Archive for July, 2010

I Won!

Look what arrived in the mail…

Aren’t I the lucky one…my name was drawn for the July Giveaway at Alderwood Quilts which is owned by Sue Hauser. She is one very busy lady. In addition to her quilt shop she & her husband own and operate a Lavender Farm in Oregon. Their harvest has been underway and she shipped these freshly cut lavender stems on Monday. How about that for USPS – such good service! As you may know, gardening along with quilting are my two favorite passions. Here in Northern Wisconsin, growing lavender is a challenge at best. My plants are treated as annuals and seldom reach any notable height. Sue’s lavender on the other hand has stems and blossoms that go on forever! Everything was carefully bundled in lavender paper and a pretty ribbon…the fragrance on opening the box was heavenly. Thank you Sue!!!



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After all the days of rain, extra warmth and humidity, we finally have sun to dry things out and a soft breeze to refresh us. The gardens were long overdue for attention & more harvesting.  Spent pea vines were cleaned out, zucchini that had taken on a life of their own were cut away, weeds tamed down and the raised beds generally spruced up.

Lettuce was harvested…and rinsed in the potting shed sink…and once again, I thanked Mr. Outback for providing me with this deep and spacious wonder…

More herbs gathered…

some of which will eventually go to make up little bags of Bouquet Garni. Thyme, parsley, sage, marjoram, dill…everything called out for snipping and drying. Oh, and don’t forget that little radicchio…

Chinese Pea Pods – they just keep multiplying behind my back…I’ll show them! Off to a quick dunk in boiling water…

then plunged into an ice water bath..

package them up in little ziplocs and into the freezer – that should settle them down for a while!

And the raspberries are in cahoots too…

Picking almost every day can yield jars of raspberry jam…

we don’t mind the seeds either – how about you? We will splurge this week and make up seedless Raspberry Sauce though – a dream on a little slice of cheesecake…

At our favorite nearby Mennonite store – fresh apricots have arrived…more jam anyone??

There are other stores that I love to visit – a quilt shop, a book store or a good kitchen store…and a well stocked garden/hardware center. I love garden tools & have the pegs, holders and brackets in the potting shed to prove it. My selection of trowels has grown over the years and we still have one of the inexpensive originals – now rusty and rarely used. Additions have been made and now include a variety of sizes – even one with a handle that extends.

After breaking both wrists since 2000, finding user friendly equipment has become more important. The ergonomic handle on this little beauty is so comfortable.

We found it at our local Fleet Farm and I gave it a test run today…we are going to get along just fine!

Normally, the oriental lilies put on their annual show every August in our front garden…this year they have made their heavenly appearance weeks early…the Stargazers are first and their fragrance floats softly on the air…

I wish you a week filled with growing things and enjoying the tastes and fragrances of our summer.

As for me? I am a tired gardener tonight and bid each of you sweet dreams…

Tomorrow, I hope to…

Take time to stitch…


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My Clever Friends…

Just have to share a couple of things with you – the little stitching groups I belong to are made up of some very talented ladies. I feel so fortunate to be around them and learn. It is like being the proverbial sponge soaking up everything!

This is a recently completely quilt top by Joyce. It will be presented to a family member. Joyce loves William Morris fabrics and has a very impressive collection! This particular quilt is made from some of that very precious fabric. Notice the birds in the border?

William Morris was known for his love of birds and used them frequently in his design elements. The clever way of turning the corners on each border is also well done. A lovely quilt!

And BJ – this girl can really come up with some cute things. She does incredible hand applique but is also known for some clever creations. The block carrier tote that I showed a while back in the black florals was made by her. Check out these tiny little berries which will be appliqued on to small applique blocks. She had a whole baggie filled with them ready to go. They are so small & perfect.  I can see my image is not quite clear. But you can get the idea!

