Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Week for Wildlife

Today it was a hawk in the backyard

Disheveled Hawk - possibly Sharp-shinned hawk
At first I thought it might be injured because it sat for a long time just looking around.
When I went outside it hobbled into the rhododendron.

But it emerged from the rhoddie again and started pecking at something on the ground.
I went in and out of the sewing room to spray baste a quilt on the patio.
It stayed where it was.
It also looked a little less bedraggled (but I didn't get a picture).

That's life on the lake!

Oh, and the quilt I was spray-basting?

Perfect 36
More on this tomorrow.

Monday, December 30, 2019

They're Back!

River Otters

River Otter
We frequently see a pair frolicking in the lake.
But this is the first time I've seen one on land.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Pluses and Minuses

I get a Plus for thinking of putting on a hot mitt before touching the oven burner.

I get a Minus for not thinking it would be hot enough to start a fire ...

Friday, December 27, 2019

Merry Christmas to Me!

Back in business

LG 5 cu ft HE top load washer
Miss Lady Gaga arrived on Saturday before we headed to Arkansas for Christmas.  
These new machines look so weird inside!

No agitator in the center.  It looks huge.  It seems to wash OK, though.

With clean clothes packed, we headed to Conway, Arkansas
to spend Christmas with the younger grands.

In the free time between meals, church, gifts, and games I worked on Castle Walls

I want to press this first block before adding the corners.

This one was scheduled to have purple diamonds, but I think it needs something lighter.

I stitched these squares on after the photo.  I'm not sure what the diamonds will be.

My plan is to get a few blocks finished to see if I need a distinct plan for value placement.
Like so many blocks, fabric placement can really change the look of this block.
Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas

Greetings from Conway, Arkansas!

Christmas sunrise 2019
Hope your Christmas is Merry.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019


and Errors

Have you ever turned a binding to the front and stitched by machine?

I have done it on small projects like mug rugs or minis, but never on a quilt -- until Friday.  

Picnic quilt - pattern inspired by Jo Kramer
I needed to bind two picnic quilts for Christmas gifts but due to a series of early errors complicated by a busy social schedule, I wasn't able to get to it until Friday.  I knew I didn't have the time to whip down the binding by hand.  And I knew these quilts would have a rugged life in and out of cars, on the ground at picnics and outdoor concerts, so I figured a machine binding made more sense.

I normally cut my bindings at 2 inches.  That was my first error.  The thickness of the back, a heavy chambray-looking fabric, along with the batting was just too much for 2" to cover the stitching on the front.  Plus the weight of the fabric I had chosen for the binding, the poly-cotton grey used in the quilt, didn't look like it would hold up to a lot of wear.

Poly-cotton grey chambray
 (BTW, the shirts were mostly poly-cotton, too, so why not in the background?) (And also, BTW, isn't the quilting pattern perfect for this?)

So back to the cutting table. This time I used the backing fabric, cut at 2.5".

Backing fabric - heavy!
I estimated how many strips I would need for both quilts and that was my second error.  I forgot to allow for the overlap at the joining point and so I was one strip short for the second quilt.  At least I had the presence of mind to measure before I started stitching it on!

Thinking (always gets me in trouble) that I would need the walking foot, I stitched the binding to the back of the quilts without any problems.  But when I started stitching on the front side, the walking foot would hang on lumps and bumps and I found myself pulling the quilt from behind to keep it moving.  Talk about uneven stitches!  And with all my attention on moving the fabric under the needle, I couldn't keep a consistent stitching line.  Some of my stitches didn't even catch the edge of the binding!  AND my thread matched so well I had a hard time seeing the stitches to rip out!!

Not to mention all that yanking around got my thread wrapped around my sewing-room angel that hangs from my supplemental light.

With my anxiety level at an all-time high -- I couldn't quit now because these quilts were promised two Christmases ago -- I put my trusty quarter-inch foot back on the machine.

Not only did it work better than the walking foot, the 1/8" side of the foot on the left was the perfect stitching guide.  However, it was still dragging a bit over lumpy seams.  Then it occurred to me ... I can adjust the foot pressure on this machine!

Presser foot pressure control
I increased the pressure a bit above normal and all was well with my world.
Edit:  Both quilts finished in time, wrapped, and delivered!!

Full disclosure:  If I had thought of the foot pressure earlier, the walking foot may have worked.   
If I hadn't been too lazy to clear off the Pfaff machine (with dual feed),
I probably would not have had any problems.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

'Tis the Season

for cookie swaps

I can't tell you how long it's been since I have baked a cookie.... Well, last year I tried a layered bar cookie that was pretty much a disaster.  Not to mention I was an hour late to the party.

So this year I didn't want to embarrass myself at the Thursday party ... except that the party was Wednesday!  So I was up early to attack oatmeal cookies from my faithful Fannie (Farmer, that is).

My first problem was I thought I was making the recipe at the top of the page ...

Cape Cod Oatmeal Cookies
... but I didn't have molasses so I opted for the Crisp Oatmeal Cookies, instead.  I substituted dried cranberries for the raisins and they were surprisingly good.

They weren't very crispy, though.  Maybe the fact that I only got 40 cookies out of a recipe for 60 had something to do with that!

I was early to the party, met more neighbors, and came home with some tasty treats.

