Sunday, August 31, 2014

It's a corny time in the Midwest!

Those of us who live in the Upper Midwest (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, etc) know this fellow very well.  My husband's from central IL and he LOVES corn on the cob!  He'd eat it every day when it's in season if I cooked it for him.  As for me, I remember suppers when I was a girl where Mom would set a huge platter of corn on the cob in the middle of the table and that was dinner!  My sisters and I used to eat it as though we were typewriters, including the "ding" at the end of the row!

Don and I have usually grown our own sweet corn and for the past 10 years, we were invited to a pick-your-own corn field and were able to get all the corn we wanted for free.  We had some very good neighbors when we lived in the country.  This year, Don planted a patch of corn for us at the community gardens where we're gardening now since our yard doesn't have any good growing spot but does have a multitude of rabbits!  I think they live under our deck and are right at home in our back yard.  Well, nothing did well in our community garden this year, including the corn.  Too much rain. Sandy soil. Not enough heat. Our corn did very poorly, so I've been buying it from a corn truck in town.

Today, I went to the truck to buy 6 dozen ears of corn and learned that tomorrow is the last day the truck will be here. Corn season is ending!  So I came home with corn and learned that in corn terms, a dozen ears is really 15.  How generous is that!  Don and I set up production--he and I shucked/husked (not sure which term is correct, but I mean we took the leaves and hairs off the ears.) the corn. Then he began blanching the ears and I cut the kernels off the cobs. When I had enough cut off, it was Lily's turn to enter the game and she bagged up the corn.  I took out 6 ears for corn on the cob later this week and took 2 cups of cut corn for corn fritters with tonight's supper, and that left us with 27 bags of corn headed for the freezer.  It'll be like having summer sunshine on our dinner plates in the upcoming darkness of winter.

I've never made corn fritters before but I'll be using the recipe here and I think it will be delicious. We have some brined pork chops that will go on the grill and green beans as well as sliced tomatoes.  That makes a typical Midwestern summer supper and I'm looking forward to it. What are you cooking up for dinner tonight?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What I've been up to

August has been filled with activity, including some quilting and some crafting, but mostly spending time with Lily. This last month before school begins seems to be the hardest on kids--and parents, too!  I think year- round school, with several generous breaks throughout the year, is a much better way to do it now that so few families in the US need the kids to help with farm chores in the summer.  At any rate, one more week and school will begin.  

I've been working on the My Blue Heaven quilt and have the center put together and one of the borders on, with one or two more borders to go.  My goal is to have the top finished by the end of the week. 

I've also been spending time helping Lily work on her own quilt. I'm cutting and doing some of the pressing while she's doing the sewing and the easier pressing.  She has all the pieces put together and is ready to begin making some blocks--maybe today.  

On Friday, we went to Don's cousin's cabin, about 2 hours drive from here, for the day and in the afternoon we took a girls trip to the local winery.  It was a beautiful little place with lovely flowers and gardens surrounding the building.  In the flower beds, they had some glass ornaments which I've seen in the community gardens here in Menomonie.  I really like the look of them  but instead of buying any (too cheap thrifty) I made a trip to the Goodwill on Saturday and found pieces to assemble my own.  

This one will have a wine bottle as the support but I have to empty a bottle first before I can get it all together.  Shouldn't be too hard to do one of these evenings. ;-)  I'll insert a long length of dowel into the upside down bottle and the bottom of the dowel gets pushed into the ground to hold it all where it should be.

I also got "crystal" dishes to make a few toadstools for the garden. These too will have a dowel inserted in the stem and into the ground so they don't fall over.  I like these so much, I think I'll make a few more and scatter them in the flower beds here at the house.

This morning I finished the embroidery on this piece. It says, "Ghosts, Goblins, Witches, Hooray . . . Halloween Parties Are On The Way."  It gets an hourglass border in black and white (I have some ivory fabric with little black spiders on it) and will finish into a table runner to go in my Etsy shop JollyRuby. It would make a nice rectangular pillow as well but I chose to do the table runner. I then will begin making a Halloween throw quilt and hope to have it in the shop before Halloween as well.  

Over the past few days, I worked on redoing this sad little stool that I got when my Aunt died a couple of years ago.  You can see that the fabric covering is stained and dirty and the legs are slightly tarnished but originally were "gold" over a base metal.  I found a bright piece of upholstery fabric that I thought would do and for the $3.00 price, it definitely will do!  And I got a $3.00 can of spray paint and went to town.  

