Thursday, June 30, 2011


Lilies blooming in my flower beds.
No sewing  yesterday – working in my flowers and vegetable garden instead.  Most of what I was doing was very unglamorous but the flowers are beautiful so that is what I am showing you.  I have several colors of day lilies and several colors of the Asiatic Lilies growing in my flower beds.  The Asiatic Lilies only bloom once during the summer but they are beautiful right now.  The Day Lilies bloom all summer long and are starting to bloom now too.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Leaning Tower of Blue Blocks

I sit down to sew when ever I have a chance and the pile of finished blocks is growing but by looking at how it is leaning I had better make two piles so I don’t have to pick them up off the floor.  There is satisfaction is seeing that stack grow little by little.

What is your guess….how many blocks finished now?  OK, I won’t make you wait just look at the photo below.
Yup, I have 250 done now! The pile of cut squares and strips is going down fast in my box.  I wonder if I will have enough to make a big quilt?  Still have not done any figuring yet, just enjoying the stitching, pressing and trimming.

Until Later,

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Growing Stack of Blue Blocks

My stack of blue blocks is growing little by little even with not much time to sew.  I have been sewing them in groups of 10, then I press and trim the 10 before I move onto more sewing.

In case you can’t tell how many blocks I have finished just look at this close up photo.  Each time I have a new set of blocks finished and on the stack I cross out the old total number and write the new one so I don’t have to keep recounting.  I still don’t know how many I need or want to make but want to know so I can plug the numbers into the EQ7 program.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Little Boys Sew Potholders

I have not had much time to sew lately with the family reunion a week ago and then we had our two grandsons visiting this week for several days.  We had a great time but little boys that are 5 years and 8 years have lots of energy.  They love to play outside all around the farm and have great imaginations.  I think they pretended they were Star Wars characters most of the time and they use old croquet mallets as their light sabers and kept us safe from all those bad guys the whole time they were here!

We did do a little sewing while they were here though.  I chose a very easy project for them to work on.  They made 3 pot holders from blue jean fabric and a square of pretty fabric.  The potholders are raw edged and so, so easy, plus they can be very imperfect and still be great potholders.
First we cut 2 squares of denim from old worn out blue jeans.  Two of these potholders were made  7 1/2” and one 8 1/2”.  The seams are all on the outside and will ravel out a bit as they are used and laundered but that is OK as that is what they are supposed to do. 

They chose a fabric they liked for the top of the potholders….two with a western theme with horses and cowboys for them and one with butterflies and flowers for their mother.  This fabric was cut 1” smaller than the denim square.  There is a piece of cotton batting cut about 1/2” smaller than the pretty fabric too.

To make these potholders this is what we did….First we centered the pretty fabric on the batting, pretty side out.  We centered them on one piece of the denim and marked an X and a plus sign on the pretty fabric then stitched the lines with a straight stitch to to hold it all together.  Easy for kids to do so far… right?

The next thing we did was stitch their names on the back of the second piece of denim.  They chose the letters on the machine to program in the name and then stitched it out.  That was really fun for them to see the sewing machine stitch the letters out  one by one.  On the one they made for their mother they stitched “Mommy”.  The 5 yr. old insisted it had to be “Mommy”, not Mom, Mother or Mama.

The last step was to layer the denim square with the stitched names to the outside, then the stitched sandwich with the denim square next to denim square and pretty side up.  I let them choose embroidery stitches to stitch next to and on the outside of the pretty fabric and they each chose to change the stitch on each side.

The squares did not stay exactly lined up and the stitching was not perfect but these will be loved and used for a long time and really are great potholders to protect hands from getting burned.  Both boys were so proud of them and excited to show them to their parents.

The 5 year old told me he loves, loves, loves to sew.  I chuckled at that as he sat between my legs and just ran the foot pedal that was placed on two catalogs to make it high enough for him.  I did slow the speed down as I had a hard time “driving” as he told me I was doing with the fabric since he liked to sew fast.

