Friday, July 27, 2012

cat sprawl . . .

Really, I wanted to title this one "drunken sprawl", because that's always what I think of when I stumble across this picture of Merlin and Gwenevere . . . 
They were really just stretched out in front of the propane wall heater, soaking up every bit of warmth they could get.  I have no idea where the cup came from.  

Crazy party animals!

Hooking up with Sarah Did It! and her Feline Friday post!!


Thursday, July 26, 2012

i'm leaving on a . . .

Not a jet plane!  This is a   r o a d   t r i p !!!

Joc, Jason, Ellie and me ... I'm tagging along ... are heading east and north for a trip to Virginia to visit my sister and her family, and then on to Maryland to visit my other sister and her family, and my mom and dad!  I'm so looking forward to it!  Although it is a bit sad, too, because Todd is staying behind to man the camp, and James, Kim and Sawyer are staying too.  I'll miss them!

Anyway, all that being said, posting will probably be a bit sporadic for a the next week and then some.  (Not that my record has been all that stellar over the past couple of months anyway!)  But I happen to know there are steamed blue crabs, beaches, a trip to downtown Annapolis and the docks and at least one quilt shop and a fellow quilter in my very near future.  That means fun things to share when I return!

So, until then (with the notable exceptions of Feline Fridays, which I've made arrangements for -- LOL!), here's a little sampling of a little person that makes me smile . . . 
Budding Rembrandt. 
Big trouble?  Me?!?
Sawyer's first photo.  He's just like his Aunt Joc ... took a pic of his feet.  LOL!
Let's see what I can come up with here . . .
Superhero riding triceratops riding wagon.  Not bad!
Ride 'em, cowboy!!
Story time is everyone's favorite!!
Auf Wiedersehen!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

pounding out my frustrations . . .

Haha!  Not really.  Although I do admit that not having internet over the weekend did leave me feeling a little . . . down.  But only because I was *so* looking forward to participating in the Crafters' Campfire event on Saturday!  Other than that . . . don't tell anyone . . . it was actually rather nice.  Shhhhhh!!!  If you tell anyone I said that, I'll deny it!

Monday brought the repair tech.  He told us that our town has received more lightning strikes (and subsequent damage) than any other area in the county.  The crazy thing is, our RV has a heavy-duty surge protector on the hookup *and* the modem itself is plugged into a surge protector.  The same one as our router (which was fine).  Evidently it took it out through the phone line.  Crazy!!  This is the sixth modem we've had replaced since we've had service (right at two years).  Again, crazy!!  He gave us a new set-up and then left us with two more ... just in case ... so we wouldn't have to wait a weekend again!  You gotta love that kind of service!

When the tech left on Monday, so did I, to spend some time with my Ellie-bellie. From there I went straight to a three-hour long guild board meeting.  By-laws, procedures and budgets.  Can you say fun?  Whew!

But TODAY, I want to share our program from last Thursday night's guild meeting and the subsequent 'craft' I had planned to share on Saturday!

Our speaker was Bettye Kimbrell.  
She was a darling woman -- reminded me so much of my Grandma Willie.  She's from Mt. Olive, Alabama, and had just the best sense of humor!  She was quite the darling and as she started talking about leaf pounding ... her topic for the evening ... she had her daughter hold up this quilt:
When I first saw it, I have to admit I was terribly confused.  Those leaves were so big, I thought she'd appliqued them, because they couldn't be real.  Come to find out, they *are* real!  
Those are castor bean leaves and they do indeed grow that big!

She went on to explain the process of picking the leaves she was going to use ... and discussing which leaves worked better than others ... how to tape them to the fabric, the materials and method for pounding them, and the process for 'setting' the pounded leaf into the muslin, so that it was forever retained (and washable, even)!  
Her program was wonderful and she followed it up with a Q&A session and then allowed us to come up and view her pieces and did several smaller demonstrations.
I loved this piece ... look at the scrumptious details!  She does all hand-quilting on her pieces, too.  
She said if she was going to spend that much time hammering her projects, she was going to spend that much time quilting them, too.  She did make me laugh!

I wanted to share the process, but it was too hard to capture what she was demonstrating so I decided to come home and do it myself!  I mean, gracious . . . I live in the middle of 109 acres of trees . . . I was pretty sure I could come up with a couple of specimens that would work for leaf pounding!

