Driveway Dining

It was another busy day yesterday, and I wasn't able to make my way into the sewing room until 3:30 p.m. That gave me just enough time to finish up the remaining two Marvelous Monday Mini blocks. The pieces for the Jacob's Ladder block were cut, and I just needed to sew them together. Despite laying it out ahead of time, you would not believe how many times I sewed it together wrong, then took it apart and sewed it back together.

Or, just looking at it, maybe you would. Next was the pinwheel block. The center points don't match up, but oh well.

It's good practice sewing together these minis, and for now, I'm cutting myself some slack where perfection is concerned...just like always. Now I'm caught up on this project.

As I've mentioned, the catio window is installed in the new camper now, and our next goal is to "acclimate" the kitties. A few evenings ago, we got the bright idea to sit out there for about an hour with the kitties, have a beverage, and watch the news. We didn't choreograph it very well, and...to make a long story short...both kitties escaped. We then spent the next hour trying to round up Sadie.

We can't blame Sadie's anxiety for this whole episode, but she is the more challenging of the two. With that in mind, we decided to try a product I'd read about on the "Traveling with Cats" Facebook page. It's a Sentry Calming Collar. They are made for both cats and dogs. 

Several folks on the Facebook page said they'd tried it and that it made a difference. So, I went to my favorite shopping mall, Amazon, and ordered a box. Then, I went to the door to find it had been delivered in the intervening 30 seconds. Not really, but you know...they're pretty fast. So anyway, they arrived yesterday, and we put one on Sadie right away. It looks a little like the old-fashioned flea collars. The plan was to put one on Smitty too, but we haven't done that yet. He's older and a little less crazy than she is.

It's hard to say whether it's making a difference, but it isn't bothering her either. About an hour later, we decided to give it another try. Dinner was made, and so we toted everything out to the camper that we thought we'd need. Then we each grabbed up a cat and loaded all of us into the camper for the next couple of hours for an evening of fun and exploration. At first, there was sheer



They each gazed longingly at the door, willing it to open.

Ordinarily, the kitchen counters are off limits.

As is the dining room table.

For now, we just decided to be permissive and let them explore every nook and cranny.

Smitty gazed all around looking for an escape route.

Sadie was the first to go out on the catio.

Eventually, they calmed down, and we unpacked our dinner of Bibb Lettuce, Chicken, and Cherry Salad with Creamy Horseradish Dressing

There were two beautiful heads of Bibb lettuce in our last CSA share, and I'm always trying to figure out ways to use the radishes. We like radishes just fine, but I'm not accustomed to using them. Anyway...this was a new recipe, and it was really good. It isn't on our diet plan, but we figured...how bad can it be? Besides, Mike has lost 13 pounds, and I've lost 8, so we're feeling like we can branch out one or two meals out of the week.

While we were eating, the kitties were getting more and more relaxed. I was wearing shorts, and I'd taken a small quilt out to protect my legs. Eventually, they were both thinking they might take a nap. Quilts are cat magnets, as I'm sure you know.

I spread it out for Sadie, which meant that she lost interest in it immediately. Smitty thought he might like it though.

And then Smitty went out on the catio, and all was well, for the most part.

After a brief moment of fisticuffs, they both settled in.

We finished our dinner and relaxed for another ten minutes or so, and then we packed everybody back into the house. It was a pretty successful outing.

Our plan is to try this one or two more times before attempting a driveway sleepover. If all goes well, we'll try bringing in the slides and then going out for a ride that ends back at home. We don't want any escapees on the road, and that is for sure!

There's no rush on this because we aren't planning to take them with us before our August trip to Central Oregon to watch the solar eclipse. From what we understand, the entire country will be descending on us to watch, and so we want to stake out a boondocking spot earlier in the week. On the other hand, we can see the eclipse from our house. We're just trying to make an outing of it. If it turns out to be too hot in Central Oregon, we might camp in the driveway again.

