Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Getting Outside

I have not been doing much quilting lately.  I should say piecing, because I actually finished a couple quilts a week or so ago... but they were not mine, so that doesn't count.  Lots going on to keep me away from my sewing machine.

You know spring is just around the corner when you see blue bonnets sprouting up.  I think it could be a good year for blue bonnet pictures... if we get some rain.  Lots of blue all over my back yard just waiting to come out if they get adequate rain to help them along.  Nothing prettier than a backyard covered in blue.  I'm thinking it's going to be a good year... I just know it is going to rain.  This picture was taken on February 20th and blue bonnets are typically showing their color in early April, so I'm thinking it's looking really good at this point.  Now this is the first year that I have been in my backyard as much as I have been lately.  It wasn't until last May that I started my backyard makeover.  I am just amazed at how many blue bonnets I am seeing pop up back there. I don't think there have been that many in previous years... but then I wasn't out there much.  Previously only noticed them when they were already blue with blossoms.  If all that I see out there now produces blossoms, my backyard will look like a sea of blue.

 Last week I went to a retreat where there were lots of other ladies.  It was a busy couple of days in a beautiful camp environment.  Too much went on to tell about, but at one point I saw a lady walking ahead of me and I caught up and asked  her where she got her shoes. I also asked if I could take a picure. I just think they are so cool.  She bought them online from Dillard's.  When I got home I checked it out online and it seems that these wonderful running shoes go for about $139... Guess I won't be buying a pair of these.  Problem for me is shoes and I often don't get along too well... meaning I buy good shoes and two weeks after I have them, my feet start hurting.  Bottom line is I would not consider buying these shoes for that much money and find out my feet don't like them after two weeks.  I will have to look for another alternative.  Surfing a little I found Newton Running Shoes that could be a good option.  Didn't know there was such a brand, but it would be cool to have a pair of shoes that has my family name on them... and they are priced much better.

Spring is creeping up on us and we have lots of projects that need to get done.  I guess I should say that I keep increasing my Honey Do List for my dear, sweet, wonderful husband.  He has wanted to do something about the water running off the shed roof for quite some time.  I had a good friend make this rain barrel for me and I thought the perfect place for it was to catch water off the shed.  Now if we get some rain, I will get my barrel filled and the rain water will not continue to run up under the siding.  It really was an easy fix... just took getting it on our To-Do List.  Still have to get a connector from the downspout into the barrel... but it will work the way it is until then.

Another item on our list is more raised beds for my fenced in garden area.  High fences are a good idea around here for gardens because we have lots of deer.  For my first Texas garden, we put in a fenced garden last fall and constructed 4 raised beds.  There is ample room for 4 additional beds and planting time is coming up real fast.  We went to the lumber yard this morning and bought the materials for those beds.  Next on the agenda is to get those beds constructed.

I want to plant some potatoes this year, and this is the time of year that you can find seed potato at the nurseries.  I don't have the garden space ready for the potatoes yet, but I did go to buy my seed potato so I would be sure they didn't run out before I got there.  Another item on my list is to build a "potato box" from a pallet.  Just something I thought would be cool if it works.  I have the pallets, and now the potatoes... so that will have to be next on the list.  I won't put all my potatoes in a box, I will still have a full row that I will plant directly in the ground, and not inside the fenced area.  We shall see how that works.

I bought a peach tree when I was at the nursery buying my seed potatoes and today I got it planted.  One of the problems we have in this area, because we are pretty much on a sand hill... is ants that will strip your plants clean overnight.  The lady at the nursery told me about this stuff called Tanglefoot that is like thick molasses.  You first wrap the tree trunk up about 20" with a t-shirt that has been stripped 2" wide.  After the t-shirt strip is in place, single thickness, you cover the strip with Tanglefoot... applied with a spatula... I used a fat popsicle stick. It is now like a fly strip wrapped around the tree trunk, but hopefully I will catch or deter the ants.

This is the bottom of my peach tree with the Tanglefoot applied.  The inset on the right of the picture is a buried 2 liter soda bottle that has holes punched in the bottom.  The bottle can be filled to help water or fertilizer to get to the deeper roots.  I don't think it will replace normal watering, but I saw this used for various plants and figured it was worth a try to see if it helps my peach tree grow better.  This tree is going to need lots of attention if it is to survive in my back yard.

