Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Container Gardening Happiness

A garden center about 30 minutes from here offers a really neat service. Maybe other places do this, but I've not heard of it. Gardeners can bring their clean pots and planters and right there in the greenhouse, they can fill their pots with good potting soil and flowers. Then the garden center folks will load up all the potted containers and move them into one of their greenhouses for safekeeping until the customer is ready for them!

Back in mid-April, my DH and I took 27 pots of varying sizes to this garden center. We'd looked online at some suggested flower combinations, and we selected a few of our favorites. In the course of about 3 hours, with the wonderful help of the staff, we planted all 27 pots. After nearly 6 weeks in a greenhouse with proper water and TLC, they really thrived! This weekend, we picked them up (it took 3 trips!), and have them distributed around our house. They look wonderful!

I've got flowery gorgeousness on my front porch, my sidewalk, at my garage door, at the back porch, and out in the yard. It is just so nice to have such great looking flowers. With no less than 3 events we are preparing for this month, we felt it was worth the splurge to go this route and insure that we will have the place looking spiffy! All we need to do is to be vigilant about watering, deadheading, and fertilzing.

What is pictured in these 3 snapshots are 19 of the 27 pots. We just put them all in one spot near the garage door when we unloaded them so that we could take our time deciding where we would put them all. Still at the garden center were the remaining 8 pots. I will get them all placed, and go around with the camera for tomorrow's post.

Monday, May 30, 2011

More Industriousness

It's sorta' scary how many irons I have in the fire right now. For me, anyway. Some people can do a million things at once and make it look easy, but not me. If too much comes my way, I cower at the thought of completing tasks.

Given that, then, I have to say I am really surprised by this sudden burst of energy I have stumbled upon. The tasks have been manageable, but numerous, and I am feeling "purty durn proud" of the finishes off my sewing machine!

The 16-patch pillow is now complete, and working quite nicely in the family room.

Here it is with the previous pillow. The one in the foreground is fabric from the Luna Notte line; the 16-patch is fabric from the Aviary line (I think). (These were leftover charm squares from another project, and I don't think I have the wrapper any long. I will have to investigate further to see if I'm correct.)

I am now finishing off the Luna Notte table topper with some hand-quilting. It should be finished this evening or tomorrow, at the latest. Then it will need a quick binding. I hope to have it adorning my coffee table by Sunday.

The big target date for all the cleaning, sewing, cooking and general sprucing up is Sunday - the day of our graduation party for Emma. This area is BIG into it's graduation parties. Some folks go all out. We are probably going more overboard than we should. Are graduation parties a big deal in other parts of the country? In other countries? I would love to know how others celebrate a high school graduation.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Honor Our Military

Hoping that as you all enjoy your barbecues and swimming pools, picnics and parades, please remember those who have served and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Reveal

With the possible exception of a couple more throw pillows, and plants, of course, the screened porch is finished. I stepped out there this morning (before breakfast and still in my nightgown!) to take these pictues. The shadows you see are from the sun peeking through the tree tops.

The bench under this bench pad is a very old family piece. I bought it at the auction of my paternal grandfather's estate sale. He had it in his barn, and I believe he made it. Maybe my dad or my uncle made it, if not Grandpa. Anyway, it's 8 feet long, and still quite sturdy. I made the bench pad of an assortment of blue and yellow fat quarters.

The fabric used on the seat cushions for the settee, chair and bench were all purchased last year. I just never got around to making the slipcovers. In the meantime, the original cushions got really gross, so I pitched them, bought foam, cut it to size, and made the slipcovers yesterday. This fabric has a more tropical feel to it, especially the floral, as opposed to the French-themed feel of the rest of the fabrics. I intend to leave the seat cushions in place all summer; while the tablecloth will come in for protection from day-to-day elements. I am going to be okay with the mixed messages sent by these two styles, tropical and French. The color combination of blue and yellow will make it okay, in my opinion. (I'm not a purist, then, and I'm quite practical.)

Project Porch

Next Sunday afternoon we are hosting a graduation party for our DD. I have known we would do this for months, and have had the date set for at least 6 weeks. However, I find myself madly stitching porch cushions and accessories in preparation for this event. I have truly mastered procrastination.

Today I had a list of 6 items on my list.
1. foam cushion #1
2. foam cushion #2
3. foam cushion #3
4. hem tablecloth
5. pillow #1
6. pillow #2

Here is the foam for items 1-3 on my list. The small one in front is for a wicker chair; the middle one is for a matching wicker  settee. The large one is for a wooden garden bench.

I used an electric carving knife to cut the pieces to the correct size. Then I got busy tracing out the fabric to fit. Sewed them up and just have the hand-stitching to do. Closing the back openings. That foam is tough to work with, and I am glad that I have this job (nearly) behind me. I will have pictures when the stitching is completed.

