Friday, May 18, 2007

Roses From My Boyfriend

*big grin* otherwise known as DH. He sent me this picture while I'm at work.

These are from our backyard bush, the one I only have to water occasionally and prune once a year. I *love* low maintenance gardening.

There's a Bing Crosby song on one of his Christmas albums that has this line:

"And the prettiest sight you'll see...
is the holly that will be...
on your own front door."

That's how I feel about flowers from the yard. You can go to the florist and order up a big bouquet, or have an arrangement delivered; but there's something really special about home grown pleasures.

"Happiness is homemade."

Monday, May 14, 2007

More Spring Flowers

Last year I found purple Dutch Iris bulbs on special. I bought twice the amount I would've as a result and put them in the ground hoping for clusters of purple Dutch Irises in the spring. When I plant flower bulbs they don't always come up due to the gophers, so I was excited when I saw all the shoots coming up.

And while I'm glad so many flowers bloomed, I didn't *ask* for dirty yellow flowers. I got jipped!

Oh well...

President's Blocks

Last week the Ladies of the Lake Quilt Guild had their installation of new officers and annual Birthday party. Those that wanted to made a signature block for Cheryl the outgoing president. She receive thirty-two blocks that day! A close-up of my block can be seen here.

Doesn't she look like a happy camper? There was lots of joshing about how much more time she'd have to sew now that she's no longer President. :D

Thanks Cheryl!

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Mighty Pacific

~ More pictures added, scroll down ~
The first six years of my life I lived in California, in San Diego. The next eleven years I lived in New England, in Massachusetts. When I graduated HS I moved back to the Golden state. So I've never lived outside of a day's drive of one ocean or the other. I can't imagine what it's like to be 'land-locked'.

Looking west.

California poppies and purple lupine.

Bayview, south of Fort Bragg on the Mendocino Coast.

The wildflowers were everywhere that day.

I don't know the name of this flower but it looks a lot like a sea anemone. Appropriate don't you think? It's growing right on the edge of the cliff.

More poppies. All these flowers are growing low to the ground. Maybe they're trying to stay out of the wind!

There was this narrow finger of cliff that went out into the bay, so I walked out there to get a better look at things. You can see how much the wind is adding to the wave action and the misty-ness.

This is the view straight down from the cliff I was standing on.

This is looking south. There aren't a lot of bathers because the water is *cold*. But every once in a while you'll see some brave soul... usually a child, barefoot and wading.

Jonathan was there too.

We were at Jughandle State Park. There were wild irises growing in the woods on the way back to the car. They're so beautiful and no one tends them but the woodland faires. My favorite color too.

Sometimes called Red Hot Poker, these flowering plants could be seen along the highway and in front yards.

And the Rhododendron bushes... Oh, the colors! At least in our area they're affectionately called Rhodies.

On the way home we passed this sign advertising a local inn. I laughed so hard! Stop the car! I have to have a picture of this! Someone has a good sense of humor. :D If you're unfamilar with the quote, it goes like this "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread." ~ Alexander Pope, Eighteenth century.

We headed home hoping for a fish and chips dinner on the way. But alas, the cafe we had in mind was closed. On a Saturday?? We had Mexican instead.

*happy sigh*

Monday, May 07, 2007

Not All Enjoyment, All the Time

My mini-group met last week for the first time since January. It was terrific to see everyone. And the Show and Tell! Knock your socks off!

Su suggested a block for the next mini-group challenge. She had several samples made up and passed out the patterns. She didn't know the name of it but said she got it off the internet and thought it would be fun to make as a group. I was excited to try it. It had been a long time since our mini-group did a group project. We agreed to make blocks from *bright* colors. I was teased about having to go and buy fabrics for this project. But I said, "Oh I have brights, I just don't know how to use them!"

Two days later I excitedly pulled lime green, tangerine, plum and hot pink from my stash in anticipation of the 12 blocks I'd been asked to make by the next meeting. The pattern is one of those where you stitch, cut, flip, stitch and cut again. These types of patterns *challenge* my right brain thinking because there isn't the same step by step satisfaction that comes from traditional piecing. This method gives you the ah-ha! satisfaction at the very end... if at all.

