Whimsical and Homespun Art Creations with a Little Rural Living Thrown In

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Minneapolis Moline U Comes Home to Pull with the Minni Z

There is nothing like rusty gold to light up my son's face with a big smile! ;)   This month will forever be remember for his newest purchase a Minneapolis Moline U farm tractor.  No more gas here folks... This tractor runs on propane.  And as you can see by the picture, a little work is needed, but my son and his dad are up for the challenge.  My hubby likes to build racing sleds but has graciously switched to restoring tractors with our son during the summer months! ;) 

A huge amount of thanks goes out to my son's friend.   He made the trip possible by bringing his truck and trailer to haul this antique gem home! 

I know that I have mentioned my son's love of farming (he is currently working on a degree in Ag), but did I ever mention that he participates in antique tractor pulls?  His first pull was with a friend's vintage Farmall H.  After that experience, the tractor pulling bug bit, and he dreamed of owning his own.  My hubby located a Minneapolis Moline Z in a neighboring town, and a few weeks later, my son was parting with his hard earned cash.  A Minni Z Tractor Puller was born! 

Many weekends have been spent watching him pull and compete against other wonderful vintage farm tractors.  I know one day he would love to have both of his tractors completely painted, but as the gentleman that he bought the Z from says, "Paint don't make them run any faster." LOL

Here he is hooking up for a pull last summer.  For those that have never been to a tractor pull, the tractor is hooked up to a weighted sled, and it is pulled down a dirt strip.  The different classes of tractors compete to see who can go the farthest. 

Here he is starting the pull.  Normally he doesn't lift the front of the tractor, but it did make for a cool pic!  ;)

My son has been blessed with the friendship of tractor pullers of all ages.  The knowledge that he has gained from working with his father and our friend at our local small engine shop will stay with him forever.  I couldn't have picked him a better hobby.  Although sometimes I wish they didn't take up so much space.  Grrrrr!  LOL 

For those that haven't been to an antique pull, it makes for a fun afternoon.  The time can be spent viewing all of the wonderful vintage tractors.  Equipment in farming has changed so much over the years.  It is nice to see these tractors being restored to be shared with future generations as a piece of our farming heritage.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Disappearing 9 Patch Quilt Continued

Hard to believe a week has gone by!  I was adjusting to starting back at one of my part time jobs.  The first week is always a mess.  This coming week should go a lot smoother after settling in to the new schedule.  Anyways... I did get to divide my 9 square blocks into quarters today.  Then, I proceeded to begin the process of picking the design.  Aaaaagh!  It was craziness I tell you... sheer craziness.  It would have been easier to solve a Rubik's Cube! ;0) 

Do I line up the seams?  Do I attempt lining them up?  Do I alternate and let the design be scattered and random?  Do I go with organization and a repeating pattern?  Should I just throw the quilt blocks up in the air and let them land where they may?  (This was close to being the solution at one point!)  Plus, do you think those sweet women that quilted by hand so many years ago without new fangled machines and handy gadgets,  also owned their own personal still somewhere behind their log cabin in a clearing beyond the trees? LOL   Oh my, I have so much admiration for those wonderful ladies and their hand skills and beautiful patterned quilts.  And to think...they were creating the most wonderful works in fiber art with many of the fabrics being of a recycled variety.  Can you imagine?   Okay enough rambling... Here is what I came up with.   

Call it the graph based realist in me, or the fact that I was raised by a super clean and organized Mom, but this is the design that finally made me smile.  Yes, I went with a set pattern!  The novelty fabric was just to busy to do a random design.  The camera photographed it on a much brighter scale.  It is a lot darker into the fall tones than it shows, but at least you can get an idea of where I am headed.  Once the blocks are sewn together, I am going to make a boarder for the left and bottom to match the top and right side.   I am sure if I had any experience in quilt making, this process would have taken a lot less time.  I am not sure how lining up seams will go, but I will do my best to take on the challenge.  :)

Here is my solution to keep my pattern in order after taking it apart.  I knew this 1" graph paper would come in handy one day. ;)  The red writing is where I changed my wide side to the long side, if that makes any sense.  I will be losing the two last black to rows to the right.  On the first layout, the majority of the blocks faced the viewer from either side (which was due to my constructing the quilt from one of its sides), so a last minute decision was made to jump the placement of two rows.  This correction placed the view point from top to bottom.  Now I am completely happy.  Onward to the challenge of getting this quilt top together!  

