Thursday, July 28, 2011

Me-Me-Meme: A-Z

While work on the kaleidoscope blocks continues at a pace of a couple blocks a day, I thought I'd borrow Elizabeth's A-Z meme.  Don't want to burn you all out on blocks in progress—or do you like progress pics?  Well, here's one I really like:

I'm planning to have the top done by the first part of next week.  Please stay tuned.

Anyway, meme.  A to Z, which just refers to the alphabet and not everything you ever wanted to know, because, well, that's what Facebook is for, right?  Not that I'd know.  I'm one of those relics who doesn't have a Facebook page.

Age:  "I am every age that I have ever been."  ~Madeleine L'Engle
Bed size:  Queen (and all mine!)
Chore that you hate:  Cleaning the tub/shower, followed closely by floors.
Dogs:  Dogs are great.  I just don't like to hear them barking nonstop (see Pet Peeve).
Essential start to your day:  The internet.
Favorite color:  Teal blue and peacock blue.  I guess that's two, but they're pretty close.
Gold or Silver:  Gold, but silver is nice too.  I'm not that much of a jewelry wearer anymore, but I admire it on others.
Height:  6'2-3/4" (which I reserve the right to round down to 6'2").
Instruments you play:  Piano and guitar, although not regularly anymore. Someone once told me that playing an instrument was like walking up an escalator that's going down—you've got to keep at it to get anywhere.  So true of many things.
Job title:  I peck out a living.  Okay, that's a description not a title.  So I'm a pecker?  No, that doesn't sound right.
Kids:  One lovely, young adult daughter.
Live:  In a house.  On a street.  In a town.  Sounds like the voiceover for a movie trailer, doesn't it?
Mother's name:  A rather unique one that rhymed with three of her four sisters.  She didn't use her first name either, just the initial.
Nicknames:  As if I'd tell!
Overnight hospital stays:  One or two as a child, and another for a C-section.
Pet peeve:  Sounds that show no sign of ending soon:  Incessant barking, snoring, colicky babies, blatherers, trance music, repetitive electronica, and Enya, to name a few.  Also, over-the-top action sequences in movies; I tend to zone out.
Quote from a movie:  "That rug really tied the room together."  ~The Big Lebowski
Right or left handed:  Right.
Siblings:  One older sister, two younger brothers.  I am a middle child.
Time you wake up:  When peeing seems like an important thing to do.
Underwear:  You betcha.
Vegetable you hate:  I would say that although I don't hate them, radishes do not particularly like me.
What makes you run late:  I am pretty punctual, but when I'm late it's due to my own lollygagging.
X-Rays you've had:  Head, teeth, chest, hands, pelvis, kidneys-ureter-bladder, lumbar spine, knees.  The least fun was the pelvic after a long labor and hours of pushing.  I may or may not have arm-wrestled a nurse in an effort to hold someone's hand.  You try holding still when everything in you is contracting.  Breathe, my butt.  Thankfully, this proved the necessity for a C-section.  And I have never looked forward to general anesthesia so much.
Yummy food that you make:  Most everything.  Except those blueberry scones I made recently.  
Zoo animal:  Big cats—lions, tigers, pumas, leopards, etc.  But not when I recurrently dream about them in my house, and they're acting like they own the place.  I'm sure there's some deeper meaning there, but I don't know what it is!

If this isn't already TMI, ask me a burning question in the comments and I'll try to answer it (within reason, of course).  And feel free to borrow the meme!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sunday Sundry - Vol. 37

Where-oh-where does the weekend go?  I hope yours was a good one!

Dad is my CSA
I was the beneficiary of some goodies from Dad's garden today—gorgeous green and purple kohlrabi, green onions, and leaf lettuce.  

Wearing rubber boots for the wet soil, Dad lobbed baseball-sized kohlrabi in my direction, and I trimmed off the muddy root and leaves.  Then he pulled onions, reminiscing about the many thousands he's peeled in the past 70-something years, starting as a child working in his grandfather's gardens.  Back then, after cleaning the onions, he'd hand them to his grandmother who sat on a stump and tied them into small bunches with string.

