Monday, January 15, 2018

nine patch and squirrel thatch

I've had great progress on projects this week!  I finished the quilting on my Farm Girl Sampler quilt.  Now all I have to do is bind it, which means adding a tidy red gingham border strip around the edge to cover the raw ends.  Binding strips are sewn on with the sewing machine, folded over the raw edge, and whip-stitched on the back.  I'm waiting for my additional red gingham fabric to arrive.  In the meantime, I started another quilt.  It's made with 1930s reproduction fabric, although some of it looks a lot more modern to me.

These are 2.5" squares that are sewn together in a Nine Patch pattern, which just means stacks of three, like a tic-tac-toe game.  They come together quickly and easily.  I plowed through almost 50 in my free time last week/weekend!

I'm not a fan of pink, so I'm a little apprehensive about the profusion of it in this pattern.  I'm just going to press on, though.  Hopefully the other brighter colors will even it out.  If I continue at this rate, I could possibly have the whole quilt completely pieced within 2 weeks!  I know that the cats will be especially happy.  ;)  They can't get enough quilt time!

Bosewichte in particular loves quilt cuddling.  Whenever I curl up under a quilt to read, he's on my lap in a flash.  He's basically the best cat ever! 

Cuddly cats or no, I don't like to spend too much of my free time indoors, especially during these brief cold periods in South Carolina.  There's a lot going on just within the boundaries of our property!

Lots and lots of deer.

Squirrels are very active right now...

...especially at our feeders.

This is a really busy time for birds, much busier than November and December.  Finches, cardinals, bluebirds, jays, phoebes...they're daily visitors here!

We had several days of rain and even with the weather, birds were constantly flitting from branch to branch.  I'm glad the rain didn't suppress their activities.  I feel the same way about rain.  It's quite a dry climate here, and when it does rain, it tends to be a torrential downpour (or "gully washer," as they say).  I miss long, dark rainy days, so I really enjoyed the two we had.

The squirrels stayed nice and dry in their nests...

...and Clotilde was cozy in our carport, although she napped under the gardenia bushes whenever the sun came out.

I'm looking forward to another week of chilly temperatures and hopefully, a loooong, cool spring.

Have a great week!

Monday, January 8, 2018

squirrels who scold and sort of cold!

Although we weren't in the path of the...polar vortex?  Ice cyclone?...that hammered the northeast and midwest, temperatures here still dropped into the teens at night.  Unbelievably, our pond was actually skimmed over with ice!  A rare sight indeed.

The unfrozen side was crowded with geese every morning.  I counted over 50 at a time!

Squirrels were busy padding out their nests and digging up nuts.

The turkeys, of course, seemed unfazed by the cold.

However, these overnight lows were much too cold for cats.  Todd found a deep impression in a leaf pile by our house in the front.  Sure enough, I checked that night and it was occupied:

So Clotilde has officially been overnighting it in our garage.  It's unheated, but still much warmer than the outside.  We've started a pleasant routine.  I bring her in around 9 p.m. and take her back outside once the temperature is above freezing.  She stretches her legs, watches the birds at our feeders...

...and relaxes in the sun.  Late afternoon, I see this through the glass:

I feed her again and she sleeps on our deck until bedtime.  Bosewichte notices, but is generally laid-back and has no real reaction.

Tabitha, never having been an outdoor cat, is mostly blissfully unaware.

Now that the weather is cooler, we've got lots of birds around.  We've got our "old faithfuls," but I love to see two of my favorites:  woodpeckers...

...and blue jays.

We get outside as much as we can...even if it's just for the normal maintenance jobs!

Inside, when not working, I've been slow to move forward on my quilting.  A neck injury has made it difficult to push and pull the heavy quilt through the narrow throat of my machine.  Instead, I finished off a huge project that I've needed to do for a long time.  I had a massive pile of fabric scraps.  Anything less than 6" was cut into smaller scraps and stored in the size-appropriate box.  Anything above 6" and less than 3/4 of a yard or so was folded and stacked into a series of long, narrow boxes.  In rainbow order, of course!

It was so satisfying to complete this task.  Now I'm really ready for the next scrap quilt project!

Have a great week!

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Big Chill

Happy New Year!  Todd and I celebrated by putting on our pajamas early, hashing out resolutions together, and sharing olie bollen - one of our new traditions.  It's Dutch for oil sphere - think tiny, fancy donut holes.  I first read the sanitized version of the tradition: The round shape symbolizes the end of one year and the lucky beginning of another.  The real tradition, though, is much more interesting. Perchta, an evil goddess, would fly with her evil-demon posse to collect tributes of deep-fried dough (my kind of tribute!) from Germanic tribes.  Perchta had a penchant for slitting open human bellies, but those who proffered olie bollen were saved...the fat in the olie bollen was greasy and caused her sword to slip, which saved their lives.  I certainly don't need the specter of a sword-wielding demon goddess as an incentive to make donut holes.  Still, I was disinclined to fry, so instead made four small round sweet cakes in my mini pie pan.  They were delicious!

