Sunday, July 29, 2012

Tula Pink

Over the week-end, I had the exciting opportunity to meet fabric designer, Tula Pink at the Stash Fabric shop in Walla Walla, WA, which is about an hour north of me.  Due to family obligations, I was unable to take the class or to attend her lecture, but was so glad to get a chance to chat with her, and to hang out with other quilters!  I'm afraid I only got a few pictures though :(.  If you ever get the opportunity to meet her, though, jump at it!  I'm so glad I did.  She's a very vivacious, fun-loving, and super-creative lady!

I went with a friend of mine, and we had a great time, which, besides the ride over and back, and attending the book signing/party at the fabric shop, also included a very delicious sushi meal afterwards.  YUM!!!

I started a purse, using Tula Pink's Parisville line, and Noodlehead's 241 Tote pattern.  I was hoping to have it finished by Friday night, but always underestimate how long it takes to make purses.  I finally got it finished today!  I love it, but have yet to take it out on the streets for a test drive! 

My 2 boys are now back from a week at camp, so things are slowly getting back to their old routine.  As usual, it's hard to believe that summer is flying by so fast!  I hope all of you had a great week-end as well!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Weedless Wednesday

I've been doing a WIP Wed post for a while now, but during the summer, once late July and August (and September) rolls around, the majority of my energy gets devoted to my garden.  I just LOVE this time of year, as we eat so healthy, and the grocery bills plummet!  I don't have much time to sew, so I thought I'd start a new Wednesday theme of "Weedless Wednesday".

Any gardener knows that if you neglect weeding, soon your garden will be taken over by these unwanted plants.  I just hate weeding, so I'm going to post pictures of our garden each Wednesday as a motivation to clean out the weeds at least once a week for a blog photo or 2 (or 3).  It's similar to the inviting-house-guests-so-that-you-will-clean-your-house technique.  SO here's a few progress pictures of our garden!!
As always, I love reading other garden posts, and I'm always eager to hear about how others' gardens are doing!!  Besides zucchini, we also have raspberries being eaten as fast as we can pick them, the occasional blueberry, the very first of the tomatoes and peppers, green onions and carrots, as well as some herbs.  The lettuce has all bolted, but I may try a summer planting soon, as I'm already missing our garden salads.  What's coming out of your gardens???

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tuesday at the Picnic Table: Zucchini Season!

Yep, it's that time of year!  We just got back from a few days away from home, and this is what greeted us in our garden.  These are all from 1 plant!!  Tonight I'm going to use them in one of my favorite recipes.  I saw this Rachel Ray recipe on the Food Network's website a year or 2 ago, and it's become a big hit with our family.  I'm not a big fan of asparagus, and it's more of a spring vegetable anyway, so I adapt it, and tonight, even though I have plenty of basil in the garden, I'll use up the last of some store-bought pesto that we have around.

It's super-easy.  You basically just cook up some penne (or similar) pasta, throwing in cut up short "spears" of vegetables in with the boiling pasta during the last 2 minutes, then toss with pesto.  It's so good, and healthy, and a great way to use up garden zucchini, beans, or even peppers.  I just use what's coming out of our garden, and it's always turned out yummy.  I've never had it cold, but I bet you could make this ahead, and refrigerate to eat at the picnic table pot luck as well!  I'm linking up to Debbie, at "A Quilter's Table", Tuesday at the Picnic Table".  Come join us!

Over the week-end, my husband and I took our 2 sons to a week long resident camp on Lake Coeur D'alene, Idaho.  I've never been there, and didn't have to work hard at all to persuade my husband to take a rare day off during fire season to slowly drive back, just the 2 of us, spending a night camping nearby, in a tent for 2!!  It's the first "trip" we've taken just the 2 of us in 14+ years!  It was only a day, but such a treat!  It's going to be a very quiet week around our house the rest of the week!  Here's our campsite, and the view from right behind our tent of Lake Coeur d'alene.
The lake is incredibly beautiful!  My boys are going to have such a great time!  I really want to go back when it's a little less crowded.

Here's a picture I took of a canola field, near Moscow, Idaho, on the way back.  It reminds me of the pictures that Monika takes ;-).
We stopped in downtown Moscow for a little break, and I really fell in love with this college town!  On the way back we swung through a(nother) new wind power farm, near Dayton, WA.
Finally, we headed home.  This is a picture I took on a separate trip, on I-84, just East of Pendleton, from the edge of the Blue Mountains.  The dark green in the top middle of the pictures is our town.  This gives you an idea of how small it is, and the surrounding area.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Few Friday Finishes

It's hard to write about anything other than the horrific shootings that took place early this morning in Colorado.  My heart goes out to those involved.  My mind, like so many others,  asks why.  As a mom of 2 soon-to-be young men, I have to speculate that there's something very broken with our society when so many young men act out in these violent ways.  It makes me scared for my kids.  It makes me so sad.

