Monday, February 28, 2011

Meteor Shower Quilt

This is the first quilt of this style I have quilted. It's quite lovely, unusual with it's off enter block placement but I doubt it would be as charming if it were more orderly and Leslie's fabric choices are beautiful. I think construction is challenging, none of Judy's patterns I have examined are for the faint of heart!
I couldn't decide for a while what to do about the quilting, but I chose a separate spineless feather border, curls and leaves for the bright stars......
and casual loopy feathers for the open areas.
I found it too hard to figure a way to quilt identical feathering designs because of the randomness of the stars so the feathers amble randomly around the background.
Not sure why but I lost the "cruise control" on my machine about two thirds the way through so that was annoying, and my hindsight knowledge about the quilting was a regret on the thread color choice.
Unfortunately I was well along by the time I realized it, so no way to change it but if I had it to do over I would use a cream thread rather than the gold because it showed up the back-tracking more than I like.
I hope that Leslie will not mind too much, I have told her my angst over it and sent lots of pics ahead though it really doesn't show until you are close up. I know how much time and effort went into the construction of this treasure and I wanted it to be perfect so I am disappointed in my thread decision.
Leslie's GD, the recipient of the quilt, has just been awarded a prima scholarship to the college of her choice so the family is justifiably very proud of her.
Happy birthday Katie and congratulations!

Basket Baby

This little boy has an affinity for baskets! The one that holds his own toys is often emptied so he can play in it,
and this time he decided to empty the dog's toy basket and climb in!
He frequently co-opts her bed .........
and her quilt, Button is very tolerant of the little chap's ways and never makes any objections!
First try..........
and after a couple of unsuccessful attempts, where he was unable to make it all the way..........
he finally managed to squeeze himself into the small basket! He is a very determined little fellow!

Cold Start!

We left Phx. Sunday morning for CO. in a cold weather system.
Well before we reached Flagstaff this is what we encountered.
And this is what happens to the unwary/uninitiated! Fortunately DH grew up in MA., Boston area so he is quite comfortable in snowy winter conditions.
The parking area at the Safeway in Flagstaff, it was still coming down, but we drove through the storm fairly quickly north of Flag. and the rest of the journey was uneventful. Guess Old Man Winter doesn't want us to think he is done with us yet!
JW and friends will be up very late tonight, unfortunately they did not get away from Phx. until late afternoon- praying for their safe journey, I am always nervous about night driving, especially in the mountains where we have wild critters and ice that can make road hazards.
We are anticipating a week of fun, some skiing for the guys, quilting for us two gals and time for good food and play!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Winter Garden

Phoenix has had a fairly severe winter, days at a time with freezing temps and that is hard on the foliage that is unaccustomed to such chilly times! For many this will appear to have been a mild winter, I have heard of the ice and snow and 40 below days in other parts of the country and seen pics of snow piled high but in Arizona we don't expect that.
Here are two neighbors' trees on our street, ficus, usually a pretty hardy tree but the sequential freezing days this winter have really taken a toll on them.
This is our ficus, it used to reach above the windows on the second floor but DH trimmed six or so feet off it to get rid of all the dead leaves. I think it's still a good ten feet plus and by summer it will be a lovely shady tree again. Unfortunately our neighbor hasn't yet trimmed his trees so we will have more leaves to gather before the cold weather is over.
These trees will all come back but normally not deciduous, they look decidedly naked in the meantime!
I guess the large hardy Brazilian pepper tree in the center of our back yard must have protected the mums etc. around my little memorial garden because they seem to have survived and of course rosemary is pretty much indestructible I am happy to say because it's one of my favorite herbs! The Mexican palm [it was a "volunteer"] shows no harm from the cold either.
After several hours trimmimg and cleaning up our little suburban backyard it looks sad and bare. The hibiscus were at least ten ft tall and they froze so I cut them back to about half their former size, they were getting a little unruly anyway! The roses always get pruned way down so nothing new there and they had actually fared better than other plants. They may do better this summer anyway because there will be less shade from the trimmed ficus.
I did throw a couple of sheets over the orange tree for a few days, and it is still loaded with fruit. It's quite a small tree, "Arizona Sweet" oranges, but from the first year when it was only three feet tall it has had fruit all but one year. We have been eating and gifting the fruit for two months but you can see there are still plenty left. I save a lot of the rind, some I zest and freeze for cooking in the year ahead, some I peel without the bitter white and cook it up with sugar to make candied peel.
Another few weeks and we can begin to bring some color back to the garden, the potted plants on the patio, gardenias and hydrangeas were covered, they will leaf out and bloom as the weather warms.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

African Safari Quilt

This was the NYE Mystery quilt from 2009- the top was done in good order but it's been sitting around with a pile of other tops awaiting it's turn on the LA.
I couldn't decide how to quilt it and finally made the decision to use an elephant panto, the focus fabric has elephants on it.
Then I had to wait till my new laser light came and then there were too many other things ahead of it-again.
But as of a few days ago it was quilted and as of last night it's bound! I also pieced the backing, using up more of my African themed fabrics.

Now if I can just get my machine timed properly [again] I will be onto the next quilt.

Monday, February 14, 2011

In Praise Of Bidets!

