Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Little QUIP : A Little Quilt in Progess

I have been redesigning this little quilt that I blogged about before. I am making it to go on my round table so I changed the layout from the pattern since it was intended to be a wall hanging. Doing the redesigning has given me great respect for the people who make patterns. I used to feel they were a little expensive, but I have now spent a few hours calculating and recalculating measurements that only have to be changed again once I cut and piece sections, so I now appreciate the amount of time that is spent on making a pattern for sale. It is really fun though and I am really liking the way it is turning out. I have a few more strips to piece then will work on a fun border. I haven't even thought about the binding much yet though I will probably use the little red dotted fabric. I got a little concerned when I finished my aprons because they weren't really complimenting the fabrics I had chosen for the borders and the red was looking a little too much so I found some red ric rac and added to each apron and completely bordered each apron with a narrow red border and suddenly it was all seeming to go together perfectly. The fabric in yellow has the cutest little Jello molds, it is a Michael Miller fabric and the border will be the complimentary fabric by the same artist. It is a fun retro print with kitchen appliances from the 50's. Oh, to be a fabric designer...where do they come up with all these ideas? I only hope they keep sparking my imagination with ways to use them.

I think my next quilting project will be to piece the fish fabrics I have been collecting into a throw for my couch. I did manage to recover the couch cushions for the 3rd time with some denim and used a red fabric for the piping and I think the fish fabrics will look perfect with the denim. I don't have a picture yet, but will try to remember to take one. I think it is in some of my Christmas pictures. I am finally really happy with the way it turned out AND it is washable. I even put in a 36" zipper in the back. I used some of the techniques I have been learning from making bags and it made it oh, sew easy! I had made a little pouch from an American Jane pattern and that is the method I used to do the came out perfect!

We finally got a chance to go fishing with my son, Andy today. It was suppose to rain, but we managed to find a few hours before the rain came to get out. We knew that they had stocked some nice trout from Lassen on Thursday, but they weren't biting and the weather was so cold. We layered on some warm clothes and went out anyway and we caught 2 very nice fish! The 3 of us have been having some pretty bad luck with fishing lately so we felt very fortunate indeed! We also each shared a few fishing tips and had a really nice time. Can't wait to get some pink lemonade power bait! Thanks Andy!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Where has the time gone?

December is flying by which will mean the beginning of a new year. Where does time go? I know I am not alone in wondering this. When I was a child counting the days til Christmas time seemed to stand still, but that is no longer true for me. December has been a busy month at work so I try to relax a bit when I have time off. The bare root roses came in and many hours were spent pruning, dipping, and planting them. Then there is the putting away part that is also very time consuming. We organize them by color then alphabetically and, of course, the climbers are separated from the bushes and the trees and don't forget the minis. We had around 2000 roses to do this year. There have been more in past years. I can't wait for them to start blooming, but that will be a while yet. The weather has gotten pretty chilly here and will probably stay that way for a while, but people are anxious to start planting so they have been buying them here and there as we plant them. Some of the college kids that have worked here in the past have been helping or just stopping in to visit since many are home for the holidays.

We had a visit from Brian Steele who has left us to work driving an ambulance and taking people to and from the hospital. He works long hours and lots of stories. Chris Brookmeyer is home for the holidays and couldn't resist joining the comradery that comes with planting roses plus picking up a little pay check helps.

Here old timer Steve is showing the 'new girl' Maria just how much soil to put in the pot.

And last but, not least is Michael with the last rose of this season (there could be a few more coming in later, but for now this is it). This sad little rose has only one stem, but could grow up to be the best rose yet Michael tells us. If you would like to see what roses we have coming in check out our web site. We have gotten it set up with pictures for each one. If you are from out of the area though we don't ship them so you if you want one you might have to arrange a trip to San Jose or check with Jackson Perkins, Weeks Roses or Star Roses to where you could get one closer to home.

There are so many that are my favorites, but there are some new ones that I can't wait to see in person. And the names! Classic Woman, Passionate Kisses, April in! What fun it would be to be the person responsible for coming up those names.

One last fun Christmas gift idea...Heather who works at the nursery gave Michael the cutest gift...she put together this gingerbread house with a gift inside. He won't know what it is until he gets the nerve to take the house apart so he is waiting. I think this is the most creative gift idea of all!

To all who visit my post here I am wishing you a very Merry Christmas and I hope the New Year will bring lots of good things your way!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

They're here!

