Sunday, January 29, 2017

More at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park

Hello, everyone.

We went back to Bentsen Park for some walking the other day--it's close by, and it's interesting--and discovered that even peanut butter sticks can't get birds to come out if something has them skittish.

When we got there, there were no chachalacas at the feeding station by the entrance, but there was a small herd of javelinas.

This was right by the entrance gate. Javelinas were the only creatures in sight.

There were some chachalacas at the bird blind. They were skittish, too, and left in a very few minutes.
On our way out, we chatted with the volunteer and she told us that few minutes earlier a hawk had emerged from a nearby shrub. That does explain why there were so few birds to be seen.

(We walked about 3 miles that day.)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Return to theYturria Tract

Hello, everyone.

As y'all know, we've begun our walking training. On Monday we drove over to the Yturria tract again. The previous time we had been there, it had recently rained. The main trail/road into the area was swamped pretty close to the front. We hadn't brought wading boots that day, so we headed for home. On Monday the weather had been dry for a while.

Things at the west end of the county were really dry. And there were almost no butterflies.

One of the few butterflies. Notice how the leaves on his twig are all folded in against the wood. That's one of the native shrubs' drought adaptation at work.

 This cardinal was the only bird that was willing to hold still in the open. There were a lot of really skittish birds, though, hiding in tree foliage and shrubs while they ate berries. We couldn't figure out why they wouldn't hold still for the camera.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Block Play, and Layout Play

Hello, everyone.

I was looking at Pinterest and saw an interesting block, one that is new to me. It was called Greek Key. The link led to Marcia Hohn’sQuilters’ Cache. In following it, I learned some new things about an old standard block: Log Cabin.

 I knew that Ms. Hohn had a Log Cabin pattern on her site, but I'd never looked at it in any detail. That was a mistake.

I have in the past used Log Cabin blocks to form larger patterns, treating the squares as a form of half-square triangle optically speaking. It gives the look of many triangles, but all the seams are either straight of grain or straight cross-grain, and while the pressing can become a mass of little things, everything does eventually. Also, and for my personality this is key, you can freely get scrappy! All you need to do is to sort your scraps by the key value that you are varying: Blues-dark, blues, medium, Blues-light, whites was one set of groupings I used.

There were the diagonal lines marching down the quilt face. There was the Christmas tree wall hanging. 
Wall hanging for Christmas season.
Center of the tree was plain blocks. Shape was created by Log Cabin blocks.
Also an applique of a pieced star for the top!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A bird in town this morning

Hello, everyone.

I looked out the back window today around 7 a.m. and, just behind the carport, I saw this bird:

He's perching in the neighbor's live oak tree. He was studying the whole field carefully. I guess he wanted to find some breakfast!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Project Completed

Hello, everyone.

The newest Stash Fidget Mat is done.

This should take washing okay--that is, the ribbons might get a little rumpled, but the bird is fleece and should be fine. The 1-decade rosary hanging from the hanger strip is removable (has a catch) as it was originally made to be a bracelet type of rosary. The beads are golden-toned wood with brown decorations, and a pressed glass cross at the end.

The bird is stuffed by the method shown at Needle n Thread by Ms. Corbet. It should be completely resistant to shifting, as the lift is provided by pieces of fleece under the outer bird. (The bead eye is held by three stitches for security.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Training Day 2: Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park

Hello, everyone.

Today we drove over to Bentsen Park for our walk. It was about 9 when we started walking--paused to buy an annual Family Pass on the way in. (These look like they're pretty handy. They're good for free admission at all of the Texas state parks.)

The park is in Mission--that is, it's at the edge by the Rio Grande River. There is a very nice restroom at the entrance, and a cute shop with various souvenirs and helpful ladies who will gladly sell you your wrist band. (By the day, it's $5 per person. Less for persons over 65.)

They appear to be one of the parks that's seriously interested in community use (a couple of camping sites and some picnic table areas) and handicapped access. Even the dirt trails were smooth, and often had some color or other of fine gravel on the top of the dirt or caliche underneath. Always spangled with long lines of Ant Lion pits! (These are small crustacean type predators of ants that dig a slidey sloped pit, like the monster in the second Star Wars movie only much, much smaller, and when the ant steps on the top edge the dirt granules slide under it and it slides down into the mouth of the ant lion.) There are a number of observation benches placed strategically near bird feeders or trees that are known to attract hordes of butterflies. There is also a blind overlooking one of the bird feeding stations. There were a number of useful signs to help the visitor locate things and a pair of historical-marker plaques near the entrance.

There is a hawk observation tower--with an extended, gently sloped ramp to the top. A person with a walker, if they could face the distance, could easily get up to view the hawks. An energetic mother could push a stroller up it, for that matter.

We saw various birds at the feeders. (The most popular feeders appeared to be the logs drilled with cups and filled full of peanut butter. Flat seed trays came in second, at least today.)

A woodpecker getting some peanut butter. The vegetation
was this dry everywhere at the park.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Training report: Day 1!

Hello, everyone.

