Saturday, May 2, 2015

Yes, I live

Oh dear, faithful readers out there (if any of you remain).

Yes, yes;  I'm indeed alive and kicking...
... and crocheting...

... and teaching...

... and celebrating birthdays

... and watching Track meets

... and enjoying our animals during Spring

... and watching more Track meets

... and Volleyball matches

... and enjoying more animals...

... and more...

... and spending evenings at FFA banquets...

... and pruning/watering/feeding our inside garden

... reaping fruits of our labor (or...vegetables!)...

... and supervising Math competitions...

... and watching scary movies!
... and chaperoning Prom...

So, yes folks.  I'm alive and kicking.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Crochet deadline; plants doing well!!!

A new project; a new deadline has been underway for the past week.  A customer (via Etsy) requested a 90x95 afghan in the same colorway of another afghan I have for sale in the shop.  He's willing to wait the 6-8 weeks I've requested to complete it;  this will most definitely be the largest afghan I've made.  Each row is taking about 20 minutes to complete, increasing the length by 1/2", so... approx 60-65 hours will be needed to finish off the project.  Guess who's going to busy? ;)

Just prior to having the newest customer, I had been making progress on the Mystery Crochet-Along;  I had been worried up until the last clue -- I'm really liking how my colors are playing together!

And of COURSE, the plants are growing, growing, growing!  Yesterday morning, Cass and I had the task of transplanting many of the tomatoes, peppers and broccoli;  some herbs too.  For the first few minutes, I was really feeling overwhelmed!  I've never jumped the gun like this before.  I've never planted so MANY tomatoes before.  I was running out of transplanting containers.

Growth after transplanting last week (Week #4)

Current growth (Week #5).  The tomatoes look AMAZING!  I just hope I can keep them alive for another (*whiper*) ......... two months!  There is NO WAY tomatoes can go in the ground in our area before mid-end May.  *gulp*
Lesson learned. :)

Time to find some (LOTS) of 5-gallon pails...

Spring weather has hit!  Last weekend, we found ourselves enjoying the first 40 degree day since last Fall!  The girls couldn't wait to pull out their bikes and enjoy.
Since then, this past week, we actually hit temps of 60!  Hallelujah!  Most of the snow is now melted;  even snowbanks have mostly melted away :)

Paul decided to finally burn up the pile of rubble we've been growing for the past few years.  Bonfire time! 
*sigh*  I can only hope that our Spring is truly underway similar to 2012.  We had a stretch of weather just like this;  our first picnic on March 16 even.   Every week, we were all wondering...."Is this the week the temps will drop back down?  Is this the week we get a Spring snow storm?"
But, it never happened!  We had green grass in April;  by May we were ready to mow AND plant the garden still with a little nervousness.  The rule of thumb up here:  "never plant before Memorial weekend".
I was done with harvesting the whole garden in August that year;  I'd love for another year like that!!!

Did you enjoy PI day yesterday?  

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Quilting over embroidery - It can be done [Quilting]

A couple of weeks ago, MIL and FIL came for a visit, partially due to MIL needing to drop off some crib quilts she wanted me to machine quilt for her.
I've quilted some of her hand-embroidered quilts in the past.  The first time was the toughest because I struggled with the thought of, "Dare I really quilt over her embroidery?"
I had found only a few images via a google search about quilting over embroidery before attempting it for myself.  My biggest concern for quilting over the embroidery, of course, was losing the embroidery in all the quilting, but I don't think that really happened.  Another concern was 'catching' the embroidery with the machine quilting foot, but that never happened.
A concern for NOT quilting over the embroidery was whether the non-quilted areas would get all puffy looking in comparison to the quilted sections.
Therefore, in the end, the full pantograph quilting won out.  And MIL was satisfied with the results.

I had been putting off the quilting of these projects for her simply because it is SOOOOOO cold downstairs in the basement, specially in my open space where the quilting frame is.  At least in my sewing room, I can turn the space heater on, but not so much in the open area.
Therefore, hubby to the rescue this morning without me even asking him to do this.  He simply realized that it's COLD down there, and I NEEDED to get going on this quilting projects.
He uncapped one of the venting pipes from the wood furnace that is directly in line with my open quilt-frame space.  Yay!  It was actually reasonably comfortable while quilting my mini-marathon today.

The first two quilts went smoothly and quite quickly, using a pantograph "Climber" by Meredith England.

But as I unfolded the last two ....
Oh dear MIL.  I must must must stress to her again the importance of having at least 2" of extra width on each side for the backing and batting...

These last two.... well.... she kinda gave me zero.  In fact, in some spots, the batting almost equated to a -1" span. Ummmmm...... 

But, I did my best, and figured I'd trim off some of her edging if needed...
After breaking three (3) needles and dealing with some minor frustrations on the finishing edge...

They were both finished.

Quilting marathon -- a success.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Eggs and seedlings

Cass and I spent a bit of the morning outside tidying up the chicken coop, putting some nesting materials in the nesting boxes, and also carrying some hay down to the goats.

Two days ago, Cass shared the amazing news that there were eggs in the coop again!  Yay!!!!!  I'm always happy and excited at the time of year when the chickens start laying again.  It means that the daylight is getting longer, and the fried eggs will be tasting better! :D

The sunshine today was a very, very welcome sight!  The temps continue to be cold, cold, cold!  And anyone watching national weather lately knows that much of the nation is battling snow and cold, so... there's no point lingering on this topic.

