Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Vegetable Garden Report Week 3

I'm so glad you all liked my previous post on finishing your binding. I'm also happy to see that most of you who commented already use this method! I might just try my hand at more tutorials in the future!

Before I get to the garden report, I forgot to include the photo below in my last post. We waited for this primitive welcome flag for over a month and were so happy to see it arrive last week! Click on the photo for a better view. The Squash House now considers itself officially christened!

Unlike the photo above which was taken on a beautiful, sunny day, my garden photos of yesterday were taken in a monsoon! Except for a little while in the morning, it rained heavily all day! Apparently this is very unusual for this time of year in our neck of the woods. They say it normally turns very hot right after the Hot Air Balloon Stampede! Not so now. I had to hold the umbrella in one hand so as not to get the camera wet! Below is a view of the raised bed area - a good deal of growth since last week - there are even teeny, tiny peppers beginning to show, and the Marigolds have really taken off!
We decided to plant a cantaloupe or two on a whim. A city a bit south and west of us in Oregon, Hermiston, is known for its cantaloupes, so we thought we'd give them a try here.
The plants below on either side of the drip line are 3 varieties of Eggplant. Another whim planted recently. As soon as they were planted, one of the neighborhood squirrels came over for a look - Mr. Squash decided to name him Parmesan! On the right of the eggplant are sunflowers - not yet appearing above ground, and the dark colored thing in the back of the photo is the potato tower - Yukon Gold potatoes doing quite nicely so far!

Finally, here is the very sad pumpkin, zucchini, pickling cuke area. Not a lot of growth going on here - not sure why as they get lots of sunshine, but I'm hoping they will surprise us as the weather gets warmer.

Thanks for stopping by! I've cleared my sewing workspace and brought back an "old friend" to try and finish. Stay tuned for peeks.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Binding Closure-Diagonal Seam Tutorial

I finished my July 4th tablerunner! This was a fun and fast pattern from Bloom Creek. It's also the first time I combined leftover charm pack squares from 3 different fabric lines, and it turned out better than I had imagined!

Are you like me --- attention to detail is foremost in your quilting? When I first began quilting I used the old method of tucking the tail of your binding into the folded end where you begain stitching your binding to the quilt edge. I never liked this method - I felt it gave a sort of unfinished, bulky look to the edge of my quilts. Then somewhere along the way I learned a much better and more finished look in attaching my binding to the quilt. Today I'm going to attempt to show you this method. This is my first tutorial, so forgive me if I don't make sense anywhere and feel free to email me with questions you might have!

Let's get started. Begin by sewing your binding to the quilt - you all know how to do that - then leave a 10" unsewn opening on one edge of the quilt. I always use a 2 1/4" binding because I like the way it looks. You can use any size binding strips with this method. This next step is very important. Lay the remaining binding in place, overlapping the binding by the width of your binding strip - in this case I overlapped the binding by 2 1/4 inches, because my binding strips were cut at 2 1/4 inches. Cut off the remaining excess.
Next unfold the ends of the binding, place them right sides together, perpendicular to each other, and mark the diagonal seam line. Pin in place and sew down the length of your marked line. Trim the seam to 1/4" and press seam open.
Sew the remaining length of binding to the quilt, which if you measured correctly, will perfectly fit your 10 inch opening! You will have a diagonal seam that looks exactly like the rest of the seams where you joined your lengths of binding!
Remember, your binding can be any width as long as the overlap equals that width!

It amazes me that this isn't a quilting standard as it makes a very neat, finished edge. Most new patterns I purchase still show the old method I described at the beginning of this post. Again, feel free to email me if you need clarification on any of the steps.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Vegetable Garden Report Week 2

I've decided to post a Friday garden update each week. I thought I would call this post "Week 2" as I previously posted about the raised beds being planted. This garden is becoming such a joy for me! I can't wait to get up in the morning and do my walk around to see how things are doing! Since the yard is so large, it won't be completely planted this year, but that's OK. A little at a time is just fine with Mr. Squash and I!

