Monday, August 12, 2019

Crazy Summer of 2019

Hot....I am so hot! Not right! This is Alaska.

There will be more whining about weather through out this post.

Less than two weeks after our summer guests left we had a septic issue. We all assumed it would be related to the earthquake but turns out is was improper installation...which would explain a few problems from the moment we moved into the house. 

Miraculously, my landscaping from last summer was not sacrificed.
 A hole at least 12 feet deep came within inches of my rock work. 

I always have new landscaping projects but this year I am using the rocks in my yard instead of importing them from a quarry. Below is an area at the entrance of our driveway. Lots of snow and gravel gets pushed around this area in the winter time so I am keeping that in mind as I work.

I am planting perennials and ferns I have transplanted from other parts of my yard. 

Below is a close up of the round rocks I've been trying to layout to mimic a flowing stream. I'm going to try filling with a sand used in patio work that you wet and it turns into a grout. I'll let you know how that goes.

We had one more adventure planned for this summer, a trip to Washington state to pickup the tools my son inherited from my dad. My husband drove his truck down to Seattle where he picked me up at the airport. The next morning we bought a trailer and loaded up all the tools. My parents home is in Randle, Washington, a remote logging town. We didn't have any luck hiring strong men to help us but hubby and I did it! 

It was the first time I had ridden on the Alcan Highway. I think it will be my one and only time. Gorgeous scenery every bit of the way but roads, especially in Alaska, were rough.

It took us four days with 15 hours on the road for three of those days. We had to get home so my husband could get to work so no time to site-see. Below is a fun sign at a gas station in Kitwanga, British Columbia. 

It is 2,363 miles from Randle, Washington to our home in Eagle River, Alaska.

I didn't do any of the driving since our heavy trailer intimidated me too much to offer to share that responsibility. I did bring a small quilt for some handquilting.  I got almost half of the white stitching done. 

I got all of the cross stitching done on a South American Santa ornament.

Once home, it was back to the heat.

Normally...August is a cool, rainy month. This August the temperatures are near 80 most days with lots of sunshine. I do hate to complain but my garden is absolutely exploding. I was gone 6 days. I tried to harvest everything that was ripe before I left but I came home to a squash explosion. I made four loaves of zucchini bread before I left town. 

More bread and other recipes in my future.

And though some of my potted plants are fried from all the heat, the liatris or gay feather, in my perennial garden is doing better than ever. Usually it is September when it finally starts blooming and I am always worrying a killing frost will take it before I can enjoy it. 

Before our road trip, I  finished the stocking front for Snow Princess 

and got started on the Snowman Family 3-D Project. 

Just no time for quilting with all this hot weather. If I'm not watering plants I am harvesting, trimming or cooking food for the freezer. At some point I would like to get educated about dehydrators but that will have to be a winter project. 

Sunday, July 21, 2019

A Little of Everything

We finished our tourist trip with a couple of days in Whittier. We did a glacier tour of Prince William Sound. Below is a photo of Surprise Glacier. The glacier does a lot of calving so that is how it got its name and it did give us a nice little show.

The next day we went on a halibut fishing charter with Crazy Rays. There were 12 of us on the boat and 11 of us brought home a halibut. I was the last one to get mine and it was a biggie, 90 to 100 pounds.

No way could I pick up this sucker. The boat had rod holders but I still needed my husband to hold the rod in place while I used both hands to reel. The fish was 400 feet below the boat. It took forever to reel it was much more difficult than I thought it would be.

We have been breaking a lot of records for high temperatures this summer. It has been a real chore to keep everything watered. I did some artichokes as ornamental plants in pots. They are doing great. 

My garden is out of control but in a good way!

Not sure if I will do zucchini and yellow squash again. The plants get so big and my husband doesn't care for them.

Harvested a batch of squashes and some beets.
 We had zucchini noodles with our marinara sauce last night. I liked it more than hubby.

Tonight I am making a salad that has some spiral zucchini in it. 
I know hubby likes zucchini in that recipe. 

I could share of ton beautiful flower pictures...they all look so great this summer.

Despite all the wonderful hot and sunny weather, I have spent time on some handwork pieces. 

