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Though I’ve been crazySAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES busy canning our garden’s bounty and tending to a sickly spouse, I’ve managed to add another finish to the list of recent accomplishments.

This is my Scrappy Split-16 quilt which was machine pieced starting in February, 2013.  After piecing the body, I was baffled by what border I should use.  I auditioned several, some pieced and some solid and was never really pleased with any of them.  I settled on on a thin solid green frame, then two lighter green borders and finally a mottled green strip.  Little did I know I would run into an equal dilemma deciding how to quilt them.

I sped through quilting the body of the quilt, hoping for inspirationSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES for the borders.  It never came so the partially quilted top languished in the frame for a while; for a time; for a LONG time.  Still I remained uninspired.

Upon noticing how dusty the quilt had become, I gave myself a sharp kick in the behind, gave the quilt a quick vacuuming and pulled out the stencils I have.  I selected one that would fit in the space and marked the border for stitching.  It didn’t matter if it was or wasn’t the design of my dreams… it ended the nightmare of an unfinished quilt in the frame.

I stitched and stitched the design until the quilt was done but because I had stitched my name, date and location when I first started, I had to change 2013 to 2015.  Easy enough!

When I removed the quilted top from theSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES frame, I asked DH how he thought it should be bound.  He said I should piece a binding to match the scrappiness of the quilt body.  Instead of thinking too much and stopping the process with my indecisiveness, I went with his suggestion.

I’m not thrilled with every element of this quilt but done is better than perfect!  I AM thrilled it is finished and am enjoying how pretty it looks on my bed.  That’s what counts!

Shirl

As busy as I’ve been during recent SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESdays dealing with harvest, I’ve managed to devote a little time each night to hand quilting.

Last week I finished Wonky Stars; a free pattern by Bonnie Hunter and found here on her Quiltville blog.  My version has no sashings and a simple pieced border.

The main body of this quilt was made using my stash 2½” squares with the star points coming from my tiny scraps bin.  The border is pieces of 2½” strips.  I also used Bonnie Hunter’s suggestion of using a narrow binding.  I followed her easy tutorial.  I love the narrow binding and will incorporate it into future quilts.

Wonky Stars was pieced on my Singer 301a machine (born the same year as me!) and hand quilted in a hoop.  I outlined each star, stitching in the ditch and quilted each four patch grouping ¼” in from the outside seam.  The border is quilted in a woven design from a stencil I made myself.  I like the design and will use it again.  The label is SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES(obviously) hand embroidered on a scrap of fabric and attached to a back corner.

This sofa quilt finished at 53½” x 65″.  It will be stored until the next birth or illness calls for a gifted quilt.

Thank you, Bonnie Hunter for a super fun quilt pattern.  I truly enjoyed making it and smile each time I look at those twinkling stars!

Shirl

The garden continues to provide tons of fresh SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESveggies for our table, freezer and shelves.  The snow peas finished after producing 9 quarts for our freezer and lots eaten fresh.  They are such a treat and are one of my very favorite veggies to steam or use in stir-fry recipes.

I pick tomatoes each day (sometimes more than once!).  I currently peel and can 7 jars worth every other day (21 jars so far).  I expect the process to increase over the next weeks.  Yep, we have GOBS of ripening tomatoes still on the vines.  No, I’m not complaining since I consider a successful tomato year is one where I can 50+ jars.  They are SO much more flavorful than store-bought tomatoes (either canned or fresh) and I love having plenty on my shelves for cooking throughout the year.

I’ve also been picking southern peas twice a day.  I shell them during the hot afternoons and at night as I watch movies; then I blanch and freeze them the nextSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES morning.  Production is beginning to slow but I’ve already put 15 fat quarts (as much as will possibly fit into a quart size ziploc) into the freezer.  I’ve also blanched and frozen squash (yellow and zucchini) and we eat squash nearly every day.  I love to steam yellow squash with onions, bell pepper, carrots, and mushrooms for a beautiful, tasty side dish with dinner.  I especially love zucchini cut into spears, brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with fresh ground pepper, then broiled until they are done.  I top them with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and return them to the broiler to melt.  Frankly, I can’t cook enough of ‘em and thankfully, the squash and zukes continue to produce.

