Monday, July 16, 2018

Zig-Zag Log Cabin & Redneck Mulch (with Zucchini Report #1)

This quilt has all the appearance of a Rail Fence, but it's actually made from Log Cabin blocks.

Quilted with a simple leaf design in a gorgeous turquoise thread.  Yum.

THE GARDEN
I have a love/love relationship with my summer garden.  I have a love/hate relationship with weeding. 
I kind of like weeding in the spring when I've been cooped up in the house all winter.  I love the smell of dirt, and the different fragrances from vegetation.  By now though, two and a half months in, I am pretty darned sick of weeding, and my elbow is killing me.  Why do they call it Tennis Elbow when in my case it clearly has nothing to do with a lah-di-dah leisure activity?
That will explain my dependence on what I like to call Redneck Mulch.  It's just several layers of newspaper, topped with grass clippings.  A few weeds are pretty determined and will poke out through the joins, where they might actually get a bit of light.  But they pull out sooo easily.  AND they are very sparse.  Where I do still need to pay some attention is right around the stem of whatever veggie is growing, since there is a substantially larger opening there.  The weeds take advantage of that.  (Ignore the Timmies cups.  Those were the 'pots' I used for the tomato seedlings, and the variety is written on the side of the cup.)

Tomatoes:  This year I planted 8 Romas, 4 PF Hybrid, 4 Big Beef, and 3 Sweet 100.  I will pick my first Sw. 100 in a few days, I think - one is partly red.

Every year, some of the potatoes that we missed when we were digging in the fall manage to overwinter and sprout.  I transplanted the first 5 volunteers into the proper potato patch (say that three times, fast. 😀) but the rest I've just left to grow where they sprouted.  There's at least 10 plants now.

Today I noticed there are peppers on the pepper plants.  Yay!  The beans didn't amount to a hill of beans (groan) so I had to replant them.  It'll be another month at least before I get any beans.  The stuff with white flowers that you're seeing in most of these pics is Cilantro.  Another volunteer which is just as invasive as dill.  Although I love cilantro, so it's ok.  I leave some to go to seed, then whiz the seeds in the (clean) coffee grinder for Coriander spice.

We planted three different varieties of potatoes - an early, a mid season, and a late.  So far DH has dug enough from the 'earlies' for boiled potatoes with butter (OMG, sooo good), AND a potato salad.

The asparagus is resting now until next spring, just building energy so it can feed me again.  In the photo it looks kind of white - that's from our well water.  Disgusting stuff, but there's been no rain to speak of for quite some time.  The county has a burn ban posted, and the Grand River Watershed has requested a 10% reduction in water use.

And now, what you've all been waiting for...
THE ZUCCHINI REPORT

Picked this week:  16
Picked YTD:          16
Gave away:            10
DH was horrified the day I showed him my basket with SEVEN zucchinis.  He must have a horseshoe up his butt though - a customer that day was happy to take all seven off my hands.
In other humourous Zucchini News, the newsletter editor for one of my guilds asked me if I had any zucchini recipes I could share for the newsletter.  Hahahahahaha.... I have a million recipes.
And in MORE humourous Zucchini News, my nephew (the foodie) posted on his Instagram page a clip of him making stuffed zucchini blossoms.  I had to resort to that a few years ago when I had so much zucchini I thought DH was going to leave home.  And in today's newspaper there is a recipe featuring stuffed zucchini blossoms.  I guess that's going to the the summer's hot food item.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

A Modern Quilt, the Garden, Social Media

Oh, I love (!) modern quilts.  Especially when they have random bits of 'word' fabric in them, like this one does.

And I love quilting them with swirls & pebbles.  This makes a wonderful contrast against the straight lines & graphic design of the top.

THE GARDEN

I try to be a thrifty person when it's not too much of an inconvenience.  I dug up a coleus plant last fall and left it in a pot on the windowsill all winter, then took cuttings of it in the spring.  I got seven FREE plants.  No special hints - these root in one or two days in a glass of water, then just pot them up.

I did the same thing with a geranium.  Seven freebies.  Yay!  😀 Hint passed down to me from Mom: take your cuttings and let the cut stems dry out for several hours, then stick them in water.  They are not as likely to rot in the water if the wound has healed.  When there are nice roots, pot them up in a good potting mix and put them in a plastic bag to keep in humidity for a couple of days while they settle in to their new pots.  Open the bag before they get mouldy.

Prepare yourself...I will be starting the annual ZUCCHINI REPORT in my next post.  I've picked nine (?) so far this week.  I gave some away yesterday, then tonight I made a nice little stir fry with onions, garlic, zucchini, and diced tomatoes, topped off with crumbled feta cheese.  Yum!  And 'cause I know you're wondering:  no, DH did not eat any of it.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Do you get all depressed when you sit around by yourself on a Friday night, listening to DH snore from the bedroom, while you're cruising Facebook?  I do, sometimes, thinking that everybody in the world is having a much more fun and eventful life than I am.  So I pulled down the kitchen calendar and looked at what I've been doing since the beginning of June.

