Wednesday, October 28, 2009

5" Charm Squares Give-away

Got some big piles of five inch quilt squares already pre-cut and ready to sew.I've got a big pile of 5" blocks ready and waiting to be sewn together into quilts. Some of these were already pre-cut prior to getting my Accu-quilt cutter. But I managed to add quite a lot more blocks to the pile a lot faster once I got the cutter.

The tumbler blocks were all cut with my Accu-quilt cutter. I don't have enough coordinating colors cut of those yet to create a quilt. Still working on this. I started just with cutting from a large pile of scraps and managed to work my way through the bulk of that. Now to select some coordinating fabrics from the stash to round out the number of tumblers needed.

When I went to sew with a friend earlier this week I brought the 5" blocks along to sort them by color. I've coordinated some blocks together for a future quilt. But I need to lay them all out again to color coordinate the rest of them. Then I need to sit down and figure out how many blocks it will take to make them into a quilt. I'll do some figuring - and math (see you do use it after high school!) - a little later to help decide if I have enough color coordinated blocks to finish into a quilt. Then once I figure out how many blocks to create a quilt I can tell how many quilts I have sitting here in this pile.

My embroidered tree blocks are finished. Now to sew them together.The other project I brought along to our sewing get-together was the second version of the leaf quilt. This version has trees embroidered on half of the blocks instead of leaves. When I got home I worked on more of these blocks. Last night I stayed up to sew and finished the rest of the blocks for this second quilt. Half the blocks are embroidered and half are not. And still I have lots and lots of the logs left over. Does that mean another of these quilts? Perhaps.

There are a lot of five inch quilt squares here to sort through. This is my start at color coordinating them - some of the more old fashioned ones.When I was at my friend's house I laid all these squares out on the table to match like squares together. It helped to see them all laid out when it came to matching up a grouping that went together. That's what I'll need to do again to see the colors better.

Measuring my big pile of pre-cut five inch quilt squares - nearly 16 inches high.Can you guess how many squares are in this huge stack? It measures to approximately 15.5 inches high. Take a guess. Submit your guess as a comment below. Whoever has the correct number - or the number closest without going over - will win a bundle of 5" charm squares in their choice of color (reds, blues, greens, whites, yellows, etc.) Submit your response before Nov. 14th. I'll announce one winner on the 15th. (I'll take a little time tonight to count this stack and keep the answer hidden away in a hermetically sealed envelope.) LOL! Just kidding. It won't be 'hermetically sealed' - an old Johnny Carson reference. Anyone remember that? Never mind . . . I'll just keep it a secret till the 15th. Okay, take a guess and make a comment.

My big stack of pre-cut five inch quilt squares - bird's eye view looking down from the top.And here's a bird's eye view of the stack of 5" charm squares. I just love looking at all those colors. They are my own little 'quilt rainbow' spread out on my cutting table. Okay, off I go. Time to count the squares. Good luck guessing!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sewing With a Friend and Other Stuff

I collected together all my reproduction thrities fabrics for another quilt idea with this pattern from Moda.My sewing friend and I got together for awhile today. It was fun to sit around and chat while we spent the day sewing. We started off with an early lunch of Happy Joe's Pizza then on to her home to get started sewing. We recently talked about doing the same project together. I brought up the fact that I have accumulated so many of those old-fashioned 30's prints and wanted to make something from those. This past week I happened upon the perfect pattern to make use of them. I like this Moda pattern that looks like taffy candy wrapped up in colorful 30's wrappers. We decided we would both work together on making this quilt after we've finished all our Christmas/Holiday sewing and current projects.

Also pictured here are some blocks I'm working on for a second quilt similar to the leaf quilt. The leaf quilt by the way is still all laid out across the beds downstairs in our soon-to-be painted guestroom. They're patiently waiting for me to join the blocks together to form the quilt top. Yeah, I know, I'm slow to get that done. Feeling under the weather lately has made me not care to accomplish too much other than lounge around. I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things again.

I've been lighting these candles lately for a lovely scent throughout the house. The last several days while I've been working on the computer I've been burning these lovely scented candles I picked up on sale at Pier One Imports this summer. They smell so nice. I love candles. The little squirrel was a quick pick at Hobby Lobby earlier this fall. It reminds me of the baby squirrels we had running around the yard all summer long. Those babies have grown big and fat now. I see them quite often in both the front and the back yards.

