Monday, August 31, 2009

A New Toy for the Birthday Boy

My husband celebrated his birthday a couple of weeks ago and he just got his gift this week. He has always wanted a remote control airplane so got his wish. It is made of Styrofoam and has a 47" wing span and has a battery operated motor.

Last evening he got it put together and took it out for a test fly. The first flight lasted about 10 seconds before it crashed in a soybean field. I recorded the second flight which might have been 15 seconds long, again a crash in the soybean field. It is probably lucky that there was a soybean field there and that is where it went down. The growing beans cushioned it so it didn't get bungled up. It could have landed in a mud and water filled depression close by - that sure would have made the white plane look much different for sure.

It was fun to watch - eventually he will get better at flying I am sure. Of course he might want to watch the DVD that came with it as it probably shows how to run the remote and might have a few hints and tips on flying too. (You know you don't read directions or watch instructional DVDs unless you absolutely have to - his theory.)

Watch the video below of that second flight and be sure to have your sound turned up. Listen to John encouraging the plane and my voice at the end.

He can't wait to be able to fly it when the grandkids come. Haven't seen him as excited about anything for a long time. Guess we all need our toys!


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cut, Cut, Cut......

I have cut fabric and cut fabric and have nice stacks of the different sizes of fabrics from my big tote neatly stacked in these new plastic boxes to keep them sorted, but I am beginning to think that we have a bad infestation of fabric multiplying gremlins living here as the level in the box has sure not gone down much. I have sorted out the larger pieces to keep to use for backings. Nothing is too large and backings will need to be pieced from them but it will work for a scrappy quilt. I have also sorted out and plan to throw away the fabrics I saved that are stiff, bleed when wet and fade badly.

My feeling is that this box should be nearly empty but it is not. It is about 2/3 full yet. Of course the fabrics are more tossed around and before they were mostly laying flat so maybe there looks like a lot of fabric but it is only fluffed up...hmmmmm.
I think I will cut until these small boxes are full then quit for now. It has been a nice feeling to finally do something with some of these fabrics. I just hated to get rid of them but knew they would not be in a quilt of a few colors and if I am going to make scrap quilts there is so much cutting before you can start I decided to cut the 2 1/2", 3" squares and 1 1/2", 2 1/2" and 3 1/2" strips. Did get the 9" squares cut from this box too for the workshop our guild has coming up in October.

Off to cut some more...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Tidy Cupboard

This morning I cleaned out one of our kitchen cupboards. I should have taken before and after photos but didn't think of it until I was done. This last week I purchased an expanding cabinet shelf to use in this cupboard.

The top shelf was full of stacks of mugs, cups and bowls that threatened to fall out if bumped the wrong way. Using this shelf is like magic - so much more room for those mugs and smaller coffee cups that go with the dishes.

I want you to notice the 3 stacked lime green mugs on the top shelf - right side. Those were a wedding gift that I got to pick out. John's sister had us choose a set of Melmac dishes (a kind of plastic dinnerware popular in the 50s, 60s and 70s) and the ones I chose had lime green designs which became really ugly after a few years but you know that green is really popular again now. We used them for years but I got rid of the dishes a long time ago but kept 3 of the mugs. The reason I kept them is they are light weight, stable (they don't tip over easily) and they had a nice handle. I kept them for using with our girls or other small children that came.

Now I wish I had kept 4 of them. All 4 of my grandchildren love to use "grandmas green cups". I use them all the time when the kids are here but sadly when all 4 are here have to I get another mug out for one of them. They just handle mugs better than a glass which is always in jeopardy of being tipped over.

My husband insists on keeping his meds. and vitamins in this cupboard and I didn't like it. I was afraid the grandchildren would get hold of them and besides the bottles were always tipping over or falling out of the cupboard. I found a small plastic basket and put them in and now it resides on the new shelf way up high. He is 6'2" so it is no problem for him to reach the basket.

