Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I'm a Knitter!

I went to my first knitting class last night. We learned casting on, the knit stitch, and some of us learned to purl. I have to admit, I couldn't wait for last night, so learned some of this stuff online last week. There is a wealth of information on the web!

This reminds me. I was at a meeting of medical professionals last week (I'm there in a clerical capacity only) and one doctor said that they need a forum for colleagues to share information online. She said, "My daughter is a photographer, and she belongs to a couple of different groups that are amazingly generous with information about their profession." I think you can say that about a lot of artists, in general. Case in point,
Ayumills, who was kind enough to post the instructions for the fabric baskets, as well as Tiennie. She's obviously got her own busy life, and doesn't know me, but took the time to answer some of my knitting questions. And there are many more free tips, pointers, give-aways, patterns, etc. out there. What a great community, the crafting world!!

So back to knitting, I found a pattern online and am making a hat. I must also make note of
this Karen; she mentioned in a recent blog that she bought needles that were like "knitting with butter." I asked her which those were, and she was kind enough to respond. (Boy, are they.) In our class, we're making a hat, and I am knitting a hat on the side, as well. I'm hoping they fit great and all the little boys (six, at least) in my family may be getting hats for Christmas. Yes, I am going to be that kooky aunt. Hopefully, my color choices will not be too kooky for them. At least the three boys that belong to me are looking forward to hats.

Happy last day of September!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday Night Update

BFJ's parents grow grapes.
Countdown to October.
Is it just me, or do you find yourself looking forward to the next thing, instead of enjoying this one? I try to remember to enjoy today, be in the moment. You never know how many you have left. Sometimes you just don't want to be in the moment you're in, though. I think crafting can exaggerate the feeling. I've got all these Christmas plans in my head already, things I hope I can make and do before it's here. And that's not what Christmas is about!! So I am trying to enjoy September, while it is still here. It has been a nice month. We still have peppers growing, tomatoes, herbs, the pumpkins are turning orange. What's not to like?

One thing we often do at our house to savor the day is "worst/best" at the dinner table. It's basically "high/low," if you've ever seen
The Story of Us. I thought worst/best would be easier for the little guys to track, but I'm actually not sure that the little one gets "worst." Sometimes he says, "My worst thing today is eating dinner." Hmmm. On the other hand, maybe that is the worst thing he's had to do all day. Lucky him, no?

My worst thing today was cutting up raw chicken. Blech. Not so bad, in the grand scheme of things, though, I know.
Hard to pick a best: finding that $9.22 that my checkbook has been out of balance for a month; talking with BFJ in the car this morning; epiphanies in church; neighbor Shannon giving me free, leftover iris that she found on Craigslist; guacamole and Coke for dinner (there was other stuff, too);
Rosemary and Thyme by myself in the dark.

I'm looking forward to Monday night knitting class! But only after the worst and best of Monday.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

More Baskets

Look at all these lovely fall colors; I love this bright leaf fabric (inside.) BFJ voted for some quilting, so I've added that too.

Four more days til knitting. I have figured out the stockinette stitch but I'm looking forward to a project I can master.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Guten Tag!

Recently, BFJ has reconnected through the internet -isn't it so handy?- with a friend from high school. (I won't tell you how long ago that was, but let's just say more than ten years.) Anyway, this friend, George, and I have also become friends. We recently had dinner with George, and her husband, The Hammer, and they gave us a tour of their house, which is customary when you go to a new place, right? George makes her own curtains and other various things around the house and is very artistic and crafty. In the basement, she showed us some of her holiday decorations, and some scarecrows which she was using to make German people. Huh? Since I didn't know what she meant, it didn't really stick in my mind. Working our way up to the bedrooms, we encountered these German people. (I think BFJ thought it was a real woman when he walked around the corner.)

What a neat idea! I have begged her for weeks to let me take a picture of them, so finally she agreed. Meet Heidi and Hans. (And George.)

