Friday, May 30, 2008

Valley Bounty

Blogger. grrr. WHY does it keep flipping my pictures?!!! They are so much better when they are presented as I've taken them. But two of the three are on end, again. What is their problem? And if I try to reload them, they don't get deleted, they are still in my online blog limbo, and they are still flipped. grrr. Good thing they're not quilt or people pictures!!

One of the good things about living in the Central Valley of California is the agriculture. Agriculture means farmers. And farmers grow good things. :) Good things grow in my friend's garden. That would be my friend Elaine. Every year she grows a bounty and feeds my family fresh fruits and veggies for months on end. Yesterday she gave me this first box of squash. Nothing you can buy in the store even comes close to what Elaine grows in her garden.

And her green thumb was inherited by her daughter Leslie. Leslie is in Hawaii this week, and Elaine has been harvesting some of Leslie's berries. She presented me with this yesterday, along with the squash. yum yum. I took them to Gwen's, and we ate them with vanilla ice cream.

Gwen is also a generous grower. We've been enjoying these white peaches from her orchard for the past week. I think her husband said they are called Snow Whites? Whatever their name, they are DELICIOUS.

Don't you wish you lived here? Fresh fruits, fresh vegetables abound. I've heard people on LA radio stations say that "The Central Valley should be nuked!" (They don't like our using water), but I tell you what, peaches, berries, squash...milk, nuts, all grows here, and it feeds the world, unlike LA's palm trees...

But back to good things growing...

I really thought I had a picture, but apparently I finished that quilt before I had a digital camera. It was a Lone Star, made for Elaine, called, "Good Things Grow in My Friend's Garden." It's in Jan Krentz's book, Lone Star Quilts & Beyond, in the Gallery section. It featured many of the good things that Elaine grows: corn, cantaloupe, peppers, squash, etc. etc. oh well. Use your mind's eye to imagine a Lone Star done in sunflower colors, with a sunflower print around the border and fruits and veggies in the setting squares. It was as much fun to make as her bounty is delicious.

Doesn't it make you just want to move here?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Lot of Nothing

That's right. no pictures today. Sorry. One of my favorite things about blogs is the pictures. And here I am, skimping. At the moment I can't think of anything to photograph. Instead, all you get is an update.

I've put two days into my Hoffman Challenge, and Lord willing, once the pieces are appliqued, they will fit when I sew them together. I've measured, but for me, that doesn't really mean much. I can measure all day long and still come out wrong in the end. But still, I try.

I plan to do a lot of appliqué this evening and tomorrow morning, so perhaps I can try the piecing on Friday.

In other news, I have two quilts-for-hire that are basted, waiting for attention, reminding me that I ought to work now, play later. Where are my priorities?

For those of you interested, Empty Spools has posted their 2009 class offerings. ooh aah. Which class should I take? I know which one I have my eye on, but I'm not telling. I don't want it to fill up before I make my own reservation. I know, I know, pretty selfish of me, I admit it. You're welcome to look at the list and guess...

I shipped my Sierra Snow Melt quilt to Houston today. Talk about sticker shock! The last time I shipped a quilt was April. This one weighed nothing compared to the other, and didn't travel as far, but was still $2 more. I cringed. The FedEx/Kinko's guy assured me it's fuel costs. sigh. Still, it's cheaper than driving it there myself...

I guess that's about it.

I've had recent multiple reports of serious health issues for people I know and love. Rather than go into details, I'll just leave you with a thought for the day:

"The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:5-7

Monday, May 26, 2008

Hoffman Challenge

Today is Memorial Day. It's a day to think of our soldiers, past and present, and to thank them for their service. I can't imagine a more demanding calling, and I admire each and every one who serves. Thank you, thank you.

It's also a day that people play. I had no plans to do that. It's Monday, and my husband is working, as usual. I'd planned to do my usual as well. Then I heard about a sew-a-thon play session at the local quilt shop. hmmm. Maybe I should do the same, only do it at home, where everything is at hand. Yesterday I decided that today would be devoted to working on this year's Hoffman. Now THAT would be a challenge.

The opening photo is of this year's fabric choice. sigh. That's my reaction every time I see it. I sigh. What am I supposed to do with it? The design is LARGE, and so diverse that it pretty much has to be used intact or fussy cut. At least in my world it does.

So, this morning I slept in. Then I read the newspapers, made some coffee, worked on the computer, made pumpkin muffins...I did just about everything but work on my Hoffman. I finally made my way back to the sewing room a bit after 11am and got to work. By 12:30, I took a lunch break, which I have extended until now.

Here's a taste of what I've got so far...

What could I be doing with these? Orange doesn't coordinate with the Hoffman fabric, does it?

Or these? There's no purple in that fabric either. hmmm.

Oh here we go. There's some challenge fabric. Good. A recognizable amount of challenge fabric needs to be an integral part of the challenge to qualify. Looking at my bits and pieces, I was worried that I'd forgotten to use the assigned fabric. gotcha! I didn't really forget. And no, I can't explain why blogspot once again tipped my photo on end. sigh. That's the third time they've done this to me. why? It really did look better right side up...