The blank areas are for the dishes still in the dishwasher but they will have a place to be also. Feels good to have done this and it didn't take too long to do either. Maybe that should be my goal to clean one cupboard a day and it won't take so much of my time and get done, whereas now I keep putting it off as I don't want to spend all day doing it.

Will let you know if this will be a new plan to organize the house....all cupboards and closets are in disarray. We have lots of storage space here and I sure have filled it up the 4 years we have lived here. Besides I have decided it is easier to stuff something in a closet than make a decision to get rid of it. Sometimes I think it would be wonderful to have one of those people that are on TV that do the re-organization of peoples homes come here. Would love to have an unbiased opinion and some new clever storage ideas.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Quilt Guild Program

Gloria did a wonderful job doing the program at our quilt guild meeting last week. She had examples of the sizes she cut from her stash, blocks she made and beautiful quilts she made with the blocks. She shared tips and tricks she used and enthused us all and convinced us we could do it too. Here are the 4 large quilts she made with her blocks that she only made from scraps. She did choose a complimentary colored fabric for borders and backing and did purchase that but the rest only came from her scraps, not full uncut pieces in her stash but just scraps. These first two quilts were made with the same type of block - it is a 9 patch block divided in half with light fabrics on one half and dark fabrics on the other half. There were half square triangle blocks in two of the corners, otherwise the block was made with squares only. Gives the appearance of a log cabin setting doesn't it? Notice the borders on these quilts. The first one uses half square triangles and the second one she inserted in a band of fabrics cut 1/1/2" wide and stitched together. (I know my photos are not good of the quilts but if you study them you get the idea.)
This third quilt uses a block similar to the first two but it has the center square made of half square triangles. Gives a much crisper look to the division of light an dark. Again notice the scrappy squares used in the border.This last quilt is made of blocks with the 1 1/2" strips sewn into blocks then put into a rail fence setting. The border is again interesting.
So enjoyed her program, she made us all want to make a scrappy quilt. They were so pretty and she reduced her stash, even though she said she has lots left....don't we all.

Happy Quilting,

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Stash Busting

Yesterday I didn't want to sit down and stitch so started working on cutting up my stash of fabrics for a scrap quilt or two. Last winter I had sorted out fabrics I thought I would never use in a quilt project, especially the miniatures I make now almost exclusively. I loaded up a tote with them and put them in the basement thinking I would use them for donation quilts for the different projects our guild does each year. Right now I am cutting them up in the following sizes; 9" squares for a scrappy workshop the guild is having in October, 3" squares to use for 1/2 square triangles, 2 1/2" squares, 1 1/2" strips, 2 1/2" strips and 3 1/2" strips. I am putting them into light and dark piles as I am cutting them and will put them in some sort of boxes when I finish or quit cutting for now. As you can see from the photo below I have lots and lots of fabric to choose from.
We had a wonderful program at quilt guild last Thursday on using up our scraps so was inspired to start working. The gal that did the program used the blocks below and made 4 wonderful very scrappy quilts from them. She used the 2 1/2" squares, and the 3" squares to make the half square triangles. She also used 1 1/2 strips for borders and used them in blocks too. The quilts were stunning!Another reason I am getting busy with using my stash is because of the challenge for our guild this year. It is called "25 Yard Dash". We are all challenged to use 25 yards of fabric from our stash, new fabrics purchased after the meeting will not count. We have to bring the completed projects to a meeting to count towards our total. The VP has a formula to figure out how much fabric was used in a quilt - ball park figure but that is good enough for me. I figured with only making miniatures I will never get 25 yards used and may not anyway with my plans for stash busting but I am going to make a gallant try to use at least some of it up. They are allowing us to count projects already started so I am planning on finishing a few large quilts that have been fermenting in my closet. That is the term I am using for UFOs started many years ago.

Better get dinner on the table - for you city people that is lunch to you. Farmers call it dinner and want a bigger meal at noon as they need more nutrition to sustain them with all the physical work they do during the day. We eat a smaller meal at night and call it supper.

