Buzzings from a quilter who bumbles her way through life!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Life Cycles, Recycles, and Remodels

Sugarplum woke from a sound sleep when something on the balcony outside caught her attention!

She jumped up to get a closer look!

 A Scott's Oriole had perched on the rail just outside the window. 

 The male and female have both been frantically racing back and forth with insects to feed a newly hatched brood of baby Orioles in the seldom used (thankfully!) light fixture above the balcony.
 They are a welcome addition to our wildlife managerie here at our hill country house which includes the deer, a fox, rabbits, squirrels, and many other birds and animals. We have been watching what appears to be first time swallow parents trying to build a nest. It has taken them much longer than we've previously seen swallows build nests, but they finally have it built and I think she is brooding eggs. 
Walking to the mailbox, I noticed this unusual bag-like nest in an agarita bush.
 It is about 10" long and covered with lichen. It was hard to get a photo without disturbing it, but I'm not sure it is still occupied! We tried to "shoot" and run! (With the camera, that is!)
 After researching the nest and birds common to this area, I believe it is a "Bushtit". (Yes, an unfortunate name, but a sweet, tiny bird that eats insects and sings songs!)
 It's so interesting to observe the life cycles around us. The mama deer are beginning to really bulge at the sides, so I expect to see fawns soon!
On the "Recycling" front, I happened to hit the thrift store during a time when they were gearing up for a move. Every clothing item was 25 cents!! I brought home more than I should have, but it was so much fun!! 
I am a "petite" (just over 5'1") so buying clothing off the rack has never been easy for me. I decided that for 25 cents, I could play a little with redesigning some of these clothes. 
 (Here is my attempt at getting a photo of myself in a linen short's outfit that was about 2 sizes too large.) (See my new summer haircut?)
I first took the sleeves out and narrowed the shoulders.
Then I removed the stitches in the crotch seam and made a skirt out of the shorts!

 A quick photo before hemming and final pressing. 
I don't know how often I will wear it, but the top and skirt together cost me 25 cents!

The remodeling downstairs is coming along!

I put insulation between the studs while my husband did other work. 
The sheetrock was installed and today we have men working downstairs taping, floating, and sanding. Tomorrow they will come back to texture. 
 This will be my sewing studio! I'm getting excited! I haven't gone downstairs to see how it looks today, but this was yesterday. The furniture will go in the media room, but we're having to move it around and keep it covered. They will take it outside tomorrow. I'm hoping the sun will continue to shine!
My mind is buzzing with ideas for my new space, but I have to wait a little longer! After I paint it, I will still have to wait for flooring and that will come after the bathrooms are tiled. 
In the meantime, I'm trying to stay patient! 
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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Hexed by a Hexagon!


I've been hexed! I found a fabric that I just HAD to have! (Imagine that!) It's Radiance Lace by Beth Studley for Makower. 
I brought it home and started pulling fabrics from my stash to see what I had that complimented the colors in the fabric. Then I started trying to decide on a quilt that would show it off. Most blocks required cutting the fabric into pieces too small to really let the design sing....except for these large hexagons. Each side is 6" long.

I love the look! I at first pulled bright reds and golds from my stash. I decided then that I would try to tone it down a little (really hard for me!) and give it a more feminine look. When I laid it all out to see, I wanted more. I went to a local thrift shop and bought some vintage laces and doilies. I embellished some of the blocks with these. Later, I read that Beth had been inspired by vintage lace, so it turned out to be quite fitting!

After that, I decided it was like a giant bee hive, so I appliqued some bees on half a dozen blocks.  

So here it is draped across a bed. I haven't decided on a "home" for it yet, but it is big enough for a twin sized bed and could easily be made larger. It is completely hand sewn with each block quilted as I went along. 

I can envision doing this with fabrics from  men's shirts or with novelty prints for a child. It could be any size you want with blocks any size you choose. 

On the homefront, we are getting closer and closer to finishing the downstairs. We are waiting on a couple of inspections before having the drywall put up. After that, I can paint! Of course, we still will have a LOT to do - tiling the showers, finishing the kitchenette, flooring! BUT, we'll be able to see the new rooms with walls.
My garden, small as it is, is beginning to bloom.

