Monday, August 14, 2017

Big Bear + Little Bear Quilt - Finished!

Honestly I've had so many family members adding babies to their families this year!  Three cousins this summer alone!
Big Bear + Little Bear Quilt
Thompson Pass, Alaska
the wind was blowing the quilt against Jeff, but he was happy to have his feet/legs hidden...
After my cousin Erin announced her pregnancy, her mom started pinning ideas for baby quilts incorporating some Native American designs (part of baby's heritage).  When I saw that, I knew that I had the perfect fabric for a baby quilt for her!  And click here to see the quilt that my aunt Loretta made for her new granddaughter!
I dd not use the totem pole fabric in this quilt.
I had purchased this Big Bear Little Bear fabric through Massdrop about a year and a half ago because my director at the time was expecting (you can see that finished quilt here).  I had plenty of fabric left over, plus some other pieces I had ordered, so I just had to find a good layout.

I looked on Pinterest for a Plus Quilt, and found this FREE pattern from For the Love of George (link here to show her some love).  I downloaded the pattern which was very easy to use and following it produced this lovely little quilt!  I didn't have enough of each color to follow the pattern exactly, but I was able to fill in (mainly around the edges) with other fabrics.  Honestly, there might be 15 or 16 different fabrics there...

Some things I really liked about this pattern:  She tells you where to place your fabrics, depending on how many different ones you have, and is very specific on how much fabric you need what sizes to cut, etc.  Also, she has a coloring page if you want to create your own design.  AND she has this pattern for queen size.  I just might end up using that...

Worthington Glacier
I did add a brown border on the outside, the same color as my binding, because I knew I would be long-arm quilting it on my friend's machine.  From the first time I used her machine I learned that it is helpful to have a border on the quilt for long-arm quilting; if nothing else, it allows a bit that you can cut off when you trim it.  Plus, I do like the look of a wide binding, and this border gives that allusion.
Mile 61(ish) of the Richardson Highway, facing North.
For the back I purchased more of the Kona solid brown (I think it's Chocolate) but I didn't buy enough!  As I was making the backing (the day before going to my friend's to quilt it), I realized that I didn't have enough fabric to make the backing as big as one should for long-arm quilting.  Luckily, I did have a piece in my stash that worked well.  It's a fabric that looks like old world maps.  The color was perfect and you can even find the US on it (including Alaska).
bad photo, but you get the point...
the all-over quilting pattern is hearts, and about 1/4 of the hearts have a swirl coming off of them
I think that swirl looks like the heart is flexing; be strong baby Ellie!
The quilt got to my cousin's house prior to baby's arrival, so we had time to chat a bit about it (I love that texting exists!).  I was so happy to hear that they liked the quilt!  I've been able to see pics of my newest cousin, who has now arrived, and has the adorable name Ellie!  Oh, I love it!  Enjoy your quilt, Ellie!  Make sure your momma introduces us before you're super big!

I called this the Big Bear + Little Bear Quilt, to incorporate both the name of the fabric and the name of the pattern.
Worthington Glacier
Big Bear + Little Bear is my seventh quilty finish of 2017.  Whew!  :-)

Linking up to:
Moving it Forward
Main Crush Monday
Love Laugh Quilt
Funky Polkadot Giraffe
Freemotion by the River

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Farm Fun Barn Quilt - Finished!

I wish I had the space for a big huge fabric stash like I've seen on Instagram (and the funds necessary!), but I don't.  Which is totally fine!  That means that I know what fabric I do have!  Which means when I found out that my cousin Daniel, and his wife, Bethany, were expecting again, I knew that I had the perfect fabric for a quilt for the new baby!
Horsetail Falls
After making the Farm Fun Quilt for my cousin Sarah's baby, I had plenty of fabric left over.  Farm Fun for another farm family?  Yes Please!  Plus, since Sarah and Daniel are siblings, their children are cousins, and the cousins would have coordinating quilts!  Yeay!

I wanted to try a new quilt pattern for this quilt, and since the fabric was already 10x10" square, I decided to try my hand at (what looks to me like) a barn quilt!  I cut the squares in half and arranged the triangles so that the darker colors were inside with the lighter outside, and a great green blender to fill in and show off the design.
no green blender added yet
I like to use my design wall to test out patterns before sewing pieces together.
With that completed, I knew that I wanted to make a rectangle, not a square quilt, so I used pieces from the jelly roll (2 1/2 inch strips) on the top and bottom.  It reminds me of the quasi-athletic look that was big in the late 90's and I love it!
Thompson Pass
Hopefully Baby (and big brother Luke) will enjoy the quilt, especially finding all the fun farm things in the fabric, like the eggs, tractors, chicken wire, milk, etc...