MaryJane's Farm magazine had a shawl pattern in their Oct-Nov 2009 issue along with two more versions via their website.I've been getting MaryJane's Farm magazine for awhile now. The recent Oct-Nov 2009 issue had a button up knitted shawl project shown on page 78. There are two more variations of the pattern available on-line at her website. When I was at JoAnn's Fabric last week I decided to pick up some knitting needles to make the shawl. I wanted to search through my stash to see what I have on hand for yarns before I purchase new. They've got their yarn on sale through the rest on the month. It has been awhile since I knitted anything. As I recall, the last thing I was making was an afghan when the boys were still in high school. I cannot remember if I gave away the remainder of my yarn. I think it might just be stashed down in my sewing studio amongst all the rest of my stash. I'll look around tomorrow to see what's left. I used to enjoy sitting on my chair in the livingroom watching TV in the evenings with my hubby while I knit something. This pattern seems so easy.

Ginger got all tuckered out pheasant hunting today.Today my hubby took our hunting dog, Ginger, out to see if they could get any pheasants. They saw some. He said Ginger did her job in flushing them out. But apparently he didn't hit the ones he was aiming at. Ginger was so tuckered out from walking/hunting for a couple hours. She just wanted to lay down on her bed all evening. Hubby gave her a baby tylenol for her aches and pains. Poor thing.

We ate Parmesan Chicken for supper tonight instead of pheasant. Again, that's another thing I haven't made for a long time. Yum, we love Parmesan Chicken. Basically it's a simple pan-fried chicken dish with Parmesan cheese mixed in the milk (or buttermilk if you have it). Soak the chicken in the milk mixture. Enzymes in the milk will tenderize the chicken. While it's soaking you can crush some crackers (I use Ritz Crackers - about 1/2 to 3/4 of one sleeve) and mix together with some flour, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder. I also like to add a bit of ground red pepper for a bit of zing to it. Then just heat up a bit of oil in a large fry pan, dredge the soaked chicken in the crushed cracker/flour/spices mixture and place in the hot oil. Allow the chicken to cook in the oil till nicely browned on one side then carefully flip with a spatula and brown the other side. I only flip them once. Too much handling and the breading will come loose. Yum! I'd give you actual measurements for all the ingredients, but I'd have to look for my recipe. I just tossed in a bit of this and that when I made it tonight. This is an old recipe I've made off and on for the last twenty years while the kids were growing up. Let me know if you need more specifics. I'll search my old recipes if someone needs it - leave me a comment then I'll see if I can locate it.

So, essentially it was a very good day. Lot's of sewing, visiting, good company, good food. What more can you ask for? It was a great day!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Grapevine Wreaths Giveaway

One of our grape privacy hedges.When my hubby got home from work today we did something we've been talking about doing but have been forced to delay because of rainy weather. We cleaned up the debris from the garden area, the flower pots on the front steps and pruned some of the grapevines. It was cool today, but at least it wasn't too cool. With this reprieve from the drizzling rain we took our opportunity to get outside and take care of the yard a bit.

This set of grapevines shown here is on the back side of our property. It forms a nice barrier between our backyard patio and the neighbor's backyard. For whatever reason these vines never really produce much fruit. We pretty much just let them grow wild and thick to obscure the view between the yards. It makes a great backdrop for the other plantings back here.

Our newest set of grapes - these are the white (green) grapes.We put in this set of grapes several years ago between our yard and the neighbors to the north of us. This year was the first year with a very robust crop of grapes. I was a bit disappointed to find out they had seeds. When we purchased them at the greenhouse I could have sworn they were labled as seedless. Other than that, they're very tasty as sweet green grapes for eating. We made some juice from them this year - strained the seeds and skins. It was good, but had a greenish cast to it (from the skins I would assume). The appearance of the juice was not like the white grape juice you get at the store - although it tasted just as good. It wasn't clear juice. I'll have to look into that for next year to see what to do differently. I did some research on a few websites, but most info is on purple concord grapes, not green grapes. It could be a matter of straining the juice through a finer mesh than cheese cloth.

More concord grapes along the side of the 'lodge'.This set of concord grapes, along with those in the back, were here when we purchased the house. We've long pruned and cut back these vines numerous times over the years. They always flourish nicely. This summer was an exceptionally good year for grapes. We had more than usual when we harvested them. We made juice and lots of jars of jelly.

We pruned lots of vines today.This is just some of the vines that were lopped off when we started pruning the grapes. Most of these in fact were overgrowth from the back set of vines that grew up and over the shed and the among the branches of the lilac bushes that surround the shed. There were very little grapes to harvest on this set, just lots of vines growing rampant. We pulled them all down out of the trees and lilac bushes. They reached nearly to the phone lines than run along the back of the lot. It's time to trim back some of the lilac bushes again this year. They're reaching up and over the wires as well. We often see the squirrels run from tree to tree and along the vines to the wires. They can cross the yard, above the dogs, without having to touch the ground.

