Gnorman the Gnaughty Gnome

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Late last summer, Gnorman came to live in my garden.  At first I was happy that he had chosen my garden to inhabit, hoping he would chase away the resident rodents who were being so destructive to the vegetable crops not to mention flower bulbs.  Gnorman even brought his own little shovel to dig out the rodent holes and evict them.  After awhile, though, strange events began to occur.  We put in a “beach” area next to our pond, just because we could and because it gave a nice spot where you could walk right up to the edge of the pond to view the goldfish hiding under the waterlilies.  I thought it would be a nice to touch to sprinkle some of those sparkly flat marbles among the gravel just because I’m one of those “oh, look! Something shiny!” kind of people.  Here is how our little beach path looks.

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As you can see, we also have quite a collection of large seashells around the sides of the pathways, not to mention quite a few stray plants growing in the middle.  Ack!  More weeding to do.  My wonderful husband and his grandmother have always collected shells and pretty rocks, and the smaller items I display in a vintage glass cover for a ceiling light fixture which is placed just out of sight of this photo.  This is where one of the strange events started occurring. I kept finding small shells scattered along the pathways of the garden in danger of being stepped on and broken.  I would always place them back in their proper place, and the next day they would be running amok again.  Then my husband would come into my quilting room and hand me a handful of the shiny flat marbles stating he had found them two or three hundred feet out in the pasture.  I even found some near the trees in our orchard, a hundred feet from the garden area.  Then this morning, I went outside to pull weeds, and found proof of who was moving things about in the dead of night.

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The evidence is clearly sitting on the raised bed timber for all to see.  You can see Gnorman in the background pretending he knows nothing about it, but I think we all can see, he’s been caught!

Believe it or not, I haven’t spent all my time lately playing in the garden.  I have been quilting away like a madwoman as well, but spring fever has definitely set in here on California’s Central Coast.  Things haven’t looked this lovely for years, thanks to the ton of rainfall that we’ve been blessed with this last season, continuing up to this past week when we got almost two tenths of an inch.  I know it doesn’t sound like much to most folks, but when your rainfall average for an entire season is only 16 inches, every drop makes a difference.  So far this season, we have received  21.09 inches.  Two seasons ago, it was less than 3 inches for the entire season.  Some of our neighbors who live in the more hilly areas have nearly 30 inches.  As a result of all the rain, our wisteria and lilacs have never looked better.  Here is a quick sampling of the eye candy.

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Wisteria.  Can’t you just smell the fragrance?

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Lilacs

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Rosa banksia (Lady Banks Rose) which blooms only once a year but is spectacular for a few weeks in the spring.

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This photo was taken from the farthest Southwest corner of the garden looking towards the orchard which is the tree in the background that has yellowish green foilage.  As you can see, all of our 60 something roses are about to explode into full bloom, the smoky orange on the right is my Laura Bush bush.  You can also see a little peak of purple wildflowers left on the hill on the far side of the road.  Sadly, the hills and wildflowers are just starting to dry up now that the weather is hitting the mid-80s during the day.  One last photo of a red-tailed hawk I caught soaring in the skies above our home.hawk cropped lbl

As far as quilting, I have been working on a quilt for the person who won the custom made quilt that I raffle off every December to benefit the youth group at our church.  This December’s winner is a lady who belongs to my quilter’s anonymous group (quilt guild), so I feel pressured to get it perfect.  She provided the pattern and most of the fabric.  I added some fabric from my own collection because I just couldn’t resist going with the theme, which is fall leaves sewn into a very interesting Log Cabin quilt pattern.  It required me to figure out how to make trapezoids, a totally new skill for me.  In addition, the pattern made the quilt 58 inches square, and she wants it to be a 40 inch long by 70 inch wide wall hanging.  This required a bit of a redesign once the center of the quilt was done, but I think I have met the challenge.  I don’t want to post any photos just yet because she does read my blog on occasion.  I probably will have to break down and send her a photo later today to see if she approves of what I’m planning to do for the last border, though I usually try to save the finished result as a surprise for the recipient.  Oh, well, sometimes you can’t have it all.  I guess I better get back to finishing up that border.

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More projects finished and unfinished

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A continuation of my “Back In The Saddle” post from the other day, here are a couple of other projects that I’ve finished in the last few months.  The one above really should have gone at the head of “Back In The Saddle” since it is a cowboy themed quilt.  I only had to purchase the border and binding fabric to make this one….so that made it free!  Hahaha.  It is going to be donated to be raffled in a scholarship fundraiser for some of the local kids.  I named it “Happy Trails”.  The back fabric is a print of cattle.

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This one has been on the back burner for about 4 years, every since I purchased the pattern.  I searched high and low for just the right bird fabric to go into the bird houses since I wanted a realistic feel to it rather than whimsical that the pattern called for.  I finally found it when I was blessed to be able to go to the Houston Quilt Show nearly 3 years ago.  All of the birds were in one panel, the perfect size and just what I was looking for.  I tried to use prints of actual “building” materials, although the basketweaves are only good for building bird houses or bee skeeps, and I don’t know many people that actually use bricks to build bird houses, but realism does have its limits.  When I went searching for the background fabric, I was aiming for cloudy skies, then ran across this cloudy sky fabric with mallards flying around…perfect!  Not sure how visible it is in this photo.  I never realized how difficult it was to find fabric that resemble flowers climbing on a trellis.  I did the best I could with what I could find.  I particularly like the brown, bare branches that reminded me of a princess under a spell sleeping in her castle and thorn bushes growing up the walls to keep the handsome prince from rescuing her.  Okay, so I had to have some whimsy.