I have the job of ordering the Poinsettias for the nursery and most of them arrived yesterday. There are still more to come next week, but right now we are heavily stocked. They are beautiful and there are so many varieties, it is amazing. So I wanted to show a few pictures here. We have been having fun finding creative places to put them. Now I hope they sell quick so that we don't have to water them. Poinsettias really don't like to be over watered. Here are a few Poinsettia tips:

1. Watering - once a week should be enough, but you should always stick your finger in the soil to test before watering. If you feel any moisture don't water.

2. Don't place poinsettias in a drafty area. Also don't place too near a heating vent.

3. Poinsettias don't mind being on a protected porch here in Northern California. but remember that they are tropical plants so in colder areas they should be kept indoors in the winter.

4. Poinsettias are very fragile so keep them in a low traffic area where they are not as likely to be bumped.

5. Poinsettia leaves are poisinous so keep out of reach of children and pets who are prone to putting things in their mouths. They are not deadly unless eaten in large quantities, but should be treated with caution because no one wants to suffer a tummy ache during the holidays if it can be helped.

The picture below was painted by a local artist, Mollie Markel, whose work we sell in our gift store. It is a favorite of mine depicting Santa potting up some plants. I love the way it makes him seem so much like an everyday guy!

Well, the holidays are under way and that means that it must be my sons birthday! Poor guy has always had to share his birthday with mass hysteria that sometimes happens at the holidays. Planning a birthday party around everyones holiday parties was always a little difficult. I am hoping to be able to get together with Rob and some of his friends tonight to toast the glorious occasion that celebrates his birth 22 years ago today. Happy birthday Rob!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Little Bit of this A Little Bit of That

I have been busy doing a little bit of gardening and a little bit of sewing and even a little bit of cooking! I am having fun with all of it. To the left is a color bowl I made for work. I used a rosemary arch to create a focal point then put down some sand and set in some small flat rocks to create a path. I lined it with some scotch moss and alyssum at the back of the arch to give a little showing of flowers. It looks like it could be a little fairy garden with the addition of some miniature items like a bird bath and maybe a bench to give it added charm. (Thanks for the ideas Maria!)

To the right is a hanging basket I planted for a customer. I did 2 of them and they are really huge. There are 3 cyclamens in the center and I think they measure about 16" across. They go with 4 planter boxes that have similar plants in them with small boxwoods in the center. They will be delivered Saturday so I hope Winnifred will enjoy them and that they will add the color she was looking for to her atrium.

I have been making some hot pads that I think I have already blogged about here, but I keep adding to the collection. I am still adjusting the pattern and thinking that they should be thicker. I have used the fish one and it works in I don't feel any heat coming through, but I still think another layer of thermal batting would give it more the weight that I am looking for. Sewing has been a lesson in patience and many other things for me lately...I guess I could say the same about gardening or just life in general. The important thing is that I am enjoying the learning process and try to look at failures not so much as 'failures' but, lessons learned on the road to perfection! I may never reach perfection, but I will enjoy trying. I had a lot of fun putting colors together for these potholders and playing with the binding. The whole process is giving me the urge to try another quilting project.

I also tweaked my cranberry relish recipe a few times this season. The latest version I created today and boy was it fun. I added an apple and some dried apricots, then when I was grating the orange peel I spied some limequats just laying around and that was just the inspiration I needed. I sliced them really thinly which is tricky in itself. There were little seeds in them that were easy to remove from the thin slices. The limequats mixed with the tart cranberries and other fruits were perfect! I have been craving cranberries the last few weeks for some reason so playing with this recipe has been really enjoyable (and tasty too!)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Times to be Thankful

I hope everyone that might read this had a wonderful holiday! Thanksgiving always makes me think of just what all I have to be thankful for...and as usual I can think of so many things. I have been trying to be thankful every day for something so it is too hard to list them all here and I would definitely bore you all, but I would like to say that I am most thankful for the friends and family that are always there for me in my life even if they just pop in to say "Hi! I'm thinking about you." Most of my family lives in different states and we don't really see each other much, but we do think of each other a lot and the internet has helped us to keep in touch a little better. We can keep in touch through email, chat services and even things like this blog. So one of the things I am thankful for is that technology has given us this opportunity.

