Thursday, May 31, 2012

Christmas Through the Year - May

Zoom. Did you blink too? May just got here and now we're jumping into June! I'm not going to complain though. In all honesty, I miss our boy, and he can't get back home fast enough so time can just speed up if it wants to. Please.

DH jumped out of bed this morningat 2:30. He jumps, even at 2:30 am. I am more of a crawler, but it works. He left at 3 to help the neighbors brand. I'm tellin' ya', your neighbors are pretty darn special when you get up at 2:30 to help them, but they do the same for us. :) They're going to have all kinds of fun today since the wind's already blowing like crazy - hard enough to make the house creak. Makes for a really long day when you walk back in the door at 8 pm which is about what time I got done with chores last night.

I'm still hanging in there with  Christmas Through the Year that Darlene and Cheryl are hosting. They are both cheering us on - with pom-poms! I am convinced it's the pom poms that are keeping me on track. :)

Still May was a crazy month, but I'm hearing that from a lot of people.

This month my

 project isn't fabric and thread related, but I saw these last year somewhere and printed out the instructions because I KNEW I had to make some.

 Some, being of now. I'm fairly certain I will be adding to that number.
 A new family is moving in over at North Camp this weekend and they have 2 kids, 9 and 5 - guess what they're getting. :)
I've got 2 nephews and a niece who come to visit between Christmas and New Year's, and I know our two kiddos will each get one. I know them all too well and that means that DH will have to have one so if he gets one, his brother will need one. It's kind of like if you give a mouse a cookie...

 So see, that's already 9. Guess who'll be heading back to the Farm Store next time she goes to town? :) In fact, when I went in there this time, they started asking questions and everyone got excited so I left the instructions with them. What do you wanna bet, there'll be a run on the PVC components for these?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day Sewing for QOV

I'm a day late in posting for Memorial Day, but in reality we shouldn't just be thinking of our troops and service men and women one day a year. While we were all celebrating our 'day off', I hope we sent prayers for those who are protecting and serving our country so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we so often take for granted They don't have days off.

I did grill some burgers yesterday, but it was really due to the fact that the wind wasn't blowing and not because it was Memorial Day.

I spent the majority of the day playing with 1/2 square triangles. I made 214 and started laying out my QOV:
There are 140 hsts here. I ran out of room so I'll start stitching and add as I go.

At the end of June we are participating in a Wounded Warrior Shoot and I hope to have this completely finished. Sure would like to have another one made too. :) However, if you don't hear from me, send out the quilting posse because it is very possible that I have been devoured by the HST that seem to be taking over my house.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Winner and Wearing out a Rotary Cutter

Whew! Is everyone tired from dashing around blog land and entering giveaways last week? I want to thank all of y'all who stopped in and put your name in the hat and a special welcome to those of you who joined up with the dirt road crew! I'm thinking if y'all all came to visit in real life, we sure could get a whole lots of fence built around here! LOL. I always tell everyone we work hard, but we feed well!

So on to the announcement! I put all of your numbers into random number generator and in the blink of an eye it spit out  # 11  . So in this case, spitting is good if you are # 11 who happens to be:  captainsharmie   who said...

i LOVE coffee! it was being in university that got me hooked. at first it was just during midterms, but now? every day at work. sometimes my boss will even bring me one! and i got jamaican and brazilian coffee for Christmas this year, and boy is that stuff good!

So congratulations! I love that name! Sounds like a superhero - :) I'll get these out to you on Tuesday!

On the sewing front, not much to report, but I have been cutting up a storm. I cut out the pieces for our daughter's quilt. The largest piece is 3 1/2 x 5 and there are a lot of 1" strips...a lot for this quilt which are not pictured:

And since I have some new projects in the works, I figured I might as well cut some for them as well. If I handled a piece of fabric and it was red, cream, or blue, I also cut a 5" strip for a QOV zig zag quilt. That stack of neutrals is over 6" high. I think I'll be making more than one!

 If it was blue or brown, I cut another 5" for another zig zag quilt.

