From My Carolina Home

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Apple Festival 2014

One of the highlights of the year around here is the annual Apple Festival held every Labor Day Weekend.  It is four days of fun, three with vendors and shows on the stage in front of the courthouse, and then the King Apple Parade on Monday. Henderson county grows 85% of the apples in the state.

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The number of varieties grown here will boggle the mind. I even found a new one to me this weekend, a sheepnose (also called a crow egg) apple! It is because the bottom of the apple resembles a sheep’s nose. It has a medium balance of tart to sweet.

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There were 14 growers at the fair this year, with all kinds of beautiful apples to buy, taste and just admire.

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Here’s my favorite variety, honey crisp!  Nicely sweet, goes really well with peanut butter.

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Ever have apple ice cream? It is wonderful! Tastes like an apple pie.

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The vendors had all sorts of things to sell to eat using apples, like apple pie..

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and fried apple pies…

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jams, chutneys and butters…

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apple bread …

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apple bread pudding…

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beignets…

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and whole caramel apples.

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It was hot, so we didn’t stay but a couple of hours.

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And I know I took way too many pictures, but don’t you think this one is pretty?

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Here’s what made it home with me.  The big green ones are Jonagolds.

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I hope I have enough cinnamon!

     Kitchen Table Art


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Rayon Challis Projects

Recently I pulled out a bunch of stuff to take to a sale, and among the fabrics were several pieces of beautiful rayon challis.  I used to make a lot of my clothes, and these fabrics have been around my closet for years.  I kept thinking I would sell them, but no takers when I took them to the various sidewalk sales.  I actually thought about just donating them somewhere, but the last time I got them out, I was again struck by how pretty the prints are.  I was inspired by the Lace Edged Skirt refashion project too.  It is fun to have someone comment on a garment I am wearing, and be able to say “I made it”.

I have about five yards of this green challis and I think it will become a set of pajamas.  I do need some new ones.  There might be enough to get a sleeveless shell out of it too.  One thing my wardrobe needs is more prints.  Or should it be a skirt and top?  Decisions, decisions!!

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I had about 2 yards of this yellow print, and I made the Rayon Challis Three Season Skirt from it.

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There’s about 4 yards of this light purple.

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I made a skirt and blouse out of this wonderful print years ago and wore them out. I still have enough of this to make a nightgown.

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I like this floral on black.  Skirt or blouse, or nightgown?

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I only had a few inches width of this one, but it is almost 60 inches wide.

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So, the first project will be a quick scarf. I folded it in half right sides together and sewed around the edges leaving an opening for turning. I used my serger to sew it.

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I used my ‘heads up’ pinning method to iron in the creases for hand sewing the opening.  Use glass head pins so you can iron over them.  Push the pins straight down into your ironing board to hold the fold in place, then iron.  The pins will lay on their sides when you do this, and the fold will be sharp for hand sewing.

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Finished in less than an hour!

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The other pieces will be turned in to skirts, blouses or pajamas.  I have patterns still, so all I need is some elastic for waistbands.  I’ll share those projects as I get them done.


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Dog Days of August

It was a cool morning in August last Sunday, so I did a little garden cleanup.  I needed to do some weeding, and clean out the dead flower spikes from the day lilies.  I am pleased with the flowers this year, but the vegetables have been a complete bust.  In case you all think I only post successes, here are a couple of epic failures.   The spaghetti squash seeds I planted all got eaten by critters.  The garlic disappeared.  My onion only make one scrawny green onion.  Out of five tomato plants, I got a whopping four tomatoes.  Yes, there are only three here, I ate the other one, OK?.  It was tasty, but about the same size as these.

Veggies

No squash, no peppers, and the bear or a rabbit got my entire spinach crop.  The basil is doing well in a pot,

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but the parsley has barely grown at all,…

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same for the sage. I just don’t understand it, they got the right amount of water and sunlight but no go.  I worked compost into the bed before planting so they’d have nutrients too.  Ungrateful little suckers.  The bloody grass grows there but refuses to grow on the bald patch in the yard.

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The hydrangea never bloomed either, like most hydrangeas across the country, the winter was too cold for it.

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And the damn bear ate all but two of my peaches.  Serves me right for picking just two to let the other dozen ripen another day.  Next day they were all gone, pits and all.

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On the other hand, my friend brought me two monster zucchini from her mother in law’s garden.  They don’t get out there often enough for picking.

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Lest you think I am exaggerating, I weighed them. Holy moly!

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2 pounds 2 ounces on that one, and one pound eight ounces on this one!

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I have experimented with these for several dishes, all have been epic failures.  I practiced my new knife skills, though.

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Oh, they tasted well enough for us to eat the results, but the dishes looked awful.  There is so much water in zucchini that the casserole was just too watery.  Just close your eyes and pretend it doesn’t look like something the dog barfed up.   Mmmm, zucchini.

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I tried zucchini chips several times, all failures.