Farm Fun Barn Quilt is my sixth quilty finish of 2017.
mile 61(ish) of the Richardson Highway

Linking Up:
Kathy's Quilts
Love Laugh Quilt
Moving It Forward
Main Crush Monday
Funky Polkadot Giraffe
Freemotion by the River

Monday, August 7, 2017

Little Prairie Rose Quilt - Finished!

Generally when I make a quilt, I have a recipient in mind.  That was not the case for this Little Prairie Rose Quilt.
Mile 61(ish) of the Richardson Highway
Way back in 2013 I had purchased fabric for a Pinterest project that I started and didn't finish.  The quilt shop cut it into 2 1/2 inch strips, as per the instructions.  I got as far as ironing them folded in half and sewing some of them.  Then, nothing...
The fabric came with us to Alaska, and I decided that the best way to use it was to take out the stitching and iron the strips flat make a Jelly Roll Race quilt top.

Once the quilt top was finished and I was looking for fabric to use as a backing, I pulled fabric that I had purchased at Joann's.  Usually I don't just buy fabric, I usually have a plan if I'm buying fabric.  But I liked the vintage look and I really like sheet music, so purchased 2 yards.  Lucky I did, so that I would have it for a backing.
hanging on our (empty) woodshed

As I was making my sister's Meow or Never Quilt, I was implementing the Leader/Ender process, which I had learned about on my aunt Loretta's blog, and you can read about here.  By sewing pieces of fabric together as I was in between Meow or Never sewing, I was able to quickly and easily sew up this one!  In fact, I had the quilt top pieced by the beginning of April!
Thompson Pass
After our trip to the states, and in amongst other sewing, I was able to sandwich and quilt the Little Prairie Rose Quilt.  I decided to stitch in the ditch, and I used the blind stitch foot to do it because that little piece of vertical metal went right in the ditch and (mostly) kept me on the right path!

After the top was made, I thought it would be super cute with some doilies added.  There's a quilt on Pinterest, all gray with white doilies, that I LOVE.  I'm so glad I had the opportunity to add doilies (decor from our wedding) to the Little Prairie Rose Quilt.

Well, the fabric reminds me of Little House on the Prairie, it has roses in it, and one of the song titles on the backing fabric is "The Meaning of a Rose."  Hence the quilt name, Little Prairie Rose.  :-)

The Little Prairie Rose Quilt is my fifth quilty finish of 2017.

And here's something I've never done before...  I'm going to try to sell this quilt...  I got some pricing advice from a local quilting friend who sells her quilts.  Now I just have to be gutsy enough to try...

Linking Up:
Funky Polkadot Giraffe
Freemotion by the River
Sew Fresh Quilts
Kathy's Quilts
Love Laugh Quilt
Moving It Forward
Main Crush Monday

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Little Kitty Quilt - Finished!

You know how sometimes you have various fabrics that you acquired at different times throughout the years, from different places in different ways?  Isn't it great when those fabrics come together to make something super cute like this Little Kitty Quilt!

The solids were part of a bundle that I won back in December 2014.  The kitty fabric and one of the binding fabrics were from two different Mystery Bundles that I bought over Instagram, and the backing fabric (which also made part of the binding) was fabric that I bought way back in time when we were living in Wisconsin (before I even owned a sewing machine).

This quilt started coming together, conceptually anyway, last fall.  I'd loved the kitty fabric ever since I received it in August 2015.  I cut the solids soon after I received my QuiltCut2 in August 2016.  But the plan for the quilt wasn't complete until I found out about my cousin Marcos Alan's upcoming bundle of joy!  When my mom told me that he was expecting a daughter, I knew that I wanted to make a baby quilt for him using this kitty fabric.

Oh, yeah, the kitty fabric is from Dear Little World by Quilt Gate.

I was happy to use my design wall to help with layout decisions.  Since I'd already cut up all the solid fabrics, and didn't want them touching (they didn't quite "go"), I was limited on my layout options.  I quickly became apparent that this was gonna be a very small quilt and that the layout decision would be quite important.
wider than the final layout
also, click on any of the pics to make them bigger if you want to see details

With the layout decision made, the quilt came together quickly, quilted on my itty bitty beginner's machine, using 4 different thread colors since there were 4 different solids in the quilt.
all threads I already owned!

