A Weekly Offering of This n That

Rainy Day is my alter ego. She is the little angel that sits on one shoulder and whispers in my ear to forgo that 6" piece of triple chocolate fudge with the four scoops of ice cream on it; she is also the little devil who sits on my other shoulder and convinces me that I can eat just one bite of each and be satisfied, and then laughs with such great abandon when in fact, I eat the whole thing, she falls off my shoulder. Mostly, Rainy Day helps me see the humor in living and, mostly, she encourages me down the right path. Not necessarily the straight and narrow one (how fun is that?) but the path that offers the most adventure and fun.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Grocery Shopping for Days of Madness

Oh, doesn't that sound exciting, my friends? I get to go shopping for groceries! Wheeeee!!!!
$600 worth of jars, there are 5 more boxes of
mixed, used, jars not photographed.
Oh, but look at a portion of my list:

50 lbs of sugar
5 large Asian pears
20 lbs of onions
4 lbs of jalapenos
2 lbs of butter
4 gal of vinegar—2 cider, 2 white
a huge bag of ginger
dozen green bell peppers
3-4 red bell peppers
half dozen boxes of wide lids
half dozen boxes of narrow lids
half dozen boxes of rings (narrow & wide)

And, there is more, oh so much more, but the list is in the other room, and I am not ;-)

Yes, the time of our annual 'jam session' is merely days away. Ms Nancy and Ms Lee will be here either late Thursday or early Friday and the first up will be to jar the Canton Ginger. That means, come tomorrow, I need to scrape and slice a gallon or so of fresh ginger and get the first cooking done. (It takes four cookings/four days before it's ready). I will need to chop all the onions on Wednesday, or maybe Thursday, so they will be ready to go. I will need to chop the pears (they can be chopped, bagged, and frozen until needed.)

I need to have the kitchen prepped. That means, many of the jars washed and stacked on clean towels, the pots ready, the hot plate set up and the water pot ready to go. The food mill down for easy reach, the large glass cake pans out—we make our chutneys in them as they have to cook a long time at a low temperature. Spices, bowls, spoons, etc., etc. and, etc. where they will be within easy reach as they are needed.

Traditionally, the Canton Ginger is the first thing we put up, (I time the last cooking just for that purpose) and once it's up we're under way. We will have a few things that need to be mixed and allowed to macerate overnight—the Asian Pear marmalade, the summer squash relish, and anything else we come across that looks good. (We make an herbed peach jam we call Racoon's Delight because the first year we made it, and put it in the garage to macerate overnight, the racoons came in the cat door and ate it. And what they didn't eat, they spread around all over the floor. Now I have the Frog Room, and we can put stuff out there, and the racoons can't get in!)

There are over $600 worth of jars in my kitchen to be washed and used, plus Nancy and Lee will bring the ones people have returned to them. Yes, if you are one of the lucky ones who receive our home jams, know that you are not just receiving jars of deliciousness, but you are receiving jars hard love, work, tears (if it contains the onions), and a lot of fun. Some people say they can actually hear our laughter when they open the jars the first time.

If there is no post next Monday, it's because we are still jamming.  But pictures will be posted the following week, as well as a list of what we made. In the meantime, this old lady would appreciate all the naps you can take and share with me. It's gonna be a time of love, laughter, and damned hard work! ;-)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Scraps Dancing

Primary Convergence
This is my Ricky Tims quilt. It is Project One of four projects in the book, and I will make each one before I branch out too far on my own. I want to quilt it using concentric circles, starting from the upper left corner. 
Scrap Dance

Sewing circles takes practice, so I made a mini quilt from the scraps of this one, and call it Scrap Dance. It will probably be Scrap Dance I as I make others both to play with color and placement, and to practice the circle quilting. ;-)

Unfortunately, I can't get the color quite right. The wall is yellow, not orange, as is the one scrap. But you get the idea.

I think I can get into making these mini-quilts. True, they won't do much for keeping me warm on a cold winter's night, but that's why I have a small dog and a cat—and lots of bigger quilts.