Lately, I’ve also been able to serve wilted cucumber salad with fresh cukes from the garden.  I slice the cucumbers, add thin sliced red onion and sweat them with salt for an hour or two.  I rinse and drain well, then top with bottled Italian dressing and crumbled feta cheese.  It makes a truly delicious salad.

Along with those things mentioned, we’ve got a big bell pepper crop still ripening, which I will chop for the freezer after we eat our fill of them stuffed, fried and steamed.  I’ve also picked and cooked eggplant but thankfully the plants haven’t produced more than we can eat and give away, which is fine with me!  I’m running out of freezer space.

We also have a big crop of watermelons.  If the deer don’t come along and destroy them (as usual), we’ll definitely have plenty to eat and give away.  I’ve teased DH that I’m going to sit him by the highway with a wagon load and a For Sale sign.  Because of our biblical spring rains, the local watermelon crop has failed.  Ours has flourished!  I’m praying the cantaloupes will do nearly as well.  I planted them late so I’m still watching for results.

Shirl

After talking to several local farmers and kitchen gardeners, I’ve learned to be even more grateful for a flourishing garden.  Many area gardeners live on low-lying  land which, after our daily HEAVY rains, is boggy and swampy.  Their gardens have rotted.  I’m so sad for their wasted work, expense and loss of delicious harvests.

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Overachieving Roma tomato plant

We live on a sandy, silt hill.  In some spots of our 6 acres we can find a thin layer of clay when we dig 4-6 foot.  In other spots, we’ve dug up to 10 foot and found only more sand.  Water seeps through the sand quickly so puddles don’t form.  Unfortunately, nutrients also seep quickly.  This is why we add compost each year.

Here is a photo (complete with camera strap and old lady hand) of one of our Roma tomato plants.  We’ve planted 2 dozen and most are equally productive.  Pardon the weeds as it’s been too rainy to get out with the tiller to control them.  Production doesn’t appear affected!  It’s CRAZY!  If I didn’t know better, I’d say the plant is on steroids…. but I know better.  We are organic gardeners.  Though it’s difficult to tell in this photo, this plant is only about 3′ tall.  Because of the angle, the fruit looks smaller than reality.  They are mature Roma tomato size and only need some red before they are ready to harvest.  The canning jars are ready and waiting!

We also have baby bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, potatoes and eggplant.  I’m continuing to harvest snow peas each day and by the look of all the blossoms on our Purple Hulls and Lady Creams, we’ll have peas to shell soon.  We ate our first yellow squash last night for dinner.  I sliced and steamed it along with snow peas, mushrooms, carrots and green onion.  DEEEElicious!

During the day, between garden and house duties, I continue quilting the Split-16 queen+ quilt border.  I’m down to the last side so the end is in sight.  At night after dinner, I work on the Wonky Stars sofa quilt.  It’s also complete except for part of the border.  It’s pretty exciting having 2 quilts nearing completion at the same time.  Hmmmm, wondering what I’ll do next!

Shirl

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Harvested fresh kohlrabi

After harvesting 2 kohlrabi and some snow peas and including them in our shrimp fried rice dinner last evening, I decided all the kohlrabi are ready to be picked.

If you’ve never eaten kohlrabi, they taste nearly exactly like the peeled stems (my favorite part!) of fresh broccoli.  The young leaves and stems are also edible.  We loved the flavor they added to our dinner and wish we had planted more than 9 plants.  There WILL be more planted in our fall garden.

Tonight, I’ll peel, julienne and steam a few of these bulbs along with some fresh snow peas, mushrooms and carrots.  It will be a delicious side dish served with smothered pork chops I’ll also make.  My mouth is watering just thinking of it!

