Nested Stars Progress

Almost halfway!

Another vertical column or two and this quilt will be halfway assembled!  I’m more than halfway done, of course, because quite a few of the left hand blocks are done.  I’ve got three more big pinwheel fabs to which I must add green.  I don’t have enough yellow (or green) wedges cut, but I’m getting there!

LouAnn and I are planning a trip to Portland.  Her electric lawn mower isn’t working and we both need backing, batting and border fabric.

While we’re in Portland I want to pick up 2 50 liter bags of hydroton for my aquaponic grow beds.  Oregon Organiks is about 4 miles south of the repair shop and Fabric Depot is between the two.

If we time it just right we can catch lunch at Chang’s Mongolian Grill (same area).  That’s what I call smart planning!

Ricinifolia Immense

Ricinifolia 'Immense'

It turns out the big begonia in my wall is Ricinifolia Immense, a rhizomatous variety.

I got a start for my ricinifolia Immense from a friend over 20 years ago.  I’ve propagated it, given friends starts, passed my plant on to someone else and just lately got a start back.  This plant LOVES being in the plant wall.  The growth is more lush than when it was potted.  The leaves are bigger, the stalks are longer.  The largest leaf on this new start is 17″ long and over 13″ wide.  The stem is a full 2 feet long.  This new start hasn’t bloomed yet.  I don’t expect to see a bloom stalk until this fall.

And I’ll be really glad when the weak chlorotic leaves age and fall off . . .

Fish aren’t everything

Chlorotic leaves

It’s important to note the plants in the wall aren’t going to get everything they need from the fish.  From this I’m going to extrapolate that the fish aren’t getting everything they need from the fish food.

If you look at the two leaves in the picture, you’ll see one is chlorotic (showing insufficient chlorophyll from deficiencies in nutrition aka splotchy color).  The leaf on the right, the chlorotic one, is the older leaf.  The leaf on the left is healthy with a much more even distribution of chlorophyll.  The leaf on the left is new, appearing after I sprayed the wall with worm casting tea.

So I extrapolate . . . if the plants are getting incomplete nutrition from the fish, the fish are getting incomplete nutrition from the food they are eating.

Planning ahead

Art deco stained glass window

The next quilt I’m planning to start is a big hand appliqué project, art deco thing based on a sliding stained glass window (separated the kitchen from the dining/living) I saw online.  I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while but got charmed away by the water color sunset and the obligation to finish the workshop quilt (nested stars).

An absolute jewel of a woman sent me a bunch of really good quality hand died fat quarters just perfect for this project.  I will use those to build the elements of the window on a champagne colored batik background.  I have all the material for this one (sans batting and backing), so it’s just a matter of execution.  It’s all hand appliqué and I may not be physically ready for it just yet.  I can get the machine basting of the layers done and work on the appliqué as my fingers and ability to sit still will let me.

Center of koi pond quilt

But my next-next quilt is in the planning stages.  I want to redo the koi pond center I did for the Guild web quilt using the sunset water color technique in 2″ square dance squares.  I’ve asked Charles (Brandy’s Quilt Products) for the new smaller template set.  I told him not to rush.  I’m still months away.  The art deco stained glass quilt has to get started first.  I may have to do them at the same time, pecking away at each.

I may change my mind and do this one in small honey comb blocks . . . you can see why I plan so far ahead.  By the time I get to the execution, I pretty much know what I’m doing and have all the fabrics collected.

Carhart warmth

Warm rice in a sock and a blanket and this boy's all set for chilly weather

We’re having a “cold” day.  It’s chilly out.  Not cold enough to run the heater but not warm enough to do without the basic comforts of warm bean bags.  Chuck feels the cold pretty quickly.  He looks pathetic and shivers.  Wadly kindly donated a Carhart sock to act as Chuck’s “stay warm” rice bag.  His pretty red one bit the dust a while back.  The sock makes a nice replacement.  I can dump the rice into another sock while this one’s being washed.

