Monday, June 28, 2021

Quilting, Walking and Khaleesi

 Well I'm happy to say I've made very little progress in the Studio.  HAHA!  Seems like an odd thing to say doesn't it?  Well I might as well be happy it about it because being upset isn't going to change it.   But what little I have done has gone pretty smoothly with little to no issues.  Sure there's a few uh-oh's in the quilting but I'm not going to point them out.

This afternoon after doing a few chores I'll advance this quilt and try to at least quilt one more row of blocks and sashing.  Wish me luck because I've busy day planned.

As usual me and my girl Khaleesi will go for our daily walk.  We typically walk at least a mile a day but weather permitting we can walk up to 2 miles.  I'd like to increase it to 4 miles before the end of summer.  Along our walks I like to take in the sites.  This time of year there's always a new pop of color in nature.  The elder gentlemen down road has a very unique landscaping style.  I love this old tire that he has painted gold.  I can remember both of my grandparents had old tires turned inside out and cut to look like tulips.

This is the prettiest Lily flowerbed I've seen in years.  So many colors, Gorgeous!  I think I'm going to need to up my Lily game.  I want a bed full of the bright beauties of all colors.  But I think I pass on the old tire decor.

Last Thursday my girl had to go for her yearly checkup.  She's doing really well but the blood test showed she might have a kidney issue.  They did another test on her kidney and we should find out today if the test was accurate or if it was due to the stress of being at the doctor.  I'm thinking it was stress related because she's very skittish and easily scared.  Crossing our fingers for a clean bill health.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

No Quilting but Busy All Day

  I was on the go pretty much all day and thought I would be able to squeeze in a at least an hour or two quilting.  I was sadly mistaken, by 9 p.m. I was exhausted and called it day.  But I did get a lot accomplished.  As usual I took my girl Khaleesi for a walk and listened to an Audible book as we walked.  Most of the the time when doing our daily walk I'm inside my head not paying much attention to the things around me, well other than the occasional car I hear coming.  Today was pretty much the same but I came out of my walking coma long enough to take in the beauty of a couple pretty weeds.

You all know I'm not a big fan of purple but this lavender-ish bloom caught my eye.  How gorgeous is this?  I have to admit I thought about how pretty this would be in my flowerbeds but I also know it's not a good idea to plant weeds where you don't want them to choke out everything else.

Mother nature decided to reward me for being present.  She tossed in a pinch of color.  You all also know I'm not a fan of orange in my quilts but in nature it is stunning. We have some very colorful butterflies, moths and other bugs here in Podunk that all would have been stunning to see on this flower/weed but Mother Nature and the powers that be decided this was the perfect opportunity to work it's magic on me.  I'm often inspired by the colors in nature.  And it worked, I started dreaming up ideas for a quilt using more purple an orange.  Sadly I didn't have time today to draw it up in EQ but the idea is still blooming in my mind.  So don't be surprised if you see me working with purple and orange someday.

As soon as we returned home it was time to get in the kitchen and bake a cake.  Mr. Podunk is having a birthday this week and his favorite cake since he was a child is a Red Velvet cake with Cream Cheese icing.  I tried making one from scratch last year.  It was good but it didn't turn out as red as it should have.  And the red food coloring was a nightmare.  Everything it touched it stained.  This year I'm a little more pressed for time so I decided to buy a boxed cake mix.  Cooking from scratch is always better but convenience sometimes wins the race.

Oh my goodness this looks like blood pudding. YUK!  Red cake is just not right. 

In my mind all I can think about is the Armadillo cake in the Movie Steel Magnolias.

There's no turning back now so Red Velvet cake it is.  What a mess I made of this cake.  A cake decorator I am not.  The red cake was flaking off into my icing.  So what's a gal to do but try to hide the problem.  

The red crumbles on top are from the part I cut off to make the cake tops flat.  It looked much prettier in my head.

The mushroom tops will not be thrown out.  I've cut them up into chunks and have frozen them to use on the Fourth of July.

The plan is to make these really cute Red Velvet Parfaits.  You can find the recipe where I borrowed this picture here.  Lets hope my parfaits turn out prettier than my cake.  I'm not holding my breath because I'll be using clear disposable party cups instead of fancy little glasses.

While the cake was baking in the oven I started another batch of canned milk.  If you missed my post about canning milk you can find it here.

By this time the jars come out of the canner its about 3p.m. and I need to clean up the kitchen in order to start cooking supper.  There's also laundry to be finished up...chores, chores and more chores.  

Here's something some of you might not know.  I don't eat sugar or grains of any kind.  But today I decided to make an exception.  I must taste this cake.  If it's good I'll have a small slice a reward for having such a restrictive diet for what seems like forever.  In order to eat a slice of cake I will need to take a pill to ward off the side effects.  Just tasting one bite shouldn't cause a reaction. 

One bite is all it took.  This taste like a car engine smells.  YUK!  How did I ever eat this kind of food.  Does it really taste this bad?  Will Mr. Podunk like it?  Something must be wrong with this cake mix. I can't serve this poison to my husband.  What am I going to do?  Should I run into town to purchase a deli cake at the local grocery?  My taste has changed over the years since I stopped eating certain things but I can't see cake not tasting good. 

 Much to my surprise Mr. Podunk loved this toxic tasting blood cake.  So much so he ate 2 pieces.  He said it was DELICIOUS.   It's official, my taste buds are broken, I'll never be able to enjoy a sugar treat ever again.  How strange that he tasted yummy and I tasted motor oil.  The icing was the worst.  It's supposed to be cream cheese icing.  I still eat the occasional sugar free homemade cheesecake and it's amazing.  I did noticed the last time I opened a bag of sugar it smelled like a chemical but I thought it was the bag or the glue used to seal the bag.  Nope it was the sugar. 