Our local weather has settled into what we call "Chamber of Commerce Weather"--highs near 80F and lows near 60F, breezes coming mostly from the Gulf of Mexico, and sunshine. It's the kind of weather that the snowbirds come down for.

And we did our first official training walk this morning. Mission Hike and Bike, partial, about 4 miles. The birds and bunnies were extremely skittish and camera shy. Might have had something to do with not being the first ones out--the bike riders had already been through, and more came while we walked, and the high school Cross Country boys, well two of them, were running too. We saw cardinals (no good shot) and kiskadees (only shot is blurry) and a roadrunner.

Even with cropping the photo, he's still hard to see. And he took off walking right after the shutter clicked.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Progress on the Fidget Mat

Hello, everyone.

This post is two things at once: Shiny Stash-Busting III and  progress report on the new Fidget Mat.

There was a good-sized rectangle of lime-green glittery quilting cotton, and half of it was just the right size for a new Alzheimers Fidget Mat. I used some all-cotton batting and a piece of mock-linen pale green cotton for the rest of the sandwich.

The zipper that was on hand was installed into a seam between two pieces of blue star-studded fabric. (The zipper was the same color, it inspired me.)

Pressing the zipper block sides (before trimming and pressing ends.) Yes, it is a new ironing board cover. The old one had acquired a stain somehow.

The zipper block is applied to the background. Also, before sewing on the zipper block, a small red heart was appliqued onto the background, to be a peek-a-boo element. The padded bird is in process of being added.

Most of the elements have been added now. The bird has acquired a beak and a ribbon tail. The stripe on the left is a linen fabric that has tiny pleats at the edges of the stripes. I put the pleats facing up. The stripe on the right is a hanger strap--box sewn at the ends and at a midpoint. Still not in this picture, a round element with ribbon tails and looped through the hanger strap a 1-decade rosary.

It was only after taking the picture that I realized how much the zipper block looks like an eye!

The quilting is done.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Shiny stash-busting, part III

Hello, everyone.

We survived our latest cold outbreak, down here where it is almost never actually cold, and it's supposed to be warm all week. The orchid pots are on the porch--their tree no longer provides shade!--and the spiders came in last night but I'm planning to let them sleep outside for the rest of the week. There was an economy-sized cutworm on one of the spider plants--I didn't know they could get so big and fat! I tossed it into the yard and told the birdies "bon appetit."

The latest stash-buster is done:

Serger cover
Serger cover lessons learned: 1) Don't get any ideas about matching the sewing machine cover if you didn't check total yardage to start with. 2) Don't cut length (circumference in this case) until *after* the quilting is done. But I was going to have an opening of some sort there for ease of removal, just like on the sewing machine cover and my Kitchenaid mixer cover in the kitchen, so it's not drastic if this opening is a little bigger.

Next up: fidget mats. There is enough spring-green glittery fabric to make the base for 2 Alzheimers fidget mats and that is being organized now. Random bits of other things, the more textures the better, go onto the mats for dementia patients to fiddle with. It helps their focus on other things and keeps their fingers more limber. As a bonus, DM had given me a couple of short zippers when she was cleaning out her craft drawers and they will be perfect for these mats. If you go to Pinterest and use the search box you can find many ideas for these. And then you just use the textural things you have on hand, being sure to make anything that can't go through the washer removable and anything small and washable well-secured.

I did see an Amazon pin on the search results this morning, so apparently somebody has written a book or three about them, too.

If your calling to help others runs more to "Martha" things than "blowing horns in the street" things, this is an excellent way to do it.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Shiny stash-busting, part II

Hello, everyone.

A few days ago, I commented on the amount of shiny-print cotton fabric that is in the stash. A tiny bit of it went into the pincushion.

A larger bit of it went into this:

Sewing machine dust cover

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Mystery in the Mail

Hello, everyone.

In yesterday's mail, we got a package. It looked like a lot of Christmas packages that came not long ago, and we kind of thought it might be a delayed one. We aren't sure.

More to the point, since it had no label or instructions in the package, we aren't sure what it is!

Is it a spigot for 2-liter soda bottles?

There isn't any weight on the bottom, but if it's supposed to hook up to a bottle that would fix that. There is a moving clear-plastic thing that might be the release control for a spigot. It didn't show up very well in the photo.

Please feel free to chime in in the comments if you know what this object is!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Reorganizing, and lessons of stash

Hello, everyone.

As mentioned a post or two back, there is reorganizing going on in the sewing studio. AKA "Mom's craft room."

Moving 6 foot tall cabinets and bookshelves always, unfortunately, means emptying them out and refilling them later. Hopefully in better order!

Well. The fabric stash filled a large blue plastic footlocker style tub, plus other containers as well. The furniture was moved, the floor was thoroughly vacuumed, and then the furniture was put into its new places. It was time to put the fabric away.

And I discovered just how much metallic and glitter-finish quilting fabric had snuck into the house. The stuff is pretty, but I think the shiny stuff tarnishes, so I don't like to actually use it for anything that I fondly hope will be kept for years. Like a baby quilt.

The pile of shiny quilting fabric that had been hiding in the stash

Faced with this mountain of pretty, shiny fabric, I have decided to make some accessories for the sewing room.