Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Gifts 2010

Now that the suspense is over, I can unveil some of what I made and gave for Christmas this year.

First, here's my big brother Bob holding up a rag quilt. Now that I have the Accuquilt rag quilt die for my cutter, it's so simple to cut and make these quilts. And since they're quilt as you go, I don't have to send them out.

Here's Fred playing like he's sleeping under the one I made him for his recliner:

My sister-in-law Paula also got gifts made with the Accuquilt cutter - the triangle-in-square die cutter made it simple to cut the bits for these three pillows:

Mom got a red and white table runner. These arrowhead blocks were from Quiltmaker's last issue (scroll down to see some of the blocks in progress, in a previous post.) The blocks went together very quickly. Here they are on her coffee table with some candles on top:

And here is the whole runner, on my design wall:

In other news, I'm now a member of Quiltmaker's Scrap Squad for 2011! I never thought when I sent in my application that they'd accept me. But now I have my first assignment from them, I've already picked fabric from my stash for it, and I plan to start cutting tomorrow. Can't tell you much about the project we're doing yet, but I hope to use up a lot of the blue and khaki flannel left over from my two rag quilts above.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Inside Medallion

I was trying to tie it all together for a spring theme, and I think that'll do. ;)

I did the grass and stems using liberated quilting, Tonya Style, just like the letters and wonky houses I've made using her technique. I sewed green triangles to white triangles, then cut the resulting rectangles into wonky wedges. Then I sewed those wedges together, trying not to put any two blades of similar height grass close to each other, and alternating pale green with medium green. I trimmed the bottom and top flat and parallel, then machine appliqued the pinwheels onto the stems.

I ended up removing some of the background fabric on the pinwheels because the bottom fabric was white, and made the pinwheels look as if they were floating above the stems, not the effect I wanted. I also wanted them far enough away from the star blocks where they didn't touch.

This is currently 24 x 24, a nice small size for a wall hanging. Should I border it or leave it borderless? I have enough of the white background left where I could put a 1 inch white border on, then maybe bind it in scrappy strips?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Design debates

Here's my latest block of the month arrangement:

I'm not sure how I wlll put these three little pinwheels in the center yet. I could cut a 12½ square of background fabric and turn the edges under and applique them down, adding stems and some spikey leaves at the base... or I could cut some background triangles for the upper right and left corners, and try to piece them in, separating the pinwheels with little one-inch strips. Then I'd piece some blades for the bottom... I can't decide. Any advice?

3 inch Pinwheels

There's the link for the pdf pattern to paper piece the little pinwheels,if anyone wants any three inch blocks - wouldn't they make cute ornaments if you did them in green or red?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Finally a Post

*blushing* Yes, I've been a bad blogger.

But only because I've been so busy! They've been sending me lots of books to copyedit lately, and I love the extra money. I used some of it to buy myself an AccuQuilt Go! cutter. I've been cutting bunches (over 200) rag quilt squares, and this weekend I'll start sewing some of them together. For those of you who don't quilt, here's what it looks like:
One of the things I've been busy with is keeping up with the block of the month for my guild. Since I'm the coordinator, I don't have much choice! I have to stay a month ahead of everyone else, so I can get take pictures, write directions, get the web page made. Here's the ten months we've done so far:

People will have the option of doing these in both 12 inch and 6 inch sizes, there's instructions for both, and in whatever colorway they choose. Visit my guild's website if you want to see some of the instructions for the blocks:

Uncommon Threads Quilt Guild

I also just had to try the Arrowhead block in the last issue of Quiltmaker - I wanted to play with it in only two colors, instead of scrappy. It's an exceptionally easy block to make, and makes a graphic statement in only two colors. Here's the first four blocks:

But will it be TOO graphic in only red/white? So many options. I could do some more blocks in green/white and make it in Christmas colors. I could do some in pink/white and do a Valentine's quilt. OR I could make some in blue/white and make a patriotic version. Opinions?

And finally, I'm participating in NaNoWriMo this month.

By beoming a participant, I'm pledging to write 50,000 words in November. We can do any subject we choose, any genre. Some of the novels written during National Novel Writing Month have gone on to become best sellers . . . not that I expect my first attempt to do that! So far, I'm keeping up, and even have my word count ahead of the minimum daily amount. Wish me luck!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Banana Pepper Pickles

Here's my very first try at home canning/pickling.

