Wanda Gene's Musings on Life, Love and Loving the Quilting Life!

Monday, August 27, 2012



….or, a collection of miscellaneous literary extracts.

Potpourri would be a really lovely name for a future quilt.  But today it’s a list of how I have been spending my time lately, not necessarily in the right order.

1.  Picking tomatoes. Yes, my tomato garden continues to test my limits physically and time-wise. But this is the garden’s season to shine and it will not be like this this in a few months. Because of the heat, I have been going out after the afternoon sun goes down behind my eucalyptus trees….so much better. I am planning a winter garden but I think a much smaller one than the one that’s keeping me busy and busier right now. Just a nice stand of snow peas, enough lettuce for salads and some good greens for a potful every couple of weeks.

2.  Drying and freezing tomatoes. I got tired of dehydrating tomatoes so I went out and bought a good-sized upright freezer. All I had before was the one that’s a part of my refrigerator and that wasn’t doing it for the Gal with the Big Garden. Now I am freezing them whole in gallon plastic bags. I gave another 10 pounds to Jeff and Sherry and 10 pounds to my DH’s brother. My nephew Chris is known to be a “tomato-eating machine.”

3.  Went to a party in honor of my son Jeff’s birthday and got to visit with some of his friends from high school, got lots of hugs and kisses from my little grandsons, ate good barbeque and in general had more fun than anybody has a right ta’.

4.  Went camping near Monterey/Moss Landing for 5 days with son Jeff and his family. Let’s see if I can figure out how to get my pictures off of my new ipad and onto this blog post.




This is Jonah decorating cookies that we made together in my RV.  He is quite an artist and he gave just as much time and care with these cookies as he does with his other artistic endeavors.



Here is our little Miles with Ondie carefully watching over him.

5.  Taking my mother to her doctor appointments (lots of them), her shopping trips and taking care of her on weekends.   

6.  For the first time in all the years that I have been safely handling a rotary cutter, I cut my finger. And I never do anything halfway, so it was a doozy! My left index finger required THREE STITCHES to stop the bleeding and to close up the slab of skin that I opened up. I had DH take pictures but I decided to spare you, dear readers, all the gore and disfigurement. After all, I want you all to make more quilts, not to give it up forever! The nice lady at the ER sure did a good job of stitching my finger….I don’t even have a scar.




7.  I finished two quilts lately, my Bulls-Eye and the Bonnie Hunter Orca Bay mystery quilt.    Here is a close-up of the Baptist Fan quilting that I did on Orca Bay. It really shows up nice on the dark fabric that I used for the border. In this pic the quilt was still on the frame after finishing the last row of the Baptist Fans. 

Here is my Bulls-Eye quilt:


I’ve shown the whole top before so this is just another close-up to show the quilting.  The meander quilting that I chose made it come out soft and puffy-looking, which I like.  It makes me realize why quilts are sometimes known as comforters.  They do, literally, comfort us.

8.  And lastly, tryin’ to stay cool but mostly not succeedin’



Monday, July 23, 2012

Garden Update!



Picking tomatoes has become a major chore and I have to be out out there EVERY day or those ripe ‘maters will just get away from me!  This is the bowl that we are using for cooking, eating and sharing with others.



Here is a bowl that I have sorted out tomatoes for dehydrating.  We love the little dehydrated tomato slices….we call them tomato candy!.  I also love to add a handful to what I’m cooking, like soup, stews, or casseroles.  They are really good in macaroni and cheese.




This is what I picked this morning—this is in addition to the other bowls—all 16 plus pounds of them!  My favorite eating tomatoes are called Japanese Black Trifele….they are the dark reddish brown ones with a little green in the first picture.  (That’s called green “shoulders”).  You only see a few because we eat them so fast!  DH’s favorite tomato is Early Girl, beautiful, round, smooth 2” and very early.  

Tomatoes are a thing of beauty!



Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Here is a Dog Who Just Can’t Make Up His Mind

My Ondie, the Puppy Love of my life, and general provider to our family both of entertainment and security, was feeling particularly playful this morning.  And that is saying something!  See for yourself….

Ondie Can’t Decide Which Game to Play!

He ****loves**** his Jolly Ball so much!  But how do you choose between that and a game of “Chase the Light Beam,” huh, Ondie?  Does Ondie know how to spell “conflicted?”

Who knew that a dog could bark with his mouth full?


Saturday, June 30, 2012

This Year—I Have the Garden of My Dreams!

This is my Principe Borghese (Roma type tomato for drying) that has escaped over the fence!   There are even more of this plant on the inside.  And both sides are just covered with flowers and small green tomatoes.


This past winter Jerry did a lot of work to make my garden convenient for me, ample in size and protected from critters who might wish to steal the fruits of our hard work. The garden is long and fairly narrow, with a generous walk space dug down the center and built-up sides for planting. The drip system, garden hose, and sink complete this very cool garden.

When he was done, I went to work.  Since the soil has not been enriched with amendments prior to this, I decided to plant in bagged organic amendments from the garden store.  I started by slashing the bottom of each bag about every inch.  This allows the roots to escape the bag---because this is the bottom!  I turned the bag over on the other side, removed the plastic from the whole side, placed dripper hose across the center of the bag.  I planted my little tomato plants near a dripper emitter and used metal stakes that I made out of 14 gauge wire to keep the drippers where they should be.

This was ***REAL** work, because I planted 44 tomatoes, 8 chile pepper plants, 1 tomatillo, and a few cucumbers.  Not all the tomatoes thrived, for reasons unknown, but about 85% of them are trying to take over the world!

Everybody has been asking me for weeks, “When will you start picking ripe tomatoes?”  And I have been saying all along, “Before the end of June.”  Well, on June 26, I picked my first tomatoes and today I picked a couple more.  This is one of the best times of the year for those of us who are passionate about our gardens.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Working on a Back for One of Those Really Big Quilts!

Hi All

For a couple of days now I have been working on a back for a quilt that I need to finish.  Why is it that when we finish a quilt top we really feel like at least we're over the top, past the hump day, mission almost accomplished? 

Then we want to go directly to quilting, do not pass GO, get one with it!  I know that's how I feel every time that I get one of those beautiful tops done and then have the unstoppable urge to bring it to its destiny as a *****FINISHED QUILT****.

Then I come back down to earth when I realize that it can't be quilted until the back is pieced.  Well, I suppose I could use a whole cloth back.  Even then, you have to measure it carefully and it is so big and unwieldy.  I usually piece them because I like working from my stash, I like pieced backs because they are appropriate for the scrappy quilt tops that I like best, and it allows me to use up more scraps.

This quilt top above that is covering my dining room table is my Bull's Eye quilt.  You make raw-edge appliqued circles inside of circles, then you cut them apart into quarters, mix well, and reassemble randomly.   I put the Bulls Eye blocks in a zig-zag setting with some plain blocks.  It's big, about 102"x103."

So I'm ready to quilt this big guy and I needed an even bigger back.  I picked out a couple of pieces that were 3 yards long, just right for the length of my top.  That only gives me 80" in width, however.  So I went into my bin where I keep scraps that I that I have cut 10 1/2" by whatever (random lengths).  I made 3 pieced strips of these that were 3 yards long for a grand total of 110" wide.

It's not fancy but I had fun making it.  Best of all, it will help this homey big ole quilt top become a ****Finished Quilt****.  How I love it!


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Windows by the Hundreds is My New Quilt


This is Windows by the Hundreds, although you cannot see the whole quilt.  It is 81.5" by 96.5" and 10 blocks by 12 blocks.  Does it look a little  complicated to piece?  It's NOT!....not even a little bit!

This is my original design, at least I hope it is.  I did design this quilt all by myself, but I make no guarantees that someone, somewhere has not done something similar.  (Did you hear the one about the new quilter who proudly told her friends that she made her own original block?  Turns out it was a 9-patch.)