Not being any kind of German, we don't really celebrate Oktoberfest, but I think these are neat. They are life-size, as you can see, and George drew their faces, made their clothes, steins, everything. I have never thought of taking a scarecrow and making more out of it but George had a vision. Besides the fact that I've never thought to decorate for any but the usual holidays, I just never thought of making something so original! And she also has plans for a tomte for Christmas time! Even we crafty people don't always find it easy to think outside the box but maybe this will encourage us to try something new this holiday season.

After George let us photograph her People, she and The Hammer took the boys and me out to check out some geocaches. Then we had to scoot. We are going to have to look into that a bit more, and take BFJ!

PS I would LOVE it if you comment and tell George how neat these are. I told her all you creative people in blogland would find them interesting but she doesn't believe me.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My First Quilt

Here's how I got started in quilting:
On my wedding day, as I was getting all put together for the ceremony, one of my aunts called from out-of-state to say she was sorry she couldn't make it to the wedding, but if we would come to visit her, she would make us a wedding quilt. A few months later, we got up to her house and picked out blocks for a story quilt. Time went by (my aunt was hand quilting then) and we hadn't heard anything about it, so BFJ decided I should just go ahead and make us a quilt. I think by that point, I had made a skirt, in Girl Scouts. In the fourth grade.

Actually, I was becoming intrigued with the idea of a quilt, myself, so off I went to Barnes and Noble. (Yes, that's right, the epicenter of quilting.) I searched around until I found a picture in a magazine that I liked (Lady of the Lake), went to Hobby Lobby, bought everything mentioned in the supplies list, took it home, got to work. I cut out 2,000+ triangles with my scissors. I stitched them all into pairs. I spent many, many days, weeks, months, pairing up those triangles. I finally had them all in squares. I sewed a strip of them together and the points didn't line up. I took them apart. I sewed them back together. I took them apart. I sewed them back together. Finally, I took the six blocks I had to my aunt and said, "What am I doing wrong?" She said, "If I were you, I would sew those six blocks together, put some batting and backing on there, quilt it. There you have your first quilt." I said, "What about the other pieces?" She said, "You cut them all out, didn't you. Beginners' mistake." Well, those pieces are still in a box. Someday, I will finish that quilt, after all the others.

I told BFJ I was going to have to start with something simpler. We went to the fabric store and picked out fabrics together. And shortly thereafter, I made a baby quilt. It was too puffy (thick batting - beginners' mistake.) Then another baby quilt, then another. I didn't even have babies. Finally he asked when I was going to get around to finishing his quilt. In 2006, after three quilts for my own babies, I finally finished his quilt. It wasn't my first quilt. It wasn't my first big quilt. It is his, though. I did use the wool backing that I bought for that first quilt in 1996.

Every time I go to a guild meeting, (or start a quilt blog,) BFJ asks if I'd like to show off his quilt. It's got a BIG pucker on the back, so I've never taken it to show-and-tell. But what does he care? It's football season, and he's got a quilt.

And by the way, I have yet to see the story quilt, but I think Aunt Gail gave me a much better gift than the quilt itself, and that is a love of quilting.

*** Edit ***
Stephanie suggested that others should post about their first quilts, so if you want to do that, I will put a link on here to your story!
Also, thank you Marcie for allowing me to link to your beautiful quilt, and if you would like to check out her blog, please do. She's quite a talented lady. Tell her I sent you!

Happy Friday

Here we are, the last few days of summer. I might get out and do some yardwork. Who knows?!! As you can see, we've still got a few stray items growing in the gardens.

For homework, Speed was to find a picture of something that started with "N" so he just drew his own: Nana.

I have lots of baskets and projects still in the queue for my long weekend. Luckily, my own dear grandmother left behind a box of threads, so no matter what color combination I come up with, I'm covered!
Did I tell you I am taking a knitting class in a couple of weeks? I am so excited, I had to buy some needles. My first pair! (I paid less than that.) And they are so cute; even if I somehow manage not to learn anything in my knitting class, I will have to find a use for them.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I always have too many projects going! I am trying to get a bunch of these projects done before the holidays are upon me, this year.