So. That's a taste of what I'm up to. My current goal is to have the top finished in the near future and basted and ready for hand-quilting by mid-June. I need to go out of town for a few days, and hand-quilting this puppy would be the perfect project. Then again, if I miss yet another personal deadline for this challenge, I can always machine quilt it...

My other quilt news is that I've gotten together my entry forms for Houston. This is the first time I've been brave enough/confident enough to submit my work for Festival. It helped that my river quilt was selected to go to Long Beach. That quilt is boxed and ready for shipping some time this week. Too much fun.

Well, I've procrastinated long enough. I should get back to work. If I can get all the pieces for my challenge cut out today, I will be a VERY happy camper.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Still Kicking

Greetings! No pictures today, sorry about that. Not much to report, just doing some for-hire quilting. I'm about 1/3 of the way through a cute Sunbonnet Sue quilt - it's a bit larger than twin-sized.

I picked up two more for-hire quilts this afternoon. Looks like I've got a full plate for the next week or so. What am I going to do about the Hoffman Challenge? This year is such a challenge! I just don't like the fabric. I don't care for the colors, I don't care for the design...sigh. I don't care for it at all. I guess that REALLY makes it a challenge now, doesn't it?

Hey. I can do pictures. Would you like to see my previous Hoffman entries? I can do that.

28" x 28"
Suzanne Kistler 2003

Trip Around Tahiti
28" x 28"
Suzanne Kistler 2004

Tradition II
23" x 23"
Suzanne Kistler 2005

Waving At Tradition
24" x 24"
Suzanne Kistler 2006

Encompassing Tradition
Best Handworkmanship - Pieced Quilts
Suzanne Kistler 2007

Each has been hand-quilted, and each has been selected to travel. It has been an honor. They've gone to such shows as Houston and Paducah and Road to CA. If only they could tell me what they've seen!!

Anyway, that's your eye candy for today. I hope you enjoyed it!!

P.S. If you clicked the Hoffman Challenge link, did the quilt on the far left of the header look familiar? :) It's one of my favorites....

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Status Report

Well, not much to brag about in today's quilt life, but at least it's something. I finished two quilted cards today. I delivered one this morning and put the other in the mail this afternoon. This is the one currently in possession of the USPS.

I made machine-embroidered labels for "Sierra Snow Melt," then sewed them onto the quilt. (That was last night, so I guess it doesn't count for today.)

I also machine-embroidered names and dates on what will be two ring-bearer pillows. (This was a for-hire project, and yes, I did it today.)

My biggest victory was stowing the embroidery machine (and computer) and clearing off my entire sewing surface. I now have no excuse for not moving on to the next quilt-for-hire awaiting my attention.

After that? Who knows what project will catch my fancy and put me to work? I can hardly wait. (I sure hope it's that Hoffman Challenge. tick, tick, tick, July's not getting any further away...tick, tick, tick...)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

This 'n That

Bad Quilter.

I should be working on a quilt-for-hire, instead I find myself distracted. Nothing important, just this 'n that. I thought I'd share my rambling with you, here's what I've been up to...

A few days ago I put this new birdbath in the "secret garden" near the front door. It looks bright and cheery. Now that it's been up for a couple of days, it's been discovered. Unfortunately birds haven't found it, bugs have. A number of them went swimming and drowned. sigh. I didn't realize I'd have to clean buggy bath water...

It's warming up and the gerberas are blooming...

So are the gazanias... And it's so warm today (85) I thought it would be a good idea to wash the winter quilt that I just took off our bed.

"Some of the Geese Are Gone"
Suzanne Kistler, 1996

This is a close-up of the hand-quilting. The pattern is called "True Lover's Knot," and it's made of entwining feathers.

As I was washing the quilt in the bathtub, Pete's reading material caught my eye. I thought you might get a kick out of the title of the blue handbook. Not everyone has such interesting taste.

And since I showed you his reading, I thought I'd show you what I've been reading lately. Fair is fair.

The last thing I'll share is this mug that I found at Border's. My dad's given name is Henry, and I thought this was perfect for Father's Day. (He doesn't have a computer, no worries that I'm going to spoil the secret.)

I love the back. Isn't it great?

(The orchid was purchased at the local Visalia Arts gallery, at their yearly fundraiser.)

And that's what I've been up to, rather than the quilting that is supposedly #1 on my list of things to do today. Ah well, it's only 4:15. I still have time to get with the program, right? right!

Monday, May 12, 2008


Hip, hip, hooray!!! I got an acceptance letter via email today - good thing I checked the spam box!! One of my simpler river quilts has been accepted for the West Coast Wonders special exhibit at the new Long Beach Quilt Festival in July. How cool is that? Very cool. (The quilt is "Sierra Snow Melt.")