I had a very nice simple Thanksgiving with my sister who lives about 45 minutes away and my best friend, Michael. Philina made the ham and sweet potatoes and we made veggies and apple crisp. The food was great and the company was even better. We took a long walk around Philina's new home. The day was perfect for walking, so crisp and clear. There are so many wonderful plants around the grounds of her new condo and it is so nicely maintained. She has a lot of trees and open space for walking. After walking we enjoyed coffee and dessert with a movie. Ahhh! A perfect day...Thank you Philina and Michael!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Gardening Lessons

I spent a few hours in my garden yesterday and learned a few lessons that I thought I would post in my blog in hopes that I will reread this and remember not to repeat the same things in the future. This is a picture of an Ice Cream variety Penstemon. I grew 3 different ones and they are all still blooming. I think this is Blueberry for the 'Do Not' list...

#1 - Do not plant mint even if you cut the bottom off a plastic pot and don't bury it too deep. It will still find a way to travel through the whole garden and you will be removing it for years.

#2 - Do not plant limelight artemesia. It is suckering and popping up in a wide area! It was a pretty plant when it was contained, but now it is a weed.

#3 - Do not plant annual morning glories to help hold your tomatoes up. It seemed like a great idea at the time and it even looked nice through the summer, but after a few months my tomatoes had a strange flavor (I blame on the company they kept) and now months after they have been removed I have their little seedlings trying desperately to make a come back.

I seem to have a nack for growing plants that get too tall and like to spread. I guess that is a good garden soil is wonderful and the location of my plot has just the right amount of light. I try to keep everything I put in it organic and the insects are happily finding the right balance of beneficial insects to invasive insects. I don't mind a few holes in my leaves and a few aphids to feed the lady bug population. My garden produces plenty of vegetables, herbs and flowers to make me happy and some to share with friends.

Yesterday was a real work out for me so I would have to say that my garden also provides me with some healthy exercise along with the other goodies! I removed some basil that was going to be freezing soon. I'd rather pull it now than when it gets black and slimey.

I also cut back my asparagus. The picture to the left is the corner where the asparagus is growing before I cut it the right is the corner after I finished the clean-up. This is the first time I have grown asparagus successfully and am still not sure that I'm doing it right, but it sure is looking like it is spreading so I'll see how it does in the spring. I now have a clump of green asparagus and a new clump of purple started. I hope I don't have to add 'Do Not grow asparagus' to my list.

I guess I should be making a list of what my garden does for me here too...

#1 - Provides food and flowers.
#2 - Provides exercise
#3 - Provides mental therapy!
#4 - Provides more gardening education
#5 - Provides a chance to get outside and close to nature.
#6 - Provides a place to recycle the little fish we catch and don't want to eat...they make great fertilizer.
# 7 - Makes my heart sing!

This picture is of a Peacock Broccoli. It is a cross between a kale and broccoli and you can eat all parts of the plant. I was snacking on it yesterday while I was gardening. Can't wait to cook it.

Cherry Menlove has a new post in her forum about "things that make your heart sing" and this is one of the many things that make my heart sing...growing things...ta da!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Lots of WIP's

I realize that I am not posting often enough to my blog, but is there really a rule or protocol to follow for this 'blogging' thing we do? Well, I have not been just sitting here looking at other people's blogs though I have to admit that I do scour quite a few daily. I always get inspired by the creativity on the blogs I frequent and though I think I am quite creative sometimes I really need the inspiration of others.

Just so you know what kinds of things I have been up to I finally took a few pictures that show proof of my work in progress...
I have one bag done and more little bags to add to it. I also cut out another bag that I have yet to sew. There are so many projects in the planning process some are just stuck in my head and some I have put down on paper. I get this way every year at this time and I really wish for once that I would actually be realistic and just plan projects that I could really finish by Christmas, but where would the challenge be in that?

We did a little spring cleaning and furniture moving yesterday because of a few pieces that we rescued from going to the dumpster at work. It was fun really and feels really great to have things more in order in this tiny apartment we call 'home'. The corner shelf found a corner and some fun things that had been sitting around are now showing off quite nicely on it. The little drop leaf table is keeping some of my favorites teas close by so I can quickly prepare a cup of soothing tea if anything gets too stressful when I am sewing or cooking. Most important is that my Grandmothers bentwood rocker and bentwood table are now sitting side by side just as they should be. Now it is feeling homey again!

I have some fun projects for myself that can wait till after Christmas that I am really excited about. I found the cutest quilted wall hanging at a shop in Los Gatos. Theyclerk said that they had sold all the patterns at a quilt show so I kept checking back and finally got lucky enough to get one and picked up some really cute fabrics to work with it. Some of the fabrics are from a Michael Miller line with old fashioned mixers and kitchen stuff and lots of Jello! The fabric is called 'Mix and Perk'. The pattern is paper pieced little apron blocks. I am going to use some 50's repro fabrics for the aprons by Rebecca Ruth Designs. I am making it a lot like the one in the store with a few changes of my own. I don't really have the wall space to hang this so it might be used on my table from time to time. I just love it so I will find a place for it somewhere!