  • 3 lunch dates
  • 4 dinner dates
  • 2 movie dates
  • 1 family overnight company & daytrip
  • 1 family afternoon & dinner date
  • 1 family breakfast date
  • 2 theatre dates
  • 1 concert date
  • 2 guild meetings w/ pot luck supper
It would appear that I do, in fact, have a social life which includes family, friends, and lovely acquaintances.  So no more Miss Crybaby-Snotty-Nose!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sensational Solids and Wonderful Winnings

This beauty went home yesterday.

The slightly paler yellow in the wide outer borders is linen.  Very soft, and makes for a beautiful quilt.  On the down side, I found it a bit 'shifty' - think flannel or homespuns.  I suspect it would have been more challenging to piece with too, because of the loose weave.

The maker is giving this to her brother, so she didn't want "girly" quilting, and since music is his hobby that's what went in the wide borders.

Because the cross-hatching was interrupted by the squares, I chose to mark the quilting lines.  And I'm a big scaredy-cat when it comes to worrying about permanent stains.  I used tailor's chalk.  No muss, no fuss, brush or vacuum away.

An added service I offer is binding.  See the "PRICING" page for options.

WONDERFUL WINNINGS

The Caledonia Guild finished out the season on Wednesday with a pot luck supper.  All year the members have been bringing fat quarters for the year-end draw.  Each f.q. = 1 ballot.  The collection totalled 100 f.q.'s, so the pile was split in half and two winners were chosen.  Guess who won a pile of 50 f.q.'s?

GARDEN UPDATE

The asparagus is slowing down, but the strawberries are ready.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

9 Reasons Why Your Longarmer Might Be Late With Your Quilt In The Spring, and My Fave From St. Jacobs

I don't know where you live, but HERE we had a bit of nice spring weather and then we got blasted TWICE with more winter.  Now that the temperature is finally Helen-friendly, I check the Weather Network and see that the pollen counts are off the charts - which explains the sneezing and stuffy sinuses.  Nevertheless... I love spring!!! When the weather gets warm and I can strip off the jacket, scarf and mitts I have a difficult time staying indoors.

9 REASONS WHY YOUR LONGARMER MIGHT BE LATE WITH YOUR QUILT IN THE SPRING

1.  The asparagus is up and needs to be cut every morning.  Harvesting (heh heh, I love that term) is best done before noon, when the plant is fresh after a good night's sleep and has sent all it's energy up into the world.

2.  Lettuce has reseeded itself from last year's crop.  This needs to be inspected every day and overcrowding dealt with by judicious harvesting.  Don't buy baby greens from the grocery store... take those thinned out babies into the house, rinse them off and store them in damp paper towels in the fridge.  Eat later with a light salad dressing.  Yum.

3.  That damned garlic is at it again, sprouting everywhere it shouldn't.  Large clumps need to be dug up, separated, and replanted where they belong.

4.  Oh, the lovely peas you planted during the nasty rainy and cold weather are up.  Yippee!  Now to weed... you can't do that until the peas are sprouted 'cause you would be courting disaster.

5.  The Raspberry patch needs to be corralled.  Raspberries spread by runners and they will end up taking over whatever space they feel entitled to.  Chop off the offenders and rip them out, or transplant them into pots, to share with a friend.  DH and I used to throw a plant swap every spring.  We'd barbecue burgers and hot dogs.  Guests would bring side dishes along with transplants from their gardens.  It was a big horticultural free-for-all. One of the guys brought a zillion garden gloves from Costco. He had only recently moved and had no plants to share, but he was able to take home enough to make a really good start.  One year our neighbours came on their lawn tractor, and contributed a huge landscape rock. This type of event is best done in the spring or early summer because that's when we're all dealing with the over-abundance.

6.  Strawberries.  See issues with 3. Garlic and 5. Raspberries.  These things are EVERYWHERE.  Again - dig 'em out and either transplant or share.  Your friends will love you.

7.  Oh, your quilter has discovered the CILANTRO seedlings and is perhaps rolling around in them.  Just like 2. Lettuce, this will reseed itself into beautiful large patches of spicy, lemony, goodness.  On the downside it also must be weeded, as you can clearly see.

8.  Johnny Jump-Ups. 😊😊😊😊😊  These little violas are completely edible.  Bake a cake!!  Decorate it with petals!!  Your friends will think you are completely off your rocker.

