their measly growth and dearth of flowers. He turned down the water supply and eventually turned it completely off to allow their soil to dry out some. He hasn't been touching the flowers though, and since these are greenhouse tomatoes, they require regular doses of fondling in order to pollinate them. We use a soft make-up brush for that purpose.

While I was molesting the flowers, I noticed the first tomatoes have appeared:


This year, I planted only sauce tomatoes, and these Super Marzanos are a meaty and nearly seedless tomato that ends up long and thin when it's fully ripe.

Meanwhile, the outdoor cherry tomatoes are doing well and a few are very nearly ripe. These will go straight into my mouth as soon as they are ready.


After I got home from getting my hair trimmed, I finished up the top-stitching on the fire hat and fire truck for the "To the Rescue" baby quilt I started a few days ago.



Then I was ready to sew this section together.


I started with this section because I wanted to see if the ladder was going to fit. It did, but I ended up fixing the one side that was too short. It only took about 20 minutes to fix it, and I'm sure I would have ended up fussing with it a lot more than that if I'd left it as is.


That section is in the middle on the right side of the finished quilt. Next, I turned my attention to the section on the upper left.


I have the applique fused down for the two applique sections. Is that spotted dog too cute, or what? I'll give him a French knot for an eye and another French knot for a nose.


Also, there is a fire hydrant. The whole piece is cut and then the details will be stitched in where I've drawn those lines.


That's as far as I got for today. I'll pick it up again tomorrow after I get my grocery shopping finished. I knew this was going to be a fun project.

So...time to get on with dinner. I hope you've had a good day at your end.