Sunday, July 7, 2024

It’s All About the Garden

 June was a very agreeable month for weather. I spent the majority of my time outside. I did manage to finish a quilt and even had a garden location perfect for taking a photo.

The quilt pattern is, "Duet," from Villa Rosa Designs. Finished  size is 55 x 74-inches. Creeping thyme is making it's way up my rock slope. About nine years of growth to get two feet of rock covered.

The rest of this post will be garden photos and will mostly serve as a little journal for my future reference. 

The stars of my perennial beds are the eight Blue Himalayan Poppies that are split between two beds.

The were the third plant to pop into bloom this year.

They've been blooming for a little over two weeks so far.

I have at least two poppy plants that look like they need to be divided! I need to find a good location for those new plants. Not sure if I will get them divided this year.

The next big bloomer in my garden this year was creeping thyme. I've planted a lot of thyme over the years. 

It's such a slow process...

I've got a lot of rocks to cover. Though only two areas in my garden where the thyme is really covering rocks.

Here's a close up of the thyme flowers/

Another good creeping plant is Soapwort. I have had some success starting a new plant from cuttings. Perennial shopping in our area is a little challenging. You find a plant that works and then you never see it again at the local nurseries.

This orange plant, Fire Storm Geum was a risky perennial I bought at Lowes and it has survived for seven years! I had three but one didn't make it through the first winter. 

And a local favorite....irises!

I also have some miniature irises in a tub...they just don't bloom long enough!

I almost didn't plant Blue on the Mountain, below. Beautiful plant but it is ginormous and quickly takes over an area. 

I feel like perennials that do well in my area are mostly purples and blues. Love it when I can find other colors to add to the beds. I bought these yellow and pink columbines at the end of the season a couple of years ago. They are so fun!

I also bought these Coral Bells in the color "Firefly," at the end of last year's planting season. I was so excited to see they made it through the winter and are thriving.

I am most excited this hedge-like shrub looks so great. When I bought it last year it just looked like a stick in a pot. I searched all over the area for this plant, a honeysuckle that will thrive here. This is Arnold Red Honeysuckle. It has pretty berry colored flowers. The shrub is supposed to get 10 x 10 feet! I put it on our property edge to create a little privacy hedge...I planted two of them. 

I suppose that's enough plant photos for one post. 

No recent critter photos, except my three next to me as we spend the day inside.
Much needed rain has arrived.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Summer has Arrived

It finally feels warm outside…no coat required! It was a cloudy and chilly spring. I did not plant my garden until June 2nd.  That’s one week later than I have ever planted and two weeks later than I usually plant. I was in good company with friends who were also late getting started due to the chilly temps.

The chilly weather helped me get a quilt finished. This quilt is 69 x 87-inches

I was waiting for some nice weather to snap an outdoor photo. The pattern is, “Tapestry,” designed by Tamarinis. Two new techniques with this quilt. I machine stitched all of the hand stitching. And I am now concentrating on less intense quilting designs. 

A fun pattern. I would make it again.

I had never worked with Kaffe Fassett fabrics and after attending the quilt show in Houston last fall I was inspired to work with his fabric. I work almost exclusively with batiks so I didn’t like the loose weave of this fabric. I learned I should starch these fabrics heavily in the future.

I’m about halfway through quilting a second quilt with Kaffe fabrics.

In May I attended a. 3-day quilt retreat at my local quilt shop. I am preferring this style of retreat…a lot of fun and much less time prepping compared to the retreats at a B&B. I like sleeping in my own bed and the quilt shop is only 15 minutes away from my house. 

On day one, I finished stitching blocks together to complete, ‘Weekend Fun,” a free pattern from Connecting Threads. It takes 21 fat quarters. I had a set of 20 fat quarters and easily found a fat quarter in my stash to make it 21. Here is the link to the pattern.

The next two days I worked on making blocks for three quilts I am planning for my granddaughters.

I’m designing as I go on this project. I finished the 27 blocks that I need for the three quilts.

In the evenings I have mainly been cross stitching. I am working on using my left hand more. 

These shamrock patterns are a free series I found on Pinterest. I’m stitching them on 14-count Aida. I think there are 10 patterns in the series. I am only planning to stitch two more. Right now I think I will finish them as little pillows with the green mini pom pom trim. Mindless stitching is always good to end the day. 

I'm getting a nice little selection of spring displays. I was waiting on a bright green pom pom trim and love how it looks around the Scattered Eggs piece. It's my first flat fold finish and I will be make more of these. Easy to display and store.

I’m so happy I have been feeling better. I had an MRI on my neck which confirmed the obvious…my body is aging. I’m thankful for no bad surprises from the MRI but my project laden mind is frustrated I am going to have to slow down. 

