Meet Maxine and Harley!!

We picked up the new pullets a week ago and they are settling in.  This is the prettiest one and I have named her Maxine and she definitely wants to be my friend.  I try to sit with them a bit each day and talk to them so they know me but right from the first Maxine would come right by my feet and peck at my shoes while the other two have been more shy.

Then yesterday she hopped up on the feed bin within a foot of me and listened to every word I had to say...  I sit on a small stool near the feed bin and my shoulder is leaning against a bale of shavings.

Tonight she eased over to the edge of the feed bin and was trying to decide whether she was going to hop over to the bale of shavings to get closer and that is just what she did.

And once she made the leap she scooted right next to my shoulder and set herself down.  I had the camera on my shoulder when I took this picture. You can see her BF "Fancy Pants" watching all this. Maxine sat there until it was getting dark  and listened to me until I finally had to go in the house... I predict I will soon have her eating right out of my hand.

Now that the weather is turning too hot to work outside I will get some buttons painted and this pet Lhasa  Apso  is first on the list.. His owner is a motorcyclist enthusiast and named him Harley...  No pink ribbons on his head and check the haircut... and he will be wearing a bandana with the Harley Davidson logo.  I had to blow the photo up on the computer to really see where the dark side of his head started and ended.  I really like Harley!!!  Great photo to work from....lots of detail.


Great product - new kitchen

Most of my adult life I've had a yellow or cream kitchen...I cook better in a yellow or cream kitchen.  The food looks better in a yellow or cream kitchen and it even tastes better in a yellow or cream kitchen... Only twice in 60+ years have I varied.  Once I painted my kitchen pink which did not last long... It was pepto bismal pink and horrid..

And about 35 years ago I painted it a minty green thinking it would be soothing... It was at the time I was upgrading my cabinets with new doors and getting new counter tops for which I also chose a minty green formica.  I soon hated a minty green kitchen and went back to either yellow or creams... But I was stuck with those minty green counters all those years.

So I was thinking when we were on the cruise that I would try to paint the counter tops and found this product on Amazon.

I thought I would try it and if I didn't like it I would paint sunflowers all over the counter instead.  But I was definitely not looking at those minty green counters one more summer.

I corralled DH into helping to tape off all the edges which was the most time consuming part of the whole process.  The first step was painting it all with black primer and DH was really worried at that point..  Probably rightly so as over the years I have had some not-so-great ideas.

Well it turned out so much better than I even dreamed it could.  The lighting in this picture does not do it justice. There were 3 steps.  The first step was the primer which had to dry 8 hours, then the sponging of three colors which had to dry 4 hours and then the top coat and let it dry 8 hours. It will take a couple weeks to really "cure."  So in a couple days my kitchen looks brand new.

It is really this color. Granted it is not real granite! ...and not as durable but it is breathtaking.  I always use vinegar on my kitchen counters and they advise vinegar or other harsh cleaners not to be used on this surface.  I can do that! And if I do accidentally damage a spot I will paint a sunflower on it.


Picking the pattern for cq garment

I did have some criteria in mind looking for a pattern.  I wanted :

1. for it to be lightweight so silks would be great
2. for it to have a little shape or style
3. suitable for indoor wear.

But on the other hand it had  to be suited to CQ....the pattern has to be quite simple and that has been the problem... Every few years I would get the urge and search for the "perfect" pattern but to no avail.. They all needed major restyling so the project would be shelved again.

Finally I found the "nearly" perfect pattern, Butterick 5789.  It has some shape and still a  very simple construction...  The only problem I see is that it is too long in back and that can be fixed.. It's especially too long for someone as short as I am and also I don't want to be sitting on stitching.

 I am doing the pattern in a size larger than I need because I know things "shrink" with lots of stitching.

Now a couple very important tips for doing this type of project.... creating your "fabric" before construction

 First I made some modifications in the pattern (shortened the length of the back) and then traced it on muslin for the foundation...and am not cutting it out on the lines.....leaving plenty or room around the pattern.  It is much easier to cut something back then add extra later....  I almost goofed and drew 2 right sides...  Only the body of the jacket will be CQ

A antique quilt Allie posted on facebook recently inspired me.  I do want bright colors which are way out of my comfort zone but what I like the most is that it is all embroidery.... no charms, lace etc. Also by using only embroidery, I can do a lot of it on a hoop which will reduce the shrinkage.  So you see with this project  I'm not straying too far from the Victorian era I love.

 My Carole Samples stitch book will be my bible throughout this endeavor..  I'm sure you could find every single one of the stitches on these quilts in her marvelous, inspiring research.