Below is the entire raised bed area. Since the last photo, I've added some more Marigolds to the right of the tomatoes. Pratima mentioned in an email that "Marigolds are very auspicious in India and they are a huge part of the fesitivities." They are most certainly one of Mr. Squash's favorite flowers!

On this post I'll label what's what since everything is still so small. Here are the tomatoes. Another one mysteriously appeared since the last post! I just couldn't resist "Chocolate Cherry Tomato"!!

This is the sugar snap pea and bean bed. I poked a mild chili pepper in just for fun! You may not be able to see, but all the seeds in all the beds have germinated! Click on any of the photos to enlarge. I place a bird netting over all the beds when I plant to deter cats from using the area as a litter box! As the seeds germinate, I cut away the netting over the seeds, then remove it completely as the plants begin to mature.
In this bed we have a row of Red Sails lettuce starts. Where it says carrots under the lettuce is actually radishes! I am having so much trouble with the internet lately that I gave up trying to post the corrected photo! Under the radishes are 2 rows each of green onions, Baltimore carrots and Nantes carrots.
This is my lettuce "factory"! There are 7 different varieties including romaines, butter, leaf, Mesculun mix and other mixes. I like to harvest and clean the lettuce, then tear it up and make mixed bags! To the right of this bed are dwarf nasturtiums and purple, sweet bell peppers. For those of you who don't already know - nasturtium flowers can be used in salads! They add color and a bit of a peppery flavor!
On the other side of the yard are pickling cucumbers, zucchini and pumpkins! The ladders will allow the cucumbers and zucchini to grow up and over and give the pumpkins more ground space! The cucumbers have that milk carton over them to help the seeds germinate a tad faster.
Our fence if finally almost finished! All it needs is to be stained which will hopefully happen this weekend. We've had some wild weather the past few days - thunder, wind, rain and hail - so we're keeping our fingers crossed that the weekend weather is better! The large arbor in this photo will have a green and red eating grape growing up each side!
Here is the smaller arbor that was built over the exisiting fence in front. This is a small section of fence that we decided not to replace as it was fairly new when we bought the house. Although it's different from the main fence, you only see this from the front, so we aren't worried about contrast - and I really like it! I purchased a white Clematis to grown up and over this arbor - just waiting for paint.
So there you have it for now. It will be fun to see how much growth we get by next Friday!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Do You Frisper? & Some Sewing!

Remember Chicky-Bee? She and I are getting along famously! My favorite feature is the fact that she stays on for 30 minutes before automatically shutting down! The nice folks at Oliso really got this right! Recently, another wonderful item from Oliso arrived at the Squash House - The Frisper vacuum sealing freshkeeper! This Frisper Pro-1000 model is just perfect for Mr. Squash and I. Being that there are just two of us, we tend to have a lot of food waste. It's been better since we retired, but still a struggle. Plus, we might just be keeping a fish or two this year rather than releasing them once we get into Steelhead season and it would be nice to be able to seal them tightly so we can cook them later.

I thought I would give you a little demo of the Frisper. I tried to make a little video, but there seems to be some sort of " anit-electronic Karma" in our area today - nothing is working as I'd like, so I'm sort of winging it!

This is what the Frisper looks like. Click on the picture for a couple of notations I made next to the arrows.

