Feb 27, 2016

Around here.........

 Around the house this week----

Skyler thinks he is hiding but I can see him!  Now you can too.

I had a ton of laundry to do Wednesday.  Skyler was waiting for warm clothes but at this point all he got was socks!

Of course, Oscar can't stand it when Skyler is getting some attention and he is not.

Skyler stands his ground and Oscar leaves to join me in the living room once I get the pjs dealt with.

I was working on the notebook on the kitchen table the day I took this.  It is one of Sky's fav spots to get away from the dog.

I wish I had gotten the camera out this morning though.   Oscar was waiting on the loveseat for me to get out of the shower.  At some point he pulled that precious blue wool throw off the back of it.  Skyler has been sleeping on it at night so smells like cat.  When I came out of the bathroom, Oscar had pulled it down to the floor and had wrapped himself up in it to the point where all I saw was a doggy shaped lump and the tip of his nose.    Silly dog!

Well another week has rolled along and this awful month is about gone.  I say awful because of the anniversary of DJ's passing and funeral, a unwillingly single Valentine's Day mostly.  Usually the weather is horrid too.  Well, some days are and other days you are reminded that yes, spring is coming and not all that far off.  When Oscar and I walk, we pass under and near the row of Bradford Pears at the south end of the lane near the subdivision entrance.  The buds are just waiting to open.  I have seen some tulip trees in flower this week.  This morning we had had frost overnight.  I had no expected that it was going to be that cold so it surprised me.   It has turned into a lovely day---in the low 60's, less windy than the past couple days and clear blue skies.

We had two quite rainy, stormy days early in the week.  Tuesday morning, I emptied 2 inches of rain from the gauge.  Wednesday, 3 inches.  There was flooding in spots in the county, not surprising with that much rain on saturated ground.  It was also quite windy, overnight Wednesday with the storms but it continued.  Gusts 30 some mph making it feel colder than it was.  Oscar and I get thrown off his routine with the rain and storms.  Naturally,  he wants no part of the wet ground and turns around and hops back in his crate to keep me from making him go out in the back yard.   He doesn't like the rain, wind or thunder INSIDE the house either.  High pitch whining ensues.  Skyler, on the other hand, doesn't head for under the bed near as often when the storms come.

I've not touched my partially done quilt top since Sunday.  I put the machine up as I knew I would not get to it on Monday---eye doc appointment and a few errands to run.  Besides, we had Bama Belles sew day on Tuesday and I had to pack up for that.   I thought maybe today but my plans changed with a phone call from Jane last night.  Now, it's 3 pm as I write this and not likely to happen.

Tuesday, we had planned a sew day and the girls wanted to try the Ribbon Candy block they liked in the Gudrun Erla book Strip Your Stash.  I had taken the book with me to an earlier meeting in January because we are always looking for ideas of what you can do with 2 1/2 inch strips.   Trust me, that book has several ideas for that.  It is rare for me to like and what to make as many of the quilts that are in a quilt book as this one.   That Square Dance block I finally finished is from there and is featured on the cover of the book.  Only need 5 more, LOL, and I'll have enough for a donation top.

Anyway, the girls brought their machines.  I had cut white background fabric enough for 5 quilts.  The girls brought 2 1/2 inch strips to share.  We were happy to have two of the girls that have been with us before back for the day and one guest from the JOY group.  In addition, another stopped by on the way to work to see what we were up to.  I think I told you that another of the girls (Brenda) just retired and she can come back to join the group.  We were table mates.

This is a top that Lois made before the sew day with an interesting setting.   The book shows 8 blocks and set on point but I really like this version!

Here is a picture of the day's output looking from one direction on the two long tables.

And looking back from the opposite end.  

There will be more!  Brenda had 4 more planned.  Aline was going to make a dedicated quilt with the ones she made----those sort of citrus looking colors you see on the left of the shot above were a few of them as well as the two in the foreground.   I'm going with a purple and pink sort of theme for a dedicated one as well though I picked up a few of the ones the others made that might work in it.  I've got this purple, pinkish, orange butterfly print for the setting triangles and am picking strips that will go with it.  I still need to finish those and one Jane handed to me partially done.  I think she was stitching more at home though since they would be a fun one for donation quilt for one of her other quilt groups.  Beverly was our champion presser and un-sewer.