And this adorable apron – from an Indygo Junction pattern (Cook’s Coverup #IJ733) …BJ was on a roll with this project! Take 1 woven cotton tea towel (the wonderful kind you can find in your LQS) add accent fabrics and ta dah! The neatest hostess apron on the block…

(Apologies – she had emailed me an image of the pattern & not sure what I did wrong, but couldn’t get it transferred to the blog)

Finally, finished up a couple of birthday things for another clever friend, Connie – made her an etui and matching mini quilt for the table.

Now these Bunn candy bars (her very favorite) are supposed to be included in the package.

But it is in the 90’s where they are being shipped to – probably not a good idea to send them along at this time???What do you think??? Wait for cooler weather………….

Have a great weekend and enjoy being with your clever friends – they keep inspiring us at every moment!

Back later – gotta go…and

Take time to stitch.


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Living Vicariously…

Although our vegetable raised beds are producing very well, they are on a  limited basis this summer because of vacation plans. What I really miss are all the flowers that are normally part of our outdoor “decorating.” No large terra cotta pots on the deck or lining the sidewalk…no rustic planters with colorful coleus greeting company as they approach the front porch. That is why it is so enjoyable to visit the many bloggers who do have an abundance of floral images to share with everyone. I can get a flower fix by just visiting everyone’s gardens around the world! From California to England – roses are everywhere.  Thanks to Lemon Verbena Lady, who has a very informative blog about growing herbs (next to quilting, my other weakness!) new discoveries have happened. She has led me to some special places, indeed. Check out Sharon Lovejoy as she writes from her island cottage in Maine – herbs and decorating ideas galore. Thyme In A Bottle has lovely garden ideas and photos. Linger awhile at Lines From Linderhof for flowers, how to set a welcoming table and recipes from her Mid West home. Head to the West Coast and sit a while in My Farmhouse Kitchen – such a gentle blog about cooking, gardening and life with the new puppy, Teddy.

Need more (as in how many lifetimes will we require to make all the quilts in our heads?) quilting ideas and inspiration…visit Glorious Applique featuring followers of Kim McLean’s patterns…stunning applique in bright, spirited colors! And if you have been downloading those monthly  patterns at Sentimental Stitches for the Cherry Tree Applique quilt – follow along with Mimi’s Passions as she begins this incredible quilt. I have each pattern carefully filed away (in my cupboard of good intentions) along with the chosen background fabric… Be sure to visit Major Thoughts too – 52 reasons for being glad you are 52…great stuff! And one more blog …Empty Field…another quilter who loves applique! Whether you are a gardener or quilter – or BOTH, the information and inspiration being shared is tremendous and will keep us going for generations to come!

If you read my description of our Powerless Evening 2 weeks ago, you will remember the preparations we usually go through as a storm approaches…Last Thursday, the TV was flooded with very serious weather warnings. Possible tornadoes, high winds, heavy downpours – everything was in place for another loss of power evening. We dutifully filled the bathtub (again), fed our 3 shelties a little early – 2 of which become little Nervous Nellies at the first sound of thunder and refuse to eat. We started our own meal preparations.  Simple solution, grill out!  We had the first summer squash from the garden – Caveli zucchini, along with our onions, pepper and a simple beef kabob.

For a sweet ending, grilled fresh pineapple with ” a little” honey, brown sugar and a drizzle of local maple syrup…oh yum…

We finished up, dishes cleaned, the rains came down…really down…the sky went from dark to pea green – never a good color combination! And then the winds rolled in – literally…I have never witnessed clouds move so quickly across the sky. We watched as our River Birch trees were whipped to and fro, leaning so far the branches touched the ground. We experienced downbursts.  My poor Annabelle Hydrangeas were flattened…

…as were the clumps of Shasta daisies & the huge tarragon shrub in my herb garden by the potting shed.  Amazingly, the 8 foot tall pea vines held themselves in place secured to the staked fencing.  Later we heard reports of major wind damage and in some areas 4 inches of rain. Flooded basements and roads… What was crazy about this – we never lost power – not even a flicker. North of us, 100’s were without electricity for most of the night. Go figure???