If it was a cheerful color, I cut a 2 1/2" strip for a colorbox quilt.

That left me with a really dull blade. I don't know why I always wait until my rotary blade is as dull as a butter knife because whenever I do replace the blade, I realize how nice it is to cut with a sharp blade.

 Now that I've got lots cut, let's go sew!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Giveaway Day Has Arrived!

This giveaway is now closed - thank you for joining in on the fun!

Quilters are incredibly generous by nature. I have yet to find one who isn't. They give away their beautiful creations on a daily basis. Quilts are donated and gifted by the hundreds. They selflessly share their fabric, patterns, inspiration, stitched masterpieces, and time and and today over at sewmamasew, they have gathered in large numbers to post giveaways.

I love having giveaways! So in conjunction with sewmamasew and to celebrate 300 posts, I wanted to offer a little something too. Last year Deanna, over at Wedding Dress Blue, shared this tutorial to make these potholders. I made a set, and then I made another...and another...and I think I made a total of 8 sets for gifts. And I am still making them! :) My Mom said not to make her any, she had plenty of potholders, but when she saw them, she changed her mind. She wanted a set for herself and a set to show off to all of her friends and neighbors who she now says need some too. LOL.

So today, I am giving away a set I just made yesterday for you. I found this fabric the other day and thought they would make darling potholders. I see four more in my near future. LOL.

These potholders measure 8 1/2" and have a layer of Insulbright, a layer of muslin, and a layer of Warm & Natural batting so they are thick and made to use. I don't want to hear that you're not using them!

This giveaway will end on May 25th at 5 pm PST and the winner will be chosen by random number generator and be announced on Sunday, the 27th. I will ship internationally and you do not have to be a follower although I would love to have you become part of the dirt road family.

Please, please, please make sure to leave me your email address if you are a non-reply commenter or I will be unable to contact you if you should win and I'll have to generate another winner. Just leave me a comment and tell you like coffee? Since these potholders are made from coffee  fabric and I don't like coffee, I thought I would ask. I LOVE the smell, but can not drink it. Everyone told me when I went to college I would learn to drink it, but nope. Just don't like the taste. I'm sure y'all are thinking, "What is wrong with her?!" Well, lots of things, but we won't worry about that today. :)

So have fun hopping around and discovering new blogs to visit this week and thank you for popping in here!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fresh Flowers in the Desert Quilt

Are you ready for a quilt show? I know I am! We live in an area where quilt shows are few and far between. The closest one is 30 miles away and it only takes place every other year. Otherwise, I'm looking at driving 3 hours. Needless to say, I don't get to many of them. So virtual quilt shows are a treat for me so I love it when y'all share the quilts you see on your blogs.
Then Amy pulls out all the stops and hosts this enormous quilt show twice a year to coincide with Quilt Market  and its going on this week:

So, those of you who quilt, join in on the fun, and those of you that don't, pop over for a visit and be inspired to make your first quilt!

The quilt I'm sharing is my most recent finish. A couple years ago, Randi, who blogs over at I Have to Say, hosted The Road to Spring Quilt Along. At that time, I hadn't discovered this secret world of quilting blogs and I was a new quilter, but about a year later, I stumbled upon her quilt and knew I had to make it.

 I didn't have much of a stash at that time, but don't worry, I would do you proud if you saw it now! :)
We have an amazing quilt store about 75 miles away (feel sorry for  me?) and I only get there about 2 or 3 times a year. I know, not often, but I do my share of damage when I go. In fact, I had to make a trip there yesterday afternoon after I pushed the crew out the door. Thus, I knew they had received some rain and I threw my quilt in the truck hoping I would stumble across something green that would be a pretty backdrop for pictures.

Little towns always have the most charming courthouses...with GREEN lawns!