You start with a wooden cutting board, a *very* thin kitchen towel, a small hammer (not a rubber mallet!), masking tape, and muslin.  She preferred the natural over the bleached, but said it was just that, a preference.  Of course, I think the natural looks best as a backdrop for a botanical anyway, so that's what I did.  (And, it's what I had on hand ... worked out well that way!)
I started with a tulip poplar leaf.  Not a big one (because I was a little unsure how much "pounding" it would really take to get the chlorophyll beaten out of the leaf and onto the cloth!
Then, using just cheap old masking tape (and she stressed that the cheap kind was best -- you want to be able to see your leaf through the tape), you tape your leaf, right side DOWN, to the muslin.  
You can even shape your leaf ... manipulate the stem, etc. ... by tape basting -- using smaller pieces of tape -- your leaf to the fabric.  Then covering it with tape in its entirety.  She used 2" tape -- I used what I had on hand.  It took me a little longer to cover my leaf, but it worked just as well.  Once you've finished your taping, you're going to turn the fabric over. 
See how you can still see the leaf through the fabric?  You don't want to pound on the tape side, because that will cause the chlorophyll to bleed through your muslin and into the work towel that's covering your wooden board.  You're actually going to hammer your fabric, and the masking tape will prevent the leaf liquid from going anywhere.

Now it's time to start hammering!!  Hold the hammer very close to the head ... your arms will get tired very quickly if you don't!
Small taps starting on the outside edge of the leaf.  This is why it's so important to be able to see your leaf -- blue painter's tape would make it hard to see for the pounding.  You need to be firm, but gentle -- you don't want to tear up your muslin.  After just a few tentative taps, you can already see the leaf taking shape!
It took me less than fifteen minutes to tape and pound out my leaf.  You'll notice that I pounded all the way around the leaf and down the stem, too.  Once you're satisfied with the imprint of the leaf on the muslin, carefully peel off the masking tape.
The reminder of the leaf will come off with it.  I thought that was pretty cool looking, too!  It's important to note that once you start pounding a leaf, you need to stick with it until it's finished.  If you get halfway through a leaf and then have to leave for a period of time, the chlorophyll will dry up and die, and you won't be able to finish up your leaf!
Here's my used leaf and pounded leaf, side-by-side.  Isn't that cool??!

I had a couple more leaves to try.  First I try a pairing of baby oak leaves.  Not all oak leaves are good for this process, because they tend to be thick and waxy, but I hoped these two were young and green enough that they'd work.  As you can see, they did, but the color is definitely lighter.
Next I tried the fern leaf ... that was incredibly ... lush ... in chlorophyll, which practically gushed out as I pounded it.  Next time I do a fern leaf, I'll know to be more judicious in my basting tape practices ... so the little furls go in the directions I want them to!

Once you've finished pounding all your leaves into your muslin, you're going to soak it in a mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar.  This helps set the chlorophyll.  When Mrs. Bettye was asked how long to soak the project, she replied, "Oh, five minutes or thirty, if you were wanting to take a nap!"  She uses her quilting to enhance the details and outline of the leaf.  :)

You will notice that as the chlorophyll dies (over several weeks) the bright green color will fade to shades of tan and olive.  Short of using additional chemicals (which Mrs. Bettye refused to use in her process), there's no way to retain the darker greens.  But I think that adds to the charm of the pieces.  If you look back up at the pictures of her pieces, you can see that the colors of the leaves in the piece she's currently quilting are much more vivid than the two finished pieces.

Here's what I'm planning ... finding some pretty cotton, plain napkins (or making my own, if I have to) and making a fun set of botanical napkins with maybe matching placemats!  How fun would that be?

It took me about 45 minutes to pound the three sets of leaves I used for my sample piece.  And that gave me a whole new appreciation for this one:
Three hours per leaf!  Wow!!  There were thirteen!!  She did say she'd never pound a castor bean leaf ever again. 

So there's my leaf pounding demo!  Hope you enjoyed it.  I'm happy to answer any questions that I can!


Saturday, July 21, 2012

now serving fried modem . . .

Big, big storms last night. The lightning was absolutely non-stop! So much so, unfortunately, that our modem was zapped. And this being Saturday, there was no tech on call to take care of the problem, so we're modem-less until Monday.