We had a wonderful potluck lunch with sort of picnic theme.  Lois made some wonderful pork barbecue and others brought potato salad, corn salad, coleslaw, some yummy homemade bread and butter pickles,  fresh fruit, Milo's iced tea to drink.  Desserts were homemade blueberry pie and I had made a pan of those Quick and Easy Oatmeal Carmelitas.   The leftovers are in my freezer for another day!  What a fun day though!  Good friends, good fellowship and good food.  Does it get any better than that.

Some of the girls went on to the Tuesday afternoon group at the church near here but I went home to my two neglected critters.  I'll go this coming week along with my machine and try to get back to my half done Jolly Bar top.  The Ribbon Candy blocks can wait till the next Belles meeting.  We'll decide how we want to set them, combine the colors and see if we need to add another color or make a few more to have enough.   They look good block to block too.   Lois said she had flipped them sort of zigzagged too when she did her top.

Today, as I had said, my plans changed.  I thought maybe I'd do a bit of cleaning around my messy house.  BUT Jane called last evening and asked me to accompany her to the Ashville Quilt Shop and then run up to Gadsden to eat lunch.  Clean or Girlfriend Day??  I think you know what I decided!  Jane and Aline are on the guild's Sew-In committee and needed to ask the shop for a door prize contribution.  We did do a bit of personal shopping too though.   The quilt shop is in St. Clair County, Gadsden is in Etowah County just north of us in Calhoun County so we were all over the Alabama country side, LOL.  Actually we stopped in Rainbow City and ate at El Tapatio there rather than drive all the way into Gadsden.  Chicken Enchiladas Suizas for me though they sure didn't taste like mine!

Even though I had recently made a Mexican version of Cheeseburger Soup  I love Mexican food.  My variation involves omitting the potatoes, celery and carrots in the original and then subbing brown rice, corn, black beans, tomatoes, mild green chiles along with more traditional chili seasonings and way less cheese and more broth.  I call it "Mexican Cheese Soup".  I shared this with my neighbors along with some of that cheese bread that had pulled from the freezer.  I've really not done much cooking this week unless you count a little personal bread bowl pizza or roasting a couple sweet potatoes.

A little reading---I enjoyed What Stands in a Storm by Kim Cross.  Non-fiction, it is about the horrible tornado outbreak in Alabama back on April 27, 2011.  Sad, yet hopeful.  The science is right our weather dude said and he and his station are featured in the book.  It is not some stupid national news anchor saying that the storms came without warning.  We had plenty of warning that a possibly generational intense outbreak was coming.   There a lot of fatalities in several states in that outbreak but perhaps none as bad as Alabama in those strings of storms.  There were 9 here in the north end of my county and 14 in St. Clair, lost that day but part of a larger 240 some, I think statewide.  We drove past one of the areas today on the way to the quilt shop and the land and trees are still scarred by this onslaught.  After, that heavy reading I was on to a romance novel by Cindy Myers called The View From Here that the bookmobile lady (also named Linda) had saved for me.  About half done with it.

Guess that's about it for this installment.  Oscar is going to want to go out walking soon though both he and Skyler as sunning in front of the open front door at the moment.  All I have to do is say the words "Oscar!  Walkies?" and he'd be up like a shot.  That or open the refrigerator, LOL.  Skyler has the lead position right smack dab in front of the door but then it is HIS house.  The dog is allowed to live here, according to him.

Hope you are having a lovely weekend, doing something you enjoy.  THX for stopping by------

Feb 20, 2016

Saturday check-in

Mostly the guys and I have just been hanging out around the house.  We have been blessed with warmer weather this week, the kind of weather that makes you think that spring may be coming one of these days.   The camellia bush has gone to its umpteenth flowering.  Silly thing blooms, gets frosted, and then rebounds.  The daffodil stems are up but I see no hint of those golden blooms.   I didn't see crocuses either so maybe those old bulbs are spent?

I've logged some sewing time out in the kitchen but also away from home on two occasions.