One of the items our area of the country is famous for is asparagus. We bought some at the Farmer's Market this weekend. Below you see I placed it in a Frisper bag, zipped the bag closed and picked out a sealing circle to use. The bags that come with the Pro-1000 can be sealed up to 10-12 times by simply washing the bag after each use and picking an unused circle!
I placed the sealing circle into the Frisper on the "moist" setting and it automatically took all the air out of the bag! Now it should be as fresh as the day we bought it when I use it this coming weekend!
We like to grill steaks from time to time, but I prefer a very thin cut of meat which is often hard to find. Well today we found a package of thinly cut rib-eye steaks - perfect for me! I thought they would be great for the Frisper - freeze them all together, then pull out as needed and re-seal the bag!
I placed a piece of parchment paper between each steak so they would be easier to remove one at a time. Here they are below all sealed and ready for the freezer!
After each bag is sealed, the Frisper tell you it's done by beeping twice and lighting up the "Done" button! No guesswork needed here! There are many other uses for the Frisper - including sealing wine and fresh olive oil in bottles! There is a winery here in town that also makes fresh olive oil. I'll show you how to seal that in another post.
I've been staring at a pile of leftover charm squares from Looking Back, Antique Americana and Flag Day Farm for a while, so I thought I would whip up a tablerunner for July 4th. The color palette in all three lines is very similar, so I thought I would experiment with combining them! Here is a preview - I have yet to stich down the stars, add the border and binding, then quilt it. It's been raining cats and dogs, so maybe I can get this done by the weekend!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Another Finish and the Veggie Patch!

Before I retired, I used to set up monthly meetings for a group of retired teachers. I loved this group - really wonderful gals who effortlessly volunteered their time for other retirees, and I do miss them! They told me I would be busier than ever in my retirement and were they ever right! Actually, things have begun to slow down somewhat, but I'm still amazed at how fast the days go!

Here is another secret project that I intended to have done by Easter for my friend, Mary at Quilt Hollow. I guess I just tried to fit too much into too little time, but was happy that I got it finished! The pattern is by This and That and very fun to make! Turns out another friend of Mary's made the same pillow for her for her birthday! Talk about quilters thinking alike!

One of the projects that has taken a lot of my time (and energy) was building my raised beds. They are now finished and I planted them on Mother's Day. Mr. Squash loves Marigolds, so we planted them along the front of the beds. They are also great for keeping bugs away! To the left are four tomatos - the red you see are plastic liners that supposedly make the plants produce more - I've used them for several years and always had a good crop of tomatos, so I guess they work! To the right of the tomatoes are sugar snap peas, a hot pepper plant and beans in the first bed; carrots, green onions, radishes and lettuce in the middle; and the farthest right is all lettuce - several different varieties. Planted in the ground on the far right are sweet peppers and dwarf nasturtiums.

The sprinkler and drip system will be turned on this Monday, so I won't have to hand water every morning after that. I was thinking I might post a photo of the garden every Friday on my sidebar so we can all mark it's progress!

Below is Mr. Squash reading in the shade this morning. His back is a little "out of order" so he's taking it easy for a few days. I know that he reads your comments, so I'm sure he would love it if you sent him a few good wishes! And he wanted me to point you here for a really fun, uplifting YouTube video from the Hanson Brothers! Behind him you see part of the still unfinished fence and below that is where I've planted pumpkin, zucchini and pickling cucumbers!

The weather here is on a swing toward summer! I grilled outdoors last night and we had our first al fresco dinner here at the Squash House! I plan to spend the next few days doing a little more sewing - hope to have some peeks for you soon!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Chickens and Happy 9's!

I've been working on a few secret projects lately. Here is one I can now reveal! My friend Linda and her husband are in the process of remodeling their country kitchen. She not only loves the color red, which she has picked for her countertops, but she also has a "thing" for chickens! It started with a suggestion I made years ago about how cute her kitchen would look decorated in chickens! She still doesn't have any live chickens (hint, hint, my friend), but she does have a large herd of alpacas!

I was tickled when I found the hanger for the quilt....they have a large barn that looks just like this with some very large, old apple trees just outside! And Linda is quite the gardener, so the wheelbarrow fits perfectly in the scene!

Tonight is quilt guild. The guild makes hearts and flower quilts for guild members who experience difficult times. A plea went out at the last meeting for blocks - they were down to nearly nothing! We were all asked to make either heart, flower or 9-patch blocks in "happy" colors for the next meeting. Whomever comes with the most will win a prize! Well, I managed to get only 8, 9-patch done today - and maybe a few tomorrow, but at least they are happily colored!

