Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Hourglass Blocks and a Good Read

I've had a few questions about the hourglass blocks I shared the other day so I figured I'd attempt to walk, those of you that are interested, through the steps I had taken to make them.

These blocks began with 2 Butterfly Garden Layer Cakes I had sitting in a bin and a need to stitch something simple. Something that didn't require thinking or figuring. Some people would say boring, but I just wanted some time with fabric under a needle while I listened to an audio book. This is what I was listening to:


Once Upon a Town

I highly recommend it. I love nonfiction and this story takes place in North Platte, Nebraska during WW II. DH grew up around the same area. This book made me sad because I wonder what has happened to our country. Could this still happen today? WOULD it?

OK, I'll get back to the subject at hand before I step up on my soapbox. :)

Choose 2 layer cake squares and stitch 1/4" all the way around. Doesn't get much simpler than that. Then take them to your cutting mat and slice them 4 times like this:


I'm fairly certain I saw a tutorial on this somewhere, but I can't put my finger on it at the moment. Stitch each one along the short side:


If you stitch along the bias side, you will end up with 1/2 square triangles. Press and you have a pile of these. I forgot to take pictures so I had to un-stitch this one to get one:                          



Pick out the 2 little stitches above your horizontal seam and spin your seams for a flat block:


 My ruler is not lined up in this photo but trim your block to 6"


Each set of 10" squares makes 4 hourglass blocks and before long, you have lots of pretty hourglass blocks.

                                                

I also made the little hourglass blocks in this quilt


with leftover jelly roll strips. I used a different method for these and it involves that handy dandy Easy Angle ruler. Just choose 2 strips and set right sides together. Then line up your ruler on the strips at the 2 1/2" mark and cut.

                        

Flip your ruler over, line up with the 2 1/2" mark again and cut:

          
 I love this thing. Bonnie Hunter is the queen of the Easy Angle ruler and she has a tutorial here for making 1/2 square triangles. Just one more step and you have the makings of an hourglass block - aka: 1/4 square triangles.

                                       

Press seams to the dark side:

                                        

When you stitch these two pieces together, they will nest nicely. Then take just a minute to pick out the 2 vertical stitches above the horizontal seam:

                                       
                               
When you press your finished block. you can spin your seams and a little cute 4-patch will appear

                                    

And once you trim:

                                   

you will be left with a pretty little hourglass block with good points and flat seams:

                                 

 A 2 1/2" strip yields cute little 3" blocks and there you have it. Its way past my bedtime so I hope this makes sense for those of you that inquired. I've got a baby quilt to plan in pinks and grays and I've still got a hankering for hourglass blocks so I may be stitching up more of these.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Busy Bees

The days seem to be getting away from me lately...a sure sign that summer has arrived. Thankfully, we've not had the intense heat this year that generally cloaks our summers around here. The showers have transformed our usually 'dry heat' into sultry days with heavy air although you'll laugh when I tell you that the humidity has been hovering around 40%...that's sultry for us desert rats. And its the reason I am trotting down the road at 5:30 in the mornings. Its the coolest part of the day. Our girl has been DH's sidekick lately so after I fix breakfast for them, I head out the door. As long as its light enough for me to avoid stepping on a snake, its light enough.

                               

We've been invaded...by honey bees. Our wet spring brought on a prolific wild flower crop this year and the honey bees are taking advantage.


One night we heard incessant buzzing when we went to bed and we quickly zoned in on the problem. Apparently, a colony of honey bees decided to take up residence in one of our bedroom walls. We didn't want to kill them all...they are fascinating and helpful creatures, but we certainly didn't want them building their hive in our wall either. We found their entrance and DH bought a powder he used in hopes of making them leave. Regular wasp spray had no effect on them. Once we thought they had vacated the premises, DH sealed up the holes - he had drilled a few more in order to be more effective.


 Then a few days later he called me to another building and pointed out this:



I briefly...very briefly... considered taking up beekeeping as we love fresh honey, but  it was a fleeting thought. They are welcome to make their home here without our interference.

 On the sewing front - I've been piddling. I pulled out 2 old layer cakes and commenced to stitching and slicing. I just wanted an easy, 'no thinking required' project and this fit the bill nicely although there was more trimming than I would have liked:


But I ended up with 160 blocks to show for it. Then blocks were stitched into rows and that's as far as I've gotten.