Just a little note about healthcare. I am 62, not eligible for Medicare. My husband is retired from the Air Force Reserve and the main reason he stayed in 20 years was the healthcare benefit, Tricare. I am so glad we have this option…which is the least expensive option right now. Most of my doctors take Tricare…but Tricare does not cover Chiropractic treatment. Bummer! When my symptoms were lingering we decided I should get an MRI. I was able to use the hospital on Elmendorf Air Force Base. I had to wait three weeks for my appointment but my chiropractor said he had a patient who was on a two-week wait list with several civilian imaging places….seems MRIs are in great demand right now. Anyway…when my chiropractor got the results he mentioned to me it was one of the most detail results he had ever seen. Sometimes the military medical system gets a bad rap but we have had a good experience.

Back to the fun stuff. 

It is gardening season!!! I am so thrilled I have invested a lot of time…and money…into lots of perennial plantings. Despite my slowdown in activity…my plants look great and flowers are starting to bloom.

I planted this Blue Moon Woodland Phlox two summers ago. This is the first year it has bloomed.

Love the color! The flowers are about 18-inches tall. 

These bright pink flowers are a rock garden plant, Rockcress. These flowers are only four or five inches tall.

It has been thriving for years and is the first plant to bloom every year. 
It obviously loves this little niche where it gets full sun.

We kicked off the garden season with a hose bib pipe break…which flooded down the ceiling  beams of my sewing room!!! Lots of drama for a few hours but no damage once everything was cleaned up and fans were blowing for a couple of days. It’s one way to get that spring cleaning done.

Critter photos! This moose was here on May 12...when plants were just starting to grow after all the snow had melted.

If you look closely you can see his antlers budding on his head

A couple of days ago I chased a black bear out of my garage. Hard to tell from a photo but it was a pretty good sized black bear. He was happy to leave quickly.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

May Happenings Underway

April was hijacked by health issues. Nothing serious...getting older...not fun sometimes

The biggest bummer was I missed my retreat. I could have done a daytime retreat but prepping and packing for a long weekend away from home was just too much.

The good news is I have a daytime retreat at my local quilt shop the last week of May. Can't wait!

I did manage to work on a variety of projects...I wasn't bed ridden so I felt well enough to do something!

I am trying soooo hard to focus on my extensive stash because it is extensive and full of very lovely fabrics. 

I had a stack of batik fat quarters in bright and warm colors I got at a great price several years ago. I saw a free pattern on Connecting Threads for, "Weekend Fun."

I have all the blocks made. It will be a great little throw for one of my granddaughters. 
Finishes at 56 1/2 x 72 1/2.

My primary health issue is cervical discs in my neck. Bending over my quilting long arm is a little uncomfortable so making sure to only do short sessions. I just started working again on my long arm last week. Thankfully, I had loaded a small quilt after my last finish and planned a very simple quilting design.

Most of April I spent organizing my stash of finished tops. I should have a little contest. How many quilt tops do you think I have waiting to be quilted?

I'll give you a hint. Go with a pretty big number. 

I'll reveal that number at the end of this post. 

Anyway! My biggest obstacle, is deciding what to quilt next. And usually, once I decide on a top to quilt...I then realize I don't have a backing fabric, batting  or the right colors of thread. Feels like there is always something that delays me.

So I made sure I had a picture of every top. Then I filled out a project sheet with as much information as I knew about that top with the finished size and if there was a backing fabric already in my stash. 

Just a little example of my file for each project.

I have the next quilt top I will quilt ready and waiting once I finish my current quilt in the frame.

So with limited time spent quilting...the last thing I was wanting to stitch was another quilt...I decided to get several of the blouses made that I cut out last fall.

My favorite was my first looks great with jeans. So comfy. All the tops are made with rayon batiks.

When I made the next top, the automatic button hole maker on my machine stopped working. The programming feature is connected with the reverse button and the button stopped working. Well...since I was not moving around much at that point, I just went ahead and made three tops...that need button holes. 

The great news is it only took the Bernina shop one day to turn my machine around and it is back home with me now. It is super easy to make button holes when the machine is working properly so I will get that done this weekend. 

I like working on cross stitch projects for the current season which means my last finish was done after Easter. I'm still working on the final finish. After much internet searching and local shopping I gave up on a purchased framing option and decided to make my first flat fold. 

I love YouTube! Great tutorial from Vonna Pfeiffer has gotten me to the base being finished. Now I'm waiting on some pompom trims to reach me through the mail to go around the actual, "Scatter Eggs," board. This is a chart from Shepherd's Bush. I'm always drawn to charts with cute buttons from Just Another Button Company. I can't resist them...want them all. 

I had a major fail on my next cross stitch project. I started the Blooming Tiny Town chart, using the DMC color option. I soon hated it and stopped. 

So, based on the photo, I then made my own DMC color choices..