Any who have travelled outside the USA will likely be familiar with the global variety of toilets/ bathrooms/restrooms/lavatories/toots/ potties etc and the nomenclature of the same.
[Funny story about toilets to follow!]
Particularly in Asia and Europe we have encountered the gentle art of the bidet, and I had expressed the wish to DH for one of said "appliances"!
By happenstance Costco began to stock a version of the bidet that does not require the installation of a second "throne", but has within a special seat a very clever, fully functioning bidet called "Intelliseat"!
Complete with remote control, ooh la la!
Accordingly DH purchased one of the above and installed it-with the assistance of youngest DS to thread wires through the wall for the electricity needed to activate the device.
He [DH] then said he planned to fill the bowl with roses as my Valentine gift, and true to his word this morning when I awoke and ventured into our en-suite bathroom, this is the sight that met my eyes!
Well, happy Valentine's Day to you too!
And now for the funny story- we travelled in Europe in the late 70's with our four sons, hauling a pop-up "Alpenkreuzer" camper that looked very much like this. Hotels were too expensive for this military family and in any case four rambunctious boys were better suited to campgrounds than to hotels with the very proper Europeans!
As we went from country to country the styles of toilets [frequently only simple footprints in the cement in front of a hole in the floor] became an obsession with our boys then 4yrs, 8yr.old twins, and a ten year old.
Upon setting up in a campground at Lake Garda, Italy, the boys raced off to check out the toilets as was their habit. A few minutes later one of the twins came racing up to me breathlessly exclaiming "Mummy, Mummy, they've got toilets, real toilets and one room even has two toilets"! His eyes were shining and he was so excited he could barely get the words out!
It was of course a toilet and a bidet, but we reckoned he maybe had visions of himself and his twin brother sharing important events, male bonding, ya know, LOL!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Day With Baby Matthew

With buddy Button, boxes are so much fun!
Daddy came from med. school.
Play time.

Button's bed and quilt are nice and soft.
Going home now, ready for bed.
Buckle up!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Really Good, Healthier Granola- Really!

My friend Becky brought some granola to our CO. house to share a year or two ago and I loved it! I asked her to share the recipe, which is her own, formed from trial and error.
I took the recipe and with some further experimentation, came up with this.
It is even yummier than it looks, and this recipe makes a lot! I put a few spoonsfull on my morning porridge [oatmeal here in the USA] and it adds a lot of flavor. A small amount packs a lot of punch! I call it healthy because the ingredients are good as well as tasty, like the Agave and banana for sweetness,
and expelled, pressed, organic coconut oil.
I use Agave rather than sugar or honey since it is sweeter than sugar and lower on the glycemic scale.
I love ginger so I added maybe half a cup of chopped crystallized ginger.
We have a very prolific little orange tree in our backyard and I save the rind from many of them to make sugared orange peel, so I chopped up some of that too, it adds a hint of orange.
We had some dried cherries that had dried out a bit too much so I put them in a saucepan with the ginger and orange rind and a little orange juice and cooked it down till the fruit had softened and hydrated and the liquid was pretty much gone.
I was all out of coconut but I plan to buy some tomorrow, toast it and add a cup or two.
In case you are now curious as to the how and what of this concoction, my recipe follows, but in Becky's words it is a "very flexible recipe".

About 8 cups of oatmeal, I used a combination of old fashioned and quick.
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup of wheatgerm
3/4 cup flaxseed meal
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups chopped toasted almonds
Combine above ingredients together in a very large bowl.

1 1/4 cup Agave syrup
1 cup oil
2 tsp. cinnamon [more if you like]
1 1/2 tsp.salt
1 tblsp. vanilla
1-2 ripe bananas
Place above six ingredients [syrup, oil, bananas etc] in blender and process till smooth then heat in microwave.

Stir into dry ingredients in bowl and spread in two large baking pans and bake about 45 minutes in a 300 degree oven, or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.

Pour the oatmeal mix back into the large bowl and add the following ingredients :
2 cups toasted coconut
2 cups chopped dates
1 cup chopped dried cherries or raisins
Other dried fruits as desired, like the crystallized ginger, orange rind, craisins, currants, blueberries, strawberries, papaya etc. Other nuts too if you like, pecans, macadamias. The more flavor you add the less you need and still get great, satisfying taste in only a small amount of the rich mixture.
It's delicious on ice cream too, or over stewed apple.
Let me know if you try it and any further variations you may add!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

2010 NYE Mystery

My NYE Mystery quilt now has borders as of last night!
I am pleased with it, all the fabrics came from stash and there are only a few scraps of them left. All but the background are from my batik collection. I have to scout the stash to see if I can find a backing, then it will go on the list of my own tops awaiting their turn on the LA.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Birthday Roses

Gorgeous flowers!

Winter In Phoenix!

Our usually balmy winter weather in Arizona has turned to frigid this week along with much of the rest of the country, global warming you know!
Above is the sight that greeted me in my hairdresser's front yard when I went for my appointment yesterday!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Frogged Quilt [ripit-ripit]

Finally after more than a month the large-QS- quilt that I unquilted is re-quilted and ready to return to the maker, phew, PTL for that!
It is so large that I cannot get a view straight on because the couch is in the way! It's a beautiful quilt, isn't it?

I actually like the second iteration, [wait, I think that the word 'second' is redundant, lol] an all-over leaf and curl freehand design, better than the first I think it gives the quilt more cohesion-it's more graceful and more complimentary to the piecing design than my first choice with the separate sashing and border treatment.
The new backing to replaced the batik-the fabric that gave me such a headache, is a nice quality wide- back in a coordinating color, that quilted up very well.
It goes in the mail now and I do hope that Hannah will be happy with it.