Friday, August 18, 2017

Out of the Weeds

It looks like I've let the weeds grow here on the blog over the last six weeks.  Hopefully not as bad as they've grown in real life in my dad's garden this summer.  They are ruling the world over there, let me tell you.  More about that in a bit, but for now I'm here with virtual hoe in hand to make amends for this neglected space on the Interweb. 

Working on machine applique.
Behind the hedges, so to speak, I've been doing a few things.  Finished a quilt, made a bag, fixed some "not-shoes" that my niece is going to wear for her wedding, and started a string quilt. 

Hobo bag commissioned by my niece.
Quilt finish - made from bonus Christmas fabric HSTs.
String-X quilt pieces, string pieced on phone book pages.
I've also been enjoying the summer in other ways—biking, walking, reading, etc.  
One of the many bike rides we've enjoyed.
I would add gardening, but that's been a bit of a failure, it seems.  Turns out gardens are a lot of work. Not just requiring outright sweaty labor, but consistency.  I'm not able to get over there daily and tend it, and I swear it knows.  It knows.  Nature knows the shopkeeper isn't minding the till(er). 

Dad has been the master gardener in the family through the years, until the present one.  But he's still laid up with his broken ankle from January and some healing complications from that.  So with the help of a couple other family members, we got his garden planted (in some pretty boggy soil), but the crops haven't done very well.  The radishes and parsnips washed out.  About a third of the onions came up, about a dozen beets are still thinking about it, and a handful of green bean plants are struggling to push out some pods.  The peppers, nada.  The tomatoes?  They may be okay eventually, barring an early frost.
Wildflowers (grown by Nature, not me)
The weeds, however, are THRIVING.

If you can't beat 'em - eat 'em?

After whacking at the thousandth specimen of one weed, in particular, I got curious about it.  So I asked Google what the heck it was and ultimately identified it as purslane.  That's not what Dad called it, but we won't go there.

Purslane
A little more investigating revealed it was edible.  Not only edible but very nutritious and supposedly good tasting.  Apparently, various cultures actually enjoy eating the stuff and even pay money for it!

And here it was in spades.  I won't go so far as to say manna from heaven, but Nature's gift, at any rate, or consolation prize.  A veritable and vegetative "participation trophy" for us amateurs.

You think you can grow peppers?  Not this year, lady.  But have some purslane.

So I ate it.  And it was good!

It tastes like baby spinach, only better.  Brighter tasting, a little lemony.  I chopped some up and sprinkled it in a salad.  I added it to soft tacos for a tasty crunch. 

I didn't eat a ton of it—you never know when my touchy stomach will decide that everything must go—but I gave it a fair shot and enjoyed it, and it didn't cause me any grief.  So there's that.

What kind of adventures have you had this summer—gardening, gastronomic, or otherwise?

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sunday Sundry 7-9-17

I'm back home with my feet up after spending a couple hours on a beautiful bike trail earlier today.  Should really have some ice on my knees, but I guess that can wait a bit longer.
It was as close to perfect a summer day as there can be, and I'm glad we were able to get out and enjoy it.
We've had a good amount of rain so far this summer, and everything is looking lush and green.  The tiger lilies were in bloom along the trail.
Marsh asters and Queen Anne's lace.  Afterwards, we had a picnic by the river.  A very picturesque little spot.
I have a thing for water lilies.
Which is why I picked up a water lily art print at the thrift store last weekend.  It joins, on the wall, my other thrifted water lily print found a few years ago.
 These are signed and numbered prints and professionally framed.  I don't think either one cost me more than five bucks.  Wish I knew more about the artists. 

Last week's bike trail ride was cut short due to Norm getting a flat tire.  Since it was a holiday weekend, the bike shop was closed.

The thrift store, however, was not!  It had been a while since we went junkin', as I'm more of a mind to get rid of excess than accumulate it these days.  But I have a place or purpose for all of the things I brought home.

I've been needing a lasagna pan since my old stoneware one cracked last year and I had to toss it.  I found a large 13x10-inch (or thereabouts) Corning Ware baking dish that will do just fine.
Zippers are always handy to have in the stash.  I used up a lot of my supply when I was making gift zipper pouches last year.
The Love Letters book might not have been a necessity, but at 69 cents, it was worth it for the beautiful illustrations and words.  And that's my very first "barn quilt" for the porch, from a local store that had them on clearance for half off, can you believe it?  It's a 12-inch metal Thistle Bloom block.

