03/9/14

Ladies of the Sea Block #8 – Olives anyone?

Here is my latest completed Ladies of the Sea block featuring an Italian fishing ship.

Ladies of the Sea #8. Olives anyone?

Ladies of the Sea #8. Olives anyone?

Think Italian. Think Olives. Think Italian olive oil. Thus the olive wreath twined around the Italian fishing ship. Yes, great olive oil comes from Italy but I am a bit partial to California olive oil. Here’s why.

My nephew, Conway, is a California olive grower and along with a buddy, Adam, operates an olive harvesting business. Last fall I had the pleasure of visiting during olive harvest where Conway, Adam, and their crew (mostly other nephews and niece, Katie) introduced me to modern olive harvesting.

Olive fields, Northern, CA

Olive orchards in Northern, CA

Olives ready for harvest.

Olives ready for harvest.

Black, purple, green – they all get harvested at once. The greener the fruit the stronger and more pungent the oil. The riper fruit (black) produces a bland or washed out flavor. There are three major olive varieties, the most common is Arbequina. Asclolana and Koronieki are the other two, but don’t put them to memory because they all look pretty much the same.

The harvester straddles the rows of trees.

The harvester straddles the rows of olive trees.

I rode with my nephew, Andy, who said all you have to do is keep the harvester lined up with the trees. Yea, right!

Imagine Andy's legs are olive tree trunks. As he harvester passes over the trees the trunks enter where Andy is standing.

Looking inside the harvester. Imagine Andy’s legs are olive tree trunks. As the harvester passes over the trees the trunks enter right where Andy is standing.

 Inside the harvester flexible hoops vibrate shaking the olives from the branches.

Inside the harvester flexible hoops called, bow rods, vibrate, shaking the olives from the branches.

The olives fall onto a tray at the bottom of the harvester.

The olives fall onto a shaker pan at the bottom of the harvester.

The olives are transferred to a conveyer belt located near the rear of the harvester.

The olives are transferred from the shaker pan to a conveyer belt located near the rear of the harvester.

This row of buckets rotates collecting the olives from the tray and carries them to the top of the harvester.

A bucket conveyer rotates, collecting the olives from the conveyer belt near the bottom of the harvester and carries them to the top of the harvester.

At the top the buckets empty onto a conveyer belt fixed into an arm,

At the top, the buckets empty the olives onto another conveyer belt fixed into a long arm that extends off to the side of the harvester.

The long arm reaches to the hopper, a separate piece of machinery driven along side the harvester.

The long arm reaches to the Gondola, a separate piece of machinery driven along side the harvester. The olives fall into the Gondola. When it is full the olives are off loaded into a waiting hopper trailer and  hauled to the mill.

Harvested olives, aren't they beautiful?

Harvested olives, aren’t they beautiful?

Hi Katie!

Gondola driver. Hi Katie!

After I rode for a few rows and asked a million questions Andy said, “Are you ready to drive Aunt Barb?” I traded seats with him and took the wheel. In spite of all the vibrating going on inside the harvester it’s a pretty smooth ride! When I finished my row the harvesters prepared to move on to another field and I headed over to the California Olive Ranch mill to see the unloading and crushing operation.

At the plant the trucks are emptied from the bottom into a grate.

At the mill the trucks are emptied from a hopper at the bottom of the trailer. The olives are dropped through a grate.

The olives are shuttled to the pressing room by conveyer belt.

The olives are shuttled to the pressing room by conveyer belt.

Inside the pressing room (off limits to visitors) another conveyer belt takes the olives to another hopper where they are weighed. The grower gets paid by weight. The harvesting crew gets paid by the acre.

The fruit is washed before going to a hammer mill where it is pulverized. The pulverized mass – skins, pulp, pits and all, goes to a malaxor where a mixer gently massages the olive goop. The massaging causes the oil to rise to the top. The pumice, or olive mass, goes into a series of centrifuges where the majority of the pumice gets separated from the oil.

Within 90 minutes from harvest the oil has been pressed and piped into huge holding tanks.

90 minutes after harvest the oil has been separated and piped into huge holding tanks.

Look at those tanks! And they are filled with olive oil!

Look at those tanks! And they are all filled with olive oil!

At the far end of the hall, off limits to visitors, is the bottling room. I could hear the tinkling of glass as labels were stuck on the dark green bottles and they were sent down the line to be filled with olive oil. The air was filled with the peppery scent of fresh olive oil. Yum.

After pressing the remaining pulp is shuttled to this bin.

The remaining pulp or pumice is shuttled to this hopper via a pipeline.

The pulp and crushed olive pit mush, called pumice, is loaded onto trucks, hauled off,and turned into cattle feed. Meanwhile the bottled oil is shipped to stores all across the United States.

Look for Californian Olive Ranch oil in your stores! I may have harvested one or two of the olives in your jar!

Look for California Olive Ranch oil in your neighborhood store! Who knows, I may have harvested one or two of the olives that made the oil in your jar!

And that’s how California olives are harvested and turned into olive oil. Pour some in a dish, add a dash of spice, and dip a piece of fresh baked bread into it. And thank a California Olive Grower!