We have a whole truck load of garden soil being delivered on Thursday, so more work is on the horizon.  My fall/winter garden was not that impressive, but the real test of my ability to garden in Texas is about to begin.  Nothing about gardening is the same here.  I have to learn like I am a brand new gardener.  We shall see what happens.

Monday, January 13, 2014

No time allowed to be idle

I am forever finding new projects to start... what is really cool is when a project gets finished.  The best project is one you can start and finish in the same day.  Well, that may not really be true.  Some good things can't be rushed.  Anyhow I have a variation of finished projects to show you today.  These projects include knitting a couple headbands

quilting... that is finishing a quilt that was waiting to be quilted for several months...

and finally a finished apron made from an old pair of jeans.  Now the jean apron didn't take long to complete, but I cut the leg off the pair of jeans with this apron in mind several weeks ago.  Don't you think it turned out really cool.

The headbands from above, were not difficult, they worked up fairly quick, but they needed some embellishment to make them pop.

Today was quilting Monday for the QBL (Quilting Bee Ladies).  We celebrate birthdays for the month on the second Monday of every month by having a luncheon.  I found a recipe for a quick and easy soup, Nacho Potato Soup and decided it needed cornbread... my two contributions today.

Nacho Potato SoupThe soup was a big hit and the only work I had to do was cube the Velveeta. I brought all the ingredients (from cans and boxes) to church and put it all together there.  I even had all of the cornbread ingredients all measured and ready to dump in a bowl and mix together. 

Here's to a great week ahead.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Folded Log Cabin

Back in the spring I went to a quilt retreat.  I had brought lots of fabric with me to make sure I didn't run out of things to do.  I had seen the technique done to make a "folded log cabin" block and some of the extra fabric I had brought with me was intended for an attempt to create a block or two.  It wasn't long before I had three blocks done and I had no finished project in mind.  Just that morning we drove into town to the local quilt shop and I bought a piece of fabric that I just liked because it was so colorful... I had totally forgotten anything about the fabric I had brought along.  Well now it is early evening and I have three blocks that I put up on the design wall and ask opinions on.  They had me turning and rearranging, then someone suggested putting them against a black background, and it just happened that someone there had a piece of black so I could audition it.  It was a Wow... sure made those blocks pop.  Then another Wow moment quickly followed... I remembered the fabric I had just bought a piece of that morning.  It had several of the same colors.  It was like I had those 3 blocks with me when I bought it.

I had to wait until I got home to put it all together, but my wall hanging was coming together... one step at a time.  I had not used rick rack in ages for anything.  One of the ladies at the retreat was using mini rick rack for her stems in one of her projects, which put the thought in my head when I was trying to figure out how I was going to finish the edges of these blocks.  Once I determined the positioning for the blocks I thought about the rick rack and used my pinking blade in a rotary cutter to trim the edges of the blocks.  The rick rack and the pinked edge were a natural.  I thought the wall hanging needed some other accent, so I looked for the beaded trim at JoAnn's.

It has been a while, but I finally picked this project back up so I could quilt it and call it finished.  I stitched the binding on yesterday. The plan right now is... it is mine.  Not intended for a gift.... least not yet.  Thought a closer look might be helpful. 

It took a while to get this one done, even though it really was a pretty easy project... it is just one that didn't have a priority set, so it just sat there waiting to be finished.  Sometimes my own quilts are the last ones to get quilted.

Here's hoping you are all ready to step into the new year and that your year ahead will be blessed.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Almost Christmas

It has been a very long time since I have created a new post.  When I remember that it has been a while, I think I should take the time, but then I get busy doing something and blogging time slips away.  I'm thinking I might try to see if anyone is still interested in what is going on in my little corner of the world.  Even a one-word comment is welcome.... might inspire me to do more posting.

Right now I don't have anything exciting to post about, but I thought I would start with a tip for the quilters out there.  I don't know how many have bought a panel to make a fabric book for your grandchild.  One of the things you have to keep track of in the process is the sequence of the pages.  The numbers are labeled on the panel, but those numbers get hidden in a seam or cut off before you are finished.  Here is where a Smartphone can come to the rescue.  Snap a shot of the sequence before those numbers are lost.  Now you have a little bit of insurance that you can get the final book pages in the right order. Smartphones can do much more than talking and texting. 