Oh, and all the holiday gatherings are behind me so now I can finish addressing cards and wrap presents!

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

A Handy Thing

Or two!

Last week Jo/Jo's Country Junction mentioned she had found a lap desk at a thrift store that she is using for small handwork projects.

That reminded me that I had purchased this lap desk at The Container Store about 8 years ago. (No affiliation and I'm not sure they are still selling the same product, tho they have something similar.)

It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it never saw a great deal of use.  Miraculously, I knew exactly where I had put it after the move.  AND I have a specific need for it right now!  I am marking dozens of pieces for Castle Wall blocks and I didn't want to stand at the cutting table for hours.

Castle Wall
I started this project in a class with Mickey Depre at Pigeon Forge Mountain Quilt Fest a couple of years ago.  Since she is coming to our guild in May, I thought I should move it a little further along.  And this handwork project would be "handy" to carry along in the multiple travels scheduled in the next few months.

I can sit in my easy chair and mark away!

The surface completely covers my lap, whether I have the legs pulled down or just balancing it on my legs.

The compartments inside hold all the tools I need: sandpaper mat, templates, mechanical pencil, scissors, cutting mat, and cutters.

I am kitting blocks into baggies and will carry them along with me in this cool multi-pocket project bag a sweet friend in the Music City Modern guild gave me when I moved away.

Thank you, Jenny!
Two handy things!

Monday, December 16, 2019

I Didn't Need This!

Scrubbing on a Sunday

Sunday is frequently laundry day and yesterday was no exception. With one bite of my lunch left in the bowl (leftover Stone Soup), I heard DH exclaim from the laundry room, "We have a problem!"

The washer, which has been making strange struggling sounds for several months, was not draining and the rinse water was running over the top and onto the floor.

I threw down two old bath towels to start absorbing the water until I could locate the sponge mop and a bucket.  I figured as long as the floor was wet and I had a mop in hand, it was a good time to give it a cleaning!  Christmas cards can wait one more day.

In full disclaimer, we knew the washer needed to be replaced but the local appliance dealer doesn't sell the brand we wanted (at that time, anyway -- I'm not going to be so particular now) so we had been putting off the one-hour drive to a big box store.  Guess where we are going today.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

I Must Have Needed That!

Twelve hours in bed
and most of it asleep!

I awoke at 5 a.m. Thursday, needing to finish a bit of cleaning 
before the church women arrived for our Christmas Stone Soup luncheon.

Old French folk tale
I swabbed the guest bathroom

... and put a Christmas quilt on the bed.

I "sweated" the aromatic veggies for the soups.
I staged the desserts to pop in the oven.
I mopped the kitchen floor.
I set the dining room tables.

Too lazy to stitch two lengths of gingham together!
I put the make-and-take project materials on the kitchen table.

Blessing Ring
I showered and dressed.
Guests due at 11:30 and it was only 10 a.m.

Do you ever have a feeling that surely you've forgotten something?
(Apparently nothing more than the mayo for the wraps.)

Everyone brought a can of something to go in the soup.
(I had started vegetable beef with leftover pot roast and gravy. 
Also a pot of turkey rice with mushrooms and spinach.)
We made blessing rings to go to shut-in members.

The party was a great success and I never took a single snapshot!
I was whipped, though.
Alex and I ate the remaining wraps standing at the kitchen counter
and crawled into bed at 6 p.m.
I slept till 6 a.m. Friday.


Monday, December 9, 2019

Time keeps slippin', slippin' ...


This is a capsule of  where my attention has been the last few weeks

Special Suffrage project and traveling handwork

Guild Christmas Party

Guess the theme
Table favors

Christmas Cactus
And today ...

Safelite is here to replace my windshield that had a 21" crack in it.

Since my last post I've fit in several lengthy choir rehearsals and performance yesterday.
Fellowship dinner last night.
One more luncheon here this week.
Devo party and neighborhood cookie exchange next week.

When will I have time to finish quilty gifts???

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Changing Seasons

I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving.

Sad to say, Fall kinda slipped by me without much fanfare. I put out a few bits of fallish decor and some Thanksgiving hand towels in the guest bedrooms (in the rare event we had some guests). 
SIL did drop in for an overnight to coordinate plans for a winter adventure (more on that later), 
but that's about the extent of it.

We had Thanksgiving in Nashville with Son and DIL, as well as GS-1 and his new bride.  
We were enjoying the company so much that the only photo I got was these dinosaurs 
GDIL is knitting for her nephews.

Remember, she is the one who knit avatar favors for ALL guests at their wedding in September.

My sewing machine
I made myself (actually, my schedule forced me to) wait until the day after Thanksgiving to even think about Christmas.  Friday the tree came out ...

Tree before ornaments
... and on Saturday the basic ornaments went on along with many extra special ones.

Our first Christmas ...

... grapes from my first Christmas tree ...

These grapes are almost 75 years old
... remembrance of past cruises ...

... and the requisite mouse ...

(I haven't found the spider yet ...)

The collection of Nativity pieces is in place ...

... and Peggy Fleming on the mantle.

Hallmark Keepsake Ornament 2001
I hope to wrap up the decorating today as next week is crammed and 
I have several deadlines looming in the sewing room.  

I'll leave you with a view of the morning sky after 12 hours of pouring rain.

December 1, 2019
Welcome to December, Y'all!