This is such a busy summer – we have had wonderful visitors, some for the weekend, some for lunch or an evening BBQ. Most relaxing is gathering in our sunroom for a leisurely breakfast with family and friends. Mr. Outback’s skills at preparing a repast for a Saturday or Sunday morning are gaining quite a following! We both often share in grilling duties for the other meals but the breakfast kitchen is his domain, although he does occasionally “allow”  me to contribute a freshly baked coffee cake or sweet rolls (when I can get my act together!)

In addition to our dear 2 legged visitors, we have also been kept busy making sugar water to keep the feeders ready for these fast moving little guys….

Come back for another visit soon -next time,  hope to have some photos up from a stitching friend who is always coming up with cool things – I just have to get things organized a bit.  For now…back to the sewing room…

Wishing you a flower filled week and welcomed visitors…

Always take time to stitch…


Vintage spongeware bowl

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After days of just grabbing an hour or so in the sewing room and not much accomplished, I finally have had a big chunk of time this weekend to get the sewing machine humming. With Mr. Outback at a nearby shoot all weekend, I needed to focus on making serious progress. (And icing on the cake was taking a break last evening to share in a delicious prime rib dinner the club puts on every year. One of the guys sure knows how to pay respect to prime rib cooking! All the ladies have to do is bring a salad or dessert to share & pitch in where needed.)

So my Saturday morning started off with a little breakfast under the sun umbrella on the deck – so peaceful. I got to try out my spiffy new French Press coffee maker that will go in the RV…good coffee! And it is red! It is by Bodum in the Young Press style. The outside is encased in a protective covering and the glass beaker fits neatly inside of that which should make it a good choice for traveling over those notorious frost heaves on the Alaska Highway later this summer.

Then a quick clean up and straight back to the Sewing Cave…first off on the completed list…my little needle case which will be mailed out to my Secret Swap recipient.

There is a bunch of us over at the Quilting Gallery who are participating in the Applique Posy Needle Case Swap. I needed to get this done early as the August deadline falls at a point where things get really busy around here.

Although it has been difficult to get a good photograph of the ongoing Borealis project – maybe you can tell I have made some progress. When I took this photo, the colors seem to have calmed down a bit. This will be a quilt that is best viewed from a distance, I think.  Up close, it has been making me very dizzy and looks so disjointed. The blocks are definitely not in their final position and I have 12 more to go. But I feel somewhat more in control of its future direction and will do some more work on it this afternoon.

And…one more appliqued block finished for my Liberty Ladies project – Elizabeth’s Pride by Lori Smith.  Have the colors laid out for the next block too and will try to post a picture of the completed top in the weeks ahead.

Got caught up on Friendship, baby & comfort quilt blocks for our guild that are due soon…no photos – they are all sent out!

Have also been working on a couple of gifts which must be kept quiet for now…the frustration and panic I felt a week or so ago has faded – somewhat. And a box of my favorites always helps…

Thanks, Jan!

What else has been going on around here? Since it is July, that means it is pea picking time in our neck of the woods. With abundant rainfall and warm temperatures, our vines have grown much taller than the claims on the seed packets. This little row is just the Chinese Snow Peas…we also have Sugar Snaps and Shelling Peas which are doing equally as well.

And, after being so smug for 14 years about how safe our raised beds are…our lettuce finally requires wire caging over the top…looks like we had a night time visitor from the deer family?? The canopy seems to be working well so far…

In the herb garden – sage plants are producing nice leaves for drying in the dehydrator.

Parsley trimmings go into our ancient microwave for about 2 minutes, 30 seconds.  Did 2 quart jars so far… How long does a microwave last? Our unit is from 1988…

The first of the summer squash – Caveli – so great on the grill and the little yellow pattypans are not far behind..

To wrap things up for now – this has also been a summer of painting…our logs were done a while back and look so much better.

The master bath had 14 year old Northwoods look wallpaper removed and a lovely colorwash applied along with a soft border around the ceiling. It has taken on a more spacious and airy look to it. Need to do a new valance and a couple of other things.