The first little jar is banana pepper rings only.
The second and third jars are a combo of sweet banana peppers, garlic and Vidalia onion slices.
The fourth jar is like 2 and 3 but with red onion slices added. The red onion was HUGE, and much stronger than the mild Vidalia onion. I cried when I was slicing the red onion. :(

And that's NOT dirt or bugs in there, it's allspice berries, a peppercorn or two, and dill seed. In all my googling for recipes, most of the instructions mentioned that you shouldn't use powdered spices when canning, so that's why I added the whole berry and seed. Next time, I might make a little cloth bag and take all the spices out before I fill the jars. ;)

The first four jars have just a pinch of something called "Pickle Crisp" added, that's supposed to keep them crunchy.

The last jar, on the right, is mixed red and Vidalia onions with a slice or two of garlic clove, but no banana pepper. Instead of packing the veggies tightly in the jars raw, like I did the first four, I put all the onions I had left in the hot vinegar/salt/spice/sugar mix and brought it back up to a simmer, cooked them for a couple of minutes. Then I packed the hot rings in the jar. I poured in juice to almost fill the jar, and had enough left to fill the jar behind the small one, but it's pink from the red onion. This last jar didn't get any "Pickle Crisp" since I figured they'd be soft from cooking anyway. I was hoping also that the short cook time would make that red onion a little less strong.

I haven't tasted them yet - I'm going to wait a day before I try them, let the raw veggies soak up the vinegar and spices. It was less trouble than I thought it'd be, once I'd bought everything I needed, so I'll definitely do it again if they taste good.

These jars actually all sealed just from the boiling vinegar being poured over the veggies, all of the tops are locked down. I'm still going to play it safe and keep them in the fridge, though, because I didn't use a hot water bath on them.

Friday, July 02, 2010

July Garden Sow and Tell

Been picking a lot, but not posting much! Here's the state of the stuff on my kitchen counter a couple of days ago. I took about 6 of the bigger ones to Mom because they really enjoyed the ones I took over on Father's Day.

I have banana peppers and MORE banana peppers.

I guess two pepper plants are too much for me! I've bought some vinegar, kosher salt, and a little jar of something called 'Pickle Crisp' and I plan to pick some of these on July 4th and attempt a refrigerator pickle, with banana pepper rings plus some rings of the Vidalia onions I bought. I plan on making one jar with some red onion rings or wedges, just to see what happens. Think the red onions will turn the yellow pepper rings orange?

Charity Quilts

My guild just had a challenge to complete quilts for a hospice near us. I'm proud to say that we met and even exceeded the challenge, donating over 55 quilts to the hospice. Here's a few of them:

You'll see a nice mix in the pictures, everything from big block quilts to nickle square quilts, crumb quilts and heartstring quilts. We had a workshop on the quilt-as-you-go circle quilts you see there, they were a lot of fun to do. Here's more quilts:

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Jewel Box quilt top together!

Well, I can't believe it, but I've finally finished the top to my Jewel Box quilt. I'm debating on adding a one-inch border of that navy blue, or I may just save that matching navy fabric and do a binding with it instead.

I went to a quilt retreat this weekend, and after making some fold-and-roll totebags, I worked on this Jewel Box. I've had it two-thirds done since July of 2008.

It's king sized - 108 inches square, to fit my waterbed. There are more than 3700 pieces in it, squares and triangles. I don't know how many fabrics there are, but a LOT. :D All the navy blue is the same, but there are about 6 different tone-on-tones for the white. Countless different fabrics in the bright squares and triangles. There are some duplicates, but not too many!

You're never quite sure if what you draw in EQ will look the same when it's translated to fabric, but I think this time, it's very close. Here's the original design I did on EQ of what I wanted it to look like:

Back in May of 2008, all those little squares looked like this. If you're interested in how I went from the EQ design to construction of the quilt, here's my instructions, with graphics. For those of you who like to count, there's 2592 squares in this quilt, 1160 triangles, 36 rectangles (in blue, to piece the border) for a grand total of 3788 pieces.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Tomato crop in early June

My tomato crop as of today. The bigger ones are all early girl, then there's five round cherry tomatoes, and the oblong ones are grape tomatoes. I've had more cherry tomatoes than this, but I had a salad last night, and 4 of them plus 2 grape tomatoes went down the hatch. That really ripe early girl on the bottom right is destined for my lunch sandwich tomorrow.

I've been picking them when orange instead of red so the birds don't get any ideas, but they ripen up quickly in the bowl here if I don't refrigerate them.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

End of May veggie update

Lots and lots to show you today! First, here's some of my bigger squash. The plants are loaded with them, all different sizes from one inch long to almost ready to pick. The two I DID pick are at the bottom of this post:

And a snowpea (with the squash wading pool in the background) these are so good I'm not even getting many pictures of them, not cooking them or steaming them, just eating them raw and crunchy:

My cherry tomato bush is loaded with little tomatoes. I've picked two of the ripest ones already, you'll see them at the bottom of the post.

