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Monday, November 30, 2015

Quilty Pleasures-Modern Grunge

I was looking through some postings and realized I didn't let you see this finish, but just the layout.

A few years ago I drove to Albuquerque, three hours away, to attend a Jacquie Gering workshop on improvisational quilts. It seemed like a logical next step since I had taken a several classes with Gwen Marston, one of the original improvisationalists with her Liberated Quilting techniques. This is my Jacquie Gering inspired quilt.

I love this stuff. Just saying.

So anyway, I dorked around and procrastinated for quite some time, but finally finished it last year.

Here's a full shot. It's definitely a wall hanging and I've added a hanging sleeve to the back. Don't you love that background fabric? Keep reading and I'll tell you about it.

As you can see, it's been folded away. Look at those dang creases!

Here's a detail photo so you can see the quilting and one improvisational block. I started this block by fussy cutting a flower for the center and built from there, adding the white fabric square, some turquoise around the center and a reddish brown to complete it.

I used my Bernina's Number 4 stitch which creates this serpentine quilting pattern. To keep the quilting on the straight and narrow, I used a walking foot and its width to keep the rows (semi) regular, along with some painters' tape. Every twelve inches or so, I laid some tape down to ensure that I was not listing to one side or the other with my quilting rows.

Here's the back, but I am sorry I don't know the fabric's name. The background fabric's name is Grunge Basics by Moda. The color is Pool.

When I make an improvisational or Liberated quilt, it consumes me. I think about it; I have dreams about it. This is when I realize what an artist feels when making a painting, a sculpture, a book movie or play.

I guess I'm a sometimes artist.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Quilty Pleasures: The Chicken River Quilters Modern Traditional Quilt Part 2

The previous post was about this quilt:

And I promised a closer look, so here we go:

The individual block is called Nine Patch Straight Furrow.  You can see there are two light fabrics, a medium and a dark. The light shading is subtle. That's what we were trying to achieve.

The block came from this book:

I purchased my copy at ThreadBear, my local quilt shop.  I'm linking up to their website because they do web orders and because shopping local is my first step when looking for something I'd like, quilty-wise.

Here's is one block, close up, so you can get a sense of the subtle shading and texture created by using two "whites" or lights. We used a white on white dot paired with Moda Grunge Basics Mint. Yes, there is a touch of minty green in this white.

ThreadBear is now accepting quilts for long-arm quilting, so that's who quilted it. I love how the pattern is centered and reaches out to the block's sides and corners. (Just so you know, I work there once in a while, but didn't receive any compensation for mentioning them in this post. I am just so happy they are near--well, for me, 29 miles near.)

We knew what colors our friend loves, so left it up to the individual quilters in the group as to which fabrics to use. It shows how well we work together that all the blocks look great together.

And it's amazing how a traditional block can be made new by using fresh fabrics in a contemporary setting.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Quilty Pleasures: Chicken River Modern Quilters Are At It Again

One of our quilters has relocated to Albuquerque, so The Chicken River Modern Quilters decided a friendship quilt was in order.

Today I'm posting how it looks from afar.

And a Behind the Scenes look at Susan on the left and Linda on the right, holding the quilt up on a very windy afternoon. Check out the flying hairdos. Susan is our newest member and drove two hours from Trinidad, CO for the meeting. Our other new member is Jane Ann, who was taking photos.

Don't you love the setting? It's a traditional block, but modern quilting likes to take the traditional and add something new, like this off center design with white negative space.

The photo was taken in the alley behind Thread Bear, our local quilt shop in Las Vegas, NM. That rock wall is historic old, which is older than old is. This area dates to 1835 when the Spanish were in charge.

Next post: A closer look at this quilt and how the blocks are made.

Monday, November 9, 2015

A Quilt, But Not Mine

I thought it was time to share a quilt my friend Ann, proprietor of ThreadBear, our local quilt store, has made. She didn't use this particular design, which I may do on my own version of this quilt, but instead decided on a rows and furrows layout. Most of the fabric is called Story by Carrie Bloomston from Windham fabrics, along with Ann's assorted scraps.

It's from a book called Modern Designs for Classic Quilts, by Kelly Biscopink and Andrea Johnson. Ann's Rows and Furrows layout is the one depicted on the cover, and it looks gorgeous!

I am a fan of traditional designs made modern and this book has some great ideas. One design in the book is a flying geese quilt with lots of negative space. I think that's a perfect idea for this half square triangle panel I've been looking at for over a year.