The last project is as yet unfinished.  Every year I raffle off a custom made to order quilt to benefit one of the ministries that our church is involved in.  This year’s winner was…wait for it… the PASTOR’S MOTHER!  Really, the drawing wasn’t fixed, and she being a magnificent quilter in her own right, gave the prize to the pastor’s wife, who truly deserves this special treat for all that she does for everyone else.  She picked out the center panel, and I purchased the other fabrics and then got her approval on the colors.  I’m not going to let her see it any further than that until it is presented to her.  Here is a photo of the progress so far.

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She really wanted me to include some sort of a trellis pattern in the quilt, so the interwoven border is what I came up with.  It took me two weeks to assemble it.  What a royal pain!  I only had a drawing from the internet that showed little squares representing the placement of the pieces, so had to figure it out from that.  I am really proud of myself for being able to pull this off since math is a struggle for me, even with a calculator.  Each piece of the puzzle was only two inches squared up, an inch and a half finished and included dozens of the dreaded Half-Square Triangles that I keep swearing I will never make again.  If anything was out of order, it had to be torn out and redone, so I placed each itsy-bitsy piece in order on my design wall, and pieced each tiny row one row at a time, placing them back in position on the wall when finished.  When it came to turning the corners and making it all come out perfectly, I was tearing my hair out.  It took me two days to figure it out.  Fortunately, I didn’t sew any rows together until I had them all assembled.  The sides came out to be the perfect length, but I just couldn’t make the top and bottom work until I figured out to put a tiny strip of the yellow on either side of the panel to make it come out just right.  What a challenge.

The blue strip on the left will be the next plain border, then I’m considering putting in a ribbon border made with the yellow, green and brown since it needs more brown.  Once again, I only have a drawing to go by, so we’ll see.  I intend to also make a square-in-a-square border with the leftover flowered stripe that is in the third border out and a diamond-in-a-square border with the diamonds pointing to the top and bottom.  Then the last border will be a companion stripe that matches the panel with the flowers and bluebirds.  The quilt will be a large queen when finished…if I survive the math.

This last photo is of the glorious Lady Banks roses that are giving their all in spite of the fact that my darling hubby butchered them in early January after I asked him not to.  Just because they were bending the wire fence they are growing on to the ground was no excuse for pruning them at the wrong time of year.  I thought there would be hardly any blossoms at all since they bloom on the previous year’s growth and only one time a year at that.  What a pleasant surprise and now I suppose I can let him move back in from the doghouse…for now.002

 

Back In The Saddle again

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Spring is here in the Central Coast of California.  We were blessed so far with near normal rainfall this rainy season after years of severe drought.  This photo of the wisteria over our patio is the best bloom we’ve had in years.  The honey bees are having a heyday buzzing about the gorgeous blossoms.

Spring is one of the reasons why my poor blog has been ignored for the last few months.  I’ve been busy with getting the garden cleaned up, including pruning around 60 rosebushes and 24 fruit trees.  Also we have trays of tomato seedlings that will be ready to go in the garden in another 6 weeks or so.  I still have to get the other vegetables ready to go in.  Time is running out.  It always seems time is running out.  Since I’m the volunteer bookkeeper for the little country church that we belong to, I’ve also been busy getting the end of the year/tax season chores dealt with as well as our personal tax information.  But that is all finished and I can return to the “normal” chaos.

Don’t think I have ignored my quilting though!  I have started and finished several projects in the last few months.  This is a photo of the table topper and the back of it that I made for my quilting buddy’s birthday.  She loves her “girls” as she’s named her chickens.

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I also finished the Half Square Triangle Hell quilt that I was complaining about earlier.  Here is a photo of the ho-hum original block, and the blockbuster secondary pattern that one gets in the finished product (the pattern is called Joanne’s Quilt).002002

One of the other projects that I worked on was making an eight foot by 4 foot banner at the request of the local Episcopal church’s vicar.  I forgot to take a photo of it after it was finished, but here is a photo of it partially done pinned horizontally on the design wall.  There are 3 of the Celtic crosses evenly spaced over the 8 foot length and it is bordered all the way around in black.005

There are several more projects that I have done, but now I’ve got to get back to getting chores done so I can spend the rest of the day working on another medallion quilt that has me stumped as to which pieced border to add next.