Until Later,

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wacky Bird Progress

As you can see I am making some progress on my Wacky Bird block. The bird is done and now I am working on the branches and leaves. I am still irritated by the lack of good value changes for the legs, tail feathers and orange face piece. I need to remember to pay closer attention and check my fabrics before I go to the work of using them. Must keep those value finders handy!

Suzanne Marshall's applique method also has us outline each piece in embroidery thread so I am hoping that will help. Will have to choose the right thread colors to make it happen though.

Here is a close up of the eye. I chose to make it from two fabrics to give it a little more dimension. I first made a circle on the purple fabric with my circle template, cut it out leaving about 1/8" seam allowance then appliqued it onto a large piece of orange fabric. When the purple circle was finished I took a my circle template and laid it over the appliqued piece and chose a circle a little larger on the template, centered it and marked it on the orange fabric. I then cut out the orange circle with a small 1/8" seam allowance and appliqued it down.

I have 3 different circle templates that I have purchased at Hobby Lobby or other places that sell drafting and art supplies. When you have to draw a circle it is much easier to find a corresponding size on one of these templates and trace inside the pre-cut hole than to draw a circle following a traced circle on a piece of paper. There are registration marks on them too so if you have to line them up vertically or horizontally you do this. Very inexpensive to buy and I would be lost without them.

I do want to point out a couple of points in my outside circle. I tried real hard to keep my curve smooth but when I was finished I noticed these points.....oh well. They are not huge points so maybe the embroidery will cover them up.

Had company over the weekend so am recovering, doing laundry, etc. to catch up. We seem to have lots of company over the summer every year. We do enjoy having people come but I never get the things done that I think I will.

Enjoying tomatoes that my friend gave us last Thursday and the 2 doz. my sister brought this weekend. Our tomatoes are so slow ripening this year, think it was the cooler than normal weather we have had plus the lateness they were planted. John and S. planted my garden for me late last spring since I couldn't do it because of the foot surgery I had.

The foot is better but not completely back to normal now. I have been wearing only flip flops with lots of cushion all summer as the arch of my foot is still swollen some and my regular shoes are too tight on my left foot. I have occasionally worn them for short periods of time though. Not sure what I will be doing when fall and cooler weather comes though.

Happy Quilting,

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wacky Bird

To answer Elaine's question, yes these are all batik fabrics in the Wacky Bird. I like working with batiks because they are more tightly woven and don't ravel as badly as traditional fabrics. They also are thinner so it is easier to make sharp points as there is not as much bulk to turn under. Some say that your stitches show more on batik fabrics but if you are careful with your stitching the applique looks good and no stitches showing.

I only got the rest of the leg appliqued last night plus two pieces of the wing. Didn't get started until late and there will be no stitching this evening as I will be at my quilt guild meeting.

Our August meeting is always so much fun as we take a summer break and I have not seen most of the members since last May. We have a pot luck supper planned this evening then our program is on making scrappy quilts.

We are going to be collecting food for the food bank again this year and tonight we are to bring vegetables. Of course you can bring anything you want but it is nice to have a suggestion. The food bank weighs the food each month that we bring in and the total for last year was 436.5 pounds. That is a lot of donations for a group that usually only has 20 at each meeting.

Tomorrow 3 of us are taking our quilts to the State Fair to be judged and displayed when the fair opens in a week or so. I only had one quilt to take this year as most of my time this past year was taken up with making donation quilts - 2 for the quilt guild, 1 for the Nebraska Cattlemen's Ball, 1 for the NSQG auction at QuiltNebraska and 1 for Project Linus, quilts collected from NSQG members and donated to children in need.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wacky Bird Applique

I finally got my hands on some fabric and a needle last night....yipee! This is the block I started in the applique class at QuiltNebraska convention with Suzanne Marshall in July. Last night I got several pieces appliqued down and plan to work on it this evening too.

Had problems with value again with this block. Am not going to worry about it because it may never be more than a block but if you look close the legs are the same value as the body and the two bottom tail feathers are about the same value as the background. The extra piece on the head near the beak is close but there is a little difference in value.