I don't really care to do my blogging by phone/3G, so no Crafters' campfire post from me. I'm so disappointed! I couldn't upload all those pics, so it wouldn't have been quite the same.  I'll post it when we get it resolved. 

 Happy weekend! :)

Friday, July 20, 2012

swap received and feline flashback . . .

Yesterday's trip to the post office yielded quite the prize!  In our box was a yellow slip . . . that means *package*!  I handed my slip to the postal clerk and tried in vain to see who the packaged was addressed to/from, but she was holding in so I couldn't see!!  Finally she handed it over and it was for ME!  From my July doll swap partner, Viv!
As soon as I got home, I opened up the package.  Another package!  I love unwrapping, so I was having fun.

Isn't this beautiful?  Just downright gorgeous!  Viv wrote me that it's a pattern from Kathleen Tracey's American Doll Quilts book.  
And I don't know if the photo shows it or not, but there's a sweet hint of glimmer in the star fabric. Y'all know how much I like bling!

The back is a fun print, too -- and she did a great job with the stripey binding, too!!

And as if this beautiful quilt wasn't enough (it most certainly was!), Viv also tucked in this charm pack of Moda's Sandhill Plums . . .
Oh my.  I flipped through the squares ... what scrumptious, scrumptious fabric!  Thank you, Viv!

My feline post today is a flashback tribute.  Gwenevere joined our family way back in 1994, as a spry two-year-old. She had been a farm cat ... but as much as she enjoyed being outside, she really preferred being the pampered pet.  If there was a blanket of any type around, Gwenevere claimed it . . . 
Stretched out on the couch.
What do you mean this isn't my bed??
Settling for tree skirt. "This is as close to the great outdoors as I'll get today!"
Gwenevere was full of what I lovingly (usually) refer to as "cattitude".  On the one hand she could be incredibly spicy, but she also could be tremendously loving and she was a dear part of our family.  She passed in January of 2009 . . . it was a sad time . . . but we have lots of fun photos, fond Gwenevere-memories and hilarious stories.  I'm pretty positive this is not the last time she'll make an appearance on Feline Friday!  Speaking of which, I'm linking up to Sarah Did It! and her Feline Friday post!!

Be sure to check back tomorrow ... it's Crafters' Campfire day and I've got a marvelously quilty project/technique to share that's just perfect for the theme!!



Thursday, July 19, 2012

nature's provision . . .

I was out yesterday watering my sweet little hanging baskets . . . 
Aren't they pretty? While I was standing there, the front door caught my eye. 
I love wreaths. Have I ever mentioned that? I really do enjoy a pretty wreath. I like indoor wreaths and outdoor wreaths and they are oh-so-seasonal and fun! Since Pinterest has come along, I've had the opportunity to pin quite a few different styles of wreaths . . . four hundred sixty-seven, to be precise. And out of all those wreaths, there is one in particular that has stuck in my mind. One that I *know* I have to make ... it *has* to hang on my door.
Source:  Martha Stewart
Isn't it pretty?  Simple but unique.  A Sweetgum-Fruit Wreath.  I want this wreath.  I will make this wreath.  My only problem?  Where to get the ... uh ... "fruit".  I knew we had a sweetgum tree at the Hunter Road property, but I haven't been able to get over there in the daylight to check it out.  Then coming up the road the other day, I noticed that the branch that had been laying there for a couple days ... it had something.  I stopped the car and put it in reverse, and sure enough, what was laying in the road was sweetgum-fruit!  Whoot, whoot!

So yesterday afternoon I took a little walk (not far -- this tree is less than fifty feet from the RV).  Isn't it a grand tree?
And what to my wondering eyes did appear?

Yup . . . this tree is just bursting with the things!

And then I spied a branch that had just recently fallen . . .
It was *loaded*!  

By the time I'd finished "culling the crop" I had a tidy pile . . . 
Almost enough for a wreath, I'm sure . . . 
Or something . . . 
Or another . . .
I'm sure I'll find something happy to do with all these.  And who knows, maybe I'll find enough to do two (or three or four) of these lovely wreaths!!

Definitely linking up to Thursday Favorite Things at Katherine's Corner!

Full day today, ending with a guild meeting!  Our speaker tonight is Bettye Kimbrell who's going to share, among other things, her leaf-pounding technique!  Should be loads of fun!!  Bettye is a national speaker, but luckily for us, she's a local girl.  I'm really looking forward to seeing her trunk show.  I'll be sure to take pics and share!