I did get a quilt basted yesterday.  This one's from bonus half-square triangles from a Christmas quilt I made last fall from an Aspen Frost layer cake.
The flimsy has been done for a while but I wasn't in a mood to work on it until now.  My HSTs only went so far, so I added a wide border all the way around to get it to lap quilt size. The blue thing at the bottom of the picture is a foam gardening mat from the dollar store.  It's a knee saver!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Inspector Gadget

Guys and gals, I've been dropped.  At least my blog has been, from my own Feedly reader feed.  The nerve!

I have been investigating, but turning up very few clues as to why.  I unfollowed my blog, then added it back.  Still can't see the latest post.  It shows up as a blog I follow, but isn't updated by Feedly to current.  I tried adding it to the "Favorites" list within Feedly, and it appeared (and current) for a brief few minutes, then disappeared again!
Then I started to wonder about all the many quilt (and other) blogs I follow.  Could it be that I have not been seeing their updates in Feedly either?  So I started looking closer, and although Feedly was telling me some hadn't updated in months, if I clicked through to the blog itself, they were, in fact, staying current.  Curiouser and curiouser.

I began to wonder how many people might be having the same issue with Feedly, and may assume I dropped out of the blogosphere?

I learned that the free version of Feedly (which is what I use) is now limiting new users to 100 blogs.  Any more than that and you have to pay a monthly fee to upgrade to unlimited.  Free Feedly didn't used to be limited, and I've followed hundreds of blogs (not that I get around to reading them all).  But I wonder if some internal metric now determines which of those I get to see in the Feedly reader free version?  

I hadn't updated my own blog in over 30 days.  Perhaps 30 days is a metric by which the blog "falls off"?  In the meantime, however, I've added blogs without an issue, and I'm seeing those people's posts in Feedly; hence, I conclude they're not truly limiting me from adding new ones above the 100 mark (perhaps I'm grandfathered in?).  But maybe, instead, the less active blogs (mine included) are falling off the radar (or reader) and not showing up as having posted anything new?


Many questions, a few hunches, but no definitive answers that I've found thus far.  Guess I'll see if this post all of a sudden shows up in my Feedly feed like nothing ever happened.  Maybe the previous post exceeded some parameter (like overall size...there were a lot of pictures in the last post).  I'll let you know.  (Edited to add:  Okay, so I see this post in Feedly...that's good, but it's still weird about the previous post.  I still have questions.)

In the process of investigating and looking into options, I've started to get reacquainted with Bloglovin'.  I'm still not thrilled with it—the layout seems a bit overwhelming and less informative to me, for starters—but at least I seem to be seeing in Bloglovin' all the blogs I follow.  Things have changed since I last used it on a regular basis, and it'll take some time to get used to again.  Also, I'm having to sort through the blogs I had been following in Feedly and add them to Bloglovin'.  Good thing it's been a holiday week with available down time, ha.

In going through the Feedly blog listing one by one—wow, a lot of people I used to follow have stopped blogging.  Maybe they are connecting on a different platform (Instagram, etc.).  But I miss you guys!  It's sad to realize the extent of the exodus, and it feels like losing friends, even though most of us have never met in real life.

Has hobby blogging become a thing of the past, do you think?  I don't know, there seems to be a different vibe than just a couple short years ago.  Not sure whether readership has increased or decreased, but it seems like people commented more.  Myself included.  Just an observation.  Speaking personally, it seems sometimes like things reach a level when you just can't possibly keep up (maybe after 100 blogs? he-he), so you give up trying and just pop in here or there with a comment when you can.  Yet reading and somewhat keeping track of where people are in their lives, feels like a true connection, even if you don't engage or comment, so when those people go away, there's that pang of loss.  Still, I totally get that there are various reasons people move on, and I wish them all the best.  It may well be that I decide to do the same someday.

Anyway, back to the story.  Along the way, I decided to subscribe to my own email list.  Why I had never done that before, I don't know.  Come to find out that in the last post, the email version doesn't have the YouTube videos embedded.  Just dead space where there was something to see in the actual post.  Good to know.  I'll keep that in mind for the future.  Also, I'm not sure I like the look of the email version, but that seems beyond my grasp of how to fix at this point.