A handful of California olives!

A handful of California olives. (Hand model is my nephew, Conway!)

Conway with his boys, taking a break from olive harvest.

Conway with his boys, future California Olive Growers, taking a break from olive harvest.

12/30/13

Lady of the Sea – Block #7

Black eyed Susans – oh, cheerful black eyed Susans! They bloom in August, when the days are long and hot and summery. When we can go to the lake and sail into the sunset. That’s what I’m dreaming of!

But this is what I have instead: 046The only place I can sail or garden right now is in the sewing room so here is Block #7 of The Ladies of the Sea – completed and surrounded by those cheerful Black eyed Susans! 034

There may not be sailing or gardening but I did catch this wintery sunset the other night:070

 

 

11/18/13

Ladies of the Sea Update

Our sailboat at Lake Perry has been closed up for the winter – looks cold, doesn’t it?Lake Perry in fall

But I’m still sailing away in my warm and wind-less sewing room. Here is my latest block in the Ladies of the Sea project I’ve been hand appliqueing.

Ladies of the sea 4

08/5/13

Design Wall Monday-Summer Thunderstorms

There is no greater excuse to stay indoors and sew during the summer than a heat wave followed by a thunderstorm!

My husband was away for the weekend and I planned to either garden or sew while home alone. Mother Nature helped me decide and I used excuse number 1 (heat advisory) the first day and excuse number 2 (thunder showers) on the second day and stayed in and stitched. The outside gardens remain neglected but lots of flowers have bloomed under my needle!

So here is what’s on my design wall today:ships and border 1 adjusted

The first border of my Ladies of the Sea plus the first four blocks that I finished earlier this year.

Here is a detail of the center section of the border:border 1 detail adjusted

This project is only overwhelming if you start it then barely sew on it for three months. Voice of experience? Yes, darn it!  But I still have three more borders to sew. I’m looking at that as three more opportunities to show that I have the power to overcome my own procrastinating!

That said, there will be no handwork this week as I have agreed to open my sewing room for my local quilt guild’s tour of member’s sewing spaces. Our program coordinator caught me at a weak moment and got me to agree to participate so now I have to clear a path so visitors can get in beyond the doorway. Maybe I will post some before and after pictures just for the fun of it!

 

07/15/13

Design Wall Monday – No sewing at the lake!

I like to take my hand sewing to our sailboat at Lake Perry. Lake Perry is one of the prettiest places in our area and although it is one of Kansas’ largest lakes, on Sunday afternoons it is nearly empty of boaters. When we have wind it is exhilarating to sail across the lake but without wind it can be hot and humid and quite miserable. So I take handwork along to take my mind off the weather.DSC00540

Yesterday I took my Ladies of the Sea border with me to the lake with great plans of stitching while waiting for wind. But I didn’t stitch. Instead we had awesome wind and spent an afternoon of brisk sailing. It’s hard to sew in the wind and besides I was busy taking a turn at the helm or manning the jib sheets. Hey, when you are a sailor, wind is wind – and at Lake Perry you take it when you can get it – the handwork will keep!

Here is a picture of  one third of my first border with a bit more stitching completed. border 1

In addition to my hand applique’ work I have a new project on my design wall. Today I received a package from my daughter. Inside were the final t-shirts she wants in her college T-Shirt quilt. I’m particular excited to get started on this project because it will free up a lot of space in my sewing room when I move all her t-shirts from a pile on my floor into her quilt then on to her own apartment!

002

So that’s what’s on my design wall! See what others are up to by visiting The Patchwork Times.

07/8/13

Design Wall Monday – Ladies of the Sea

When I started this website I dreamt of it being a collection point for stories about some of my favorite things. I wanted to write about teaching myself to bake pies, about growing up on a farm, the books I love and, of course, quilts. That said, I thought it was high time I posted something about quilts. Today I am linking to Judy Laquidara’s The Patchwork Times through her Design Wall Monday program. Each Monday she hosts a peek into quilter’s sewing rooms to see what others are working on. I have followed Design Wall Monday for a long time – two years, or more, but today is my first time to link my own design wall. So here we go!

I love appliqué. I have multiple appliqué projects in progress at any given time but generally focus on one as my primary project. Currently it is Ladies of the Sea, by Susan Garman of Quakertown Quilts. In Jan I started with great gusto and completed the first four blocks in record time.Ladies of the sea 1 2 and 3

block 4

Then I started a border and my motor stalled. I have been spinning my wheels on it for three months. Maybe, just maybe, by posting it here I will become energized to stay on task! Here is part of the first border:Border 1

I am using Back Basting Appliqué on this project. It is the subject of my new book, Back Basting Appliqué Step by Step, which just released last month. Check it out at shopMartingale.com or click on the author button over there on the right, up on top. My border has most of the first layer of motifs appliquéd and I have begun adding the stems.

Check out what others are working on at Judy’s website by clicking here. And come back to blog.barbsfavorites.com periodically to see what else I have found to distract me from finishing my border!