Step one: I was asked to piece two six inch nine patch blocks, one 'X' and one 'O'. That part went fine. Then stitch them into a Square within a Square block. When I went to cut out the triangles for the Square within a Square, I sliced through one of the Nine Patch blocks I had accidentally left under the fabric being cut. Mistake one.

Step two: Once I re-made the Nine Patchs and got them both sewn into the Square within a Square I was asked to rotary cut vertically through the middle of each block and swap the right half of the left block with the right half of the right block. I rotary cut through the two blocks *horizontally* instead. Mistake two.

Step three: Once I re-made the Nine Patch blocks, set them into Square within a Square blocks, cut them *vertically* through the middle this time I was asked to re-pair (repair??) the cut halves and sew. Then cut through these new blocks on the horizontal. I cut them on the *vertical* !! Mistake three: ARGGGHHH!!! At this point I scooped the mess up and threw it to the side. DH in the other room heard me yelling, "What happened?" I was stomping up and down. "I don't *care* if this is a mini-group challenge! I'm not *doing* this block! Not now! NOT EVER!" He was supportive and understanding. -- Smart man. :D

I had been looking forward to this sewing session for days. It was Friday night at 9:30... that might've been the problem. I moved over to my 16 patch blocks and enjoyed some therapeutic sewing. Frank had said, "Well if you cut them the wrong way both ways, might it work anyway?" So I salvaged the blocks from the trash, and paired them and sewed them. They didn't look too bad.

I was glad to've *completed* them, but I moved on. I thought they were reversed and therefore I decided not to make any more.

As things sometimes happen in Blogland, about a week later Elaine commented on my blog and as a result I visited hers. It turns out it was her blog that gave Su the idea for this block. I found out the name of this pattern is Nine Patch Puzzle and I got to see the pictures in color.

Well will you look at that! My blocks are the same as hers. So if you make the same mistakes as I did... you'll get the same blocks as Elaine. Frank was clever to suggest that two wrongs might make a right. But I'm still not enamored of this sew, cut and sew again method. It drives me squirrely! No offense intended Elaine. :D

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Yay Color!

I stopped at a Yard sale Friday on the way home. It looked like yard saling was this family's main past time. I wandered back and around and through. The tables of bric-a-brac and baubles went on and on. I wasn't looking for anything in particular; that's the fun of it. Serendipity.

But I got really excited when I found an art box full of ribbon, little bags of sequins, packages of feathers, colored leather thongs for making Suncathers... Maybe there was something *good* in that box. In the bottom was this set of Prang colored pencils. Cool! There was also a Ziplock bag full of generic pencils. I wondered how much they'd want for the whole kaboodle.

I walked to the front where the cashier was putting out more stuff and stopped at a *large* cardboard box full of decorator tins. I used to be into tins in a big way but I stopped and put my collection in storage. I still look though. I found one that caught my eye.

She saw my interest and asked if I collected tins. "Oh not really... I used to." "Do you craft, can you use them for crafting?" "Well I quilt. I like a few here and there to store my projects in." She lite up, "Well I could make you a *really* good deal on the whole box if you want!" I wasn't even tempted. "No thank you. How much for this tin and this set of pencils?"

"Two dollars."

When I got home it just made sense to put the pencils in the tin. I didn't buy the tin for that reason but don't cha just love it when something like that falls into your lap? :D

Girl Clothes!

It seems like every year during the winter-spring transition season I start to hate my wardrobe. It's not cold enough to wear *real* winter clothes, sweaters, flannel and corduroy, but not warm enough to wear summer clothes yet. So pretty much every year I shop for something new to sort of tide me over. I can't wait to get out of heavy slacks and into dresses! I love the free feel of a summer dress.

I found this one at the local Goodwill. 100% rayon, my size, my color and gently worn. The best part? Six bucks! I guess I can layer it with a sweater or blazer until the heat hits.