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They remained soggy, no amount of baking would crisp them up. Not to be totally defeated, I stacked them up as a layered veggie side dish and ate them.  I thought I’d have a new dish for all of us, but back to the stove.  So I baked a loaf of fruit bread and forgot to put the butter in the batter.  Talk about a rubber mess!  Yet another epic fail for today!!  (Look, dear, homemade dog biscuits!)  What really bothers me is the waste of good ingredients.  But Sunday evening I got a very sweet note of support from someone who just found my blog, and she lifted my spirits immensely!  Thank you for your note, Johnnie.  I started again and made two loaves of my Banana Cinnamon Bread.

So, the flowers on the porch are still going well, the hanging baskets are starting to look a little ragged, but the torenias in the shade still look beautiful.  The pink geranium may yet give another bloom before autumn.

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The butter yellow petunias continue to sing with the verbena, pink impatiens and blue lobelia,

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and I still marvel at the other lobelia, how full and lush it looks with those dark intense blue flowers.

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These New Guinea impatiens still are blooming just as much as they were in May.  I love white flowers.

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Out in the forest, nothing is blooming, but the fruits are coming in.  Blueberries, peaches, and strawberries are fresh and fragrant at the farmer’s market.  Our Apple Festival is Labor Day Weekend and we will have loads of varieties to choose from.  There is nothing like a Honey Crisp!!  Never heard of that?  Well, it’s because we eat all we can here in NC.  Very few make it elsewhere.  More on that later, I have to go buy butter.

 

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National Dog Day 2014

This is a very special day for dog lovers and close to my heart.  The website National Dog Day lists a number of ways to celebrate this day by helping local humane societies, walking a neighbor’s dog, or pampering your own.

We raised these two darlings from puppies, long before we knew what a puppy mill was.  They were such a big part of our family, and when they passed away, it left big holes in our hearts.

Baron and Ginger

The sweet boy on the left is a schnauzer named Baron, our first furkid, and completely daddy’s boy.  The gorgeous girl on the right was my forever dog.  You know, the one that makes a place in your heart that cannot be filled with any other, the one that you bond with like no other.  This is Ginger, a Welsh Terrier.

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Next came Tessie, a rescue Welsh Terrier that was only with us for 20 months.  She died at the age of 5 from a heart condition undiagnosed during the first three years of her life.  Again, a puppy mill story.  By now we knew better and made every effort to adopt our furkids from reputable rescue groups.

Happy Tess

Sweet Tessie came to us frightened of everything, but gradually came to know that life could be fun, and running free was a delight!

After Tessie, we adopted our current Welsh Terrier, Psychodog. She is OCD, has traits of autism and ADD, and for years was on Prozac.  I told the vet it was going to be her or me.  She has never been the cuddly dog that Ginger was, she is her own dog.

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She is older now, and takes medication for seizures.  She is slowing down and sleeps a lot more, but still enjoys walkies.  She is almost 14 years old now, a little deaf, and doesn’t see quite as good.  She does enjoy being a bit of a fashionista.  This black sweater with the faux fur collar is her favorite winter look.  Here she is curled up in her favorite sleeping spot with her blanket that she loves to dig around.

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Furkids add so much to our lives. They love us no matter what. They wake up happy, wagging a tail just to be near us. They are there when we need a lift, to lick our faces and make us smile. Their unfailing loyalty and unconditional admiration is a wondrous thing, spreading joy wherever they go. If only our own lives could be so simple and uncomplicated!!

We can learn a lot from dogs. Some years ago, I found this poem in a column by Ann Landers, and I still find it to be profound wisdom.  I am not certain, but it may have been published in a Lake Wobegon book.  I have been unable to find the original author to give credit.

“If you can start the day without caffeine,

If you can get going without pep pills,

If you can resist complaining and boring people with your problems,

If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it,

If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time,

If you can overlook it when something goes wrong through no fault of your own and those you love take it out on you,

If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,

If you can ignore a friend’s limited education and never correct him,

If you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend,

If you can face the world without lies and deceit,

If you can conquer tension without medical help,

If you can relax without liquor,

If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,

If you can say honestly that deep in your heart you have no prejudice against creed, color, religion, or politics,

Then, my friends, you are almost as good as your dog.”

Sweet Face

Isn’t she cute in her holiday sweater?

If you are thinking of adding a furkid to your family, please consider rescuing a forever friend from the local shelter, breed rescue or humane society. You can save a life today, and the rewards will be worth it. If you cannot have a dog (or another dog) consider volunteering at a local shelter. They always need help to clean cages, walk the dogs and just provide much appreciated ear scratches and tummy rubs.  You can donate food or towels, toys or just cash, there is always a need. If that isn’t possible for you, please consider donating unused and unwanted items to a Humane Society Thrift store.  Every little bit helps for those who cannot speak for themselves.

How will you celebrate National Dog Day?

 


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Block of the Month – August 2014

This month’s block is Variable Star from Quilt Blocks Galore.The quilt shop chose yellow for the main color this month.

