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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

While sitting, watching the gray skies and dreary rain, I’m reflecting on last year’s accomplishments and disappointments.  These are the things I’m pleased to have accomplished:

  • Made 17 custom mens shirts (We won’t mention the one ‘wadder’).
  • Pieced, quilted and completed 4 quilts (2 totally by hand and 1 machine pieced and hand quilted and 1 for the dog).
  • Made 2 casual blouses for myself.
  • Canned lots of jars of food including fresh tomatoes from our tomato patch, soups, stews, beans and jams.
  • Read for a few hours each day.
  • Cooked homemade, nutritious meals nearly every day (and often twice a day).
  • Traveled (though not as extensively as I prefer).
  • Battled with a contractor (and won) for a new metal roof installed on our house.
  • Survived pneumonia, staph, bronchitis, a cold and finding a new doctor.

There are a few things I wish I’d given more attention:

  • The Split-16 quilt remains on the frame, as close to being  finished as it was a year ago.
  • Though I’ve invested a few more days on the Wonky Stars quilt, it remains unfinished.
  • The Tumbling Stars quilt still awaits attention.
  • A big batch of tamales made and frozen as was planned before Christmas.  I’m craving them!

Fortunately those things not accomplished can be rectified in this new year but my most important resolution is to continue being happy.  Everything else is inconsequential.

Shirl

At every step and turn, it was surprising how challenging the Urban Renewal quilt has been.  This may explain why there are few to be found in the ‘wild’.  I love that it’s unusual and proud it is complete.

The body of the quilt was hand pieced, using the English Paper Piecing method.  I straightened the uneven sides of the body with Kona black fabric before adding the flying geese border which was assembled on a vintage (1925) Singer 66 treadle sewing machine.  The border was hand stitched to the quilt.  The binding was made with black, deep red and blue with gold flecks fabric.  All fabric, with exception of the backing, was from my stash.  Even the thread and Hobbs Poly-down batting came from supplies already on hand.  The backing is wide gray with black Marblehead fabric (manufactured by Fabri-Quilt) and the quilting was done with black YLI hand quilting thread.  The label was hand embroidered.

This sofa-sized quilt finished at 60″ x 75″; large enough to tuck under a chin and still have toes covered.

Although I’ve been asked by several people to gift this quilt to them, this baby is MINE!!

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I’m on the home stretch of quilting the Urban Renewal quilt.  All that’s left is about one half of the last flying geese border and adding the binding.  Then it will need a good hand washing.  I’m anxious to see it finished and to start hand stitching the next quilt (batik Winding Ways).

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAfter taking a quick inventory of our chest freezer, I decided to use one of the several beef roasts to make and can veggie/beef soup.  In all of my 63 years, when making a beef-type soup, I’ve opted to make tomato gravy base stew (with carrots and potatoes).  After seeing a few online videos on making veggie/beef soup, I decided to try my hand.

Once the beef was cubed and seared, I was surprised how fast the soup came together.  I added chopped whole canned tomatoes, onions, frozen soup vegetables, celery, carrots, garlic, cabbage, potatoes, broth, beef base and water.

As soon as the soup came to a boil, I ladled it into 6 quart jars and pressure canned them at 10 lbs. for 90 minutes.  I continued cooking the soup that was left until the potatoes were done.  We ate it for last night’s dinner.

Oh my, that is some really good soup.  Bob liked it so much, he headed to the store this morning to buy more of the same ingredients so I can make and can more.  We like having enough on hand to eat and share.

With leftovers from baking a big ham this week, I plan to can more charro beans this weekend.  We enjoy eating them often and everyone I’ve shared with has requested more.

We also discovered several whole pork butts in the freezer.  I am seriously considering making tamales during the Christmas holiday.  It’s a BIG job but I figure I can spread it over 2 days and accomplish it.  We will freeze them and bring out a few at a time to eat with canned charro beans.  It’s an easy, delicious dinner!  I wonder if I can convince Bob to make a thick chili I could can for a terrific tamale sauce.  He makes excellent chili and I have plenty of 1/2 pint jars available.   Sounds like an outstanding idea.  I hope he thinks so too.

We expect to see Jacob this weekend and by studying the calendar, this might be our Christmas gathering.  We do not decorate or make a big deal of exchanging gifts.  We celebrate by being together.  I’m looking forward to seeing him.

Shirl

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Lately, I have spent several hours each day quilting the Urban Renewal quilt.   The body is done, along with one side border.  Though it’s not visible in this picture, there are two straight, parallel lines of stitching between the quilt body and border.

My fingers are suffering.  My left index finger and half of my right thumb are numb and callused.  Along with misshaped nails (from needle abuse), this is the price hand quilters pay for the love of the craft.  I wear my quilter’s hands proudly!

I have decided to begin cutting out another Winding Ways quilt,SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES but this time incorporating batik fabric.  I really enjoyed making this pattern earlier this year and want one for my own.  I have a nice collection of batiks and will use most of them.  When my hands need a break from quilting, I cut a few more pieces.  At this time, I plan to make a queen+ size quilt for my own bed (if I have enough batik fabric).  We’ll see.  I’m excited at the prospect.

It’s a quiet weekend here with nothing special planned and no visitors expected.  I’ll stay busy with needle, thread, scissors and a few good movies.  Happy weekend!

Shirl

 

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