Friday, November 30, 2018

~ Setting the Bar ~

This week has flown by hasn't it?  Here it is Friday and my goals for the week once again have not been met.  I'm not sure if I have an unrealistic view of what I can accomplish or the world is out to get me!  Since I'm not completely crazy, yet, I'm pretty sure that I set my bar way to high.  These goals may have been attainable back in my 20's when I was one of those stay at home super moms that juggled every household chore plus managed to take care of the yard, and an ill mother in law,  bake cookies for school school functions.  I could list many more Super Mom activities but you all know, I'm sure more than a few of you were Super also.  Well anyway the flitting and fluttering from project to project has produced some results so all is not lost.  My closet Yoga muscles are keeping me awake at night so why not just make the best of it by working on my On Podunk Pond quilt.  All of the nine patches are cut and partially pieced as of 3:30 AM.

The new plan is finish piecing all the nine patches and add the last coat of paint to my new office.  That seems like a reasonable plan.  Now lets hope the powers that be agree.  Hopefully it's a 3 day weekend for those powers.  I get more done when they are concentrating on someone or something else.

I did make a big error in cutting. My middle of the night math is not so great.  Oh well it's just fabric and I'm sure I can use them eventually.  If not in this quilt then I'll just add them to the scrap bins that never seem to empty.

My fabrics are all pressed, waiting to become a beautiful quilt..  I put away the fabric for the Good Fortune Mystery Quilt so they will probably need to press again.....GRRR.... what was I thinking, I have 3 bars on this quilt frame!  That's enough room for 3 or 4 groups of fabric.   I'm sure you noticed the big pile of wood in my Studio floor. The house is in a constant state of clutter with all the projects going on.  Move the pile of trim to the sewing room while I paint the office.  Move the pile of wood to living room so I can get to my fabric.  Someday it will again be nice and organized, everything in its place.  Someday.... 

Right now I need to get these walls painted so when Mr. Podunk gets home they'll be dry.  He's going to add the new trim to the windows and run a new electrical outlet to the closet.  This weekend I should be able to start laying the wood floor with his help.  Or maybe its the other way around.  He can lay the new flooring with my help.......yep I like he sound of that much better!......LOL!

#quiltvillemysteryquilt #goodfortunemysteryquilt #bonniehuntermysteryquilt #onringolakemysteryquilt #podunkpretties 
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Thursday, November 29, 2018

~ The Ugly Truth ~

In Feburary of this year we started a remodel project on the back part of our home.  A simple job in which the contractors assured us it would take no longer than 2 months.   Well 4 months later and over budget Mr. Podunk fired the contractor, leaving us to complete the project ourselves.  Little by little we've almost completed the remodel. One of the last things to do is move Mr. Podunk den to the newly remodel part of our home and turn his den into my office/photo studio.  Over the last couple of weeks we've been slowing moving everything out and decorating his new pretty new space. Now here's the UGLY after moving his furniture and removing a few pieces of trim.'s going to take awhile to rework so much UGLY.  

The room is fairly small  measuring 8 x 10.  I'll need to get creative to make this a multi-functional room.  The vintage sewing machines you see in the middle of the room are one of the things I need to work into the finished room.  The treadle belonged to my Great Aunt on my Dad's side of the family.  And the other cabinet/sewing machine belong to Mr. Podunk's Dad.

This wall is the only wall in the room without a window or door.  Perfect for getting straight on photos of quilts to use in marketing.  I wanted to put bead board or ship lapped on all the walls of this room but we are so over budget and it's the holiday season so once again these 1980's paneled walls will be painted. It sorta looks like ship lapped.

My vision of pretty moldings and trim is now out of the question also.  The old trim will be updated with a new coat of paint.  I think by now your starting to see a trend......PAINT IT ALL!  Everything but the floor.  The old carpet will be ripped out.

A friend of ours had several boxes of this wood flooring leftover and graciously gave them to us!  Thank goodness, I was beginning to think the floor would be painted also...LOL!  

Do you ever wonder what the heck people were thinking back in the 60's and 70's.  You had to be high on something to think textured ceilings was a good idea.  "Hey Baby let's make this ceiling a pain to maintain!  Groovy Baby!  We can look at it while we trip on Acid in our waterbed...Farout!"  I'm pretty sure these textured ceilings were in many tales of bad Acid trips.   

