Friday, April 1, 2016

March Circles for Quilty 365

Last month, my color was green for the Quilty 365 circle project.  Oh, how I love green!  It is a welcome sight this time of year, as the snow melts and rain begins transforming a dull brown to a verdant landscape.

Spring seems to have come a bit earlier than usual.  My daffodils are up about six inches and many trees are budding.  I worry that a cold snap will set things back, but overall, no complaints here.

March's green circles, along with January's blue and February's red/pink, make a total of 91 so far.

Haven't thought too much yet about how they're going to go together in a quilt.  I am enjoying seeing how others have done it or how they're thinking about it. 

April's circles will be purple.  I'm already finding it challenging to capture true shades of purple in photographs.  Other than that minor detail, I predict nothing but more fun ahead!

Linking to:  Quilty 365

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Scrappy Mountain Majesties Finish

Last year fellow quilting buddy Marei asked if I wanted to make a Bonnie Hunter quilt along with her.  I was totally on board with the idea, and we picked out one of Bonnie's free patterns that neither one of us had made before.  The Scrappy Mountain Majesties quilt was the agreed on choice.

Our flimsies were finished about a year ago (you can see Marei's HERE).  Then mine went off to the local long arm quilter for a few months' vacation.  It came back a few weeks ago and I finished the binding on it.

My trusty assistant and retired husband has a new, legitimate gig as official "Quilt Holder-Upper."  The pay sucks, but there's a decent benefit package.  He seems like a natural.

Sandy did a nice all over, swirly floral quilting motif.

A glimpse of the backing and dotty binding.

In other happenings, we spent a pleasant afternoon at the Museum of Wisconsin Art again recently.  
(Jim Liedtke: A Well-Ordered Society: The Super Rich, The Seemingly Devout, The Rest of Us Poor Day Laborers)
 I'm often drawn to the pieces with a sense of humor.
("Maybe we ain't got culture, but we're eatin' regular"~Carl Sandburg, 1914)
Later that night, unfortunately, I became violently ill and "did an Elvis."  Meaning I executed the King's second most famous move and passed out on the john.  Ba-dum-bum!  

(Love the quote on this one too.)
I can't be sure, but I suspect it was food poisoning.  Which is too bad, because the grilled chicken salad with tequila-lime dressing was one of my favorites at the place where we had lunch.  Not anymore, though.  Not ever again.
(Pat Kroth: Gypsy Rhythm - closeup)
Norm woke to a crashing thud (me too—nothing like coming back to consciousness with the sound of your own fall echoing in your ears).  His first thought was that we were having a home invasion.  As he made his way down the dark hallway to see what was happening, I eeked, "I'm so sick," and he found me lying there on the bathroom floor. 

(Aaron Bohrod: The Shadow)
Long story short, I felt like death for the next 24 hours, and to top it off, I had a contusion above my left eye and stiff neck.  Thankfully, I recovered in a day or two and am very grateful for that. 

(Andrew Acker: Crow Dreaming of Becoming a Man: Will I Still Fly?)
What wakes me up most days lately is a pair of crows, plus a few of their friends, that have taken up residence in our yard.  They often meet for a confab in the big river birch outside my bedroom window.  Starting at daybreak, with the sun barely over the horizon:  "Caw-caw-caw-caw-caw!" and various iterations thereof.  And so on, and so on, and so on.

I first thought they were nesting in the pines far back in the yard, but the other day I hung sheets out on the line for the first time this spring and watched a crow with a beak full of sticks fly into the ash tree right off the deck.  Yep, there it was, the crow's nest, about 40 feet off the ground.

Last spring it was mallards, this year it's crows.  It's going to be an interesting summer!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Flimsy and a Finish

Behind the scenes of this somewhat quiet little blog space, I've been sewing on a few things during the past couple weeks.  Let's catch up!

(The crocuses are popping up!)
I've been following along on Sarah's Nifty-Nines Quilt Along and was inspired to start a nine-patch quilt of my own.  I hit up the stash and pulled a few color combinations that spoke to me in a scrappy kind of way.

Pretty soon I had a design wall of nine-patches.  (That subtle checkerboard pattern is my design wall, which is the fuzzy side of a vinyl tablecloth pinned to the wall.)

Then it was time for some snowball blocks in between those nines, and again I turned to the shelf of stash for a background for those snowballs.  Nothing really spoke to me there, so I started looking in some more out of the way spots in my sewing room, eventually opening a thrift store bag to find this.