This really causes blending or parts disappearing, especially if you stand a little away from the block. When I choose these fabrics in class I didn't have a value finder and didn't worry about it - just wanted to learn Suzanne's techniques for the beautiful applique she does.

I do like her method she calls "Take Away Applique" and think I will use it again. It is easy to place pieces on the background without marking the background. This method also saves time cutting templates for the shapes. Get her book and read all about it.

Want to do the stem stitch embroidery around the pieces that she has used on her applique too. That may take me a while as I am a really, really slow embroiderer.

Today it is so nice outside. Warm but with a hint of fall in the air - hard to explain but it is feeling more like fall every day.


Monday, August 17, 2009

The Itsy, Bitsy Spider - NOT!

A rather pretty spider, right? Well this lovely spider is living right by my front door and is HUGE! After searching the Internet I found out it is a Common Garden Spider." This web page says it should be in our area but I sure have never seen anything like it. Did find out the male of this species is pretty small so we know this is a female. This spider's body is about 1 1/4" in length and about 3/4" across and it is about 3" across from leg tip to leg tip.

We have decided to leave it there after we read that it is not poisonous. Today I went out and looked over the porch and saw that it had a grasshopper all covered in web towards the bottom of the pretty web. Later this afternoon the grasshopper was moved to the center of the web and tonight it is gone, presumably eaten. As you can tell we are watching the activity pretty close. One thing we did notice is the web is very strong, not like most of the spider webs we see.

I am not afraid of spiders with the exception if they are crawling on my body so will let it stay out there. Now snakes are a different story - EEEEK - can't stand them and they scare the pajeebers out of me every time and don't want any living in my yard.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

More Summer Adventure

We traveled across the mountains to the east side of Washington to visit more relatives the last half of our trip. This is the view one cousin has from the backside of his house. Isn't it beautiful?

The countryside east of the mountains is pretty dry with the exception of where there is irrigation. This is a wheat field that has been harvested in the background.

The photos are not really in the correct order we saw them but the one above is of the Columbia River after we crossed to the east side of it. Pretty dry and rocky most of the area around it too unless you get right up to the shore and in the recreation area where the sprinklers were going.

While in Spokane we had a picnic in this beautiful park. It was a lovely afternoon with no wind. I was amused when our aunt thought it was windy one day and we just considered it a slight breeze. In Nebraska we get hot winds a lot of time during the summer and cold winds in the winter. That makes it sound pretty awful here but it really isn't. We love living here with the lack of people, cars and traffic and lots of sunshine.

While in Spokane we visited St. Johns Episcopal Cathedral - wow what a beautiful church. This is the stained glass rose window at one end but there were lots of other large beautiful stained glass windows in this church. If you ever get a chance to visit the Spokane area take a side trip to see this Gothic inspired church.

The main reason we took this trip at this time was that John's only surviving aunt and uncle were celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. They have always been special to John as he was born on their wedding day. Oops, I just told you how old he is...just keep it a secret between us OK?

We joke that other 60 yr olds look a lot older than we are - by the way I am not quite there yet. I figure if I feel good and can do the things I want to do then who cares what age you are. Right?

It has taken a couple of days to recover though. Our plane didn't get in to Omaha until 10 pm and it is a 3 hour drive from their to get home so we ended the trip on a late night. Our trip was short but enough time to see people and enjoy seeing another part of the country.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Sweet Pea

Trying something new here today so hope it works. I took a short video of the cockatoo that belongs to one of the cousins with my digital camera. It was the funniest bird and wanted to have our grandchildren be able to watch him. The bird's name is Sweet Pea. (They thought it was a girl when they named it then found out later it was a boy but the name stuck.)

This bird can say a couple of words and loves his family. It snuggled down on the shoulders of family members and wanted to be petted just like a cat or dog. I had no idea that birds could be so affectionate.

One of the things it likes to do is sit on someones shoulder when they are eating then it leans forward to try and get a piece of food out of their mouth. Sounds kind of gross but mostly the family just put a piece of lettuce in the corner of their closed lips and he would eat it. We laughed and laughed at him and his silly antics - better than a comedian.