LouAnn’s Aquarium

I got the glass for LouAnn’s aquarium a couple days ago but didn’t get around to peeling the paper away until today.  It looks good.  The edges were really sharp so I used a foam sanding block to knock down the abrupt edges.

I need to make a frame for the bottom, so I’ll stop in at Home Depot and see what kind of corner molding I can find.  If I can’t find corner molding I can make a frame by cutting down some larger dimension lumber.  I’d like to use hard wood, if I can find something I like within my budget.  I used to have an iron wood 6×6 but I think Dan (brother) saw it and got wood envy.  Maybe I can find some maple . . .

Grow bed seedings

Cucumber and lettuce seedlings

Our weather has been really miserable this year.  Everyone’s gardens are in sad shape.  We just haven’t had warm enough weather for plants to grow.  We’re weeks behind on strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.  It’s the middle of July and I’m just now getting local farm raspberries.  I’m still picking salmon berries!  In July!  <gasp>

The tomato seedlings I planted out in May got hammered flat by hail.  This year has been such a gardening bust I have lost most of my enthusiasm for trying to raise anything to eat.  Pretty sad.

Last week I threw a variety of seeds into the grow bed.  I’ll know what they are as they mature.  Until then I’ll take joy in the fact that something’s growing . . .

Next year I’ll be ahead of the game.  I’ll have my grow beds well started inside my sun porch until it’s warm enough to move them out.  I’ll have hydroton in the beds instead of gravel which will allow me to move them with growy bits intact.  That’s the plan, anyway.

New plants for Wadly’s pond

Added height and color dimension adds interest.

I picked up water plants for Wadly’s “pond” today. I happily spent every penny in my pocket! Jill Hartman at JMH Greenhouse and Water Garden was wonderful to work with as we picked through her stock, determining what would work and what would be questionable. I’ve got two hardy plants and two that will have to come in for the winter. I also got pennyroyal and fairy moss!

When winter gets close I’ll run over and refresh my knowledge on what will hold in the pond and what has to go indoors.

Wadly planted the big potted stuff in rock filled wire baskets.  I put the pennyroyal and one of the reeds in the particulate filter.  Everything else went in the bog filter.

I still have more to do, but this will hold for a bit.  I’m happy!

Pecking away

Pecking away . . .

This is definitely an “improve your technique” pattern.  I am getting better at getting clean points and matching pinwheel center points.  I think this quilt is just what I needed to clean up some less than ideal sewing habits I’ve managed to acquire.

At this point I’ve got 15 wedges that need to have green added.  I’ve got a bunch of the center parallelograms ready to install (green added).

I was working across the top and was going to work my way down but going up and down the ladder to get to the top was taking a toll.  I’ll go back to that in a couple days.  Until then I’ll peck away at the bottom half.

Nested pinwheels

Basic nested pinwheel block, click to see the blocks assembled into a pinwheel

A couple years ago LouAnn and I attended the Aberdeen quilt show.  One of the entrants was a lovely nested pinwheel quilt we thought would be a good pattern for a workshop.  The quilt had big blue and green pinwheels and small green and yellow pinwheels on a dark background.  It looked complex but it was a single square.

After a bit of back and forth and discussion, we were able to convince Peggy Gelbrich to teach a workshop in that pattern for our Guild.  The pattern size for the workshop was a ~9″ block.  I wanted a smaller block in queen size.  Yeah, yeah, I know . . . ever the rebel.

Nested pinwheels

This is how far I got on the quilt top by the end of the two day workshop.  LouAnn and I pinned everything to a sheet and I put it away to bring out later.  This is later!

As you can see the background is black.  Rather than use pinwheels in two colors only, I wanted each pinwheel to be a different color.  Each of the large pinwheels is a different batik.  The yellow pinwheels are each of 6 or 8 bright yellows I had in my stash.  The small green pinwheels are all the same batik fabric.  The color distribution is complex enough to require working on a design wall.