Online fabric shopping fills in the gaps. We won't mention the fact that I have gotten to know my UPS man very well either. Seriously, I have invited him to eat with us, given him baked goods, and he invited us to go to the horse races with he and his wife. However, the quilt shop in Lovington, NM is worth the extra road time! It's called The Country Store and DeAnn is amazing. She's not online yet, but I pestered her about that yesterday. :)

So on  one of my jaunts to the quilt store last year, I spied the entire Fresh Flowers by Deb Strain for Moda  Line of fabric propped up in all its splendor and I knew it was going home with me for this quilt. Often I hem and haw over which fabric to use and which pattern to choose, but this time the planets aligned and the decisions came easy.

I don't have much to share in the way of the process because I was still new to the fact that we, as quilters, love to see every stage of a quilt in the making. And I don't have a great story except for the fact that I simply had to make this quilt and I love it. The bright colors were not what I normally migrated to, but I had to have it and this is the result.

I named it Fresh Flowers in the Desert because this about the only way I can enjoy fresh flowers out here. The wind is relentless and combined with the heat and dirt, it's a struggle to make much of anything grow.
Next year, I plan to take the Master Gardener program through the Extension Office because I want to grow something like this. In the meantime, I will be content to grow my flowers through the magic of fabric:

I bought a backing for it, but ended up not using it so I have a lot of green fabric in my stash. Funny thing is, I ended up going with a different green fabric. I love the swirls on this piece and I finished it off with a scrappy binding

I had Jackie quilt an all over pattern of flowers and swirls on it.
 Looking back, it might have been cute if I had her quilt it using green thread, but I was afraid of that green thread at the time. Even so, I think it turned out really cute and she always does an amazing job.

A fresh, happy quilt that makes me smile. It measures 68"x80" and will be on the guest bed if you come to visit in the spring. Never had a guest bed, but now that we are empty nesters (insert teary eyes here), I guess we kind of do. Seems we have quite a few overnight visitors these days. This is and will always be our DD's room, but it does double duty when company comes a callin.

  When the wind is howling at 60 mph and burning up anything I have planted outside, I can rest assured that I will always have bright, happy flowers that are wind proof.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spring Branding (repost)

We're branding calves this week. That means I am cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Here's a look into my day when we brand. This is a repeat from an old post back when I had just begun to blog, but I thought y'all might like to take a peek. Funny thing is, not much has changed except for one big thing. Our boy is in Afghanistan and our daughter is now in college. I cannot tell you how much we miss them and I'll admit that revisiting these pictures from 4 years ago made me tear up just a bit.
Hope to get some new shots this year, but I'm still missing the kids so much that I'm not sure I can do that just yet. Y'all might have to wait a bit.

We're breaking things up a bit this year. I usually have 14 days of cooking. That's 10-12 men, three meals a day. No dishwasher here either so I wash A LOT of dishes. Off to make the chocolate cake I mention below!

It doesn't seem possible that an entire year has already passed and we are once again smack dab in the middle of our Spring Works. For those of you that aren't familiar with that, it means that we are branding the calves and along with Shipping in the fall, it's the busiest time of the year for us. I spend the majority of it in the kitchen since these guys tend to work up quite an appetite when they work this hard. Mornings start at 4:00 am and by 9 in the evening I am passed out. The nights are short and the days are long, but it's also my favorite time of the year.

This spring is unusual as we are running a short crew. The help we had lined up couldn't make it, there wasn't enough time to track anyone else down and we can't reschedule because the calves will get too big. So we are all pitching in just a little bit more than usual and getting it all tended to. Some outfits use a calf table or brand using a chute, but we still drag calves to the fire.

I love to watch the crew work. Everyone has a job and they are amazingly efficient and work well together. They are like a well oiled machine and within seconds the calf has been innoculated, ear-marked, cut (if it's a bull calf), and branded.

Even with only 8 on the crew, they split into 2 teams and work 2 calves at a time:

When the calves are smaller, DD helps with flanking, but when the calves are this big, she runs the syringes. Everyone get a turn at dragging the calves to the fire. We have a friend who sings a song called, "That's My Boy Draggin' Calves to the Fire" and it goes through my head when DS gets his turn at roping.