My great-grandpa Max was a fur trapper and market gardener, also known as a truck farmer.  He raised and sold vegetables and fruits door to door, bringing the farmer's market directly to the customer, instead of the other way around like it is now.  At first it was by horse and wagon, then later by Model A truck, covering nearby towns as well.  When he used real horse power, the story goes that the animal knew the routine so well that when great-grandpa walked from door to door, the horse would follow on its own when beckoned, stopping in front of the next house on the route.

My dad maintained two big gardens at our place when I was growing up, and he still has a large plot, roughly the same size footprint as his current house.  He blesses family and friends with produce in season, and I am very glad of that and happy to help in whatever way I can.

More Good Eats
On Saturday night, I made Greek meatza with this recipe.  Oh, it was good, and the leftovers on Sunday were even better, along with the above-photoed vegetables as a salad (and I still have onion breath some 12 hours later).  

My dairy-avoiding self even enjoyed the bit of feta cheese crumbled on top of the meatza, and lived!

Kaleidoscope Continued
I am still plugging along on making kaleidoscope blocks for the quilt-along.  I think I've got about 15 more to go before I can do the final arranging and sew them together to complete the top.

Here are a couple tools I'm using.  I've double-stick taped the main triangle template to the underside of a ruler I already had.  After watching a couple YouTube videos for a tool designed specifically for kaleidoscope quilts that I was contemplating buying, it dawned on me that just about any right angle ruler would work.  

For this quilt, I cut a strip 6-1/2 inches wide and then lined up the template/ruler along the top and bottom.  Voila, perfect pieces!  For the corner pieces in each of the blocks, I cut a strip 4-3/8 inches wide, sub-cut that into 4-3/8-inch squares, and then cut each square in half diagonally.  Easy-peasy.

This next "tool" is a piece of thin red acetate, which in its former life was a report cover.  I can't remember where I picked up this tip (it was a while ago), but it helps to check the value of fabrics.  

It doesn't seem to work as well as a black and white photo where you can more finely discern gradations of gray (as for mediums, for example), but it does give a general idea as to whether you've got a light enough fabric paired with a dark enough one.  

I've been using it for each block of this kaleidoscope quilt, holding it in front of my eyes while looking at the fabric combinations before I sew the pieces together. Again, not perfect, but very helpful as far as getting the general idea.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Picking Up Another Thread

Oy, it's hot.  I waited until the sun was almost set to do my daily walk, and it was still 90 degrees.  But it was good anyway.  I dream of summer eight months of the year, so despite the heat, I was happy to be cruising the neighborhood on foot, among thousands of blinking fireflies.

You know what else makes me happy?  Coming home 45 minutes later, back into the AC, splashing myself with water and chugging a glass, and stripping down to my bare essentials.  What?  I've got curtains and I know how to use them.

Getting back to those loose ends I referred to the other night, you may recall that I've been kicking the refined sugar for the past couple months.  That continues to go well.  I've been over the worst of the cravings for a while now.  Psychologically, it's taken longer.  I've realized that part of who I am, my identity, is someone who likes to bake.  I'm the one who would go home on my lunch break and bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies from scratch to share when I got back to work.  Baking is something I've enjoyed since I was 10 or so, a creative outlet, something that sparked my senses, something I was good at and appreciated for.  And the icing on the cake, as it were, was that I enjoyed eating what I made.  Winning!

Except not totally.  It wasn't very kind to my body, the high carb load I dumped into it on a regular basis.

Let me pause here to say that I don't want to come off like some sanctimonious air-breather who's all of a sudden got the answers.  I don't.  I really detest that sort of preachy condescension.  I'm just talking about my own experience and realizations.  I haven't had a heart attack or been diagnosed with diabetes or anything like that (though I have a strong family history of both).  I'm just a soon-to-be 51-year-old who is open to doing better.  One shot is all I get in this here vehicle. I'd like it to last me a while without rusting out so fast.