“Name This Quilt” Contest

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This is my latest “nearly finished” project (just one side of the binding left to be handsewn) which I started about a year and a half ago. It is done in a “Radiant Star” pattern by Eleanor Burns which I started in a class at a local quilt shop. It has become my most favorite quilt that I have ever made, replacing even a one-block wonder made several years ago which is now a close second. I love to name my quilts, but can’t decide on what I should call this one, so I thought I would encourage feedback from readers of this blog. The prize for the winning entry is a still-in-the-package “Splash” rotary cutter by Olfa. If you’re not familiar with this type of cutter, the blade is changed with just a flick of the thumb…no more struggling with trying to figure out which way to put the parts back together. A real time and frustration saver.
The rules for the contest are simple. Just post your name for this quilt in the reply section of this blog on or before June 1st, 2015. The winner will be chosen purely subjectively by me, oneblockwonderwoman. A hint, I love humorous names and plays on words. For instance, I once named a flowery strip quilt that I made for a great-niece “Rows Garden” because the name just made me laugh. I like more serious names as well that really fit the quilt. You may enter more than one name. And that’s all there is to it. Time permitting, I will post the winning name the week of June 1st and get your rotary cutter off in the mail as soon as I get a mailing address from the winner.
I’m looking forward to seeing all of the creativity I know quilters possess. Thank you in advance for participating, and feel free to share this contest with your fellow quilters.

A Little Taste of Spring for My Poor Snowbound Friends

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Spent the morning strolling through the garden and pulling those dastardly weeds. I thought all you who still have no sign of Lady Spring might need a little hope…it is on its way.
Just praying that we don’t get a late freeze, which is always a possibility until the middle of May. But I’m going to enjoy this time while I can.
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The Long Saga of the Raffle Quilt…with a happy ending

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Every year, our little country church raises money to pay for a well in a village in Asia that either doesn’t have one or where Christians aren’t allowed to use the village well. The wells are placed on the property of the Christian church of the village and all people from the village are invited to use the well as a witness of Christ’s love to all. So far our little church has been able to provide three such wells. This year I got the idea to combine my love for quilting with this wonderful cause, and we raffled off a custom-made quilt for one lucky person. The winner got to choose the size, colors and general style, traditional, modern/contemporary, or my favorite, One Block Wonder. The winner is the granddaughter of one of our church members and the winner lives in Texas. So after the drawing in early December, I emailed her photos of the various styles and asked for her color and size preferences. She wanted a One Block Wonder (Yea!) in blues, purples with a touch of red with a vibrant look to the colors. Since then, I have been on the hunt for the perfect fabric, thinking it would be easy….NOT!
The photo that I started this post with is fabric number three which I ordered off the internet (as I did the first two possibilities). With this fabric, UPS either lost it or left it next to our mailbox on the busy road we live on, so I had to wait an extra 10 or so days to get the replacement shipment, making sure I would be home to accept the deliver at my front door. I was so excited when it came, and it is a beautiful fabric, but it really lacked the vibrancy that I was hoping for. Here is a photo of what the blocks would look like when cut into the OBW design.
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This is a photo of the OBW that caused the winner to pick that style:
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A world of difference. Fabric No. 3 is nice, and will make a lovely OBW with some tweaking, but just not in the same league as the completed example.
Well, finally, I found the absolutely perfect fabric!
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Now, I’ve never before used panels for a OBW, but why the heck not? So I ordered 7 panels. I always put a piece of the original fabric somewhere in the quilt as a reference to the transformation. The extra panel will be part of the back of the quilt in this case. After cutting the side borders off the panels since they wouldn’t add anything to the quilt, I stacked them and lined up the design elements and started cutting. Here is what the first few hexagon blocks look like, just randomly placed on the wall.
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I think it’s going to be fabulous! Just enough bright colors to keep it from being too serious like the previous fabric. So in this case, instead of three being a charm, four is a charm.
But now I have three other OBW quilts started that need to be finished. Good thing I’m the One Block Wonder Woman.

Room with a view

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This is a photo taken from the window of my quilting room. The mass of purple flowers are native wildflowers and are called pretty little maids. If you look up and slightly to the left you can barely see an orange clump that are California poppies. Here is a close-up of the pretty little maids.
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Just love this time of year, and we’re so grateful that we had a nice amount of rain this year. Last year the hills never had a speck of green on them.

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I’m freshly home from a fabulous 4-day retreat with my Quilter’s Anonymous (Quilt Guild) group. The above photo is the main building which houses the quilting room to the left, a spacious lobby in the middle and the dining hall to the right. It was held at the St. Francis Retreat Center near San Juan Bautista, CA. What an incredible setting.
These next two photos are where the rooms were located that we stayed in, a short walk from the quilting space…and more importantly…the food!
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This photo is taken from the patio in front of the dining hall looking past the quilting room.
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And this is just a lovely shot from the same patio looking towards the rooms.
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The next photos are all of the interior of the quilting room.
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This last one is of my sewing station. Looking out the window just to the right of my station, I saw a herd of 5 deer and a flock of turkeys strolling by. Of course, they wouldn’t wait for me to get my camera out.
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There were a total of 30 very talented quilters as you can see from the sampling of quilts that were hung as they were completed. The food was also wonderful…and it was such a treat to not have to cook or clean up afterwards. This was my first quilting retreat experience and I am planning to go every year from now on because it was such fun. One of the few times that I was not ready to return to my home routine after four days away.