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

playing catch-up . . . again . . .

What happened to the past few days?  Last thing I knew, it was Saturday morning and I was headed out for Stitcher's sew-in, and here it is now Wednesday morning!  LOL!

We did have fun at our sew-in.  There were lots of gorgeous and fun quilt projects going on.  Kari, our fearless and wonderful leader, finished this baby quilt . . .
Isn't it lovely?  Kari's such an accomplished quilter!

Sarah was working on this darling Halloween applique project:

And Lynn was working on this beautiful piece:
Lots of great works in progress!  I managed to get a little stitching in, but not nearly as much as I would have liked.  And I had to leave early, too, in order to get to the grocery store and get busy cooking for Sunday's breakfast!

I missed my stash report #29, so I'll go ahead and post it here, too.  Since my Fairy Frost fabrics came in, I definitely need to report!  That's my in.  My out is a donated fat quarter and the Christmas napkins I worked on, too.

Used/donated this week: .75 yards
Used/donated year-to-date: 24.5 yards
Purchased/added this week: 5 yards
Purchased/added year-to-date: 81 yards
Net used/donated for 2012: -56.55 yards

I'll go back and link up with Judy Laquidara's Patchwork Times for the weekly stash reporting!

My decluttering campaign is going *really* well!!  I've completely decluttered the kitching/living room space, including all the cabinets, pantry, drawers, curio shelves and seating storage.  I've also tackled our three filing drawers -- I didn't have a lot of stuff to "yard sale" from those drawers, but I did manage to come away with better than thirty pounds of paperwork that we'll shred.  Whew!  Anything to help lighten the load (and since we have a weight limit when we get around to pulling this RV, I mean that very literally).  

Last night I finished going through my CD/DVD collection and this morning I decluttered our bathroom -- the medicine cabinet, under the sink, the linen closet and the second medicine cabinet (yes, two medicine cabinets in one bathroom!).  What should I do with expired prescription meds??!

I met with another woman from church and we set a plan out for our Women's Ministry for the rest of the year.  While I want all our events to be fun, I also want them to have meaning and purpose.  We'll be doing a lot of outreach/ministry work in our events.  Friday night we have a beach blast night ... we'll do salads and potatoes, a beach-themed devotional, and we'll but together goody bags for a block party we're doing next month.  Should be a fun night!

I got to spend a little time with Joc and Ellie yesterday.  In fact, I had the pleasure of watching Ellie with her first banana (and as an afterthought, her first prune, too)!  Oh what fun!
"Hmmmm, what's this?!"
"Interesting texture and flavor--once I was able to get it in my mouth!"
 "Feels good between my fingers ... nice finger painting consistency!"
We have a winner!!

I've got work to do, better get a rolling here!


Saturday, July 14, 2012

stitching and summer fun . . .

Friday Night Sew-In.  Right.  Well . . . I didn't get a whole lot done on my quilting last night.
I solidified my thread color choices, I finished outlining the fan and one blade, and that's about it.  But this morning I'm heading off to our Stitcher's sew-in, and this is all I'm taking, so hopefully I'll get a bit more finished this morning!

I won't be staying the whole day . . . just until lunchtime, probably.  Tomorrow is our day to provide breakfast for our church fellowship and I've got to do some shopping and some baking!  I'm making sausage balls, mini pigs-in-a-blanket, fruit salad, monkey bread, and no-bake cookies.  Plus we're having a potluck lunch after service -- so I'll probably make my Strawberry Delight for that!  Whew!

Today's Foto Finish theme, sponsored by Cat Patches, is "Summer's Here".  I couldn't share just one photo ... I have *three*!

To me, summer means family trips and trips to visit family.  These first two are from our summer trip to visit my sister in 2005.  Of course we got some beach time in:
And then the cousins all played 'capture', which of course requires cammies and camouflage makeup:
I love the reversed role play between the two photos!  They are such clowns.  And I have *no* idea where they get it from!

And from just yesterday . . . 
Daddies and their sweet little babies!  Although I was a little shocked by how *grown* both Ellie and Sawyer look here!  And I love how Ellie's got her little hand on Sawyer's shoulder.  Kim said it looked like she was saying, "Hey! Be still for one second!"  LOL!

Have a great Saturday!!