Sunday I planted a good part of our vegetable garden. I planned to finish yesterday, but woke up to rain and clouds! Hopefully today is the day to finish. I need to get the beans and peas in, and till up the pumpkin/cucumber area for planting later in the week. We're also going to try some lake fishing Wednesday or Thursday - sunny, warm weather is predicted - just the thing for our first outing of the season!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Winner and Hot Air Balloon Stampede!

Thank you all for your great suggestions as to how to hang quilts in my studio! I got some wonderful ideas and hope to put them to use soon! I used a random number generator to pick the winner (does anyone know how to copy and paste these into your posts?) and the winner was number 5 - Sharon at Grass Roots Quilt Studio! Congratulations!

Yesterday morning, Mr. Squash and I rose at "zero-dark-thirty" to attend our first Hot Air Balloon Stampede here in town. We heard this has been an annual event for many years in our area. There are over 40 balloons that participate in this 3-day event. They take off from various locations all over town very early in the morning. Unfortunately, we found this out the hard way, by showing up at the fairgrounds just as all the balloons were being trailered out of the fairgrounds to their launch sites! So we stopped for lattes, then skeedaddled to the park near our house to watch. We got there just as some of them were setting up!

Here are the first of four that took off from the park. One person holds onto a long rope attached to the top while they are being inflated. If you click on the picture you can see better. I was hoping that poor fellow didn't go up with the balloon while holding the rope!

He's still holding the rope here - he'd better let go soon or he will have the ride of his life!
The first two are ready to launch, and a third is almost there!
Number three is off and number 4 is right behind them! At one point we counted 22 balloons in the air around us!
Click on the photo below to see the American Flag hanging from the passenger basket!
A little too close for comfort here!
Check out how blue the sky was - but cold....we actually had frost on the ground!
The balloons in the photo below were all directly over our backyard as we found out when we got home! Turns out we never really had to leave the house! Live and learn!!
Happy Mother's Day to all the mom's out there - enjoy your day tomorrow!! I'll have some small finishes for you next week, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Giveaway and a Quilt Show!

A while back I mentioned I was going to have a giveaway in exchange for quilt hanging ideas for my Squash House Studio! I'll pick a random commenter to win the goodies pictured below: Jackie Robinson's Ripples quilt pattern and companion Slash and Dash Tool along with Jackie's Binding Miter Tool and instructions, and a fat quarter, scrap friendly Party Crackers quilt pattern by Tracey Brookshier! Please leave me a comment with a suggestion as to how to hang quilts in my studio so that they can be easily rotated! Some of you have already given me great suggestions, but I could use more! Anonymous comments without a means of contact will not be considered, so please make sure if you don't have a blog or website, that you leave an email contact! The winner will be announced just after noon on Saturday.

Life has been very busy around the Squash House these days! So much so that I have not been able to spend much time on the computer other than to keep up with email and make the occasional post! The fence is still a work in progress as is the raised bed project and we think we just might be able to plant this coming weekend! I also attended an all day Embroidery Tips and Techniques class at our local quilt shop on Monday! What a great time we all had! The class was held in one of our many local wineries - it even included wine and cheese tasting in the afternoon!

Last week my friends Carol and Amelia (no blogs) and I attended the Krazy Horse Quilters show in Pendleton, Oregon. It was just the right size - not too large and not too small. The quilts were extraordinary! Here is just a sample of what we saw. Enjoy!

The quilt below was hand-quilted using a variegated brown/tan thread - you might be able to see more by clicking on the photo!

What a great use of Pat Sloan's Arabella line (one of my favorites) below!

We all stared in awe at the quilt below - I believe the note said she used over 150 different Polka dot fabrics in all!

The gorgeous hand quilted sampler below was made by one of our own quilt guild members - a man! He does the most incredible work - you just can't get over how perfect his stitches are!

I hope you enjoyed the show! Don't forget to leave me a comment before noon on Saturday --- ideas on how to hang different size quilts in my studio so they can easily be rotated!