Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Simple Things

I have been put on a lot of night and evening shifts as of late.  I am not a fan.  I don't sleep well during the day, and driving home around 2-4am is dangerous, let me tell you there are a lot of impaired drivers out there. 

I know I complain about this house, the work it needs, it is old, dusty, funky but I absolutely love it and all of its quirks.  My favorite thing?  When I have to sleep during the day and it is raining, listening to the rain hit the metal standing seam roof.  The roof is as old as the house (over 150 years). I still only slept for about 4 hours.  Ugh!

I think DH misses me in the evening since I have been working, he came home and had lunch on his way back to work after stopping to pick up parts, such a lovely surprise.

I did a wee bit of sewing.  I made a connector block for the BOM that I am doing with the batik group at MQP.
I have been trying to stay in the lime green, orange, yellow families with my funky background.  Boy can you tell the difference though.  May have to rethink this one or just go with it.  I have many more months of BOM to change it up or add to it. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Conan the Plant Destroyer

DH and I have been together going on four years now, and this is my third year working in the yard, creating a garden, and using the property. 

Year 1-  I was working full time and that is when I purchased trees for the apple orchard, some perennials, berry bushes and the sticks with leaves (boxwoods).  I cleaned out flower beds which had not been tended to in years, found some lovely surprises, and moved some plants around, and took out others.  Found a bleeding heart that is immense, removed several pine shrubs which were along the house which harbored termites.   The house was in a lot of shade, and there were several trees around the house which were questionable at best.

I planted what I consider my "go to" plants.  Easy care, perennials, some blossoming and fragrant and a few annuals.  Weigela, Honeysuckle, Butterfly bush, Columbine, Hydrangea, and Sweet William as well as some pansies, snap dragons, sweet peas, hollyhocks and petunias.  All of these were planted along the side of the house in their appropriate sun/shade loving spots.  The Columbine did alright, but they didn't thrive, the sweet william-  same thing.  The pansies, and snap dragons struggled, and everything else just kind of shriveled up and died.  I added fertilizer, mulch, some sand, and planted several little bunches of creeping phlox I purchased from a nearby farm.  Still nothing would grow in the "dead" zone except the creeping phlox.  While talking to DH several weeks later and expressing my frustration at growing anything around the house he mentioned that a bush which was by the back door was full of poison ivy, and because the flower bed was such a tangle of weeds and ratty looking lilac bushes which had poison ivy too,  he had actually taken soil sterilizer and sprayed it all along the foundation of the house, then tilled it in. Tore the offending plants out except for the bush in hopes that the poison ivy would be gone. 

Creeping Phlox soon it will be covered with tons of little purple, white and pinwheel looking flowers
I just looked at him and asked why didn't you tell me this earlier?  He looked at me and asked why?  I told him, that is probably why everything struggled or died. I read the container.  Yep that area will not be able to have anything grow for at least 12 months.  I was hoping that the following year would be better.

Year 2- I am not working full time, looking for a job, any job.  We had moved the back door to the sun porch to give us a mudroom, took out all the old chain link fence since we decided to not have any pets for a while.  Interestingly enough the creeping phlox survived and is just doing that creeping, the Columbine, and sweet william returned and I even had pansies, and snap dragons return probably because it was a mild winter.  The yard needed some fill because it had kind of been worn down probably from many years of being a dog run, so we brought in fill and we spread what was called wildflower meadow seeds.  Slowly I watched the area filled in with grass, and some dark pink, fuchsia, white, purple, flowers started to rear their dainty heads. 
Bleeding Heart I transplanted to the front of the house
 One day DH was mowing the lawn, and it sounded like the mower was closer than to the house than it needed to be.  I looked out and DH had mowed through the wildflower meadow. When I asked him why he did it he said well the grass was getting high in there.  I just looked at him and asked what part of wildflower meadow did you not understand?  Grass, wildflowers.....He looked at me and said there were flowers growing in the that?  I just said yep, and walked away. 

Year 3-  This year.  I had planted rhubarb two years ago from a start one of the guys DH worked with provided,  but where it was planted was kind of low and after all the rain last year it drowned.  I still wanted rhubarb so I bought some starts and planted them last week around where we planted the telephone pole for my bottle tree. 

Saturday DH worked outside, waiting for the SIL to return the tiller.  He mowed the neighbors, and our lawn, fixed the log splitter because it was not starting correctly.  I went to work in the afternoon, and didn't get home until late.

Sunday morning conversation:
 DH-  I tilled the garden.
Me-  Oh I thought it would be too wet.
DH-  Oh no it is perfect.  I have it all tilled and will till it again when we are ready to plant in a couple of weeks.  It looks beauteous.
Me-  It probably could use some compost, sand, and manure.
DH-  Did you see how well I tilled?
Me-  No I haven't looked at it, I just woke up.
DH-  Come see!
I looked out and am aghast to see that he tilled the garden and around my bottle tree.
Me- You tilled around the bottle tree?
DH- Yes why wouldn't I?
Me- Because you watched me plant the rhubarb starts last week around it.  I showed you the package had 3 rootstocks in it, where I was just expecting one.
DH (looking crestfallen)-  I totally forgot you planted those.
Me-  Why do you hate me?
DH-  Hey maybe because it is early in the season I won't kill any more of your plants or flowers?
Me-  I highly doubt that.

