Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A First!

My first doll quilt.  Having raised boys (not the girls I wanted), I had little need for doll quilts.  When I began making quilts eons ago, those quilts were utilitarian....they did not need to be pretty or decorative, or anything but warm.  After all, I was making quilts meant to keep those boys warm during our cold, damp winters.

After the boys grew up and there were enough quilts to go around, the little sewing I did was mostly for myself.  I'd become a working mom and needed professional clothes.  I made a few quilts but the bug had not really hit.  Then one day I woke up with a beautiful quilt in my head.

I chatted with my mom about the quilt in my mind and with her encouragement, made a pretty quilt for my sister's Christmas gift.  That quilt was a fussy cut Dresden Plate which I called Sid's Dresden.  It was supposed to match the tableware she had purchased while stationed in Europe.  Turns out the colors I remembered seeing a year earlier were a bit off.  But the quilt was beautiful nonetheless.

Since then, I've made so many quilts I've lost count.  Most of those quilts have been big, queen sized quilts still meant to be put on a bed, but some were made for aesthetic reasons, others have been baby quilts.

But now I've made a different quilt altogether--I've made a doll quilt that is just meant to be pretty.

There isn't a doll to snuggle under it, but I have a feeling that with six grand-daughters, I should be able to find one baby doll.
Of course, there's a reason for the doll quilt.  I'm presenting fussy cut Dresden plates at our next guild meeting.  I do have one or two quilts that will serve to show how fussy cutting the wedges can make an interesting pattern in the plate.

Still, I want to show other ways to use the wedges.  I also want to show that although fussy cutting fabric can waste quite a bit of fabric, it's possible to use the waste to make something else.  To make this little quilt, I pinned the castoffs before cutting out the wedges to keep the stack together.  After cutting enough wedges for a large quilt, I cut small wedges from the waste fabric and made this quilt.  I've got additional wedges to use as flower petal appliques on a little dress for one of the granddaughters.  I'm hopeful that I'll be able to work on that dress tomorrow.

On a different note, I received my Connecting Threads order today.  I received their catalog last week and found that they were having a great sale on some of the solids that I like.  I wanted the stacks and jelly rolls, but they were completely sold out!  So, I settled for 1/2 yard cuts instead.  Poor me!   Don't you feel sorry for me that I HAD to purchase such large pieces to be able to take advantage of the sale?

Here are some photos of the fabrics I purchased.  I want them for applique purposes.  I really prefer solids for applique most of the time.

 Check these out!  I could not resist even though I was interested in solids.  The top one (I think) is called "Bayou."  Now you know a Louisiana girl can't resist that!

Yummy purples, oranges, and yellows.  One is called sunshine.....it's stunning.

Blues for flowers and birds.  I have got to start using birds.  I see them in other quilts and they are always so cheerful.  That's a goal for this summer.  Remind me later if you haven't seen a bird in one of my quilts.

 These greens are for leaves and vines.  The greens are really much more saturated than they appear here, but I can't fix everything in my pictures.  I'm a horrible photographer, but you've seen my photos before, so it's not a surprise, I'm sure.

Of course, some of these are in two photos so that you can really see the contrasts.  There are 36 pieces in all, each one a half yard.  I really don't plan to use them for piecing, so half yard cuts are perfect.

What do you think?  Added to the stash, they will blend beautifully, but I'm seriously considering separating the solids and prints.  It's driving me crazy that it takes me so long to find the perfect piece of fabric.  I'm thinking that if the solids are separated but close by, I can save time by looking at a smaller stack when I want a solid for applique.

I'm sure that a new system will also make me nutty, especially having to reorganize everything.  But I'm about to have to move everything anyway, so maybe I'll take advantage of  the work and find a better system for my stash.  What do you do to make finding the right fabric less work?  I've read that other quilters sort by color and value, but I'm not that ambitious.  And though I don't want to spend an hour searching for one fabric, I do want an opportunity to stroke and touch and play with my pretties!

