Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Finishing Things!

I am on a roll - two projects finished this week! Never mind how long it has taken me to do them, or when they were promised.  At least they are DONE.  I have too much fun doing this stuff - I love embroidery/crazy quilting, gardening, sewing, crocheting, etc. There is just never enough time!!  (maybe I try to do to much?!?  nah!!)  But I digress.

First, we have the Snowball Swap at Crazy Quilting International.  These are just compact disc-sized crazy quilted circles that we exchange with friends. We call it throwing snowballs. Anyway, Annamaria (Manya, my dear Hungarian ‘cousin’) and I agreed to throw snowballs in April. Manya got hers done on time, but I was a month late.

Here is Manya’s snowball for me, which I LOVE, love, love. I requested bright (Kaffe Fasset) colors.

I am going to put my snowballs in embroidery hoops and hang them on my white studio walls around my bright thread storage.    

And below is my snowball for Annamaria, done in her colors. The “snail” is a vintage bead, and there is an itsy bitsy spider handing from the climbing roses. I hope you like it, dear Manya!!

Here is the close-up of the spider. I didn’t notice until I took this picture and enlarged it that the spider’s head is not attached to his body (she really is very tiny and my eyes are not the best!).  Pretend you don’t notice.  :-)

My older son Ryan is engaged to the most wonderful woman, Kim. They have been together over 5 years, and her daughter Lauren (and son Easton) are like grandkids to us, and have been since the day we first met them. Anyway, Lauren is going to spend one day (or half day depending on her busy schedule) with me every week during the summer because she wants to learn to sew (and bake, and other home-y things). She is 8. Anyway, when they visited earlier in May, I had her pick out some fabric for a dress from my stash and together we picked out a pattern (also from my stash - I have literally hundreds). This is what I made for her:

It does look much cuter on her, of course.  It can be worn either as a sundress, or unbuttoned below the waist and worn with shorts. I made her shorts (not pictured) in the pink contrast fabric.  I had some really cute bright golden yellow buttons that I wanted her to pick for the front, but she was adamant about the pink buttons, so that’s what she got.  :-)

I have been purchasing fabric like mad to make quilts for all the grandkids for Christmas. Will show it to you with some of my ideas soon.

Cathy maroon

Saturday, May 26, 2012

It’s All Happening in the Garden

Yep, my life lately has been spent more outdoors in the garden than in my studio.  But when the weather is nice, one must take advantage.  This weekend (Memorial Day in the US) is cool and rainy, though, so I will be catching up with my Etsy shop special orders, new listings (more new laces!!).  I also attended a fantastic Estate Sale yesterday, and am busy sifting through it.  Perhaps I can share pictures, LOL. I can`t decide what to keep and what to sell.  :-)

So, here are some garden pictures.  For this post, I will concentrate more on the front yard, which is done, and the blooming roses and irises.  Later posts can show you the backyard, but right now everything is in the “before” stage there; even the vegetable garden is just barely poking up.

Front steps with our colorful Mexican Talavera pots. They are so cheerful and I love them so!

Closer view of some of the pots and the Mr. Lincoln rose tree.  

Some of the pots with bleeding hearts blooming in the background.

We always get comments about our “flagstone” walkway.  Like, who can afford flagstone??  This is a cement walkway and steps that were embossed and dyed by the contractor at the time of installation (at least 8 years ago) and it is fabulous. And only a little more expensive than regular cement.

I love this flower bed to the left of our front door.  We had a rose tree there for about 9 years, but lost it last year in a very mild (but dry) winter.  So, to replace the color at that level, I added a shepherd’s hook with two basic pots of petunias.  We have planted another rose tree, but it is a miniature, barely visible in the right of the photo.  The purple salvia is blooming, and the various lilies will be coming on soon. In the meantime, we are enjoying their lush greenery.

The mow strip, also cement, matches the walkway and steps.  Different contractor, done 4 years after the steps. Pure serendipity.

The irises in the front planter along the front window are in their full glory.  And, like most of my other irises, they need thinning. That is on my To Do list for late July/early August.  All the neighbors and family are on alert, LOL!

Irises in bloom on the west side yard.

This iris is a hybrid called Champagne.  It blooms and multiplies profusely.

I know that I said earlier this year that we did not have any bird nests in our grape arbor this year, but this one was built right after I said that. Same exact place as last year!  No, it is not the same one, because I took the other one down to preserve it in the fall as a decoration.  The picture doesn’t show it, but the birds used some white paper in building this nest.  Perhaps next spring I will scatter threads and fabric scraps and see if we can get a crazy quilt nest, LOL!   Oh, there are no inhabitants of this nest.  There are a pair of robins - a Mr. and Mrs. who visit the yard regularly, but this is not their home.

This is the back wall of our yard.  We have a lilac, climbing roses and tulips (in season), then irises. And a concord grape.  The big blank space was left by the clematis we also lost over the winter. I now planted a climbing hydrangea there, which does not need supports because it supposedly attaches itself to walls. We will see.  But, don’t you love those iris colors?  I should probably stake those heavy blooms. Or cut some to enjoy indoors.   The dirt there is part of the planted garden. More of that in another post.

Concord grape bush and irises.
I love irises!!

This one is soooo showy!!

Don’t you love this color?  We go every few years to the Iris Society sale in July and buy unusual rhizomes. 

