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Took a break and made some appliqué designs

Hug Me! Bunny and Hug Me! Kitty by Elizabeth RuffingI got one of those long-running headaches last week, and decided to let up on my push to get our web site relaunched this week or next. I’ve gotten a lot done, but I was working too hard. My eyes needed a break from the computer too. While surfing the web (I know…I never really leave the computer for good), I was inspired by some fun throw pillows by Robin’s Egg Blue and so I wanted to give that idea a try with my own designs. I found my own favorite throw pillow, and used its 13 x 14 inch size for my drawings.

Hug Me! Puppy and Hug Me! Slug by Elizabeth RuffingThese are the first four designs I’m working on, “Hug Me! Bunny”, “Hug Me! Kitty”, “Hug Me! Puppy”, and “Hug Me! Slug”. I think throw pillows are good for hugging too. These have been modified from previous designs I’ve made of the same characters. I may modify them some more, depending on how they look once they are done up in fabric. I’m starting by picking out quilting cottons for the appliquéd parts, and I’ve got a few yards of a natural cotton I’m using for the background. I’ve been debating over whether to make the pillows with an insert so the covers can be washed, or making them spot clean only, without the insert. Personally, I really like things to be washable, but I know I’d have to charge a little more for the time and supplies involved. Given my own inclination, I will most likely start with covers with pillow inserts.

I can imagine these as quilted wall hangings also, or maybe even painted designs with a name incorporated somewhere.

Pear pieMy dad was given seventeen pounds of pears recently, and I tried my best to do something with them. My first challenge was a pear pie. The recipe was very much like one for an apple pie, only my pears needed extra cooking time. They were very crunchy to start with, the homegrown kind you see in lots of back yards in our neighborhood. A friend suggested poaching them first, which would probably have been a good idea. I put apricot preserves in the bottom of the crust, before layering in the pears, to waterproof it a bit. I got my recipe from The Perfect Pie by Susan G. Purdy.

Pear pieMy second challenge was going to be pear jam, but that’s when my headache got me. I’m feeling better now, but the pears are passing their prime. I think I may just eat some, and share the rest with the wildlife.

I will continue to work on our web site, but I’m going to alternate doing that and sewing. I will be happier that way. As much as I’ve been excited about having a newly designed site, mixing things up works a lot better for me.

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Every day is a trip down Memory Lane

Suzie the Sunflower Fairy, Original One-of-a-kind Folk Art Doll by Max Bailey and Elizabeth RuffingI’m glad they are nice memories! This is the first doll Max and I made together, beyond just trading tips and art materials. Her name is Suzie. Our next collaborative art dolls were cats and a bunny. I’ve been working on re-editing more past doll photos and web pages and blog posts for our Ruffing’s site and Suzie was one of the dolls on my list today. I’m making headway, and things are looking good for our new-and-improved blog. I’m going to add as much as I can to it in the next two months, and then I plan to relaunch it on our home page.

Squash stir fryOur little garden gave us a yellow squash, a tomato, and some basil. I added some onion, and stir-fried them all together with some extra virgin olive oil. Once again, I waited too long to pick the squash, and the skin was a bit tough. I have to get the hang of harvesting. They still tasted good, with some salt and pepper, over fettuccine.

Squash stir fryI’ve now seen New Moon, and I’m ready for Eclipse. I’m looking forward to it. Maybe I’ll even get to see that part of the series on the big screen.

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Hiding from the heat

Elizabeth RuffingI have some toys, dolls, and figurines to show you, but honestly, I am just too hot to go out there and photograph anything today. I think it is about 97 degrees today, and humid. I’ve been moving slowly, even with the air conditioning. I’ve been inside, for the most part, sewing, but when I can’t see so well, I go out on the porch to hand sew, while I melt.

Elizabeth RuffingI’m still studying Aperture, in Apple class. I’m learning adjustments right now. I come back and experiment on myself, or rather photos of myself, like these. I rather liked this one, for it’s dramatic look. It reminds me a bit of an old-time vampire movie.

Elizabeth RuffingAny time we take photos of me, I seem to go through the same repertoire of expressions. Some of them are funny. I usually pick out the friendly ones to use, but I also have cranky, aloof, and goofy expressions, which appear just as often. I played around with some of those photos too, but for here, I’ll stick with the friendly ones, so as not to spook anyone.

Elizabeth RuffingOur kitty’s anole friend still comes to visit, but in the heat, Mr Kitty has taken to taking naps. He’ll say hello, and then go pass out on the bed. The poor anole climbs all over the window, looking in, trying to get his attention.