                                                 

I added borders to the little hourglass baby quilt:

                           

And I did manage to get the stars appliqued onto the Rodeo Baby quilt and pieced a backing so this one is ready for Jackie too

                          

Now I've got to spend some time behind my trusty lawn mower and help sort some cattle in the pens before I can call it a day. I'm thankful for leftover brisket in the fridge for supper and clean sheets on the bed. Its been a good week.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Ice Cream Crunchies

I'm sharing an oldie but a goody today. This is probably one of the first recipes I ever added to my collection after we were married. My MIL...who is a wonderful cook, shared it with me. I didn't know how to cook when DH and I were married and my MIL probably wanted to insure I fed her baby boy well and that meant dessert after dinner.

I had hits and misses in the kitchen...many misses, but DH was kind and patient and I was a fast learner. If it brought a twinkle to his eye, I made it again although truth be told, even the misses often brought a twinkle to his eye. He was and still is, a good sport.

Writing this brought back a funny memory from when we were dating. I had invited him over for supper one night and when he got up to rinse his plate and place it in the sink, he turned and said, "What is THIS?"
I had not expected him to take his plate to the sink, but his Mama had apparently raised him right, but now my secret was out.

 See, I had attempted to make gravy, but it had a ton of lumps in it so I figured I could just strain the lumps out and I had left the colander...with the lumps...sitting in the sink. Thankfully, lumpy gravy was not a deal breaker and he married me anyway. Whew! Catastrophe averted! I remember how we laughed in that college kitchen apartment that night. For a long time after that, I would ask him if he wanted lumps with his gravy. *Grin*

I made these last week for the crew and sure enough, they were a big hit so I thought the recipe was worthy of sharing with y'all.



ICE CREAM CRUNCHIES

1/2 C light Karo syrup
1/2 C peanut butter
3 C Rice Krispies
Vanilla Ice Cream

Butter bottom of rimmed cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. Set aside. Add Karo syrup and peanut butter to a medium sized pot and stir together over medium heat for a few minutes until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in Rice Krispies. Pour mixture into prepared pan and spread into a very thin layer, packing down a bit.
Pop in freezer for 30 minutes or so to set. Remove from freezer and cut into squares. I buy the ice cream in the rectangular containers for this recipe - its easier to slice. Slice the ice cream and sandwich between two layers of cereal.

I doubled the recipe for the crew and its a good thing I did. I also probably needed to make the cereal layers thinner...open wide!



Sunday, June 14, 2015

A Stitch Here and a Stitch There

A stitch here plus a stitch there equals progress. Just odds and ends to share this week. I cooked for a crew for 3 days this week and those 2:30 am wake up calls gave me some extra time behind the sewing machine.

I really enjoyed embroidering 16 of these soon to be corn hole bags (bean bags) for a  friend's son's wedding. They are planning a variety of yard games for the reception (Doesn't that sound like a fun idea?)  and T sent me the fabric with a request for an embroidered monogram on each bag.


And I pieced the Fun Flower Baby Quilt into a top


 I also made this valance for my kitchen window a while back, but I don't think I ever shared it.


 I had run across the fabric while searching for something for a friend at Joann's and knew it would be perfect in my kitchen.


And I finally stitched up some matching potholders this week:


And an apron may find its way under the needle soon.

 I also finished out the week by piecing this top for the Rodeo Baby baby quilt. There will be strips running across the top and the bottom that will have appliqued stars running across them as well as a star in the center, but the center blocks are pieced.


I hope to get the stars appliqued and make a plan for the Don't Fence Me In horse quilt this week.



Saturday, June 6, 2015

Charleston Pavement Quilt

A few months ago...10's a few isn't it?  I cut into a favorite jelly roll to make this quilt:

                              Charleston Pavement Patchwork Quilt PDF Pattern

Shelly, over at Prairie Moon Quilts, designed this pattern and I have to brag about it. What a fun and fast and striking pattern!