Tuesday I was off to the group that sews at a local church near here.   I was mostly un-sewing since I wanted to re-arrange the color combinations in the No Bake Jolly Bar blocks.  I was also advising one of the girls who was putting binding on a tree skirt she had made.  Margarita had the bias binding all made up and just needed help with the join.   Donna needed some advise on sashing and corner stoning a quilt she is making as a group fundraiser.  Aline pitched in and helped her sew and they almost had it finished up by the time I left--or were well on their way!  I was trying to explain how to pre-sash the blocks rather than sew on long skinny rows of sashing and had them a bit confused as Aline does it THAT way.  LOL  Looks the same in the end regardless but lines up better, if you ask me if you do it "my" way.

Yesterday I went to the guild sewing session.  I got the stack's 2nd stitching on the trimmed down layer cake done and the cutting done before I left.  Aline and Jane asked me to join them but then they got in a planning meeting for the guild's sew-in but I still had company while I got the sewing done.

So off and on the past two days I've been playing with this p.roject box and the master bedroom design "wall" AKA vinyl tablecloth

I've got 5 rows up.  There are a total of 9 or 63 blocks.  If I go down much further, Skyler will think it is okay to go after any loose strings.  I've got the stuff pinned on to prevent his removing them but I don't trust him.  

I'm liking it so far.  I love the red and aqua combo anyway and I really like the yellow spark of color along with it.   I don't like fiddling with the blocks too much once I put them up there.  Move one and then you are moving 6 more.  And then it gets tedious.  If anything, since this technique makes two blocks at once, I just swapped out its pair more than moving them all around.  The pair has the blocks reversed since the block only rotates once.  You can probably see the block orientation if you look closely near the painters tape.

I find it a little difficult to mix up the fabrics using pre-cuts as they are the same 3 or 4 prints or what reads like solids in 3 or 4 colorways.   That was part of the reason why I tossed in little bits of other lines.  You might spot a bit of Good Karma, Lily's Garden,  a Riley Blake print, a Jenny Callo bright print from Connecting Threads.   One piece, I think is a Studio E.    I've re-sewn a few today to deal with directional prints.  I'll probably do the same thing with the 2nd half.   But first, sew this stuff together.  

And sew it goes-----

Aline, Jane and I had girlfriend lunch on Thursday, got my hair cut, went to a celebration of life service this afternoon.  Otherwise it has been the usual stuff round here.  I still need to clean the house but I'm not done messing it up,  dragging threads all over the house.  I'm still not nuts about sewing in the kitchen but I am getting something done.  

Hope you are having a good weekend-------- thx for stopping by.

Feb 13, 2016

what a week!

It has been quite a week---but I am beginning to think that I might survive after all, LOL.

Tuesday was good.  My little quilt group met.  My goal was to do some cutting of background for a block or blocks we plan to work on come sew-day later in the month.  The girls are going to provide some 2 1/2 inch strips for the blocks but I felt if we are combining the output, the background should be uniform throughout.  I cut enough for 4 quilts.  There is enough for a 5th but I drug it home so I could do a practice block or two.

We were happy to have one of ladies back with us.  Brenda had left for a time when her volunteer position became full time hours for a couple of years.  Well, she just retired and brought a friend with her.  Teresa was able to get away and join us too.  Like old home week almost.  We mostly visited though Lois had a scrappy quilt to pin with Jane's able assistance.  Sorry, no pictures this week.  They all went off on their errands and such while I finished my cutting job.

Wednesday evening I drug the old Singer out to the kitchen and started sewing.  This is the No Bake Jolly Bars pattern but I am using the Corey Yoder "Prairie" line rather than the pattern enclosed in with the fabric.  (Scroll down for that example pieced by Moda staff.)  I was having such a fine time pairing up the fabrics but kept sewing when DUH, I only needed 32 pairs.  I have 40 so was debating about making it bigger by adding some stash fabrics in.  I still might by un-doing some of the ones I don't like as much.  I am not nuts about all the stripe in various colors, for one.  I had pulled some bits that I had picked up at the Lick Skillet guild country store that coordinate fairly well and I'm tempted to throw some of those in.

As I was ironing, the bottom dropped out of the rest of the evening.  I had a splitting headache all the sudden and became quite sick to my stomach.  I've never had a migraine, per se,  but this came on so quickly and quite out of no where!  I won't get graphic but if I were to tell you that I had lost 4 lbs. overnight, you can fill in the blanks.  Sicker than a dog, old wash basin in the bed just in case (white not red, Mom) and no sleep till after 5:30 and then only for two hours.

