Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Last Tuesday Of The Month

The last Tuesday of the month is becoming a special day for me as it is the meeting of The Farmer's Wife sewing group. A few of us have bought the book and are promised to do hand sewing only with templates and scissors. It's quite a change of pace for me!

Laurie Aaron Hird's book, "The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt."
Instead of being alone sewing pieces on my machine, I'm in a nice group of gals chatting and hand sewing around the table of Camille Arnone's Evergreen Country Primitives Quilt Shop in Milton, New Hampshire. We are sworn to go at our own pace and not feel pressured by any deadlines.

I've been working on the Basket Weave block and finished its last seam today. Then I realized that I hadn't paid close enough attention to the placement of the four units. I assembled it wrong. But I like mine and it's going into the quilt!!!!

My "differently assembled" block is on the left.
I started a second one of the same pattern, the basket weave, and got one half of it done. This time, I'm being more careful with the placement of the pieces.

As I worked on the careful process of marking the wrong side of my cut fabric pieces with a graphite mechanical pencil, Camille very nicely offered to let me use a "sandboard." I had never heard of these but it was quite a help to me!

So I decided to buy one to take home with me to accomplish maybe a little more in the upcoming month than I did this time.
With my guild discount, Camille charged me less than $15 and I was honestly able to tell Felix that I had been in a fabric store all morning and had NOT bought any fabric!! Yikes, that's a first for me, LOL!

The black side is the wonderfully gripping fine sandpaper and the flip side is white laminate for drawing or tracing. It is made by Becky Goldsmith and Linda Jenkins from Piece O' Cake Designs.

I like the 11"x 14 5/8" size, but I do wonder why they made it such a funny length. Why not 11"x14"? Go figure. Anyway, it's a great new toy!

This is the end of the quilty part of this blog entry and I have something else to report that is NOT for the squeamish or those that are easily offended. So you are forewarned.


Two nights ago, something very disturbing appeared on my lawn and it was only 9 feet away from the nose of my car where I park every night.
It was a big pile of crap, literally. I took this photo with our two safety cones on either side of it so that you can see just how close it was to the house.

Felix inspected this and especially due to all the yellow millet birdseed and all the black oil sunflower seeds, and the size and shape of the stool, he believes firmly that we were visited upon by a large black bear.

It is more than a little un-nerving to have this bear sign so close to us!

We will continue to stay alert and only allow the dogs to run in the fenced dogyard. City folks need to watch out for muggers; country folks need to watch out for bears.

Stay calm and quilt on!

Sunday, October 27, 2013


There is a good reason that I have been so very quiet for a few days. All week we were hoping and praying to be considered as the new adoptive home for a second black labrador. We have filled out paperwork and applications, taken Raven over to the shelter for a "meet & greet" introduction, paid hefty adoption fees (to my budget, $250 is a lot, but I know that some rescue agencies are even more), and spent lots of time being interviewed.

The Concord chapter of the SPCA

Raven in her red bandana during the meet & greet interview.

Hello to "Emma"

At last, the four year old spayed female named, "Emma" came home with us! She is delightful and just as sweet-tempered as Raven. I kept Raven in the red bandana and I put a light blue one on Emma.

The two dogs are getting along very well! I have taken Emma outdoors into the fenced dogyard on a leash only to ensure that she is polite to the 3 kittens. At first, she thought that she was supposed to chase them, so now we are doing some meet & greet with the kitties, too.
Emma must have come from a home that did not allow dogs up on the furniture because she is loathe to get up on the futon with Raven.

For now, I created a new bed for her over by the door that is rarely used and she fell right asleep, exhausted by all the new surroundings.

I love her to pieces already but I'm very careful to give Raven lots of extra pets so she doesn't feel displaced. Now I may need to read the 1815 Jane Austen book, "Emma,"  LOL!

Emma likes to follow me around the house and she can zip up and down the cellar stairs like lightening.
Speaking of going downstairs to my Quilt Cave in the cellar, do you remember that I had managed to misplace about 150 four-patches? I looked everywhere upstairs through all my stacks of rubble and no luck! I looked there because that was where I had last recalled seeing them.