That “Asparagus” paint I mentioned a couple of weeks ago?? It was applied to our 2 retirement rockers, purchased in Bell Buckle, Tennessee many years ago. Turns out  the color is a trifle more neon than anticipated – they almost glow in the dark! I bonded with my lavender Adirondack chair last summer from the start…these two rockers will take a little longer. Maybe an Amy Butler quilt would help??? (Mr. Outback suggested adding racing stripes using some of that leftover lavender paint…)

All for now…off to the sewing room.

Wishing each of you a good week and…

Always take time to stitch.


Another vintage bowl - & more peas!

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When you live in the country, power outages are frequent, particularly during the summer. We now make a few hasty preparations at the first sound of nearby thunder. Run water in bathtubs to allow for a water source in the “necessary room;” keep batteries on hand and know where the flashlights are stationed throughout the house.  So on Monday evening, we were surprised to be suddenly plunged into total darkness without warning. No storm alerts, no lightning or heavy winds preceded this. The entire day had been overcast with drizzly rain and building humidity. Mr. Outback was immersed in a much anticipated TV special about rockets and I was finally making headway on my to-do gift list in my sewing room. Being at a half-way point with the Borealis quilt and struggling with some color decisions, I had lined up what blocks were completed on my flannel board. While working at my cutting table which held glues, project pieces, fabric and supplies, I could occasionally look up at the flannel board from a distance – allowing a few ideas to float around. Mary Chapin Carpenter’s latest album played softly on my iPod. Then – nothing – sudden darkness – I froze in place clutching my rotary cutter, afraid to move…if your sewing room is anything like mine, the floor is an obstacle course. Mr. Outback called out to stay put while he groped around in the dark and headed for the nearest flashlight. I was able to make my way down the hall without tripping over our 3 shelties who were scattered about in various stages of their evening naps.

Out came the battery powered lantern; using the only older phone we have that is “hardwired” (the rest being wireless and we have no cell phone reception here) a quick call was made to our neighbor up the road to make sure we were not alone in this and then a call to the Power Company to leave a Automatic Recording about our outage.  We find it amusing that you can also request to be notified when the power returns…hello…we are a fairly intelligent couple and could figure that out…

Then, the waiting began. We each got a book to read by flashlight (remember doing that as a kid???) It gets very, very dark in Northern Wisconsin at night. There are no street lights to begin with and houses and farms are far apart. Our nearest neighbor is up the hill and tucked back in the woods. Our privacy trees have grown so well that it is difficult to even see a vehicle pass by on our little county road to the North. For some reason, on this evening it was more silent than usual. The air was so heavy with moisture, everything was muffled. We could hear the drip, drip, drip of rain drops on the deck by the open French door. Even the birds and frogs were quiet. Our senior puppy was softly snoring as she slept on the cool tile floor in the hallway. Nothing really bothers her. The other two pooches are more apprehensive and were curled up next to us for security.   No familiar hum of refrigerators or air stirring from the ceiling fans and no A/C purring away. I had forgotten to rewind the old clock so there was no reassuring tick tock or chimes on the hour and half hour.

I was reminded of what Barry Lopez stated in his well written “Arctic Dreams.” He once asked a man what he did when visiting a new place. The man replied “I listen.” To what his surroundings are saying . That can certainly hold true even in familiar surroundings, such as your home…for at least a few hours, our house was saying, we are unplugged, isolated, cut off. No electronic gadgets – all those 21st century “improvements” we have come to rely on. I found myself writing notes for this blog using paper and pencil – imagine that!

A “powerless evening” ? – Perhaps, but not quite…by reading a book rather than the TV talking into your face or using paper and pencil instead of a keyboard and word processor, I really did stop and listen to our surroundings…maybe it wasn’t so powerless afterall. And we did appreciate the return of everything 3+ hours later…

Wishing you a good week and taking time to Listen to your surroundings…

And always take time to stitch (at least if the lights are on!)


More quilty stuff next time!

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