Thursday, really sick and several naps.  Oscar went to bed at 6 pm and so did I.  Friday, better but still problematic.  I still had a headache which by that time was almost intractable since I couldn't take anything for it with the stomach not cooperating.  Today?  Well, I showered and got dressed.  That's a plus, don't you think?  Still not interested in eating.  Vanilla pudding, toast or mashed potatoes anyone?  At least I could look at the food pictures on Facebook today--mostly.  Oh, Thursday--there was a shot of something with smoked sausage (which I have a problem with from the last bout of this mess) and I think, roasted brussel sprouts (ugh!)  that about did me in !!!

Meanwhile, Oscar has been neglected.  No walkies.  I didn't get dressed for two days.   Thankfully, it was warm enough yesterday that he could spend some time outside so Skyler and I could lay down.   Even Thursday afternoon he could be out a bit so that helped when he was indicating he wanted out the front door, not the back.  These two are such creatures of habit and their routine was definitely upset.   Here's how they look this afternoon.  I WAS on Skyler's right till I went on a search for my camera which I had misplaced.  (I recalled what I had done with it, after I used the phone camera.)

In closing, Happy Valentine's Day.  I can't find a picture of this quilted but it is one of three February hangings in my hallway.  (Joined at the Hip Button Up)

Feb 7, 2016

this and that

The view around here in the mornings.

Oscar is really not supposed to be on the loveseat as he could conceivably access Skyler's food bowl if he gets up on the top of it.  He has tried.  I had the wool throw folded up atop the couch and he kept pulling it down to cuddle up in it.

Some mornings, this is where you find Skyler parked.  Normally, he is more upright and is the first thing I see when I get up in the morning waiting for the canned food.  He almost always has some dry still left so it is not like he is starving.  More like selective!

And on a sunny day, he is either in the window, atop the microwave or on Oscar's crate.  The other day I stashed the 3rd load of dirty laundry atop the crate and he slept in there overnight!

This is the afternoon view today:

He likes this spot too and it usually means he is waiting for something.  More food??  Oscar leaves him along up there so that works too.

I don't know if you can see it, but Oscar took his carrot "to-go", right by his nose.  I was replenishing my veggie tray and he comes running anytime I'm working in the kitchen, hopeful of a handout.  I gave him his carrot and he immediately went to the backdoor, telling me he wanted out.  I shot this through the door as I knew he would move if I went outside.

Oscar had me cracking up a couple days ago.   It was time to go for last walk of the day.  He gets so excited about that so when I saw "walkies" he ordinarily runs back and forth a few times to see if I really mean it.  Secondly, the silly boy almost always stops at his food bowl to get some crunchies for the road.  THAT day, he grabbed his stuffed frog and absolutely would not leave it in the house!  We went well over halfway on the lap where he finally dropped it as we neared one of his or the neighbor's chihuahaus watering spots.  Good thing I stuffed the toy in my pocket as he didn't even look over where he dropped it on the return.

Trying to think what else has been going on since I last posted.  Too many Word Chum games??  Yes but that can't be all.  I had JOY Quilt Day meeting last week.  Saturday I went with Jane and Aline to their Block of the Month at the Ashville Quilt shop.  I'm not participating but I needed to get a bit of background fabric for one of my quilt projects.   More on that in a minute.

A week ago, I went with Miss Kathryn to her son's home for supper.  Paul was fixing chicken cordon bleu and we brought some sides to go along with the meal.  A vegetable was suggested so I made some broccoli salad and also some Quick Cheese Bread.  I also made a big pot of soup and Hummingbird Muffins on the same binge cooking day.   Been slacking off on the cooking since too.  We have a couple nights coming up with lows in the teens so I have a feeling I'll be baking something to share with the neighbors.

What an adventure that cheese bread idea was!  I've not made that for some time and discovered that Martha White no longer makes or distributes packets of Bix Mix.  I went to 5 different stores in my search and no luck. No Bix Mix, period as it turns out.  I emailed customer service and ol Martha had been swallowed up by Smuckers.  The product was phased out in 2004-5 I learned in their reply.  Previously, I had made a note in the cookbook that 2 packets measured out to about 2 1/2 cups so had gotten the smallest box of Bisquik that I could find.   BUT I grabbed two packets of Bisquik Garlic Cheese to see if that would work.  I still did the grated cheese called for in the recipe and it turned out quite well.  That is, where it didn't stick in the pan!  They all raved about it.