I'm really excited about item #4 on my list. This is one awesome tablecloth!

I bought it at the Quilt Festival last month in Cincinnati. A vendor there specialized in international fabrics. On the wall of the booth was this tablecloth, and it was stunning. I mean, it literally stopped me in my tracks. I browsed through the booth, stroked all the beautiful fabrics - I was especially focused on the French fabrics - and chatted with the booth worker. Oh, how I wish I could have bought a little bit of everything!! It was breathtaking seeing all these rich, gorgeous colors spread so invitingly on the tables! I could have stayed in this booth all day!

I have the business card from this vendor. The store is French Connections located in Pittsboro, NC. Their website will show you lots of the pretty stuff!

And all I bought was the tablecloth that drew me into the booth in the first place. I so hoped it would fit this porch table - and look!! It does, to a T!

Item #5 on my list is this pillow. The fabric is called Provence by Timeless Treasures. I've had it for quite awhile, and decided (with the helpful input of Sharon) that it would work better as a whole cloth pillow rather than a pieced one. I think "Provence" looks right at home on my porch!

Item # 6 is a pieced pillow, but it is for the family room, not the porch. I will have a picture of it later, too. I had some leftover 5-inch squares from a charm pack that worked with my family room colors, so I stitched them up.  Pictures forthcoming.

So, my day has been productive. I really needed to get this stuff done, and while I sorta' waited until the last minute, I've got it under control now. Thankfully!

Six items on my list. All were dealt with; 2 were finished; 3 need openings whipstitched openings; the final one is a pillow top that needs a backing cut and a pillow form purchased. Not a bad day's work.

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Near-Finish

On Tuesday when Sharon and I sewed together, she nearly finished her layer cake/jelly roll quilt top. I shared a few pics of her progress here and here. The quilt pattern is called Old Gold.

The blocks became rows and the rows became a top! It is a beautiful quilt, with gorgeous fabrics - I could gaze and gaze at those big florals, the wonderful polka-dots and paislies. Such a peaceful, calming quilt. I'm not so sure that Old Gold is an appropriate name for this quilt done in these romantic colors; perhaps Sharon will consider renaming it.

The fabric is called Martinique and I love it.

This Tuesday sewing with Sharon thing we have been doing is resulting in some satisfying finishes. Our initial meeting was a Thursday, and we decided that Tuesdays would be the best day to commit to. Seven Tuesdays later, Sharon has finished 2 quilt tops, with this 3rd one (Old Gold) very close to being finished. She also has a UFO that just needs a backing which she plans to work on when the Old Gold is finished. She does not sew any other time on her own - she's only been sewing on Tuesdays with me. I think that's remarkable to get all that done in 8 day-long sessions. She attributes it to using pre-cuts. There is some truth to that, but they still have to be cut - triangles, corner stones, sashing, etc,

My accomplishments include a day working on Broken Dishes, 3 days working on the prom dress, 2 days on Bento Box, and 2 weeks on pillows for the porch. A very productive thing is going on here! I think it's working for us!!

Happy Quilting, Friends.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Few and Far Between

That's what my posting has been lately. Anyone who reads this regularly, though, knows that we are in the midst of graduating our youngest and all that goes with this big event. We are preparing for a graduation party, attending the parties of others, trying to stay ahead of the lawn mowing (we have had something like 10 inches above normal rainfalls this spring!), just to name a few of the things going on around here. Graduation was Friday night, and it went well. Only an occasional misting up - no big tears or sobs.

My Bernina decided to become contrary late last week. I had been working on a bench pad for our screened porch, and the machine got quite clackety and loud. I kept sewing and finished the bench pad, but it was clear that the sewing machine needed some TLC.  The noise seemed to be coming from the area around or behind the bobbin, so I took apart as much as I could, brushed out all the lint, shot some canned air in there to dislodge hidden bits, oiled a few moving parts and put it all back together. VOILA! She runs like a dream! Happy dance time!

One other problem persisted: my tension seemed off, as whatever I sewed was coming out gathered! Not good. Did you know that older machines are not equipped to handle the weight of today's spools of thread? I have an old Bernina - around 24 or 25 years old - and had just replaced my thread with a new spool - it's too heavy!When I used a different, smaller spool, the tension problem disappeared. Interesting. Thread is marketed today on spools that are larger (more thread per spool), but older machines can't take them. At least mine won't handle them; I don't know if this is true across the board.

How will I use up all the thread I have on these bigger spools? I think I will have to buy a new machine. *wink, wink* Every dedicated seamstress needs a backup machine, right?

One pillow finished yesterday, and I love it! I sewed for a few more hours and look!