Okay, you know what's next: your turn.  What's your system?  Does it work?  What is the best thing about your system?  Share time!  Get to typing.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the the United States of

 America and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation 

under GOD, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all."

Thank you to the many service men and women who put

their lives on the line every day so that we may be free.

Special thank you to the many sisters, nephews, 

brothers-in-law, and other family members 

who have served or are serving in our armed forces.


Now it's your turn.....how did you celebrate or acknowledge Memorial Day with your family?  Do you have a special family tradition?  What is that tradition?  Do you have family members who are or were service personnel?  One of our sons was in the Air Force and we celebrated by having a wonderful barbecue supper at his house last night.  Leave a message!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Garden Update

Some days are just not meant for sewing.  Today must have been one for me.  I'm in the middle of a project for the next guild meeting.  I'm presenting "Fussy Cut Dresden Plates" and decided that I needed some practice since it's been a while.  That's the current project, but I haven't gotten far enough to show you anything.

And here's why:

Some of these pretty veggies were picked yesterday, but many of them I picked this morning.  I quit after I filled a five gallon bucket.  It was hot, no I mean HOT, and I don't do heat very well. So, I decided to make acquaintances with the A/C asap.  Of course, I wasn't done.....wash and scrub the veggies.  Cut off the stems and blemishes, chop, fill jars.  Wait, I had to heat the jars, and lids and rings, and mix the vinegar and seasonings, then fill the jars, pour in the boiling vinegar, get the air out (forgot that part last time) then clean the rims and put the lids and rings on.

Are we there yet?  
No, the hot job comes next.  
Put the jars in a huge, heavy pot, cover with hot water and boil.  Remove those and add the next batch.  
Then, you get this:
 Aren't they pretty?  17 in all.  Adam (the human garbage disposal) came in and couldn't wait to see if they would all seal.  He opened a jar of relish just to see what it tastes like.  

I was thinking I'd put up some more, but I don't know.  This is a lot of work and rather expensive.  It's cheaper to buy it already done!  No joke.  I figured the cost.  Not counting the jars, which I had to buy, just the vinegar, sugar, and spices, each jar comes to about $2.25.  I haven't bought pickles or relish in a while but I've looked for them online and found some that look pretty good for $2.99.  Once I factor in the time and running the A/C and stove, I imagine that I'm not very far ahead.  Of course, these babies are my own little creation, made with love for my own little family.  What's the price on that?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Quick before

it gets messy again.....take a picture.
And that's what I did.  
Put away the stuff on the work table.  Except for the things that I'm currently working on.

 And the things that don't have a place, yet.

 And the things that I keep out cause I use them so much.

And the cutest little basket that holds all those little things that keep getting lost, like the thimble and pin cushion and tape measure.

So, tonight's post is a picture post.  It's your turn.  How much time does it take to clean and organize your most used space?  It takes so much of my energy that I'm going to say goodnight.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A little of this, a little of that

And a lot of corn!  Again!  Yes, we finally finished pulling the corn and it is now in the freezer.  I won't give any numbers of how many bags are in the freezer.  Let's just say it's a good thing the grandkids love corn and it's my favorite vegetable.  The good news for the Marcotte clan is that we can have this corn in a variety of ways: added to cornbread, smothered with seasoning meat such as bacon, baked into a sweet casserole, cooked down with a dab of butter, souped into Maque Choux or shrimp and corn bisque or chowder.  And more.  But you get the idea.  At the very bottom of this post I'll add my grandmother's recipe for Maque Choux.  Yummy!

A little of this might be this:

Isn't it sweet?  I had the idea this morning while finishing up Diane's bed runner.  I also had the idea that I'd get the bed runner boxed up and mailed today on my way to the doctor's office.    Poor darling is bound to be disappointed to discover that it's not in the mail.  Sorry Diane.  I tried but my attention span is pretty short and I forgot about the box.  I promise tomorrow it's gone!

So back to the pillow: I started with the fabric, appliqued the circles on, quilted the top, then made and stuffed the pillow.  Easy peasy and lots of fun.

I plan to add it to my Etsy shop when I'm finished with this post.  I haven't added anything new in a while and it's time to get busy doing that.  