This morning I put the top back on the painted metal base and this is what I have!

I don't normally go for bright colors--have to stay with neutrals, you know, in case you get tired of the color!--but for 6 bucks, I decided to go for color.  This will go in my sewing/guest room as a little table near the sofa bed.

Today, I have to get ready to help daughter Jo move to her apartment. She's been renting rooms since she returned from Bulgaria 1 1/2 years ago and now she finally will have a place all of her own!  Most of her things have stayed here in the house, so it'll be nice to move them out.

So, that's what I'm up to. How about you?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


What the heck is stippling and meandering? 

Quilt Featuring Stipple Design, Square Pattern
Angela Mitchell at

I thought I knew what it is but after reading blogs over the past several years, I'm beginning to doubt that I actually know.  From time to time, one of the bloggers that I follow describes how she "stipple" quilted a piece and I look at her pictures, kind of shake my head and question myself. After all, I assume that everyone else knows more about quilting that I do, right? 

So, when I read a post and see a picture of "stippling" that looks like a filler pattern, with straight lines or stars or circles, and with the lines crossing and recrossing each other, I wonder if my quilting teacher, Sandy in Ft. Atkinson, WI, knew what she was talking about. When we got to the lessons on free-motion quilting, she informed us in the class that "meandering" was larger free-motion puzzle pieces with lines never crossing. She also taught us that "stippling" was the same but much smaller.  Well, that's not what I've been reading in the blogs.

I decided to see what the "Internets" had to say about it and here's what I found about stippling:

          This technique is closely related to meandering. The major difference between the two is the distance between lines of stitching. Stippling features a quarter of an inch or less between lines, while a wider distance is used in meandering. Although the techniques are used for the same purpose, this spacing difference creates two distinct effects.
An additional requirement of stippling is that lines of sewing do not cross over each other. The patterns formed, instead, are roaming, curved lines that cover the entirety of an otherwise open area.

This is from Quilting Assistant. I also found several other sites which describe stippling and meandering in the same fashion, although one of them allowed that straight lines could also be called stippling but that it's much harder to avoid crossing the lines of stitching with straight lines.

It appears that quilting vocabulary is changing and stippling/meandering refer to any kind of filler designs--straight or curved lines, crossing each other or not.  Do you agree with this?  Does it matter to you?  Probably not, I'm just being a bit cranky about this, I guess.  Take a deep breath, Barb, and think of the grand scheme of things. Does it really matter what name people give to their quilting patterns?  Not really but to me, I'll stick with the traditional names of these techniques.

To me, this is stippling on the left and meandering on the right::
Blue Quilt Featuring Meandering Design

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

I got the blues

I've been working on My Blue Heaven and I'm getting really sick of seeing blue!

Bonnie K Hunter

When the blocks come together they look great, but it's the chain piecing blue pieces or blue and neutral pieces that can drive me crazy! I felt the same way when I was working on the Talkin' Turkey quilt which is reds and neutrals.

When I do a scrappy quilt, I feel compelled to do all the cutting and to assemble all the component parts before I assemble the blocks because I want the blocks to be a scrappy as possible.  So that means, I have to put the pedal to the medal, grit my teeth, and crank out the flying geese units and half square triangles one after another, until I have enough variety that I can begin making blocks.

It doesn't look like I have much to assemble in this picture, but believe me, it's enough!  This quilt calls for a total of 90 8" blocks. The star block has 24 pieces in it and the puss blocks each have 12 pieces and that adds up to 1620 pieces in the quilt!  I've assembled half of the blocks so far so that makes 810 pieces left to assemble. But I'll be totally honest here--I've  already made all the hourglass blocks and about half of the half square triangle pieces, and that's why I've got the Blues!  So it's mostly assembling rather than a lot more chain piecing.  

Here are a few of the blocks I've already assembled. I like the way they look and I think I have enough variety in the blues to keep it interesting.  I put off assembling the quilt top until all the blocks are completed in order to (try to) make it as scrappy as I can.  I know I'm going to love this quilt when it's finished but the process can be trying!

