Thursday, June 17, 2021

Preserving -vs- Quilting

 Quilting often has to take the backseat to chores.  We try to preserve as much as we can.  Some years it seems that's all I do in the warmer months.   So far this year it looks like it's going to be a light canning and preserving year.  Our garden is much smaller and we still have some leftovers from last year stored in the pantry and freezer.  

Yesterdays plan was to pick and freeze berries and peas.  Then can 3 gallons of milk, since the price of milk is supposed to get up to $6 a gallon by the end of the summer. 

 Last on the to-do list is put the border on the Camp Quilt.  I'll tell you right now, I never stepped foot in the Studio.  I still need to add the top and bottom borders to the quilt.

The peas were picked, cleaned and put in the freezer early in the morning.  Then it was time to take my girl(dog Khaleesi) for a long walk to wear her out so she would nap while I picked berries.  She needs to be leashed on the far side of the property where the berries grow.  This is for her safety and the neighbors dogs safety.  I can't pick berries if I'm holding a leash.  

One would think picking berries would be a chore.  But I find it to be very therapeutic.  Out here in Podunk it's super quiet.  All you hear is the birds chirping.  Most of the time I pick to the sound of nature but today I decided to put my phone in my back pocket and listen to an Audible book called "The Cancer Code" by Jason Fung.  It's been in my list for a couple of weeks but I just haven't gotten around to it.  I often listen to books these days since there's little time for real reading.  I can work and "read" at the same time.  Rarely do I "read" novels anymore.  For some reason I find them boring.  My go-to books are more educational in nature.  

Most of you know my mom died of cancer.  We've had 2 other family members die of cancer in recent years. I also have a cousin who has been battling cancer for over 10 yrs.  It keeps metastasizing and she keeps fighting.  She's only 46 years old.  So the topic of cancer I find quite interesting for good reason.  

Listening to books written by a doctor is much easier than reading due to the large words they like to use that I have no idea how to pronounce...HAHA!  Sad but true.  More often than not if I like the book I will also purchase a hard copy for referencing later.  I will also listen to the book more than once. It's easy to do while I clean, cook or quilt.  By the way this book is available on Amazon if your interested.  That's were I got it for free as an Audible with a 30 day free trial.  I never pay for Audible I just wait for another free 30 day trial and listen to another free book.  I told you a long time ago I'm a penny pincher!  HAHA!

It was an amazing day to spend outside in the woods picking berries.  Not to hot, not to cold.  The temperature was somewhere in the low 80's, which means out in the woods its below 80.  
Our berry patch is on the backside of the property.  I could take a short cut and go over the bridge but today is about getting things done and enjoying nature so I took the long way by going around the pond and over the dam.  Below is the path on top of the dam that makes our pond.  You can barely see the pond in the right hand side of the picture.

No hurry to get to the berry patch.  Just listening to Dr. Fung and enjoying the day.  The pond is looking pretty yukky right now due to pollen.  This is a real nature shot, not always picture perfect. A good rain will be all it'll take to clear the foggy glaze off the pond.  We try not o interfere too much with they way nature works, hence the overgrowth of trees and weeds.  Occasionally we'll trim them back.  But most of the time mother nature has a way of taking care of it all by herself.  Take for instance these orange Lilly's.  They used to line the dam on both sides.  They became overgrown with weeds and new trees then faded away for about 5 years. Then the trees choked out the weeds, the trees fell due to being to close to the pond and now are Lilly's are starting to bloom again.

Mother Nature knows what she's doing.  It may not always be so pretty but she's got more experience than me.

At the end of the dam I take a hard right and this is the berry patch area.  It's about as long as a football field and about half as wide.  This year instead of getting deep in the weeds and briars I will only pick what I can reach from the paths.  We should be able to harvest 2 or 3 gallons of raspberries and about the same of blackberries.  Only take what you need for a years supply.  This will be more than enough or us.  We don't need to make jam or jelly this year I have some in the pantry from years past.  So just enough for frozen berries and a batch of syrup of each berry.

The first pickin' is usually pretty small, but this is a good first pickin'.  I'll go back out in a couple of days to pick again.  The raspberries are cleaned and dried, place on a cookies sheet then put in the freezer as is.

They freeze super quick.  By late afternoon they are frozen solid and ready to be bagged. 

Normally they would be vacuum sealed after freezing but I don't have any vacuum bags.  I was trying to wait for a good sale on them.  A plain ole Ziplock will do until I can go into town for vacuum bags.  The silicone mat makes the transferring of the berries into the bag much easier.  Just slip one end of the mat into the bag and dump them in.  I used to use parchment paper instead of silicone mats.  I like the silicone mats much better.  They are sturdier and reusable.  A win win!