A great time but this grandma needed a little rest after they went home.  It is amazing how “quiet” is so very nice.

Until Later,

Friday, June 24, 2011

Family Reunions = Lots of Fun

My mother’s family just had a reunion at Estes Park, Colorado at the YMCA of the Rockies.  One of my sisters and I drove my mother to the reunion of her 2 sisters, 2 brothers and all the nieces and nephews that could make it.  My mother is the oldest living sibling now as her older sister died a few years ago and several of the spouses have passed away too.  There were only 42 of us in attendance this year but we had such a great time catching up on our lives and enjoying the lodge, YMCA and Rocky Mountain National Park.
We had the use of one of the large lodges at the YMCA and it was just beautiful.  The kitchen was huge – we fixed big breakfasts and served our other meals from this well appointed kitchen.  It had 4 dishwashers and lots of help to serve and clean up so no one person had to do much.  The lodge had a big dining room and lounge to accommodate a group and they were divided by a two sided fireplace which we did run a few times.  It got down to the upper 40s at night so was cool in the morning.  The lodge had hotel type rooms we all stayed in.
My ankle felt good enough I did the walk around Bear Lake….well I only went half way then back to the start as there was snow on the last half of the trail and I sure didn’t need to be falling.  I am not known for my grace so that was probably the best decision.  Actually there is still a lot of snow in the mountains yet.

The YMCA of the Rockies is right beside the Rocky Mountain National Park so we got the chance to drive, hike and appreciate the beauty of the mountains in the park too.  We took my mother on a driving excursion and she had a wonderful time even though at Rainbow Curve it was windy and chilly.  I don’t remember for sure but think the temperature was in the 50s and it was misty up there too.  IMG_2969
We were among the many tourists taking photos of the many elk.  Majestic animals but we were playing it safe and didn’t get too close but some people were within a few feet of them snapping photos.  Don’t these people know that they are wild animals and could really hurt them if they took offense at the closeness or photo taking of the tourists.
The wild flowers were beautiful too.  I do not know what kind these were but we saw them all over.IMG_2948
OK, that is it for the trip photos…could bore you with lots of photos of people you don’t know but I won’t.  I will end by saying it was a beautiful place to have a reunion and so enjoyed myself and was glad my mother could go and see her family members that are scattered all over the USA.

Until Later,

Monday, June 20, 2011

Colorful Spaghetti?

No – not the spaghetti you eat but plastic bowls of fabric trimmings from squaring up the blocks at the workshop last Saturday.  The bright colored bowls make the scraps really pretty.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


These are really easy blocks to make – cut a 6” square, cut it in half diagonally, sew a 1 1/2” x 8 1/2” wide strip between and square up.  I did make a goof when I cut my small strips as I cut them at 8” instead of 8 1/2” though but it wasn’t a problem I just squared my blocks a little smaller than some of the others did.  Follow the photos below to see how I made the blocks.
One thing I don’t understand from the pattern is that the instructions say to trim the blocks down to 5”.  What a lot of fabric to trim off – a big waste I think.  I cut my center strip too short and still could trim mine down to 5 1/2”.  Others that made the correct size center strip trimmed their blocks to 6” and I did a little figuring and if you cut the center strip 9” long you could square up the block at 6 1/4”.  I can’t see wasting as much fabric as the pattern has you trim off.  If you want to a 5”  block the beginning square should be cut smaller than 6”.

I pressed my seams all one direction so hopefully when I put them together I should be able place the blocks about anywhere by just flipping it if the seams don’t work together.  That is the plan but will have to wait until I start putting them together to know if that will work or not.

I have 90 blocks done and don’t really know how many I will make – guess when I run out of blues maybe.  Looking at my box of blue fabric I don’t think I want to make that many, even though I would love to make a bigger dent in all those fabrics.

