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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Finally a Finish: Fancy Forest Thistles by Elizabeth Hartman

I can't stand thistles. Well, specifically, I can't stand Scotch thistles, stickery, noxious, non-native weeds, that take over grazing areas if a rancher isn't diligent. Every spring and early summer Tom, and I, sometimes, are out and about on the Polaris, hoes at the ready.  An aside: I still remember when I taught The Good Earth how the line in the book about Wang Lung grabbing a hoe and going outside would get a good laugh from the Beavis and Butthead types in my class.

Chopping thistles is hard work, and Tom tries hard to get the Scotch thistle population under control while sparing native thistles which provide nesting material for our local birdies.

So let me say not all thistles are bad, but those Scotch thistles are.

A while back I made a Fancy Forest quilt designed by Elizabeth Hartman, and I loved making the thistle blocks. Fancy Forest doesn't have its binding on, so I will let you see that one another day.

But those thistle blocks seemed fun, so I used some random fabric here and there, with a  Moda Grunge Basics Olive Branch Green background, to make a kid-sized quilt. It's embarrassing to say that the top was completed over a year ago, but other projects were calling, so it waited. And waited, patiently. If they were real thistles, they would have proliferated one hundred fold!

Anyway, here's Fancy Thistles and thanks to Tom for holding it up. I like these thistles.

If you click to make the photo bigger you can see the quilting by Michael Siewert of ThreadBear in Las Vegas, NM. Love the leaves and vines pattern, so apt for the piecing.

Icing on the cake: This quilt won Second Place at the Colfax County Fair's quilt show for the small quilts, two makers, division.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Quilty Pleasures: Sew Together Bag

Well, Hello, Strangers!

I guess I'm the stranger because dang, where have I been?  Let's blame it on winter. I guess I just don't feel like I have enough to share with you, so why be lame and bore you?

But spring is finally here and the days are gorgeous.

I've been stacking wood.  Lots and lots of wood. It's good exercise, so don't feel sorry for me. This morning I started my fourth woodpile and  suspect there will be one more after Tom finishes splitting the logs he has cut.

But let's get to the cool stuff. I actually made something and finished it, too! Not finishing is a "Paralyzed Perfectionist" thing where lots of projects are almost, but not totally, completed.  It just might not be perfect, so that fear of completion is real. Right now there are four very cute quilts waiting for binding, and they'd be done! So lame, yessirree, but I am working on it.

The bag is called the Sew Together Bag, pattern by Sew Demented. The Chicken River Modern Quilters hosted a class at ThreadBear a couple weeks ago taught by the extremely patient and highly talented quiltist from Albuquerque, Becky Welch. The twenty students had a good day with several completing their bags right there in class. I had to take mine home to finish because, well, sewing machine problems.

So here are some photos of my completed bag. Every bag I've seen using this pattern is cute!

The fabric I used for the outside is from Windham fabrics and designed by Carrie Bloomston.

I think it's called Basket Weave. The main zipper is extra long, and the ends are anchored to the bag's base, so it acts as a handle.

Because the zipper is extra long, the bag opens wide.

I had so much fun choosing the zipper colors. I wanted them to be very "zingy." The blue lining fabric is Avantgarde designed by Katarina Roccella.

This will be my new traveling sewing kit. Check out the pocket lining. I can't remember who the designer is here. But I purchased all the fabric, the pattern and zippers at

If you look in the background of this photo you can see The Blessed Mother, keeping an eye on me. Who knows what trouble I might be getting into next?

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Making a Holzhausen Woodpile

Tom's been busy getting our wood cut and split for next winter. We are being efficient, which is how we do things here at the Nickel and Dime Ranch--not.

Normally we just wander around the place,  look for dead trees and downed branches, cut them up and that's it. The wood is dry and we're ready to go. This stuff is still resinous, smells like the wonderful pine it is, and will need to set awhile to be ready for next year.

We could have just pitched the split wood into a pile like this. It would have dried nicely just as it is since our humidity is sometimes as low as 6 percent. Here's an example of how dry it is here: Sometimes the wind blows so hard it sounds like an airport or like ocean waves on a crazy day. Miss Bonnie the cat must have had a traumatic weather incident and didn't want to use her litter box on the enclosed porch, so we recently found six small desiccated cat poops behind the closet door. No odor, hard as rocks. That's how dry it is here.

Anyway, my job is to stack this wood, and someone suggested a round woodpile. I did a little research and found several videos and articles about holzhausen, a German-style woodpile that looked pretty cool. So, why not?

The pile is about 8 feet across and I started with some wood to mark the circle.

Then I started going round the circle.

This reminds me of something prehistoric man would make. The center gets filled with wood, too, helping to stabilize the outer wood.

Here I am throwing wood into the center of the woodpile. It's good exercise, kind of like my own CrossFit gym.

As I build up the wall on the outside,  I add more wood to the middle.

It's kind of pretty, don't you think?

Ms. Pearl has had a day, so she needs to rest after all that supervision.  Next month will be her 13th birthday!

I suspect we have enough wood for more than one holzhausen, but we will see how this one goes before I commit to another one.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Northern New Mexico Winter, Where Wood Is All That

Since my blogging friends, like Guy and Diane, have been wondering where my blog posts are, here you go. I've been wondering the same thing myself and my only explanation is that I've become used to life here in Northern New Mexico and so you must be used to it, too.

Yes, this is misguided thinking on my part because there is always something new and I just needed to get out there and find it. And we have new stuff right here.

Like this pile of wood:

Since we arrived seven years ago this coming March, we've been gathering wood from the property, nothing alive, just dead and downed wood, and it's been enough to keep our home nice and cozy. We are running out of dead wood, though, and don't want to cut down any of our trees. So we called a local wood supplier who has a contract with the Forest Service to thin trees and he was glad to sell us this load of logs.

Tom has been busy cutting and splitting the logs. There are about six cords of wood there.

Ms. Pearl supervises.  She is good at that. Also sleeping on the couch. She's good at that, too.

The new steers, Regis and Phil (Bin) and Jimmies Fallon and Kimmel drop by to see what's going on.

They like to play the log rolling game. That's Jimmy Fallon. He has a bigger head than Jimmy Kimmel.

Tom gets the work done. Ms. Pearl's job is to look noble.

What's my job? I'll let you know next blog post.