This quilt is so easy because it is made up of 2 blocks that alternate.  In Block A, on top, the two burgundy fabric strips are oriented vertically.  In Block B, below, the three burgundy fabric strips are oriented horizontally.  Both blocks are 7.5" finished.

For the burgundy strips, cut 300 - 2" x 8" strips.  That takes about 3 1/2 yards.  It looks nice if the border is burgundy also.  That's another yard.  I am allowing some extra  for shrinkage and boo-boo's.  I cut out the borders first, the long way so they did not have to be pieced.  I made made them a little longer than was needed, about 95" x 3 1/4" to allow for contingencies (a fancy word for more boo-boos!)  Then I cut my 2" strips out of the remaining fabric.

If you use your scraps for the 2" squares, it would require the equivalent of 3 1/2 yards in assorted scraps.  I hope you use your scraps, because I think they make the most fun and interesting quilts!

The pieced strips are made up of five 2" squares, starting with a dark square, adding a light neutral square, and alternating until you have five.  The pieced strips should measure 8" by 2".  They need to be accurate because they are going to be sewn to burgundy (or whatever color you choose) strips that are also 8" x 2."

If you aren't getting your pieced strips to be 8" by 2," then adjust your seam allowance or check that you are cutting accurately.

For the size of my quilt, I made 60 of Block A and 60 of Block B.

Now you have your 120 blocks and they must be assembled into rows.  You need to know that half of the rows start with an A Block and half start with a B Block.  You can call them A rows and B rows and they alternate.  If you have used lots of different scraps so far then it really does not matter which A Block goes next to a B Block.  You can make two piles of blocks and just randomly piece them as long as they....drum-roll....alternate!

When you get the body of your quilt pieced (10 blocks across by 12 blocks down), press it all very carefully to get the true size of it.  Place two border strips together and then place them down the ***CENTER*** of the quilt body vertically.  If you trim the borders to fit the center, your borders will fit and your quilt will be square.  After sewing on the right and left borders and pressing them, then do the same process with your top and bottom borders.  The only difference is that the top and bottom borders must go across the center and cover the two side borders. Trim and sew.

I made a scrappy back for Windows by the Hundreds that incorporates a few extra blocks that I had.

Quilt, bind and label and you're ready for show 'n tell with your quilting friends!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Now I'm Momma to Two Dogs! (For a Time, Anyway)

Well, the bad news first....but not real bad news...just that I had a relapse of strep throat after being sick all through April and then getting my strength back in the last couple of weeks.  Then I got that humongously sore throat back and the doc said another ten days of even stronger strep killer.  This time I have not been sick enough to stay in bed all day, but I have been taking a little nap in the afternoon just to assure my body that I really am taking good care of it.

I have been puppy-sitting with a really nice dog, Teddy, who belongs to my son Jeff and Family.  They are on vacation in the Pacific Northwest for two weeks. 

Look at those cute faces!  Teddy, on the left, is a Chow-Lab mix, I think.  My Ondie, on the right, is a German Shepherd Dog.  These dogs are just BFF's!!!!  It has been a joy to have Teddy here to play with Ondie and run all over the yard with him.  But, I'll tell you, it is about 100 x's harder to get a good photo of two dogs together, than just one alone.

The German Shepherd alone is especially easy to photograph because these dogs are natural hams and like to pose for the camera.  I don't know much they understand about this, but I learned over many years that it is IMPOSSIBLE to overestimate the intelligence of a German Shepherd.

We are doing some fixing-up in our kitchen, which lately has been a new range top and exhaust hood for me.  My very talented  and hard-working DH did all the work and has now moved on to installing some pull-out drawers for the cabinets.


He took some time out the other day to make a playhouse for the little grandsons out of the big box that the range hood came in.

He said, "You know, this is going to be very wonky and the duct tape is not pretty."  I said that I loved it anyway and that the little ones are all boys..... what will they care about duct tape?   I told him that it reminded me of some wonky house blocks that I've made.

