Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Living the Good Life and Scrappy Quilts

Every once in a while we are reminded of how GOOD most people are.  The recent wind and storms blew a piece of the siding off the peak of my house, and deposited it on my deck.  I don’t have a ladder long enough to reach for one of my kids to nail it back up, so I called my homeowner’s insurance, and they only cover inside repairs.  My oldest daughter suggested I contact my home insurance company and ask them for a referral, which I did.  The representative called almost immediately and set up an appointment to come and give me an estimate.  He took a look at what needed to be done, and told me it was an easy fix and there would be no charge… just tell my agent they did a good job.  Well, we have had rain and the roof was wet and steep and slippery, so he could not do it himself with his expandable ladder, but is sending a couple of guys out with a longer ladder… still, no charge.  I was amazed that they were doing it for no charge… it costs them to drive over here and spend their time.  The young man even gave me a hug when I expressed my gratitude!  Another plus… they are a contractor for home improvements of all kinds, and I asked if they do plumbing, also.  I have been wanting to install an outdoor faucet on my deck so I can plant some herbs and a few flowers in pots on the deck.  I am no longer physically able to haul the water to water them from my kitchen, and the only outdoor faucet is on the front of the house.  He said if I have exposed pipes in my basement for the water line, it is an easy job to tap in and run pipe to hook up a faucet outside, and to just call them when I am ready to do it.  My heart is singing!!!  In case any of you live in the Cincinnati area, the company is Hays and Sons Contracting.  I’m so glad they were recommended to me. 

Speaking of good people… my children and grandchildren came a few weeks ago and re-surfaced my deck with some kind of goop that seals all the cracks and gives it a nice finish.  The photo to the right shows my "new" deck with a lovely view of the woods that edge my yard.  They also gave all the railings a new coat of stain,and after a few days to allow for curing, my grandkids came and brought the deck furniture back up.  Then last Thursday my daughters and the Michigan son came over and were out admiring the deck, and my oldest daughter took the cushions off the swivel chairs and tossed them down into the driveway, saying they were getting dry rot and not safe to sit on anymore.  I admit the squirrels and birds have been pecking at the backs, pulling bits off to make their nests, but the fronts were still fine and very comfortable.  I was not happy with her, but sometimes it just isn’t worth the battle… I figured after they left, I’d go get them and put them back on.  But… now for the rest of the story.  She went to her car and brought back brand spanking new cushions that match this house much better than the ones I’d moved from Minnesota did.  My Michigan son brought a fluffy cushion for the glider that matches, and now my deck is looking beautiful again.  I truly am blessed!  My children got a good laugh about seeing me glare when they threw out the old cushions... before I knew they had bought me replacements for Mother's Day!

When the estimator came through my house, it was pretty hard for him not to notice the quilt blocks he had to step over on the floor.  I am making  blocks from some of the scraps left over from other quilt projects.  On one of my online quilt groups, Stashbusters, one of the members posted a link to a pattern for the Twinkler quilt block… a 6” scrappy friendship star.  While I didn’t formally “join” the group of people making the quilt, I couldn’t resist making some sample blocks with some of my scraps.  I now have THREE go-to patterns for using my quilting scraps.  The other two have been posted on prior blogs here, but I’m linking them again for the newcomers who might not have read the older blogs.   Here is the link for the Twinkler tutorial:
This pattern uses 2-1/2” squares for the 9 patches, four of which have a
1-1/2” square sewn diagonally across one corner.  Here is a photo of 15 blocks I finished yesterday.  I didn’t use plaids as were done in the tutorial, but just left over 2-1/2” squares from prior quilting projects.  I try to keep my leftovers in Ziploc bags:  2-1/2” squares, 2-1/2” strips, 2” srips, and 1-1/2” strips.  I also have a bin of 5” strips and squares for charm quilts.   

Another of my favorite scrap blocks is the Split 9-Patch.  That was featured on one of my prior blogs: 
It also makes a 6” finished block, and is a great way to use up all those leftover pieces from other projects.  One half of the block is light and the other half is dark, and this pattern works best if there is a good definition between light and dark, as in the Twinklers pattern.  I put the same square in the center of each block to unify them, but it isn't necessary to do that.

Most of the time I use muslin for the backs of my quilts, and I cut the excess into whatever size strips I can, so I have a Ziploc bag of 4-1/2” squares, also, as that is a size I use for several of my favorite quilt patterns, including this one, the last of my favorite scrap blocks, the Scrappy Snowball, and here is the link to that quilt on my blog:
I have joined blocks made up of sixteen 2-1/2” squares, set 4 across and 4 rows down (two blocks shown in the photo above).  This is the best pattern to use up ANY colors, including the medium tones.  The “snowball” squares are comprised of fouir 4-1/2” muslin squares with a 2-1/2” square sewn diagonally on two opposite corners, then put together so that the centers are all white and the prints come together to form triangles on each side of the “snowball” when the blocks are put together.  The photo shows one square with the diagonal corners attached, and also what it looks like with the four squares together.  These are joined alternately to form the pattern. 
Here is the photo of the first one I completed, the one on my former blog, after it was bordered and quilted.  It was a Christmas gift to my granddaughter, Ava, a year ago.

It was a beautiful day in Cincinnati… sunshine for most of the day with a heavy downpour to water the gardens this afternoon.  My siding is back in place, and I have discovered a great contractor that I can call on when I need anything done.  That’s a major plus, when you are a widow and have lost your “Mr. Fix-It”!  If you still have yours, give him lots of hugs and his favorite foods… he’s worth his weight in gold!