Today we're halfway expecting the window washer dude to show up. He comes once a year, and he's past due this year. That will give you some idea how much the windows need washing. Also, we're having our neighbors over for dinner tonight. It's an easy dinner, with little advance preparation, and so it won't take a lot of time. If I can stay out of the window washer dude's way, I'm going to try to catch up on the quilt-along going on at The Inbox Jaunt.

Here's the last bit of quilting I did on it. I'm two weeks behind, and that is the last bit of catching up I need to do.

Before I go, here's something new. My friend Sandra told me about a project going on via the Brooklyn Art Library. You can read more about it by clicking on the badge in my right side bar. It's called The Sketchbook Project.

Basically, you pay them $30, and they send you a sketchbook. You can write, draw, include photographs, or fill it with whatever you want to. Then, you return it by March 31, 2018, and it becomes a permanent part of their collection. My plan is to include photographs with a short caption. Sounds like fun!


Simple Things

It's been busy at the Three Cats Ranch ever since we got home. There's a lot to catch up on, and just plain plenty to do. Summer is always that way, and having Mike home has added things to the to-do list. It's all fun stuff, don't get me wrong. Still, we're both striving to establish some kind of new normal in our now both-retired lives, and it continues to be a work in progress.

Business aside, I found time to finish up the scrub jay pattern yesterday. I had yet to highlight the major sections and fill in the tick marks that will assist me in matching up seams when I start sewing it together.

Now the largest sections are cut apart, and it's pinned up to its foam board.

With animal quilts, the best approach is to start with the eyes and work outward. This is where I'll start.

I spent some time studying Ann Shaw's gallery of quilts. With one exception, she used some fun and wild eyes in all of her animals, and so I will too. Somewhere on this stretch of fabric I'll find an eye for my scrub jay.

There are some pretty fabrics in my stash to use for the background. This pretty pastel batik is a long-time resident. My philosophy with fabric is a sort of Field of Dreams philosophy. ("If you build it, he will come.") With regard to fabric, "If you buy it, a quilt will come." Sometimes I fall in love with a fabric, and I simply must have it in my stash, if only to take it out and stroke it from time to time...pour myself a cocktail...gaze into its eyes...ahem. Excuse me. You get the idea, I'm sure.

Also...this one would be pretty. There will be lots of blues in my quilt, and so the pastel orange might be nice too.

Time will tell...and time is really the deciding factor right now. There's a whole lot of dreaming going on in my sewing room, but scant sewing.

After that, I wondered if the echinacea was blooming yet, and so I strolled through the garden to see what's up. The echinacea has been maddeningly slow to do anything, but there are buds on all six plants. It's just another opportunity to be patient. One of the daylilies was opened, and looking so pretty.

So...not much going on aside from the daylily, but it was still good to get outside for a bit. There was some housework to do, and then I got to work making some more hearts for the I Found a Quilted Heart campaign. I'm calling it a "campaign," which is the only word I have for it. It's not really a campaign though. Let's just leave words associated with politics out of quilting, shall we? So anyway...here are the two hearts (front and back) from yesterday.

Mike and I are going grocery shopping today, but we're also going down to the little farmer's market in our town to see if we can score some more cherries. The market doesn't open until 1:30 and so we'll take a walk down Newberg Main Street before hand. I'll leave a heart somewhere along the way. Now I'm watching the website and Facebook page like a hawk, hoping someone will report one of the hearts found. I've linked to the website back there. If you check out the stories of hearts reported found, some of them are quite, um, heart-warming.

With those finished, I got to work catching up on the Marvelous Monday Minis. This first one gave me a bit of trouble. If you check out the page where this first one was posted, you'll see that the picture associated with the measurements is a nine-patch. So I read the measurements and made a nine-patch...and it was totally off! Then I realized I'd made my squares 1 1/2 inches instead of 1 1/4 inches, and so I took it all apart and remade it with the right cuts. But it was still off! WTF? Then I started looking more closely and realized that the center was supposed to be a four-patch. Geez. I can only think that random photo of a nine-patch was a mistake. Whatever. This took way longer than it should have.