Oops, almost forgot.....I did take one more pic of Diane's bed runner.  This one is of the quilt on my floor, which I use for squaring up quilts.  There are lines on the flooring every six inches which is why I use it.  Note how nice and straight the bed runner is.  Yes, everything is a potential quilting tool, even the lines on the floor.

Last up of a little of this and that: I worked on my final lesson for Quilt Campus.  Of course, I'm not done, but I'm slowly getting there.  I figure a few more days and I'll be emailing the last bit. 

Volcie's Macque Choux
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups corn
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 can tomato sauce
1 small onion, chopped
3-4 ounces of ham, cubed
2 quarts water

Fry the ham in the butter until it begins to brown.  Add the onion and saute until golden, add tomato and saute until wilted.  Add tomato sauce and half the water and bring to a boil.  Lower to a simmer and add corn.  Cook for 30 minutes.

And that's it, pretty much.  Lots of little things to fill a day.  How was your day?  Lots of little things, too?  Share them.  We'd all like to know what kind of little things fill your days.  Leave a comment.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beautiful Bed Runner complete

 It's done.  All sewn up and off the machine.  I'm pretty excited about the outcome.  
The circle feathers look pretty good and the stippling did exactly what I hoped it would...worked out all the little kinks and bubbles, except for some in the corners, which try as I might, I couldn't get out.  
They're not too bad, though, and I'm pretty happy with the final results.  
 Most of these photos are of the blocks before taking the quilt off the machine.  
I emailed Diane and will square it up in the morning before shipping to back to her.  
 I don't know how excited she is to get the bed runner back, 
but I'm sure she's curious about how it will look on her bed.
 I don't know how she is, but I'm the kind of girl who loves surprises but hates to wait for them.

So, Diane, start watching for the mail carrier.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Beautiful Bed Runner continued

 I know, this is not a very creative title, but it works.  Especially since this post is a continuation of yesterday's....I had a few minutes to work on Diane's bed runner while Marley took a nap.
Thank goodness I loaded the quilt last night because it takes patience to load a quilt and I was using mine on Lil Miss Priss.  This is the first 20 minutes of her taking a nap.

Of course, eventually she did crash.  Because she didn't sleep very well last night, her morning nap lasted a good hour and half, so I did get a nice chunk of quilting done.
I started with the circle feathers that I planned to used.  Because I haven't done these in quite some time, I decided to practice on my small white board.  It's a way to increase muscle memory so that it becomes easier to move around the motif without having to think about which way to move. 
I'm definitely not a artist. In fact, you can see that I can not draw.  The idea is to get my muscles to move in the right directions while I'm thinking of what is next instead of what is happening right under the needle.  I've discovered that even thought my practices lines look pretty lame, the same lines are smoother when I "draw" them on with the machine.  

I am very good about looking ahead of the needle and, in fact, I can look ahead of the needle and a bit to either side, which allows me to anticipate how much space I'm trying to fill.  
Eventually I did get to the machine and started on those circle feathers.  The outcome is better than the white board drawing.  Isn't this going to be pretty?

I decided to leave the center of the four-patch square open so that the pretty points will stand out.  After I got a few squares stitched, I began thinking about the sashing strips.  There are a few problems with the borders being a little tight.  I decided to stitch the sashing with a medium stipple since stipples are pretty good about holding a quilt together and also quilt out some issues or problem areas.  
I got farther than I hoped today.  In fact, I got half-way through the quilting.  There are three rows of four-patch blocks and I've dropped feathers into almost two rows, plus I stippled some of the sashing.  Tomorrow I should be able to finish the feathers and and stippling.  Then I'll have only the borders left.  I hope to have the entire bed runner completed by Wednesday afternoon and ready to ship back to Diane on Thursday or Friday.  Of course, much depends on Marley's naps.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Beautiful Bed Runner

Diane, from Bastrop, Louisiana, sent me this wonderful bed runner to quilt on my Innova.  It's made of four patch blocks connected with beige sashing and bordered with a pretty green.  She sent the backing fabric which is a dark green with small diamonds.  It's all very pretty and I can't wait to get started in the morning.  I've loaded the quilt onto the machine and looked at a variety of quilting motifs, but I've decided to put down some circles and then add feathers on both sides.  If all goes well, the outside feathers will just touch the edge of each square, so each loop will increase or decrease in size as I move around the circle.  