What do you think?

See any resemblance?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Today I Am Tackling my Disorganized Batty Scraps!


I know.  It is really batting scraps that is the subject of this post.  I must have made a Freudian slip when I typed that.  And then, just because I felt like it and it does sort of fit how I'm feeling, I left it that way.

I decided to finally do something about the boxes in my closet labeled "Batting Scraps".

Does any one else have boxes like of those?   You know who you are.  If you are into using all your scrappy fabric like me, you know that you are not going to throw away perfectly good batting that you paid a lot of money for, just because it is in a lot small to medium pieces.

But how do you use it?

Well, I needed a batting for a full size quilt (about 80x92).  And I pieced it.  Went just fine.  I used a loose whip stitch and pieced it by hand.  You could also piece it by machine if you prefer using a really long and wide zigzag.  If your pieces really aren't straight, you can overlap them an inch or two, then cut down the center of the overlap.  Remove the trimmed edges, and, Voila!....your edges are a perfect match.

One thing that I kept in mind is to only piece together batting scraps of the same manufacturer and type.  Don't mix up battings that don't go together.  And throw away anything that you just cannot imagine ever using.

Okay, some batting used up.  Then I tackled the remaining pieces.  There were still lots of them.
I wanted to make it easier and more user-friendly to actually keep on using them up.  So I measured the pieces and labeled them so I could just grab the right size batting for the next small quilts that I make.  Same goes for long pieces of usable width that are a candidates for piecing into a big batt.

Do you see how I stuck the pin in the label the opposite way that we usually do.  This is so that no pins stick into another piece of batting and tear a hole in it.

I am so looking forward to using up more of my now measured and organized batting pieces!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Gadget Tuesday

Hi Ya,

Several gadgets that I have been enjoying lately have been on my mind and I thought I would share them with you.  Oddly, only one of them has anything to do with quilting, but all are fun! 

I will start with the most unusual and finish with the funniest.

My new watering can!

I have been working on my spring garden and it is the biggest one I have ever had!  I expect to have somewhere in the neighborhood  of 50-60 tomato, chile and tomatillo plants.  Since I like to start them from seed, this is proving to be very useful.

The winner in the most unusual category is this long-necked watering can/spray bottle combo that I bedazzled me in Lowe's Home Improvement for just under $10.  At the top of the handle is an opening that can be used for filling without taking the sprayer off.   Yes, I could not live without it.

Moving on, the winner of the most utilitarian award is this:

This is a lint remover that I bought at WalMart in the ironing board and accessories aisle.  It cost maybe about $5, maybe a little less.  I use it for removing loose threads from quilts that I'm working on.  I like to remove them as I go along, a few at a time.  You know how your dog or cat has fur that grows one way and not the other?  Well, this has bristles that slant one way.  You pick up the threads by moving this tool against the grain and then you run it with the grain on your palm and the threads end up in your palm.  Oh,  and it's the same on both sides.  Is that not both simple and clever?

Ready for a funny one?

Woo-hoo... how about chopsticks with TRAINING WHEELS!!   These cost 99 cents at (where else) the 99 Cent Store. 

Well, what gadgets have found a place in your heart and home lately?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Talk about having a bad day, but how about a bad month!

I have been hit so hard by a flu which then turned into the case of strep from hell, that I might as well have missed all the good stuff that I could have gotten done.  I spent ten or so days (I kind of lost my sense of time) too weak to get out of bed, and now I have progressed to being up for most of the day, except for a most needed afternoon nap.

And I am not normally an afternoon nap person.  They take up too much time.  Oh, well, enough feeling sorry for myself  (Did I tell you that I spent Easter with just my pillows and tissues).


I believe I did make a promise that I will now come clean on.  That is what I said to Jerry when he was a little miffed that I just ***LOVED*** the Doctor, especially #10, played by none other than the incredibly talented David Tennant.

