Monday, September 25, 2017

Heeeere's Gourdy!

I finished Gourdy and his gang yesterday evening and this morning he got hung out to dry up in the place of honor by the front door of the house.  I found a stick in the campfire wood pile that seemed to work just fine for this purpose, and now he and the guys are proudly on display.

Here's a close up of the banner.  I'm not sure which one is Gourdy but I'm picking the bottom orange guy.  The rest of the jacks are nameless---unless we call each of them "Jack."  That'll do, I think.

I was in a quandary as to how to finish off the banner since I'd quilted up the background piece and had supposed that I would bind it as I usually would do for a quilt. However, the addition of the hanging tabs and the "tongues" on the bottom were a problem.  If I included them in the binding, they wouldn't hang straight and if I didn't bind the thing, well, we all know how fraying happens, don't we?  I dug around in my bin of wools and found a piece of the Black Watch plaid fabric that was big enough for a backing and then I simply followed directions and stitched all around the piece with a machine overcast stitch.  In a few places, the white of the batting showed through, but a black Sharpie took care of that in no time.

I like my banner and I hope it brings a smile to our visitors this fall.  When I return from my trip, I'll get the pumpkins for the front flower bed and put out the Halloween ornaments and then I'll call it pretty darn good!

Today is another busy day--the last for awhile I think--as we leave for our trip at 8 tonight. I have the laundry going already, shopping list made out, things for Dan ready to be packed up in a special bag for him, and have decided in my mind what I'm going to pack to take along for the trip.  After I finish all of the above things, I hope to spend a few minutes in the sewing room, working on potholders for Elaine.  I called her yesterday and got ideas of what kind of colors and designs I should use and actually have all the fabrics I need in my stash, so it's just a matter of moving ahead with the projects.  She also asked me if I could make her a microwave bowl holder so when I get back home, I'll have to get started on that as well.

Got to get a move on--my personal ladies' maid has the day off so I have to do all the above packing things myself.  Sigh!  I'll likely be without internet while on the train and when we're in WA I'll be too busy to blog, but I'll tell you all about the trip when I get home. Maybe with some pics even!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Finishes despite mistakes

So, yesterday I continued to work on my list of things that have to be done before we leave tomorrow evening and I'm happy to report good progress!

Before I allowed myself to go to the sewing room, I did the housework that was assigned for the day. Call me silly but I divide housework into two types:  wet and dry.  Yesterday I did the dry work--dusting, vacuuming, and generally putting things away and straightening things up. Today I do the wet housework. That means scrubbing, scouring, washing things and mopping the floors.  Not my favorite thing to do, but if I don't do it, no one will. So today, I'll have to be char woman before I can change into seamstress!

Back to yesterday, I finished the quilting on this little table quilt. It measures about 23" square and I finished stitching the binding last night.

This is a shot of one quarter of the quilt, from the back.  I had to use various bobbin colors because of on-going tension problems with my machine and that's why the back looks like this. Black for the free form feathers that I put in the black corners, cream that I used in the snowman fabrics and red in the corner stones of the piece.  As with most of my quilting, it would never be accepted in a show but I think it's good enough for it's intended use.

So that's the finish I accomplished yesterday. The mistake is shown below.  Can you spot it?  

In case you can't see it in the photo above, surely you can see the difference in the two photos below.

Yes, indeedy! I cut one set of fabrics upside down.  Groan!  I decided to make up the topsy turvy potholder anyway and these two will go with me to my son's home in WA.  Unfortunately, I don't have enough of the lighter fabric to make another set, so I'll count these as practice and move on to making the 6 I promised my friend.

After I finish the "wet" housework today, I'm determined to return to poor neglected Gourdy and get him and the entire gang finished and hung up outside.

Have a wonderful Sunday, everyone.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Hot! Hot! Hot!