Here's the first grapevine wreath I formed from the cast off vines.At first I was going to just try to wrap the vines to wrangle them into a trash bag. Since I had such nice long pliable vines I thought it was worth while to form some grapevine wreaths. I managed to create four of them before it got too dark. My hubby continued to prune more and cleared through some other yard chores while I wrestled with grapevines. I had gloves on and my regular reading glasses. Good thing, too. Those vines get to whipping around while I worked to untangle them. That smarts when the tips lash out at you when untangling them. You definitely need protection when you're vine wrestling. LOL!

And here's a close up view of one the the four wreaths I made today.This is a close up of one of the four wreaths I created today. There are still lots and lots of vines laying out there on the patio to form into wreaths. If I get another nice day outside tomorrow I'm planning on going outdoors to create more wreaths. The vines will only stay pliable for a short while after being cut. After tomorrow they'll likely become too dry and brittle to work with. There are still more vines to cut from the other two sets of grapevines . . . so could be lots more wreaths to come. It mainly just depends upon the weather and how long I want to stand out there and wrangle vines.

As a thank you to my blog readers -- and all you creative types who enjoy decorating with wreaths -- I will gladly offer up three of these wreaths FREE for the taking to three randomly selected blog readers who post a comment here. This FREE offer is open for the next two weeks through Nov. 4th. I'll draw three winner's names on Nov. 5th and mail one wreath to each of three winners as soon as I get your mailing address. (Sorry, I have to limit this to U.S. residents only please). All you have to do to enter: Please leave a comment indicating how you would use your wreath. Do you decorate for fall? winter? holidays? floral wreaths throughout the year? Will you use it on the wall? on the table as a candle centerpiece? or something else?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Neighborhood Wildlife

A rabbit in our backyard nestles close to the shed. Can you see it?We've got a rabbit that comes to visit in our backyard. I usually see rabbits every year in both the winter and the summer. Actually they can be seen throughout the year around our neighborhood. Can you see it nestled up against the shed doors?

I spotted it when I was calling the dogs to come inside. As they were coming in, it was meandering around. The dogs seemed totally oblivious to it. I could have made a better photo of it if I had ahold of the camera just a bit earlier when it was wandering around, when it was spending more time in the sun.

Here's a close-up of the rabbit in the previous photo. Enlarged greatly, it gets pretty grainy.I zoomed in on the bunny here from the previous photo. I know, the more I increase the size, the more grainy and pixellated the image becomes. But, here's a closer look. And I think this would be classified as a bunny because of the shorter ears? don't rabbits have longer ears? Just wondering. I don't remember what all the differences are between rabbits and bunnies. This is the type you often see here in North Dakota and other western states made up through taxidermy as jackalopes. Whoa! Perhaps this one is a female jackaloupe - a hornless one. Isn't it just the males that have horns? LOL! Anyway . . . the dogs seemed less than unimpressed with its presence. Even when I had the backdoor open trying to get a picture and Ginger (our great hunting dog) hanging her head out the door with me . . . no response from her. She could have cared less. Oh well.

I have to say the day is absolutely beautiful. We've got sunny, SUNNY weather. What a refreshing turn-around from the rainy, cool, cloudy days we've had lately. The high today is supposed to be around 50 degrees. It feels great out there.

Later (approx. 10:20 pm) -- I need to amend my blog. I have to tell you it got to 80 degrees today!!! How great was that!?! But the weather report is talking about that four letter 'S' word coming up. It will be colder tomorrow.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Another Style Embroidered Leaf

I went to the "Bash" on Saturday. The Anita Goodesign Embroidery Bash put on by J&R Vacuum and Sewing at the Civic Center in Bismarck. It was a lot of fun to see so many of the people I met as customers over the years when I used to work at J&R. This time I went as a customer. It was nice to be on the other side of the fence this time. No prep work ahead of time, no set-up, packing up and cleaning up afterward either. It was fun to go as a customer, chat with so many friends I haven't seen in so long and just be part of the audience for a change. There were some attending the event who didn't realize I was no longer working for J&R so I surprised a few with that info. Apparently there are a lot of phone calls and drop-in cutomers still asking for me at the store. Nice to know I'm missed. It still seems funny to go to events like this as a non-employee - but it's fun to go with no responsibilities for putting on the event.

We got to see all kinds of embroidery samples made up that showcase the embroidery designs, we sewed out some sample projects ourselves, got lunch, chocolates, free embroidery designs to take home, and a free gift of our choice of either an embroidery thread package or a set of scissors as a gift for attending. All-in-all it was a fun day of visiting and taking in all that eye-candy, seeing so many embroidery samples. It would have been even more fun to have won the $1000 Anita Goodesign shopping spree, but alas, I was not that winner. You better believe the gal who did win was pretty excited about it!