I do feel great (not that I really didn't before).  Maybe lost a few pounds, but I don't own a scale.  I will say thank goodness for those baggy capris I walked in tonight.  Gotta love that air flow, if you know what I'm sayin'.

As an offshoot to lowering the lid on the sugar bowl, I've gotten curious about other nutritional matters as well.  I've recently done a fair bit of reading about paleo/primal eating, added new words to my vocabulary like FODMAPs and fructans, and discovered the fresh hell exercise known as Grok squats.  I hope my thighs will thank me later, but right now they're saying WTF?  I'm learning that saturated fats are not necessarily the evil enemy, and that the Food Pyramid we have been force fed may not be the holy grail of healthful living after all.  Oh, and all that sitting?  Not good at all.  One more reason to get up from the sewing machine, walk over to the ironing board, and bop to the music while I'm there.

In short, I want to continue to learn more and endeavor to eat better and make conscious choices.  For me that means less processed foods, less refined carbs, emphasizing protein, veggies, some fruit, and yes, fats.  Some days will be more successful than others, but it doesn't really seem that complicated overall.  Of course, it's probably easier to say that now while it's prime produce season.  Ask me how it's going in six months.

And lest you think I've taken to dragging my knuckles, gathering nuts and berries (though I do intend to raid my neighbor's mulberry tree, with his permission), this was tonight's dinner.  

Basically, it's taco salad: ground turkey with spices and salsa over a bed of greens, hold the fried tortilla bowl and cheese.  Sorry, but Pioneer Woman I am not, with the food photo.  Dollops of fresh guacamole in lieu of salad dressing, and topped with fresh cilantro from the backyard wheelbarrow herb garden.  Mm-mm good, and pretty normal, no?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Loose Ends

I've been reworking some of the kaleidoscope blocks and making a few more.  Thank you all for your encouragement, and thank you Venus for your helpful suggestions.  It turns out we were both inspired by the same quilt on Flickr!

In the past few days, I've been to a couple fabric stores, but nothing really rocked my world and I came home empty handed.  I think I'm going to keep going with what I have for the time being.  

However, my husband directed my attention to a quilt kit I'd picked up at Goodwill a couple months ago (originally from Joann's).  I had set it aside on a shelf, out of sight/mind, and forgotten it.  There are some really cool fabrics in there, and I considered using some in this quilt, but on second thought, they're so well coordinated with each other that I think they'd be better together in a project of their own, and quite possibly another kaleidoscope quilt.  I'm going to make up a few blocks from that grouping and see how it goes.

 I had a point with the title to this post.  I know sometimes I'm all over the map here at TWISI, such that I tend to leave some loose ends.  So I thought I'd give an update on a few items, in case you've been wondering (or not).

The wave/lava lamp quilt - I'd asked for name suggestions.  It's still label-less at the moment, but I'm calling it the "Grandma Lava Ding-Dong" quilt.  Yeah, it's goofy.  But so am I.  Dissecting my thought process a bit, the vintage fabrics reminded me of shirts my grandma might have worn, and the shapes in the quilt looked like lava lamps to me.  I put the two words together—Grandma Lava—and that led me to think of "Rama Lama Ding-Dong" (the title to a '50s song or part of a line from a Grease tune, take your pick).  Thus "Grandma Lava Ding-Dong" was hatched.  It makes little sense, but it makes me smile and it's fun to say, so there you have it!

Speaking of fun things to say, I may be hiring a guy to do some landscaping whose name is Larry.  Larry the Landscaper.  I'm awaiting his estimate, but he's already earned points for having a fun name, like Bob the Builder.

Did I mention goofy?

My husband and I sometimes entertain each other by twisting song lyrics.  Like Journey's Open Arms?  Otherwise known as Broken Arms around here.  

