Monday, June 20, 2016

Rain Equals Time in the Studio

We are having a fantastic summer in Alaska but we desperately need rain to abate the fire situation and we're are getting two days of it. Hopefully the sun will return tomorrow as forecast. 

Hard to believe, but I actually got my pillow shams loaded on my quilting frame and started quilting!!!


I do have one complaint...Superior Threads changed their pre-wound bobbins from cardboard to plastic. I have learned to pull off several yards of the thread from the new plastic bobbins because the thread was falling off the bobbin so readily it was jamming my machine. 


I'm to my favorite part of cross-stitch ornaments...adding the beads.


One more Jim Shore snowman ornament in the set to tackle. I'm so excited to see the new Sandra Cozzolino designs for 2016. Adorable! I love last year's Celtic Santas series. Impossible to choose my favorites but this year's Renaissance Santas are definitely in the running.


The Grizzly bear is still running around the neighborhood but this black bear has also been hanging around for the last three days. He likes to show up right when I'm first waking up...haven't even made my coffee and I'm dealing with bears! This is my neighbor's backyard. You might be able to see the gate they put on their deck stairs to keep the bears from coming up on their deck. Too many early morning wake-ups from bears trying to open their barbecue grill. 


And yesterday afternoon I came home from running errands to find evidence of the bear rummaging through my yard. He knocked over a mosquito magnet with a full bottle of propane...very heavy. Thankfully, I took Kinley with me to run my errands instead of leaving her in the dog run. 


My body needs a break from my big landscaping project. I did manage to buy plants for the tubs before the rain hit. Still have to buy all of the potting soil...hoping 40 large bags will be enough. And then of course I need to get rock ordered to complete the look. I'm getting my handyman to make some steps down the hillside. A big undertaking but when my husband got home from his trip a few days ago he loved it and I got the thumbs up to proceed.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Landscaping Begins

Our home sits on an acre. What a daunting task to start landscaping! I have one little area off our driveway that I threw together to add a little color. Notice one of the tubs is disturbed...Kinley decided to "dig out" what I had planted. It took her a matter of seconds to "un-plant." This has become an ongoing battle. She has un-planted for me at least four times.

This trend doesn't bode well as I begin my landscaping.


The hardest part is always trying to decide what to do. I'm starting in the back of our lot. Yesterday during my Jazzercise class an idea came to me about this drop from our driveway to the backyard.


I could spend a small fortune bringing in large boulders or even smaller rock to stabilize the edge of this slope...but with an acre to landscape I don't want to blow my budget so early in the project...and I want to have a uniqueness to my yard. I used these galvanized steel tubs at my last house to add flowers in my large rock beds. They are great to work with. I'm going over the top with this idea...a wall of tubs. Here's how far I got yesterday.


I'm hoping to finish placing the tubs today which means getting them all level and ready for anchoring in place with rebar. I need hubby to get home from a trip so he can take care of cutting and pounding the rebar inplace. I drilled drainage holes in the bottom of the tubs and the rebar should fit in those 1/2 holes. That is the plan. 

I'll still have to bring in some nice rock to finish it off but it gives me a fun...perhaps whimsical area to plant. I'm thinking about trying to go with small shrubs....maybe some decorative grass in the tubs. Can't wait to get to the "planting" stage. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Unwelcome Critters

We had a mouse invasion in our crawl space a few weeks ago and we are still cleaning up that space. Somehow this task fell mainly to me. You cannot imagine how disgusting this job has been!!! I have killed at least 20 mice using three different methods: sticky traps, snap traps and poison. Yesterday I pulled all of the insulation off the unfinished walls because the mice damaged all of it. Mouse excrement everywhere. Everything had to be pulled out of the space and cleaned. 

We found the entry point...a large hole in our garage around piping that was a mouse highway to our crawl space.

The end is in sight but it has taken countless hours to tackle this job.

We need a cat!!! I've been trying to find a Maine Coon cat. No breeders in Alaska and I'm having trouble getting a kitten when I do find a possible breeder. Frustrating! Every option pretty much would require me to fly somewhere and pick up the kitten. I don't mind doing that but traveling to and from Alaska during the high-tourist time is tough. Most summer flights are already full.

I'll keep you posted...someday I will find the perfect kitty.

So my spring cleaning has really taken most of my time...both in the crawl space and throughout the house..

Very little quilting the past few weeks

Too tired at night to even work on my Buscilla projects. 

About the only projects I have felt up to working on are cross stitch ornaments. No thinking...very little physical effort required. I always have "vintage" Sandra Cozzolino Santas to try and finish up. Her three new Santa designs have just been released. This year she made Renaissance Santas. They are fantastic and I've ordered the set...of course!

These two Santas complete the "Celestial Santas" set, "Terrestrial Santa" and " Lunar Santa."


Jim Shore has started releasing yearly sets of cross stitch ornaments. Two years ago I did his six Santas. Last year he did three Santas and three Snowmen. I have one snowman done, "Pinecone Snowman," I think this year's Jim Shore ornament designs will be released in July. I'm on a mission to get last year's designs done this summer.


I hope to get my quilt frame loaded today with the pillow shams. Came up with a quilting design. I tried to incorporate the design I did on the companion quilt but my skills have advanced in six years so I'm getting a little more intricate on the shams.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

A Little Studio Time

Six or seven years ago I made one of my favorite quilts. Here's the photo I took of the unquilted  top at a Breakfast Club show and tell session. Once finished, it became the primary quilt on our bed. It went to Paris with us.