I can see this panel surrounded by black, with a few more Amish-looking half square triangles here and there in the negative space. Okay. I've talked myself into something.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Northeaster Green Beans

Last fall we were eating dinner at a friend's house and she served the most delicious, fresh from her garden, roasted green beans. I learned the seeds were from Johnny's, so ordered some for this year's garden.

These Northeaster Green Beans were perfect for our cool mountain summer.  Here's a photo of the kitchen garden around the end of July. The beans were already to the top of their trellis. In the past weeks, that twelve foot row of green beans at the back of the garden have gone over the top and back down again. I've picked about 11 pounds of beans so far and they're still going strong.

As you can see, they are a flat bean with no strings, tender even when they grow looooong. I decided to skip blanching (dipping them in boiling water for a short time and then sticking them in cold water) the beans. I followed this excellent video tutorial and when winter comes, I will know how it all worked out.

And I even labeled them.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Tula Pink Raffle Quilt-City Planner

The Chicken River Modern Quilters are having a raffle to further our charity work and also to earn enough money to entice a quilting teacher to come to Northern New Mexico for a weekend gig. The drawing is August 8, 2015.

The members made the blocks from Tula Pink's 100 Modern Quilt Blocks book and chose City Planner as the setting. The quilt's size is between full and queen.

Tickets are $1 each or $5 for 6. Email me for more info if you'd like to buy some tickets.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Sugar Sprint Peas

During the winter months I grow Sugar Snap peas in the growing dome because they like cool weather and unless it gets below freezing inside, they do well in there. Around May, though, it begins to get too hot inside and I must pull out the vines.

This year I decided to take my chances growing Sugar Snaps outdoors. I figured the moderate temps would be kind to them, so why the heck not. Because our weather is so "iffy," with snow, hail or rain likely any month of the year, I tried a variety called Sugar Sprint. The peas can be harvested at around 58 days, which is a plus in this high altitude growing region.

On May 9 I planted the seeds and placed a few tomato cages in the 4 by 4 bed, even though the envelope said 2 feet tall. I didn't want them drooping over the edges, tempting any passing critters into a snack. They might like that plant too much and that would be all she wrote. Then it rained and rained and I didn't even have to water.

I did a little weeding in that bed, but pretty much forgot those peas until July 4th, when I realized there were a zillion mature pods busting out on there! Talk about a forgetful gardener!

I've picked peas three times so far and each time I get about a pound of peas, enough to fill this strawberry clamshell.

My friends from around here get excited this time of year when roadside venders sell bags of traditional peas that you take out of the pod, but I am too lazy to shell them and just like eating the whole thing. It's the only way I can get Tom to eat peas.

Here are some links for snap pea recipes that I really like.

This is a copycat recipe for PF Chang's Garlic Snap Peas. The secret is to add the garlic at the end and very quickly get everything out of the pan and onto a plate. Otherwise you burn the garlic and it gets bitter when it's burned. Experience.

This recipe is easy! Ina Garten's Sauteed Sugar Snap Peas

Honey Glazed Pea Pods and Carrots is also an easy way to cook snap peas. I don't use the cornstarch and they still come out yum.

Last, because it's summer, here is Guy Fieri's Black Bean and Corn Salad recipe. I sub snap peas for the snow peas and it's just fine.

Miss Bonnie says hello to you all and wants you to know that rodent hunting is going well this year. She looks skinny, but eats all she wants. Last time Bonnie visited the vet, she (the vet) called her assistants (we are Bonnie's assistants) to have a good look at a cat at a healthy weight. I guess it's a rare sighting, a non-fat cat.

Bonnie is now 15 years old.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Quilty Pleasures and Ranch Life: A Scrappy Trip With Thistles

It's been a while since I posted anything quilty because, well, I've been busy! But I've been working (somewhat) steadily on Bonnie Hunter's Scrappy Trips Around the World blocks whilst binge watching this season's Orphan Black. I restarted my unfinished scrappy trip quilt thanks to Diana.

Diana, a Girl Scout, has been working on her Gold Project and sent out a call for Scrappy Trips blocks. She wants to make 16 quilts (actually, it's going to be more than that) and gift them to kids who have aged out of the foster care system. The Chicken River Modern Quilters and another group of quilters at ThreadBear, my local quilt shop, spent some time making blocks to send to Diana. All this scrappy tripping inspired me to find a box of blocks already completed and finish this baby up!