Another one of my favorites, LOL (like kids, they are ALL favorites!).  There is a hosta there, too.  I should plant more there to fill in some of the areas along there.  Mental note made.

My famous (hehe) Daybreak Rose bush, which I blogged about last year here.    They are blooming one month earlier this year!

I saved this picture as my screen saver.   Feel free to do the same with this one or the next one!

This is an old rosebush in the backyard that is just coming on.  

This pink rose bush was a weak and wimpy thing the first year or three, but now is wild, blowsy and very fragrant.  It needs to be supported, though.  But it is my friend, so that is OK!  :-)

Hiding behind the rose in the above picture (not directly behind, but just not visible) is this delphinium, below.  Wait until it begins its show next month!!

Pictured below is my east side yard.  Making progress.  That mess of a lavender bush is gone and I partially pruned the snowball bush after it bloomed.  Now I can get in there and get all the grass out (very few weeds; mostly just grass).  Then it will get mulched.  I haven’t decided what is going to go there.  Maybe some of those irises?  Miniature roses?  Or just head to the nursery and see what speaks to me??

Have a wonderful Memorial Day (or plain ol’ weekend, depending on where you are!)

Cathy maroon

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Swapping Tins

On the Crazy Quilting International group, we had another Tin Swap.  Participants were asked to decorate a tin approximately the size of an Altoids tin. We were all given swap partners.  In finished my tin yesterday (a day late, I might add, but that does not surprise you, does it?).   It is now on its way to Sandy R, so I can now show a few pictures.

Above: The top of the tin.  I pieced a small covering for the lid portion in Sandra’s colors of burgundy, green and pink (with cream and gold accents).  To keep the ends from fraying, I backed it with fusible interfacing (the knit tricot kind) before beginning the stitching.  It really helps when working in such small scale.

 This is a side view.  After the top was stitched and glued down, I covered the various edges.  It was a lot of fun auditioning potential trims for this job!

I always like to add “feet” (four wooden beads) to my tins so they stand up a little higher. It also allows you to select slightly longer trims for the sides. The bottom was first covered with a thin green fabric (you can still see the writing beneath it, but that is not a big deal; I just wanted the tin covered).  The purple flower was just a machine-embroidered motif on the fabric. I thought it would be cute to include it.

The inside is a quilted satin fabric - a vintage piece I have had for years and use sparingly here and there.  I actually did the inside FIRST by glueing down the two lining pieces and then glueing trims down to cover the raw edges.

And of course, once it was finished, I filled it with some lacey goodness for Sandra!

Until next time,
Cathy maroon

Sunday, May 6, 2012

April CQJP Block Done

Well, better late than never, right?  I finished my fourth (April) block for the CQ Journal Project, and this one was really fun. I am pleased with it.

As with the other blocks, the stitching is mostly on the seamlines, and in the colors of the central needlepoint panel.  I want a lot of the black to show and the surrounding blocks to complement, not compete with the needlepoint.

The block (above) had a large green piece which I felt was too strong, so I covered it with a black venise lace motif (available in my Etsy shop, by the way) and enhanced it with stitching.    Below is the fourth block in place.  Everything is just pinned.

I may end up switching blocks one and two. But until all of them are done, I will wait. I am not even sewing any blocks to each other yet.   And I am thinking that once the blocks are done, I may want to add some further stitching and bits of that aqua blue here and there.  Possibilities!!

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
This year I have so much to do in the garden. But now that I am retired, I can work early in the mornings for a couple hours, which I enjoy.  I tend to overdo things if I am not careful, and my back can always be counted on to let me know when that happens. So, I am pacing myself and tackling one area at a time.

One of my goals this year is to simplify things, and see if I can reduce the amount of overall maintenance.  I will always plant my front step flower pots (scheduled for this week) and tend to my roses; that is sheer joy. But weeding and removing grass is killing me. So this year, I am on the attack, with chemicals (Preen among them).  I have tried for years to avoid chemicals, plant groundcovers, and use other strategies. But no more. Weedkillers are my new best friends. Along with weed cloth and rocks.

Here is a before and after of one area.

Before: Weed City

After: Clean, neat and pruned. This bush will be overflowing with roses by the end of the month!

Below is my snowball bush; an unruly monster on the east side yard. I will prune it, like last year, after it blooms.  And that lavender is going bye-bye later this week. Then everything will be hoe-d nicely.

And this is the rest of that bed. What a mess!  The tulips are almost ready to be cut back, and the irises are coming on, as are the rose bushes. And just to the left of center (behind the irises) is my glorious poppy bush.  Right in front of the urn is a peony bush. A little weeding here (actually, removing grass) and this will look nice. But those ground covers are not working to keep out the weeds, so off they will go.  Then I will mulch, use Preen, and cover with landscape bark. Simplify.  Many of them need to be thinned out (poppy, irises). They’ll be transferred to the west side yard that we dug up last year.

Below is part of the west side yard, where I will plant lilies, irises and campanula. I have to wait for July to divide those, so for now I am hauling in more soil, mulching and treating it.

These irises on the side yard are about to bloom, so watch for more pictures soon!

Well, that’s all for now. I was going to show you some more problem areas and tell you my plans, but DH is pretending he is dying of hunger, LOL.   Backyard pix next time. Maybe I will have some progress photos on some of my other areas, too.

Tonight my plans are to piece a Snowball (4” round) and another project which I will share later in the week.

Take care!
Cathy maroon