Monday, August 13, 2018

I'm Working On It

Almost time for the state fair so I spent a few days last week blocking three quilts and making sure all the dog and cat hair was removed. My quilt, "Radiant Zinnias," has definitely been my favorite quilt I've made in the past year.  Hope she does well at the fair.

I used the insulation boards that are my design wall to get the blocking done. I laid two boards on my cutting table and pinned the quilt in place after spraying it with water on both sides. 

We have rain in the forecast for much of this week and boy do I need to spend some time attending to "inside chores." Big on my list is to update my blog banner. I'm taking part in a Blog Hop for all of September so I really need to address some issues!

I hope to get some sewing done but am not doing any quilting until I get some new tops sewn for myself. I have such pretty cuts of rayon batiks. They shouldn't "age" like most of my quilt fabrics. I need to make some muslin mock ups first...not fun but I already wasted one cut of fabric on a pattern that didn't work. 

Just a quick update. Need to get back to work.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Quilt and Garden Projects

Well...some quilts just demand more attention than others! I usually wash quilts before adding the binding...just in case I want my binding to be perfect if I enter it in the state fair. Entries are due next weekend. I am have a horrible time with the black dyes bleeding into the colors. I have soaked it in hot water with Dawn dishwashing detergent for six, 8 to 10 hour sessions. Three times I thought it was good and put it in the dryer and it was horrible!!! This time I am letting it air dry. 

This summer's  major rock project is done. I found a few plants drastically reduced in price at some nurseries so I was able to put some greenery in my tubs.

I still need to add edging all around my rock work. Yipes...will it ever end?

But just like any normal quilter...a lull in one project meant I moved onto another one.
 Last year's growing season I outlined a second raised perennial bed. In April my husband and I placed two pallets of bagged garden soil from Lowe's in the bed. 

There just weren't enough hours in the day after working on the rock in front of the house and my vegetable garden so the second perennial bed was ignored. No planting as I didn't have the soil in place. It was still in bags thrown into the bed in April with grass and weeds growing around them...not a pretty sight. I got all the bags of dirt dumped (67, water logged bags) and covered the new soil with black plastic. It is too late to plant the bed this summer and I don't want any more weeds or grass taking over so I am covering the soil with black plastic until the growing season in 2019. I made it halfway through the bed on Tuesday.

It was three days ago that I worked in the bed and since then I have a nasty rash on one arm which is very much like a bad burn. It is starting to blister. 

I was removing a lot of cow parsnip plants. I knew the plant can give people rashes but I was trying very hard to be careful. I had gloves on but only a sleeveless shirt as I was very hot working that day.

The plant is actually very pretty. Huge leaves with clusters of white flowers. The flowers on the one pictured below have already died .

It looks an awful lot like devil's club which has sharp spikes along the spines and red berries. I have it in my yard too but didn't run into any when weeding the perennial bed. 

I started working on the perennial bed today but got stung twice by wasps from a nest hanging in this little skinny birch tree. That was enough combat gardening for me today. I will try to take out the wasp nest later tonight or tomorrow morning. The back yard is looking pretty decent.

I still have a lot of rock to move and it is currently blocking entry to my front porch. I had another area on my wish list of rock work and that is around theses three trees and the stump, pictured below that are along our driveway. Just enough elevation and sparse sunlight to make grass a poor choice for ground cover. It would look so good with ferns and a few rocks.

Have to share a photo of an artichoke that is finally showing itself! When it gets another inch wider I am picking it. I was reading that this plant is a perennial...but not in Alaska.

As I rushed to my Jazzercise class one morning this week, I had to take a minute to snap a photo of this bull moose crossing the road. I was sitting at a stop sign. He wasn't bothered by me or my car at all.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Going in Circles

I wanted so much to share a finished quilt...but as I was about to pull the quilt off the frame I spied a bad area of tension on the backside. Quilting with black thread on black fabric is very tough on the eyes. It was so frustrating to not notice the problem until I thought I was done!!! It was an area of small circles...or pebbling. It took me 6 hours over three days to carefully rip out the bad areas.

Done venting.

I do have a tip. With regular blackboard chalk I sharpened in a manual pencil sharpener,  I drew a white chalk outline around the remaining good areas quilted in black thread so I know where to fill in with my pebbling.

Mostly, I've been working on my landscaping project. 