Making great progress on a Plaid Bucilla stocking, "Snow Princess."

Finished a Jim Shore snowman ornament, " Snowman with Lights."

Added the border to the second quilt top, "Spumoni Spin."

And I got a few of my older Bucilla stockings lined with cotton Christmas fabrics. I learned this technique through a Bucilla Facebook group. This extra lining process really adds nice body to the finished stocking.

It is always good to write a blog post and see that I really have gotten some projects done.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Bear Viewing at Brooks Falls

It is fun to be a tourist in our home state of Alaska. 
My husband came up with a full itinerary when friends from Texas
 scheduled their vacation with us last winter. 

Hubby is a commercial airline pilot but he also has two small airplanes.
 Our first adventure was only accessible via a float plane so good thing we have one of those. 

We went to Brooks Falls in the Katmai National Park and Preserve. 
We were on the early side of the season for major numbers of bears fishing at the falls but we saw
 25 different bears throughout our day.

There are a series of raised walking paths and viewing platforms as you make your way to the main platform at the falls. It seemed like every step we took brought a bear into view. Here is a sow with her two-year-old set of three cubs.  

A bit of a better view when we got to the first platform.

There were parts of the walk through ground level wooded areas which was very unnerving to me. We saw this sow with her cubs taking a nap within 10 feet of the main trail. Yipes...I couldn't believe Mama Bear didn't rip our heads off but she was fine with all the traffic. There were no barriers protecting people from the trails bears use to walk around the area.  Park rangers where sometimes present to keep people quiet and moving. I felt extremely vulnerable.

We had to get on a waiting list to access the main viewing platform at the falls.
While waiting, we squeezed our way onto the viewing platform below the falls and saw plenty of action. The younger bears who aren't ready to take on the mature bears at the falls are the ones we watched in this area.

Step one was to rip all the skin off the salmon.
The bears all ate the skin and then left the rest of the salmon for the birds.

Below, this young bear was so entertaining. He ran all over the area.

We saw him again when we finally made it to the platform at the falls.

Right at the base of the falls were these two large bears who knew right where to sit and catch salmon without moving much.

We waited an hour-and-a-half for our turn on the main viewing platform and then had 30 minutes to hang there. We left after about 15 minutes as the action seemed to hit a lull.

But there was lots of action as we walked back to the main park ranger camp.  There were eight of us on the trail when we went around a bend in the path and saw a young male bear walking toward us. We tried walking into the woods off the trail but he started to follow us.

No park ranger in sight, We did have a canister of bear spray.
The bear wasn't aggressive but he was more than just curious.

So we raised our hands and started saying forcefully that the bear should leave. We didn't yell but spoke confidently. The bear watched us for a while (which seemed like an eternity), then turned and walked into the woods.

We were headed toward the lagoon where all the float planes park on the beach. Problem...Mama Bear on the beach with two cubs born this season. We didn't go anywhere for 40 minutes. The park rangers stopped everyone from going to the float planes.

On of my sons worked for a float plane operation out of Anchorage for two summers and he warned us this happens pretty often. The park rangers try to give the bears time to move on their schedule...not people schedules.

When the Mama Bear finally decided to leave the beach she headed directly toward us. We were right outside the visitors' center. We went inside to wait for her next move. She sat right outside one of the center's windows. The screen makes the photo a little odd but that's how close she was. 

From there she headed back to the beach and finally went far enough away for us to get to the airplane and leave quickly.

It is a very full day to fly back and forth from Anchorage to Brooks Fall so we spent two nights at Port Alsworth in first class accommodations, Wilder B & B. Really, it was half of a duplex we had to ourselves with a full kitchen stocked with breakfast making options. We even had WiFi...amazing. There is only cell phone reception for Verizon due to a local communications company that has a monopoly on the wilderness areas of Alaska. No AT&T  service which is what all of us on the trip had. We did carry a satellite phone which is a great safety tool to have when flying around the state.

There are no grocery stores of restaurants in Port Alsworth. There is a coffee stand where you buy aviation fuel. We packed in all our food and took advantage of the excellent propane grill at the B&B.

