Another great Christmas. This is the warmest we have had since we moved to the Adirondacks. Today it is about 45 degrees and partly sunny and very windy. Damon, Ivan and I all took a nice long walk this afternoon.
OK, the scraps got started a few days before the turkey but basically for the last week its been all about both. Pictured first is my 'crumb' bag - these are the smaller scraps from my quilting. Or at least that is what should be there - apparently I got lazy a few time as I did find a few bigger pieces mixed in. The bag itself is about a foot high and about a foot and a half long. So it looks like a lot of scraps.
But as you can see in the second photo it looks a bit more manageable once you pull them out and start ironing them and laying them flat and grouping them by general shape and size - in the photo this is only about the first third of all the scraps.
Since they were all laid out so nicely I took the opportunity to start making 'crumb' blocks again. I already have a quilt top made from them but it is a great way to use up scraps and I love they way they look. Just play some Jazz and do some improvisational piecing.
I also had been using 2 1/2 inch squares to baste into 1 inch English paper-pieced hexagons. As I found plenty of 2 1/2 inch scrap squares in the crumbs I also did some more basting and then started to sew some of them together.
I think the plan at this point is to do a few other scrap blocks. I found a foundation paper pieced star that would likely work well with scraps I want to try. Once I have a good variety of different scrap blocks I will make one good sized top with all of them mixed together.
Not tired of the scraps yet, but after five days of eating turkey I am done with that for a while.
Dad, Damon and I climbed Lyon Mountain this past weekend. It was pretty cool (in the 40s) when we started, but you warm up quick going up a mountain. We took the new trail. It took us about five hours and on the way back down there was hail and some light rain. As it was a holiday weekend there were lots of people, dogs and a parrot on the mountain. As you can see from this view from the top of Chazy Lake it was pretty cloudy and hazy.
Since I set up the quilting room to accommodate machine quilting on my domestic sewing machine I have officially quilted and finished five quilts. Three were community service quilts - two were previously posted on the blog - the tree and star quilt and the multi-color disappearing 9-patch. I also volunteered to quilt a top that was donated to the guild's community service committee - that was a crib sized Cat in the Hat quilt that I also finished.
Also finished two personal UFOs. The first was the House quilt and finally this one which is from the Sparkle Plenty pattern that I bought down at the City Quilter a couple of years ago. The original pattern is for a square quilt, but I added an extra row of blocks to the top and bottom to make it rectangular.
I have to say that quilting and finishing (including putting on the binding) of 5 quilts in roughly 2 months is pretty extraordinary for me. Especially if you consider that late August and all of September is crazy busy at work for me. This puts my UFO list back into single digits - yeah! So I have broken down the machine quilting set up and as soon as the Christmas presents are shipped off next week I will be back to working on other earlier-stage UFOs and using up some scraps.
The first picture is one of the maples in the front of the yard from this past weekend. And the second picture is the ground beneath that tree just a couple of days latter. The weather has been very warm and very dry so I am wondering if that is contributing to the leaves changing and dropping so rapidly. It is now officially leaf season - break out the rakes and the leaf blower! Of course this is only the first tree (it always loses its leave first) we still have three more to go - and that's just the maples.
So here is the completely finished Disappearing 9-Patch quilt. I am really happy with my quilting on this quilt. Very hard to believe, but I managed to quilt the last 3 quilts without breaking a single needle. Not sure if I am just on a lucky streak, or if I finally have the settings and techniques down for free-motion quilting on my domestic machine. I have one more quilt I want to quilt and then I will break down my machine quilting set up (which takes up all the space in the sewing room) and go back to doing some piecing and other sewing projects.
I am finally starting to get some substantial (for us) crops from the garden. Here is a picture of this morning's harvest of cherry tomatoes. I also got two regular tomatoes as well this week.
We finally got some rain yesterday, unfortunately it was a bit too much for this rose. The stem was broken from the weight of all the rain in the flower. Usually I leave all the roses on the plant and just go out and smell the roses each morning when I go out to water the garden. But as the stem was already broken it is now brightening up the kitchen.
I am on a bit of a roll of getting quilting projects done. I had started quilting this years ago. I am calling this the 'Under the Trees and Stars' quilt. I was using star cookie cutters to trace stars in the blue fabrics and connecting them with random curls and swirls. After finishing the 'House Quilt' I pulled this back out and finished quilting it. I put the binding on at the Firehouse last weekend and finished hand stitching the binding this weekend. This one will be a community service quilt donated to the guild for distribution to where it is needed.
Today I also started machine quilting a disappearing 9-patch that will also be community service quilt. As the semester starts tomorrow I am guessing the run of finishing up quilting projects is coming to an end.
Besides I also have all the end of the summer projects I need to get to yet.
First up - the tomatoes. I planted three different varieties, plus I had an assortment of volunteers that are also doing pretty well. As you can see from this photo some of the cherry tomatoes are starting to change color. As we are having a run of warm and sunny weather for the next few days I am anticipating getting a few in the next week or so.