The best part about older homes are these small closets.  They are a test in your contortion skills.  If you have been thinking about taking a yoga class and your not sure if you want to commit to paying for a full 6 months or a year, just paint a tiny closet.  It will tell you all you need to know about your flexibility and weather or not you want to do yoga all the time.  A word of caution.......Cover your hair with a hankie or scarf unless you just want your hair to be the same color as your closet.

 The closet has its first coat of paint and I'm rolling through the walls as quick as I can.  

Then my yoga muscles told me to call it day.  Hopefully I can spend at least a couple hours each day working on my new office space.  I'd like to have it ready to use by the new year.  

I guess I should put on my Yoga pants and get busy, I'll see you all later!

#homeremodelworkoutroutine #podunkpretties

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

~ A Homemade Starch Concoction ~

Every quilter has their favorite brand of starch, sizing or fabric stabilizer.  I've tried every product on the market and I always come back to good ole fashion starch.  The big blue concentrated bottle of Sta-Flo allows me to make things stiffer if needed.  When doing turned edge applique I like a lighter starch, but when starching for piecing I tend to go a little stiffer.  The heavy starch helps to control fabric fraying.  It improves cutting accuracy and piecing accuracy.   And I only need to iron the fabric before cutting and after the entire quilt top is complete.  I finger press while assembling the quilt top.  Yes you heard that right...No iron!  As with any so called rule in quilting, there are exceptions.  So occasionally a situation will arise when I need an iron during assembly but more often than not my iron is never even turned on while assembling the quilt.  One more great thing about Sta-Flo is the low odor.  Most brands have some over powering sweet perfume that quite frankly isn't necessary.  

Normally a spare bottle of Sta-flo is tucked away in the laundry room.  But with all the remodeling we've been doing in that area of the house I've downsized a little bit with stocking up on things.  Two weeks before Thanksgiving I noticed my starch bottle was getting low.  No problem, just add it to the grocery list...or so I thought.  The first trip to the grocery store and it's out of stock.  No biggie, there's enough in the bottle to get me through another week.  The second trip to the grocery store and it's still out of stock.  Well what's a gal to do but go to another store...and it's out of stock.  Why is this out of stock everywhere?  Who would have thought there would be a mad rush for Sta-flo at Thanksgiving time.  It must be the same people who bought every box of Vanilla Wafers in county.   So it's Wednesday the day before Thanksgiving and I'm on a county wide scavenger hunt to find Starch and Vanilla Wafers.  Finally at store #3....2 boxes of Wafers!  But still no Sta-flo.  Let's just call it a day and buy another brand.  Niagara it is!

As soon as the spraying begins I remember one of the reasons I stopped using Niagra.  The SMELL!  My nose is on fire and starts to run.  But I press onward, spraying yards of fabric.  When starching several pieces I like to hang them on the quilting frame, allowing them to air dry a bit while I continue to spray more fabric.  This is round 1 of fabric....and some fresh air is needed.  Outside is probably best. My entire house smells of Niagra starch.

It's snowing!  Not enough for a snowman but you never know what the day holds.  Mr. Podunk and I love to make snowmen.  We've made at least one every year since we met 11 yrs ago.  Not everyone loves winter or snow, but for me its a reminder of  finding my sweet Mr. Podunk after a long history of not so sweet relationships.  Maybe I can find time later to make a small snowman from the snow collecting on the porch.   For now I'll grab my fake pumpkin out of the chair, that season is over!

 Back to the Studio,  Round 1 fabric is pressed and Round 2 is airing out.  Yes it needs a good airing out.  Shew-wee!  Do you know why starch has a perfume?  Originally perfume was added to starch to freshen up clothing.  In the olden days doing laundry was quite the chore, wash boards, ringer washer's and line drying.  Clothing always needed a good ironing after washing with these methods.  The reason for the perfume is because you didn't wash your cloths every time you wore them.  As long as they looked clean and didn't smell too horrible you would simply freshen them up with a little starch and a good pressing.  This is also why woman wore aprons, don't wanna get that dress dirty, if you do you'll need to wash it, and that's a chore.   We are so lucky to live in this era of ease.