Only four blocks remaining for a queen sized quilt. Then it's time for assembly.

So what's been making me so busy? Thistles! Scottish Thistles! We've been out and about on the ranch chopping these invasive, noxious, non-native weeds. Actually, Tom chops.

These thistles are biennials, which means they live for two years, first as a rosette baby and the next year as a flowering nuisance that can reseed itself many times over. They will take over a whole area and although cattle might eat the babies, they will not eat the mature ones, crowding out anything nutritious growing there.  So Tom is chopping both, trying to dig up the rosette babies, roots and all and chopping down the ticking time bombs which are the thistles in their flower stage.

Here's what the flowering Scottish thistles look like:

We've been chopping for a couple weeks now and it's touch and go as to whether we will get them all before they start reseeding.

My job is to gather up the chopped down flower thistles and toss them into the Ranger.

Here are my grabbers because those suckers are evil! I bought them years ago to collect leaves and then for pine needles. Tom suggested using them for the thistles which was a wizard idea.

 We both wear snake chaps because there have been too many close encounters with rattlesnakes to take chances.

 Using the grabbers and sometimes the garden fork for big piles, I throw them into the Ranger and dump them where there will be a big bonfire when they dry out. (Why do I have a sneaking hunch that even though they will be burned, we will find a thistle forest next spring?)

So far we've collected seven loads of these nasty fellers (Scotland's national flower). As I drove this load back to the dumping area, I spotted so many more growing in our field.

And so it goes. (thanks, kurt)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

All Hail Summer!

Yesterday was a "weather" day at The Nickel and Dime Ranch, with crazy rain and hail.

While this was happening, I was having lunch with M and M in Santa Fe, on the way home from Albuquerque and the "didn't happen" Friday flight to California for my brother's retirement bash.

I ended up not going because Friday was a "weather day" in Dallas, disrupting flights, resulting in a nine hour wait for an airplane that wasn't going to take me where I wanted to go after all. At 2:30 am, faced with the prospect of waiting another eleven hours at the next stop offered to me by a harried, exhausted Southwest Airlines ticket agent, I gave up.

Sorry I missed your party, bro. All I can say is retirement is awesome and now you can work at whatever you want, whenever you want. Congratulations on surviving 32 years of adolescents.

I'd say, "Come visit," but looking at these photos, you might have second thoughts.

Ms. Pearl certainly had second thoughts, not even wanting to hang out on the covered porch while this was going on. Thunder, lightning and crazy noise on the tin roof were not her thing.

This is why my tomatoes are growing inside a greenhouse.

By the time I was home, all this was gone and today is sunny with nary a cloud in the sky. Still, there's a 50/50 chance for more rain today.

I think I'll go water the tomatoes.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Kitchen Garden Early Summer 2015

Man, do I suck at blogging! It seems like there are so many other things to do..."Look! Squirrel!"

But I haven't forgotten you and hope this has been excellent summer season so far. Our part of Northern New Mexico has been blessed with rain, so much rain that we are out of our drought and the drought map says we are unusually dry, instead.

Tell that to the mosquitoes, who have been enjoying this moist weather just a little too much. Afternoons and shady spots are their favorite time for blood sucking, but if it's breezy they don't hang out too long, so I'm not complaining.

I've been working on are both the Growing Dome and kitchen gardens. The heat loving plants, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, thrive in their warm dome house, but that story is for another day.

Anyway, here are some kitchen garden photos. I truly love the raised beds, which allow me to garden without crawling around.

Below are some Northeaster runner beans climbing up their netting. This is the first time I've grown these, but a neighbor had good luck with them and when I tasted their flat-podded wonderfulness, I decided they would be part of this year's garden.

You can see that black patch on the ground, which is weed barrier cloth. I need to spread some more bark to cover it.

The beds beyond the beans have strawberries, which are starting to bear, and asparagus in the background, now gone to seed after a couple weeks of judicious picking. The asparagus is three years old now, so next year I will be able to pick as much as we want. My friends say the rain has extended the wild asparagus crop along the roads and acequias, so they're still picking!

Below is another shot of the garden. On the left are white cauliflower, broccoli and garlic. Those grow bags contain potatoes: Magic Molly, Purple Viking, Sangre Red and Yukon Gold. Someone said the first three potato names sound like weed. I think they're right.

And here's the last shot. That long bed in the back has more cauliflower (green and orange varieties), carrots and corn. The corn is called Spring Treat, but we shall see what happens, since most people say sweet corn grown around here tastes like sawdust.