The hydrangeas are covered with buds, but they haven't opened yet. 

We are having some thunderstorms and hail, so hopefully, they will benefit from that and not suffer!
Until next time!


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Monday, March 28, 2016

Spring is Here and Progress is Still Slow!

Spring is here in the Texas Hill Country and things are starting to bloom and leaf out! 

 The bluebonnets are not as showy around here as they have been in past years. I guess the weather just wasn't right for them. They are beautiful in patches, but just not as widespread as before. It can take a couple of years for the seeds to germinate, so perhaps next year will be more favorable for them. 

I went to a quilt retreat a few weeks ago with my sister and we both made tuffets. She is going to be teaching a class on tuffet making, so we were trying it out first.
Hers is the blue, pink and green one and mine is the multi-color one.

 I was going for the McKenzie-Childs look!
(and yes, my poor little tuffet is a little bit bowlegged! I need to take the legs off and try again!)

I have designed a new pattern for a spring quilt, but it is not in published form yet. 

(My camera has started taking out of focus photos!)

I have also finished a small quilt that is just the right size for the top of a card table. It would also make a nice crib sized quilt. This was a UFO I finished! I pieced it by hand on trips back and forth.

In other news, we've made the full time move to the new house and we're settling in quite nicely.  Sugarplum has found a new favorite spot in the office and is no longer afraid of the deer outside the window!

I hope that next time I will have more to show you on my new sewing room. At the moment it is the storage place for the cabinets and furniture for other rooms. I DID manage to strip some of the wallpaper off two walls. The rest is behind furniture and I'll have to do it later. The blue baseboards will also need to be painted!

We've had a plumber come in and do all the "roughing in" for the two new bathrooms and the kitchenette downstairs. The electrical is still in progress. When that is finished, we can start with putting up wallboard. In the meantime, I am sewing in my dining room upstairs.
 I hope you had a great Easter and if it is spring where you live, I hope it is full of flowers!

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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Still Here and Making Slow Progress!

Yes, I'm still here! Above you can see the new patio door installed in what will become the kitchen for the Mother-in-law suite downstairs. This opens under an overhang, so it will be protected from the weather. This is also the sidewalk to the patio. I will add pots of plants outside on the raised bed above the stone wall. The debris you can see through the door is a section of HEAVY stucco still attached to the metal "mesh" they put up to hold the cement. It was removed from the old entrance door, which has been sealed up. (below)

The subfloor in front of the door has been replaced. What you can't see if that we put up gutters. If there had been gutters before, the water damage that had been in this area would not have happened.

We have removed the bathroom that was between the kitchen and this room (which will become the media room). We added a window in this room and the old bathroom will become a closet. We're putting two new bathrooms on the other side of the downstairs space. 

While taking a break from the work, we chose to eat dinner at a local Thai restaurant. It was sunny and about 72 degrees, so we ate on the balcony overlooking the river park here in Kerrville. I couldn't quite capture the beautiful blue water and the pinkish tinge in the trees, but it was a beautiful sight!

Chiristmas was a blur! We hosted two gatherings. One with 12 friends from church and one with 25 family members on Christmas day! I had a lot of fun decorating the table to match the Christmas plates that were rescued from the fire.

The cactus is made of metal. A local man makes all types of things like this to be used in a yard or garden. I put it in the center of my table!

The buffet area was decorated Christmas cowboy style! I found the hat and wooden cowboy Santa in the thrift shop. 

 My daddy does woodwork. My sister and I were in his workshop and noticed the great shapes that were left over when he cut out pieces for the toys he made. We pulled them out of the trash bin and started playing with them, glueing them together and adding bits of wire. Here are two pieces I made. The wood scraps are just as they were pulled from the bin - no sawing was done. (Paint was added!)

(Notice the little fish under the "waves"? 

My "looney" bird!

One last thing. Compare the set of windows on the left with the ones on the right. Do you see how much clearer the ones on the right are? 
I have a friend who told me that during college she cleaned windows wtih "window wax". I had never heard of it, so I have been keeping my eyes out for window wax for quite a while now. Finally, I found some and tried it! It is amazing!! I can't wait for the cedar pollen count to come down so I can go outside and wash windows!