I am not rushing to get this quilt finished and think it will be a fun project to pick up and sew when I have just a few minutes as the blocks are so simple to make.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Guild Workshop

Saturday our local guild had a scrappy quilt workshop.  One of our members led the workshop and we got the choice of two different free patterns we all got off the web.  These were not difficult patterns and we all could have done them at home but it is so much more fun to sew all day with friends. 

I chose to make the Scrappidy-Do-Dah a free pattern from McCalls Quilting.  This was designed by Ann Weber and Joanne Rowicki. 
Here is the start of my quilt.  I chose to use all blues so cut two squares and two strips of every blue I have in my “blue box”.   I have a lot of blues
Two other member’s quilts…the one on the right is our youngest member’s blocks.  She is about 12 I believe.  We are so glad she feels comfortable at our meetings and workshops.  She is a cutie and really likes to quilt.

The second scrappy quilt was The Next Generation of the Magic 9-Patch by Lyn Brown
It was a fun day with no yard work, laundry, phone calls, or cooking to do.  We have so much fun chatting, sharing tips and getting a large block of time to sew.

I will be blogging more about how I made my blocks next.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Gardening Mulch

IMG_2790I have been looking for mulch that will not blow away for years and think I finally found what I have been looking for.  A local flower/veg. grower has been selling a mulch that I think will be perfect for the windy conditions we have here in Nebraska and especially here on our farm.  I have tried all kinds of bark and shredded wood and they all blow out of the flower beds and are a mess to clean up.  I don’t want to use rock as it is hard to move, gets hot with our high temperatures in the summer and is not the best choice around plants.

This “new” at least new to me mulch is a soybean mulch.  What is soybean mulch you might ask?  Well the greenhouse owner’s husband is a farmer and he windrows the stocks, leaves and shells from the soybeans that come out of the back of the combine as he harvests his soybean crop.  It normally just falls to the ground to decay where it lays.  Windrowing is getting the this debris gathered together in long rows so it can be baled.  This farmer and his wife take the baled soybean "stuff" and they chop it up and they sell it bagged or by bulk pickup loads.

I had gone to the business with a friend of mine to get some flowers and she was going to get a couple bags of the mulch and told me her daughter had used it last year and they too live where it is not protected and her mulch didn’t blow all last summer and last winter with the blizzards.  I bought a couple of bags to try and put them around a tree in our yard about a month ago and we have had some high windy days and it didn’t move, didn’t get any stems blowing across the lawn so that sold me.
I  bought two pickup loads worth  and brought it back on a dump trailer and so the last few days I have been taking that pile of mulch and getting it spread around our trees and in my flower beds.  Of course this should have been done a couple of months ago while everything is just emerging from the winter as it is more difficult  now to get it around the plants and not on the plants since everything is so tall.
It is tiring scooping it into my wheelbarrow and spreading it out, but Oh…it looks so good.  It is a little fluffy looking now but it does flatten out with time.  It will let moisture through and did I mention…. IT DOES NOT BLOW AROUND!
John and a friend were looking at it and discussing how they could do it next year if we wanted more mulch as we just let it lay in the fields now. The cattle munch on it some but don't eat it too well as it is a little prickly for their tastes even though they relish the actual soybeans left in the field.  The big problem was how to chop it as we don’t have a hay bale chopper but they decided a silage cutter would do the chopping too so I may not have to buy it again. 

Probably the best benefit of putting this mulch around everything is the physical work out I am getting on my ankle and shoulder.  Lifting and reaching is good for my shoulder and all that squatting and bending is making my ankle feel so much better so maybe I have found a new physical therapy exercise I should share with the therapist I went to for months with my ankle.

Still have part of the pile left so the next few days will be filled with more mulching until I use it up.   John helped me a little the first day but he is busy doing farm work so it is up to me to get it spread out.  Besides I am enjoying working in my flower beds this summer since I had to "let" John do it last year since I was in a cast a large part of the summer.  I did take today off to go to a guild workshop and enjoyed the day of sewing.  Will share what we did on another post as soon as I have a chance to size my photos.