Swim, Bike, Quilt
I've been spending almost as much time weeding as sewing lately, but I did want to make up a quilt for the 100 quilts for kids campaign that Katie, of Swim, Bike, Quilt is running yet again.  I had a fat quarter that I bought originally with the intention of using to make one of my Kindle covers, but the print was just too large-scale... one of those "can't cut it" prints.  So I decided to just make an incredibly easy simple one block small quilt with it.  Hopefully it'll help a troubled young boy in some way feel a little much-needed tenderness.

I also sewed up a similar easy, fast quilt top, using some stash fabric that I've been holding on to for a few years now.  I haven't yet decided if I want to keep it, or give it away.  I know that as big as it is, and as hot as it is, I probably won't be quilting it for a few more months, but hope to finish up the smaller quilt and get it to our local Project Linus soon!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

WIP Wed: Shotgun House Mini-Quilt, and Sheep Dog Trials

Here's the progress on my latest sewing project, a mini-wall hanging quilt of a "shotgun" house that's very common in New Orleans.  I'm almost done with it, after having to simplify it a bit.  I'm deciding if I should just sew on the gray "sidewalk", or add steps.  I've been trying to keep track of all of the measurements so that I can make it again.  So far, so good.

Over the week-end, I tried to see the quilt that I'd made for the lavender festival, but the winds were so high, that they had to take them all down.  I did stop by the quilt shop, where they'd taken them, and got to see the other 15 quilts in the contest.  They were all so amazing!  I'm afraid the windowless back room of the shop wasn't ideal conditions for pictures though.  Sorry.

We also checked out another festival in a nearby town, the Caldonia Festival in Athena, Oregon.  It was the first time I'd been, and was a really neat experience.  They hold sheep dog agility trials all week-end, and we happened to be there during the "novice" class.  I LOVE dog agility trials... proof that dogs really are "man's (and woman's) best friend".  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

WIP Wed: Garden, Polaroids, Phoenix Quilt Cause, and a Sneak Peak

It's Wednesday, and I'm linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced WIP Wed to share my "progress.

Besides the Polaroid Picture Swap blocks (the ones above I'm keeping for myself), and a few postcards (that I forgot to take pictures of), I haven't been doing a whole lot of sewing, but have spent a few really hot hours weeding our garden this week.  We had a slow start this year, weather-wise, but with the triple digit temps we've had this past week, the garden is suddenly taking off!!  I'll be eating the first garden zucchini of the year tonight for dinner!
The corn wasn't quite knee high by the 4th of July, but it is now!
The okra is still teeny weeny, but even if I get a few skillets' worth, I'll be happy!
We have green tomatoes.
We even have baby grapes!
I think we'll have more than enough peppers too!
Our 1 year old blueberries and raspberries have yielded a few handfuls already, and we've been eating lettuce, carrots, radishes and green onions for a while now.  Beans, cucumbers and winter squash are also coming on strong.  Our chard is a favorite of the birds (so are the berries).  With food prices getting so high, and only predicted to go higher, I'm very happy to put aside the sewing and pick up the garden gloves and water hose.  With a teenage son, and another son not much younger, it's a very good investment!!

Larger Phoenix Quilt Logo
I do want to pass on one sewing cause that caught my eye yesterday.  Phoenix Quilts is a new project, started by a fellow quilter who was recently evacuated from her home in Utah because of wildfires.  She is trying to get a quilt to each of the families who lost homes in the recent large numbers of wildfires.  Since my husband works in wild land fire management, it's a cause near and dear to me.  My own parents were the grateful recipient of many donations in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, after losing most of their household possessions in the flooding that followed.  I will always be grateful for the help that others gave them, and try to do my best to help others in such crisis events.  My goal is to get at least 1 or 2 quilts made for Phoenix Quilts.  You can help too!!

Finally, a sneak peak at a small project a friend asked me to do.  She loves my New Orleans Architecture quilt, and asked for a small wall hanging based on it.  The dimensions she wanted, though, just wasn't working out, so I decided to create a new mini quilt, based on another iconic piece of New Orleans architecture, the "shotgun house".  These are very narrow houses that are named such because a gun shot at the front door will pass through the whole house and out the back door without hitting a wall, as there is typically a hall that runs the whole length of it.  Here's a sketch I drew out recently.  Now I just need to start sewing it up!!
As always, I'd love to hear what you're working on, especially in the garden!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Polaroids and Refrigerator Pickles

I really don't do a whole lot of quilting over the summer, but when I saw the "Picture Perfect Polaroid Swap" that Debbie, at "A Quilter's Table" blog, recently started, I couldn't resist!  I love novelty fabric, have tons of scraps of it, and just love the cute Polaroid mini-blocks!  All I had to do was buy the white fabric (although I couldn't resist buying a few fat quarters too), and ended up with 50 (!) for the swap, and an additional 30 for me.  Yep, I think the heat has got to me, but they're SO incredibly cute!!