I HAVE done some sewing. In fact, I'm working on a couple of patterns. They are not in a stage yet to show, but hopefully, I will get back in the swing of things soon.
My husband's company has been in the process of lay offs, so that has interfered with life in several ways. He survived the lay offs, but has been cut to two days a week at work. That will slow the progress downstairs down some because we are NOT independently wealthy! On the other hand, perhaps it will be a good incentive for me to get serious again about selling my patterns. 
Thank you for your encouragement and for sticking by me! I've always felt change was exciting so I've had a couple of adventurous years now!! Life is good!


Monday, December 21, 2015

My Recipe Gift to You!

Merry Christmas!

This easy recipe is my Christmas gift to you! You can make it in about 15 minutes from start to finish, although it needs a little time to firm up. It has a fudge-like consistency when firm. You make it in your microwave. If you have an old microwave, you may need to extend the cook time. If your microwave is more powerful than the standard, you may need to drop a minute or two off cook time.

Easy Leche Quemada

  This recipe is simple and very quick. All you need is a large (8 cup) heat resistant  measuring cup or bowl and a microwave, apart form the ingredients.

In a large, heat resistant measuring cup or bowl put:
1 stick butter (1/2 cup) (Use a good brand of real butter. The cheap stuff foams up and over the cup near the end of cooking!!!) Melt the butter and add:
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 can sweetened condensed milk (I use Eagle Brand)
Mix well and microwave on high for 7 minutes, stopping every 2 minutes to stir well. Watch the last half of the time to be sure it doesn't start foaming up out of the container. If it does, you will have to keep stopping and stirring it down. (I think cheaper butter has more water in it and the steam causes it to do this. That's only my theory, but I've found that the good stuff doesn't foam!)
While it is cooking, prepare a piece of aluminum foil (about 12" wide) by spraying with a little Pam and sprinkling cinnamon over it.
After cooking, remove from the microwave and place on a heat proof surface. Beat with a hand mixer until it cools a little. Add some vanilla (about a teaspoon) or a little rum (again, about a teaspoon) and 1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts. Beat these in well. Pour out onto the aluminum foil and spread it in a log. You can do this by pulling the sides of the foil together to form a channel for the candy to "flow" into, then crimp the foil together to hold it in a log shape. When hardened, cut into slices.

                This recipe is so easy, you can have candy in no time at all.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

I'm Still Around!!!

This is our downstairs two weeks ago! Our house is called a "hillside walkout". The main floor is at the top where the driveway ends and the downstairs was designed for bedrooms. Unfortunately for us, the previous owners had used the downstairs for 1500 sq. feet of closets! (It worked well for them, but not for us.) 

We had not done anything down there except for one closet that I painted and put a guest bed in for a makeshift bedroom. I can't wait to show you what we'll be doing here. We will end up with a nice "mother-in-law suite" complete with a small kitchen.

We installed the door panels on our refrigerator. (We 
 STILL haven't done the crown molding above the kitchen cabinets!) 

I am really getting "antsy" to have a sewing room again! I have my shelves picked out at IKEA and I have been busy winding fabric on cardboard "comic book boards". 
It will give them a uniform appearance on the shelves.
I've started decorating for Christmas!

 I put up my first Christmas tree since the fire two years ago. We bought it after Christmas at a substantial savings last year! (Yes, it's artificial. My allergies don't allow me to have a real one.)

Doug also bought me an LED tree from Lowe's to put in our bedroom.

I decorated it with a Mexican theme to fit the bedroom. I made Ojo de Dios to hang all over the tree. I used yarn scraps and "candy apple skewers".

  My days have been busy, but rewarding.  I am finally taking some time to prepare for having two of my sons here for the holidays.

I am hoping to blog more frequently as soon as the holidays are over. (I'm always optimistic about being less busy!) I will be posting my favorite "go to" Christmas candy recipe next week as my gift to you! I hope you have blessed days ahead!


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