I said, "I only like the Doctor because he reminds me of you (if you had a groovy time machine).  When I met you wore pocket protectors and carried a slide rule!  You were the audio-visual guy at our high school!  To this day you can fix anything, even though you don't have a sonic screwdriver like the Doctor uses for everything.  True, you have ten thousand tools, while he has just one.  And you're both cute in a geeky kind of way."

Now DH is a retired actual Rocket Scientist, but he still keeps my Universe from falling apart!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

For the First Time Ever--My Ode to The Doctor!!

See, the TARDIS has sashings, blocks, and even letters!!

It was about a year or so ago that I posted that I was thinking about doing a Doctor Who-themed quilt.

WHO is he?  That is the oldest question, hidden in plain sight....wait, just hit me over the head with a frying pan, I'm getting ahead of myself.  But there will be a surprise for those of you who hang in there with me.

Doctor Who is the name of a British science fiction TV programme.  Doctor Who (or more usually known as The Doctor) is a human-like alien who explores time and space in his time machine called the TARDIS.  The Doctor helps people, rights wrongs, and saves the universe, or at least the earth, from evil-doers.

The Doctor, when faced with near-death, can regenerate, that is, he gets a new body and a slightly different personality.  Because of this quirky plot device, The Doctor has been portrayed by eleven different actors since the beginning of the show in 1963.

There you are!  Now either you have already skipped over this because you already know everything I just wrote, or you are on the internet ordering some DVDs so you can become the very next Doctor Who fan.

Some Doctor Who trivia:

  • The first episode was unfortunately aired upon the evening of Nov. 23, 1963, the date of the assassination of President Kennedy.
  • The TARDIS looks like a blue police call box from 1963 London, but is bigger on the INSIDE than the OUTSIDE.
  • The series is listed in Guinness World Records as the longest running science fiction TV program in the world.
  • The Doctor  is usually accompanied by one or more companions (for dramatic interest).
  • The Doctor has two hearts.
  • The TARDIS herself is a thinking being and often takes The Doctor to a time or place that is not exactly what he had requested, but, as we are told in one episode, "where he needs to be."
Are you still with me?  For you patient people, here is an unveiling of my take on The Doctor, expressing my most deeply-felt sentiments about my all-time favorite TV show:

The making of this quilt began with some "crumb" blocks inspired by the tutorial on Bonnie Hunter's blog.  Somehow the excitement and energy in these little crazy and bright blocks started to remind me of how happy I was when watching a new Doctor Who episode.

Then I thought about piecing letters and words as inspired by Tonya Ricucci  AKA Lazy Gal Quilting.  "I Travel with The Doctor....If Only in My Dreams," just popped into my head when I thought about what I wanted my quilt to say.

Of course, I had to find the perfect TARDIS blue to pull it all together.

I brought her to Bonnie Hunter's Shirttails class at the Glendale Quilt Show last Thursday for a little Show 'n Tell.  Bonnie took a picture and asked me to bring it back the next day for the Pineapple Blossom class that I was also taking.  That was her sneak preview but today is her premier unveiling.
More about these great classes will be forthcoming!

For my next post, I will let you in on how I explained to my slightly-jealous husband, the precise nature of my feelings for The Doctor.  You won't wanna miss this one!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Decisions, decisions

Hello quilt lovers,

I now have enough blocks to make the Criss Cross quilt in the size given in Bonnie's book.  The quilt that appears in Scraps & Shirttails II is 87" X 93."  I need to decide whether to go with that or make it bigger (fits my Calif. King bed better if it's a little bigger).  I'll need a few more blocks if I go in that direction.  I  might just add another row of blocks and make it 13 blocks square.  Time will give me the answer.

I am making my blocks just a little different than Bonnie's.  I have trimmed my blocks to an even 7" square, allowing the red squares inside to float just a bit, about 1/8 of an inch.   You could even go larger when trimming, therefore making the float more generous.