I am quite pleased with the results. These are 18" square; the pattern is in A Thimbleberries Housewarming by Lynette Jensen, and is called Flower Patch Pillow. The original calls for ruffles, but I opted to go without. Saves time and fabric, plus for a porch, I just didn't see a need to go to the extra fuss. My blogging friend Lori at Humble Quilts commented that these pillows have a French look, and I was so pleased! I didn't mention that this was the effect I was going for, so it was great to hear that the effect was achieved.

Tomorrow I will share pictures of Sharon's finished quilt top! Our Tuesday sewing session was productive!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Just Pluggin' Away

With crazy, busy activities and crazy, busy days. It's definitely hard to get much sewing done when there's a high school senior in the house. Graduation is coming up Friday night. This evening we had the choral and theatre departments' awards program, Curtain Call. Emma brought home quite a lot of hardware as she was recognized for both her singing and acting. *smiling proudly* It was a bittersweet event - so proud and also a bit sad to see the great times of high school ending. She's our youngest, so we are in for some adjusting in the coming months.

Here she is, "acting" silly with her bf Geoffrey. You can see her awards as well as that prom dress from last month. That's a nice bonus, having a second function to which the prom dress can be worn. This is a very dressy awards event, meant to mimic the Academy Awards.

So, to the sewing: yesterday was Sewing with Sharon. Remember how I mentioned a month or so back, that we are so close that we read each other's minds and finish each other's sentences? Well, at the last minute I was grabbing fabric and I pulled out Luna Notte to use yesterday, and when I got to her house, guess who had a fat quarter bundle of Luna Notte on her table??? Yes, Sharon did. It's just uncanny how we seem to be on the same wavelength. Here's the bottom row of Sharon's quilt:

I worked on some pillow tops for my screened porch and a table topper. All patterns are from various Thimbleberries books. I find when I need to finish something quickly with very little fuss, Thimbleberries is my go-to choice. I have made dozens of her patterns over the years.

This the center of a table topper using Luna Notte fat quarters. The pattern is in the book called Laura's Garden. This table topper will be used on the coffe table in our family room.

This is an 18" pillow top. There are a total of 4, all matching. I am going with a blue and yellow color scheme on my screened porch this summer, and these pillows will go in the chairs that go with the dining table. I've used fabrics from my stash, and while I will concede that the paisley is dramatic, the yellow floral is whimsical, and the center block falls somewhere in between, I just went with it - grabbed the fabric I had on hand and began cutting.

I need to get back to work. Gotta put those pillow cases together, and finish off that table topper.

Happy quilting, Friends!

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Take

Isn't that what the winnings are called when you have finished off a gambling spree? Well, anyway, I embarked on a shopping spree last Friday at our beloved Miller's Dry Goods in Charm, OH, one of the premier spots in Ohio's Amish Country. A quainter place you'll never find!

These 3 stripes are going to become table runners  using that 60-degree angle ruler. I made some at Christmas, and thought these would look good at other times of the year.

I bought an assortment of quarter-yard cuts of purple and gold batiks for finishing the blocks on Emma's quilt.

I only bought larger cuts of 3 fabrics - on the left is a beautiful floral from the Luna Notte line. Then we have a scarlet and gray combination to use on the OSU Buckeye t-shirt quilt I am going to get started on. I bought 12 shirts at a thrift store, found these two fabrics in the bargain basement, got to take an additional 30% off of that, so this t-shirt quilt will be a real economic creation.  Whoo-hoo!!

I remember a time not all that long ago when I thought that all this pre-cut hoopla was a bunch of nonsense. A gimick. Who on earth would fall for such an absurd marketing ploy??? Well, my opinions have changed in a drastic way.

So, here are 4 layer cakes and 2 jelly rolls. Yeah, I'm singing a different tune now. *cheesy grin*

I've always been a sucker for these fat quarter bundles. This is one I picked up in Coshocton on our way home. Their shop is small, but we found some sweet treasures there, so I think all of us were glad we made the stop. This bundle is Pom Pom de Paris, and I am still salivating. I made Tag Sale with a pack similar to this; I'm thinking I might make a second Tag Sale with this one. Any opinions??

NOTE: This was supposed to be scheduled to post on 5-13. I'm posting it now; since everyone seems to think that Bloggers' troubles are fixed. Hopefully, I won't find that this will eventually be recovered and end up being posted twice.

Missing: Two Posts

Hmmmm . . .

"There's something hinky going on here, Gibbs."

I am missing a post dated for May 12, and a post dated for May 13. Do you think there is some Friday the 13th funny business going on here?

I understand that Blogger has had some troubles.

I wonder if the missing posts will just as mysteriously reappear?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Time is at a Premium

Since retiring in June 2009, I have been busier than I ever imagined. My promise to my DH and DD was to be a full-time wife and mother for the remaining 2 years of Emma's high school career, then consider going back to work, if needed or wanted.