Then I went to the opposite end of town and found a broomstick skirt. The browns and tans didn't do a lot for me, but I sure liked the red and gold. I washed it in the sink first thing when I got home. It ran and ran and ran a muddy brown. Here it is drying in its twisted knot.

When I untwisted it I was so pleased to see how much brighter it is.

Now all I need is a warm day. :D

Signature Block

Our Quilt Guild is having it's sixth birthday this Saturday. It's so fun to be 6! Do you remember when you were six??

This block is for the out-going President as a thank you for all the fine service she's done during her two terms in office. Thank you Cheryl!
I also used it as an opportunity to experiment with the programmable monogram feature on my Janome MC. That was a lot of fun! Twenty years ago when computer embroidery machines were first coming out on the market I thought I'd *never* own one of these. I was tickled to think about it as I test drove this feature last night. :D

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Sourdough Starter Quilt

Fifteen years ago, when I was an at-home-Mom I cooked and baked a lot of our meals 'from scratch'. I had a crock of sourdough starter on the counter that I fed and kept going and used each week for breads, muffins and pancakes. It was great. It didn't seem like a lot of work at the time.

A few nights ago I was rummaging in my quilt room, reacquainting myself with a few projects in progress and projects yet to be when I uncovered the leftover pairs and strips from the Strippy quilt. I'd forgotten there were so many. ohmygosh!

I became completely absorbed in pressing and arranging the little four square long strips. Oh the possibilities! I even ripped the red triangles off the leftovers from piecing the columns so they could all lay together in the same box. :D Yes, I rip with a rotary cutter...

I sewed a couple of Sixteen Patch blocks. See what you think. I think they're a little blah. I decided it was because I'd culled out most of the orange, pink and red squares when I made the strips for the Strippy quilt. For that project I didn't want too much in that colorway, I wanted the red triangles to *pop*. But without orange, pink or red of any kind the Sixteen Patch blocks seem kind of flat.

So I spent time last night culling out some orange, pink and red squares from my pre-cut box and began piecing more strips to jazz up the leftovers - adding to my starter!

Are these blocks any better? I found I must've culled out more than just orange, pink and red for the strippy quilt, so I put more color in these blocks. Do you like the "I'd Rather Be Quilting" button? That's to give you an idea of scale. The blocks will finish at 6".

But I don't want to start another quilt right now? What am I doing?? I must be out of my mind! No... it's just that I want some no-think-um sewing in the middle of the week when days at work are long and I come home tire but still want to sew. I figure it's better than eating bon-bons and watching mindless TV. It keeps me off the streets. :D

Winding Ways

I have always admired two-color quilts, the contrast is so striking. And I've always admired the optical illusion of Winding Ways (aka: Wheel of Mystery). This is the 1998 magazine version that caught my eye.

Winding Ways Quilt
This is the EQ version so I could try before I buy. I was wondering how small I could make this pattern and still see the terrific visual movement. Okay... I'll try it.

EQ Version
Being a do-it-yourselfer, I made templates, traced from the magazine.

The first set I made were from cardboard. I punched holes with a 1/8" paper punch to provide the placement marks. But after I'd traced around the shapes with pen to mark the cutting line a few times I didn't like the way the templates were starting to soften.

The next set I made were from template plastic. I decided to darken one side of the templates because they kept disappearing on the table while I was working with them!

One weekend not long ago I was laid up in the recliner with a strained knee. I got out my lap board and began marking and hand-cutting the pieces. It was nice, something I haven't done in a long time, but slow going.

I've pieced one block each and I still like it. My curved piecing skills are definitely going to be honed during this project.

But I'm settling into the idea that this isn't going to be a 'quick and easy' quilt. I usually laugh when I read "Quick and Easy" in the same sentence as the word "Quilt". Most quilts are anything but... But as Frank said, "Well they're not going to call it 'Slow and Difficult' now are they?" :D But I was reminded again (and again, and again) I don't quilt for the end product but for the process. Time to dream, time to breath.

"Life is a journey, not a destination."