I saved the scraps from this quilt, which were mostly a lot of HSTs. I had a plan. I needed pillow shams. I am getting closer. Pillow sham tops are pieced...just need to quilt them and get the final construction done. I'm making shams for square Euro pillows.


I've also been cleaning...the never ending job!!! I spent a few days refolding all of my yardage. I could make a lot of quilts by just picking from my existing stash. This doesn't include my fat quarters or other precut fabrics. Still working to clean other areas of my sewing space...


Can't do a summer post without a "critter shot." This is "Great Scott." I photograph him a lot...his antlers will be huge when the leaves start changing for fall. Kinley and I had just missed him when we were on our walk a couple of days ago. Our house is to the left. I got this photo as I pulled out of our driveway.


We did do a little traveling over Memorial Day weekend. We had a wedding to attend in Napa Valley and we also took some time to visit Bodega Bay on the coast. Awesome little break. I was very remiss and didn't get any photos. That means we have to go back! Beautiful scenery, great weather and all out flights were on time and uneventful.  

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Yes...More Bear Photos!

Last summer I didn't get any bear photos...here's the bear I did see twice on my walks last fall...just never got a photo of her...I was too busy worrying about whether she was going to charge me (to eat me) or let me go. She let me go.


She's spending a lot of time roaming the area. Lots of people are taking her picture. My husband says she's an old lady. ..a scrawny old lady. My neighbor had her in his yard and when she headed to our yard he called. Thank goodness Kinley was inside.


I forgot about this photo from at least two weeks ago. Lots of moose around also. This was taken across the street from my house.


Saturday and today I have been on a mission to finish this scrappy quilt. All pieces were left over from my most recent Breakfast Club project. I don't use up my scraps often enough but there were so many in this case I just had to do something with them. This is a pretty good size for a lap quilt, 37 x 58 inches. I'm calling it the "More-on Quilt"...because I just kept adding more on....


And I also tackled another scrap project I've been meaning to finish for about eight years...really!!! I even took it to Paris but all I got done there was trimming all of the half square triangles.  There are a ton of HSTs that I would like to turn into pillow shams to use with the large quilt the HST's came from....it's a quilt I use regularly on our bed.


These pinwheels will finish at 5 1/2-inches. I have forty to make with the scraps I have...then I will have to figure out the settings and borders. I think little projects take just as long as king-sized quilts when it comes to figuring out what to do. Of course the quilting we be nice and quick.

McKinley turns a year old in just a few more days. Notice the bear bell on her collar...rather important lately! The best part of being back in Alaska is having a dog. I reallllllllly missed having a dog for three years.


She is super sweet!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Bears...and More Bears

Last night about 10 o'clock, my neighbor took this photo from her deck. I believe I have encountered this bear before...last fall. It was very scary but he was not aggressive toward me at all. I knew he was back in the hood...he had been spotted several times by others the last few weeks.


Neighbors across the street have a trail cam that captured these shots. Sure hope this is the same bear and there aren't two of these hanging around!!!


And check this out...a Black Bear Festival!!!


The street I live on is called Bear Ridge Circle...very appropriate name. I wore a gun strapped to my hip yesterday the entire hour I spent working around my yard. I'm trying very hard to get used to having it with me.

In the meantime...I will try and get some quilting done between bear sightings. I have a very complicated BOM I want to quilt this month.


Monday, May 2, 2016

Tips

I have a few things to share. First...I read this Kindle book while I ate lunch the other day. I highly recommend it for anyone thinking about getting a longarm or even a midarm (which is what I have.)


I have struggled for many years to get the hang of using my machine. I barely touched it the first two years I owned it. Then I got motivated. I called the manufacturer and they recommended some DVDs made for my machine...it was just what I needed to get going.  There is so much to learn and it is so expensive: thread, bobbin winder, templates, pre-wound bobbins, machine needles, batting, marking pens....it all adds up and is different stuff than you use with your domestic sewing machine. 

Handling an longarm is a physically demanding job. You are standing the whole time. Bending over when pinning the layers to the frame. Often guiding the machine with one hand while the other holds a template. It ain't so easy!!!

And the most challenging part is figuring out what design to stitch. At one point I considered selling my midarm and just paying for someone else to quilt my tops.

I'm glad I kept working through all my issues. It has been eight years and just one year ago I made a big leap in my knowledge and ability...which for me came from experience. Of course there were many obstacles in my life that kept me away from quilting for several months at a time...and just like the book pointed out...it isn't like riding a bicycle.

Next is a fabric organizing tip I got from our Breakfast Club leader, Marcia. Here's one of my fabric cubes. I try to fold the yardage the same size but as you can see...I'm a bit off!


So simple...can't believe I didn't think of this. Use an acrylic ruler to wrap the fabric around...just like fabric companies wind it onto a bolt.


In my case, the storage cube is about 13 inches wide so a six-inch acrylic ruler that I had in my stash of rulers was perfect for this job. Pull the ruler out after all the fabric is rolled into place...


And fold in half.


The same cube with my re-folded pieces...I had trouble fitting 3 of the pieces back in but I'm thinking maybe the stacks will settle down and  I can fit them in later. It took me 40 minutes to refold the fabrics in this cube. I didn't need to re-iron so it could have been worse I suppose. It will take me some time to get to my entire stash but it will be worth it. Fabric pieces must be at least a yard in length to make the cube The bonus...getting a new look at my fabrics. Lots of good stuff here!