Our cabin sat on the edge of a large gravel runway. All the fuel for this town must be flown in as there is not a road, railway or water access for shipping. We watched the Everts fuel airplane landing the morning we left. This plane has been on several reality tv shows that feature living in Alaska.

Time to leave our sweet cabin.

This is our Cessna 185 that took us on our grand adventure. Prepping it to take off for Anchorage and our next adventures that will also be on the water. 

You can view the bears at the falls live via this Bear Cam link.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Flowers, Flimsy and a Finish

I'm getting a big kick out of the progress my perennial flower bed has made this season. I think this is the third year for most of the plants. 

Finished this flimsy. This border came together pretty quickly with the help of a rainy day.

And I finished cross stitching a snowman ornament, a Jim Shore design.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Morning Visitor

About 7:30 this morning...this critter came to call.

He didn’t seem to mind the dogs barking hysterically at him nor was he bothered by my presence. 

Friday, June 7, 2019

Simplifying a Quilt Design and Gardening

I thought I'd start with some quilting news...
that just hasn't been in the forefront of my activities for some time.  

I thought the "knot" border was going to be great for the scrappy top center I finished a few weeks ago but it is very time consuming to make those blocks and I was going to need 148 of them for two quilts. After two weeks of stitching a few minutes a day I have 16 done. Not enthused about making these blocks the entire summer.

So I took the time to make a mock up of the completed design using the Electric Quilt program.

It's a lovely border but after seeing it I didn't think it really worked with my center design. I also noticed it made the quilt pretty large, 84 x 100-inches.

After stewing on the design for a day, I dedicated some time to playing with EQ and here is my new plan for the border. 

I love this border idea...which I think is an original. I haven't seen it before so I'm taking credit for this discovery. Still a large quilt, 80 x 96-inches but this border should be much quicker to sew together.

Now back to what I have really been spending most of my time doing...extreme gardening. 

The sun has finally been making a regular daily appearance. But new this year are afternoon thunderstorms. Every afternoon for almost a week, gray clouds line up on one side of our mountain valley and make a lot of racket. Below is the road I turn off to my driveway. This is my regular dog walking view. Yucky gray clouds to the left.

My latest project is the entrance to my driveway. Clearing out brush right now and hoping to get a rock garden started.

I got my veggies planted last week. Lots of broccoli! 

And every year I have to share pictures of my Blue Himalayan Poppies. If these weren't expensive plants I would have them everywhere! 

We've seen lots of critters. I saw this small black bear on my way to workout one morning. 


Most of the critters are pretty camera shy.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

May Projects

In the evenings and maybe an hour in the mornings, I have been working on a few crafty projects. 

I have finished the stocking front from the Plaid Bucilla kit, "Santa Says Hello." This is a design from Mary Engelbreit which means it has a bit more challenging work that the norm for these kits.

I really like making stocking kits as they seem to come together so quickly.


I have been steadily working on the scrappy set of twin quilts. 

After sewing a few cream strips together to make the first small border on both quilts I decided that just wasn't going to work so have started changing my plan. 

I am "Bonnie Hunter-ing" my design. If you've ever made one of her mysteries you can appreciate how truly scrappy she approaches her designs. I've made one of her mysteries and I think it is influencing my take on this project.

So the first step of ripping off the cream strips and adding a border of  2 1/2-inch squares has been done on one quilt. 

Making the blocks for the second border is probably going to take me all summer!!!

I am going with a teal batik border. The batik print I ordered just didn't make me happy for the border and after much searching on the internet, I gave up trying to find the "Spumoni" Bali pop set from many years ago. At least the teal Hoffman 1895 batik is still available.

I did a mock-up first with my scrappy 1 3/4-inch HSTs from the quilt tops. Everything is always more cute in smaller sizes. 

I started working on a cross stitch project and found this pattern in my bag that I bought while in Wichita Falls, TX, at an adorable quilt shop, The Enchanted Quilt. They only had a few bolts of batik fabrics but I did find this pattern which I thought would look great with a reversal of values...white bunnies on a dark background. Our rabbits turn white in the winter and brown in the summer. 

Several quilts by this designer graced the walls the quilt shop. 
I had not seen her patterns before. Very cute stuff!