I'm determined to make a dent in my jelly roll stash so I pulled out my Moda, Breath of Avignon, by American Jane. This is an older line...I don't know, maybe 5 years or so? Probably older because I think when I found it, it was already a few years old and these jelly rolls were all I had seen.  I love the crisp colors and patterns and I'm glad I finally found the perfect project that convinced me to untie that ribbon and start sewing strips:

                               
Shelly does a wonderful job of walking you through the steps and she even includes a very helpful page of labels to keep your strips organized. Thanks for doing that, Shelly! I was running woefully short of my background fabric because I was just using what I had, but managed to squeak by with not an extra thread to spare. I settled on a blue and white from my stash for the backing:

                                                

And fought the wind in an attempt to snap a few pictures:



It just whipped it right off of the clothesline


So jumbo office clips and my trusty chicken coop yard fence were called into action:


 We've been up since 3 this morning and posting these now, makes me think this might be a good time to break this quilt in


with a nap.



Its 71" x 73" ...perfect nap size. Jackie quilted a fun leaf design across it that is hard to see on these fabrics, but it adds that incredible texture that is always the perfect finishing touch:


I'll be making this one again. I'm thinking something out of the box for me...maybe brights and black on white prints. You can have one for your very own too - just click right here and Shelly will fix you right up.


This is finish #7 for the year...progress!


Thursday, June 4, 2015

This Girl...




is a college graduate!


We got up at 3:30 two weeks ago to drive up for the occasion and cheer her across the stage. And yes, we're popping our buttons proud of her, but we always have been. She's a pretty neat kid. And now she's headed to grad school to do research in ruminant nutrition this fall. New school. New adventure, but first a trip to Florida with her best friend. The desert rat wanted to see a white sandy beach and soak up some ocean sun while surfing the waves.  When she got back, the job of packing began. I told her that she was going to be surprised at what she had accumulated and all week she has been sending me texts confirming that she is a pack rat. LOL. She posted this and it made me laugh:

I am a 21 year old college graduate and I have called my mother for her insight a sum total of 5 

times today dealing with everything from moving out of this apartment, looking for a new living 

situation, and making grad school decisions. I also apparently still need her to teach me how to 

clean an oven and to remind me to reapply sunscreen at the beach.

Ya'll... you will never not need your mommy. Just sayin.

It's nice to be needed.

This past weekend we hooked up the horse trailer and headed her way once again to haul 4 years worth of college necessities back to the ranch. Last year I had taken over her closet and installed heavy duty shelving in order to store my fabric stash. I  told her that proof of my love was evident in the fact that I had removed that and given her closet back to her. :)

We are tickled to have her home for a bit before she ventures out for grad school. She was offered a paid assistantship. That's a huge blessing and will be a nice change from being a poor college student who carries 18 hours and juggles an outside job.

The last 4 years were wonderful and the move was bittersweet for her, but this photo sums it up well. She captioned it:
                                                            Next Chapter



                   

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Using It Up

I keep some of my fabric, designated for projects, in these project boxes:

                               

When I'm finished with the quilt, I often just put the leftover fabric back into the box. And there it sits. With bits of this and that and no destination. So, although these are not ufos, I am going to work on emptying some of these.

First up is this box:


The main fabrics are from the Fun Flower collection. I made this quilt with it 4 or 5 years ago


and its time to do something with the leftovers so I cut the remaining flowers into 5 1/2" squares and pulled more odds and ends of coordinating fabrics from my stash. I am thinking of incorporating this black and white dot print for a little pop.


 and adding this coordinating print for a border.

                             

And this print will be on the back. A bit of flower overload, but I hope it'll make a cute quilt and I'll be using some of this up.

                             

I've been cutting and planning according to the fabric I have and what's left will be reabsorbed into my stash, leaving me with an empty box...that won't stay empty for long!

Next up: this box.

                              

 I've still got some of this little chuck wagon cowboy fabric that I used to make this quilt


and I'm tossing ideas around for a second little quilt.

And I've got about 12 of these:


 left over strips from this quilt:


I had a hankering to make some hourglass blocks and used up every last strip, plus one extra fabric - the plaid - from my stash. Result - 64 3 1/2" hourglass blocks that finish at 29" - too small for a baby quilt, but with a border or two, it ought to work.


DH has been helping the neighbors for a few days this week. We've been getting up at 2 am. He always tells me I needn't get up with him, but I do anyway and when he pulls out 3, I can not go back to sleep. so a lot gets done. Yesterday I was at the Sale Barn, on account of Memorial Day, and it made for a REALLY long day by the time we got to bed at 9. Today I've got a ton of mowing to do, but I'm thinking that can wait until it gets light at 5:30. Until then, I am going to sew!
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