Monday, September 1, 2014

Sampler Quilt, Canning Update, & Zucchini Report

I love sampler quilts.
I love sampler quilts in spite of the fact that they require a ton of stitch-in-the-ditch.
I had fun with this.  Lots of straight lines, pearls, and motifs.
This quilt was rolled back and forth several times.
  1. all the black s.i.d. work and black straight line work, with the big base attached.
  2. all the black freehand background swirls with the big base off.
  3. put the IQ tablet on, quilt the black borders with the IQ.
  4. change to red thread, quilt red sashings & red motifs using IQ.
  5. put the big base back on, quilt straight lines in red thread.
  6. change to green thread, quilt straight lines (big base still attached).
  7. remove big base, quilt green IQ motifs.
  8. change to gold thread, quilt IQ motifs.  Demonstrate risky behavior and quilt a few diagonal straight lines without putting the big base on.
  9. Whew.  Done.  Unzip and check back, clip threads, reload and requilt a tiny spot.  Ok, now it's REALLY done.  Cocktail hour.  :-)
CANNING UPDATE
Oy.  Tomatoes.  This week I did 12 quarts of basic tomato sauce with Italian seasonings, and an additional 6 quarts of Marinara Sauce.  I also tried Carmelized Onion Relish.  Recipe here.  This is good, but (I think) a bit too sweet.  I may try it again some day and skip the brown sugar.  To be fair to the recipe author, I used those gargantuan sweet onions instead of red onions, and that may account for the sweetness.

But I also want to reiterate my love for the pressure canner.  No water boiling all over the stove.  Low temp on the range.  Shorter processing time. 
Here's an example from all these darned tomatoes:
  • follow directions which say add 3 quarts water to canner
  • I put the empty jars in there and heat them up while the water is getting hot
  • fill the jars & put the lids on
  • close the canner - it now takes about five minutes at high heat to start spitting steam
  • allow it to vent (steam) for ten minutes.  I can turn the burner down to mid-high for this part, as long as I still have steam venting.  (for once the steam is coming from somewhere besides out of my ears! ha ha)
  • turn the heat back to high and put the weight on the steam vent, allowing pressure to build to 11 lbs. - this takes about eight minutes
  • when 11 lbs. is reached, time the processing for ten minutes.  Again, here I can turn the stove down to low, or to off, to maintain that pressure.
  • done.  Total stove time - 33 minutes.  For about a third of that time I have turned the burner either OFF or down to LOW.
I think (?) if I were using a water bath these would have required 45 or so minutes in the canner.  I know the canner was expensive (over a hundred bucks) but I'll have it forever and those benefits I listed make that outlay worthwhile to me.

ZUCCHINI REPORT

Picked this week:  5 (one of these was huge - bad DH foisted it on our favorite neighbour)
Picked YTD:       54

Monday, August 25, 2014

Parasol Ladies Finished and Zucchini Report

This turned out so pretty.  The Prairie Points around the edge add a bit of a challenge when quilting because 1)  they add a lot of bulk on the edges when the quilt is rolled, and 2) you have to stay an inch or so away from them when quilting so they (and the backing) can be turned and slipstitched closed.
I placed a motif in the white cornerstones, a motif in the sashing, then outline quilted the embroidery and added curls to fill the background.
Very pretty on the white back.
As far as my recovering fractured foot - I am back on my feet (heh, heh - pun!!) for the most part, with a bit of a limp.  The foot hurts and the ligaments/tendons in the front of my ankle hurt from a month of disuse.  But the show must go on.  Today I have many stiff muscles in my lower extremities because I spent several hours yesterday weeding and harvesting in the veggie garden.  I have green beans coming out my ying-yang so I made a mad dash (by car) to a couple of the neighbours and foisted beans on them.  I took some to my nephew last night and I'm taking more to a friend today (I'm taking zucchini for her too.  But let's just keep that between us for now, ok?).  That will STILL leave me with enough in the fridge for a couple of meals.  But that's ok - I'm happy to eat those.  It's when I have so many that I can't put them in the fridge that I start to get frantic.

On the CANNING front, Saturday netted me 8 jars of Plum Sauce and 6 jars of Orchard Fruit Chili Sauce.  Even my poor stove was exhausted by 7 pm Saturday.

ZUCCHINI REPORT
Picked this week:  8
Picked YTD:        49

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Parasol Ladies Quilt, Gimpy Cross-Border Shopping, Stash Report, Zucchini Report

I'm currently working on a Parasol Ladies quilt.  If you remember liquid embroidery, that is what was used here.  So you know it is a few years old.