Working as a family is one of the biggest blessings of living this lifestyle. Since the kids were little, we've all pitched in together.

I get a little bit of a break this week because I don't have a bunkhouse full of men to feed at night. The help we do have are neighbors. We are incredibly blessed with amazing neighbors in all directions.

After this many years of cooking for a crew, I have been able to simplify and organize my week in such a way that I can usually sneak out and grab some photos a couple of days a week. The beef cattle are on the north side of the road so we don't do any branding here at headquarters in the spring since headquarters is on the south side. That means I have to drive about 40 minutes to get to any of the pens with the exception of North Camp. When they brand at North Camp, I make barbecue sandwiches, Cajun potatoes, coleslaw, corn on the cob, stuffed jalapenos, Tabasco pickles and Auntie's Chocolate Cake with ice cream. I can make much of it beforehand, leaving me time to play behind the camera.

It's all too easy for me to lose track of time and before I know it, I've got to scat back to house and put the finishing touches on dinner. I am always reluctant to leave my perch on top of the fence:

We're expecting a cold front tomorrow, but today it was pretty warm although the wind kept it's distance. Actually, it was the perfect day. The bawling calves, the smell of the branding fire, and the sound of the crew's easy banter mingles in the air.:There is nothing like the sounds and smells of branding day. At the end of the day there is a palatable feeling of satisfaction, of a job well done, a second piece of pie, and a good night's sleep waiting around the corner. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Adding to the List

I thought I was doing fairly well on my UFO list. Just plugging along and thinking this is very do-able. Then we moved college girl into her new apartment. Fun, fun, and cute, cute! However, her beloved quilt I made for her does not fit her new bed. She is sad. She seriously considered getting a twin bed just so the quilt would fit. :) Then Mama said the magic words: "No, get the double. I'll make you a new quilt." She can use the original quilt over the couch in the living room.Well, its really a futon because she's a college girl...on a budget. I feel needed. LOL.

So, while debating and texting and searching and emailing patterns back and forth, I began to scribble and a new list of new quilts to make was born. And of course I want to start on them right this second. :)

1. Whiz Kid (perfect name too!) This is a free pattern on Connecting Threads here:Whiz Kid

2. Modern Granny Square (I'm caving and y'all are to blame)

3. Summer House (I bought 4 layer cakes of this on sale and love it, but have yet to settle on a pattern. That is the hardest part of this process for me. I'm so indecisive.)

4. Jacob's Ladder Scrappy Quilt (almost made one of these for college girl. I read that the pattern is known by many names and Wagon Tracks is one of them. Fell in love with the pattern and the name)

5. English Paper Pieced Scrap Star Quilt (I do not need to start another EPP project, but I cannot resist the diamond stars)

6. Fabric Fusion (found this in the Feb 2012 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting) May use the Summer House Layer Cakes if I can make them work for this one. Added bonus is combining 2 things on my list. Oops! Looks like college girl chose this one!

7. Picnic Quilt (I've had 20 FQ of Farmer's Market from a few years ago and really want to use them) Thinking of using a wonky square pattern.

8. QOV Zig Zag Quilt using the Whiz Kid Pattern (am I going to get tired of making 1/2 square triangles?

9. Bought Peanuts fabric and need to decide on a pattern...seems to be a theme with me. Also saw that they are coming out with a Christmas version. Yep. Probably need some of that.

10. While  searching for college girl's quilt I fell in love with this zig zag quilt too. It uses flying geese. Blues and browns. Yum. It can be found here

College girl's Fabric Fusion gets top billing though. I've been pulling the few fabrics I have that I think will work.
 I am going to have to make it a lot bigger. I seem to do that a lot. I think some modern fabrics will be cute in this and that calls for some shopping!

I already started cutting for the QOV Whiz Kid quilt. I'm probably not using orange although I am strangely drawn to this quilt and I wonder if it has anything to do with the orange. :)
 I'm a Texas A&M Aggie.

Orange is not allowed. LOL.