Two bottles of starch wasn't enough for this large batch of fabrics.  Going into town isn't an option.  It's a twenty minute drive to anywhere that may or may not have starch.  I tried the Vodka starch earlier in the year.  YUK!  It was lacking the stiffness.  And the smell reminded me of my younger days of drinking way to much. Even after adding scents to the mix it made me feel hung over.   So for the first time ever I'm making spray starch.  A quick google search and about 5 minutes of looking at a few different recipes and I'm ready to go for it.   My biggest concern with making my own starch is bugs.  Store bought starch has all kinds of perfumes and chemicals that bugs do not find quite as tasty as what I would make.  My plan is to make mine foul tasting as well because I know there will be fabric scraps stored away for later use.  Let me say before giving you my recipe that I've no clue if this will keep the bugs away.   I've not had any bug issues in my stash but I don't want any!  We have spiders but I don't think they care too much about starch.  

My Spray Starch Concoction
2 cups Water
2 TB Cornstarch 
1/4 Cup Vinegar
1 tsp OdoBan

  Combine in a cup or bowl the Cornstarch and about 1/4 cup Water.  With a fork quickly beat/stir/whisk.  This can now be added to a hot or cold liquid stirring constantly after adding to either.   One thing to remember, until cornstarch is cooked it will settle to the bottom of the liquid in just a few seconds.  So add the mixture to the sauce pan immediately after making it, continually stirring over Medium heat.  It's just like making pudding or gravy.

Because I make gravy often I know this is going to be gravy due to the water to cornstarch ratio.    After it's cooked I can thin it out with more water.

Bring it up to a boil for 1 minute.  Remove from heat.  I added 1 1/2 cups more water, vinegar and OdaBan.  Vinegar is used often in canning as a preservative, it also repels bugs.  I probably should have added more.  The Odoban is a powerful odor eliminating chemical.  The smell can be overwhelming if too much is used.  My hopes is bugs find it yukky also.  All the recipes I found said essential oils could be added for fragrance.  There's several oils that are bug deterrents.  But my thought is oil and water don't mix.  The OdaBan is made with Eucalyptus which is a BUG DETERRENT! 

My little concoction was to warm to add the spray nozzle.  So I put it in the freezer to cool it off faster.  Don't look at my freezer too close, it's in need of a good cleaning.  The spray bottle I'm using was purchased at WalMart in mops and brooms isle.  They cost about $3.  The wide mouth makes it easy to refill.  The bottle itself is heavier than most others, and it has a nice spray.  It says it can spray in any direction but I've not found a reason to spray upside down, have you?

While the spray starch was cooling  I finished pressing Round 2 fabrics in record time.  Now I'm ready to test my first batch of Homemade Starch.  It's so exciting to try something new!  

Let me tell you...... it's as stiff as a board.  A little too stiff.  Look at the fabric standing up on its own!  Crispy!   I poured some of it into another spray bottle and watered it down.  You know what? This was so easy and so cheap to make, it might become my favorite starch.

I had just enough starch for Round 3. 

It's all press and neatly stacked until tomorrow when I'll starting cutting for the On Podunk Pond quilt....AKA On Ringo Lake by Bonnie Hunter.

What's your favorite pressing spray?  Have you ever made spray starch?  

#onringolakequilt #quiltvillemysteryquilt #homemadespraystarch #podunkpretties

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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

~ Starting a new quilt ~

Sure there's UFO's that could be finished and quilt tops that could be quilted but there's also fabric calling out to be used.  How could I deny these adorable little prints the opportunity to become a quilt?  The truth be told UFO's and quilting a quilt just isn't what this ole gal needs.  Right now all that's needed is mindlessly sewing.  Since I've finished with clue 1 of the Good Fortune Mystery quilt by Bonnie Hunter, why not make another Bonnie quilt in between the clues for this years mystery.  I didn't make last years mystery quilt, On Ringo Lake, but I did save the pattern.    The fact that it only requires 3 colors and a background also appealed to my quicky nature.

Many of you may see a Christmas quilt with my fabric pull of Red, Green and Yellow.  But I see bright summer quilt to hang over the back of a porch swing.  Using the Electric Quilt Program I quickly recreated the quilt for auditioning different color pallets.  A patriotic pallet was cute and so was a traditional yellow and blue.  But as soon as the coloring was complete using the red, green and yellow I knew it was the one.  Instead of calling her On Ringo Lake, she'll be named On Podunk Pond.  