We had our annual pilgrimage to Diane's in Grand Bend for Beach Day.  Which is really two days.  And we don't go to the beach.  I heffalumped out to the garden and picked a peck of peas to take with me.  It looks like I brought coolers, too.  :-)
There was no way I could shop the mall with my cast, so those crazy girls pushed me around in a wheelchair.  Even one of the sales clerks in Macy's came over and took me to a checkout.  It's a good thing she wasn't a psychopath - who knows where I might have ended up?  This was the haul:
We started at the Mary Maxim sale, where I fell off the wagon.  Since they are WORD prints (mostly) I have excused myself for my bad behavior.
I'm getting around much better these days, and hopefully on Monday the ortho doc will give me permission to go back to normal activities.  When I picked the peas on Monday I could see we'd have purple beans ready in a few days, so on Friday I sent DH out to shop in the yard for supper.  Yum yum yum... yum yum yum...  By the way:  purple beans are schizophrenic.  They are only purple on the outside, and they turn green after cooking.
Today I'm hoping to make a batch of zucchini relish and clean up all the leftover squash in the fridge.  That'll give me a clean start for next week's haul.
 
STASH REPORT 
Used this month:  0
Used YTD:        64.2 m
Added this month:  3.5 m
Added YTD:       119.25 m
NET YTD:        + 55.05 m

ZUCCHINI REPORT
Picked this week:  7
Picked YTD:       41
If you assume that a zucchini in the grocery store would cost $1 you can see that I am a good way towards a new pair of shoes.  :-)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Scooting, Quilting, Cross-border Picnic-ing, Zucchini

I took a scooter ride through Costco.  And, of COURSE the battery died in the middle of an aisle and made everyone back up their overloaded shopping carts and work their way(s) around me.  Poor DH was embarassed.  For years now I've been pointing a finger at him every time he does something UN-healthy, and telling him: "I'm not changing your diapers".  He's been so good over the past several years with all my broken bones that I've granted him up to 6 diapers now.  He should be good for maybe two days.
Here's the beautiful sampler I was working on when my, um, incident occurred.

This is the back.  Yum.

That quilt was SO much work, when it was finished it was time for a bit of a break, so I quilted some uber-cute rabbits on a baby quilt.

I washed up this quilt, made by the Caledonia ON guild, that is going to Caledonia NY to my sister guild.
Here's a bunch of us at the picnic hosted by the Caledonia, NY guild where we swapped the quilts.  One of the gals there is the local Nolting dealer, so we had a great chin-wag.
ZUCCHINI REPORT
Picked this week:  10
Picked YTD:        34

Today I think I'll make a batch of chick pea & zucchini salad.  It's great for lunch.  I make THIS recipe, using 1 can of chick peas and reducing the sugar to 1/3 cup.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

When You're Growing Weeds: Bug Identification 101 (and weekly zucchini report)

I'm back at work.
I took a week off until my appointment at the fracture clinic.  Yes - the bone is fractured, but should heal in four weeks.  In the interim I have permission from the Ortho doc. to do whatever I like, as long as it doesn't hurt.  OK.  I can handle that.  The cast is going on and off, and the crutches are being used frequently but not always.

Monarch Butterflies are getting so much press these days - declining habitat and blah, blah, blah.  Like lots of folks I know, I am growing milkweed for them.  Poor DH.  He grew up on a farm where if you didn't plant it, you kill it on sight.  Whenever we're on the front walkway he looks at the milkweed, shakes his head, and says "I can't believe we're growing weeds".

Since I have permission to do stuff (isn't 'stuff' a great adaptable word?), I've been weeding the flowerbeds along the front walk.  Last night I found this weird, weird, caterpillar.  On the milkweed.
Because I love you, and I know you are curious too, I spent about an hour and a half this morning getting TOTALLY grossed out looking at bugs on Google, trying to find this sucker.  You're welcome.  This is a Milkweed Tiger Moth (a.k.a. milkweed Tussock moth).  HERE.  You can learn all about it.  The other bug is a milkweed beetle of some sort.  These guys will likely defoliate a lot of the plant.  As long as they leave my zucchini alone...

ZUCCHINI REPORT
Picked this week:  7 (can you believe that DH has been picking zucchini???)
Picked YTD:      24
We gave all 7 fruits away because I still had a large-ish one in the fridge.  DH cooked up half of it for me, then left the other half sitting on the kitchen counter for days.  Uh huh.  It's compost now.  If we get a decent zucchini today I may spend some time on my feet in the kitchen (first step:  clean it!!) and make some zucchini fries.  Recipe HERE.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Recipe For Disaster (and zucchini report)

RECIPE FOR DISASTER:
1)  Start with one of these.  It doesn't have to be a zucchini, it could be any fresh vegetable.

