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Sunday, February 4, 2024

Squirrel-Spired Scrappy RSC Blocks

January RSC blocks
Happy February! After a break from the RSC (Rainbow Scrap Challenge) I've been feeling the tug to jump in again. The time must be right, because with just a few encouraging words from Diann and Judy, I was lured back in. So thank you ladies!

Kaleidoscope, RSC quilt made in 2021
I have RSC blocks from previous years in my closet waiting to be used, but I did use several in Kaleidoscope, a donation quilt, in 2021 (pictured above, with post details right here). RSC is hosted by Angela at So Scrappy, who has linkups to share progress during the month. Although I won't join the linkups, I will informally follow along with her monthly color picks. The color for January was green, so I raided the scrap bins to make a few blocks. 

Shimmer Star scrappy version
I like the pattern for this block from Moda Block Heads 5. It is in Group 2, called Shimmer Star by April Rosenthal. The scrappy version is not as alluring to me as the more uniform ones I see on Facebook and Instagram, but I still like it.

Double Irish Chains
I was squirrel-spired by Diann's chains and found an Irish chain I wanted to try. 

Antique Tiles
I found another squirrel-spiration on Libby's blog - the Antique Tile block. Libby's blocks are so pretty I just had to try a couple.

Then I saw that Michele had posted a link to a different way to make Antique Tiles. I am hooked on these easy blocks and have made several of them. They are a "disappearing 9-patch" version, always an interesting process in my book. For these blocks I am primarily using yardage I won in a giveaway by Alycia at Quilty Girl! I hope to have a post up soon about these fun blocks.

While I was at it, I reorganized the green scrap bin and found some green strips that were too small to use for blocks, so those went into a string block!

Before and After
Let me tell you, I was heartily sick of green when I got done. My greens are just not that pretty. Many of them were in the "what were you thinking" category. But at least a few of them got used, and now my green bin looks a little neater.

Red is the color for February, so today I will see what inspiration I find in my red/pink bin!
Sunday, December 31, 2023

My 2023 New Year's Eve Party!

Let's party!
Join me in my celebration of 2023 finished projects and my gratitude for the friendships I've made through your blogs! I'll start with a couple of finishes I failed to post. First is a chair re-cover. I was reminded of it when I read Wendy's post and spotted a familiar "cat" fabric in her Japanese rice bag. The second is a scarf I posted on Instagram. Read on for more details!

Craft chair - before
When my husband cleaned out his shed, he pulled out a bar stool that I used in a previous sewing room in another house. Katy the cat had imparted claw holes to the dark brown faux leather top, so I had a vintage doll quilt on top to hide the holes. When we moved, I no longer wanted the stool, so it went to live in the garage and finally ended up in the shed. I had forgotten all about it and was delighted to reclaim it for my "new" sewing space.

Craft chair - after. Rosie's tail is included for your viewing pleasure.
I removed the seat and covered it with a couple layers batting and cat fabric, then folded and tucked it somewhat like wrapping a gift. I secured it with staples, and screwed it back into place. It is handy and comfy when I am doing craft work at my cutting table and feel the need to sit.

This light linen is one I had long loved and hoarded,
from the Andover Maker Maker collection 

The scarf was crocheted with a moss stitch using 2 skeins of I Love This Yarn in Painted Canyon, purchased back in 2016! It is soft and cozy.

For a review of all my finishes for 2023, feel free to click "2023" at the top of my blog.

It has been one year since I stopped hosting To Do Tuesday, my resignation made possible by Carol of Quilt Schmilt graciously volunteering to assume that weekly commitment. Since then I have not posted in the weekly linkup, preferring instead "To Do Whatever", and I have to say I am enjoying just posting occasionally rather than on a schedule. Also I have eased up on joining any quilt-along or stitch-along, although I'm not shutting the door on any of them.

In spite of my footloose state of mind, I still enjoy reading your blogs, and I cherish your inspiration, friendship, and kindness. You have no idea how your words and photos lift my spirits and light a fire under me, so thank you!

My wish is that your 2024 is filled with joy, peace, and good health!
Friday, December 22, 2023

Christmas Threads

Sunrise with Christmas lights twinkling in the distance
This has been the fastest holiday season ever! After everyone was here for Thanksgiving (it was a blur), my mood was "I have plenty of time before Christmas", but life intervened, as always.