Can some one explain the crazy weather we're having here in NW Wisconsin?  It's been so cool all summer that we haven't turned on the AC even once--having ceiling fans helps a lot but still.  The past couple of days we've hit the 90's and the forecast is for continuing warm through the weekend. What's with that??? It's Fall, time to be cool and snuggle up with a quilt, a good book and mug of cocoa--or hot buttered rum, if you like.  But I'll have to continue with the Long Island Tea that has been my companion throughout the summer.

Okay, enough of the weather complaints. In case you haven't figured it out yet, I have an intense dislike of hot and humid weather, and am happiest in the fall and spring.  On days like yesterday, today, and tomorrow, I'm very happy to spend a lot of time in my basement sewing room, and that's what I did yesterday afternoon.

I worked on this little table quilt that I want to finish and bring to my son so he has some Christmas cheer in his apartment this winter.  I'd pieced it last winter and just have to get it quilted up.

Yesterday, I marked the quilting where it was needed and made a line and loop design that I got from Lori Kennedy's blog,  This design is found in the Free Motion Quilting Tutorials under the Quilts/Tutorials tab.  This is a tulip and leaf design and I left off the circular tulip and just did the stems and leaves throughout the sashing.

FMQ, Tulip Tutorial, Long Arm, Quilting

It's hard to see on the front side of the quilt in this picture but it shows up nicely on the back.

You can also see on the back that I stitched around each snowman motif and then did a cross hatch in the background.  

In the black triangles, I'm going to try my hand at some curved feathers--that's just free handed, no pattern--and I think I'll attempt this mitten design for the border. This design is also from Lori Kennedy.


All I'll have left is the binding and I have enough of the black fabric for that.  I also need to cut some binding for this potholder I made when my back screamed at me yesterday to stop quilting.  My friend, the draper, is making valences for our bedrooms in exchange for 6 potholders like this.  They have pockets for your fingers so you can easily grip a pan when taking it out of the oven, or a hot dish in the microwave.  

I thought I'd make up a practice one and it went very smoothly, until I got to the binding. It calls for double wide bias tape and I only had the narrower kind and I found out that it's not wide enough to bring over to the front and stitch down.  I have enough of the orangey red fabric to cut binding since I don't want to drive 50 miles round trip to get a package of binding!

I'm also going to make up this table runner for my friend's camper, which she and her husband take out every weekend all summer long. A friend also loaned me a pattern she had for a quilted bag that's shaped like a vintage camper and I'd like to make that as well.  

Before I return to the cool basement, I have to get some of the house work done that I laid out for myself. Cleaning house is just about my least favorite things to do, but having a clean house is one of my most favorite things.   I want to get the house in order before the trip so I have a clean space to come home to. That means I have to get some of that work done this morning and then I'll allow myself more time in the sewing room--got to get the table quilt finished up!                                                                                                                                                  

Friday, September 22, 2017

I'm really in a pickle

As I've mentioned several times, Don and I are leaving on Monday evening to take the train to Olympia WA to spend some time with our son, Dan.  This means that a lot of things have to get done before we can leave.  With his typical impeccable timing, Don left this morning to spend 3 days at his high school reunion.  So, I've been trying to crank things up and have been working really hard to get things done.

Yesterday seemed to be very productive, but when I think about it, I only accomplished a few things.  First of all, I made up a batch of crock pot soap. I use an old cupcake pan as a mold and after I got the soap in there, it had to sit overnight.

This morning I  got the soaps out of the cups--with difficulty, I may say!--and now they're on the rack to dry for 24 to 36 hours.  Then I can wrap them in brown paper and get them ready to pack up for the trip.  I don't use any colorant when I make soap, but in this batch I added some lime and bay rum scents so Dan will "smell purty" when he uses it.

While the soap was cooking in the crock pot, I went outside and planted the three mums I'd bought on Tuesday.  I love the dark wine red flowers and all three are the same color.  I always try to get plants with a lot of unopened buds so they'll be blooming longer when they're at my house instead of at the nursery.

Below are the three bushes planted in the newly revived bed at our front entrance.  We put in three rose bushes last spring and I'm sorry to say, they aren't doing very well.  I also dug up some day lilies from the back yard and planted them around the edge and although they are small, they're doing quite well.