9.  We cannot forget the Useless Assistant.  She wants to go for a walk.  How can you refuse on such a gorgeous day???

MY FAVE FROM ST. JACOBS
I always have a good time with the Beach Girls, and St. Jacobs was no exception.  I was disappointed that my quilt was not hanging at the show, they had it laid over a small table, which does not show it to it's best effect.  However there was not one single inch of space left in the building for hanging quilts, so I understand why it was displayed that way.

My favorite was absolutely this Dresden Plate.

Appliqued and hand embroidered.

Hand quilted.  So often I'm disappointed with hand quilting because there just isn't enough quilting. (Not that anyone cares what I think.)  But this one?... gorgeous!

Oh, love.

Kudos to Dorothy Sittler, whoever she may be.  Beautiful.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

St. Jacobs Quilt & Fibre Art Festival, May 22 - 26

I will be in St. Jacobs tomorrow (Wednesday) with the Beach Girls.  We all have a quilt hanging at the Schoolhouse - one each by:

  • The Electric Quilter -Diane Carson
  • Quilting For You - Carol Anne Tolton
  • Quiltingleah Cole - Karen Cole
  • Winnspired Quilting - Debbie Winn
  • and me... Custom Linens by Helen, aka Caledonia Quilter

This is an in-progress, planning shot of the vintage tablecloth of mine that you can find at the Schoolhouse.  HERE is a link to the brochure.  Scroll down to the section "A SAMPLING, UFOs & TEA".


Here it is finished.  But really - it's so pretty in person, go see it live!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Retreat!!

The sun is shining, the Long Island Iced Tea has been poured, and the oven is preheating to bake the Brie.
Anne and I arrived late Thursday afternoon after I had a few disagreements with the Garmin.  Sewing, for me, didn't start until Friday when I completed blocks 76 and 77 of the 150 Canadian Women quilt.  I pulled the plug when the potentially disasterous winds picked up in the afternoon (around the time when we had to chase Margaret's barbeque across the deck and re-right it in a safer spot).  Today the neighbours on both sides of Margaret have some tree damage and the hydro is out along the main drag in Bridgenorth.
This morning was our trip to the quilt show, and on our return I completed block 78. 


I'm happy with three blocks finished and now I can move on to project #2.  These are all foursie-blocks that will get stitched into eightsies.


Sunday, April 29, 2018

Quilt Basting, Spring Activities and A Bit Of Whinging

One of the jobs that a longarm quilter will do is baste a quilt for you so you can either hand quilt or machine quilt it yourself.  I charge a flat fee of $50.  Some quilters charge by the square foot which might save you money or cost you a bit more, depending on the size of the quilt.
When I baste a quilt I use a 4" grid and, generally speaking, will use up partially filled bobbins.  I don't do anything stupid like bright red bobbins on a white quilt though.  These jobs are slipped in, between quilts that are booked on my quilt schedule, so they're usually ready for you in a week or two.
Spring Activities
Whew... all the windows are washed, with the help of my WONDERFUL Karcher Window Vacuum.  That was the best $35 I ever spent.  I wish there was some excellent tool that would help me wash the screens, too.  But no - those require a scrub brush.  My normal routine has always been to wash the windows in the fall, get the screens done, and store them in a humongous plastic bag in the fruit cellar for the winter. When the spring comes all I need to do is the window washing and pop the clean screens back on.  That didn't happen last fall for some reason so I had to do the whole shebang now.

And if you're curious, as of yesterday we still had two clumps of snow, and there was a possiblity of flurries last night.  You can use your imagination as you ponder my thoughts on that.  It's not a pretty sight.  😝

The most important spring seeds have been started, and my plan is to transplant tomatoes this afternoon.  I also need to find the plastic cloches for the garden so I can put out a couple of cabbage babies and a couple lettuce babies for early eating.

What the Hell I'm Whinging About Now...
Family, and Finances.  Not religion, and not politics.  Although honestly, these days I could rail on about politics for hours.

Dear Family:  You have taken a person who is ALWAYS so happy to be in your company (me), and you've done her wrong.  Maybe you ignored the email, or the phone call.  Maybe you never responded to the package or the card you got in the mail.  Maybe you never bothered to say "yes" or "no" to the dinner invitation.  These are all things that happen quite easily to every person on the planet.  But YOU,... you manage to accomplish these things on a regular basis. Which means they are no accident. So... ok.  Message received.  Hmmph.  In hindsight, writing this was probably a waste of my time.

Finances:  This situation has come up several times over the last few months so I guess it needs to be addressed.  I do not accept post dated cheques.  I let you know your quilt was ready.  You decided on the pickup date.  End of story.  You put me in an awkward position that is very uncomfortable.  That's like asking me if I think your butt looks fat.  Please, have some consideration!