I started over a dozen sunflowers from seed this spring and planted them into the garden. First the cutworms cut about half of them down. Then the local deer ate the leaves off the rest of them. A couple had one or two small leaves on them so I kept watering them and the result is one teeny, tiny sunflower. It is pretty, but the flower only about the size of my hand. Glad I got this picture of this, as it is highly likely it will be eaten soon.
Next up is the pumpkin patch. I actually have a patch. The past few years I would just plant one pumpkin plant each in 2 different raised beds. This year I was a bit late with planing the seeds. I had pulled out the Hops in the bed next to the greenhouse so after that was done - I just put in a bunch of pumpkin seeds and they ALL took off. In the photo you can see they are taking off (into the lawn) and flowering. What you can't see is that there are a few small pumpkins are starting to form. So looks good for getting some pumpkins for Halloween this year.
The roses also all appear to be doing well. The first one pictured is the Julia Child rose. I was worried that I would miss its blooming as it was getting started when we were on vacation in July. But as we have not had a very hot summer all the roses keep generating buds and keep blooming.
The final picture as you can see is another of the rose plants stating to bud again.
I am really enjoying the roses this year. I just hope they all make it through the winter so I can enjoy them next year.
So this WAS my oldest UFO (unfinished object) quilting project. I think I started this the second year or so of quilting, so about ten years ago. I did the piecing at the first Wadhams quilt retreat. I worked on the applique off and on for a couple years after that. Once that was done I did find a backing and then spray-basted it all together. But as I was a much less experienced machine quilter using my own home machine, I folded it up and waited till I was more confident. I will say I am impressed with the spray basting (I used the 505 spray) it kept it all together, didn't get gummy or sticky, and kept the fabric from any major, serious wrinkling for the few years it sat there. I did a basic wandering free-motion quilting on it.
I call this 'The House Quilt' as this quilt represents many aspects of our current house. First I used reproduction fabrics, our house is old -built in 1876 so there is a nice tie-in there. The applique represents other aspects of the house. We live in the foothills of three mountains in the Adirondacks, I plant red impatiens in the flower boxes every summer, and ladybugs are a part of life around here. The property is full of maple trees, which is stunning in the fall, this far north of course winter and snow is a big part of life. And finally a paw print, one of the main reasons we picked the house we did is that it has a big enough yard to have both a garden and a couple of big dogs.
The plan is to hang this quilt on the wall in the enclosed porch.
Later in her life my grandmother had me help her make Chrusciki whenever I was home visiting. I was never a big fan of it, I preferred her apple pies. But the idea was that I was to be the keeper of the Chrusciki for the family. I preparation for a visit home I am making Chrusciki this weekend. I don't think grandma ever made it the same way twice. I wrote it down a couple of times and for this round I used an amalgamation of those recipes along with consulting some others I saw online.
My version uses 11 egg yolks and 1 full egg. I am happy to report the the skill of separating eggs is like riding a bicycle, I was able to jump right into it again. You will also note that the vodka I used was also Polish - trying to keep with tradition. Damon suggests that the reason for vodka to be in the recipe is less for the food product and more for the convenience of the baker to have it handy while cooking, as I don't drink its kind of a non-issue.
The 'fun' part is the cutting and twisting. The second photo is the first half of the batch - half cut and the other half already twisted.
After they are twisted they get tossed into the oil. One recipe called for the oil to be 375 degrees F, but my stove only managed to get it up to 325.
Anyway the seem to have come out OK. They are a bit browner then I recall, but they have a good flavor (pre-powdered sugared).
For the record here is the recipe I followed:
11 egg yolks
1 full egg
1 shot of vodka
2 T sugar
2 T sour cream
1 t salt
1 t vanilla extract
2.5 c flour (sifted)
Additional flour for kneading and rolling out
Crisco - 1 inch deep in a pan for frying at about 325 degrees F.
After they are done you sprinkle powdered sugar over them.
So the flower boxes around the porches are doing great this year. We looked a bit bare last year as no one was selling impatiens, but as you can see we are back to the red this year. As one of the front trees was chopped down this spring the ones on the front the porch are getting a bit more sun, but so far they don't seem to mind.
The second photo is of one of the tomato plants out in the garden. Since June was so cool and cloudy they didn't make much progress. But starting this week we are having a run of hot (for us - in the 80s) and sunny weather this week so they are starting to take off.
Also at the moment three of the five roses I planted this spring have buds on them.
The only thing that appears to be having trouble are my sunflowers. something is chomping them off about mid-stem. I have a dozen planted and now I am down to about eight.
They sunflowers may also be in jeopardy due to our now fairly frequent deer visitor. While it is not unusual to see a deer in the evenings, this one has been hanging out most of the day. I took this picture around noon yesterday.
I haven't done much on my own quilting projects this past year. But thanks to a spring quilting retreat I did make significant progress and this spring I did get a couple of quilts done.