Border fabric

Orange batik for the back, dark green outside border, dark red inside border and gold flange

I pulled the sunset quilt off the design wall and have packaged it away with the black wedges, border and backing fabrics.  I’m short 4-6 more black fabrics needed to fill in the black section.  I’ll have to get by Sisters and pick up the little bits of fabric  needed for the last wedges and centers.  Until then, I’ve put this project away to work on another quilt I’ve had in the works for a while.  I’ll pick it up again in a couple weeks when I’ve collected the last of the fabric I need.

Sunset purple

One section left to build

I got the purple stripe added to the quilt.  I love the dark purple against the dark green.  Lovely.

I picked up the material for the borders and backing.  I got a lovely shades of orange and green batik for the back and a great dark green for the border.  I wanted a fabric with all colors but Fabric Depot didn’t have anything that would work.  The colors were either too bright or too muted or not the right shades or in splotches too big in scale.

I also picked up a gold and a deep red.  The gold will be a flange around the center of the quilt, with the red acting as a 5/8″ stopper between the gold flange and the green border.

Hot or not cheesy corn dip

Cheesy corn dip

I got a great dip recipe from family that uses Ro*TEL.  Something in the Ro*TEL sets my system off so I’ve changed the recipe to use more organic ingredients.

1⅓ cups whole corn with red and green peppers, drained – Green Giant makes a 11 oz. version but the content or processing has something that upsets my system so I use the Safeway brand.  I imagine you could regular canned, fresh or frozen corn and with diced red and green peppers to get the necessary  amount.

1 cup diced tomatoes.  I buy a can of the Safeway brand peeled diced tomatoes but you could use a can of sliced tomatoes (dice them) and just use 1 cup.  Alternately, you could use the salsa of your choice.  Hmm . . . that might be better than diced toms.  I’ll have to try it.

Next is a can of diced chilies.  This is where you can choose how spicy the dip is.  If you use hot chilies, it’s gonna be spicy.  If you use mild chilies, you aren’t going to taste them.

A perfect match!

You’ll also need ½ cup mayonnaise.  I use Canola Mayonnaise (can’t do soy).

You’ll need ½ cup fresh grated Parmesan and 1 cup grated Pepper Jack.

Drain everything really well.  The better you drain everything, the better the end result.  Save the liquid from the canned veges.  You’ll find at least two other recipes on this site that use the juice. 

Mix all the veges and let them sit for a bit in a colander before moving them to a bowl to mix with the mayo and cheese for best drainage. 

Once mixed, put a small baking dish and bake for 45 minutes at 350°.

Serve the dip warm with tortilla chips.  I love the organic blue corn chips with flax seed.  Great fiber, great taste, great match!

Update – I used a can of Green Giant white corn with chipotle peppers and it’s the best batch I’ve made so far!  The processing on this Green Giant product seem to be okay.  Go figure.  The Safeway brand of corn with red and green peppers also works well.

The understory

Tangled and lush understory

As the plants in the wall grow and mature, the understory becomes denser.  In daylight (this picture was taken in the dark using just the flash for illumination) there are small sections of the felt visible at the very top and bottom of the wall.  In the body of the wall you have to dig in behind the protruding leaves to see any of the structural felt.

In the center of the picture is a dieffenbachia leaf that has grown in size to be much larger than anything the parent plant produced.

I love the colors and textures in the wall.

Shiny hoya

Shiny leaves but no blossoms

I have a piece of hoya in the wall and the leaves look beautiful, shiny and healthy, but it hasn’t produced new growth nor has it blossomed.  The parent plant has some new growth and also hasn’t blossomed.

I bought this plant for the variegated leaf not knowing what kind of blossom it would have.  It’s disheartening to think I may never know . . .

The hairs have it

Hairy begonia stems

As a Hawaiian begonia stem matures, it develops hairs along the stem.  The hairs are an indicator of plant health and established root structure.  Take a minute to click on the image to see the hairs in all their glory.

The spots on some of the leaves are left-overs from the worm casting tea.

Above the hairy stem is the new orchid blossom shoot.  Look how much it’s grown.

This picture was taken at night with all the lights off.  I used a flashlight to line up the camera.  The camera’s flash does a great job of lighting up the wall’s landscape.