Ahaah! I was too organized. I had placed them all into neat stacks inside plastic ziploc bags and put them into a basket right on the shelves DOWN CELLAR!!!!! Groan. Soon I'll be ready for the home, LOL!
Well, at least I found them, but I sure did feel foolish.

So having found them, I began working with them.

I am assembling them into the rows of a Fons & Porter scrappy throw called "Milky Way" that appeared in their June/July 2012 magazine. The units are very simple; 4 1/2" unfinished four-patches made from 2 1/2" strips or squares, and 4 1/2" HST's and a few plain 4 1/2" squares.

Now, doesn't that sound easy? Making the units was a snap. Ahhhhhhh, but assembling them into a tessellating design is quite tricky!
There are no instructions for assembling other than a referral to the diagram. Sigh. I posted the diagram on the wall in front of my machine and I need to squint at it to see it because it is so tiny and cramped. Ugh!

It goes incredibly slowly to make one 13 unit long row, and there are 17 rows to the center before the scrappy borders. But I'm making some steady progress and so far I'm able to do about 2 rows a day. It is important to join up a newly completed row onto the body of the quilt's center so that it can't get turned around or reversed!
Here are the seven rows that I have so far.

I just hope that my values of lights and darks are far enough apart so that the pattern reads well. I fear that those dreaded mediums will muddy things up!

So I leave you with one last picture of my beloved new "bookends," LOL!

Emma in blue; Raven in red.

 Happy sewing everybody!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Forbidden Love

Due to my Husband Wonderful's allergies to cats but not dogs, the feral kittens that were born this May in my messy garage are not allowed into the house.
Tipper, the largest and boldest kitty decided to test that rule one day when the door blew open. So Raven was giving kitty-kisses  to Tipper while on her rumpled blankets beside me in the office.
Forbidden love!
Tipper has bonded to Raven ever since the mother cat disappeared and he follows Raven all about the fenced dogyard.
Over the weekend, we picked up what may be an abandoned dog who was found locally. As Animal Control Officers, Felix and I chose to bring this dog to the farm rather than to the shelter due to his very emaciated condition. We hope that his owner will call in to claim him, but if not, he will be adopted by a loving family. He sure likes the futon privileges with Raven!

Also, over the weekend, I completed an individual swap of some homespuns that were hanging around here for a nice bunch of Civil War pieces, most of them 1/4 yard or more. They are beautiful, Joyce, from Connecticut, and thank you!

I felt guilty that she sent me more than the 6 yards, I think, than I sent her, so I made up a couple of potholders and mailed them out to her.

Then, another package arrived that I was not expecting at all. A birthday box from my blogging/internet friend, Debra in Massachusetts filled with yummy fabrics. Wow, thank you, Debra!!!!

There were a dozen Civil War fat quarters and some 5" charms and a few die-cut applique hearts, too.
These are already in the washing machine to get them ready to use in The Farmer's Wife hand sewing project. Thank you so very much!!!

Lastly, I confess that I usually do NOT care for any kind of fish to eat. But my personal chef and partner in grime, Felix, came up with this recipe that is delicious!

 Fish Chez Felix

1. Make up a batch of Herb Stuffing on your stovetop.

2. Spray an oven-proof dish with cooking spray, place the raw flaky fish in it and pat the stuffing on top of it to cover the fish. We used 2 lbs of Haddock, but Pollack or Scrod would've been great also.

3. Pour a whole 15 ounce jar of creamy Alfredo sauce over the stuffing.

4. Mix some breadcrumbs with shredded mozzarella cheese and sprinkle very generously all over the top of the Alfredo sauce and garnish with parsley flakes.

5. Bake uncovered for about an hour at 350.

It was really good! We had some freshly steamed green beans on the side with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on them.

Bon appetite!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fearless Friday

Today I want to especially thank Grace in Maine for my absolutely wonderful IKEA lamp that she imported for me from Maryland, LOL! I say imported from there because as far as I know, there aren't any IKEAs in the north country of New England yet.