Only the center is quilted in both directions.  The corners are quilted only in one direction.  Not sure if that makes sense, but I went with it and liked it.

One beautifully sunny evening Jeff helped with photos.  I love how the quilt looks with the fireweed!  I do wish I had taken some photos when it wasn't in full sun, but it's a lesson for another time.

Another lesson - it would have looked better, and I had enough solid fabrics, if I had left out the lightest pink.  But oh it was my favorite of the pinks!  So even though that lightest pink solid washes out in photos, I just love it in person.  And isn't "in person" the most important!
Jeff was happy that you couldn't see his feet...

Good luck & Congratulations, Marcos Alan, on your expanding family!

The Little Kitty Quilt is my fourth quilty finish of 2017.

Linking Up:
Funky Polkadot Giraffe
Freemotion by the River
Sew Fresh Quilts
Kathy's Quilts
Moving It Forward
Main Crush Monday

Thursday, August 3, 2017

July 2017 - gardening in Alaska

Everyone is talking about what a weird gardening year it is.  It's the end of July (okay, beginning of August), and there is not a local tomato to be had.  Anyone who's had success in growing tomatoes this year is hording them because they don't have very many.  Many experienced gardeners have pulled out their tomato plants (some more than once) and started over or given up completely on 2017.  And tomatoes haven't been the only lack-luster crop this year.

It sure makes me feel better about my garden.  It's definitely not as successful as last year's garden, but I'm not sure if that's because we had more planted last year, or if it's because of the cold start to the summer, or because we don't have the high tunnel buttoned up tight like we did last year.

So far this year we've had lettuce, zucchini, and sugar peas.  While I had visions of bumper crops in my head, the royal burgundy beans (basically green beans, but purple), are very slowly growing their beans (4 days and still only an inch long!), while the yardlong beans, a runner, are less than a foot tall.

The carrots are looking good on top, but who's to say what's going on under the soil?  According to the packages, they should be ready mid-August, but the last one I pulled "just to check" was still just a fat root.  I planted 4 envelopes of carrot seeds; I really want them to grow!  Last year I had people tell me that if I had extra carrots, they would take them.  If even half of the carrot tops have good carrots attached, I will definitely have enough to sell.

I still have just the one pepper on the 2 pepper plants that I bought, and none of the pepper seeds that I planted had the courtesy to sprout.  If that one pepper grows to full size, it will be the most expensive one I've ever eaten = a $9 pepper!

The squash plants are stunted and I feel like they haven't made any progress in a couple weeks, no matter the fact that they look like they have new growth in their centers at all times.  What I've figured out, based on the squash and last year's results, is that I need to NOT plant at the outside edges of the high tunnel.  Three of the big beds use the high tunnel as one of their sides.  Next year I need to pull the soil in, have the high tunnel side of the beds be a walking path, and maybe something will grow?
according to the package info, the squash plants should be mature NOW!
After impatiently waiting for more than a week, the zucchini plants finally started putting out male flowers.  This after I twice harvested baby zucchinis to saute up.  I've heard from so many other people that their plants started with female flowers only, so I was very happy when the male flowers opened!  Now it seems I have more male flowers than female, and just this morning I asked Jeff to ask a coworker if they could use some zucchini.  While we don't have enough zucchini to sell at the farmer's market, if we don't eat some every day, we will have too much.  AND I still haven't used all the zucchini that I froze last summer.  I'm seriously contemplating putting last year's zucchini in the compost, and being methodical about freezing this year, counting out how many loaves of zucchini  bread I might make over the winter...

baby zucchinis never had a daddy in their lives...

The variety of peas that I bought this year were supposed to be bush plants; the envelope says that they would grown 24" - 36" tall.  They're taller than me now.  Luckily they look to be doing well.  I put some in my turkey & cheese wrap the other day, for some crunch, and I put some in the fried rice I made the other night.  The variety is Dwarf Gray Sugar, so they're supposed to be picked before the peas develop, which means I'll need to harvest some today, as yesterday there were about a dozen that were getting fat.

Decisions so far:  I will not plant peppers nor broccoli again....

What will come of the garden in August?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

June 2017 - gardening in Alaska

June 2017 was mostly about secret sewing (no pics!) and gardening.