I did get a little holiday decorating done. Even without a tree, I am happy with our lights and favorite decorations. Above are some daytime vs evening scenes from our living room.

And our view from the sofa every night

I made cookies from Granny Mitchell's recipe yesterday and have more dough in the freezer. This is her treasured recipe, written in her hand and signed Elzadia Mitchell. You can see from the photo that it was a much used recipe before we decided to laminate it years ago! Mom told me Granny had made this recipe since the 1880s, when she was a young girl. When Mom pressed her for the recipe, this was her best guess! Here is a post about the recipe.

I put aside my fall quilt for a little while, but I will get back to it

I've been playing with the 16 across blocks!

Last week I decided to make a small quilt for The Littles. When I moved my sewing space, I found some handmade flannel Christmas napkins I had purchased but never used, and after cutting off the hemmed edges I had 12 square-ish pieces. I placed them in a simple 3 x 4 design but got in a hurry and forgot to square up the blocks before I sewed them together!

I added a flannel border and a panel and more flannel on the back. It made a smallish, non-uniform quilt, but it is a play quilt for The Littles, and they don't care if it is square!

I also made three more rag-edged Christmas stockings for my daughter, like these I made last Christmas. Since she got married in March, she needed one for John, her husband, and for the youngest two of his four children.

My sweet daughter-in-law Susan sent me this adorable Grandma sweatshirt! You can see how long it is - perfect for my leggings.

We made two 100 mile round trips to our daughter's house in the last week and will go again on Christmas morning for brunch and to watch Everett and Delaney open gifts. Yesterday we made another 100 mile round trip to meet our grandson to give him gifts to take home to our son and family in south Texas. That is a LOT of driving for us old folks!

Wishing all of you a very happy holiday season!
Saturday, November 18, 2023

Slow Down Autumn and Thanksgiving Countdown

This is our menu for Thursday

November is moving right along, much to my dismay! Somehow this favorite month of mine always manages to zoom way too quickly.

In spite of spending time every day in my room, I don't have much to show for it. The butterfly quilt for my sister-in-law is still waiting for me to load it up and quilt it. I am still making 16-across blocks for a Christmas quilt. And the Cheyenne blocks are going to become a quilt! I love these blocks so much that I made the decision to buy more of the background fabric, and I've been cutting out more pieces for HSTs and squares.

I finished and framed a little Thanksgiving mug

We have been navigating doctor, dentist, and hair appointments this week. I had four inches cut off my hair yesterday! My hair was well past my shoulders, and I have really enjoyed the ease of long hair, but I needed a change. My hairdresser added layers and it is a wee bit shorter in the back. But I do miss my pony tail!

My dear husband cleaned out the garden, and I will be working prepping it for next spring. We dump all our coffee grounds and vegetable and fruit peels on the garden, and it has really made a difference in the soil. I am expanding the space a little bit for next season.

My heart is heavy this week as I just found out my niece, who had a mastectomy in 2016, has been diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer. Debbie is the one for whom I made this prayer quilt in this post on my old blog. She lives in Oklahoma and is not married, but my two nephews and her Mom all live nearby, and they are all very close. She will find out her treatment options on Monday, so I am praying extra hard for her. 

I pulled out the wall hanging "Oklahoma Sunset" that I made in 2021
On Thursday, our son and family will drive up from north of Houston, our grandson from Dallas, and our daughter and son-in-law from Frisco, and we will celebrate with the feast listed on the menu above. This is my favorite meal to make, and I look forward to it all year! I will be making and freezing rolls this weekend and make the pies and cookie dough on Wednesday. The Littles will be with their Dad for this holiday, and we will miss them, but it will be kind of nice to have a quieter "adult" visit. 

If you celebrate, what are your plans for Thanksgiving?
Sunday, November 5, 2023

Autumn Vibes

November is my favorite month! I look forward to October - December all year, and I want the season to slow down so I can savor it. Our weather is not really cooperating, but I just love this time of year!

There are two squirrels currently fighting for dominance in my space, and this is my latest Squirrel-spiration. I plan to make a table runner and hope to have it quilted and posted this week. The blocks are Cheyenne blocks and are quick and easy to make (even though I sew them together wrong and have to take them apart!) I love the colors and can't wait to finish!

I'm using my hoarded "Fancy Cats" panel by Makower, UK.