I have been working on these stockings for two or three years, now. One thing that is stalling me on them is that I have tried to make stockings before and they kind of pucker at the inward curves. I don't want that to happen here, but it always seems to, so I have put off finishing them. So why am I making stockings?? Three little reasons :)

I am also making a Halloween quilt, which I have started several times, and just can't get the right tone for. I think I've finally got it, but I am apparently in need of an applique class. (If you click on the above picture, you can see how wavy my candy corn is.)

And finally, I am determined to make several more baskets! As I worked on them today, I ran out of the brown thread I was using. Luckily I had a blue basket all ready to be stitched, but then I had some tension problems. As I have said before, I am not a machine quilter, so some of this stuff is new to me. As it turns out, the bobbin thread works better when it matches the top thread. I bet you sewers knew that!
Well, it is time for some sandwiches, then back to the machine. I hope you are all having a nice Wednesday.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Corn Silk

Hey, there's something growing here after all!

We started the kids' garden very late, like a few weeks into June. I had been promising them their own garden and then when we moved the main veggie garden, I didn't know where anything would grow. I had already decided that I was going to let them plant, water, and everything on their own even if they drowned their plants. I also said they could pick ANY seeds they wanted. They picked watermelon, cantelope, and corn. I don't think we'll be getting any melons; their garden ended up under the tree, sort of. I was not expecting anything to flourish but I hoped that they'd at least be able to see growth. Now we actually have some corn silk so I guess that means ears of corn!
If you've ever read stories about Squanto helping the pilgrims plant corn, it talks about him planting the kernels with fish, so we tried that. My dad caught several little fish - three to four inches each, and we put them in the corn rows. I will have to revisit that story when we harvest the corn!

Here's a picture from July, the kids' garden is within the stumps which BFJ set up for them to walk around on. I think the stumps shaded the melons too much (little sprouts on the left) considering they had a lot of shade most of the day anyway. Well, another lesson learned. Anyway, I am glad we will have some little ears of corn to check out.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

September Cha-Cha!

Here's my green acorn swag. A week or two ago, the five of us sat down and made the September swag. We all made two letters except BFJ, who obviously made the most of his one letter (B)! I am pleased to tell you that all of the pumpkins and gourds are from my own yard.

Tonight I went to a charity event in which my in-laws danced. Aren't they a happy looking couple? They are pretty fun. I hope they don't mind me sharing a picture, but I just couldn't resist. They danced the cha-cha; all of the other competitors (ladies) danced with instructors and I must say, I think my MIL had the best partner!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Green Acorns

Someone asked what I am going to do with green acorns; I am going to make some swags and hang them on the mantle! When we switch decor to Christmas stuff, I think I'll hang it out in the shed and see if it lasts awhile. Besides, I think it'll look cute out there.

If you want to try this, some things learned are that it is easier to get the string through a green acorn. Last week, we drilled holes in a brown acorn from last year, and a new green one. The nut inside the brown one was seperated from the shell, and as soon as I pulled the drill bit back out, it turned, and I had to keep drilling back through it til I lucked out and found a hole through it with my needle. This actually took three or four tries. Also, as you can see, the acorns shrink as they dry, but the "hats" don't, so they fall off. You can easily glue them back on with hot glue, I just haven't gotten them all done!

Well, once again, Happy Fall from the five of us :)

Rainy Day Friday

We got to "sleep in" this morning, and then it was time for hot cocoa. We are thankful for the rain, which has been falling since last night. The boys and I will be going to school this morning for individual tests, and then we're done for the week!

I had to tear my sewing room apart (which needed to be reorganized anyway) and I finally found the pinks! I worked on some pink and brown stuff, and then pulled out a stack of Halloween fabrics; maybe we'll have movie/sewing day. It is time for some fall cleaning but if it keeps raining all weekend, I guess I'll just have to suffer inside with my needle :)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Teeny Tiny Basket

Okay, it's not so small you can't use it, but it is a lot smaller than I was expecting! I thought it would make a cute project basket for my mom's crocheting, but you can't get more than a skein and a hook in this. SO I am posting a picture where you can get some sense of scale, also. That said, you could use a jelly roll for most of it!
You could make more than one out of a fat quarter!
I see me making some for gifts - baby, Christmas, etc. I know someone that's getting a pink one. Now, if I could just find my pink fabric, which I bought because I knew that someone was going to have a girl someday!
Oh, and I was so thrilled to have a project to use this fabric for. BFJ went out on a limb and bought me fabric last Christmas. He bought it for the split wood; that's my favorite, too.