(By the way, the music in the last post under "Listening" was by Jason Isbell, and "Watching" was the Netflix series GLOW.  Maybe in the future, I'll just link versus embed stuff like that.)

Here's a question about Bloglovin':  I've been getting periodic email notifications that read, "Bloglover is now following your blog."  After about the third or fourth identical notification, I assumed this was a tactic Bloglovin' used to get users to log in after a period of time and use the site.  A kind of solicitation, like the emails Pinterest sends to get you to click over.  But I see now, in looking at my Bloglovin' followers, that there are indeed numerous "Bloglovers."  Hence, I wonder if this is how it appears if someone follows you anonymously, i.e. the generic name "Bloglover"?

I probably sound really green about this stuff, and I apologize for the technical nature of this post.  Maybe your experiences can help this dog learn some new tricks.  Do you have any insights or observations to share on the subject of your favorite feed reader?  Or on blog reading and/or commenting in general?  Do you follow your own blog to stay on top of technical issues and/or see it from a different perspective?  Do share.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Going Fourth

I hope those of you in the States are having a magnificent 4th of July! It's been a pretty low key holiday for us, and that's just fine.  We did do a little grilling at suppertime, since the weather was not just cooperative but spectacular.  After I get done with this post, I'm looking forward to taking a walk at sunset and enjoying the beautiful evening.

Are you a cloud watcher?  I sure am.  Is there a better word for someone who likes looking at the changing sky?  (No, not an airhead or space cadet, thanks brain.)  We live in a fairly level area but with some gently rolling hills.  My favorite walking route takes me up a couple small hills that are great vantage points for cloud watching or sky-gazing, and, in the fall, noticing the changing colors of foliage.  It's a highlight of my day, strolling along, feeling the breeze or the humidity, as the case may be, the warmth of the sun as it sinks toward the horizon.  Listening to an audiobook or sometimes just the birds...or barking dogs...or the highway...or the lawnmowers...or the Med-Flight helicopter...

Although I haven't blogged for a month, I have taken a lot of pictures.  In general, there hasn't been a whole lot of quilting and sewing, though there has been some.  There are plenty of other things to engage and distract me this time of year.  Here are a few of June's highlights—in alphabetical order, how about that.

Backing - Baking (with Beets!) - Biking - Bird-watching:



Family (Father's Day) - Flora:



Listening:


Mini-Making - Mural Marveling:
 

Planting - Picking:



Quilting:





Reading - Relaxing:






 Watching (Wrestling!):

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Sunday Sundry 6-4-17

It's a gorgeous day in this neck of the woods.  I have mixed feelings about sitting here in front of the screen when it's so nice outside, but here I am, letting my oatmeal and blueberries digest.  There will surely be time enough to soak up some sun later on, until either the rising temps outside or self-made in my own internal furnace (being a certain age) kick in, and I run for the AC.

Hot and cold, hot and cold.  My nights often go like this:  2:45 a.m. - kick blanket off.  2:50 a.m. - sheet off.  3:00 a.m. - sheet on but leg out.  3:05 a.m. - blanket on but arm out.  3:10 a.m. - arm in, blanket pulled up to neck.  3:30 - kick blanket off...and the cycle repeats.  All the while, the house is a steady 71 degrees, so it's just me and what's left of my hormones in a quasi-sonambulistic rodeo of the bedclothes.

Somehow, after a couple go-rounds, I do sleep pretty decently, so it works out, I guess.

* * * * *
What I'm listening to on my daily walk:  The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy.

Over the past summer or two, I've read/listened to Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and Jude the Obscure.  I've yet to read The Mayor of Casterbridge (and others), but they'll have their turn.

These Victorian-era stories with characters set in the English countryside so lushly described by Hardy are the perfect companions on a summer walk.  I download the chapters free from HERE.  The narrator, Tadhg Hynes, is excellent.  I have searched for other books he has narrated and given them a listen as well, including David Copperfield last summer.

* * * * *
On Memorial Day, we celebrated my dad's 85th birthday with a cookout and gathering of about 40 people, family and friends.  He's been pretty cooped up for the past five months recovering from his ankle fracture, so he especially enjoyed the day. 

* * * * *
In the sewing room, I made a back for the bonus HST quilt, which you can see on the design wall here, to the left of the quilt top.  I used what was left of the FQ bundle of solids for it.