Next, I want to add a few pumpkins and put up the Gourdy's Gang hanging and call the front done. And, before you ask, no I didn't get any more done on Gourdy yesterday.  Maybe today.

The other thing that used up a lot of my time yesterday was my trip to the doc for my pre-op exam.  Everything's fine but it simply took a lot longer than I'd expected and by the time I got home, the afternoon was  gone and it was time to fix some supper.  I made "Breakfast for Supper" which Don and I do every so often. Last night I made sausage, egg and cheese breakfast burritos which turned out pretty good.  I made 2 extra ones and they are snug in the freezer and will come with us on the train. When it's time for breakfast on our first day, they'll be thawed and ready to eat.  I put some of the green tomato salsa on mine, and it's really, really good!

Before I descend to the sewing room today, I found a few more things to do first.  When I was at my friend Bonnie's house on Tuesday, she shared a variety of pickled veggies she received from her friend, including pickled rhubarb. It was very good, and reminded me of the watermelon pickles my mom used to make when I was a child.  Bonnie sent me the recipe this morning and I got started looking for other things that can be pickled.  Wow!  You can pickle just about any fruit or vegetable, and some meats as well, like pickled herring and pig's feet, but I don't think I'll ever have pig's feet in my house.  I chose several recipes (for veggies) and put them in a folder so I can find them again next spring when the rhubarb and asparagus are ready and I'll make pickles out of those two things for sure.

Today, however, I made a batch of pickled carrots and pickled green tomatoes. I've never had either so it'll be interesting to see how they turn out. Each recipe made 3 pints and they're in the water bath now and in about 10 minutes, they'll be ready to come out. I"m not a big pickle fan but for some reason, the thought of a tray of these pickles and some cheeses really appeals to me.  Next on the pickling agenda is watermelon rind pickles--want to have them done before the trip--and some pickled beets which I'll make after we get back home.

I have to do a bit of house cleaning spread out over the next three days so I don't wear myself out (HA!) and some laundry, but the rest of the day is mine to do with as I please.  Yea!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Nearly a finish

I got a lot done yesterday, but not as much as I'd have liked.  Mountain of laundry:  Done and put away.  Hair appointment:  Done and I look beautiful. Hah!  Chaga: Still brewing. I'll take it out in about an hour.

I actually spent some time in the sewing room yesterday afternoon, making this pair of pillowcases for my son.

I'd found the printed fabric on a shop hop last June and thought it would make up into nice pillow cases for my son who's going through a difficult time right now. I like the sayings on the fabric and hope he'll be able to hear the whisper of angels' wings occasionally.  The dusky green I'd had for another project and there was enough for the pillowcase cuffs.  I'll take them with me when we go on our train trip next week!  Yikes, it's coming up fast.

That means I have to get the batch of soap done today so it'll be ready to take with as well.  I make my soap in a crock pot and that way it doesn't have to cure for weeks as it does when you make it using the "cold" method.  It only takes about an hour and a half to make in the crock pot and that will be enough time for me to go out front and get the mums planted, another thing that needs to be done before we leave.

Last night, while watching PBS's "Viet Nam" series, I finished the hand embroidery on Gourdy's Gang as seen above.  I had to stitch some spider webs, teeth and spider legs.  I also secured the tiny pupils of all the eyes with a French Knot to be sure they wouldn't fall off eventually.  

Here's a close up of the little spider. I think he's so cute!  I gave him glittery eyes, which you can barely see in this photo, by making the French knots out of a super glittery floss I got from Cosmo flosses.  

Before I can hang Gourdy up by the front door, I have to make some tabs so I can hang him up, and at the bottom, I'm going to add several "tongues" as shown on the pattern. And, of course, I have to bind the entire thing as well.