I have planted the blueberry bushes and three currants, red, black and white. Lots of new leaves on all the plants. So happy! I pulled all the flower buds off as advised by the University of Alaska Fairbanks agricultural program. No berries for the first year...just getting established.

 I have one span of ground left to fill... 

more metal bins. 

This has to be my signature landscape prop. 
I am planning to fill the metal bins with perennials like bleeding hearts, ferns, astilbe, hostas, ligularia, and columbine. Mostly a shady area but it does get some sun.

Below is my metal bin retaining wall...still looking great after three years. We had a really cold start to our winter with no snow cover...very tough on perennials and shrubs. I replaced five of the shrubs that looked pretty bad this spring, which means I might give a little more attention this fall to mulching the plants to give them some added protection. 

And a set of free-standing tubs. Annual flowers love these metal bins. This set of metal bins have been in use every summer for over 15 years. Love them. Recently, I have only been able to find nice large bins sturdy enough to sit outside at Home Depot. They sell for just under $20 locally. Some of my older metal bins came from Walmart and Lowes giving me a bit of variety in sizes. FYI,  I drill four holes in the bottom for drainage. 

I have been so sparse in posting on my blog this summer.
Since I use my blog to help me keep track of my progress I need to say that I had to get another 12,000 pounds of fractured rock for my landscaping project...

 and now I am needing another load of gravel. 
I have one more area I want to tackle before closing up the 2018 growing season. 
It's a pretty small long as I don't get carried away...

Monday, July 9, 2018

Five Days of Summer

We may have had our allotment of summer weather for this season...and it only lasted 5 days. Very nice that it coincided with the 4th of July. We are back to cloudy skies and rain showers dominating the forecast. 

I am harvesting food from my garden: broccoli, lettuce, kale, strawberries and cherry tomatoes. 
Here's an early morning shot of part of my garden from several days ago. This is the view from my dining room window which is one story above the garden. Lots of cabbage plants...might swap some out for cauliflower next summer. 

Another early morning pic, this time of my landscaping project. I pulled out some black plastic sheeting to put on the ground and give me a better idea of what I've got left to do this summer. The outlining rocks are just holding the black plastic in place. And I'm killing some grass at the same time that won't be needed anymore. I hit a little mental road block deciding what to do next in the landscape design so I took a break. I will have to get another load of fractured granite to finish off this project. 

The best news is I have actually spent two days working on quilting a top. 
After basting it all together, I stitched the flower motifs with a pastel variegated thread. 
The rest of the quilting will be done in black thread.  

I'm a little behind on posting pics of finished projects. I sliced my left thumb when I was working with my rotary cutter three weeks ago. That limited my stitching in the evening to cross stitch. a good time manager...I just embraced the opportunity to finish a set of Santa ornaments.

I am really getting close (as in getting all of the vintage kits done in two more years) to completing all my Sandra Cozzolino cross stitch kits. I aim to finish 10 cross stitch ornaments a year. So far this year I have finished 11 ornaments. I have three more kits organized and ready to start stitching. I started stitching Cozzolino Santa ornaments in 2008 and have completed 129. I should count how many kits I have left to make. 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Rain = Computer Time

The front of my house definitely looks like a construction zone. My enormous pile of fractured granite rock is dwindling. I have several sorting piles for rock sizes...kind of like sorting through fabric scraps and looking for that perfect sized piece. 

I've finished setting the rock on the side of the house. Below is a "before" photo from last September. The cinder block foundation has insulation that is showing quite a bit as the siding seems a little short in this area. This eye sore has been bugging me for years.

I am very pleased with the outcome. I love using metal tubs in my landscaping...time to try some metal trash cans. I found plastic pots that fit perfectly on the rim of the trash cans. And I was able to connect to the gravel walkway from the front of the house to the side and eventually to the garden.

Next garden season I am going to try and grow potatoes in these garbage cans. I'll line them with black plastic. This corner of the yard gets 12-plus hours of sunlight in the summer. I just did some purple fountain grass for this year. I'm not sure what I will grow in the tubs on either side of the trash can trio. 

I am so close to getting my blue berries planted. I bought 12 blueberry bushes and three currants yesterday. I will need to fill the planting beds with soil...which I have...just need to get it in place. Fingers crossed the rain will dissipate so I can get them planted tomorrow. 

I have to share a photo of my favorite perennial, the Himalayan Blue Poppy. It is such a distinctive blue color. I bought two more of these plants since the one I planted last summer made it through our winter.