"So now I come to you with BROKEN ARMS... 
So here I am with BROKEN ARMS, hoping you'll see 
what your love means to me:  BROKEN ARMS."

How about Bon Jovi's You Give Love a Bad Name?

"Shot through the heart, and you're to blame, 
darlin' you give love 
a BAND-AID..."

I'm sensing a theme.  Love hurts, man.

And now I've completely lost my train of thought, as well as my desire to make any more sense this evening.  It's late.  Whaddaya say I pick this thread up later?

In parting, I am only somewhat embarrassed to say that I have been obsessed this week with the new Incubus CD.  Found some of the songs on YouTube from a live performance.  This one made me drag out a guitar for the first time since Christmas in an attempt (emphasis on attempt) to learn Defiance.  And I am SO naming one of my next quilts, "Elegant Aberration."

And this song makes me seriously wish I could play drums.  Looks like a ton of fun banging those skins (be sure to watch to the end when they have a do-over...funny!).

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Kaleidoscope QAL Progress

I've been having fun this week making blocks for the kaleidoscope quilt-along quilt.  I've got 16 of them done so far.

As each block comes together, I do a little happy dance.  Individually, they're just so funky and fun!

But together?

Well, hm. I dunno...

Uh, boy...

See, I knew I would need to pay some attention to value, and maybe I should have had more of an actual plan to do that (what's the expression? failure to plan is...oh never mind).

I really want to be able to see those secondary rings that are created by the difference in value in the various scrappy-ish blocks.  You can start to see it happening here, around the dark blue center block.  Well, at least I husband, for one, cannot.

And I'll be damned if I really know why or how that happens.  I do think I need to have some more contrast between the lights and darks.  For instance, these fabrics looked contrasty enough to my eye...

But when I change the photo to black and white, you can see that they're mostly medium (gray).

So I'm learning as I go.  I think I may need to go fabric shopping to fill in the gaps in my stash of true darks and lights (oh, darn), and maybe think about scale as well.  If, with a bit of course correction, I still can't get it to work out the way I envisioned it, it'll end up the "CC" quilt, which I will embroider in full on a label in rainbow colors!  So there's that.

And all is not lost with any blocks I don't end up using, because Christina at A Few Scraps has just put out a call for 12.5-inch orphan blocks for her Black Rock Stitchery project.  She's taking a treadle sewing machine to Burning Man!  Doesn't that sound awesome?  You can help too, just click HERE to read her post.

I'm a bit late to the linky party, but I'm linking to Sarah's Can I Get a Whoop-Whoop? Lots of good stuff to see over there this week!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday Sundry - Vol. 36

Kicking off the Kaleido
Whee!!!  These kaleidoscope blocks are...


This is one thing that I love about quilting—taking seemingly disparate fabrics and creating a mashup such as this.  I like it more than any other part of the process.  I think, in part, it's the element of surprise.  

So, I don't have a concrete plan (i.e., anything worked out on paper or PC) with this quilt, or how I'm going to lay it out, or even how many blocks I need.  I'm just going to keep making these and arranging them together, and we'll see what happens.  I'm cutting the fabric as I go, block by block, and I'm really enjoying working that way.

How Does Your Garden Grow?
My flowers...meh.  I had such high hopes for zinnias this year, but the varmints have succeeded in quashing that dream. 

They even hopped up into my herb garden, which I planted in an old wheelbarrow.  I am missing an entire row of...well, I don't know if it's oregano or basil, to be honest.  I think the oregano is gone and what's growing there is basil, parsley, and cilantro (and a weed or two?).  The damage wasn't done by chewing, but by disrupting the soil where they were planted.  Ugh.  Whatever, wabbits.

My friend Marie has such lush, thriving plants.  These are just a couple of her beds (above/below this paragraph).  Gorgeous!

I went out to water my geranium yesterday and this little guy was hiding in the pot.  