So, today's list of things to do includes:
     Making soap
     Planting mums
     Working on Gourdy
     Grocery shopping--should take 1/2 hour at the most.
Before we leave on Monday I also want to make up another double  batch of the green tomato salsa but that can wait until tomorrow.  I also decided while I was waking up in bed this morning that I'd like to finish up a little table quilt that I pieced while in Alabama last winter and it just needs to be quilted and bound.  Dan will be alone in Washington at the holidays and probably would like a little something to give his home some Christmas cheer.  We're hoping he can fly home for a few days, but that's not sure yet.  But either way, I think I'll get that done up for him and bring it with as well.

So--another busy day facing me and I've got to get started.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Nothing's happened to me--I'm back!

Of course, my intentions are to post something every day, but over the past 2 days, I've failed miserably. Mea Culpa!  I'll bring you up to date in this post.

Sunday was a gorgeous fall day here in W Wisconsin and Don and I did a lot of work in the garden. We dug all the potatoes and onions and most of the carrots.  It took longer to wash the veggies than it did to get them out of the ground and by the time I was finished with that, I was too tired to drag myself to the sewing room, so Gourdy's Gang is the same as it was when I posted this picture:

Maybe today I'll get some work done on it.

On Monday, I boxed up most of the potatoes and took them to the food shelf--31 pounds. So that makes my total donation 72 pounds!  I'm very happy about that but I really wanted to make it to 100. Well, I guess that's my goal for next year, right?

I also returned to the garden to gather up all the tomatoes, red and green ones as well. We have a lot of trouble with tomato blight here and the plants are all pretty much dead, although the fruit is still good. It's not warm enough these days for the rest of the fruit to ripen so the plan is to wrap the best of the green tomatoes in newspaper and store them in a cool dry place in the basement so they'll ripen slowly.  With luck, some years, I've had fresh tomatoes for the Thanksgiving table.  

Some of the green tomatoes went into a double batch of Green Tomato Salsa which I learned of on Barbara Stanbro's blog, Cat Patches.  I've never made this before and I'm not a big fan of salsa in the first place but I have so many green tomatoes that I have to do something with them.  Pictured below is the double batch I made--a pint and 4 half pints.  I tasted it as I was bottling it and it was pretty good but last night, after it marinated for a day in the frig, it was amazing!  I had leftover stuffed green peppers for my dinner when I returned home from my trip to Duluth, which I'll tell you about in a minute, if you'll please be patient, and I put some of this salsa on the stuffed peppers and it was soooo good!  Either today or tomorrow, I plan on making another double batch and that should just about use up the green tomatoes.

 I had enough ripe tomatoes to make 3 quarts of pasta sauce.  It's just a simple marinara sauce that I make when I have the time and energy to make it from scratch and it's really good.  I hate to heat up the canner for only 3 jars, so these are topped with foil and are in the freezer, waiting for a chance to make a delicious supper for us.

Again, by the time I was finished with the sauces, it was too late for any sewing and Gourdy once again, received no attention this day.  While I was waiting for the sauce and salsa to cook down so they could be bottled, I finished reading Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance. This book--a memoir as well as a look at people who live in or come from Appalachia--is really, really good!  So I'm glad I was able to take the time to sit down and finish it up.

Yesterday I was in Duluth to meet my very good friends, Bonnie and Marilyn for lunch and a good visit.  The three of us have been friends since the early 70's and for quite a few years we were over involved with raising our families but now that all the kids are grown and on their own, we have rekindled our friendship, to my great joy.  I think you can tell by the big grin on my face (I'm in the middle) that I'm very happy to be with these wonderful ladies.  The hours I've spent with them are some of the best times of my life.

Bonnie introduce the two of us to Chaga tea which you can read more about if you like. I'd never heard of it and Bonnie says it helps lower blood pressure--a good thing in these days of political upheaval!--and better yet, it's an anti-cancer agent.  The tea she shared with us was a very mild, watery drink, something I could absolutely handle.  My BP is still in the normal range but Don takes a medication for his and when I told him about this, he agreed to try it for a week or so and see what happens. Bonnie recommended a half cup or so every day. I'll let you know how this goes.