I have decided the next embroidery quilt project I start will be a quilt made from their Vintage Autumn Sampler design CD. I had this embroidery package waiting for me at home already. The leaf block you see pictured here is from that design CD. It is one of the projects we embroidered on Saturday at the event. Obviously embroidering a quilt is a really fast way to get it quilted and put together. Just layer your batting between two pieces of fabric, hoop it up and embroider the design. Then trim up the blocks to size with your rotary cutter and stitch them together. You can stitch them neatly with all finished edges or you can do it the quick method leaving raggedy edges exposed like those quick and easy rag quilts.

I have not sewn out any of the designs from this embroidery collection yet. Seeing them in person with the beautifully digitized designs is good incentive to get to working on them for myself. When I got home on Saturday I gathered together all my Anita Goodesign embroidery designs and made up an inventory of the ones I had on hand. I brought my list along with me to the event, but knew it wasn't quite complete. There were several I had purchased that weren't on my list. Now the list is done so I don't mistakenly purchase the same designs twice. It helps to stay organized that way.

I was going to get the embroidery designs transferred to use on my machines this weekend, but didn't get that far. I kind of took a turn for the worse feeling under the weather a bit today. It actually started last night after I got home - feeling nauseous, irritable and out of sorts. By the time I woke up I was feeling pretty rotten. I stayed in bed to sleep longer today, ate light since my tummy started to revolt on me last night with a very disagreeable response to anything I started to eat. Even after I got up for awhile today I went back to bed and took a nap this afternoon for awhile. Things are a bit better now. I have been drinking pink grapefruit juice (for the vitamin C), hot tea and eating crackers and plain old rice rather than anything I'd normally eat any other day. Just keeping things kind of bland to let my tummy take a break. I hate being sick.

One good thing about taking it easy today was the opportunity I had to just sit back and look at magazines in bed for a change. I got caught up on some recently acquired ones - so more eye candy as I read about various scrapbooking and art related news. That was alright - so there is a silver lining behind the 'being sick' cloud.

Okay, I'm off to bed again now. And again my days and nights are all mixed up what with sleeping extra today. Will have to try to get that straightened out again to a more normal waking and sleeping schedule this week.

Oh, almost forgot . . . At the event Chris mentioned to go to the Anita Goodesign website. Take part in their quick survey to qualify to download some free embroidery designs. Then enter their contest using the designs. Have fun! The crazy patch quilt design is another one of the designs we got to do at the event. What fun to get them free!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Apple Zucchini Pie - A Taste of Autumn

We were blessed with a bag of apples from friends of ours in Minot recently. These came from a tree in their front yard. I also received this huge zucchini from my sewing friend along with her recipe for Apple-Zucchin Pie. She gave me a slice one day during a break from our sewing. It was so yummy. I readily agreed I had to have the recipe so I could make some for my family. Thankfully she sent me home with the zucchini also since we didn't grow any this year. That's definitely going in the garden next year.

Don't these apples look scrumptious displayed on my new kitchen towels? I picked up a couple sets of these towels at our local Pier One Imports store here in Bismarck when they went on sale a while ago. I just love this green color. The apples are really great, too. I'm not sure about the variety, but they are those crisp, tart apples for baking. Just the right amount of zing in them offset by the sugar in the pie - not too tart, not too sweet.

We invited our son, Josh, and his new wife, Samantha, over for supper on Saturday. After a tasty roast beef, potatoes and gravy, veggies and buns we topped it all off with a slice of apple-zucchini pie with whipped topping. We all ate so good we couldn't even finish off our pies. I was hoping they would want to take some pie home with them (I made three pies) but they didn't. Hubby says he'll take the rest in to work with him tomorrow. Says they'll be gone before you know it over there. I thought he might have done that when he left this morning, but when I got up and checked they were still on the kitchen counter.

That was just as well that they were still here. My friend came over for sewing today so we had some pie this afternoon while we chatted. It really has to go to someone tomorrow. If hubby doesn't take it to work in the morning, I'll see if I can take it to some other friends. Pie is such a great dessert, but we don't need to gobble up three of them. Three pies are for sharing. Who wants a slice?

Notice those quilt blocks for my leaf quilt the pie is sitting upon? I've finally got all 56 leaves embroidered and pieced. If you want to read more about my progress on this quilt you can click here and read the posts starting from August 25th on through September and October. This quilt is turning out to be gorgeous with all the fall colors.