I'm a wee bit embarrassed to show you this picture.  You can see my scientist nature in the way I organized these.  I have always loved to line things up and sort and order them.  We used to joke in the medical lab that a little bit of OCD is a really good thing in the lab.  All jokes aside, yes, this runs in my family, and no it's really not a joking matter, but I've learned to embrace it, and have learned the warning signs that demand professional attention.  I'm lucky that I don't struggle with it, but I really do think that quilting attracts people with these tendencies... the precise measuring and cutting, the way we line up seams together, ordering blocks by color and shape... That's our coat closet and front door in the picture, so yes, you CAN quilt in a small house!!  I LOVE my folding rolling table!!

Anyway, if you want to join in on the fun, go check out this post (or click on the button on the sidebar) and start fussy cutting!!

Debbie also is hosting "Tuesday at the (picnic) Table".  Come over and check out the recipes at the linky party, and/or add your own!

Mine will probably be the easiest there, refrigerator pickles.  Nothing screams summer to me like these sour goodies!!  They're great when you have lots of garden cucumbers (which is not our case - yet).

My mom taught me to make these, and she still makes them, and we all love them!  She sometimes would use a fork to score lines down the cucumber before cutting them to make them look nice.
Then slice and cover and mix with salt for a few hours to draw out some of the cucumber's water.
After a few hours, drain off the excess water and rinse the salt off the cucumbers, then cover them with vinegar and any spices you want, then park them in the refrigerator overnight.  I like to use apple cider vinegar, but Japanese rice vinegar is really good for a sweeter pickle.  These are great with sweet onions (which I don't have right now), or other veggies too.  I love Penzey's Spices (mail-order for me), and love using their "Fox point seasoning", a mixture of dried onion and garlic.  I have no idea how long they keep, because at our house they rarely last a day or 2!!!  YUM!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sharpie Experiment Continued, and More Thread Storage

I'm afraid the wash faded the Sharpie designs considerably, even after heat fixing it. Here's the before and after pictures. 

There was also a small amount of bleeding to the back of the T-shirt.  I'd definitely recommend washing anything dyed this way separately at first!  I'm a bit disappointed at how it faded, but may still try it again.  They traditional tie-dye that I did (a kit from the "Jacquard" company) washed up really nice and vibrant, with no fading at all!

With all the hot weather that we've had, I'd been more inclined to stay inside in the air conditioning and work on sewing and other things.  Yesterday I made 2 more thread storage bins.  Now all of my thread is stored nicely inside of these boxes.  It was nice to dust off the spools and know that they'll now be kept dust-free.  I discovered duplicate bobbin colors as I sorted them all onto their matching spools too.  I now have 2 empty thread racks and bobbin cases that I can find new homes for!!
I found that the bigger rack, with the 4 inch pegs, spaced 2 inches apart works perfectly not only for my Isocord thread, but the Aurifil thread as well!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sharpie, Alcohol "Tie Dye"

As I was surfing the Internet looking for tie dye ideas, I came across this post that uses Sharpie permanent markers and isopropyl alcohol.  It looked so neat, that I had to try it!

 All you need is a T-shirt, cup, rubber band, strong (I used 91%) isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol, and sharpie markers.  I tried out 50% alcohol at first, and it didn't work nearly as well.  There's no gloves, no tub, and no dye solutions involved!
First you stretch the T-shirt over the empty cup, and secure it with a rubber band.  Take the Sharpies and draw a small circle of dots, or lines, or squiggles, or just about anything you want in the very center, then take a dropper and drop the alcohol in the center of the design and watch the science take place before your eyes. 

The alcohol "dissolves" the Sharpie dye and causes it to migrate through the T-shirt.  It reminds me of the thin layer chromatography that I used to do in the hospital lab!  Very very cool!!

Once the T-shirt is done, you need to heat fix it.  The site I looked at recommended letting the alcohol dry first, then throwing into a hot dryer, but ours is gas, and this just didn't seem prudent, as it seemed to be a fire potential, so I just ironed it with a hot iron.  It's in the wash right now, so I'll have to let you know how color-fast it is.

The only downside of this technique is that it creates some strong fumes, and should be done in a well ventilated room, or outside.  I was mesmerized by it and used an old T-shirt to practice how different colors and patterns would work out.  So much fun!  I have all sorts of ideas now on how to make a neat T-shirt.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Tie-Dye Friday

Just thought I'd share some tie-dye things the boys and I made.  I love to make a few T-shirts each summer with them, and so far, as they get older, they still like to do them!  It's been a long time since we did tie-dye together, but I've been itching to dye fabric, so I got a small kit that had everything you need to make 5 shirts.  One thing I learned is that the house we now live in is not really set up to dye things.  We have 3 sinks, 2 bathroom sinks and the kitchen sink, and that's it.  I had to use camping dish bins and the grass lawn as my studio, so it may be a while before I try it again.  But here's a few pictures to share!!
I couldn't resist dying a few pieces of white fabric, but I used too much dye, and the red centers became a dark mess as the darker blue migrated into them.  Oh well.  It was a fun thing to do with the kiddos!