Last night was guild night and I didn't realize until I got there that my term as secretary was ending. I saw on the agenda that another member had been nominated for secretary and I was quite dismayed that no one had asked me if I wanted to serve another year. Imagine the thoughts that were going through my mind as the members voted on the new officers!  What had I done to offend them?  Was I doing such a crappy job as secretary that they didn't want me anymore?  Should I even remain a member of the guild if they thought that way about me?  On and On! 

I was quite distressed and then I thought, maybe I should check the by-laws ( a copy of which I happened to have with me) and I remembered that the secretary's position has a 2 year term limit.  So, I wasn't ousted but simply retired. Much better!  Someone asked me what else I would volunteer for now that I wasn't secretary and I'll have to think about that for a bit.  I'm sure something will come to mind, but I don't think I'll want to be chair of anything for awhile.  I'm heading up the quilt tour as I did last year but I think I'll turn that over to someone else next year, if they do it again.  I like being involved in guild activities but I'll give it a rest for a bit.

So, today I need to empty out the big chest freezer in order to make room for veggies from the garden which are coming in. And then I'll return to my Blues in the afternoon.  :)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Colors of the Sea

I've spent the last 2 days assembling the top of Tessa's "Colors of the Sea" quilt. She's been begging me to send her pix as I go along, so here's the first of the three sections pieced together.

I decided to simply ignore the places where the same colored squares adjoin, as in the lower left corner. After all, I'm only working with 6 different colors so there's bound to be places where that happens. Besides, on the beach, I would often come across places where there were lumps of color on the white sand. So, can I call this a Nature Quilt?  :)

Here's the thing 2/3 assembled. These colors are more true--the first pic shows the colors more intense than they are in my house.

I have 4 more rows or columns left to stitch together and as I worked on it late yesterday afternoon, I realized that  I need to make 3 more individual blocks to finish off the columns.  And I gave up for the day! So that's the first thing on my agenda today--after feeding the cats, of course, and having a cup or two of coffee, double of course.

I'm working on my new Sapphira machine on the dining table and I love how she's sewing, but hate the ache I get in my mid-back after 5 or 6 hours of sewing there.  I have a Tracy Table in my sewing room where my Lily fits perfectly but I need to get a new clear plastic or acrylic insert to fit the new machine.  Then I'll be able to sit either machine in the sewing table and my back will feel just fine again. I've been emailing and calling the company that made the sewing table for the past 2 weeks or so but no response. What's with that?  I find no response completely rude!  Anyway, yesterday I decided to call the sewing shop where I'd ordered the thing and they said they were the ones who ordered the plastic inserts, not Tracy's!  So anyway, I'll have the new insert in a few weeks, I hope.  (I still think Tracy's should have called me to let me know they didn't do that part of the set up--or am I expecting too much?)

"Colors of the Sea" quilt top is finished!

I finished assembling the top of this quilt this morning after spending a few hours unstitching some of the blocks.  No matter how careful I was, I would inevitably get clusters of color in some areas that I know I said I would ignore, but I just couldn't!  I guess that's the bit of OCD I try to manage (not too successfully, I think.) Hah! Anyway, I also had to keep the blocks alternating so I wouldn't have too many seams at the intersections of the blocks.  But I got it done--with no swearing, I may add, and that may be a first for me!--and here it is, laid out.

The colors in this picture are quite true to reality and the thing I noticed in the picture is that the off white borders of the colored squares are different shades, depending on how the light is shining on them. Apparently, this batik fabric has a bit of nap to it that I didn't realize while I was working on it. I love the effect it gives--just as the color of the beach changes shades depending on the light and the contour of the sand.

Now that I see it spread out on the bed, I think I'll have a hard time giving it to Tessa.  It's really pretty, and BIG!  It measures 90" by 102", so almost king size.  Can't wait to see how it works in the new, larger throat of the Sapphire when  I begin the quilting. Tessa wants simple lines but I'm going to see if I can convince her to let me do some "fancy" stitching in the blocks or at least use one of my decorative quilting stitches in the sashings.  But, since it's her quilt, I'll have to abide by her decision, I guess.

After I finished this quilt, I stitched the trim on Lily's new pj's which are right here:

Now, I feel as though I've accomplished what I intended to do over these 4 days by myself.  I can relax and read a book if I like, cook a gourmet meal for myself tonight, or go back to quilting and work on the Blue Heaven I started last week. Ahhhh! I feel free!