Saturday, June 25, 2011


There was no quilting yesterday.  The morning was spent picking these lovelies:
IMG_4898 It’s hard to stop picking once you start and we ended up with a couple of almost full flats. 
IMG_4894 Of course the first way to sample them is to just eat them as is.  These are much smaller than the supermarket variety of strawberries, but they pack so much more flavour that they don’t need any cream or sugar to help them.  However, there were way too many to eat them all before they went bad.  As it was, they were softening just sitting on the kitchen counter. 
What to do?  Make jam!
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By the time I ran out of jars at the end of the fourth batch I was ready to be done.  Another 10 cups of berries went into the freezer.
Breakfast this morning had to feature the jam.  Yum!  Store bought doesn’t come close to this!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Detour through the garden

Now that I look back, I did accomplish a few things the last few weeks while I was suffering from quilter’s block.  Well, last week was literally a washout due to heavy rain and thunderstorms, but the week before I puttered in the garden quite a bit.
First up was a repurposing of the old swing set.  Here’s what it looked like brand new and in use in the summer of 2004.
swing set  July 2004 You can’t tell from this picture, but the kids were very enthusiastic in their swinging and that frame rocked back and forth precariously so we decided to set the legs in concrete.
Fast forward 7 years.  You can see below that the frame is rather faded, and you can guess that the kids have grown somewhat and no longer fit on this set.  We could dispose of this now, or pass it on, but those legs are set in concrete.  Removing it seems like an awful lot of work.
swing set 2011-05-18
We lost a small maple tree last year.  A lot of birdfeeders hung on that tree, and we missed the birds once the tree was gone.
How about using the swing set as a bird feeding station?  It looked a little junky, all faded with the feeders hanging off it.
Think a little harder…
IMG_4830 Red spray paint (messy stuff if a breeze blows up while you’re spraying!) perked up the frame. The plantings look a little pitiful in the picture, but much better in person. In my mind’s eye I can see the plants filling in.  The little tuft of ornamental grass will grow up past the crossbar, with lovely plumes in the fall, and the plants in the planter birdbath will spill over the sides.  The ornamental sweet potato plants will mound and spread 2 feet or more.  The black eyed susan vine will twine up the strings and up the frame on the far end… I’ll have to post update pictures if and when it grows into what my mind’s eye sees!
Up next was a flowerbed beside the driveway.  This was an unexpected task.  We had a huge, gorgeous viburnum of some sort there.  This spring after the snow melted but before the bush leafed in to hide the trunk we noticed holes at the base of the trunk.  It turns out they were caused by carpenter ants, and we just don’t want those anywhere close to the house if we can help it.  The pest control guy agreed that if they had found that tree to be a good shelter once, they might like it again, so it is gone.  Now what? It left a big empty space. 
I divided a few perennials from elsewhere in the yard and transplanted some here. We also bought a hibiscus shrub that should fit the space comfortably as it grows. I tossed in a couple of annual sweet potato vines to fill in the space until the perennials get bigger next year, though the vines are still tiny and not filling anything in yet!  I hope that improves in a few weeks. Of course as soon as I planted all this we had a bout of unseasonably hot weather,  reaching about 35C (95F)  3 days in a row.  The newly transplanted vegetation was highly stressed!  I think the past week of cooler, wet weather has perked everything up a bit now.  Hopefully this sorry little patch will look less sorry as the summer goes on.
If you’ve read this far about my garden ramblings,  I’ll leave you with a picture of the last two summers’ efforts, finally filling in nicely.
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Well, the planter in the top of the castle tower is new. I’m hoping the German ivy will spill down the sides… I’m done now, really! Done rambling on and planting though I have to admit that earlier today I stumbled upon a blog with a really fun “tipsy pots” planter…

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Quilter’s block

For most of the last two weeks I haven’t managed much quilting activity other than staring at fabric.  I did get as far as unfolding and pressing my 25 FQs of bright fabrics, but then quilter’s block set in.
Every time I decide what I should make with them, I stop before actually cutting any fabric.  What if it isn’t quite the right project for the fabric?  What if I think of a better way to showcase the fabric after I’ve cut it and have none left for the better project?IMG_4875I need to just get over it and use this fabric!  But it’s so pretty, all laid out in gradations of colour…
Yesterday I set aside the brights and got to work on another set of placemats and runner, because I wanted to actually sew something.  Let’s just overlook the fact that the last one I showed you hasn’t been quilted yet. I really don’t get much done when the kids are out of school, though I’m not sure why. They are getting older and really don’t need me to entertain them, so what’s making me unproductive?
Anyhow, here’s where I left the new project last night.
IMG_4890This set is also made with 8 FQs and a little bit of cream yardage from the stash. I have to sew all the units of the skinny runner together, then I will add a thin border of orangey-red.  I fished through my small stash today and found enough of one suitable fabric for the runner’s border, and just barely enough of a second to bind all the pieces in the same fabric.  I also have some leftovers that will do for backing.  They don’t quite match the fronts, but they’ll be hiding on the back anyway, so I’ll go with it and use up pieces that have been sitting around for several years.  If I use the batting I bought for the previous set of (still unquilted) placemats, I might get them done by early next week.  Unless, of course, I suffer from another bout of serious sewing inertia!