PS...just noticed the close up photo I posted is sure not very pretty as the Gerber Daisy's were looking a little peaked for some reason.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sewing with my Granddaughters


Last week we had our two granddaughters stay most of the week.  They always like to sew something while they are here so last week I helped them make a baby quilt for their aunt.  I cut the pieces before they came so they could start in sewing right away.  Again to protect their privacy I have covered their faces with a flower shape on all the photos I am posting.

I planned out a strip quilt with 5” squares alternating with 2 1/2” strips.  There were 4 rows of these pieces and a three inch strip between and outside the pieced rows.  A simple plan but still lots of sewing for them.  The fabrics I got blend a little too much but they both loved the monkey faces and poke-a-dots and the plan I came up with so we forged ahead.  They are very patient and spent hours working on the quilt and they had it done in 2 1/2 days and that included quilting and binding.  

They have done quite a bit of stitching when they are here so felt comfortable with the machine and S even told me how to lower the speed of my Bernina when I couldn’t remember how or where the control was.  I was going to get out my instruction book to find it when S showed me….she remembered from a year ago when she stitched on it.

Here are a variety of photos of them making the quilt.  I helped pin the pieces together and did the first stitching of the binding but the girls did all the rest, including the quilting that they did with the walking foot.  I had to be on hand to answer questions and to remind them what came next but they really did a good job.  Notice the one photo of D pressing…had to remind her not to press towards her tummy as I didn’t want to have her accidentally burning herself.  (When I helped her when she was making her 4-H skirt she did touch her finger to the iron and did burn it a little so she knows what can happen so moved the iron the other way.)
It was a wonderful experience for me as well as the girls.  They were so proud of making the quilt and can’t wait to give it to their aunt.  I wonder what they will want to sew the next time they come?

On a side note I was so tired the day after they left...went to be early and slept late.  Little girls have a lot of energy.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Ribbit, Ribbit, Ribbit!

They are out now...the tree frogs that hang out on and near our house.  It is usually around Memorial Day when we see them for the first time each spring and they were right on schedule again this year.
The granddaughters were doing a frog scan around the house several times each day and each girl wanted to be the first to see one this year.  I think they both discovered the two on the old gate I have Clemantis vines growing on at about the same time.  They heard them croaking, singing....what ever you call the sounds they make so started really looking.  When they called me out to see the green tree frogs I had a hard time finding them at first.  They were so excited to find them and pointed them out to me.  Later that same day we found several others on other parts of the outside of the house.

I think it is amazing that some of the tree frogs we have are bright green and some are more brown and some are kind of grey.  I wonder if they change colors or if their coloration is like humans different colored hair. Or are they different breeds.  Anybody know?

We have only been seeing tree frogs in our area for about 10 years.  I don't know why we all of a sudden had so many show up but they are quite fascinating.  They really like to sit on the windows at night to catch bugs, especially on windows where we have room lights on.  There are always lots of bugs hitting the windows being drawn to the light so it makes sense the frogs would be there too. We have seen them catch the bugs and eat ate a lightening bug and then spit it out.  It must have not tasted too good.  It doesn't seem to bother them that we are just on the other side of the glass watching.

This morning I woke up early, 5:30 am, and needed to get a drink of water and then was going to settle into my recliner and read a while until John woke up.  As I was passing the kitchen window I caught a movement that startled me and turned and looked and there was a pretty large tree frog in the middle of the window and it was walking towards the top.  Grabbed my camera and got these shots if it.   (The grid is the screen on the inside of the windows.)  Check out their little toes where they have the sticky pads or what ever helps them stick to the sides of walls/windows.  
No sewing going on here the last few days….granddaughters sewed this week and after they went home I had to catch up on my yard and garden work and my rest.  Nine and ten year old girls have lots and lots of energy!  The temperatures outside have been really warm the last few days too.  Today it was 95 degrees F (35 degrees C).  I was trying to get the last of my flowers planted and had to take several breaks to cool off as the humidity felt high too so it made it just horrible the mosquitoes have come out in force the last few days, ick.  I purchased some flowers this last week as the prices were cut in half and thought I could stick them between other flowers somewhere.  I did have trouble finding places for a couple so next year I must not,  repeat….I must not buy so many flowers.