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You will need the following cuts using my method of chain piecing instead of strippy piecing. It really helps when you are doing these blocks to check the supply requirements at the end before you start. On this block, the center square is not addressed in the cutting, it is only referenced on the second page.
Yellow

3 inch squares – 4

3-3/4 inch squares – 4

2-1/2 inch square – 1

Grey

3 inch squares – 4

3-3/4 inch squares – 4

2-1/2 x 5-1/2 strips – 4

The tip this month is using blue painters tape on your ruler helps to quickly line up an odd size, here 3-3/4 inch lines.

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So we get all our squares cut.

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On the large squares, mark a diagonal line on your background, pair up with the yellow, and sew on either side 1/4 inch away from the line.

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I would much rather chain piece like this, it just goes faster for me.

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Be careful here, you are going to cut the squares on the opposite diagonal first. Note the seams are running left to right and the cut is top to bottom.

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Now cut the triangles in half along your marked line between the sewing lines.

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Now there are four HST units, put them together to form hourglass units.

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Nest your seams so the points are perfect. Note I changed back to the quarter-inch foot for accuracy.

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Now square up the hourglass units to 3 inches.  See my tutorial on Squaring up Blocks if you need a refresher.

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Lay out the block to ensure your hourglass units are pointing the right way for the block design.

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Assemble the four patch units in the corners first. I also did the center horizontal sashings.

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Now sew the four patches to the center vertical sashings.

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Lastly assemble the rows into the final block.

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All done!!

For those hopping over from the Around the World Blog Hop, I am being tagged today by two other quilt bloggers.  The post about my blog and the bloggers I will tag will be on Sept 1.  The posts are a week apart so we don’t get overwhelmed with hops.  In the meantime, please look around my blog and I hope to see you again next week!

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Giveaway Winner

The random number generator has spun its wheels and picked a winner for the giveaway.

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Congratulations to Vickie!!

“Thanks so much for sharing all of this plus a bonus a chance to win the bag of goodies. LOVE the green color!”

I’ll be sending you an email to get your prize to you.  Thank you to everyone that commented to enter.

Happy Quilting!


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More AQS Show Pearls and a Giveaway!!

One of the nicest, most genuine people I met at the AQS Charlotte show was Jamie Wallen.  His youtube videos literally saved my sanity when I was having trouble with my longarm tensions.  Warm, caring, and wonderfully encouraging, Jamie shares everything he can about free motion quilting, cramming an 8-hour course into 3 hours.

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His ruler design is great, with an angled handle that makes it easy to control.  Several of us tested this theory in another class using both a flat ruler and one with a perpendicular handle.  Neither of these were as easy to control as the ones from Jamie’s line, Quilters Apothecary.  I got both a straight edge and a curved edge ruler.

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One of the pearls of wisdom from Jamie was this – if you break a titanium needle, it will not break cleanly.  It shatters.  If this happens to you, be sure you take out the old broken needle, remove your bobbin case, and flood the bobbin hook shuttle with machine oil to flush out the shards.  Then while the needle is still out, run the machine slowly to work the oil around and get the tiny shrapnel out, wipe off the hook then reinsert your bobbin and a new needle.  Jamie says this will prevent damage to the bobbin case and shuttle hook mechanism.

His designs were just stunning, and I wrote to ask what I might show on the blog.  Jamie and Rich generously said to share whatever I wanted.  So here are a couple of his beautiful designs.

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Stunning aren’t they?!!! Jamie uses a water soluble marking pen in blue, and removes the marks with Sew Clean.  I tried this at home (of course I had to get a bottle from Jamie and Rich at the show) and it works great.  Plus it has a nice citrus scent.

He had lots of designs to show us, impossible to soak up all he had to offer in three hours. Did you know that wool battings will prevent creases in your quilts?  I didn’t!  Another pearl!!  I will need to investigate wool batting!!

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So, we got to draw for a bit, then sew a bit on the Gammill machines set up for us.  I wish I had taken a picture of the set up.  There were eight 12-foot tables with two longarms on each one, so 16 spots to practice!  Jamie says it takes 6-8 hours of practice for a design to be smooth, so practice first.  I just got a whiteboard that I’ll keep next to my chair to practice shapes in the evenings.  Here’s part of my practice piece.

Jamie's free motion

He also taught us how to do these delightful bleeding hearts. I just loved these and they weren’t as hard as you might think.

bleeding hearts quilting design

If you’d like to learn from Jamie, see his free videos at Jamie Wallen Quilting Videos.  I highly recommend these videos especially the one on longarm tension!!  If you ever have a chance to see him in person, go!!

Now to the giveaway!! While I was at the AQS show in Jamie’s class, I received this neat gift from Gammill, in fact I got more than one since I took more than one class in the room with the Gammill machines. The little kit has an 8 x 10-inch lunch bag sized tote, a beautiful set of silver and gold tone thread snips, needle gripper key chain, tape measure, retractable snip lanyard, a chapstick for lips, a four piece nail emery board and smoother, and a spritz hand sanitizer.

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So, I will give one away to a faithful reader! If you are a follower of my blog, just leave a comment on this post, any tip or comment on quilting or Jamie’s videos, and how you follow to be entered in the random drawing on Friday afternoon.  International entries welcome!!  Good luck!!   Sorry, giveaway has been done, but stay tuned, there will be more.

 

Linking up

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