A vintage but never used muslin sheet I'd scored at Goodwill sometime in the past couple years.  It's more of a robin-egg blue than the above picture suggests.

I washed it up and cut 9.5-inch squares for the snowball blocks.  A day or two later, I had them all done, and a few days after that, the top was together.  And I had enough sheet left for a pieced backing!

This will be a quilt for Hands2Help, the annual charity quilt drive Sarah coordinates.  I look forward to making something for it every year.  Head over to Confessions of a Fabric Addict to read about this year's H2H Challenge and join in!  It's fun, it feels good to give, and there are prizes!

Confessions Of A Fabric Addict

Recently, Sandy, my local long-arm quilter, brought back two of my quilts.  It is said that "absence makes the heart grow fonder," and I think that's true for quilts.  Especially when they come back beautifully quilted!

This was my living room a few days ago, with WIPs on the floor and furniture.  We manage to navigate along the edge in that narrow walk space—balance training, you know! 

[Aside:  That little corduroy and flannel HST quilt on the left is actually not a WIP; I finished it last year.  The chair is holding a recent thrift store find, one of those "start the car!" moments when I snapped up a piece of salt-glazed Rowe Pottery from the employee cart at Goodwill before it even made it to the display shelf.]

Yesterday, I finished the binding on one of the two quilts that came back from the long-armer.  I had started this 16-patch and X-block quilt last year about this time.  It was one of two 16-patch quilts I made, the other one being donated to last year's Hands2Help charity quilt drive.

This one will stay with me (at least for a while).  I used some gorgeous hand-dyed fabrics by Vicki Welsh in this quilt, on a background of dove gray.

I made two backs for this quilt—which is what happens when you can't remember you've already made the first one.  I gave the second backing to the quilter, and then about six weeks later found the first underneath something in the sewing room!  

I called Sandy to say, "Stop the presses!"  Fortunately, she hadn't started quilting it yet, so I was able to take her the first one, which was my favorite.

That's a little of what's been happening around here.  What have you been up to?

Thursday, March 3, 2016

February Circles for Quilty 365

The circles made in February for the Quilty 365 project are a vibrant group of reds and pinks!

Once again, there were a couple of fussy-cut circles, like this flower.

And some hearts, of course!

I enjoyed going through my red/pink scraps and choosing the ones that appealed to me.

Since I started on January 1, it's been easy to keep track of what number I'm on:  31 for January + 29 for February = 60.

Plus the few I've got started for March, which will be shades of green.

I haven't sewn any of the circle blocks together yet and probably won't until they're all done.  That way I can mix the colors around in an appealing way.

Also allowing for other ideas to percolate as the project unfolds.

Hop over to Quilty Folk to see what the Quilty 365 folks have been working on!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday Sundry 2-28-16

This little wall hanging is now quilted and bound and hanging on the sewing room wall.  I may not have gotten it done by Valentine's Day, which was an arbitrary deadline, but a couple weeks later is fine by me.

As usual, what stalled me was how to quilt it.  I finally began with some circles or pebbles in the red sashing and curlicues in the black and white inner borders, then went back and did straight line ditch quilting in the whirligigs and a meander in the outer border.

(Quilting as seen from the back)
You know what I have a problem with?  Quilting exactly over the same line or curve.  I can do it, sort of, but I really want to wander.

I don't know if it's a lack of attention, some kind of neurological thing that makes me a little shaky, a contrariness about following rules, or a general reluctance to go over the same ground I've already covered. 

(I don't always overthink things, but when I do...)

Anyway, the struggle is real.

But what ultimately went through my mind was remembering to just "embrace the shake."  If you've seen this TED talk by artist Phil Hansen, you know what I mean.  If not, it's definitely worth a few minutes to watch it.  It's about working creatively within your limitations.  Limitations in function, limitations in resources can inspire an abundantly creative life.  I love that kind of thing.

And that also relates back to this wall hanging, because it started with a baggie of scrap pieces.  

There was only a certain number of dark red pieces with which to make the whirligig blocks, and then there were some red and white print pieces.  Those lighter bits made three whirligigs that recede into the background.  You have to look at little bit harder to see them, but they're there.

* * * * *
The Joy in the Evening quilt has been donated to an upcoming local fundraiser for Badger Honor Flight.  The Honor Flight Network flies WWII and terminally ill veterans to Washington, D.C. to see the memorials erected in their honor. 

I wish my father-in-law would have been able to participate in an Honor Flight, but he passed away a few years before the program was begun.