This first one is is official called "The Ugly Brown Quilt." I want to state that I don't actually think it is ugly. I found the "Skylark" pattern in the 2013-2014 International Quilt Festival magazine and when I was deciding what fabrics to use I decided to use a large pile of brown fat quarters. I have no idea how I ended up with so many brown fabrics. I only remember buying a couple of them. And as I tend to use bright colors, the odds of using up the browns was slim. The quilt turned out so well Damon asked to have it. So you know it looks cool, this is the first quilt he has asked for. The other quilt was inspired by a quilt and a fabric bundle at my friend Carole's shop Fibre Junction. She also used nine-patches, but I also included center squares in the alternate blocks. The colored squares and the back of the quilt are homespuns.
I came across the Narrative clip/camera online about a year or two ago (originally it was called Memoto). I ordered one in April and it arrived this weekend. Think of it sort of like a trail camera for humans. It is small - less than 2 inches by 2inches, and it has a clip so it can be worn. The camera takes a picture every 30 seconds. You can also double tap it for an immediate photo. You can set it down and it will document what it happening in front of it. These shots are from my sewing room yesterday. I had it set on the bookcase while I was sewing on the binding of a quilt. Then I moved it into the corner when I switched to ironing the binding. I also have documentation on my mowing the yard yesterday. The photos range and its brightness and clarity are not always great but given that it is taking so many - odds are high at least a few of the shots are good. At the end of the day you plug the USB into your computer and it re-charges and downloads the photos.
This would be great for get togethers and parties. Place it somewhere and it will take the pictures of the event. How many times do we get caught up and forget to take pictures?
Even though spring is still reluctantly making an appearance, the gardening is moving forward. Some of the tomato seedlings were doing well enough to transplant them into individual pots. I also have a egg carton that has sunflower seedlings that are also doing well. Of course now I am running out of sunny windows to keep all of these plants. It won't be safe to put out the plants for a couple more weeks, especially since we are staying below the average temperatures.
I did risk it and plant the flower boxes on Friday. Since these are right next to the house and there is an overhang from the roof they should be safe unless we get a really hard freeze. I was able to get impatiens this year. Last year they were not available.
On the quilting front I did get a couple quilt tops done in April and sent them off to the long-arm quilter. The photo here is some of the "Ugly Brown Quilt" blocks (which actually turned out really cool) before they were pieced together.
The roses I ordered arrived this week. The weather is still cool and cloudy and generally depressing, but better to plant them as soon as possible then to let them sit in their shipping box.
I had already prepped the former oregano bed. But I hadn't had time to prep any others. I figured three of the roses would fit in the prepped bed. I ended up hastily tilling the bed to the west of the greenhouse. I did check a number of rose growing websites and many suggested including coffee grounds and banana peals. Conveniently we had both this morning.
Easy Going Rose
The forecast was for increasing chance of rain during the day so I was determined to get an early start. Unfortunately so was the rain. It wasn't really rain - more like a heavy mist the whole time.
The roses pictured here are what the roses should look like if they grow and thrive. I have them listed in the order planted from West to east.
One of the three maples in front of the house has been declining the past few years. We also had lots of damage from the ice storm in December. So I called up the arborist who came out to do some work for us about 9 years ago and they came and took down the maple yesterday. They will be back later this week to take care of trimming a few other trees. I think we will be getting a bit more sun in the front of the house this summer. I might have to plant more sun-loving flowers in the flower boxes this summer.
No it is not a new food competition. It is, however, a battle being waged in my garden. I am hoping that striking early will put me at an advantage. For the last couple of years the Italian Oregano I have had in this raised bed has done very well. So last year I tried to cut it back a bit and transplant my chives into the bed. Apparently loosening the soil triggered something in the oregano, cause it spread like a weed last year (it could also have been the rain, we got a lot last summer). As I have ordered some roses bushes and I have a slew of tomatoes I am starting from seed I really need to use all the raised bed space this year.
It was about 60 degrees out today and sunny so I went 3 rounds of ripping, yanking, and digging out all the roots I can find. As you can see I only got about half way so far. I did get one other bed weeded, that was a piece of cake compared to this one. A few more rounds and I should have it cleared (you can only lean over a raised bed for so long - getting up and stretching is needed every 30 minutes or so). Once I have it cleared I will likely still have to monitor it this summer to make sure any stray roots don't start up again.
One of my resolutions this year is to try one new recipe each month. So for January I tried a recipe I found on Pinterest that linked to a blog. The recipe is Garlic Pesto Chicken with Tomato Cream Penne. I should point out that this recipe is actually a revision on a grilled chicken recipe that the blogger found and turned into a skillet chicken dish.
The Chicken Ingredients:
2 boneless chicken breasts.
1/2 bottle of Lawry's Herb and Garlic Marinade
2 large spoonfuls of Pesto
Sauce: 8 ounces of your choice of pasta
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
2 spoonfuls of pesto
1/2 cup of chicken broth
8 ounces of tomato sauce
1 cup of half and half
The Chicken turned out really good. You marinate the sliced chicken in the marinade and pesto overnight and also cook the chicken in it. So the chicken is moist and full of flavor. For just 2 chicken breasts you only need to use about 1/3 of a bottle of marinade. By slicing the chicken it cooks very quickly and is easy for leftover reheating.
The sauce was OK. I think it could use some more seasoning. Not sure I will make the sauce again.