Have a great week….I need to do some more work outside and hope to do that in the mornings and maybe I will have time for some stitching in the afternoons.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Guild Challenge 2010-2011

Last fall the local guild challenge was revealed and of course I put off making my quilt for it until the last minute.  I had about 2 weeks to be exact before they were to be revealed when I decided to get started.  I knew I had to stay focused and sew, sew, sew.

The challenge this year was to purchase 5 fabrics – one half yard each.  We were to cut 4 strips from each fabric that were 4” wide.  From those strips we were to cut one strip into squares, one into small right angle triangles and the third of a larger right angle triangle.  The last strip was extra to cut pieces as needed.  We were to use a design wall to plan our quilt placing the pieces to make our quilt.
Of course I decided to make it smaller and had a few problems because of it.  The 4” size included seam allowances but I didn’t think of that when I just cut my strip size down to 2”.  The squares and small right angle triangles fit just fine but the larger triangle was just a big problem.  My pieces just would not fit together right...they were just too small as you can see from one of my trial and error pieces. 
I finally drew a block using these units in EQ7 computer program and cut out the shapes and laid the fabric triangles on the paper triangles and guess what I found out?  The small triangle is the correct size but the large fabric triangle is 1/4” too small.  I re-cut a strip the right size then re-cut the triangles.  (What I should have done to begin with was to subtract the seam allowances then cut the size in half then add the seam allowances back to get the size of the strip to cut then I wouldn’t have had the problem I did.)
Our challenge was to arrange the squares and rectangles to make a quilt.  Here is a couple of photos of my design wall as I was designing making changes as I was going.
All pieced and trying out borders for the quilt.  Not the final choice but do like the colors.
Since the green border is so narrow I used the Elmer’s School Glue to attach it to the sides like I show in this blog entry.  The glue is to hold it together until the stitching is done.
Quilting the center with feathers using silk thread.
All quilted and you can see I changed my mind about the outside border.  I used more of those larger triangles with squares on the corners.
Now the grand finale – the bound quilt.  I really like the way it turned out but not sure I would do another with just triangles and squares.  I did cheat a little with the two plain borders but some of the other guild members used unpieced borders too so guess it was all right.  The finished quilt is 22” square. 
So sorry it has been a while since my last post.  The last two weeks have super busy for me.  I traveled out to help my granddaughters do their 4-H sewing the week after I got my staples out of my ankle.  I know my daughter could supervise as well as I can but she just doesn’t have the confidence.  I love helping them and this year they both sewed and one girl made a pillowcase and the other made a simple elastic waist skirt.  They turned out so nice and the girls are so proud of what they sewed.  They sure stay focused when they sew for 9 and 10 year olds I think but don't remember when my daughters were that age.  I guess they know they only have a short time to sew while I am out there to get it done.  They were both done with their projects in 2 1/2 days which is pretty quick I think. 

We had family here over Memorial Day so another busy time.  When everyone left Monday afternoon I had the two little girls here to visit for the rest of the week.  (The same ones I helped with their 4-H sewing.)  We try to have the grandkids come and stay for a few days each summer for fun times with John and I.  Last year our grandkids had to cancel our times together because of my broken ankle so it is more fun this year.  This week is for the two granddaughters and later in June is for the two boys.  Will let you know what special things we are doing in another post.

It is now my bedtime…being full time grandma is pretty tiring so need to get my beauty sleep!  I will post again when I have time…



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