8/19/14

Winning Sunflower

Last night I attended my guild meeting. It was the big reveal of the challenge quilts we made for the "Initially Yours" challenge. I was absolutely flabbergasted when Blooming Sunflower was voted the winner of the challenge by the membership. Truly unbelievable. I won a $50 gift card to Fabric Depot, a huge fabric store on the other side of town. Can't beat it! Because, as everyone knows, one can never have too much fabric. Quilt challenges are probably my favorite part of belonging to a guild. It was great fun, and when you see some of the creativity in the quilts that were shared, you'll see why I was so surprised to win.

Our event organizer, Clara, kicked off the evening's activities by showing some of her challenge quilts from years gone by. The one she's showing below was a challenge that involved including ten elements. She rattled them all off, but I can't remember what they were. It had to include a curve, a straight line, a house, and a bunch of other stuff. Clara's quilt was very cool.


I forget what this challenge was...something like, "To Your Heart's Content" and Clara's quilt was her interpretation of the Oregon landscape.


Then, the "reveal" got underway. This member has the same initials as me, "BS" and she started us off with her Beach Scene.


This member bemoaned her initials, "JL" saying that there were very few "J" words. Still, she came up with this flashy "Jewelry Lover" quilt.


The bird is some sort of jay, whose name included the initial "L", and so she represented her initials in at least two ways. 


I was surprised this quilt didn't win because it was very well done.


There were 19 participants in all.


Quilts were numbered and hung on the wall. During the break, members were given a chance to view the quilts up close, and then vote for their favorite.


It wasn't easy, let me tell you. All of the quilts were wonderful, without exception.


The diversity of quilts made it difficult to choose any one favorite.


I liked the quilting on this one. It was called "Calico Star", or it could also be called "Calico Strings".


This member, "M.E." took the "Initially Yours" theme literally with her "ME" quilt. Interestingly, her middle initial is "D", and so her complete three initials are "MDE". As she explained her quilt, she failed to mention the "D" showing in the middle, and a few of us believed that she didn't see that she had inadvertantly created all three of her initials.


Some members tried new techniques. The one below was a "Marbled Bunny" and contained a fabric dying technique new to its quilter.


The quilt below was this member's first attempt at fusible applique. 


I love the couched kites' tails:


There were some clever interpretations of the theme with this member's "Must Have" quilt.



With great difficulty, the members voted for three winners.


In third place, "AL" with her "Appliqued Lily".


She created a fabulous three dimensional lily.


And she used her initials in a variety of ways!


"SH" garnered second place with her "Sashiko Hexagon" quilt.


And just look at her beautiful quilting!


And look who took first place with her "Blooming Sunflower" quilt. Holy Moly! Totally didn't expect that, but I'll take it!


Also on display last night were some miniature houses created by some of our members. These were done "round robin" style with each participant completing one side of the house, and then passing it along to the next participant.


Here's one to thrill any homeowner's association:


Check out the "rain chain" on the house below. It was decorated both outside...


and inside!


They ranged from wild...


To sedate.


Looks like fun, doesn't it?

So. Well. I'm all a-flutter with that $50 gift card burning a hole in my pocket. I don't see how I'll have time to get to the other side of town to go shopping before we leave on our trip. It'll definitely give me something to look forward to when I get back.

Today I'm making peach chutney. I have an unexpected day at home because an appointment was rescheduled to tomorrow. There is still quite a bit of catching up to do, but I'm getting there. And I'm hoping to get some sewing done today. How about you? What's on your agenda for the day?

8/18/14

Pussycats and Pasta Sauce

So that title describes my day. When I started out this morning, I had more tomatoes than I could use. (Note to self: Remember this next year, because it happens this way every year. Come mid-August, the tomatoes will ripen.)


I'm picking them every day now. They are ripening so fast that I pick anything that is beginning to turn and then let them ripen the rest of the way in the house. I have them sorted with the most ripe and ready for processing at the bottom of the image. The most green are at the top. And I didn't use all of them, so I'll be repeating this process in a few days.

This morning I needed to get on with making some pasta sauce, which is a time-intensive process, and I needed to take Gracie to the vet. Poor appointment timing on my part because her appointment fell right in the middle of the day. There wasn't enough time before or after that to go through the whole blanching, peeling, chopping, mixing, boiling, and processing routine. I decided to do the blanching, peeling and chopping part in the morning before her appointment.

I was so happy when I cut into these Super Marzanoes. Look at that...all meat and no seeds. I rarely, if ever, see this variety in nurseries. Mine are grown from seeds I purchase from Territorial Seed, an Oregon company. 


They are a relatively large tomato...about the size and shape of a large poblano pepper. They have been the slowest to ripen, but they are beginning to come on in abundance now.

So I got them all ready to go, and then just put them in a stainless steel bowl in the refrigerator until I could come back. It always makes me feel like The Slasher when I survey my chopped up tomatoes.