For some reason, my camera was refusing to flash, I expect low batteries and I will replace them. But you certainly can see that the lighting at the Senior Center is more geared up for dining ambiance rather than a quilting bee.
The gooseneck Ikea lamp puts that big pool of light right where I'm working as you can see. It's wonderful, and thank you, Grace!

The Alton Senior Center "Sunshine Girls" had fun today as we all enjoyed Pauline's progress on her Sunday School Crayon Quilt.

Each one of her blocks was made by coloring on muslin with regular crayons and then heat-setting the colors with an iron. She used scraps of gingham and indigo for the sashing, cornerstones and borders. Isn't it a sweetie???? She will finish it with a label and a little hanging sleeve to put up in one of the children's Sunday School teaching rooms at a local church.

Pauline is a busy lady! She also has been working with that strippy-style quilt-as-you-go idea that I had demonstrated to the Sunshine Girls a while back. Pauline adapted the idea by making each QAYG strip into a row of pieced squares, all placed strategically to make up a landscape.

It is a New Hampshire Sunset with the colors of the sky and the sun melting down into all the colors of the forests. She is still making design decisions about the binding and whether or not to try to add borders. I am awed by the creativity of all the gals in the group.

Margorie was there, but I didn't get her picture, so this one is of Sue as she works on a scrappy project.

We always have the best time laughing and talking and eating Hersey's Milk Chocolate Nuggets! I need to learn how much it might cost me to buy some Hersey's stock certificates, LOL! They are so popular. Well now, we can't be quilting without chocolate, can we? I think that's a rule, isn't it?

On the way home, my psyche insisted that I pull over and take these two snapshots. The cool October breezes were blowing the leaves about and bringing them down from the trees in great big yellow swirls.

Kinda makes ya wanna drink some fresh apple cider while it's still available, right?

And just across the road was this scene that always makes me think of the title of a book of poems that my sister had given to me, "Horses Make A Landscape More Beautiful," by Alice Walker.

Click on the picture to better see these three stablemates nodding off in the pleasant noonday sun.

And as for me, I am DETERMINED not to let my Orca Bay quilt continue to gather dust, literally, by hanging around in a basket under the cellar stairs. I got it out in the sun and brushed away every cobweb.

The poor quilt pieces were dying to be played with again!

Stay calm and quilt on!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A 49'ers Day

I enjoyed a terrific 64th birthday! My dear 81 year old neighbor, Ilse, baked me the most moist and delicious Lemon Cake all decorated with lemon drops:

She also made me a small chocolate cake to return in the basket that I had brought to her with cherry tomatoes for her Alfred.

A large box arrived from my sister in Connecticut, but I had promised her that I would not open it until we were on the phone together tomorrow. In the meantime, my other sister, who lives nearby, met me for lunch at the Alton, New Hampshire, Senior Center.

That fall quilt was made by volunteer "Dorinda"

The menu was Stuffed Cabbage Cassarole with garden peas and it was great! They had coarsely chopped the cabbage into big bite-sized pieces and mixed it with the hamburger/rice/sauce and baked it. So much easier to make and to eat, too!

While we were there, one of the volunteers, "Abe", asked me to come over to the computer, that he had something for me to look at. It was the Beatles singing, "When I'm 64!"
Dorinda made the Trip quilt too!

Suzanne had brought over a lovely flower arrangement from her garden and had taped pieces of an old birthday card to the sides of the vase. She used garden parsley for the greenery, doesn't it look smashing?
Then I took in a glorious sunset in the soft mild air.
And Felix drove me an hour's ride away just to get to the Athen's Restaurant where we feasted upon roast shoulder of lamb with roasted vegetables. Yummy!
I had such a good day, and by the way, I love being 64, LOL!

Happy sewing!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How To Swap

Yesterday I was very busy doing a last minute preparation for the 2 1/2" red strips swap for QuiltvilleSwap. Link is here. I've written about this very popular swap before, but lately I haven't been participating as often. Why?
Because I've been working with the Civil War reproductions rather than the brights and generic quilting fabrics. But who could resist more generic reds?

My ten piles, that odd red strip off to the right was a bad cut and was rejected.