Friday, March 11, 2011

Thrifty Friday Find ~ Floss & Wool for Upcycling

I woke up this morning and decided to devote the morning to being thrifty.  So, I put my freshly brewed green tea in a travel mug and set off for an adventure.  The first stop was a thrift shop in a quaint little town.  I was hoping to find some wool jackets that had some color to them or anything else that might catch my eye. ;) 

Jackpot!  Everyone must be cleaning in anticipation for spring.  I found 9 wool jackets in the most wonderful colors that I have seen all year... camel, red, black, green, sky blue, and purple.  And even better, they were all long jackets, and they didn't have any of that foam backing that you cannot remove from the fabric! :)  

The pic below shows them after I spent the afternoon hacking them up.  That is what my son calls it! ;)  Aren't the colors wonderful... *sigh*  I have been looking for some bright additions to my stash. 

If you look at the last row to the right, the grey and burgundy are two wool blazers that I found.  On top of them,  there is a piece of cream and brown wool fabric that I found in the remnant bin.  I measured tonight, and it is 2 yards of fabric!  This is the first time that I have ever found wool fabric that came from a bolt at a thrift shop.  Yay!  

At the same shop, I found some floss.  It was in a basket and not marked.  I asked the girl at the counter, and she said that they were 25 cents a piece.  I picked through and pulled out most of the unused skeins.  It didn't seem like a lot, but it ended up being 93 skeins all together.  I cannot wait to add them to my bolt bins .  

Quite a haul for the first stop.  So how much did I spend for 9 wool jackets, 2 wool blazers, 2 yards of wool fabric, and 93 skeins of floss?  Well, the total came to $48.00, but Fridays are 50% off, so I got the whole lot for $24.00.  Yipeee!

The next stop was to a Goodwill store for a few sweater purchases ;) , and then on to another small thrift shop.  Can you believe it... another sale!  Fill a bag for $5.00.  The wonderful ladies that work there taught me the fine art of filling a brown bag to capacity.  (They were the ones that packed mine!)  They said  that you got to know when to fold them and know when to roll them.  This was a spin off of Kenny Roger's Gambler song. :)   So, I went around the shop, by that time humming The Gambler due to the power of suggestion, and picking up bargains.  They waited for me to bring a few up, rolled them up tight, and added them to the bag.  The results can be seen below; although, they were packed farther down in the bag at the store.  I'm surprised the ride home didn't burst the bag.

So here is the end result of that stop: 1 wool blazer, 1 wool/cashmere blazer, 1 wool skort, 2 wool short skirts, 2 wool long skirts, and three beautiful wool sweaters.   And yes, they all came out of that brown bag!  The cashmere fuchsia sweater on the bag in the pic was purchased  half off for $2.50 cents from the same store.  This brought my total to $7.50.   I was thrilled, and the ladies from the shop were happy to get rid of some of their winter inventory.   

Now, I can go to sleep with a smile on my face and lovely woolly dreams! ;)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Disappearing 9 Patch Quilt

I have been collecting fabric and quilting books over the years from garage sales and thrift shops.  I love to read about the origins of quilts and look at all the magnificent patterns.  My hopes were that one day, I would take the time to begin the journey of learning how to make quilts.  So... to fulfill one of my many goals in life, I am beginning this week on the "Disappearing 9 Patch Quilt".  This project was inspired by Mary over at Gettysburg Homestead . If you click on her blog name, it will take you to her post that will be the first of many on creating "The Disappearing 9 Patch Quilt".  And thanks to the all the fine quilters that have taken the time to demonstrate their craft on YouTube.  It is a world of learning on the Internet.  Click here if you would like to watch the video from the Missouri Quilt Co. that does a tutorial on this project  and many other quilting videos.  