Happy Birthday Dear Mo-om, Happy Birthday to You!

What a lovely month for a birthday. My WONDERFUL mother (who is between 59 and 63 today) is an artist and has always encouraged me to create. Thanks, Mom! I hope you have a great day!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Pumpkins in my garden

The biggest one in the garden is hiding under some tomatoes.


And a little beginning...

PS I would like to assure all my concerned readers that the tree I took acorns from is too small to host squirrels for the winter, and stands quite a distance from the other oaks and cottonwoods where all the wild city creatures live and forage.
IF I get my acorn project done, I will be sure to post a picture!

Weekend Update

On Saturday morning, we went to a parade! I love patriotic floats. My sister joined us for most of it, and then we all had pastries and italian sodas; mine was blackberry. Yum!
When we got home, we were all sort of fullish and no one was clambering for lunch, so I had a long nap on the couch. I love naps on the couch. I'm a night person; when I go to bed at night, I usually feel like I have to. When I take a nap on the couch, I feel like I'll still have time to do stuff afterward, and it feels more like a luxury.

Last night, we went to a small-group meeting. I was reminded of one of the best epiphanies I've ever had: "grace is giving something that is not deserved, but desperately needed." It was a relief when I realized that I could stop trying to make life just.

One day in the garden, I was about to pull a rogue plant when BFJ remarked how much he liked that one growing outside the garden, so I left it. It finally has fruited so now we have: zucchini! This weekend, I shredded some up and froze it in 2-cup bags so I will have some homegrown zucchini when it's time for some zucchini bread.

And finally, I got around to making salsa. One reason I wanted to make my own salsa is because spicy food makes my tongue swell. I wanted to make some fabulous salsa-without-heat for myself. While I was working on my concoction in the kitchen, BFJ was watching football in the next room; I was just thinking to myself that it didn't seem to be going well when he volunteered, "It smells sort of... italian." Yes, it did. I thought maybe it was because I left out the jalapenos and cilantro. I added some sugar; I don't know if I should have done that, but it smelled bitter. I was starting to think, I am wasting all this time and fresh ingredients from my garden... Finally, I tasted it and it was not too bad! so I decided to go ahead and try the canning. Here's a bit of my mess and effort:

And for all that, three quarts? Well, I did learn a few things; I am glad the jars sealed, and I did make use of a lot of tomatoes that would have otherwise gone bad soon. Maybe I will try some marinara or just peeled tomatoes, before the month is out. I do have another three dozen jars!

I am also thrilled to be done with ALL my blocks for this quilt. I may have to put quilting aside for the rest of the week. It is time for some serious fall cleaning.

Normally, we would have been to church this morning, but four out of five people in my house were sick. Hopefully, it will be gone quickly; I tried for encourage the Vitamin C intake.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Signs of Fall

After crawdad hunting last weekend, we picked acorns; you have to get them while they are green, around here. Last year, I discovered that if you wait til they turn brown, they are squirreled away, literally!
This evening, we went to a pep rally at the high school, then walked around town. There's a crispness in the air that makes me love a good sweater. I am taking a knitting class in a few weeks. My first! I keep seeing such cute socks and sweaters online. I am looking forward to making some for myself.
Well, I better get to bed early. Lots of fun stuff + housework for tomorrow, and if I'm lucky, I might get some piecing done.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fall is creeping up.

The leaves are starting to change, little by little. In the car this morning, The Bruise said to me, "Mom, can you turn on the 'hot condition?' I'm cold." Luckily, he has a quilt for chilly mornings. Here's a picture:

Monday, September 1, 2008

Blue and Yellow

Bride's Bouquet

Happy September!

Good thing we all had the day off so we could go crawdad huntin'.