I have a busy day off planned tomorrow going to quilt store sale and shopping for party dresses with my sister. Probably not much sewing time...making the time has been the most difficult part for me along with making sure that I have ALL the supplies to complete a project. I am always missing a key ingredient like a zipper...dah! I always want to ask people with all the great things on Etsy "How do they do that?" Meanwhile I will just keep working on my WIPs and hopefully not add many more then maybe, just maybe I will post about some completed projects. That will feel as good as the spring cleaning I just did (finally!).

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Smell of Fall

I baked a Long Island Cheese pumpkin the other night. It was about the same size as the one in this picture and it made 6 cups of pumpkin. I add a few spices and a little sugar then it is ready to use for baking. I made a batch of Pumpkin Cranberry Bread from my Bob's Red Mill Baking Book. It was delicious and just the flavor of fall that I have been craving. Tonight I am making a pumpkin pie with a pie crust recipe from the same book. I am smelling the most incredible pumpkin pie aroma right now...fall is really here. So far everything I have made from this book has turned out well. The ingredients usually have one of Bob's Red Mill products, of course, but they are very healthy, low in fat and turning out great. This has turned into my favorite cookbook for baking.

Friday, October 05, 2007

All around us

I was just looking through some of the pictures from our hike to Barney Lake a little more than a week ago. It already seems like ions ago, but the beauty of this place will stay in my memory for ever. It was definitely a reminder that there really is a God and his presence is all around us. I am glad that on this day I took the time to see and feel it. Looking at these pictures though reminds me that there is always beauty and proof of God all around and we should look for it every day in the most unexpected places.

This was a little Brook Trout that I caught and released. It was a real treasure for me to be able to pull it from the lake to view for a moment then let it swim away. Luckily I had my camera to quickly snap a picture so I could look at it and remember its beauty even more. I do love some of our modern day technology and all the luxury's that it brings into our lives while some of it I really don't appreciate at all. I guess it is a good thing that we can each choose which of the modern conviences we wish to incorporate into our lives and which we could do without. For example I love my new sewing machine and am feeling torn about if I will ever want to upgrade. It would be nice to have some of the features available on the newer models, but if I have done without this long is it something I really need? These are the questions I asked myself about things like high speed Internet then once I had it I'm not sure I would want to be without it so I keep paying a high monthly fee because I don't want to go back to what I used before.

I'm glad that I have these reminders in the form of a picture that I can put into my screen saver to remind myself to not forget the simple things that will never change or need to be upgraded. All the things that we too soon take for granted and should learn to appreciate on a daily basis. So now every time I let my computer sit still for a few minutes it will flash these reminders on my screen and I will be thankful for both technology and nature and how they can sometimes walk hand in hand and benefit us all.

May I keep growing like this little tree and over time have a firmer understanding of the life that surrounds me.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Where did September go?

Last month sure did get away from me...I woke up this morning and realized that it is October! I looked at my blog and realized that I have not posted for more than 2 weeks. I guess I have been busy with fun little things like a really great trip to the mountains with no phone service, TV or computer...that took care of a lot of September. The views were awesome and the company was very fun. We did some fishing, gambling, antique shopping and eating. We stayed at 2 different places so it sort of broke up our time and gave us different scenery to look at though I hate having to repack and move everything. We rented the sweetest little cabin that had a kitchen, bathroom and even a wall heater so it was like camping in luxury.

Here is a picture of a dresser scarf I found at an antique shop with a little petit point embroidery that was amazing.

The part that sold me though was the was so neatly stitched that it could have passed for the front.

And here it is on my antique dresser! A perfect fit! The little heart sachet on the dresser was sent to me by Cherry Menlove when I placed an order with her for an apron and tee shirt a while back. She was so sweet to add that little something extra. She has a wonderful blog and has become quite a busy girl with her house being photographed for a magazine and so many other crafty things in the works. If you get a chance click on her blog from my favorites list and see what is up in Pixie Woods!