I do all of my frozen veggies and fruit the same way.   The FDA says to blanch almost everything before freezing.   I do not.  Why?  Because mom and granny never did and we never had an issue. 

 What most people don't know is most other countries don't have an FDA to make silly rules.  They are not dying of botulism.  And neither is anyone in the USA.  Research shows more people(almost all) that contract botulism get it from store bought FDA approved foods not home canned foods.  So I take the easy way out and do it how I was taught.  But by all means if you want to follow the guidelines you should.  I would never eat something that I was not comfortable eating and neither should you.  Are you surprised that I don't follow the canning rules?  Seriously, I don't follow to many rules, you should know that by now!...LOL!  No rules in quilting either!

Next it was time to can 3 gallons of store purchased milk.  Yep it to is a no-no if you follow rules.  If they can put it in a can and we can buy it, then why can't I can it myself? 

 If you would like to try this yourself here's a link to how it's done.

I'm not sure how we as humans survived before regulations.  You would think we were an endangered species by they way they regulate everything.  They also say you can't can some things without pressure.  That to is incorrect.  My daughter cans without one, it just takes longer.  The processing times for foods without pressure canners can be found in older canning books from the 1930's and 40's.  My daughter likes doing things the old fashion way.  I bought her the old canning books and a pressure cooker just to make her life a little easier.  I too like doing things simple sometimes but there's something to be said about saving time with a few modern conveniences.  Especially when you have 4 kids that you are homeschooling.  Does she use the canner?  Sometimes.

Well the milk is canned and will sit here on the counter until tomorrow morning.   Most home canners try to use up all stored canned goods within a year.  But that doesn't mean it will go bad after a year.  I've had home canned milk in my pantry for over 2 yrs.  And it taste just as fresh as the day I canned it.

After finishing up the milk and cleaning up the mess I was plum tuckered out.  Mr. Podunk is having leftovers for super!  We relaxed on the back porch for a bit then took Khaleesi for her unleashed evening walk.

We strolled around the property assessing the flower patches.  Not as pretty as a magazine but we are okay with it.  Growing big areas of flowers is not easy when you don't use chemicals.  We have learned to live with more weeds than most would tolerate.  

We didn't plant these Lillys in our roadside wildflower patch.  We had to cut down an old Cedar tree and this is what came up when we cut it down.  They had laid dormant for at least 30 years.  Thirty years ago is when Mr. Podunk bought this property and they were not there 30 years ago so it's been longer than that since they last bloomed.  Is it possible they just blew in somehow?  Maybe.  But I like to think someone way back when took the time to plant them.  Our property used to be an orchard long before the house was built in the early 1970's.  The last apple tree from the orchard died about 5 years ago.

The last flower to share with you is called Gaillardia, Mr. Podunk's favorite flower.   He just keeps planting more and more of them.  As with anything that is fighting to survive in a wild environment, some years we have a lot of these and some years we don't.  We will only assist their survival at a minimal level.   It makes us appreciate them a lot more when they do have a good year.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Rare Red and Raspberries

RED, I can't get enough of it!  Is it an obsession?  Yes and no.  Yes, I'm obsessed with finding bright red fabric only because I use a lot of red.  So it's not one of those bad obsessive behaviors unless you think having a fabric stash is bad.  And since a good red is getting harder to find I need to make sure I have enough to get me through the red fabric slump.  You never know it might be a few years before they come back in style.  The more muted color pallets are trending right now and when I do find a bright red in the new lines of fabric the print is not pleasing to my eye.  They are typically too big of a print or they have a print on them that is just a little too childish for me.  Before I tell you where most of these were purchased I wanted to tell you that Walmart has a few decent reds if you don't mind Walmart fabric.  I would rather have the good stuff but I have no issues with Walmart fabric.  I understand the chance I'm taking with it being a lower quality fabric.  The large white dot and the fabric beside it are both from Walmart.  $4.97 a yard.  A bargain!

I found the rest of them in two different Etsy shops.  Wading through Etsy can be a chore but here's how I did it.  On the main Etsy page there's a search bar.  I typed in "Red fat quarter bundle".  The results were not great.  But I skimmed through the images looking for bundles with fabrics that had smaller prints.  I didn't like the bundles curated by the shops but I knew if they had bundles of red they probably would have yardage or single FQ's of red.  Then I would click on the image of the bundle, then click on the shop name, this takes you to their shops main page where there will be another search bar for their shop.  In the shop search bar I would search, Red. From this search I found what I needed.

  Word of warning!  The three fabrics in the center of the picture below were all advertised as red and looked red.  From now on I'll double check the line of fabric to make sure they are really red.  These three fabrics are more of a coral color.  

I'm not a big fan of coral but I think I can work them into a scrappy quilt.  They will not make it into my favorite fabrics cabinet.  Instead their home will be in the other cabinet of misfits.