News from the farm

I'm still here and finally seeing the light of day.  Being gone 16 days and coming home sick set me way behind on what needed to be done....besides some days the weather made working outside impossible. 
 Two things were critical and needed to be done immediately if not sooner.  First was repairing the pig damage and that was hampered by a very short window of time that things were transplantable before they got too large.  I did get that mostly done and can do no more until fall.
The second thing was an outdoor wire-enclosed area for the chickens now that I only have two left... This is probably of little interest to anyone but I just have to share because it is one of the few times that I had an epiphany at the right time.  I usually FINISH a project and THEN realize how I could have done it better. I was so happy to have my epiphany in time that I could hardly believe it...so I share.
My chicken house is divided into two areas. The inner area (B) is completely double wired and is where they are locked at night. It is only about 6x12 but since they are only in there at night it doesn't matter.  It has their elevated roost unit  and the nesting boxes. The other area is about 12' x 12' and has their food and water and room to scratch before I let them out to free range.   
Now that I can't let them free range my initial plan was just to add an outside pen right next to the larger area of the coop.  I am getting some new pullets and have to keep them separate for about 4 months..  In the past I have just wired off a section but the older hens would get in, eat the pullet's food and terrorize them.  It was at this moment the light in my brain came on and the bells and whistle began to ring. 
Just by shifting the new pen back about 3 feet I could have an entrance from the inner area and keep the entire   area  A  for the pullets. Such a simple solution....no extra work and it makes life so much easier for me and much more pleasant for the sweet new pullets.  Lest you worry about the pullet's safety at night they are secured in a large dog crate at night. I will eventually add a second entry to pen from area A when the pullets are big enough.
So I became thinking it would be a two-day project but it took about 6 days with weather interruptions and me getting tired quicker than I expected.   I started by gathering the old lumber from when I dismantled the lambing pens and this wood was from the original corral when we bought the place 37 years ago. Using this old lumber, lots of chicken wire and many screws and  staples I finally finished. I felt so good to be doing something physical outside and pounding out all my frustrations... I still swing a mean hammer.....
Cost - $0.00. DH brought a load of gravel tonight to top dress the floor of the inside of the chicken house.  Just in time for the new girls...any day now..


Wow.. and easy patching technique

What a special treat to be "chatted up" by one of my favorite people and definitely my favorite crazy quilt artist...Sharon Boggon!!!!

Pop over to TAST and read the interview...

More about vest project....the patches.

Of all the steps in crazy quilting, piecing is my least favorite... I always want to get to the fun stuff as fast as possible....seams and embellishment... Must be a closet drama queen.

I mentioned in a previous post that I preferred paper piecing but thought I was going to have to assemble this   patch by patch to get the look I wanted...  But Marilyn Nepper suggested I paper piece large chunks of it and fill in between.   I thought that was a great idea.  I've sketched four (about 9") areas and will clean them up a bit.  I avoided 90 degree angles because I did not want the jacket to look like it was assembled blocks. I also strived to have all patches close to the same size with no little odd bits or angles...

I stacked materials and cut the patches in threes by just randomly grabbing fabric... I made no attempt to coordinate colors at all.. 

After I had them all cut I kept them organized in baggies pinned to the master sheet.  This has all gone so smoothly and I'm really grateful to Marilyn for suggesting it...

Doing the patches in bunches went so well and so fast...   Then all I had to do was to connect them with similar patches and this I did by hand.  I can heartily recommend this technique to anyone wanting a whole cloth look achieved quickly by paper piecing.

 Now did I want to include black.  I'm was really on the fence with this decision and it has to be decided at this point.

 I spent time looking at a lot of antique quilts and most all of the ones I loved incorporated black with the bright jewel tones..  This color palette is so alien to me that I'm had a hard time getting a feel for it.

I know that the black makes the colors really pop so I went go for it.


The making of my vest...

 I didn't get my lace jacket done in time for the trip so I took my "My Garden Birds" vest.  I wore it the nights of the captain's welcome and farewell dinners.  It received a lot of comments and certainly stood out.  It had been a long time since I had worn it and it was a good reminder to wear it more often..

The inspiration and process for this garment is sort of scattered in the blog and I've been meaning to put them in order for some time.  Now is as good a time as any..

In The Beginning: 

As usual I had a set of goals before I started. I like to have specific goals and I always add extra challenges for myself. And this doesn't mean that both the goals and challenges aren't flexible and subject to change ...which happens often.
1.  I wanted to use all jewel tones which would be clearly out of my comfort zone....both to work with and to wear.   I had to search my stash, make a couple thrift store trips  and then Cathy Kizerian sent me a much welcomed bundle.

2.  The next challenge I wanted it to be a "whole cloth" look rather than individual squares pieced together.  I had attempted to do this before using both Allie's and Martha Green's methods of piecing but was never happy with the result...  The patches were inconsistent in size and so irregular in shape that it looked weird to me... This meant I had to figure out my own method.. which I will share next post on this.

3. Last but not least I wanted the theme to be birds of my garden.  I would stitch them all off block and add them later.. Luckily I am blessed with a large variety of colorful birds in my garden..  Here are the birds I chose to use on the garment.  Of course there were a few interlopers such as my dog Morris, a lamb etc.


Home and spring in Amsterdam

Well we are home and had just a fabulous time.. Here we are in Bamberg, Germany  enjoying a wonderful cappuccino after an equally wonderful croissant... Unfortunately I came home with a killer cold and am just now recovering..  And of course there were a long list of things needing done post haste in the garden... I haven't even downloaded the rest of my Germany pictures but will tuck some in now and again through the summer.

On our very last day in Amsterdam we went to the Keukenhof Garden.  There were 79 acres and seven million bulbs and we were there at the absolute peak of their season... it had rained all morning and when we arrived at the garden after lunch the sun came out for the rest of the day.
Here are a few of Ron's photo for you to enjoy.

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