Although, I'd LOVE to be one of my plants in the greenhouse right now!  
We're three weeks into our seeds/seedlings, and they have never done better. Between the toasty warm greenhouse, and the new grow-lights purchased this year, everything is doing superbly well.

I've been transplanting seedlings from germination plugs into small containers on-and-off since last week.  But I'm running out of containers due to the over-planting it appears I've done.  Ha! ;)
FIL left a stack of papers after his visit two weekends ago, so I pulled up a bookmarked YouTube video on DIY seed pots, and I spent the morning doing some origami.  I watched a variety of DIY options, and tried a couple of the others, but this one simply seemed sturdier.

When I started the basil two weeks ago, it was an after-thought.  It actually only became a thought when I was tossing out the bathroom garbage and saw two toilet-paper rolls.  I cut them in half, tossed in some starting-soil and sprinkled some seeds on top.

Now.... time to give them more room!

This tray now holds some basil, parsley, marigolds and convolvulus (Morning Glory).  A lot of the literature I've read about Parsley mentions how difficult it is to germinate.  ??  It didn't seem all that tough (or long) to me.  My Rosemary seeds haven't germinated yet;  but I'm remaining patient.  There's enough other green goin' on in there that's keepin' me happy happy happy.

These marigolds and convolvulus were from my first planting three weeks ago and are doing excellent with 14-15 hours of grow-light everyday.  Unfortunately, they've been moved out from under the grow lights to make room for some tomato transplants.  I guess I can only wait to see how they do in only 10-11 hours of natural light now, on the top shelf of our new mini-greenhouse.

Yuppers.  TWINS !! :D  Our older one (right) was a gift from my parents..... five (?) years ago.  After some hemming-n-hawing, and a little bit of online searching, it's twin was purchased and arrived on Wednesday.  

And oh boy!  The lettuce that was planted last Sunday is ready for transplanting too.  **shrug**  I've never done lettuce inside, so I don't know if this 'germination box' is deep enough to simply keep them in the tray rather than go through the process of replanting them. (??)  

And just to the right of the lettuce box -- GARLIC!  While shopping last Sunday morning, in addition to some 'good' garlic bulbs, I brought home one bulb that (most likely) no one else was going to pick;  it seemed that every clove was starting to sprout.  So..... why not?!?  I've never done garlic.  I don't know if this garlic is "safe" for Wisconsin.  But....holy cow!  It's jumping out of the lil' containers I threw them in.  They TOO are ready for larger containers!

And even with two mini-greenhouses, I'm starting to run out of shelving space :D  

Reason to smile #368:  My three week old tomato seedlings!!!  I definitely chalk up their progress to the grow lights.  And now, the younger tomato seedlings are joining them under the lights (paper pots pictured front).

No quilting today, but tomorrow I'll have to spend some time on my quilting frame.  MIL handed three baby quilts to me when they visited two weeks ago, but I never found the ambition last weekend.  Time will quickly run out, so I really just need to buckle down tomorrow.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Crochet Along (Part 2) & Transplanting seedlings

This past week has been extremely quiet on any crafty front.  Zero quilting or sewing has been completed, and only three (of 20) of the Part 2 Crochet Along mystery units have been made.

Instead, most of my free time this weekend has been spent with our mini-greenhouse.

The initial seeds from two weeks ago are coming up nicely and were transplanted into small cell units to live out the next few weeks.  
So many new things being tried this year.  First off -- we're I'm starting WAY WAY earlier than ever before.  Many new seeds are on my docket, including a Strawberry Popcorn seed (pictured above - day 7).

I just tried out a new method of germinating today, too.  After reading up on germination trays and seed transplanting for growing in pots, I scrounged around the house and found an inexpensive setup that should work out okay for a germination tray.  The bottom of a JCPenny's box and an old cookie sheet have been repurposed to act as a tray for a little bed of lettuce starter.  **shrug**  It holds dirt so far :D

I knew I had things on my to-do list this weekend, but, I truthfully didn't really care mind if I didn't get to them.  ie:  grading papers.  Sorry, but, I wanted the weekend off.   I have some quilting projects that direly need my attention sooner than later, but it was SOOOOOO cold in the basement.  
Therefore, I took my time transplanting all the 2-week old seedlings and prettied up the mini-greenhouse.  It's officially full.  I guess it's a good thing I ordered a new mini-greenhouse, due to arrive on Tuesday :D

This plant is looking much much better now that I took the time to remove the aloe vera plant that was crowding it.    Can anyone enlighten me on the name??
Please imagine this lil' pot FILLED with not one, not two, not three, not even four, but FIVE aloe vera plants.  It was LONG LONG overdue for repotting.

This was the smallest of the five, and it looks so sickly.  All of them had started to yellow.  I received the planter from my MIL..... five (?) years ago.  I think at the time, there were only two aloe plants present, in addition to a beautiful strand of that other plant.  

Never having had an aloe vera plant, I sat down today and did some self-educating on how aloe plants grow and propagate.  It's truly amazing the power of education we have at our dispersal via the Internet!

Sunny's house (Candace's goldfish from her birthday) was also given a cleaning, so he was allowed to swim around our pitcher for a lil' bit.  

And as always, trying to fit in time for family and fun is often attempted, but not always followed through on.  However, last night, the two youngest and I headed to the roller skating rink in a town 20 miles south while the oldest went skiing with a friend.  Paul finished up his shift yesterday and now has a few days off :D