Christmas is just around the corner.  Hope everyone is ready.  Merry Christmas to all.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Moon Flower Plant

After I started working on my patio this spring I have had a few friends give me plants which is a good thing... because they have extras from their garden to share, must mean they are good for this area.... right?  I'm new to gardening in Texas, so any help I can get is great.  Way back when, I have had many a garden, and mostly very big gardens.  Gardening in Texas is a whole new arena... I have to learn all over again.  The soil here is mostly sand, and the ants, grasshoppers and deer are really prolific and there is a spring garden as well as a fall garden, and I have been told that if you know what you are doing, you can plant almost any time here.  Now all I have to do is learn what works here.  I tried my hand at it the first year we were here, on a very small scale, but it was a disaster... which caused me to hang up my hoe for a very long time.  I have planted some bushes and flowers with pretty good success lately, but I have decided to take it up a notch... or two, and do a real garden and see what happens.

Back to my friends... one in particular has a very green thumb.  A few weeks ago she brought me a bunch of different plants that were from her garden.  She thought I might enjoy some new plants. One of them was a Moon Flower.  For the first couple of weeks I didn't think it was going to make it, but it came around and started to show new life.  This was my Moon Flower plant last week.

I have been keeping an eye on it through the week, and really noticed it yesterday.

This morning at 7a.m. I took this picture.  The top part that is the actual blossom, above the green, is at least 4" maybe 5" long.  This is my very first Moon Flower, so I'm learning as I go, but from what I have been reading, this is a vine type plant, and will grow several feet in one season.  It is remarkable to see how it has changed in just one week, but I have not seen any indication that this one wants to start climbing.  I am sure I will see new characteristics in the upcoming weeks.

This next photo was taken at 1 this afternoon.  The plant is drooping because of the hot sun, but I can see that I will have to be keeping close tabs on this blossom as the evening approaches.  The blossoms of the Moon Flower only last one day... that is it will open in the evening, then be done next day by midday... I'm thinking that will be more like mid-morning.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Our backyard has taken on such a new look, or maybe it's a persona.  It looks so different than it did not so very long ago.  With the new look, it has taken on a new personality.  Before I began my patio project back at the beginning of May... the backyard had nothing that would make you want to sit out there... at least I didn't think so... but it has been there all along... I was just looking at it with a different attitude.  Now every time I go out there, I see something else I want to do to make it even more appealing.

It's not uncommon to see cardinals at my bird feeder, and there are several hummingbirds that have become regular visitors.  It is quite a peaceful little space that I have discovered. 

My attempts at gardening here in Texas have not always been very productive.  I have had a few tomatoes and peppers that I planted in the flower bed in front of the deck, but I want to have a real garden one of these days... and I'm hoping to do that real soon, behind the house where there is lots of room.  We have been working at creating a raised bed for my first fall garden, which will also be my first raised bed garden.  Hopefully I will get it filled with soil this week.  The area where we live is considered the sand hills... so all the soil to go in the raised beds will have to be brought in.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Our patio seems to change, almost every day.  Sometimes it is because I have added or changed something, but more often it is the growth of what I have planted or new birds at the feeders.  I am really pleased with my decision to include a bird feeder and bird bath to go along with the Hummingbird feeder. 
This table was a unique addition.  The top is plexiglass, and beneath the plexiglass the colors are created using natural sand from the yard and some bought at JoAnn's.  We later added some metal stars around the base of the table.  Really neat to see how many uses we can find for these handy black tubs.

This section of fence was added to give the patio a more defined look.  It also is a backdrop for some vines to climb on.  This is to the left as you step onto the patio from the deck.  I got a late start in regard to optimum planting time for my flower garden, but all seems to be doing pretty good.  Still waiting for the Morning Glories to produce any blooms.  One of these mornings I may be surprised when I go out there.

Here is a closer look at how my herb garden is doing.  The basil is the big one in the middle.  The bench in the background doubles as a table.  I really enjoy this bench. The back rotates up to make half of a picnic table.  We have a second bench like this on the deck so with the two together we would have a full size picnic table.  Quite often I find one or two of the cats sleeping under the bench.  I think it is a cool place for them to lounge, especially later in the day when the big oak tree provides even more shade.

Now I have a question... has anyone seen a moth that looks like this?  We found this guy on the wall just to the right of our back door.  He was there yesterday, and he is still there today.  He is pretty big... maybe 2" across at its widest.  Sure isn't anything we have seen before.  We are just leaving him alone.  He doesn't seem to be bothering anything.