To say the least Sunday was a trip to the home improvement store for a new faucet for the back side of the house so I am not dragging hundreds of feet of hose.  And I found rhubarb!  I got two, and made Conan the Plant Destroyer plant them.
He then dug through the garage and found some of that old white wire hoop fencing and put it around them to protect them.

I will say though, yes the garden looks nice, and he didn't till under my flowering almond shrub, or chives!

On to quilting.  I joined the relaxing robin which you use an orphan block and make something from it by adding borders. 
I put a border on it.  Next I need some sort of 2nd border, but I am fresh out of the peach and aqua...ok maybe I have a tiny bit somewhere in the stash, but probably not enough to do the next border in flying geese or anything.  I wonder what other colors I could add to this?  I thought about adding yellows and grays to it. Decisions, decisions....I have hit analysis paralysis.  Just can't decide. 

I have housework to do, and some laundry,  maybe inspiration will hit.

Happy Monday everyone!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Stripping Along

My yard looks pretty good after all the work last week, and it has been a wee bit chilly since our 3 day marathon of yard work.  I am taking a short break from stash control since my boxes are kind of packed.  I have been working on the fabric folding and life is buzzing right along.

I did iron some of the larger pieces so they are ready to cut up when I need something to do.
All my scrap boxes.  I am going to need bigger ones since these are pretty packed.

What is so cool about having my scraps more manageable?

I threw these two lozenges block sets together for the Green Tea and Sweet Beans quilt in just 1/2 hour when I finally picked my fabrics. 

And I started getting ready for the next block with looks like a hexagon wagon wheel. 
I created my templates again on cardboard except for the rectangular pieces.  I think I need to make three of these but haven't gotten any further than my templates. 

I finally slowed down to make my block for the My Quilt Place Block of the Month we are doing.  This is Wyoming Valley from Quilter's Cache, and it was the block that my mom chose.  I am kind of enjoying the slow go for this one. Obviously my marking for the 1/4 inch on my featherweight is scant because by the time I had this block done it was more of a 12 3/4 inch block. I trimmed it down some but am not quite 12 1/2 yet. 

I kind of like the slow pace of just puttering along at times.  We have a beautiful sunny Saturday so it looks like the lawn will get mowed, and hopefully DH will roll the lawn to kind of even it out a bit so it isn't quite so bumpy. Hope your Saturday is just as lovely.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sew Many Days

Holiday weekends are always busy for us.  Normally we have a family get together but this year because the dining room is still in progress being remodeled, and the kids had other places to be, we decided that we would not have a get together.  We offered to go out but no one took us up on that option either, so we decided to have a low key weekend.

What was great about that choice?  DH because he works for a municipality had three days off, the weather was spectacular and the ground had dried out soooo-

Went to the minion's home and made them waffles for breakfast until their mamma got off of work
Took the lilacs that had been taken out last year because of excessive poison ivy to the burn pile
Picked up all the downed limbs from around the property and at the neighbors property and took to the burn pile
Burned that brush pile
Cleaned up all the leaves that accumulated under the front porch over the winter
Cleaned up the woodpile and a lot of the rotten wood, chips, and  bark were placed in a pile and  burned-- yes we had two burn piles going
Strung  the wire for the raspberry and black berry patch
Weeded that berry patch and cleaned up all those weeds and threw on the burn pile
Raked and Cleaned out the garden


Cleaned out the barn
Moved furniture from the garage to the barn so that I could work on them
Prepped that furniture for painting by cleaning, sanding and removing hardware
Took out a tree that did not survive the winter
Cleaned out the leaves and stuff from the ditch which was making it so it did not flow well
Strained several tractor bucket loads of compost to remove the rocks, and garbage
Spread that cleaned compost throughout low spots in the yard


Made chalk paint and painted one piece of furniture
Pruned the berry canes, restrung the wires, and then tied up all the berry vines
DH processed firewood until the splitter ran out of gas
Transplanted some strawberry plants that had started to take over the main garden
Dug a hole and planted an old telephone pole for a bottle tree
DH changed a fuel line on a tractor
DH then fixed a friend's FIL tractor which had not ran for several years
Started to remodel the chicken house so we can get some chicks and they have a place to live
Sprayed our apple trees
I cleaned up the little spot where I grow herbs and got the chives all cleaned up

The downside to all of this outside work?  I didn't get much done on my scrap pile. 

I do know that I had to change out two boxes and get larger ones. (The two cardboard boxes on the right) Those boxes were the 1 1/2 inch and 2 inch scrap boxes.
Taking breaks between all the cutting I did finish up my propeller block for the Green Tea and Sweet Beans quilt.
And with all those scraps that I have been cutting up I actually threw together some lozenge blocks which are the next section for that quilt.