 If I have to make one with orange I will make it for friends who are diehard Longhorns. I love them dearly, but I have this one itty bitty ornery bone, microscopic really, that will make me put one tiny piece of maroon in it. I'll have to buy orange fabric in secret otherwise I may have my diploma revoked. Oye! I just added another quilt to the list. Someone stop me!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dreaming of Mud Boots and Dirt Tanks

I try to keep up with what's going on in the rest of the world although I love living under my rock. Sometimes I peek out and check things out and it makes me want to dig deeper under said rock. One of the things that we keep a vigilant eye on, is the weather. Ranching (and farming) tends to make you a tad obsessed about it. Its not like we can do anything to change it, but we follow it like a hawk. Ranching in the desert makes you even more insane about it. We gather around the radar on the computer screen and when you run into someone at the feed store you ask, "Did you get rain? How much?" I called my neighbor, Cotton Picker, the other day and said ""Get outside and start dancing. There's a big black cloud hanging over the ranch"  She laughed and said, "I can't; I've got company!" I replied, "The more the merrier".
Around here we measure rain in drops and we will get up before dawn, trudge out to the rain gauge and check it with a flashlight to see how much rain we got. Seriously. This is important business folks. We had a 12 yr drought in the Texas mountains and when it rained, we had to replace all of our rain gauges because they had dried up and cracked and would no longer hold water. My mud boots dry rotted and crumbled. True story. Needless to say, when it rained, I vividly remember standing on the screened porch and crying at the sight of water falling from the sky. The sounds of rain on a tin roof is a beautiful thing.
Yes, deserts are dry, but they do receive rain. Or so I have been told. :) Actually I have proof. This was about 5 years ago:

Our arena then:

 and now:

Summer swimming holes:

Not much swimming going on today:

Fishing was always on the schedule:

No fresh fish this summer:

Our days are spent driving a feed truck and doling out cake to the masses. The last moisture we received was 12" of snow on Christmas.
The good Lord always provides though, doesn't He? DH came in today talking about fat cows. Huh? There is no green grass, but God sent us the Yucca. Cows LOVE yucca blossoms and it is good feed. Our yuccas are blooming like crazy. And soon the prickly mesquite will provide beans that they like too.

Yes, our hope is in the Lord and we are faithful that our rain gauges will one day look like this again:

Last year the sale barns were overflowing with cattle because so many people droughted out and had to sell. We were in good shape because we had old grass from the year before, but it is hard. When you ranch, it's not like you can just go look for another job. You can't just leave the land that you've poured everything into. Lots of people were out of work though. I know that's the case in other areas as well, not just agriculture.

Cow prices are good, but feed prices are high. The price of hay quadrupled. Lots of cowboys driving trucks and working in the oil field today because ranchers have sold their stock.

Still not giving up on the rain though. God's timing is perfect, but we're staying on our knees and praying for rain and still praising God that we get to ranch for a living. And when it rains, I want a pair of these:

I saw these on Julie's blog, Better Than I Deserve and a seed was planted for this post. Now if we could just get that seed some rain.

Giveaway Winner and Granny Squares

Congratulations to  Deanna who blogs over at Wedding Dress Blue ! Deanna is the winner and she has chosen the Layer Cake as her prize.
I sent you an email so as soon as I hear back from you with your snail mail address, I'll pop this in the mail to you! I love giveaways! I must say that it probably wasn't my brightest idea to ask about your guilty pleasures because I have added quite a few new ones to my list, but they were fun to read.

Sewing time is getting scarce, but spring cleaning, yard work, and bouncing across the pastures in the feed truck have taken over. I'm babying my garden and trying to convince it that it doesn't really need rain to grow. I'm not having much luck.

I stitched up this pillowcase for a friend of my Mom's who is dealing with some very serious health issues:

And I did manage to get 10 more blocks pieced for the Granny Square Quilt I started in 2010:

These little tiny squares finish up at 1" and the blocks are 8 1/2". I have a whole box of strips cut and hope to stitch up a few more this week.
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