Each day the snow pea yield increases.  Currently I harvest about a quart Ziploc® packed full each day.  Those we don’t eat right away, I blanch and freeze.  They will be so tasty during the heat of summer when those plants no longer produce.  When the weather cools later in the year, I’ll plant more in our fall garden.

While enjoying a cuppa and strolling in the garden earlier, I noticed several eggplants have begun blooming.  I do enjoy eating eggplant from time to time but DH mistakenly purchased over a dozen plants!  EEEK!  If they produce as I suspect they will, we’ll have enough to feed much of the county!  I see a heap of eggplant parmesan in our future!

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Wonky Star quilting – back

After dinner each night as I relax from a busy day, I continue to hand quilt Wonky Stars.  I’ve completed all the squares and am now concentrating on the stars.  They are about half done.  I haven’t decided how I’ll quilt the border.

It has begun raining – the first of 9 days of predicted precipitation.  Being forced to stay inside will afford me an opportunity to continue quilting on the Split-16 borders.  They are over half done and I can think of nothing that would make me happier than seeing this LONG project finished.

Shirl

Lately, I’ve been thrilled watching our garden thrive.  SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIt’s large enough we’ve been able to space the plantings so DH can get our tiller amongst the tomatoes and between the rows so weeds have been well controlled.    It’s downright beautiful and I was elated to find our first tomatoes late last week.

Rain has been timely so watering has been at a minimum.  All was well until Sunday’s storms arrived….DUM DAH DUM DUM.

I shouldn’t complain as I know others suffered much worse weather-related fates.  Before we lost power, I watched storm chasers on live streams spot tornadoes and experience peltings from softball-sized hail.  We suffered neither of these horrors, thank the gods.

Our garden suffered from straight line winds and torrential rain.  The winds blew the young plants over and the rain beat them into the dirt.  When I inspected the garden the next morning, I was dumbfounded.  All but the snow peas (growing on fencing) and tomatoes (surrounded by cages) were laying flat and coated with sand/dirt.  My brave green soldiers had all fallen in defeat against the stronger weather army.

After spending some time gently misting the sand/dirt from hundreds of little plants and allowing the sun to work its magic, the plants have slowly begun straightening.  With only a few exceptions, I think all will survive.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

After a brief rain today, I was able to more closely inspect and harvest the first of the snow peas.  Sadly, the storms have damaged some of the vines  but I’m hoping they will survive.  There were only a few to harvest but I’ll add to this batch over the next few days to have enough to make shrimp fried rice w/snow peas, mushrooms, spinach and carrots.  It will be wonderful!  If the weather cooperates, the plants will grow and produce enough to freeze and enjoy throughout the year.

As always, I spend my evenings hand quilting.  Wonky Stars is nearing half done.

Shirl

 

It’s been a while since I’ve posted.  It’s veggie garden planting time so I’ve been busy….. then tired!

After DH replaced the motor on our vintage, garage sale bargain Troybilt tiller, he has tilled more garden area than we’ve ever before planted.  Mercy me, we’ve got lots of stuff in the ground:

  • a long row of snowpeas
  • kohlrabi
  • radish (French Breakfast)
  • eggplant (Globe and Chinese)
  • zucchini
  • yellow squash
  • tomatoes (Roma, Homestead and Better Boy)
  • cucumbers
  • bell peppers
  • watermelons
  • 2 long rows of Lady Cream southern peas
  • 2 long rows of Purple Hull southern peas

I’m hoping to get my hands on some cantaloupe plants, herbs and a variety of peppers.  We still have planting space and Bob is willing to till more dirt if needed.

In my mind, there is nothing more beautiful than a young, growing garden with all the plants standing like dark green soldiers, doing their best to give us earth’s bounty.  I also love the look of buckets and baskets of freshly harvested, organic vegetables ready to be processed for the freezer or jars and I truly don’t mind the work involved.  The payoff far outweighs the effort!