I treated myself to the latest design of Santa ornaments from the cross stitch designer, Sandra Cozzolino. I often find great cross stitch kits from a needlework shop in Oklahoma that always has a booth at the Houston Quilt Show. My package arrived wrapped in very pretty paper...just like it was my birthday.

Inside were the three kits I ordered and a free pattern with two little Jelly Bellies. Yum! It was just so fun to have a little surprise with my order. 

I should attend to some house cleaning but somehow I think the sewing machine will be my next work station.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Rain Delay...Return to Quilting

I was making great progress on my landscaping project but we are stuck in rainy weather pattern.
Good thing I have a backup plan...

I am going to load this quilt top I made in 2015 onto my quilting frame.

I hadn't touched my sewing machine since May 24th, Breakfast Club day, but two days ago I started working on the blocks from that project. I see a "radioactive" sign when I look at these blocks...I don't know that I like that association. I will make a great throw quilt for my leather couch.

I also finished putting together the leftover scrappy mini HSTs from two quilt projects. I am planning to continue making miscellaneous blocks from my fabric scraps to improvisational piece!

I don't think I shared a picture of my latest stocking. This is "Santa Paws." I am working on the companion dog ornaments. The ink on the white felt pieces was horribly smeared so I had to make new white felt pieces. It slowed me down a little bit. Had the same problem with the ornament kit. I'm glad there is only one white dog!

And finally...a moose picture. Just happened to see this big fellow one morning last week.

It looks like Blogger has changed the "comment" procedure of forwarding them to my email so I can respond. Just want to thank those who leave me comments. As to Donna's comment about fencing to keep the bears out of my future berry patch...I decided not to even try and fence out bears. I think an electric fence would be required. I am hoping they leave my berries alone but there could be some bear drama in my future!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

A Good Start


After four days of work I have one plant area for berry bushes. 
Hoping to grow three types of berries: blueberries, currants and gooseberries.

Enjoying lots of sunshine lately. 
The hardest part is coming up with a plan. 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Outside Endeavors

It has been at least two years of work to get plants in the soil of my raised garden beds. My big obstacle this year was to get some kind of fencing in place to keep out the little critters like rabbits and porcupines.

I wanted to make "moveable" fence sections so I didn't loose the benefit of being able to work more easily around the raised beds. I used electrical pvc pipes to hold my fencing in place which makes it light enough in weight for me to lift up the sections as needed. So far my little creation is working.

In my perennial bed I had a guest too large to keep out fencing. 
A little hard to see but there is a set of large moose prints.

One hoof.

He didn't eat anything on his way through the garden bed.

Hubby just happened to catch a photo of this guy along a road near our home. 
He could have been my visitor.

My summer rock gym was delivered yesterday.
 My first load of rock for the summer, 12,000 pounds of boulders. 
Hoping to make a big dent in landscaping the front of my house.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

I'd Rather Be Outside

We are having the gloomiest May weather. 
Thank goodness I am a quilter and have plenty of projects in my studio to keep me busy.

I have been working on more Row X Row kits. I didn't like the fish row when I put it up on my design wall. Good thing I hadn't heat fused appliques...

I did swap the position of the row once I toned down the background pieces behind the fish. I liked the kit on the wall in the store but in my sewing room it looked so wild. Just went with blue batiks to create the motion of the water and the bubbles. The Eskimo ladies need some ric rac on their parkas but I have to make a trip to the store to get that.

These three kits below are all from the Kenai Fabric Store. They were designed by Dana Michelle. I hope she does their designs for a few more seasons so I can get a nice grouping of her work. My only reservation is the tiny pieces of silhouetted shapes. Impossible to stitch down but I will just use them as a guide for decorative stitching...that is my plan anyway! 

Next big project is getting ready for Breakfast Club this upcoming Thursday. I need to cut out my pieces. The solid color batiks will be the little triangles with just two fabrics alternating in the large jewel shapes. I am pulling from my stash. No new fabric. I'm very proud of myself. We'll see how long I can hold out on buying new fabric. 

In the process of cleaning off my cutting table and putting things away...I found four orphan "Delectable Mountain," blocks and remembered I had made some blocks with mini half square triangles left over from the big project.

Here they are...all reunited. I think I can make a cute little quilt with these parts. I even found the background fabrics in my scrap stash. Is it really possible I will make two new quilts without buying any new fabric? It could happen!