The top fabric strip...hated.
Middle strip is the chart.
Bottom strip is the finish that looks pretty much like the chart but oddly...I don't like it. 

It needs purple. Too much red and brown for my taste.

So...below is my next attempt. The fabric is actually a little brighter blue color.

I am trying to teach myself to use my left hand more often so I am now mostly doing my cross stitch with my left hand. I'm getting faster every night. That cervical disc issue in my neck is causing some nerve pain down my right arm...hence the decision to try and do more with my left hand.

Well...I always like to end on an animal encounter. This big brown bear photo was taken from a visit to our local zoo mid April. Brown bears, which are coastal, are bigger than our neighborhood grizzlies.

Gardening season is here...though I still have a little patch of snow in my yard and we woke up to snow on the ground three mornings this week. A little chilly still. But I was trimming a shrub yesterday...trying to use mostly my left hand! 

I almost forgot!
 I have 46 quilt tops waiting to be quilted! 

Please let me know how many you have...especially if you have more. I do read several bloggers who make a tremendous number of charity quilts so maybe someone will beat me! 

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Sharing Recent Finishes

 I shared this finish on Facebook with the catch line, "How long does it take me to make a quilt? Sometimes eight years." 

You may remember this pattern from Bonnie Hunter at Quiltville. It was her 2016 mystery, "En Provence." This is my one and only venture into Bonnie's mystery quilt releases which start on Black Friday in November and finish sometime in January.

I had admired Bonnie's mysteries for years but it was a, "hard no," when it came to adding a project of that size during the holiday season. In 2016 my sons were busy with their lives and it seemed possible to at least start the quilt. I quickly decided to make a smaller version so I just dabbled on the construction of parts until the final reveal and then came up with the way I would make mine smaller.

My version is  69 x 87-inches. Perfect for one of my granddaughters.

I failed to get a photo but I had a scary fabric bleeding situation with the fuscia fabric. I use a blue water soluble marker and when I sprayed one corner with water to erase the marker the fuscia fabric bled terribly!!! So scary. I always wash my fabrics...usually soak then in hot water for hours since I work with batiks. Somehow that piece of fabric never got washed.

I soaked the completed quilt for 10 hours in hot water with a generous amount of Dawn dish washing soap. Bleeding problem resolved! Such a relief.

There were five thread color changes for this quilt. I love that it looks like a meadow to me more than a row of lavender. I still always check into the name and suggested colorway of Bonnie's annual mysteries. So far I have not been tempted to join another mystery.

I am trying to stay on task with quilting so I've gotten the next top loaded. Loading a quilt onto the frame is my absolutely least favorite part of the process.

I finished a little personal case for my granddaughter. I took her to the quilt store to pick out fabric for the project. This floral was one fabric we agreed on....she really wanted something purple but other than solids we didn't find a good option that day in the shop.

At least I was able to add some purple accents. This is the smaller version of By Annies', "Zip It Up." This is 8 1/2 x 10 x 1 inches. A pretty quick project if you don't let is sit in a box for a month!

I've really been into cross stitch projects lately. 

I had a major failure to read the pattern correctly so my math was really off but it gave me a pretty little piece to turn into a pincushion.  

The piece says, "Scatter Luck," and has some lovely buttons to finish the project but too big for my tiny finish. 

For the first time, I worked with Lady Dot  Creates pompoms which allow you to remove the stablizing tape. It was very easy to stitch the pompoms around the top edge.

So easy to add the pompoms that I added them to my last pincushion finish.

And in four nights I was able to finish this clover square on the last day of March. This is a freebie I found on Pinterest and there are several more clover designs by the same artist I would like to make.

It will make a cute little pillow with pompom edging!

I finished the second animal block in a Noah's Ark series. I make turn these into pillows also. I have a long way to go before I have to decide...pillows or ornaments. 

And to keep my polar bear company, I finished the two penguins that came with the kit.

These little penguins had a bit more to their construction than I anticipated. They have cute little penguin butts.

And another interesting feature is their feet were different. One penguin has feet that were one piece and the other is two separate pieces. It makes them stand up differently...a little personality. Much more fun to make than I anticipated.

This was an older kit from 2006 and some of the stamped markings for embroidery were missing and I had to trim some areas of the rear end of the polar bear to make it a smooth match of seams. Lots of contouring pieces which turned out a nice finish but took a little finesse. 

Yes...we still have lots of snow. In fact...we've had a little snow almost everyday this past week. I think we are still shy by a couple of inches to break the record for most snowfall for a winter season. 

I finished taking down my tree on St. Patrick's Day. That is officially the latest I have kept up my Christmas decorations.

I have a quilt retreat the last weekend of April at the B & B in Wasilla. I am ready to go right now! I  have so many quilt projects kitted up. I'll probably have one or two more kitted up before the retreat starts.