Also worked on making a sample of a hobo/hippy bag that my niece has commissioned me to make as a gift for a friend of hers.  She wants a bare tree appliqued on the bag, and I wanted to see how that was going to work.  

I just used some random fabric I had on hand for the bag exterior and interior.  It didn't much matter what that looked like, as I was mainly interested in testing the applique.

I used the Crafted Applique technique, and it turned out great!  I didn't back the exterior bag fabric with interfacing or stabilizer, just starched it, like Lara suggests in her book.  I prepared the green fabric, cut out the tree shape, pressed and stitched it down, then went over the trunk and branches with some additional stitching.  I'm very happy with how it came out and have no qualms about making the actual bag with whatever fabric my niece selects (bag tutorial here).

* * * * *
A few weeks ago, a friend asked me to make her a little zipper pouch for her purse.  She picked the general color scheme and I made this for her, using this tutorial.

We worked a trade.  She got a little clutch, and I got a month's worth of farm fresh, free-range eggs from her chickens.  What a sweet deal!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

I've got to wear shades...

I was working/procrastinating on the Hands2Help quilt a couple weeks ago when I got sidetracked by a baggie full of something good.  Not that kind of baggie full, something totally legal in all 50 states.  Quite possibly as capable of inducing a chill state of mind, but without the paranoia.  Not even of the quilt police.

My friend and fellow quilter Marei and I swapped boxes of scrap fabric a while ago, but to call what she sent me a box of scrap fabric is an understatement.  It was a treasure chest!

Among the rolls of strips all neatly cut to usable sizes were a couple of baggies with notes inside, to the effect of "Have fun!" and "Maybe you can create something with these."

Happily, I did!  I made THIS wall hanging from one bag of bitty-bits.

Recently I rediscovered the other bagful—two-inch "bonus" half-square triangles: the corners you cut off some other project and, if you're like Marei and me, and maybe you, you set aside to use some other time. 
I started pulling the pieces out and arranging them in groups of 16.  They were so cute and colorful!  So I sewed those groups of 16 together into 6.5-inch blocks, as many as I could make.

Now what? 

Well, I could sash them or border them, I thought.  What might I have in the stash for that?  Here's a pretty bundle of fat quarters I won in last year's Hands2Help giveaway.  Let's just open these up a bit and see if any of them might do, color-wise.  

Yes, all of them!  Okay, maybe not the ivory one, but all the rest.
Hm, what if I stagger or offset them?  Then I would only need to border three sides instead of four, and isn't that interesting?

Let's make the two side borders a bit narrower and the longer border wider.  If I cut the side borders 6.5 x 3 and the longer border 11.5 x 3.5, that will make the block finish at 9 x 11 inches.  Seems like a workable size rectangle to make a baby quilt or wall hanging.

And that is the story of how friendship, farting around, and flimsies come together.
It is bright, and I like that.  In real life, it's not quite as eye-searingly bright.  I tried to correct somewhat for the dim light of the basement with so-so results.

Now I'm in the process of making a scrappy back.

How have you used your small bonus half-square triangles?  Do you have some lying around, waiting for inspiration?  Do you toss them or give them away? 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Quilt for International Institute

This year's Hands2Help charity quilt challenge is coming to a close, and I'm nipping in under the wire with a quilt I've just finished today.
Somewhere in the beginning of the challenge, Sarah posted a photo of a quilt which caught my eye and served as inspiration.  It seemed like a good way to use all those bright, larger scale prints in the stash and scrap boxes.  I took a good rummage around and came up with a variety, stocked up on some Kona Snow background fabric that happened to be on sale, and was off to the races.

The tortoise kind of race, that is.  Slow and steady...
I cut 9-inch squares and made half-square triangles with a bright and a background square.  Then trimmed them to 8.5 inches and arranged them on the design wall.  Pretty easy-peasy.  It finished at 64 x 88.
The backing was made with chunks of scraps and some yardage from the stash.  I thought WAY harder about how to piece the backing than I did the front, though you might not know it to look at it now.  Like a jigsaw puzzle, putting together this and that to bring it up to the right size using the odd parts available.  I miscalculated somewhat when one of those odd parts ran short, which led to making the two hourglass blocks in the middle.
That may be my favorite part of the whole back.
Anyway, it's done and ready to send off to International Institute!

Linking to Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

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