I'm trying to decide whether to be mad about this. What do you think? I'm always willing to generate an appropriate amount of outrage if it's required...on the other hand...maybe I'll just get on with the next one.

So I had the cutting all done for the next one when Erik called.

Then I spent the remainder of my sewing time gabbing with him on the phone. A person could find worse ways to spend their day.

It was time to pick up the CSA share after that. Just look at this monster head of Romaine from yesterday's share. You're going to make a marvelous Chicken Caesar Salad, my darling.

When the veggies were all put away, I planned the next week's menu and made up my shopping list. That was pretty much all the was left of the day.

But here's something:

Kitties aren't the only ones who enjoy sunning themselves. The squirrels have been a constant source of amusement so far this summer. They're minding their manners a little better, and so we haven't taken any drastic measures to cull the herd. Yet. We're thinking they can stay for now. With the peanuts under lock and key, they're helping themselves to the volunteer pansies now. Since I haven't planted any annuals this year, I'm not bothered by them mowing the blossoms off the pansies. In a different year, I might generate more outrage. (See above.) For now, we'll just chuckle at their antics and enjoy the nice weather and save the outrage for something else.

Oh yes, and I almost forgot...The Emperor's mom sent me this photo of him with his pawtrait.


A Sunny Day

You have no idea how happy we are to see the sun. It has been a long wet spring...one of the wettest on record. When we left to head south back in early May, we hoped the wet weather would be over by the time we returned. Since we've been back, it has rained nearly every day. Mike was only able to finish mowing the field yesterday.

It was a perfect day to start our regular Monday walks. Matthew has asked to come along as much as he's available, and we were happy to have him. We walked just a little way on the Fanno Creek Trail before we came to a picnic area with a large tree. I spied a place to sow my heart into the wild, leaving it in among the branches. When we came back this way, there was a family using the picnic area, but the heart was still where I left it.

That's two for two, and so I'll need to make some more today. 

I would be remiss if I didn't warn you of the dangers facing us on the trail this day.

Almost immediately, we were confronted by sure and certain death.

Our hero, Matthew, forded the stream ahead of us. After watching him, we both felt brave enough to try it on our own. Life vests might have been in order.

There were plenty of blooming things to see along the way.

Included in the mix were these wild roses.

Just a little ways further, there were rose hips.

 These were tiny, all growing in a big patch.

The Oregon blackberries are blooming, and the bees are all over them.

 I spied this next one in the parking lot when we returned to our cars.

Sue and I would ordinarily walk twice as far on this trail, but we walked just to the duck pond. Remember the ducklings we saw this past spring?

They're not little any more. It looks like quite a few survived.

On the other side of the path, the pond was filled with little minnows. We often see a Great Blue Heron here, but not on this day.

And on such a sunny day, how could our shadow selves not get in on the act?

When we got home from our walk, I had just enough time to take a shower before heading off to the vet with Sadie. Sadie got her immunizations and a clean bill of health. The last time she visited the vet was shortly after her "Gotcha" Day. When we adopted her she weighed 10.9 pounds. At our visit yesterday, she weighed 11.2 pounds, so she's maintained her weight well.

It was after 3:00 p.m. when I got home, and it seemed a little too late in the day to start any sewing. Instead, I finished the last of the stitching on Block 11 for the Hocuspocusville quilt.

The next time I work on this, I'll be doing the last block:

With that one finished, it was time to make up Block 6 for the Wine Country quilt. This is one of my favorites for this quilt.

This morning, I got started on the stitching

while the kitties soaked up the morning sun.

Today is a CSA pick-up day, but the morning is reserved for sewing. There are still the Monday Mini blocks to catch up on...three of those...and then I'm two weeks behind on the Quilt-Along happening at The Inbox Jaunt. If I can finish all of that, I'll get back to work on the scrub jay quilt. All that's left now is to make the "tick marks" on the pattern. Those are used to match up the seams when I start sewing it together. When those are in place, I'll be ready to start auditioning fabrics.