So, now you're all caught up on what I've been doing over the past couple of days when I've gone missing. Today is going to be very busy. I have a pile of laundry that is in the washer as I type, I have a hair appointment this afternoon, and I have 3 mums that I'd like to get planted this afternoon as well.  I've started the crock-pot to get the chaga brewing, but that takes 24 hours on low, so I can forget about it until tomorrow morning.  Either today or tomorrow, I want to make a batch of soap to take with me to my son's place in Washington, and I just remembered that I'd bought fabric to make a couple of pillowcases for him, so I want to get those done as well.  

With all those things wanting my attention, I guess I'd better leave this computer and get a move on!

Sunday, September 17, 2017


As you may recall, I mentioned yesterday that I was all set to copy the embroidery designs for the Clover and Violet project so they'll be ready for me after I have my knee replacement surgery in mid- October. I said that I would be making up the embroidered Courthouse Square blocks with fabrics from my stash. Well, let's not be too hasty here, little ones.

As I was scrolling through Facebook this morning, I came across a Craftsy post. They have tons of fabrics--precuts as well as yardage--on sale now at very good prices, so of course, I had to take a look. And I found these Melrose and Vine fabrics which would be perfect for the Clover and Violet quilt.

I confess, I put the fat quarter bundle in my shopping cart as well as enough yardage for the backing.  I normally don't shop on-line for fabrics but the prices are just too good, and the fabric is perfect, and I don't have time to go to the local shops, etc., etc., etc.  

Before you go accusing me of hypocrisy in view of my often expressed views on how important it is to support the LQSs so they'll be there when we need them, and now I'm actually shopping on-line for fabric, just stop right there.  You have to hear "The Rest of the Story," as a famous radio personality used to say.  

The fabric is still in my cart, waiting for me to click "Checkout." In the meantime, I went into my sewing room for something and thought, "I'll just take a look at my Thirties fabrics and see what I have there for this quilt project."  Whoa! Do I have enough Thirties fabrics for this project???? Indeed I do. So even though the Craftsy deal is very tempting, I'll not be going through the checkout today--and the sale ends tomorrow I believe, so if any of you want to get some great fabric, now's the time to do so.  I'll continue shopping my stash to see if I can whittle it down to a manageable amount. And save my dollars for something else in the future.

So that was the first thing I did this morning. Now that I've had a little coffee, I'll share yesterday's endeavors.  I worked on the wall hanging, "Gourdy's Gang" shown here:

As I said yesterday, I'm appliqueing woven fabrics onto a wool background, and so far it's going quite well.  Here's how far I got yesterday:

I made the wool background.  I decided to use a piece of dark Black Watch plaid that I found in my container of wools instead of plain black. Thought it would be a bit more interesting.  You can see in this picture the plaid as well as some of the chalk markings I used to make a 2" grid.  I quilting the entire piece, which I cut an inch larger on all sides to allow for some shrinkage as I quilted and appliqued it.  I used a piece of rather thin batting and a simple muslin backing.

Then I began laying out the gourds. I'd already fused them and cut out the pieces.  It was rather simple to lay them out on the wool. Here they are, all laid out. By the way, the wool piece will finish at 10" by 30", plus tabs for hanging and a bottom fringe of wool "tongues."  In addition to the gourds that are fused onto the quilted wool, there will be some embroidered spider webs, teeth in some of the mouths, and legs for the spider.  I'm also going to secure the eye pupils with French knots, maybe in a sparkly floss.

I began the buttonhole stitching and got the first two gourds completed, but not the stars. If I have time today, I'll try to finish the buttonhole stitching and get it ready for the embroidery.  I'll be watching the PBS series on Viet Nam tonight, and some hand stitching will be perfect.

Before I can work on this project again, Don and I are spending some time in the garden this morning, harvesting the onions and potatoes.  We have to get our garden plots cleaned up before Oct 15 and we have our trip to Washington state between now and then, so we have to get a move on. We also have to get some manure spread over the plots so we can keep up the fertility in the sandy soil in the garden.

So that's how my day is looking. I'll let you know tomorrow how it went.