I really like to make points float when I have the choice because they just look better to me and I don't have to worry about cutting off the points when I sew the quilt together.  I often make changes in patterns that I am following to get this effect.  This change by itself will make my quilt a bit larger, about 90" by 96  1/2".

I am also mulling over border options.  A great way to put your own spin on someone else's design  is to make up your own border treatment.

Floating Squares might make a great name for this quilt.  Either that or Constellations.  Again, time will give me the answers.

Happy Quilting!


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Warm Day in January

Hi y'all out there--

We are in Tucson where the weather is lovely albeit at high end of the temp range that I favor.  Just put me in cool misty mornings for walking and  afternoons where the sea breezes move through.  Okay, that's not Tucson and never will be, but its not bad here today, I have to admit.

My brother had an accident recently where he went flying from his motorcycle and plowed his face into a rock in Saguaro National Forest.  He had to be airlifted to the Hospital's Trauma Center, where plastic surgeons did their best to put his face back together.

They really did an amazing job.  Now that the swelling is receding, he looks like his old self.  Don't worry, I won't be posting any before OR after pictures.  That would be unkind.

Just please remember him in your prayers.  He needs them in so many, many ways that I won't go into here.

I was very productive at Quartzsite, quilting-wise.

First I dived into getting the small units of the Orca Bay mystery quilt into larger units, all the while having to be super careful that the orientations and positions of all these units were consistent.

I had both light and dark Ohio stars that alternated, flying geese that had to point toward some blocks and away from others, well you get the idea.  This is a quilt that requires the piecer to have her wits about her with no daydreaming or lollygagging.

I pieced it in horizontal rows....You can see the first two stretched out on the sofa.  These two dissimilar rows repeat several times until the quilt is almost done.  Then there is one final row that is different still from the repeating ones. 

The piecing went much easier once I worked out this game plan for putting this complex design together.

Here are some more of the rows.  I pieced for about 2 1/2 days until I had all the rows completed.  Then I felt the need for a change of pace. 

I took out this project that I started at the retreat at the beach, but I had been saving it ever since for Quartzsite.  I had all these little units that resembled plus signs and they still needed to have the four triangles sewn around the outsides.  This makes the red (or pink or purple) squares float inside the blocks.  This is a design from one of Bonnie Hunter's books called Criss Cross Applesauce.  I intend to come up with my own name but I'll have to think on it.

Okay, I'm outta here for now.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Camping Among the Saquaros

Hi Y'all--

We are out here at Quartzsite in the middle of nowhere (it is a very good thing that they do have a name for this place because otherwise people WOULD just call it the middle of nowhere).  And we are all happy and busy.  How can this be?

Well, I have my sewing machine (with plenty of generator and battery power).  Jerry brought what he even calls Genie's Generator, a sweet-sounding Honda that keeps my sewing machine, iron and computor running fine.  Jerry has the shops and tents where he loves to shop.  We both have our friends from Tucson who also have their RV's out here.  Ondie's having fun being outside hanging with DH and our friends.

More people should be arriving today.  Right now it is just us and two other couples in our little wagon circle, but of course there are other RV's all around us.  Everywhere.  And I mean it, everywhere.


This is the view outside my door.  You can see the dark clouds forming...we think we'll get some rain today.  I just hope it won't be like last year's gale-force wind and rain.

I took this shot of my  Ondie.  He will be two years old in April. I don't believe where these months of his puppyhood have gone!  It seems like just yesterday he was a tiny little fluffball.    Not anymore!

I love the back counter of our fifth wheel RV for my sewing machine.  Here is where I have been piecing together the units from Bonnie Hunter's Orca Bay Mystery quilt.  After the mystery was revealed, I had to set it aside for a while to concentrate on some other things, including getting ready for this trip.  Now I'm sewin with a hot needle and lovin it!

Did I mention that I signed up for two Bonnie Hunter classes at the Glendale Quilt Show in March?  I am so looking forward to it.  Wouldn't it be fun if I can have this top done in time to take it with me for a little show and tell?