In the far beds, which each measure four by four, I have a rhubarb plant, some Sugar Sprint snap peas, a valerian plant which the bees love, and some more cauliflower. I've decided to roast cauliflower and freeze it if there's too much. We could use a little more outdoor growing space, so next year we hope to build some more raised beds.

Next up, inside The Dome.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Sewing Room at Critical Mass

An internet friend commented yesterday that she is inspired by my energy. Hah! Is what I say. All this flitting around comes at a cost, just so you know.

Exhibit A: The sewing room

We have definitely hit critical mass.

Yes, I've been beavering away (I just love that expression) on several projects, none of which are complete, surrounded by this insane mess.

This state of affairs started in December when I was making pillowcases, many pillowcases, for family and friends. As Christmas presents. That's Christmas. It's now May. Geez.

Since December the piles of fabric and, in the background, my clothing, have proliferated and I am getting twitchy.

The design wall was the last straw. This week it released its hold and looks like Charlie Sheen after a few drinks.  Good heavens.

Check out this detritus from the January AQS Show in Albuquerque, boxes of fabric, unfinished projects and, for the love of God, cans of tuna on the trunk near the window (I have a small pantry, what can I say?) That rail fence flannel quilt needs just two borders. The first two sides are done! Look over on the right bottom side of this pic. There on the ironing board are my pajama bottoms and some unfinished panels from my knitting class.

Here's how it should look.

So I guess I'd better get moving. Have a great weekend and I hope I've made all of you feel better after having read this confessional post.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Growing Dome May 2015

My winter and spring haven is inside the Growing Dome, a snug, warm place when outside the wind is howling and temperatures are below freezing.

I have fun trying new veggie varieties, so in some ways the dome is like a laboratory. My dad often said, "Let's see what happens!" so that's what I do.

Below are Kalettes, a new brussels sprouts-kale hybrid, almost ready to pick. The little rosette in the center of the leaves are the Kalette part. The leaves look like normal kale, so I'll let you know how I end up cooking this lab experiment.

Just past the Kalettes are some new lettuce seedlings and Royal Burgundy green beans.

Here's a chard jungle. Everyone who visits or whom I visit, receives a bouquet of rainbow chard. Want a good chard recipe? Here you go.

 We've been eating lots of sugar snap peas. Our summer weather is cool, so more sugar snaps will be planted this week for the outside garden.

 The carrots aren't ready yet, but look good.

I'm trying for more flowers in the dome because they add color to the space.

Some pretty peonies.

And Trudy, look at the pomegranate plant you gave me a year ago Christmas! I didn't kill it.

One problem with growing inside are bug critters. In the past the dome has been host to aphids, white flies, and some black gnat-like annoyances who lived in the soil. We learn from our mistakes, one which was planting stuff too close together and allowing the soil to become too damp. Everything needs to dry out now and then to keep the creepies at bay. Right now I am playing host to crickets and roly polies, but they are manageable.

Two years ago was whitefly summer and the tomato plants slowly had their lives sucked out of them. I removed the affected plants, but it was just too late and those pests just never went away.  I ended up removing every plant and giving the dome a much needed airing out before replanting.

This year I am trying something new: the tomatoes are in Smart Pots, so if there is an infestation, I can remove the affected plant more efficiently. This looks like a good idea for peppers, since they seem to attract aphids.

So far, the tomatoes are growing well in their bags. I used a mixture of compost and potting soil and they will need trellising very soon.

I hope you enjoyed the update. Happy gardening!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

It's National Grilled Cheese Day! (But Green Chile Cheeseburgers Need Love, Too.)

Wow! I didn't even know until this morning, or I would have cooked up a "grilch" --what we call a grilled cheese sandwich--for breakfast.

So here's a "greatest hits" post today about two of my favorite grilled cheese sandwiches.

This first one is a grilled cheese, roasted pepper, tomato and pesto sandwich. That's a big yellow tomato slice on there, from my garden, a couple years ago. Man, that looks yum!

Here's the recipe link.

And here's a link for my other favorite blog post: Grilled Cheese and Green Chile.

Still, who says you need to have a Grilled Cheese? You might want a green chile cheeseburger at Santa Fe Bite restaurant. It is the best I've eaten and you won't have to eat for the rest of the day!
    A cheeseburger on a plate with green chile sauce.
    Photo courtesy of Santa Fe Bite