So, the stay-at-home Mom experience is about to end in that Emma graduates in about a week and a half. In the fall, she heads off to college.

I did renege on my vow, just a bit . . . I worked part-time as an English instructor at a nearby branch of Ohio University. For the most part, however, I threw myself into being involved in Emma's activities. President of a booster club, bake sales, making costumes for the musical, attending every football game to see her half-time show, and the grandest gesture of all: I made her prom dress! (I'm still pretty proud of that accomplishment!)

I tell you all of this to account for why I can't seem to have time for blogging since last Thursday. I'd been doing pretty well for several days, but then all these things popped up!

Okay, so I spent last Friday in Ohio's Amish Country.

Miller's Dry Goods celebrated their anniversary with a 30% off sale, bringing quilters from far and wide to their doorsteps both Friday and Saturday. Two friends, Kay and Sherrie, and I (Sharon was unable to go!) joined in on the fun Friday, making some really awesome purchases.

Here's the rear of my van upon our return.

We stopped at Pearl Valley and stocked up on some cheese. This is what the 3 of us bought. We didn't go overboard, did we?

In my next post, I will show some of my individual buys.

Gotta run!
Happy Quilting, Friends.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Looking Forward

To a fun shopping day tomorrow, that is. I am lucky enough to live close to Amish country in Ohio - about 3 hours away. This weekend is the big anniversary sale for Mrs. Miller's in Charm, OH. Friends and former co-workers (we are all retired now!) will join me on a day's adventure to Amish country. I've looked forward to this for about 6 weeks, now. We made plans early!!

This is a shot from their website. It's a very extensive selection, for sure. I will no doubt do good things for the economy in Charm, OH. :)

The work on the batik purple and gold continues. No new pics to share, but I will have, I promise. These blocks are just too fun to make - I have to share the fun!

I follow several quilting blogs, as most bloggers do. One has struck a chord with many bloggers, myself included. Check out this call for pillowcases from Brown Quilts. I think quilters from around the country (and even around the globe) will heed the call from Carol. It's both a tragic and heartwarming story all wrapped into one! Prepare to become emotional. Really. If you ever felt like helping with a worthy cause, IMO, there could be few more worthy than this one!

Happy Quilting, Friends.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Let's Take a Walk

We here in central Ohio have had a tremendous amount of rain this month, and more is forecast for the coming days. Last Thursday was a beautifully sunny, albeit cool, spring day, so I took a little walk around our house and property to see what I could see. I was specifically interested in the wildflowers and spring flowering bushes and annuals that we've planted.
We'll head out of the garage to the woods. We have some pretty cool wildflowers growing out there - some we planted, most growing there naturally. About 15 years ago, after searching and searching for Jack-in-the Pulpits and trilliums and finding none, I asked a farmer about 3/4 mile up the road if I could transplant some I could see in his roadside woods over to our woods. He graciously permitted me to dig around a bit, and now we have a growing population of Jacks and trilliums.

Pink trilliums surrounded by pinks.

There's the lone Jack-in-the-Pulpit I found. I am certain that if I go out in a few days, I will find several more. This one is a bit of an earlybird, I believe.

Once in the woods, we see lots of new growth. The trees are not leafing out just yet, so we have greater visibility to see the sky. While I walked around out there, a busy woodpecker could be heard tapping away on some upper tree branch, oblivious to my intrusion into his neighborhood.

The cardinals trilled out some beautiful mating calls. They could be heard from quite a distance, and the one right above my head sounded like he was trying to break the decibel level for songbirds! He must really in love!

These are mayapples. I had to walk pretty far back into the woods to find these. If I'm not mistaken, these flower under their leaves; I looked for flowers and didn't find any. I will check again in a few days.

Exiting the woods, I head down toward the lane. These brambles straight ahead are going to be full of blackberries and wild raspberries this coming June and July.

My good buddy Steve happily accompanied me on my walk.  He loves it when his people come out.

Turning around and heading back toward the house, we can check on the lilacs. They are finally opening their buds! I clipped several to take indoors.

Yesterday, I took my machine to Sharon's to spend the day sewing. I got quite a bit done on my Bento Box.

I've now made 16 blocks. These are really fun to put together. Notice how well my herbal iced tea matches my blocks??

Sharon worked on another project from her precuts book. She's using a layer cake for this floral, cottage-y project.
"Old Gold" is the name of the quilt; from the book Layer Cake, Jelly Roll and Charm Quilts.
Isn't it beautiful? I will need to check on what the line of fabric is. I'm thinking Aviary, but I could be wrong.

I am loving this new thing we're doing - sewing together every Tuesday. In addition to getting a good amount of sewing done, we also get to visit and dream and plan. Dream and plan future projects, future trips, books to read, and on and on and on...great fun together.