Anole looking in the windowOur vegetables are continuing to grow and ripen. I had to do something with this great big zucchini (those are a regular-sized steak knife and a large red flour canister for scale) before it grew to be Woody-Allen-Sleeper sized. That’s some giant parsley I picked too, next to the zucchini.

Fresh-picked zucchini and parsleyFortunately, I grabbed them just in time.

I picked more parsley than I really needed, and added a can of diced tomatoes (the ones in the garden weren’t ready yet), and some sliced onion.

Zucchini, parsley, onion, tomatoesI fried them all in some extra virgin olive oil, and put them over fettuccine.

Zucchini, parsley, onion, tomatoes, and fettuccineI think next time, I will cut back on the parsley and chop it up more finely. I’d also scoop out the seeds from the zucchini. This one had rather large seeds, due to its size. I’ve made fried zucchini slices before and not even noticed the seeds. So, I guess it depends on how long you wait to pick yours. Those Sleeper-sized ones though…I’d definitely scoop those out!

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First harvest

I have a zucchiniThis is my very first harvest from our little vegetable garden…a big zucchini. I watched it grow, debating over whether or not it would amount to two cups of shredded zucchini for zucchini bread.

Zucchini breadIt did indeed, with a third left to spare. A friend suggested that someday, they will develop vegetables with a variety of easy-to-read measurements on them, or vegetables that grow to a programable size. Until then, I will have to hone my eye-balling-it skills.

Viking Platinum 775 off for repair againAs much as I didn’t even want to face doing this again, I packed up my Viking Platinum 775, and we hauled all twenty-two plus pounds of it to the Post Office. All week, I’ve been going through my usual, but completely pointless, “Why can’t people just be decent? Why can’t people just be honest?” ruminations, while looking back on the whole ordeal, along with any and all related ordeals that seem to bring up the same questions. I wish I could just accept one short answer and be done with this, and all related conflicts, forever: “Because that’s who they are.”

Kitty makes friends with an anoleIn contrast, here is a continuing display of devotion. Mr Anole has come to visit Mr Kitty almost every sunny day we’ve had. The two continue to stare at each other, while the anole does his tricks. He ‘s quite amusing.

Kitty makes friends with an anoleAt one point, our kitty got so excited, he tried to paw his way through the windowpane. He purrs when I look over his shoulder at the anole. The anole is no where near as excited to see me though. His show is intended for an audience of one.

Kitty relaxingSome of us have been taking the weekends to relax. This is my model for relaxation. He’s mastered the subject. I have much to learn from him. I’m still heading to Apple class too, and learning a lot there too, only about computers and programs.

Material ObsessionI picked up some non-software-non-computer-related reading material, for fun and inspiration too. Material Obsession, Modern Quilts with Traditional Roots by Kathy Doughty and Sarah Feilke seemed like the perfect book for me. I read the whole book when I got it home, over last weekend. I loved the combinations of fabrics and the quilt patterns. The authors own a fabric shop, and, as the title implies, they’ve used traditional quilts to inspire some modern designs. I really enjoyed it. It gave me ideas for combining fabrics for my toys too.

Fiber Arts MagazineI picked up a couple of magazines too, Fiber Arts and Quilting Arts. I was taken with these hand-stitched animals like the “Fennec Fox” on the cover of Fiber Arts, and Quilting Arts had a good article on stabilizing art quilts and another on branding, I wanted to reread. As usual, I have more I want to learn, and more I want to do than I probably will be able to get to.

Quilting Arts MagazineI’ve been wanting to explore art quilting much more, combining painting and fabric and sewing. I have so many ideas for projects. Of course, right now, my biggest project is redoing our Ruffing’s site. I think that will be an all-summer project. I’m still excited about it, even though I don’t want to relaunch it until it is organized enough to navigate. I’d also like to start adding more original art to the site, paintings and art quilts.

Elizabeth RuffingI’ve been fiddling with my hair again too. Even though this photo was taken just the other day, it has turned out to be a “before” photo, because I’ve just cut my hair again, in more of a Jean Seberg style, even shorter. It’s been in the 90’s this week, which is always good inspiration for a new haircut.

Elizabeth RuffingI’ve got to get some toys finished up and mailed off. I might even add a couple to my Etsy shop this week. If you haven’t already, be sure to find us on Facebook, where I’ll post the available art dolls and figurines as I continue to get their photos edited.