My pictures from my trip are posted at my WebShots link which is also in my side bar so have a peek over there if you get the chance I don't think you will be disappointed if you like mountain scenery that is. One day we spent hiking to Barney Lake...a mere 4 mile hike taking about 2 hours climbing up rocks and walking through trees and fields for 2 out of shape 50 somethings it was a little tiring, but the views kept us going and reaching the lake was worth it. The whole trip was a reminder to me that there really is a God. It also gave me a lot of quiet time to get my thoughts together and do a little soul searching and thinking about my life. Kind of like cleaning out the closets and sweeping down the cobwebs in your head.

My newest craft projects have been to construct a witch for a display at work. We usually use a scarecrow, but since we have some big pots that look a lot like cauldrons we decided to try to make the scarecrow into a witch. My scarecrow head though looks a little too cute to be a more on that as I figure it out and post a picture. I also spent some time on my trip crocheting a wash cloth. I didn't have the right size hook though nor quite the right crochet thread. I threw the whole thing together with what I had before I left to give me something to do if I got bored. I didn't do much crocheting though! Anyway, since I got home I bought another hook and some cotton thread and actually made one cloth in an evening. It was fun and I think I will do more for possible Christmas gifts with some wonderful soaps...hmmm!!! Already having Christmas craft bonanzas going on in my head. I always have good intentions, but time goes fast and it is a busy time of year so I rarely finish all my good intentions. I do have fun trying though! The most fun is collecting the ideas and I have been searching blogs and craft stores and magazines already. Can't wait to share some of the cute things I am finding.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Yet Another Project

Guess I am on a roll, for me anyway. I started this Little Lulu bag Saturday and tonight I got an idea for a different way to close it than the directions. I seem to always have to change things. The first change I made was to use different fabrics and quilt the outside. Then I added a snap and whipped up a fabric flower that I had printed instructions for several months ago from another blog. I love that bloggers share ideas and sometimes tutorials on projects. I'm not sure I could ever write a tutorial, but never say never maybe in time I will feel comfortable enough to give it a try. I couldn't even follow directions for the flower with out making some changes of my own. I made it with 3 different fabrics and got creative with the folding in order to make sure they all showed a little. The directions had you add a pin back, but I just sewed it to my flap with a magnet under neath for the clasp. I think I had first seen a link to the flower directions on Allsorts blog. Jenny had made a long scrunchie with a string of lights and used the flower to poke the lights through...adorable! So much blog inspiration!

It's really kind of funny that I am making all this purses because anyone who knows me very well knows that I usually only use one purse for years until it falls apart and I have to get a new one. I am enjoying making these purses with fun fabrics and working at making them sturdy enough to maybe last a few years.

I have to give credit to my new sewing machine...she is in the picture at the top of this post. I think it feels like a she to me so far though the way she sews through multiple layers of fabric without any hesitation I would have to say that she is a hard working, strong young lady. I only hope that in the years to come I will be able to keep up with her! I will have to name her after I have a chance to get to know her better.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Finished a Project!

It has been so hot it is hard to concentrate on anything for too long. It doesn't look like it will be cooling off anytime soon, but I did manage to focus for brief periods of time on sewing this little purse. It has all kinds of compartments for things so it was a little involved. It is called a Presto Purse. The flap on the outside has compartments for all your credit cards and ID. It is from the Bags with Panache Collection by Studio Kat designs. Studio Kat has some free patterns on the website for a luggage tag and a little purse with compartments for your passport and tickets. I ordered the pattern from Henrietta's Handbags along with a few other patterns. I haven't sewn them all yet, but am really looking forward to getting to them soon. I ordered some from the Monica Poole collection. (This is a collection not to be missed if you like to sew...the directions are fairly simple and sooo stylish.) There were so many that looked fun it was hard to pick so my sister helped me choose and now I think I will be sewing for both of us. I think I need some toile fabric to use on the Paris bag.

With winter weather around the corner I look forward to getting to know my new machine better. Maybe once I feel like I know her I will be able to give her a name...for now though there is so much to still discover and I'm sure she will never cease to amaze me. I got a Janome DC3050. It has a lot of computerized stitches though no alphabet...I might have to upgrade to that one day, but for now I am happy with the one touch button hole! I have been seeing lots of blog posts with wonderful pictures of studios all set up with cupboards and tables making everything within reach...I am dreaming of what I would do with just one room for all my sewing stuff. I did finally buy a little stacking drawer unit to keep things sorted and easier to find. My sewing space is at the kitchen table and I have a stack of everything nearby and extra fabrics in boxes under the bed. I am definitely filing some of those great ideas away for future use, but for now I am successfully working around the obstacles and managing to crank out a few fun things! The purse will be a gift for a special new friend. I'll have to get it to her soon.