That one bite caused more of reaction than I thought it would.  And of course it happened in the middle of the night.  I'll spare you the details but I'll tell you I spent a considerable amount of time in the bathroom.

My cake may not be pretty but it definitely looks better than it tastes.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Quilting the Blue and Yellow Leaders and Enders Quilt

 One of the most challenging parts of making a quilt is the actual quilting.  I suppose that's why longarmers have wait lists that can be several weeks or months long.  When I purchased my midarm on a frame I had big plans of quilting for others someday.  The only problem was I don't like the quilting process.  I had grand illusions of the quilting machine making the quilting process more enjoyable.  Ten years later and I really don't enjoy quilting anymore than I did on my domestic machine.  Sure it is easier but enjoyable? Not really.  

My quilting setup is one of the cheapest out there.  It has what I call an old school Stitch Regulator with a learning curve that make some owners throw in the towel and buy a different set up. 

 Over the years I've made some modifications to my Bailey Home Quilter.  She looks like a monster   but the old girl gets the job done.  It doesn't matter what she looks like or how much I paid for her, what matters is we have learned to work together and make some pretty good looking quilts.  

 Every once in awhile after finishing the quilting on a quilt I will still need a binding fabric.  The easiest way to find just the right binding fabric is to take the quilt with you to the quilt shop.  Of course a finished quilt in a quilt shop is going to draw some attention.  The questions are always the same...

1.  What's the name of quilt pattern?
2.  Who designed it?
3.  The quilting is amazing, who quilted it for you?
4.  What brand is your longarm?

The Bailey Home Quilter isn't a brand that most quilters know.  And when I explain to them how cheap it is and it's lack of bells and whistles they are shocked that I can make it look like a "big girl" machine did the work.  It may seem like I'm bragging a little but really I'm not.  No one needs a frame quilter to make beautiful quilts.  I too have been impressed with the quilting on a quilt and ask some of the same questions.  And I too am shocked when they sometimes say...I quilted it on my mothers old sewing machine with a seven inch throat.  

The first thing I learned when I first starting quilting on a frame is....
Buying a quilter does not an artist make
Only time and lots of practice is going to produce a pretty quilting design.  Some learn it faster than others but all can and will if they put in the blood, sweat and tears.  I think I've paid my dues and for the most part I can give a quilt a little character with the quilting.  

And then there's quilts like this one.  I love this quilt.  It's simple design and bright colors just tickle me pink.  But my choice of quilting design...EH...I'm not feeling it but I'm not changing it or picking out the stitches.  The quilting doesn't look bad it just looks to be the wrong scale or wrong shape.  To me it's just off.  But it's quilted and that is all that matters.  Sometimes you win and sometimes you don't.

The real win is when a quilt is actually finished and no longer a UFO, right?  Yes ma'am!  So I'm moving forward and getting this girl done.

I'm linking up this post at a new to me link up over at 

Hop over to be inspired or to link up.

My word of the year, MOOVE.  Moving along UFOs and moving physically.

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Monday, June 21, 2021

Piecing a Scrappy Quilt Backing

 Back in my earlier years of quilting most of my quilt backs were made from a flat sheet or scraps of fabric from the quilt top and smaller pieces of yardage.  These days most of my quilt backings are pieced from one fabric or a wide quilt backing.  Wide quilt backings are great when quilting on a longarm.  It makes the loading of the quilt to the frame a breeze.  They are also convenient, expensive and in my opinion boring.  I love a pieced quilt backing.  It adds a little whimsy and character to the quilt.  Sure it takes a little more time but it's worth it to use up some of the ever growing stash.   With this quilt I've decided to get back to my roots and make a scrappy backing from the quilt top scraps and some green yardage from my stash.

The backing didn't come together as quickly as I had hoped.  Two hours!  My goodness it was a real chore.  My head just wasn't in the game.  It was one error after another.  Miscuts and sewing mistakes.  The red arrow shows the seam that gave me so much trouble.  The first mistake was cutting.  Measure twice, cut once is the rule.  Well I measured 3 times and still cut it wrong.   After fixing that issue I sewed them with wrong sides together.  The numbers below show the order in which I sewed the fabrics together.  Piece 3 was another sewing error.   Somehow I sewed it just below piece 2.  Had I pinned them together I would have caught my mistake before sewing due to they are different lengths.  At this point I was getting a little....lets say grouchy.  No seam ripper required when you are a little grouchy.  I literally ripped the seam with my bare hands by pulling on the fabrics.  It made me feel better.  The grouchy mood was ripped right out of me.

Thankfully adding the quilt label was smooth sailing.   A simple framed square label, machine appliqued into place.  

Instead of matching the thread to the fabric I used a white thread and a tiny blanket stitch.  I thought this would make the  label stand out and give the backing some more visual interest.  

There's no hurry to finish this quilt.  It's for Mr. Podunk to use when camping.  His next camping trip is in the Fall.  So this will be stored away for a few weeks before quilting.  Almost all of my quilts needing to be quilted are stored with backing and binding.

Lets hope the quilt police don't see me storing them in a plastic bag.  It's the easiest way to keep them all together.  Now to find a place for them in the dresser full of quilts to be quilted.  Maybe I should see what's hiding in there.  I might find a hidden treasure!  I let you know .

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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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