Thursday, September 30, 2010

Blocks for Sunshine

I made these nine-patch blocks for one of the ladies, Gail, on my Yahoo Sunshine group. She'll make donation quilts with them. This was an opportunity for me to use up some of my bright scraps, and they were fun to make as well. These 14 blocks depleted my stash by approximately 1 yard. A mere drop in the bucket! I guess I could make 1,400 blocks, instead of only 14!

These bright blocks were sent to another Sunshine lady, Tammy, to use in donation quilts. That's another yard depleted from my stash. I guess every yard counts! I like the cat block, which is in Block Magic, Too by Nancy Johnson-Srebro. It's a fun block to make, and I think it adds interest to a kid's quilt.

This is one of the bright blocks from above. I
"invented" it to use leftover half-square triangles,
though I'm sure it's been made before. It's too simple not to have been thought of before!
I can see this one in traditional fabric, maybe Civil War or 1900 reproductions, or made from shirts. I envision it in "controlled scrappy", using a light where the yellow is, maybe a dark where the red is, and a medium for the rest. Basically, just to emphasize the diagonal lines that the yellow and the red create. It's a very simple block, yet has interesting possibilities.

I've decided to postpone my fabric acquisition/depletion records until January. (I've been bad...shhhh!) I'll just concentrate on finishing UFOs. I have 5 more that are very close to completion. Yeah!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Grandma's favorite recipes

A few years ago, I found my Grandma Nelson's handwritten recipe notebook in my mother's things. She died in 1963, and I'm sorry that I never got to know her. I can only learn about her through photos, and through simple items like this notebook:

There are dozens of recipes in this notebook, and I keep meaning to try them all. Many of these recipes are for cakes and cookies. There is one for real Spaghetti Sauce that calls for 1 cup of olive oil. Sounds good, but...well....oily!
I did make this one for Tamale Loaf and it was good. In fact, I think I remember my mom making it when we were little. (click on photo to enlarge)

Grandma Nelson was more of an outdoors person and was not a quilter, but she did hand sew some fan pieces for a Grandmother's Fan quilt, in pretty 1930's & 1940's prints. I ended up with those and someday will finish them into a small quilt. I'm sentimental, but these kinds of things mean so much to me! I surf on ebay sometimes, and come across people selling their grandmother's, or even great-grandmother's, quilts or quilt tops! I guess they have their reasons, but it is so hard for me to imagine doing that!

I've sewn my Haunted Mountains blocks into columns, and I love the way it's looking...very Halloween-ish! I won't have my camera for a few weeks, so no photos yet.

After a hot, hot summer, it's finally starting to get colder here in the Ozarks, and I'm loving it!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Halloween blog hop

I've never participated in a Blog Hop. In fact, I never even heard of one! I stumbled across this one on Godrun's World blog, with a Halloween theme. It involves visiting the blogs of specific fabric and/or pattern designers, on designated dates. It sounds like fun, and as a bonus the designers give away cool prizes!
Now...I'll just have to write down all the different date so I don't forget to show up!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Haunted Mountains quilt

I've been wanting to make a Halloween quilt with an antique feel to it, and over time I've gathered black and orange shirts for that purpose. The "oranges" range from light orange to rust. I chose Bonnie Hunter's pattern Scrappy Mountains Majesty, which she generously offers for free on her Quiltville website. If you love scrappy quilts, you'll spend hours on her website!

The blocks are finished and I'm starting to put them together. Here is a sampling of my fabrics, which entirely came from recycled garments, mostly shirts:
My favorites, shown above, are the madder-like leaf print, the black with squares, and the black stripe which looks like a mourning print. They really have an antique style to them.
So far, I really like how these black and orange fabrics look together. I am working to get this done well before Halloween, so I can actually enjoy it this year! I'll be calling my quilt Haunted Mountains, instead of Scrappy Mountains Majesty.

Aside from this, I quilted one top today and started on another. I hope to get more UFOs done this month, and the days are slipping by fast! Hard to believe it's officially Autumn!


Random reading program

Occasionally I come across a blog where the owner has embarked on methodically reading their way through the alphabet. I found that idea intriguing, and decided to start my own reading program. I'm going to be reading fiction from A to Z, by author's last name, with the books chosen at random from my public library's shelves. By random, I mean standing in the section that applies, closing my eyes, and picking a book totally at random!
Why random? I want to force myself to read books that are totally different than what I would normally choose to read. Plus, I love surprises! Each new letter will bring a new surprise.
I've already read the letter "A" book, which is The River Wife, by Jonis Agee.