2)  Get a cutting board to chop up the vegetable.

3)  Take the cutting board and the chopped vegetable over to the stove.
4)  Ensure you have the cutting board UNsecurely held, and then drop it on one of these.
5)  Voila.  Chipped bone.
In case you are unaware, you cannot prop yourself up on crutches AND push a quilting machine around.  So now you must call your customer and explain that her QUILT will take a bit longer than originally discussed.
When DH drove me to the emergency department, again, I was quite surprised that there was no 'reserved' spot for me.  sigh.  I have an appointment at the fracture clinic on Monday (which is how "LUCKY" DH gets to spend our 30th wedding anniversary) and I am being optimistic that the ortho doc will tell me to stop with the cast and crutches as soon as it stops hurting.  The blessing this time is that the cast is removable.  Oh, sorry.  The $169.00 air castYeah.  Not all of our health care is exactly free.  But I'm still not complaining.

So, with my current  incapacitation I have finished the hand binding on the 'gift quilt'.  I finished a book by Wiley Cash (he has 2 books out - both VERY GOOD).  The other book I just finished is called Flash Boys by Michael LewisLINK  That one is NOT fiction and also VERY GOOD - about a trader from Royal Bank who opens a new stock exchange in an attempt to combat the unscrupulous bastards running the other exchanges.  Because I have limited knowledge of the stock market I had to keep reading the book or I'd forget some of the terminology and have to go back to re-read parts.  If you google Brad Katsuyama you'll get an idea of what the book is about.  Frightening, really.

While I'm on 'light duties' I plan to work on the bookkeeping which I have not touched all year (bad Helen, bad!!) and get our new mailbox painted.  Hopefully I can quilt a bit from my drafting chair - one hour with my foot down, then take a break with an ice pack and spend a half hour with my foot elevated while I do ... something.  Poor DH is doing everything right now, as you can see in the above pic of the cooktop.  OMG.  So dirty.  He doesn't mind cooking, but cleaning is NOT his forte.  Hopefully we don't have to push each other to the emergency department with food poisoning in the coming weeks.  :-)

ZUCCHINI REPORT
Picked this week:  4
Picked YTD:        17

Sunday, July 20, 2014

TEXTURE MAGIC Flowers, Poverty, Zucchini Report

These flowers are very interesting.  They were made using Texture Magic.  Here's a link.  The taupe fabric on the right side is silk.  What a gorgeous look when it's quilted.

Pretty much every morning I spend my breakfast time checking out Facebook and a couple of forums and blogs.  This was a link on Facebook this morning.
Sipping my coffee and reading the story got me thinking.  Slow, morning-fuzzy thinking.  When was the last time I raised MY rates?  Two coffees and a bowl of oatmeal later, I blew off the dust from my 2010 shoebox of bookkeeping.  Yup.  January 2010 was the last time I gave myself a raise.  Just out of curiosity, I thought I'd check on some of my annual expenses over those years.
  • Property taxes increased $350
  • hydro costs increased $240.  And now I have to wash my underwear at night.  In the dark.  Using cold water.
  • house insurance increased $420.  Never had a claim.
  • car insurance decreased $35 (huh? clearly a mistake by the insurance company)
  • business insurance increased $100.  Never had a claim, but DID increase my coverage.  It's costing you gals a whole lot more to buy fabric, which increases my exposure.
Every time I get on the subject of money, my brain goes STRAIGHT to Executive Compensation.  I am a former Royal Bank employee, so I like to pick on them.  Even though my years with them were pretty much okey-dokey.  They decided to get all fancy a few years ago and morph into RBC ROYAL BANK.  Poor Mr. Nixon.  Having to get by on a measly $12,700,000 last year.  Let me spell that out for you.  Twelve million, seven hundred thousand.  Dollars.  Per year.
That moved by brain along to "I wonder how much the normal people at THE BANK earn these days?  You will see from the chart below that the customer service reps who actually look after you at the counter earn between $12 and $15 per hour.  On those wages these people are expected to dress professionally?  Um. 
Mr. Nixon!  Shame on you!  A LIVING WAGE is $14 per hour.  Anyone paid less than that is living below the poverty line.
All this financial pondering brings me to the weekly zucchini report.  Feeling as impoverished as I do right now, I regret going out for a cheap (but yummy) dinner at Bangkok Temptation last night.  Today I will eat my free zucchinis.

ZUCCHINI REPORT
Picked this week:  7
Picked YTD:       13