He wasn't skittish at all, just sat and blinked at me, quietly.  In fact, he stayed there all afternoon before finally deciding to move along.

Tea Time
My bloggy buddy Shay pulled out all the stops—as well as her good china—and had herself a high tea today.  Now, I'm from Wisconsin, and we know beer and cheese, kuchen and crullers, but we don't know from tea.  And high tea?  Well, anything drunk at my personal altitude of 6'2+" is pretty high, so there ya go.

But in her honor, I baked scones.  I have never before eaten a scone, much less made one, so this was some new territory to navigate.  Throw in a few dietary restrictions (i.e., no gluten, dairy, or sugar), and what you have is a potential recipe for disaster.

Well, we Pyrex fanatics know that Pyrex makes everything taste better, so at least I had that ace in the hole!

The scones?  I actually used this recipe, and they were all right.  Not great, not good, just okay.  I think using real sugar would have helped, but I used stevia.  Anyway, I tried, and it gave me an excuse to take pictures of my Liberty of London teapot and mug from Target last year.

Full disclosure: I totally cheated on the tea.  It's iced tea from the fridge.  Hey, it was hot at some point in its past, so that counts, right?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Checked Off the List

Do you make to-do lists?  I often do, but not always.  Mostly when I'm feeling scatterbrained and need to lasso those runaway thoughts that are doing nothing but kicking up dust.

It was with pleasure that I was finally able to check the Sudoko quilt off the list.  

It's done.  Yee-haw! 

I used (among other stash/new) a five-pack of FQs that I found at my local Goodwill store for $1.49 (blogged HERE).

Blogging about this finish was on the list of things to do today.  

Now I can mark that off too! :)

I'm linking up with Sarah's Can I Get A Whoop-Whoop? today.  Click the button and head on over for a visit or to link up!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Stitchin' Accomplished

I hope you had a great weekend.  It was pretty low-key here, nice and relaxing.  There was some stitching going on.

And shopping for stitched-looking things (Pyrex Town and Country divided dish, via Goodwill).

Plates of good food, plates of Pyrex (again, Goodwill).

There was entertainment, but not in the form of lighting things on fire, unless you include the grill.

We watched a wonderful movie on Saturday called Mao's Last Dancer.  Click the link to see the trailer.  I highly recommend spending a buck or two to rent it.  It's based on the true story of Li Cunxin, a boy from the poor Chinese countryside who was chosen to learn to dance ballet.

I finished the Sudoku quilt.  I was going to machine bind it, as usual, but it just didn't look right.  So I ripped out the 10 inches of machine stitching I had started and instead spent the next couple hours hand binding it while catching up on episodes of American Chopper, Sr. vs. Jr. (I liked PJD's Cadillac bike the best, by far).

I'll have more photos of the completed quilt in another post.  Here's a peak at part of the back.

Last night, I stumbled upon the fact that Incubus, one of my fave bands, has a new CD coming out in a week or so.  Here is a video of one of the new songs.  Brandon Boyd has such an amazing voice.  Love this.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Hoosker Dos, Hoosker Don'ts...

I cannot pass a fireworks stand without thinking of this scene from Joe Dirt.  It still cracks me up.  Plus?  Adam Beach...mmm.

Happy 4th! 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Working on It

It's been pretty quiet in this little speck of the blogosphere lately, but rest assured things are fine.

My dad had some elective surgery this week, and we've been making sure he's comfortable and on the road to recovery.  He is doing well, although he looks like he's been in a fight.  As he says, "You should see the other guy."

I had hoped to have a quilt ready to bind that I could work on while I was waiting at the hospital on Thursday, but it didn't turn out that way.  I am in the midst of quilting it now though.

I am trying this Essentials 50 wt. cotton thread from Connecting Threads, and so far so good.  It sews well, it's low lint, and I like the subtle sheen.

The deck construction has resumed as well.  Looks like the robins have given it their special seal of approval.

Hope you are having a great weekend ~ and Happy Independence Day!