This book, set in southeastern Missouri on the Mississippi River, began in 1811 during the New Madrid earthquake. The story, spanning generations, followed a family from the early 1800's to the 1930's. I would classify this as historical fiction. It was clear that the author did some research on the area and the different time periods.
This book was well written and held my interest. Every time I sat down to read, I was quickly drawn into the story. The characters were well developed and believable.
If you're prone to melancholy, however, this is not the book for you. The plot seemed to focus on the dark side of life, with an abundance of human tragedy, sadness and violence.
I identified with the book because of the setting, and because I love history. My own family settled in Missouri around 1850, a few hundred miles from where this book is set. My family, however, didn't experience even a fraction of the drama and passion of the family in the book!
I enjoyed this book, and would like to read more from this same author.
I'm looking forward to my random "B" pick!


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Apple season

I love all the trees in my yard. I just love trees! They are green and shady, and convert our carbon dioxide back into oxygen, if I remember correctly.
This Red Delicious apple tree is about 3 years old. We planted it, and like all trees that we planted ourselves, it's my baby! This year it's had lots of apples. Being a novice orchardist, I didn't know you were supposed to thin out the apples when they were small. As they grew bigger, they thinned themselves by falling off the tree!

The fallen apples weren't mature yet, and were more like Granny Smith and were delicious in baking. One result is this Apple Crisp with cranberries, which turned out really yummy!

It's a Weight Watcher's recipe from one of my books. I hesitate to post it here because I'm not sure of copyright issues, but I'd be happy to share if requested. One generous serving (1/4 of the pan) has only 3 WW points. It is light on the sugar, but was sweet enough for me. One could easily add more sugar. I plopped a bit of vanilla ice cream on top and it was great!

I've recently gotten back on Weight Watchers, and so far so good.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Two UFOs done!

I finished two UFOs today! They are both kid-size, destined to be donation quilts.
I drafted this first one from a photograph of a quilt that I saw in a catalog. The pattern was called "Serengeti", and was easy to make. I love digging through my stash to match up fabrics that play well together.

This 2nd UFO is a string quilt. It was so fun to make & those strings are addicting! I put the red centers on skewed, instead of exactly in the center of each block.
I machine-sewed the binding down on both of these quilts. They'll be donation quilts, and that method is faster and more durable than hand sewing, in my opinion. I'm still getting the hang of it. At first, I attempted to machine-sew down the mitered corners just using pin basting, but it got all twisted and distorted, and really frustrating. Now, I hand-sew just the corners, like I would normally hand-sew binding. Then, when I machine-sew that area, the stitching goes smooth and looks nice. Definitely worth the extra effort!

I also learned, for future quilts, to find a binding
fabric that blends in better with the backing. I had to be really careful to sew the dark blue thread in just the right spot to keep it from showing on the lighter-colored backing fabric. I managed to most of the time, except for a few small areas. I think after the quilt is washed it will look better. Actually it's hard to notice, but I know it's there!

I've had TV on while sewing, listening to the 9-11 programs. The tributes are so moving and bittersweet. So many heroes emerged on such a tramatic day, often sacrificing their own lives. I only hope that if, someday, I find myself in similar situations that I would choose the heroic route.


UFOs finished to date: 5

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It's been a long, long time............

.....since I made a blog post. I'll try to do better!

I intended to use the blog to keep track of UFO progress, and of acquisition & depletion of fabric. Like many quilters, I have a large fabric stash. Every year, fabric designers create more & more beautiful fabric, and I just can't sew fast enough to keep up! My goal, for the rest of this year, is to dispose of (use up or donate) a net of at least 10 yards of fabric per month. I got off to a bad start this month. I visited the sale room at a local quilt store and took these home:

It's about 8.75 yards of fabric. The light color yardage is a good neutral reproduction print and the brownish fabric will make a great antique-looking backing, perhaps for a civil-war or 1890-1900 era quilt. Reproduction fabrics are my weakness!

As for UFOs, well, I only finished 3 so far this year. I've worked on lots and lots of projects, but I lose enthusiasm when it comes to sandwiching and quilting. I have 4 projects that are almost done and I intend to finish them this month.

This is the book I'm currently reading:
Yes, it's a history textbook. And no, I'm not taking a class. I took history years ago in high school & college, but forgot most of it. I just need a refresher class so I don't feel so ignorant about our country's beginnings, and this book is interesting and easy to read, probably high school or freshman college. I bought it at a thrift store, and it's in perfect condition, likely never read.

I'm trying to read about 25 pages a day, and at over 1,000 pages that will take several months! I'm in no hurry. After this one, I have a college political science textbook to read. I want to be more informed on how all the branches of our government works.


UFOs YTD - 3
Fabric status beginning 9-1-10 - + 8.75 yds