Speaking of Red, its that time of year again. Berry Picking!  Looks like I'm going to be doing some berry picking this week.  They aren't as plentiful as last year but it'll be enough to freeze some for cobblers and if there's more than I can use freezer I'll can some raspberry syrup.  Soon after these ripen the wild blackberries will be ready for picking.  

Wild berries are much smaller than store bought berries.  And they are loaded with seeds.  Mr. Podunk doesn't mind crunchy berries in his cobbler and jams.  The best thing about these little berries is they have a much richer taste than the big ones without berries.  The best wild fruit in my opinion is wild grapes.  They make the best jelly ever but they have one big seed in them.  That's okay because grapes are typically made into jelly not jam.  Jelly is made from the juice due to the skin being so tough.

So I guess I  better get my berry picking cloths on and get picking!

Life with a German Shepherd means your backyard will be a landmine field full of pot holes great for twisting your ankle. We accept and encourage the mole hunting behavior because moles leave runs that you CAN'T see, also great for twisting your ankle. At least we can see Khaleesi holes and she occasionally catches a mole. One less landmine.

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Monday, June 14, 2021

Customer Quilts Changes My Plans

 Being fairly new to the quilt pattern designer world hasn't been easy.  There's times when I just want to throw in the towel and call it quits.  Politics and the fast pace at which one needs to work just doesn't appeal to my laid back country girl life style.  

They say you will never get more than you can handle, and I believe that to be true.  I also believe you will be led in the direction you need to be going.  I think this is one of those times.  In the last month I thought the powers that be were telling me to give up.  Software and technical issues were pushing me to my breaking point.  Not to mention all of the other life stresses and things needing to be done out here in Podunk.   And then came two emails full of beautiful pictures. It made me reevaluate the way I was thinking.  All I can do is the best I can do.  Work the problem and move on.  

Christmas Memories Truck is available in my pattern shop.

The quilt pattern designer world is bigger than ever and growing everyday, making it a very competitive.  The ones who have been in the business awhile probably had these same overwhelming feelings long ago. They survived the struggles.   So it's time for me to just take a deep breath and continue to do what I love...designing and making quilts.  The techy end of things will work themselves out.  I've no real deadlines, only self imposed deadlines.  Who knows, maybe the powers that will give me a quilting elf someday....LOL!  A girl can dream.  That's what it's all about.

Bumpkin Pumpkins is available in my pattern shop.

When I started quilting over 30 years ago, quilt patterns were not as available as they are these days.  I was also very limited on cash due to being young with three kids.  I had to learn to do quilt math in order to recreate quilts.  Most of my fabric was leftovers from making Halloween costumes, curtains and whatever else I needed in my home.  I would often shop at Goodwill and other thrift stores for clothing or sheets I could cut up to use for making quilts. 

When the internet came around I stumble upon free quilt patterns and designer fabric.  Designer fabric!  Who new that was a thing?  Then came the sticker shock.  I would swoon over the beautiful fabrics that I could not afford as a divorced single mom.  However the free patterns were just what I needed.  Working ten plus hours a day left very little time for drafting patterns and making them.   I had never seen a real quilt shop until about 2010 after I moved to Podunk.  Joann's and Walmart was my go to for fabric when I had the extra money.  

A lot happened on my journey to get me where I am today.  No longer single and no longer struggling to put food on the table and a roof over our heads.  I feel blessed to have lived the life I had to live. 

 When I came to the point in my life where I didn't have to worry about the little things so much I decided it was time to share my passion with others who may be going through the same struggles and loved quilting .  And that is what brought me to blogging.  I could share my love of quilting without being censored by forum or group rules.  

I'm grateful for those of you who are in a place in your life that allows you to purchase my patterns.  Your purchases allow me to do what I do.  But I also think about those who can't spend the extra cash on patterns.

In the last couple of years there's been a secret discussion in the quilt pattern designers world about free patterns and how it hurts the industry.  Some designers have decided to stop making free patterns and wish all of us would as well.  I will not.  The image below is my free pattern called Podunk Posy.  The quilts made with my free patterns make my heart go pitter pat just as much as the quilts made with the purchased patterns.  

find it here

I guess what I'm trying to say is, I'm still here.  I may not be as active online as I used to be but I'm still trying.  My poor pitiful me attitude has been washed away by these amazing quilters who reminded me of why I do what I do.  Thank you Chelly, Nina and all of you making my patterns and those of you who stop by for a little visit at the Podunk blog.  I try to respond to all comments.  These days that's a little harder because of  some of your settings and/or blogger changes that won't allow me to respond to them on the blog post... more techy issue  I can't seem to fix, but know I love you and love reading your comments.  

Hunkering Down Quilt Block is a FREE tutorial in the Tutorials Tab of this blog.