Winter has really set in here now.  No snow, but with temperatures dipping into the twenties or even the teens at night, it finally feels like a new season.  I love the cold.  In the early mornings, I open the french doors to feed Clotilde, and the cold air hits me.  It's so delicious and fresh.  I love my quilts, hot water bottles, knitting, flannel and fleece pajamas, cozy hoodies, warm gloves, hats, wool socks.  I love bundling up for chilly walks, like the one we took yesterday.  I have to grab this season while I can.  Already I see very early signs of spring, and know that we will probably start warming up again in 4 - 6 short weeks.

Some early spring bulbs are already coming up!

Early-blooming magnolias are already budding!

And more...

The paper bush shrubs have their flower heads already, and the branches are growing and splitting.  They'll be blooming in a few weeks.

Of course, camellias are blooming everywhere, dropping petals and flower heads in a very pleasant way.

At least lots of plants are in their "hibernation" phases.  I love seeing those dried leftovers, too.

And, of course, winter berries.

We have our usual suspects for this time of year...roving flocks of cedar waxwings!

Some of our old friends were just congregating outside of my office window...bluebirds, cardinals, chickadees, and so many phoebes!

It's always a pleasure to see them...and plentiful evidence of beaver activity, too.

Todd and I are going to get as much outdoor time as possible before the dreaded summer heat returns!

(Borga too!)

I've been doing some various textile work - a cross stitch winter scene, and making long, even lines on my sampler quilt.

Meanwhile, the Christmas decorations have come down and I'm looking forward to a chilly and peaceful January.  I've got my usual set of resolutions, more gentle and forgiving than my usual:  LOSE 'X' AMOUNT OF POUNDS!  OUTLINE THE WHOLE BIBLE!  LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE!  I'm focusing more on small, attainable goals that will help me to become a better person.  Todd and I anticipate making a great deal of changes in 2018, so I'm more focused on:  breathe, relax, focus on each day as it comes.  A few years ago, I made a 'vision board' that is very applicable to my 2018 goals.

Health.  Home.  Creativity.  Animals.  Textile work.  Self-expression.  Outside, outside, outside.

Here's to a happy and productive 2018! 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Au Revoir, Death Star!

Boo hoo, Christmas is over!  This one was hard to wait for, because I had a couple of gifts for Todd that I was really excited about.

First, I acquired the logo on glass from his grandparents' antique store (Portland, 1970s/80s).  Todd had thought it was long gone - lost or broken.

I was a nervous wreck, waiting on this to ship from the west coast.  Thankfully it arrived in one piece, and Todd was absolutely shocked and thrilled!

The second gift was a homemade one.  I decided to make some 18" x 18" paper-pieced pillow covers for Todd...Star Wars-themed, of course.  I worked on it one weekend (one ENTIRE weekend) when he was out of town.  It was a huge job...some of the pieces were smaller than a half inch!...but I'm really pleased with the result. 

In other crafty news, I knitted a pair of gloves.  I'm on a knitting break right now, but these were made with bulky yarn and didn't take any time at all to do.  I wanted a pair of tight-fitting mittens and these are perfect!

Now I'm officially on break again!

I've been working on my Farm Girl Sampler quilt too.  I made a flying geese border with red gingham fabric.  I'm not a fan of making flying geese...especially 100+ geese.

But I think it adds a nice pop around the quilt edge.

Now all I have to do is order the batting and buy the backing.  I'm excited to get this one done!

I also had the idea, earlier this year, to quilt seasonal wall hangings.  Just small ones to switch out with the seasons, for over the fireplace.  Finding season-appropriate fabric without annoying prints is really hard, but trying to pull together prints/colors that look great on the screen but terrible when they arrive is even worse.  So, although the "autumn" hanging that I've been working on is rather contemporary...

...I like the colors.

These blocks measure 6.5" x 6.5" and obviously haven't been sewn together yet.  I still need to make 4 more and then decide if this is going to be a wall hanging or a wide runner for our table.  I'm not in any hurry so we'll just see what happens!

So although our tree is still up, and our cats are still in "holiday mode" (i.e. allowed to lounge on the forbidden couch ledge)...

...I am moving out of "CHRISTMAS!!!" and into winter.  I wish there was more of a winter here in South Carolina, but I will enjoy what we have.  Beautiful sunsets...


...and because it rarely freezes here, I can enjoy some other things that I like.

Fern spores...

Beautiful fungus...

Interesting seed pods...

...and colorful flowers and leaves.

We don't need more than a zip-up hoodie to stay warm outside, and inside, the cats take advantage of any sunbeam they can get!

Have a great week!