Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rambling On, Again

I've been working diligently on my aunt's quilt and all the blocks are done -- I said D-O-N-E!   Now to do whatever squaring up is needed before stitching them together.   
This is the how they'll be laid out but all the way to king sized, hence the 55 twelve-inch blocks.  Gonna be a honking big quilt.   I'm loving how the colors look.  From a distance, the tan looks like a solid but it has tiny white, irregular dots on it and it looks wonderful.  I'm thinking of quilting in a pattern that has lots of curves and loops to help soften the angles.  And I'm also looking at a variegated blue/green/gold thread to give it some highlights.  

It has been very cold here the last two nights --  25 and pretty calm last night and 27 the night before with winds up to about 20 mph.  That's nasty cold weather for us Floridians.   We even make the birdies go ice skating once in a while.  

All my plants are in the garden house, but one of them that had been damaged earlier bit the dust.  It is a rather delicate plant anyway.     Plectranthus (Mona Lavendar)  They are very easy to grow and are easy to propagate from stems, so it's only necessary to buy one in the early spring.  Had I brought the plant into the garage, it might have survived, since the garage is warmer than the garden house.  There's no insulation in the garden house.  :(  

This kind of weather, while not totally uncommon for us, is not the norm.  And we've had two rounds of really cold weather already this year.  Now, I'm ready for our normal stuff!!   I was out and about today and, although the thermometer said only about 50 degrees, it was beautiful.  I took my jacket off for a lot of the time because the sun was very warm and there was no wind.  
We have many little birds visiting us every day.  There's usually a flock of chipping sparrows and more goldfinches are arriving by the day. 
Some days they share the feeders and some days not.  
Last week while on our birding outing to Blackwater, I noticed this hornet nest hanging from tiny branches of a tree.  We were stopping to check a swamp area for wood ducks and as I got out of the car, there it was.  The late afternoon light wasn't wonderful for picture taking, though.    That was the longest birding day for me in the forest.  Birdlady friend picked me up at 7:30 and dropped me back home at 6 p.m.   And we had a fabulous day, including a look at a flock of snow geese flying overhead.  
These little guys amuse me to no end, but they can be really obnoxious.  At least this shot caught him eating an acorn, for crying out loud, instead of my birdseeds!  

Daily we have many, many birds in our yard.  Just in this picture which represents about a 15 foot wide span, there were 5 cardinals and a chipping sparrow. 

Today I bought food for them, and while spending a bunch didn't get everything that will be needed very soon.  They eat very well, however.  And I even bought peanuts today for the squirrels in hopes of luring them away from the feeders.  

Our Christmas was very low key and spent here at home.   I wish all of you a wonderful New Year filled with good health, peace and happiness. 

Y'all take care.  

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Wish

As I sit here on this rainy Christmas morning, I am so thankful for all the good things in my life.  And one of those things is the chance to share a bit of my life with you, my cyber friends.  My Christmas wish for all of you is peace, love, good health and happiness.

Merry Christmas!!  

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Birds and Blocks

Looking back, it seems I get around to a new post about once a week or so.  It isn't planned that way.  It just happens. 

I have to tell you about an exciting adventure while birding last week. We were ostensibly looking for ducks on this outing, so we headed toward a lake up in Blackwater forest.  Not a duck in sight -- well, one  female bufflehead, but that was all.  

HOWEVER -- as we were watching the cormorants fishing, a bald eagle flew over.  That's not uncommon for our area, but it was noted.  A few minutes later a second one appeared, this one a juvenile.  Again, nothing uncommon.   Then a few minutes later, the most amazing thing occurred!!  Within less than five minutes, there were seven (yes, 7) baldies circling around overhead and skirmishing. Two adults and five juveniles.  Now that was truly an amazing sight for our part of the world.   I think one of the adults wanted to teach a juvenile the meaning of boundaries, so it attacked the youngster.    They were way too far away for my camera to capture much of them, but they were truly magnificent to watch.  

Our outing yesterday was unremarkable in both variety and quantity.  Birdlady friend called this morning very excited.  A red throated loon was in the sound behind her house and since it is a rare bird for this part of the country, she wanted me to come over to see it.  I went, but didn't get there before it had already moved on.  However, we spent an hour or so moving down the beach trying to find it.  No luck, but saw lots of brown pelicans, jillions of buffleheads and lots of common loons, along with the regular sea gulls, terns and such.  That's the thing about birding -- you just have to be at the right place at the right time.  You can improve your odds sometimes, but ultimately it all comes down to luck.  