 Pulling the reds was a breeze, they are plentiful in my stash due to my absolute love of red.  It shows up in almost all of my quilts.   I'm often asked why I love red so much.  Really I've no idea.  Red goes with everything.  Think about that for a and and and and and and and and aqua...Need I say more.  It's a neutral!  LOL!

The yellows were a little harder to pull.  Not all yellows are created equal.  More often than not yellows can be to lemony or brown.  Sometimes they look perfect until you put them with other yellows.  That's when the brown and lemon really pop.  Putting a yellow with lots of brown with a lemon yellow can make the brown yellow look well....brown.

The green...who doesn't just love green?  Its around us everyday in nature.  Even in the winter time I can look out my window and see evergreens and cedars.  Greens are a little more forgiving when it comes to pulling for a quilt.  The different shades all play well together.  Maybe that's because we see them everyday in nature in so many different shades.  There's not a huge range in my greens but I think its a bit wider than the reds and yellows.

Now my neutrals is where I like to have fun and push the boundaries a little bit.  I really don't care about the print color as much as I do the scale.  There's a rainbow of color on white to light cream.  

Now that I've pulled all I can from the fat quarters and yardage for my the neutrals I remembered hiding little baggie of white scraps when finishing my En Provence Mystery I made 2 years ago.  Click here for pattern. These are the perfect size and ready to be strip pieced.  Don't you just love those little treasures hidden in your sewing stash?  Anything that doesn't need much prep work is AWESOME! 

After digging a little deeper in the scraps I found a few green and red strips cut just the right size.  So why not go ahead and make a few little units before calling it a day.  To hurry this along even faster I used the June Taylor Shape Cut Ruler.  TIP: Mark the cuts with a dry erase marker for quick cutting and less cutting errors.  When your done the marks wipe off.   

 I can't tell you how happy I am about these little nine patches!  It's been so long since I last played with bright and happy colors.  It's my kind of heaven, full of happy colors.  

My six little scrappy nine patches all finished.  I feel like a new woman, recharged and ready to tackle this entire quilt.  But it's late and I need to get supper going and do a few chores.

For supper...a scrappy soup!  We always have both ham and turkey for Thanksgiving.  It's a long story but all I need to say is picky eaters.  Many of the family members took home leftovers but we were still left with quite a bit.  So it's time to put the scraps to use. Yesterday I boiled down the turkey bones with some carrots, celery and onion to make about 8 quarts of broth.  Half of the broth was used to make Turkey Dumplings for yesterday's supper.  Today I used the other half to make a scrappy ham chowder.  I'd give you a recipe if there was one.  But I'm a dumper when it come to soup making.  So if you're a good dump cooker here's what I added but no measurements.  

Turkey Broth
1 small onion
2 stalks of celery
a couple of fresh carrots sliced
a few potatoes
leftover corn
left over ham
a little velveta
corn starch to thicken
salt and pepper to taste

MMMM...comfort food....or as Mr. Podunk calls it....a big ole sleeping pill!

#onringolakemysteryquilt #bonniehuntermysteryquilt #podunkpretties #bonniehunterquilt

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Monday, November 26, 2018

~ Good Fortune ~ Clue 1 ~

I've long said that every quilt I design or make has a story to tell. I'm an emotional quilter and those emotions sometimes find their way into my stitching.  Over the last few months my color pallet has been an emotional roller coaster.  My normal pallet of happy brights has turned to black and orange, and now to the darker scraps from my earlier years of quilting.  This cute little wheel of 4 patches has a story to tell.  I understand full well what it means but I'll save you the drama and just tell you my heart is on the mend.  The blacks fabric days are behind me for awhile.  The next time I pull them out hopefully will be because I need a new black and white quilt to go with the ones I made this year.

Deciding on a color pallet for the Good Fortune FREE Mystery quilt by Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville was quite a chore.   As a quilt pattern designer my process for designing is a little different than most designers.  Most designers see a line of fabric and a quilt design is born from the fabric.  My designs come from inspiration in any form and it's rarely from a line of fabric.  It can come from the season change, a flower, a TV show, a trip to Hobby Lobby, really just about anything can spark a quilt design.  So choosing fabrics before I know the design of the quilt is quite the challenge for me.  Working out of my comfort zone adds a little bit of excitement to my very structured life in Podunk.  We live a fairly boring life out here in the middle of nowhere.  So these challenges give me the drama that most of humans crave.  It's much nicer than a episode of Jerry Springer or watching the news.  