The first decision for me was to choose the fabric for my quilt.  I have always had a fondness for the colors of fall and Halloween.   For this quilt, I picked a few of my favorite patterns.  *Interesting thrifty note:  The pumpkin square on the bottom right of the block was cut from fabric that was originally a treat bag that my son was given many years ago.  The bag was made by bunching a large square of fabric around some candy and tying it with a ribbon, so the square wasn't damaged at all.   Hey, can't go throwing away perfectly good fabric... right?  I knew it would be of use one day.  Well... maybe not 15 years later... but better late than never! ;)

Since I have never cut blocks before, I was tempted to buy some charm packs.  My hubby looked at me like I crazy for throwing that thought out there.   So I took the plunge and cut my beloved fabric.  But do not worry, I have plenty of extra just in case. :)

Here is my first completed block.  It may not be absolute perfection, but I understand that I am a newbie to this art form.  I definitely need to get more practice behind using a rotary cutter and aligning my seams.  Plus since there is more cutting and turning to do to this block, I am kind of anxious to see how my fabric choices work out in the final piece.   In my other forms of art that I produce, it has never been a problem to envision the look of the final product, but this little quilt is going to be a surprise when it is put together.  I thought my best bet was to pick fabrics that seemed to get along with each other.  It will be a fun experience whatever the outcome!

So... I am off to the sewing machine to work on some more blocks.  I will post some updates in the future with my progress.  I have some other painting projects in the works that I will be posting soon.  There is never an idle moment in this house.  Half the fun in my life is coming up with a schedule to fit all my projects in for a few hours every week!  :)

*Note*  I found a neat little site that helped me tremendously with lining up my seams.  It is called Quilting - Tidbits .  Just click on their name if you would like to check them out.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Brown Bag Caramel Corn in the Microwave Recipe

Is it caramel corn time? :)  Caramel corn is one of those treats that I make once in a while for my family.  A year ago, I would have popped my popcorn, poured my coating over it, and put it in the oven for about an hour on low during the mixing process.  During that time, I usually would forget to mix, making the process take longer :(, and would still not achieve a nice evenly coated corn. (I'll spare you the story about the year that I forgot it in the oven!)   This method of cooking caramel corn has always bugged me, but I never went in search of a better way...  But as fate would have it, a better way found me! 

I purchase my popcorn from a local farmer, who also happens to work in our little post office in town.  We were chatting one afternoon, and she mentioned how easy it was to make microwave caramel corn.  Stop the press... It sounds like a shortcut is about to be revealed!  And the only magic required, other than the microwave, was a simple brown bag!

Brown Bag Caramel Corn in the Microwave

4 quarts      popped corn
1 c              brown sugar
1 stick         oleo (aka margarine or I use butter)
1/4 c           Karo syrup
1/2 t            salt
and for later use   1/2 t baking soda

Pop your popcorn and set it aside in a large bowl.  (Can use cooking spray lighlty inside bowl for easier clean up.)

Melt together brown sugar, oleo, Karo syrup, and salt.  Bring to a boil, and boil 2 minutes stirring to prevent scorching.  Take off burner and add 1/2 t baking soda.  Stir well until it foams.  Pour over popped corn and mix well.  (* Note* Just get it to cover as good as you can.  Some corn will not be completely covered, and the microwave heat will take care of that.)  Put your corn in a brown paper grocery bag and fold over top a couple of times, place in the microwave,  and cook on high 1 minute.  *Caution*  The bags contents will be hot.  Take the bag out of the microwave and shake well.  Turn bag over (I just lay it on its side.), and microwave for 1 minute on high.  Shake a little more and quickly empty contents into a long pan while still hot.  Spread out to cool.

Remember especially on the final cooking cycle, the bag will come out with very HOT oil spots.  Some of the corn will stick to the inside of the bag.  These remnants can be removed by hand.  *Note*  I have a small microwave, so if all I have is a regular size brown grocery bag, I end up cutting about 6 inches from the top before folding. 

Here is a batch fresh from the bag.   Not only is this a fast way to make caramel corn, but it is a wonderful way to have an even coating, allowing the cook to break apart the caramel corn without being left with big blobs.  And even better, there is no risk of burning or over cooking.  And if you are like me and pop too much corn, just make your coating batch a half size larger. ;) 

After this pic, I spread the corn out on some cookie sheets to cool.  If you have an empty ice cream tub, it works well for storing your caramel corn.  Of course, we are lucky if it lasts a couple of nights around this house! ;)