At night, I continue to work on quilts.  I’m currently adding stitches to my Split-16 border and in the hoop is my Wonky Stars sofa quilt.  It’s delightful to see both of these UFO’s (UnFinished Objects) slowly approaching completion.  I’m beginning to consider which project will be next and leaning toward digging out yet another UFO.  The only way they will be completed is to work on them and considering the work already done, it would be sad to leave them unfinished.

Shirl

It’s done!  SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe urgently needed sofa quilt for a sick friend is finished and ready for delivery.  Total time from first fabric cut to finish and laundering was 41 days.  That’s close to my record of 39 days for a finished sofa quilt (see Log Cabin Sofa Quilt).

It is Winding Way/Wheel of Mystery sofa quilt made with batik and hand-dyed fabric.  Half of the blocks were hand pieced while the other half were made on a vintage sewing machine.  The inner border is mottled black with a piano keys outer border.  It is bound with a blotchy black/red/blue speckled with gold fabric and hand quilted with YLI 40/3 ply cotton quilting thread.  The label is hand embroidered.

The backing is grey with a small black print but was too small so I added a strip of mottled black to bring it to size.  I rounded the mitered corners.  The batting is Hobbs PolyDown.  Finished size is 65″ x 58″.

As an added bonus while making this quilt top, I was able to finish stitching the blocks for the unfinished Wonky Stars quilt.  I have stitched them together and am currently deciding about a border.

Shirl

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Just as I was completing making blocks and sewing them into a bed-sized top, I heard from a special person with medical issues.  I need a sofa quilt and I need it fast!

First, I thought of eliminating several rows from the bed-sized top (pictured here) but I couldn’t force myself to unsew all those hand stitches.  The next option was start from scratch cutting and making blocks.  Since all the batik fabric is still on my table from working on this Batik Winding Ways top, I started cutting more pieces for a sofa quilt.  UGH!

I prefer to stitch this pattern by hand and I’ve managed to finish 1/2 of the blocks.  I wish there was a way I could have the quilt finished within a month but I realize it just can’t happen.  The quickest finish of a handmade sofa quilt I can hope for is 6 months.  I could make this quilt faster by incorporating a sewing machine but it wouldn’t be as nice and I want to be proud of the quilt I produce.

So, I set aside my queen-size Batik Winding Ways quilt to make a sofa -sized one.  The blocks should (might) be finished next week (fat chance!) when I’ll decide on borders and begin hand quilting.

My work is literally cut out for me!  I’m learning there should be at least one finished sofa quilt in stock to gift when an urgent need arises.

Shirl

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSince realizing I have not touched the Split-16 quilt in my frame for over a year, I have given it some attention.   To be completely honest, the first chore was to vacuum it.  Much dust and dog hair had settled on it.

The inability to decide on border quilting had been my stopping point and allowing the quilt a chance to brew it’s own borders simply didn’t work.  I had to do something!  I love this quilt and I want it finished.

Without further debate or research, I grabbed my few stencils and chose one to add to the widest border.  The 2 narrow borders are receiving straight lines of quilting.  It’s enough and good enough!  I took to stitching and am enjoying the process and though I’m only partially done with one side, it’s a LOT of stitching.  The straight lines require 4 passes and the intertwined links require 6 which translates to stitching all around a queen+ (nearly king) sized quilt 10 times (YIKES!).  I hope I don’t get discouraged as it feels like miles!!

I work at the frame nearly every day when the light from the windows is good and reserve nighttime for stitching the Batik Winding Ways blocks.  I’ve finished nearly enough for a queen size top!  I hope to finish stitching the blocks and sew them together next week.  I’m still debating if it will be hand quilted in a hoop or on the frame.

Jacob is here taking advantage of the long weekend.  We are enjoying him as we feast and visit.  I’ve always adored being his mother but it is pure pleasure being the mom to a successful, mature, level-headed, independent adult.  Easy-peasy and no diapers!  I’m so proud of the person he is!

Shirl

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