I'm going to try to pop in here and on other social media more often.  This may sound strange but I was more productive when I spent more time here in blogland. My thinking is I've gotten too far away from doing what made me happy and productive.  I suppose it could be called getting back to the basics.  Just do what I can do and enjoy the good company of other quilters.

Thanks for listening to me ramble on and whine a little, y'all are the best!

My girl thinks she might be able to finally get the rabbit.
She did not.  Maybe next time!  Let's hope not.

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Saturday, May 29, 2021

Green Scrap Quilt...Adding Brown?

Over the last week I've managed to find little bits of time to work in the studio.  Usually about an hour or two but there has been a couple of days I never even stepped foot in here.  Working out of my color pallet normally is a chore but when you all you have time for is working out of you comfort zone it's much easier.  I didn't care about the colors as much as did about just getting some time to play with fabric.  Lessoned learned, no more whining about color pallet, just enjoy that you have the time and fabrics to play with.  Not everyone is lucky enough to have both.

I must say there is a couple of fabrics in this quilt that I still love even though they are not my typical pallet.  The green one below with the gold accents is a long loved Joann's fabric from years ago.  It could be the tiny yellow an red flowers that make me love it so much. Over the years it has been used in other quilts.  There's still a few little scrap pieces left in the scrap bin for one last scrappy quilt. 

Along with a few prints I love there are many fabrics that make me say....UGG.  I wonder sometimes what I was thinking when purchasing some of the fabrics in my stash.  Times were different way back then.  Fabric styles have changed and so have quilt designs.  Funny thing is I'm starting to see the older  color pallets and styles come back around.

Most of the new lines of fabric remind me of the late 80's and early 90's pallets along with quilt panels.  Panels!?  Why?  I suppose they are great for beginners but I've never been a big fan of them.  Sure I've used a couple over the years....with regret.  More often than not they are not square and give me fits of rage because of it.  So I stay away from them.  And when panels are the hot item it seems that novelty fabric is also popular.  YUK-A DO!  It's times like this when I'm grateful for being a fabric hoarder.  It also frees up time.  No reason to shop for fabric because there's nothing out there I want.  Not even my favorite designers.  Maybe this is more of a sign of my unwillingness to be trendy.  

Trendy doesn't appeal to me at all.  I like bright and happy colors, they make me happy.  The toned down, muted and drab colors do nothing for me.  And I have a ton of it already in my stash and feel no need to acquire more.  I can enjoy sewing and cutting them but I don't want to purchase more.  Of course I also would never turn down any should someone want to give me some.  I only bring this up because I'm in a few quilters wills.  One of them being my Aunts will.  Her stash is full of older darker fabrics as well as a few brights.    

Like I said earlier, I'm grateful to have fabric stash and finding time to play with them.  Some of them hold memories good and bad.  Like the green plaid in the image below.  Not a good memory, and we'll leave it at that.  But even a not so good memory can be a reminder of why I should be grateful for where I am or what I have today.   Things could be much worse.  The 1930's are proof of that.  I can't image what it would be like to send Mr. Podunk to buy the right feed sacks.  

Sigh....Rants are never a good thing.  I've rattle on way too long, it's what came to mind as I wrote this post.  The plan was to tell you a little about some of the fabrics in this quilt but it took a different path.  Well that's just me, I tend to speak my mind and tell it like it is.  

You have just witnessed a little of what goes on in my mind when I'm quilting.  Random thoughts most of the time.  But somehow it all comes together and makes sense.  You see as I cut and sewed this quilt my mind was fixed on how much I disliked this darker color pallet and how I couldn't wait to finish the quilt just so it would be over.  Ungrateful to say the least.  Karma has a way of teaching me a thing or two.  Here's a prime example.  As I put the blocks and sashing on the design wall I realized the quilt just didn't feel right being all green.  I needed break it up a bit with another color.  Adding a cornerstone of brown could bring a little life to the otherwise drab quilt.  It's going to be Mr. Podunks camping/hunting quilt, so brown would be perfect.  No problem, I've a whole cabinet full of fabrics I don't really like.  And look what I didn't find...

Oh Lea Anne doesn't like dark drab fabric.  HAHAHA!  Karma!  That'll teach you to whine and rant about fabric.  Yes my friends I was shocked at the lack of brown.  In the past it was my largest hoard.  I guess I used more of it than I thought.  Oh my, I might need to do some shopping.  I tried adding other colors as the cornerstones but they just didn't give the quilt the look I wanted. about eating a bowl of crow.

Maybe my brown scrap bin will save the day?  Please, please, please!  I'm sorry and I'm grateful for all my fabric.

Yes!!  I found a fat quarter and a few smaller scraps of this brown.  I'm truly blessed to have a large stash of all colors and pallets.  

Moving along my green scraps!

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