So I started pulling my fabrics as soon as Bonnie released the color pallet she chose for her quilt.  You can find the introduction to the Good Fortune Mystery quilt by CLICKING HERE.  My original plan was to use the colors suggested by Bonnie.  Well I was lacking the colors in my scraps, so I started pulling from fat quarters and was still lacking.  Then the planned to stick with her colors quickly changed to I'm gonna do this one in my favorite colors and dearly loved collection(hoard) of Lakehouse Drygoods fabrics.

At this point I'm in Bonnie's Facebook group, Quiltville's Open Studio, seeing quilters pull from their stash and scraps.  Most are staying with the suggested pallet.  So I want to be like them, join the club, walk the line of conformity.  So another pull of fabrics begins.  This time from my old scrap stash in the suggested colors.  Very few fat quarters hiding in these bins.  Most pieces are sizes that would be thrown out by the average quilter.  Not me, I've always saved every insanely small piece.  They could be used as applique as small as a dime.  Well after this day of digging I still don't have what's needed and will need to order fabric.  My thoughts were "If I'm going to order fabric, I might as well use fabric from my first pull of more recent fabrics and order what I need to stay with Bonnies suggested colors."  So that's what I did.  I ordered fabric.

So I'm all set and ready to go!.....WRONG!  I had time to think, read and see what others were doing in her Quiltville Open Studio.  Some of these gals are serious Scrap busters.  I kinda felt like they were ganging up on me without saying a word.  They are pulling from scraps and using what colors they have.  That's why I want to do this mystery!  Use up those scrap bins!  Okay, okay, okay I got this!  I will pull only from my scrap bins, I'm allowed to purchase fabric if I need to.

At last... I pulled all of the creamy neutrals from my scrap bins.  The dark browns needed a couple fat quarters added to the mix but they were not purchased they came from my older civil war reproduction fabrics.  The greens are 100% from the scrap bins. Gold and red both were lacking.  The gold almost none in my scrap bins but I had a few yardage pieces in the stash.  There still wasn't enough for me to feel comfortable about calling it the scrap look.  So I purchased 2 Fat quarters. Then the reds/burgundy were also lacking.  I pulled 3 fat quarters from the stash and purchased a couple from my favorite Local quilt shop on small business Saturday.  The shop is called Coffee Cup Quilting.  It's a nice little shop with the friendliest owner, Claranna.  Her prices are amazingly low compared to other quilt shops around here or online.  Fat quarters under $2, and she'll cut as many as you want!

Al last I'm happy with my pull and I feel as if I'm making a considerable dent in my scrap bins. Let me tell you, cutting from scraps is a real chore.  Yes I'm complaining but I will follow up with I know that big chore is going to produce an amazing quilt.  It's worth the hours spent cutting.  Because some of my scraps were small I couldn't strip piece all of them.  I wanted to make sure all 4 fabrics in the 4 patches were different, so I laid out several on my mini design boards.

 As I was finger pressing HUNDREDS of twosies I found this.  I'll need to be a little more careful when strip piecing. Not sure it would have even been noticeable in the quilt and I considered using it anyway.   But what the heck lets cut and sew one more, really what's one more after HUNDREDS!

 It feels so good to have the first clue finished and stored away.  I'm putting my units in these cute little boxes from the Fat Quarter Shops Monthly Sew Sampler.  When I was saving them I had no idea why, but knew they would come in handy someday.  I only have 6, lets hope that's enough for all the clues.  Now lets talk about those clues.  I was looking at the yardage requirements for this mystery.  Does anyone else find the neutrals to be excessive? The average quilt in the size she says it finishes uses around 5 yds of background fabric,  Bonnie's mystery is out of that range.  My trained quilty mind says there's either lots of white space or there's lots of tiny pieces.  And by tiny I'm wondering if this one has some string piecing to go along with her new book String Frenzy.  Something to think about!  

Well I'm off to ship orders from my pattern sale this weekend.  Today is the last day of the sale.  And it's the last sale of the year.  Now is a good time to get those patterns at great prices.  This sale is all patterns PDF and Mailed that are in my Etsy Shop.  CLICK HERE TO START SHOPPING.

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Hop on over and be inspired by all the Good Fortune quilts!


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