I'm planning to take lots of photos as I quilt the runner and post them here so that she can read the quilt story and keep track of my progress.  That, however, may be slow as I'm babysitting Marley, our 18 month old grand-daughter, for the next few days.  She's a handful and very active, so we'll see how things go.
I hope you will join me in this quilt story.  Please add your comments and by all means, say hello to Diane.  Don't you think she did an outstanding job?  Check out her corners!  And if you can make out some of the fabrics, take a look at how well she married them.  I'm pretty impressed with her work and hope she likes my work enough to send me more.
Happy Quilting everyone!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday Exhaustion

I, we, spent the day pulling corn from our little corn patch.  It's pretty amazing how much corn we picked--about 40 dozen, we think.  Richard pulled only about half of the patch, but I dared him to pull any more till we'd get this cleaned, cut, cooked and in the freezer.  After all, he's good about getting the stuff out of the garden, but then he tends to abandon the fun when he gets tired of the activity.

Thank goodness he did help to shuck most of it.  Lane, our grandson, also helped but still 40 dozen is 480 ears.  Yeah, that's a lot of corn to shuck in this Louisiana heat.

So, after getting it out of the garden, pulling the leaves off each ear and picking off most of the silk, the next step is to scrub the little bits of silk off the ears and wash them.  That was my job.  In fact, once the corn came inside, everything became my job.

At one point I had to go outside and pry them off five gallon buckets next to the pond.  They had decided to take a break.  The best place for a break, apparently, is near the water.  And, well, if you're going to sit near the water, you may as well hold a fishing pole or rod and reel.

In the meantime, I'd washed, bagged the corn that I wanted frozen for corn on the cob, cut the rest of the corn and started cooking it down.  Crazy guys, laughed because they'd been caught fishing instead of finishing up the corn.

Of course it would mean fish for supper if I weren't so tired.  And if the kitchen weren't such a mess.  Cutting corn and scraping the milk out of it is pretty messy since the milk tends to fly everywhere.  Now that I've cleaned up, I definitely don't want to make another mess by cooking supper.

In anticipation of having lots of veggies to put up, I picked up a Food Saver vacuum sealer to put food away in the freezer.

I really like this system.  The food is sealed in heavy duty freezer bags and since the air is vacuumed out, it won't freezer burn as quickly as when I've used regular bags.  One of the problems we've had is that we can't used the food quickly enough and moving it around in the freezer while looking for other items occasionally breaks a seal or makes a small hole.  Then we're forced to toss out items that, hopefully, will now last longer.  The bags are more expensive and, of course, there's the added cost of the machine, but if meat and veggies, last longer and taste better as a result, it's a good investment.

 I certainly hope that is the case, because I've invested much more than just money......my time and work absolutely count for something, especially when I'm this tired from being on my feet all day.

And especially since I spent yesterday picking green beans--we call them snap beans here in the South--breaking off the ends, blanching them and bagging them.  So I'm putting lots of faith and effort into vacuum packing my summer veggies.

Of course, I did do some homework and had spoken to a few people about the idea.  Since those I trust highly recommended that I use the vac/seal system, I considered it a good investment.  Right now, I'm hoping that I'm right, because goodness knows that I don't want to do this much work for naught!

Share your story.  Do you have a garden?  What veggies do you grow, and do you put up any of the vegetables?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cute It Up Giveaway

One of my favorite blogs, Cute it Up, is having a giveaway!  I thought you might be interested....I know I'd love to win!  If you are interested, get busy cause the contest ends in just a few days.

Not a lot of stuff today, we're almost out of school (one more day, yay) so I've been terribly busy trying to pack up my personal stuff, clean up the library, and help with the end-of-year paperwork.  That's way more than seven hours can contain, so I've been hanging out for an extra hour or two each day in a effort to wrap it all up.  