I haven't posted a picture of this quilt, you'll have to wait until July. I think that was one of the rules - it's not to be posted/published anywhere before the show. I guess that means I'm going to Long Beach in July. I'll have to see who I'm hanging around with. They said 38 quilts were chosen...I wonder how many were submitted?

A fun aspect of this special exhibit is that it will be traveling through August 2009, should I wish to grant it permission. You betcha, by golly, wow! Of course I'm giving it permission to travel. Bless you, young quilt, go forth and inspire! ;)

Tell you what, it's a lot easier to let a quilt go than it is a child. no doubt about it. Tomorrow our daughter flies off for Italy for two weeks. Have an EXCELLENT trip, Sweetie, and see all of that amazing art you've been reading/studying about for years!!! I love it when dreams are realized, don't you? :)

On the homefront, we're entering empty nest, week 3. So far, so good. It's still unnaturally quiet, but I guess we'll eventually adjust...

And now, I'm off to finish a wallhanging from a friend's pattern. I just need to quilt the border and add sleeve and binding. Piece of cake. Perhaps in the next day or two there will be pictures... stay tuned!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Simple Pleasures

The quilting malaise brought about by the onset of Empty Nest seems to have finally abated. Just in time! I was able to finish the most recent quilt-for-hire, and will deliver it tomorrow. I thought it would be fun to show you the quilting. Apparently Blogspot/Google thought it would be more fun to tip my photo on its end. I promise, I didn't do this on purpose. Just like the iris in the Iris Festival post, there seem to be gremlins at work in my machine.

I don't know that the quilting on the front of the quilt shows up well, but on the back, the star meandering looks pretty happy. I know that I'm happy with the way it turned out.

While I was working on the quilt-for-hire, I also found time to quilt this little Double 4-patch baby quilt. Wow. Talk about unheard of!! This baby isn't even due until October. I showed the quilt to my husband last night. "This is what happens if I hear about babies BEFORE they are born!!" (The last few quilts have been very late - I didn't even know their mamas were pregnant!) Hopefully he is so pleased (this is for one of his associates) that he will remember to inform me the next time one of his co-workers is expecting.

For me, simple pleasures include finishing a quilt or two and then marking them off the to do list. It's dreamy!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Not Much Happening

Birthday greetings to my Sister-in-Law Sharon!! Her gift box, with this card, is enroute to Alaska. I'm trusting that she does not have time to check the blog, and therefore the card will be a surprise. I'm surprised that I actually got one done this month. I've been terribly behind, and I think all April birthdays except my sister were card-free. Bad quilter.

I can't really say what's been taking my time. A bit of this, a bit of that. Today I've been quilting-for-hire. I got an email alerting me to another quilt in my future (on Monday), and a phone call that resulted in bringing yet another for-hire quilt home this morning. I definitely need to re-learn how to organize my days. I need to get more done.

I took a break from quilting to clean the bathroom. Crazy priorities, I know. But the bathroom was desperate, and I needed a bit of a break. As soon as I hit "publish post," I'm going back to that quilt and see if I can get it finished.

So much to do, so much procrastinating...not a good combination. And on top of that, the sun is shining. I want to go outside, pretend I'm a lizard and lie out there soaking up its warmth. That's not going to happen today. As I said, there is much to do, and catching rays is definitely NOT on the list.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Cinco de Mayo

Edwin L. Fischer
May 5, 1903-January 1990

As I notice today's date, I have to laugh. Today would have been my Grandfather's 105th birthday, were he still with us. He used to say, with his thick German accent "Happy birthday to me, it's a grand day: I have a birthday, and all of Mexico celebrates!!!"

signs of summer?

Will you look at this? Too bad all of the kids have graduated and we no longer need to collect insects for Biology. This lovely specimen was out on the patio last night. I discovered him as I was looking for matches to light the barbecue. Guess who's coming to dinner? I don't think so, Mr. Pretty Bug.

If you've never seen one of these moths up close, you are missing out on something amazing. Sure, they make me squeal and duck and cover when they're dashing about their business, but when they're pinned in a bug collection? The fuzz on their backs is as soft and fluffy as a kitty cat.

Here is the reason I bumped into the bug last night. Slab 'o beef for dinner, (aka London Broil). Our church's College/Career group meets weekly at our house, and I feed them dinner. This was plenty of protein for the group, with enough left over to feed us tonight as well.

It looks a lot better when it's cooked.

And as I walked into the house, Hecate was brave enough to not only stay put while I walked by, but to stay long enough to have her picture taken. What do you think? A tad cross-eyed? I'm certain her ancestry has some sort of Siamese...(see the dark on her head, along with her dark tail?) or maybe Himalayan?

I know, I know, there's nothing here about quilts or quilting or any of the reasons you tuned in today. I'm adjusting to empty nest, and quilting hasn't been a priority. I've almost finished a baby quilt, and I'm working on some birthday cards. One more for-hire quilt, and then I'm going to do my Hoffman Challenge...really, I am...July will be here sooner than I think...