When I got home, I mixed in the rest of the ingredients and then boiled like crazy. It took them about an hour and a half to cook down to the right consistency.


This is a simple marinara sauce with some red wine, garlic, basil and parsley. The basil and parsley are also from my garden. The wine is not from my grapes or my vineyard, because, um, we don't have a vineyard.

After that, I ladled, lidded, and processed. My yield today was 3-1/2 quarts.


This is the best thing that comes from growing tomatoes. So yummy. It's what I hope for every time I start my seeds in February...a nice harvest, and enough home-made pasta sauce to get us through the winter and spring. I'm hoping to end up with about eight quarts before we leave on our trip. The rest of the tomatoes won't be ready for a couple of days. Tomorrow, I'll tackle the peaches and make some peach chutney.

As for Gracie, she just needed her immunizations. And since we're briefly crossing into Canada on our trip next month, both kitties needed documentation that they were current in their rabies vaccines. She did fine, but the kitties are never happy about being boxed up and driven down the road. Somehow they survive.

Tonight is my guild meeting, and the reveal of my Blooming Sunflower quilt for the "Initially Yours" challenge. And I need to get a move on if I'm going to get there on time. 

What did you do today?

8/17/14

Home Again

We're back home for a little while. Two weeks from today we'll be taking off on our month-long trip to the Great Lakes Region. We are both really looking forward to that. It is so much fun when we take off on one of these long RV trips.

But I'm getting ahead of myself because I need to tell you about our weekend out at Greg and Jan's. It's the same party, year after year, and we old folks kind of like it that way. This is a group we've been friends with since before many of our kids were born. Now all of our kids are grown and gone on to careers, marriages, and children of their own, and the rest of us sit around reminiscing for the weekend.

I like going out to Greg and Jan's for the friendships, but it's also a great place for photography. When the light turned golden on Friday afternoon, I wandered around taking pictures of this or that...just shooting anything that looked interesting to me.


Greg has a lot of old rusted out junk sitting around, and it never fails to catch my eye. Such great stuff from days gone by.


There are a lot of alder trees growing around the edges of the property, and the lichens and mosses are always interesting to see.


And then there was little Chloe, the dog in the image below. Does this seem wrong to you?


Well...Chloe got tired of everyone laughing and pointing, and changed into something more sedate when we lit the campfire.


A marine layer rolled in over night, saturating everything that wasn't covered up, including our camp chairs. Fortunately, the sun came out early enough and dried everything off. While I was waiting for a dry place to sit, I went around taking pictures of the flowers.



There were dew-covered spiderwebs everywhere.




Later in the day, our friends Larry and Tracy showed up. Larry has been in poor health for many years. You'll never find a more tender or loving caretaker than Tracy.



They stayed for just part of the day, but it's always great to see them if only for a few hours.

When we got ready to leave this morning, Jan asked for a picture with her quilt. They loved the quilt, by the way.


I knew I had a pile of tomatoes waiting for me when I got home, and I'm going to start processing them tomorrow. Nevertheless, fresh peaches have come to town. When we passed by a farm stand selling beautiful freestone peaches, we had to stop and buy a box.


That means that, in addition to canning tomatoes this week, I'll be making peach chutney. I'm hoping for enough peaches in the box for a batch of peach chutney and a peach pie for next weekend. The kids are coming for dinner next weekend. It'll be our last chance before summer's end, and peach pie is on the menu.

When I checked the mail, I found this wonderful bar of handmade soap from my good friend Sue at Zzyzx & Sue. Sue took a class to learn to make soap recently. When she posted her beautiful bars on Facebook, I shamelessly begged for one. We agreed to trade chutney for soap, and this baby is mine, all mine! Looks like a Dreamcicle, doesn't it?


Thanks, Sue. I'm feeling a shower coming on right now!

So that's my weekend. August is winding down fast, as the months seem to do, especially in summer. I'm hoping to get some more accomplished in the sewing room before we leave on our trip, but the next several days are going to be devoted to canning tomatoes and peaches.

Also, I wanted to say that the ladies of the Coffee Creek Quilters have been johnny-on-the-spot following up after the last of my three observations. When I first started this endeavor, I had in mind to substitute teach. Then, they let me know that there is an opening for an instructor in the Thursday afternoon class, and so I agreed to fill that space. That means I'll be joining in permanently as a volunteer on October 9th (the date I chose). The class will run from 1:30 to 3:30 every Thursday afternoon, and when the next group of new students come in, I'll be assigned one or two of them. I think I will enjoy having my own group of students to teach from beginning to the end of their third quilt. I still have to attend some additional training before I'll get my official Department of Corrections badge. Until then, I'll sign in as a visitor and teach as I would, badge, or no badge. ("We don't need no stinking badges!")

And that's all I have to tell you for today. It was a relaxing weekend for me. I hope it was a good weekend for you too.