Bay at Port Orford

Monday, September 8, 2014

UFOs Are In My House -- Again

Actually, many of these are technically USOs (Un Started Objects). But they just keep accumulating, and the end of the year is coming, and there are gifts to make, and....
My Gracious! It's a jacket, not a quilt!

I'm blaming my cousin, Barb. She was here for a few days this past week, and she is an art quilter. She makes small quilts to hang on the walls instead of pictures, or to be used on flat, horizontal surfaces as objets d'art. She got me all jazzed to quilt again. It's her fault. 

We went out to lunch one day, and had planned to go to one or two of our local wineries for a tasting and ended up at one of my favorite quilt stores, Quiltmania, where we each bought fabric. Then we went to the White Bluffs Quilt Museum, then back to the house where we talked quilts, fabrics, ideas, and drank wine I already had. 

Placemats and quilts

At the Quilt Museum, I saw a small quilt on the wall I really liked, designed by Ricky Tims, and bought his book on making Convergence Quilts. I now have a UFO on my kitchen island. The main pieces have been cut, and today will be sewn. then cut again, then sewn again, then.... Yes, lots of cutting and sewing and keeping track of what goes where, but when it's finished it should be a small work of art!
Quilts - Lap and Bed Size

At Quiltmania, we found a panel of 4 placemats that will be beautiful in my kitchen. We each bought a panel, and now, as Barb says, when we use them we'll think of each other. Of course, every time I work on a small project, instead of bed or lap sized, I'll think of her.
Another Bed Quilt in Black

And I have, quite literally, boxes of USOs to start working on. Once I get the Winter Gifts done, I have a "commission" to make, and then there oh-so-many projects in the box. About half of the quilts I "finished" before are now complete. The edging has been hand stitched, and they are either folded and put away, or are being used.
Lap Sized Quilts

I don't know a single quilter who is ever DONE. I like the slightly snarky sense of one quilter I heard about when I first started quilting. She says every time she starts a project, she puts it in a plastic box labels it with the name of one of her friends, or in some cases, one of her frenemies. The quilt may not be for that person, but if she dies, the UFO will be given to that person and she can finish it, and have warm and kind thoughts about the newly departed. The really hard and complicated ones go in the latter category. She had a marvelous sense of humor. Perhaps that's what I should do. Since I don't really have any frenemies, at least not that I'm aware of, maybe I'll put those in boxes labeled with the names of people I know who don't quilt and or barely sew.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Writer's Block: One Solution

Writer's Block: One Solution

Do you ever suffer from Writer's Block? I can think of few things more frustrating, unless it's looking for the exact word you need and can't quickly find!

I'm fortunate in that I've never faced a blank page and wondered what to put on it, but I have faced a major Writer's Block and thought I'd share my solution. I imagine every writer faces Writer's Block at one time or another, of one type or another, and every writer has her own way to go over, around, or through the block. Here's mine.

A few years ago, I was just finishing a novel and knew I was within a couple of chapters of the end but I just couldn't get that ending to come. I fussed. I fretted. I went out to lunch with a gentleman I knew. He is a bit self-centered, and condescending, so we're no longer dating, but he did give me one piece of great advice. When he asked with his usual snideness how my novel was coming, I told him my problem, that I just wasn't getting the ending. In a very smart asterisk manner, he told me to send my character an email and let her email me back.

Yeah. Right. Hmmmmmmm?

So, that night, before I turned off the computer and went to bed, I wrote the protagonist a note and sent it to her in care of my email address, turned off the lights and went to bed for a sound sleep. The next morning I got up and in going through my emails came to the one I'd sent my character. Now, she obviously didn't respond. (Not sure I would have wanted that, actually) but suddenly, I saw the ending of the novel, and finished it that day. Or at least that draft.

The next time I saw my friend, I thanked him for his suggestion, and told him it worked. He was somewhat taken aback, and admitted he was being a smart asterisk with his response to me. "I know," I said, and smiled sweetly, "but it worked, and I thank you." We no longer date, so who knows what words of wisdom I'm missing, but that solution to my Writer's Block worked and I've not forgotten. It worked for me. It might work for you.

If you've ever faced Writer's Block, and found a way to unblock it, I'd love to read your experience. Maybe it will help some of the other readers.