Summer Trip

Can you guess where we just traveled for a summer trip? We flew into Seattle and visited cousins that live north of there for a few days last week then drove across to Spokane to do the same with more relatives. The photo above is of Puget Sound.

I always love going to places that have large bodies of water as we just don't have that here in central Nebraska. The weather had been really hot in the Seattle area the week before we arrived but turned cold, cold, cold while we were there. I don't think the temps. climbed much above 65 and it was so damp too that I about froze.

Thinking that it was summer I took only summer clothes (one pr. of long pants) and borrowed more sweaters and coats and still was cold. You can kind of see how hazy the photo above is and that is how it was while we were there.

Turned on the Macro setting on the camera and took a close up photo of this rock with barnacles all over it. Rather interesting rock.

Loved these poles stuck in the ground near the shore. The reflections were just great and a seagull agreed to sit on top while I took my photos - that added to the mood I think.

The whole group of us went to the Everett Marina to eat at Anthony's and had a wonderful seafood dinner. After dinner we walked out on the pier to look at all the boats. The sun was going down by then but with the aid of a post for a tripod I was able to take these photos using a timed shutter. They turned out quite pretty. It was a beautiful evening with no wind and I must have finally warmed up a little or gotten used to the damp, cool weather as I wasn't so cold by then.

Great time but all too short. We usually don't go anywhere in the summer because of irrigating the crops but John got a couple of guys to take care of it and off we went. We traveled with John's sister and brother in law too and had a great time with them.

As you can see - no sewing for now.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

State Fair Entry

I only had one thing to enter in the Nebraska State Fair this year. It is the quilt I call "Waiting for Halloween". I finished it last September and to see a photo of it click on the link here.

It will seem strange not to have any miniatures entered but the three I finished this year were all donation quilts. One was donated to the Nebraska Cattlemen's Ball, one to NSQG fund raiser a couple of weeks ago and the other was donated to our guild for the miniature quilt auction back in April.

My group of friends plan to white glove one day at the State Fair too. It is always fun to spend time with the quilts and visiting with people looking at the exhibit. We have been volunteering for many years and so far everyone still wants to do it each year.

This is the last year the State Fair will be in Lincoln. I have mixed feelings about the move to Grand Island. I grew up showing livestock and other 4-H projects at the fair in Lincoln so will miss the ambiance of the fairgrounds - brings back so many memories of happy times when I go into the buildings and walk down the streets of the grounds.

I will support the fair in Grand Island though. The fair was going to be moved no matter what as the University of Nebraska wanted that piece of property and the buildings were all needing very expensive repairs. It all came down to money. I hope Nebraskans give the new location a chance and support it like they have supported the fair being in Lincoln. It won't be the same but new traditions can be formed.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Summer Time

It seems like I am not getting any sewing done this summer so thought I would show you a bit of what is taking so much of my time. I love my flowers and yard so spend a lot of time weeding, watering, and mowing.

These zenias I have planted along my garden have been blooming so pretty. Those pesky grasshoppers have not made it out to this garden plot where I have my tomatoes, cucumbers and eggplant growing. Finally the crop of grasshoppers has finally gotten under control in other places in my yard. I had to spray they 4 times - there were hoards and hoards of them a few weeks ago. Will have to get a photo of the iris to show you the damage they have done to the leaves.

We are still waiting for our first tomato to ripen. This has been the coolest summer we have had for a long time. Tomatoes need lots of hot days and hot nights to ripen. Today it has gotten really hot so maybe red, yummy tomatoes from the garden will soon be on our menu!

I worked this morning and until mid-afternoon on putting up some sweet corn. Love having the frozen packages in the freezer ready to use later. I talked about it last year here, the same process today too. We didn't find enough ripe corn today to do it all so will have to spend another day finishing up. There is nothing like the taste of fresh sweet corn. We have been eating it for a few days so I am not tired of it yet. Every summer we eat corn once a day as it isn't too long before it is too ripe or all gone so have to eat it when we can.



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