I continue to make Sixteen Across blocks, squirrel-spired by, and it will eventually become a Christmas quilt. I am so happy to give my Christmas scraps a home! Diann is doing them as leaders/enders and you can see her pretty blocks here.

Here is a rough idea of what sashing and scrappy cornerstones would look like as a layout.

Since I stopped hosting To Do Tuesday, my blog reading and posting has slowed down as I finally realized that it is not my responsibility to comment on every blog or record everything I do in my sewing room - lol! I am currently not participating in any linkups or sewalongs, and the extra time is a good thing. I am saving the patterns for Moda Blockheads 5, but so far have not started any blocks. 

My Hubs has a "polysomnography" at a hospital sleep lab this week to determine if he is a candidate for a CPAP mask. He apparently has borderline severe sleep apnea. His cardiologist told him that means he is deprived of oxygen several times per night, and that makes his heart work harder. Since his heart attack in 2012, he has had stents and a cardioverter-defibrillator implanted, so we want to make sure we are doing everything possible for his heart. But it will be the first night we've been apart since 2017, and we are both dreading it - lol!

What are you up to on this "Fall Back" Sunday?
Thursday, October 26, 2023

Thursday Threads

Fall has finally come to far north Texas, and you can see how the tree behind the shed is just now starting to give a hint of color. We received 3.20 inches rain yesterday, and by next Monday temperatures will be in the 30s at night - makes me so happy.

In the sewing room, my sister-in-law's butterfly quilt is sandwiched and ready to quilt (after I get those pesky wrinkles smoothed out).

I had leftover triangles from the butterfly quilt, and I made some HSTs. Here is one potential design as I decide what to do with them.

Five minutes after I shot the HST photo, Toby decided it was his bathtub.

This squirrel-spiration was found on Jocelyn's post the other day in her link to Susie calls it the "Sixteen Across" quilt block, and it is a simple sixteen-patch block made with 2-1/2 inch light and dark squares that create a diagonal design. I decided to use up some Christmas scraps to make a few and see how it looks. I like it! If you squint you can see the diagonal in mine. My light and dark squares probably need to be more strongly valued (is that a thing?) but at this point I just want to use up those scraps. It's nice to just sew without reading a pattern or struggling with fabric selection.

At night I've been crocheting a scarf. Back in 2016 I bought 3 skeins of  I Love This Yarn in Painted Canyon. It was a time in my life when I was very unsure about the future, and the yarn and crochet offered me an odd comfort. I stitched a few nights, then put it away and forgot all about it until a few weeks ago when I was rearranging my yarn closet. I'm enjoying the Moss Stitch on this one - doesn't take too much attention away from TV!

Gus (aka Gussy, Gustopher and Baby) the sweet black kitty
This little guy has taken up a lot of my time, trying to help him feel comfortable and safe in his new environment. The other kitties are trying to make friends with him, but he still hisses a bit. I leave the door open to his space a little more each day, and he actually seems very happy. Can a cat be happy? If they can, I think this one is!

Our 54th anniversary was this week, so we celebrated early last Friday at the local Texas Roadhouse, then headed home for this dessert - brown sugar apple pie. I actually use both kinds of sugar in it, but I like the brown sugar name better - lol! Here is the recipe if you'd like to try it:

Brown Sugar Apple Pie
4-5 cups apples, sliced thin (Granny Smith, Braeburn, Honey Crisp, or any variety of your favorites)
1/2 cup salted butter*
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
Heaping teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 9-inch double pie crust
*If you use unsalted butter, add 1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 425°. Prepare pie crust dough for 9-inch double crust.

Melt butter in saucepan, add flour and stir to form paste, cook a couple minutes over low heat. Add sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, and water, whisk until smooth, and bring to boil. Add apples, lower heat, and simmer 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. (Sometimes I add a half teaspoon maple flavoring too.)

Roll out and place bottom crust in pie pan. Add apple mixture. Roll out top crust and place on top of apples. Crimp edges and cut slits or shapes in several places.

Bake at 425° for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 350°. I place mine on the lowest rack of the oven. It seems to cook the apples better and the crust edges don't brown as quickly. I also place foil on the crust edges about 30 minutes into the bake, to keep from browning too much. Bake until apples are tender and juices are bubbling through crust. Mine is in the oven about an hour total. Place on wire rack to cool.

I hope your week is is going well and that you are looking forward to a great weekend!