Tomorrow, however, I will drive away from MHS for the last time as a member of the faculty, so I'll probably leave at a normal time.  I hate long goodbyes--that means I'll finish up the last of the packing and load the car, then make my rounds to say goodbye to my friends.  

Hugs to everyone at MHS, thank you for a great eight years.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A customer contacted me last week requesting a black/white polka dot garment bag.  I got right on it thinking I didn't have enough of the fabric in my stash.  I was right, but a quick trip to my favorite LQS, and in no time I was quilting the fabrics.

I wanted to practice feathers and McTavishing.  I taught myself both using youtube.com tutorials, which are just long enough to keep me interested. Karen McTavish on youtube.com

So I feathered and feathered and feathered.  It's amazing how long it takes to fill two yards of fabric with feathers.  Although it works for Karen McTavish, her beautiful fillers simply don't work for me.  I spent way too much time ripping the crooked lines out, then refilling with feathers.

No stippling on this baby at all.  I'm so proud!  I'm a stippling pro and it's my go-to filler, so the challenge was to fill without stipples.  Yea!  I succeeded in that at least.  You can find it here:  Fleur de Lis Quilts and Accessories

Then on to the zipper.  Even Richard had to work on adding the zipper head to the zipper tape.  I could not get it on and although he tried for a while, it was a struggle for him.  But smart guy he is, he figured it out for me.

So now when I'm ready to use this brand again, I'll be able to apply the head myself.

Stitching the zipper turned out much easier than in the past.  I think it has something to do with the wider tape.  There's more room for the machine foot.

It all went off without a hitch, except that I took a longer nap than I should have yesterday.  By late this afternoon I was ready to snap photos and contact my customer.

Tomorrow is graduation at the high school, so I'll be very busy all day preparing for that and packing up my office.  I hoped to finish all the packing today, but there's lots of cleaning to do and tossing out the junk I've collected over the last eight years is so much more work than I anticipated.

It takes time to go through boxes of stored prom, Beta, English, graduation, library, and goodness knows what else.  But it's happening quite steadily and in no time I'll be moved out of MHS.

It's bittersweet to leave a school where I'm really happy, but it's time to move back home to my old school.  Apparently it's where I'm needed right now and it's the one school in our parish that is offering a full library position.  So, that's where I'm headed for the next school year.

Thanks for visiting.  By all means, leave a comment and let me know what you think of the garment bag.  I'm thinking that she'll like it, but I'm curious what you think, too.  Gotta love those comments!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Peepers, Quackers, and Quailers

Oh My!  Have you ever suggested something reasonable to your husband then discover that he took your reasonable suggestion to the next level?  My husband either goes with NO or takes a reasonable suggestion to about the 10th level.  Here's one example:
Remember the Fuzzy Peepers?  The little chicks that I was so proud of?

I got seven about a month ago and they are doing very well--growing, putting on feathers, requiring more food and water and space that we were not prepared for.

So we borrowed a bigger brooder, bought larger feeders and water containers and prepared to move the seven peepers to their new home. This photo on the left is the same peepers--now not so fuzzy, but way bigger, feathered-out, and happy.

So what do you think I suggested?

Get a few more chicks...we have everything we need now and it's the same work whether we're tending seven or 15.  Besides, 15 is my favorite number and with that many we'd occasionally have enough eggs to give some to the kids.

Oh, yes, Richard agreed.
With enthusiasm.
My first clue, of course, but I tend to miss clues and, get this, trust my husband to have good sense.
Go figure, 32 years of craziness and zany lives, and still I do.
Oh well, life goes on.
Right now it goes on with another 20 chicks in the small brooder,

and 12 Peking ducks in another small brooder,

and 40 quail (white and brown) in the big brooder with the original Fuzzy Peepers.

Yes, this is my life!  Ask for something small and reasonable and get something big and outrageous.......

or nothing at all!  Guess, I can live with outrageous......

Have a great week!