So is my grape tomato bush, and they've got differing shades of green and orange going on, too. I like it when they start producing one to three tomatoes per day, that's exactly what I need for my salad.

After I picked the one LONG pepper from each pepper plant, now both of them are producing 'normal' sized peppers:

Here's what's ripened and been picked today. Two little squash, both about 5 inches long. Two cherry tomatoes, four grape tomatoes, and one Better Boy tomato. Plus two snowpeas that made the picture, but got eaten before I could get the jpg cropped and up here on the blog. :D

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mid-May Garden Update

Ready for more tomato and squash pictures? Sorry, there's no snowpea pix, I've *guilty grin* eaten them all.

Here's my Cherry Tomato bush. Some of them are getting too big to really call them cherry tomatoes, but they're not ripening yet, still just as green as they can be. I hope they don't all ripen the same day! Between this bush, and the Grape Tomato bush you've seen already, I should be swimming in little tomatoes pretty soon.

I have two pots with banana pepper plants, and one pot has ONE immensely long pepper, and a handful of smaller buds. But this one looks too long to be normal, somehow. Maybe it's a mutant alien pepper... :)

My Early Girl bush has several golf-to-plum sized tomatoes, but again, all still very green.

I'm most proud of my squash plants though - lots and lots of blooms and lots and lots of teeny squash. Here's two of the biggest so far. Maybe thumb sized? Too small to eat, but a good size to drool over. After last year with no squash but lots of blooms, I was about to say that squash growing in a kiddy wading pool didn't work, but this year is a total reversal.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

It's snowpeas and squash!

I was so surprised to go out and look at my garden and discover that I don't just have foliage, I have veggies! First, here's my snowpeas - I picked the one in the middle and I'm going to eat it right now:

*crunching noises*

Yup, mighty good! The other two I plan on leaving until tomorrow night's salad, let them get just a bit longer.

And squash! Cute little ones, but still, more than I got last summer:

These are doubly precious to me since there's so many of them - I guess it's the difference between regular dirt and planting in Miracle Gro potting soil.

Here's the biggest. Still smaller than my little finger, but bigger than the others:

The grape tomato bush is full of blooms and little tomatoes too - want to play dot-to-dot with teeny tomatoes? Click on the picture to enlarge, lol

And there's peppers on both plants now. I'll put this last so you can easily compare it to the picture taken a week ago ... look how my pepper is growing!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Squash, Peppers and Windchimes

Ohhh, lookie what I saw when I looked under the leaves of my squash plant today! Surely with all those buds, I'll get at least ONE squash worth eating, don't you think?

And a little pepper - I can't wait for these to start growing. Does anyone know if the dark streaks up the stem there 'mean' something? Like over or under watering or... ?

And finally, got a shepherd's crook at Home Depot today. A friend of mine from Georgia gave me this last winter, and I've been wanting to put it out ever since! What's neat, it's also a birdfeeder, you fill the globe with seeds. I think I'll wait till late fall for that, because I don't want to attract birds to the area where my ripe tomatoes will be. :D

Friday, May 07, 2010

Little Green Tomatoes

Everything is coming up little green tomatoes! Here's five of the seven that're on my cherry tomato bush. I may not even have to stake this one, it's staying low and compact:

This is the Early Girl plant, they're looking nice too:

Only a couple on the big boy plant so far. Here's the biggest:

The grape tomato bush is my top producer. Twelve tomatoes that I can count, (although some of them are teeny-tiny) and bunches and bunches of blooms:

And here's my biggest tomato, slightly larger than a golf ball size, on the Better Boy plant. It has another couple of marble sized ones.

Meanwhile, my squash hasn't got any blooms yet, just buds, but the foliage is sure getting big and healthy looking:

I've taken the wire off the peony bush, and moved it to the back again. I also shifted the snowpeas to the end so I could sink the legs of the wire frame into the dirt, then I started using some scraps of fabric and selvedges to tie up the vines.

The peppers have blooms too, both plants - but they're growing very slowly, compared to the tomatoes.

How does YOUR garden grow?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

End of April veggie update

I'll start with the obligatory group shot:

My grape tomato plant has lots of clusters of blooms, but no little green tomatoes yet:

But my Early Girl plant has a tomato! This first one is about marble sized:

The peonies in the previous post are using the wire cage that I'll put between the snowpeas. They're getting tall enough to where they need it! Maybe I ought to go buy another one. I had to scoot the window boxes apart so the peas wouldn't grab onto each other. ;)

The squash in the wading pool is doing fine too, much healthier looking than last year.

And last, my Better Boy tomato. I'm wondering now if this one or the Early Girl will ripen first. The race is on!

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