May had been a very windy month, so it was June 3rd before we got the roof put on the high tunnel.  I started planting on the 5th (carrots) and finished on the 13th.  Here's what I planted this year:

  • Carrots (4 varieties)
  • Peppers (2 plants that I purchased, and seeds that decided they didn't want to come up)
  • Lettuce
  • Broccoli (only one seed sprouted...)
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow squash
  • Peas
  • Purple beans
  • Yardlong beans
Here's how stuff was looking at the end of the month (actually, June 28):
from the back porch

one of the 2 pepper plants

row of zucchini

lettuce was planted in all 3; only grew in the center one



purple beans


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Rhubarb Recipes

Our rhubarb plant (well, the big one - we have 4 total) is getting pretty big!

Of course I still have rhubarb in the freezer from last summer...

Here's my go-to rhubarb recipes:

Rhubarb Dump Cake

1 lb. fresh rhubarb, chopped (about 4 cups)
1/2 cup sugar
1 pkg. (3 oz.) JELL-O Strawberry Flavor Gelatin
1 pkg. (2-layer size) white cake mix
1 cup water
1/3 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping

Heat oven to 350ºF.
Place rhubarb in 13x9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray; sprinkle with sugar, then dry gelatin mix.
Beat cake mix, water and butter with whisk until blended; pour over rhubarb. Spread to completely cover rhubarb.
Bake 45 min. or until golden brown. Serve warm topped with COOL WHIP.

Complete honesty?  I don't really follow these instructions.  I put the rhubarb (and once, strawberries) in the bottom of the pan, put the sugar and Jell-o over it, mix up the cake according to the box, and bake according to the box.  It's been delicious!

Rhubarb Crunch

  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • ¾ cup oatmeal (uncooked)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon or ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 cups rhubarb, diced
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. Mix the flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, butter, and spice
  2. Press half of the mixture into a pan
  3. Add the rhubarb
  4. In a saucepan add the sugar, cornstarch, water, and vanilla
  5. Cook until thick and pour over the rhubarb
  6. Top with the remaining oatmeal crumbs
  7. Bake at 1 hour at 350 degrees
I usually do step #4 in the microwave...  Again, delicious recipe, tastes like my Mom's, best served warm with ice cream, delicious the next morning as breakfast.

Rhubarb Butter

The most recent rhubarb item I made was Rhubarb Butter.  I took a bunch of recipes, like this one, and basically made my own taking ideas from each recipe.

Here's how I made it:
6-7 ribs of rhubarb
2 cups (or so) of frozen strawberries (left over from making slushies)
an apple, cut up (one recipe said you can use applesauce instead - this is for the pectin)
3/4 cup maple syrup (or honey, or sugar, however you want to sweeten it)

I cooked all the fruit, plus a bit of water, down a bit, then used the immersion blender to turn it into a "slurry".  I put the "slurry" through my food mill, as I didn't want all the rhubarb strings and apple peel in it.  I do love my food mill, which I purchased in order to make tomato paste.  I put the "solid" from the food mill step into the compost.

Take your liquid from the food mill process, and reduce it on the cooktop, making sure you stir frequently.  I don't know if you should add your sweetener now or later, but don't add too much sweetener before it's at the desired consistency.  I made that decision and used way too much (the amount I wrong up above is how much I'll use in the future), next time I'll wait until the end to decide on sweetness.

One of the recipes I read said that it's at the desired consistency when it "sits up" on a spoon.  You may not even have to get it that far as it really gets thicker when it cools.  I put my rhubarb butter in a canning jar and into the fridge.  I did NOT can it as I knew it would be eaten quickly, but this is a product that can be canned.  I loved it and will make it again!  It reminds me of the Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce from Tastefully Simple.  I had it on ice cream (or, more accurately, ice cream sandwich), corn bread, brownie, and a spoon.  Delicious in every way!


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

May 2017

Before flying home, we stopped by Hurts Donut Company in Des Moines.  I have to say, I've always been happy that I didn't have to put up with a brother - I had heard that they do mean things like ask if you want a Hurts Donut, and when you say yes, punch you in the arm and say, "Hurts, don' it?".  Well, someone finally cashed in on that phrase.

You should click these two pics and read the names of the donuts...

yes please!

 There aren't fresh donuts out here by us, so this was a nice treat before we flew out...

After all the excitement and travel of our trip, May ended up being a very low-key month.  We kept watching the wind, wanting to put the roof on the high tunnel.  The weather didn't cooperate in May...

Rhubarb is a good 2-3 weeks behind last year.  It was a colder winter, and snowier winter.  I wonder how things will go come fall?
It was definitely an around-home month.  I also assembled the composter, made tomato paste from last year's tomatoes, and did some secret sewing.