Finished Quilt Top

Every minute I spend posting to this blog, I could be working on my art quilt….which is due January 11th at the local quilt guild meeting if I want it to be in the January Quilt Show.

This is what I had to work with around Thanksgiving: I was arranging the poppy appliques and trying to figure out where they looked best. There was an awful lot of pinning and re-arranging going on before I settled on where each flower looked best.

After looking at it for a while, I realized I was going to need a couple more poppies for the design to feel balanced. I made a couple of appliques at the dining room table; here you see the pieces cut out, but not yet sewn together:

And here’s the finished applique:

If I worked on this before dinner time, I got this look from the corgis in the house:

They are staring at the dining room table. Where I am sewing. Not eating, and not making them dinner.

This is how dinner looks:

Baxter eats about 1/4 cup of wet food and then conks out for a bit while Bearbear attacks his kibble and peanut butter filled Kong toy.

I lost a whole evening of sewing at Thanksgiving time making pies with that super-special lard I blogged about a few weeks ago; yum yum, here are 2 sweet-potato pies and an apple pie and they were DELICIOUS:

Then, upon further inspection of my art quilt, I decided that the satin-stitching wasn’t dense enough: in certain places, because I was using light thread on dark fabric, you could see the fabric through the stitch. So. I put stabilizer under all of my reverse applique poppy shapes and put down another layer of satin stitch on top of the existing stitch. It took FOREVER. I was going crazy. But, the end result is much better: you can’t see it too well here, but, the orange thread on the right side of the sewing machine needle is 2 layers of satin-stitch and the orange thread on the left side is just one layer:

In the photo, it looks insignificant; but trust me, the real thing looks greatly improved with my sewing due-diligence.

My goal was to have the quilt top done–absolutely done–by the end of November, so I could spend all December quilting. Which I hope will be enough time. Here’s the finished quilt-top: pressed, all bits of thread snipped, and looking pretty darn good:

I met my deadline! I’ve already sewn together my muslin backing for the quilt, gotten my batting; I’ll put the quilt sandwich together Friday and get quilting this weekend.

Wish me luck. And just a few chiropractic visits.

Le Serpent Rouge In Tucson

Last night Le Serpent Rouge was in Tucson. I was stunned that something so cool would land in Tucson for an evening; how atypical. I’m still trying to figure out how to describe what I saw. It was such a stunning performance of live music and belly dance with a definite feeling of the 1920s, flappers, swing and silent movies.

No videos or cameras were allowed; though this didn’t stop many with smart-phones from recording non-stop. I really can’t take a photo if it’s against the wishes of the performer, though. There’s a few video clips on Youtube that give an idea of the show; click here to watch.

Best Pie Crust Yet!

Yes, that is a 4# tub of lard. But it’s really good lard, which I had shipped from Prairie Pride Farms in Minnesota; they are one of the few sources of lard with no trans-fats. Lard makes the BEST pie crust, but sadly, all lard you buy in the store now is shelf-stable:  the pig fat–which normally would need to be kept cold to preserve it–is instead pumped up with hydrogen to keep it “fresh” and also full of trans-fats.

It’s bad enough to eat saturated fat, but can you imagine eating saturated fat that is also artificially hydrogenated? Yuck.

Plus, that kind of lard comes from industrial pigs. Pigs full of chemicals; and chemicals tend to be stored in animal fat.

Now that it’s finally gotten cool, and the holidays are around the corner, I thought I’d brush up on my pie skills. Above, my pie crusts; the 2 on the right are going to be the top-crusts.

I must say, the crust rolled out like a dream and it was really easy to lift off the counter and deposit in the pie tin: nothing broke.

I chopped up 10 average-sized organic granny smith apples.

I then tossed the apples with flour, cornstarch, sugar, lemon juice and just a pinch of pumpkin pie spice. I’m not a big fan of lots of spice in my apple pie.

Above, the assembled pie; an egg wash was used to brush the top and help squish down the sides. I didn’t pre-cook the pie filling, something my mom and dad were amazed at when they tasted my pie (they loved it). It’s such a gamble, making fresh fruit pie, unless you really know your fruit and how it cooks down.

I was feeling adventurous, though, knowing what a risk it is! But the pay-off, if it turned out….yum.

Below, the finished pies. When I cut into them, the filling was a little bit runny….but not much.


If you want great pie crust, you need great lard; and that, gentle readers, cannot be found in the grocery store–even the local Mexican grocery stores here in Tucson–anymore.


I got this email from my Aunt Mary in Hingham, MA today; it’s a list of 25 really bad puns and it was the best laugh of the day:

Puns for Educated Minds


The fattest knight at King Arthur’s round table was Sir Cumference.

He acquired his size from too much pi.


I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian .


She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.


A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class, because it was a weapon of math disruption.


No matter how much you push the envelope, it’ll still be stationery.


A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.


A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.


Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.


A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it.


Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.


Atheism is a non-prophet organization.


Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other: ‘You stay here; I’ll go on a head.’


I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.


A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab centre said: ‘Keep off the Grass.’


The midget fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.


The soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.


A backward poet writes inverse.


In a democracy it’s your vote that counts. In feudalism it’s your count

that votes.


When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.


If you jumped off the bridge in Paris, you’d be in Seine .


A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, ‘I’m sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger.’


Two fish swim into a concrete wall.  One turns to the other and says ‘Dam!’


Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can’t have your kayak and heat it too.


Two hydrogen atoms meet.  One says, ‘I’ve lost my electron.’ The other says ‘Are you sure?’ The first replies, ‘Yes, I’m positive.’


Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root  canal? His goal: transcend dental medication.

Quilt Top Is Almost Finished

Progress is bleeping slow, that’s all I can say. Having a day job and trying to get an art project done right now seem to me to be mutually exclusive occupations.

Tonight I finished all the “couching”, which is sewing down yarn around the unfinished edges of reverse applique.

Here’s a reverse applique with unfinished edges:

And here it is with yarn sewn down around the edges:

On the back, you can see the bobbin thread on the tear-away stabilizer;  I used sheer polyester thread for the topstich. Polyester is the good invisible thread; nylon is the bad invisible thread (it turns yellow over time).

I then tore away the stabilizer, as the name of the product suggests; all of the layers of the quilt top are quite evident here:

Voila: here it is, everything is DONE except now placing the appliques, which I’ll do over the next few weeks, and hopefully get started quilting this thing by Thanksgiving. There will be about 5 desert poppy appliques placed on top of this design when it’s done:

Irish Music in Tucson: Aris Plays at Prince Pizza


I met up with my music pals Richard and Margy at a local pizza restaurant–Prince Pizza–where we had a gig the other night: our little trio is called Aris. We have lots of material, but still have to decide what to play. It was fun; we’ve got a gig on November 17th at the same place. Nice to have a little extra cash!