Since I had half of the brick of cheese left, I made another batch the next day with the regular Bisquik measured from the box.  I think I like other better.  I had found the recipe in an 1995 J. C. Penney's Associates Cookbook,  National edition.  This recipe for Cheddar Cheese Bread from the Betty Crocker page is quite similar.  The Bix Mix one used water instead of milk and 1/2 cup more cheese.   I got smart and did foil tabs that I sprayed with release spray to remove loaf #2.  Worked like a charm.  I had a slice or two with some Sausage Lentil Stew that I finally got around to making after thinking about it for almost two weeks---all leftovers to the freezer.

The anniversary of DJ's passing (Feb. 1st) was not an good day though I reminded myself of just what he meant to me and how lucky I was to have had the time we were given.  Still makes me sad and I miss him as much as I ever did.  If tears cannot fall on that day of all days, then I would like to know when is appropriate.

On to happier topics before I'm in tears again,  I mentioned the trip to the quilt shop yesterday.  I am getting the itch to sew but something for quick gratification, not something I already have started and stalled out on.   Maybe I have mentioned this one before but I really, really want to do the No Bake Jolly Bar pattern and have gotten the fabric to do it in this colorway, "Prairie" by Corey Yoder for Moda Fabrics.   There is a free pdf file for the pattern on the linked blog post.  Other patterns are available and come with the various jolly bars. They tell you what you need to order but not what you might be making, LOL.

Another line of fabric I dearly love is practically anything by Bonnie and Camille,  "Hello Darling" being no exception.  The included pattern for that one is called "Climbing Roses"   ( Here is a link to an image from Quilts by Laurel showing how her version turned out.)  I had hoped that the shop would have white charm packs but alas, no.  However, I came home with a light gray for another project and ordered what I wanted when I got home.  Yes, I could cut the squares from yardage but remember, I said quick gratification.  Cutting would make for more work when I just want to set up the machine and sew when I can grab a half hour even.  Also if I could sneak in the sewing room to cut, I could be sewing instead!   I am beginning to think if I am NOT going to go to sleep till after 2 am that I could shut the door and head in there for a bit at night once Oscar goes to bed.  However, that would cut into Skyler cuddle time.  I consider it and then keep trying to go to sleep and get some rest even if sleep does not come as rapidly as I would want.

I have done some playing in EQ recently.  I have a couple of quilt challenge projects coming up, one that involves charm packs of Moda "Good Karma" and some coordinating yardage.  The block I want to do needed some re-drawing as I didn't like the extra seams where the blocks meet.  I "fixed" it to my liking but it will be awhile before I can share my revisions with you.  Supposed to be kept on the down low.  Hey, sewing around my friends might be the only way I CAN sew.   (I think it is so we can't vote for viewers choice and our friends' quilts.)

Sometimes drawing up a block helps me solidfy in my mind how the block goes together.  That probably is part of being a visual learner and hands-on working better than just looking at the pictures or trying to make sense of the steps. EQ also lets me change the block or strip sizes, fool with settings and borders to get the targeted size.  I figure that as long as I have quilts on my mind there is hope for me yet and I can still legitimately consider myself a quilter.  

The other thing I need to be doing is putting a copy of the pattern or some notes in the project box of just what I wanted to do with the contents.  Several Missouri Star patterns I would like to try:  Lattice, Summer in the Park, Houndstooth, Periwinkle that I told you about in the last post.  Also let us not forget a Disappearing something or other for Guild.  Lots of choices on Missouri Star but I won't do D9P! The latter one is due, a top anyway, by June meeting which really means late May.  (They are going to the comfort quilt committee.)

So tonight is the Super Bowl.  Who you pulling for?  I think the Broncos for me as my sister and her family all live out in Colorado  including this little cutie patootie with his Nana.  He's all decked out in Bronco orange and there is a video of him "cheering" them on during the play-offs. ( Hasn't he come a long way from 20 oz?  Mama said he is 13 lbs now and 10 times his birth weight. Praise be to God for that!)    Downton Abbey is also on tonight so I think I'll be checking on the computer for scores and not be glued to the game.  Rarely do pro football, anyway.

Guess that's about it for this installment.  Thanks for stopping by and hanging out with me for awhile.