I've started on my aunt's quilt, only to discover that I really dislike one of the fabrics I had chosen.  It's a nice fabric but it just didn't work with the others.  So I spent a couple of days thinking and figuring a new arrangement.  I'm winding up using the same pattern, but using only two fabrics in the quilt instead of three.  I think it's going to turn out well.  Here are the blocks which will be arranged alternately to make a king sized quilt. 

Thank goodness I had bought a considerable amount of extra fabric or I wouldn't have enough.  I'm scrimping even now to make sure I have enough.  My thought is to have the quilting done in a curvy, floral so as to soften up the lines.  And use a green/blue variegated thread.

Our weather has been so strange.  Right now its in the mid 60's outside at 10 p.m. However, I took my plants out of the garden house only today after having them there for the past several nights because of below freezing temps.  Hopefully there will be some rain tonight.  But, they'll have to go back in tomorrow afternoon because we're expecting temps down into the mid 20's for the next three nights.  Then back up again.  It's hard to deal with this stuff when the temps fluctuate so much.  I hate to leave them in there so much due to the lack of light, but it's too much to haul them in and out every day.  Sometimes we just open the double doors and let the morning sun shine in on them, and then close the doors later in the day.  

A few weeks back when Birdlady arrived to pick me up for one of our outings, this is what greeted her at the front stoop.  

See?   It doesn't take much to please me sometimes!!! 

That same day, she drove me by this tree stump that had been transformed by the ranch owner. 

Y'all take care. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Quilts, Quilts and more Quilts!!

Have you ever tried to explain the quilting process to someone who has no idea?  Hubby came into my sewing room today and saw that I was starting on a king sized quilt for my aunt.  Hubby's simple questions was:  "How do you get it put together?"  First, there was the explanation of picking the design, then figuring the pieces and how many is needed of each, and then how many strips to cut and the need for absolute accuracy at this point, 'cause there ain't no going back if you get it wrong!!   Then, his question was "but, how do you get them together"?  So, I took a couple of pieces and showed him how it was done (at least in theory for him).  And again the question, "but how do you get the blocks together?"  So I explained that to him.  And again the question, "but how do you sew the blocks together?" So, I took my quilt diagram and tried to explain how you sew blocks together to make rows and then sew rows together to make larger sections (if necessary) and then sew the larger sections together so that you handle the whole top as little as possible.    And then the question, "but what does the lady you take them to do with them?"   That entailed an explanation of the sandwiching of the layers and the quilting.  Since I have some pieces trimmed from the last two quilts, he is able to see what I'm talking about there.  He's not known for visualizing things -- he needs a picture!  

He's never wondered about my quilting this much before and I've been quilting for seven years, here in the same house.  Hmmm... what is on that boy's mind??     

 When I saw one of my aunts a couple of months ago, she asked "Would you make me a quilt?"     I was flattered tremendously and immediately said yes.   Then, she sweetly added "but it'll need to be king sized"!!!!!   I could have backed out I guess, but she's very dear to me, so I figured I could press on with this project.   She assured me that she expected to pay for it, but we'll see how much of it I allow her to pay.    I have only two aunts remaining, my mother's younger sisters.  One is 88 and I made this little lap quilt for her birthday back in February.  She has always made quilts (including one specifically for me using Hawaiian prints) and crocheted beautifully, so I figured it was time for somebody to make a quilt for her.  She was totally delighted when she opened the box and realized what it was.  

And here's a picture of the two sisters. 

This new quilt is the younger one (82 yrs old, in the black).  Both these ladies are very special to me.  Neither had children for years so I was their substitute child until I was about 13 or so.  Then they both adopted children and I got booted from my preferred status!!    However, up until then I spent lots of time with them, being spoiled rotten and being allowed to do things I never would have gotten away with at home!  

I delivered my brother's quilt to him yesterday, on his birthday.  He was thrilled and grinned ear to ear.  Here's the finished product and I'm sufficiently proud of it, mostly because he was so happy to receive it and appreciated the amount of work that went into making it.  (Its about queen sized.)

Projects like these keep me quilting. 

Y'all take care.