I raided my stash for generic reds that were already pre-washed. I looked for ten different red fabric selections that were big enough to allow me to cut five different red Width Of Fabric strips, crossgrain, with my rotary cutter. In other words, about half a yard of each different red. That gives me fifty WOF strips.

Then, just using scissors, I clipped each strip in half at the crease to give me a pair of Half Width Of Fabric strips. That meant that I now had 100 HWOF strips, ten of each color red.

Working with just one color red at a time, I created ten piles and stacked the strips on as if I were dealing out playing cards, with one to each pile.

That means that I had all 100 strips laid out as ten identical sets. Then I folded each set in half over my finger and popped it into a snack bag, squeezed out all the air as I closed it up, and affixed an address label onto it.

All ten sets then went into a big gallon bag and were then placed into a free bubble-pack flat rate priority USPS mailing envelope that must be LEFT OPEN!!!! Do not seal it until you get it to the post office clerk that you are paying.
Mine cost $6.75 to mail to my hostess, Subee. So before I closed up the package, I needed to pay for an additional $6.75 that MUST BE IN STAMPS (and not metered which is only good for that day) to slip inside that big gallon pouch for the hostess to have the return postage. So my cost was $13.50 in postage that has $50.00 worth of insurance and a tracking number. I wouldn't drive it to Indiana for that much, so I think it's a great deal!
The first couple of times that you do all this, you will need to very patiently train the very confused postal clerk, but once you explain it to them, they are delighted to help you.

The payoff comes when the swap is returned to you. If everything goes as planned, you will receive back 100 new strips, with every single one being different. That's a whole lot of variety for the cost of the postage! You have increased your scrappiness by tenfold.

I also did some walking around the yard just enjoying small vignettes of autumn colors. The day was overcast but mild and calm.

Hardy Indian Crabapple 

The Indian Crabapple feeds the birds all winter and is so festive. The menfolk were working feverishly on the old snow plow truck to get it ready for winter.

Easy Street on the Park Hill Farm

They had success scavenging some body parts off the old "parts" pick up and now have a driver's side door that actually WORKS on the plow truck!
Yeay! My honey won't be falling out into a snowbank when he plows. I told you, it's the little miracles that count.

This one was my favorite view for the day.

No, no, wait! This one was my favorite!

Fall is just pretty everywhere.

Happy sewing!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Strange Brew

Today is  a bit shorter post than most of mine as I am awaiting the call that our Huevos Rancheros is ready to eat! In Spanish, it's Ranch Eggs.

Huevos Rancheros

Just saute anything that is hanging around too long in the refrigerator for about 5 or 6 minutes in some canola oil, and then dump your egg/milk mixture on top to continue making scrambled eggs.

This particular batch had two cooked breakfast pork sausages leftover from yesterday, plus two leftover cooked hot dogs from supper, one green bell pepper and a bunch of green onions or scallions. It was delicious!

My other strange kitchen adventure was quilty. It was concerning two plain white fat quarters that had been stored way too long from back before five years ago when I was still a chain smoker. Alas, the folds showed ugly yellow stains even after a good washing. I decided that they were a good candidate for tea staining.
Also, the other items that I was very unhappy with were some signature blocks that I had made for a swap but then I had decided to leave that group.
So I mixed up a pot of leftover stale coffee and leftover stale tea, added enough water to cover and threw the fabrics into the pot.

I let it come to a burbling boil and then turned it down to simmer, stirring occasionally. The pot simmered for twenty minutes, then I flipped all the fabrics over in the pot and gave it another twenty minutes.

I didn't mind using my kitchen cookware because, after all, this was foodstuff that I was using and not true dyes. I have a large graniteware covered pot just for dying. I keep that out in the garage so that confused menfolk do not grab it mistakenly for cooking, LOL!

After placing the hot wet cloth with tongs into an enamel bowl, I rinsed the items thoroughly and hung them to dry in the tub.
It was a great success! Now the fat quarters look evenly tan and beautifully primitive.

The fabric that my tea-stained solid muslin is sitting on top of is a Jo Morton mini stripe by Andover and it is a very good comparison in this unretouched photograph.

Thank you so very much, Janet O., for your most helpful coaching on what to do!

Happy sewing!

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