At any rate, it makes me happy to be able to participate in a very small way so that another veteran can be part of an Honor Flight experience.

* * * * *
I've had a cruddy cold this past week, which zapped my energy.  Things are starting to feel more normal again, finally.  My voice still sounds pretty ragged and gravelly, but it's getting better.

My face is healing too.

PSA:  A few days into a cruddy cold with frequent nose-wiping and blowing is NOT the day to decide to Nair your upper lip.

I'm just sayin'.

* * * * *
So let's talk about food, specifically, cookies.  More specifically, using a mashed avocado in cookies.

An avocado?  Oh yes!  The mushy green fruit of a mashed avocado makes these cookies delightfully delish.  Well, that and the chocolate.  This is one of the keepers in my recent experiments in gluten-free baking.

Now if you like a crunchy cookie, this is not the droid you are looking for.  But if you crave a cakier morsel with a tender chocolatey crumb, then read on, my friend.

Chocolate Chip Avocado Cookies (Gluten-Free)

Blend together dry ingredients in a small bowl:

3/4 cup almond meal (almond flour)
1/4 cup coconut flour
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (I use raw cacao powder)
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Whisk wet ingredients together in a mixing bowl:

One-half avocado, mashed
1 egg
1/4 cup melted coconut oil or melted butter (I used ghee)
1/2 cup real maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well.  Stir in 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Let the cookie dough sit while the oven preheats, or about 5-10 minutes.  This gives the dough time to absorb all of the moisture and become scooping consistency.  Then scoop by tablespoonfuls onto a cookie sheet, pressing down slightly if you want them more flat than fat (they don't spread much with baking).  Bake for 11 minutes.  Let cool on cookie sheet for about 5 minutes before removing to rack to continue cooling.


* * * * *
Linking to:  Confessions of a Fabric Addict's Can I Get A Whoop Whoop!

Monday, February 22, 2016

String Diamond Quilt Finish

I finished this little string diamond quilt over the weekend. It ended up about 36x48 inches, just right for a baby quilt.

My niece and her husband are expecting their first baby in June.  This may go to them, unless I have a different inspiration or specific request (for certain colors, etc.) between now and then.

I sure like the bright scrappy look and hope baby and family do too.  If you ask me, there's hours of visual entertainment right there.  And naps.

It was a nice weekend for walking outdoors, with temps in the mid 30s to 40s.  We did that instead of assemble a treadmill (which we did this afternoon; all systems go).
We walked the trail on the wildlife refuge nearby.  Not a whole lot of wildlife to be seen or heard, but midwinter has an appeal all its own.

Pops of color in the thawing snow.

Shadows and reflections on the ice.

The leaning of trees over the frozen marsh.  Ashes, ashes, we all fall down...

The tangle of tree roots and limbs.

We did see some small creatures out for a stroll, little woolly bear caterpillars.  They're pretty bad at predicting the weather.  It's not spring yet, little buddy.

But it's right around the corner.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Waiting on Freight

The good news is that after my last post, the cravings have calmed down.  Never did find the ONE THING. 

I did, however, find a couple new gluten-free cookie recipes.  Both were keepers.  One was called "The Perfect Molasses Cookie" and it was just that.  Perfectly delicious.

The bad news is that my treadmill picked the wrong week to break.

There's never a right time for anything to break, but you know what I'm saying.  At any rate, I am awaiting shipment of a new one as I write this.

And it just arrived!

No kidding, the truck just came and delivered it, in a box.  Some assembly required (oh joy).

This one is made right here in Wisconsin.  The things you find on the internet, friends.  I did a Google search for treadmills, read a few reviews, and ended up in my own backyard, so to speak.  Who knew they made a highly-rated treadmill just down the road a piece?

But I don't want to get ahead of myself with an endorsement when I haven't even opened the box. I'll let you know after I've used it a while.  It is replacing a NordicTrack treadmill which lasted 13 years.  That may be tough to beat.

In the meantime, I've been using our NordicTrack ski machine that we picked up for $25 at Goodwill a few years ago.  It was like new, and Norm enjoys using it, but I hate the blasted thing.  However, one must work off the aforementioned cookies somehow, so the ski machine it was.  Glad that's over.

This week I've been sewing Quilty 365 circles.  I have all of February's red and pink ones done and have started on March's greens.  They are fun and fast to do when I've got a few minutes here and there.

As you may have suspected, the circles have also been a means of procrastinating on a couple things awaiting quilting.  

But I will circle back to those.