I actually reworked this block from the original design which was an elongated hexagon and triangle template to just cutting a 3 1/2 inch square and doing easy triangle corners using 1 3/4 inch squares. Worked out beautifully.

I have also been working on my fabric folding so that everything will be all neat, and ready to move around soon.   DH and I are going to reconfigure the sewing room to  hopefully make it more usable. 

The larger pieces which are 1/2 yard or bigger are on the bottom and are wrapped on comic book boards  pieces which are larger than a fat quarter but smaller than 1/2 yards are the smaller folded pieces and to the left is my attempt at a fat quarter fold.  I am sure I will get better with practice. 

My scrap box had lots of large pieces of scraps near the bottom so today I dug all of it out and started prepping the larger pieces for cutting by ironing several pieces at a time. 

You can tell just looking at these scraps how big those pieces were.   While they may not have been big enough to make 5 inch squares; they were big enough to make lots of strips and squares.  These were scrap pieces from dresses, shorts, and tops which I made for my daughters when they were little so they are huge odd shapes. 

It is very nice getting so much done lately but the downside?  Not much sewing getting accomplished.  I keep telling myself once it is all completed my area will be so much more user friendly.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Working the Goals

I started January with a small list of goals, and we are partway through April.  I kind of feel like I am getting somewhere.   

I fiinished my Jewel box quilt, well it is at least a flimsy, as well as the Lazy Sunday Mystery which I have been working on quilting.  One of my other goals was to join a quilt guild.  That was a tough one.  First I decided I would attend a meeting to see if I was comfortable.  Last Thursday I attended my first meeting with the Monroe County Quilt Guild.  I attended as a guest. They were a wonderful group of ladies and made me feel so welcome and at ease almost immediately.  So I guess I will be joining the group.  I can't wait looking at their program they have sew many fun and wonderful things going on.  Another goal almost completed.

Remember I told you in yesterday's post that we had snow in the forecast?  We beat the record with 94.8 inches   It snowed off and on all day today, and the temperature was down right frigid.  We finally got to 36 degrees, but with the wind it was more like 28 Degrees F.  DH had to shovel the deck which totally bummed him out. 
Those are my blueberries under the buckets which I am trying to keep them from freezing. 

I sewed my little heart out today and finished my Quilty Barn quilt to a flimsy.
This will be a wall hanging when I am done.  I need to work on my signature block which is a tractor.  The tractor is made, but I am going to embroider my name, and all the other information on that block.

And I am still pressing and cutting scraps.
My bins are getting full.
I had to change out my 1 inch strip bin to a bigger bin, and my smallest square bin to a bigger box. 
Yes I know it does not really look like it but I have made a dent in these really.  My comic book boards came today also.  I have been reading different blogs about fabric folding.  Yardage, fat quarters, fat eighths.  I am sooo ready to get things kind of under control 

Question:  When you organize your stash do you do it by color, or by fabric line?  I don't have the space to do it like I see some people that their strips and squares are sorted by size and color.  But the larger pieces I can sort by color groups. 

I am excited about how far I have gotten on this project.  I have some very scrappy quilts I have in mind to make when I am done. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Neighbor Watching

It has been a busy couple of days.  We had beautiful weather, and I worked both Sunday and Monday.  Luckily I got home pretty early both days, but Sunday I was pretty much a lump.  Today was a whole different story though.

I rearranged my sewing area in the living room.  We had to rewire the machine last week because the cord finally cracked.  I also wanted a bit more light, and I wanted to be able to plug in my stereo to listen to my Kindle.  I found a surge strip, plugged the sewing machine, stereo, and light in.  Then I discovered that my stereo did not have an auxiliary plug which kind of put a stop to my Kindle listening.  But then I remembered I had an old alarm clock upstairs which can play an I pod and has an auxiliary jack, which means that I can plug in my Kindle.  Sweet! 

I worked on the barn sashing, eleven down I am going to do 5 more for a total of 16 which would be 4 X 4.  I have 3 barns that I do not like how they look with the rest of the blocks, those will be turned into a table runner or maybe some throw pillows.

Between sashing barns I would cut scraps,  but then I got distracted.

The neighbor had a big truck with a flat bed trailer arrive, it was interesting watching it try to back into the driveway.  Yep that did not go well.  I wish I had got more pictures, because they had to bring a flat bed tow truck in, load a tractor onto the flat bed tow truck, back the tow truck up to the big flat bed truck and drive the tractor on.  During this whole process it poured, the wind picked up and it was just miserable outside.  I will say it was definitely entertaining, but also kind of sad watching the equipment leave since the widow is selling off all the farm implements.  

I did put together one block for my Drunkard's path.  I wanted to calculate how many blocks I would have to make, and how large the blocks would turn out.  I think I have the math figured out.

I also found some fabrics to make propeller blocks for the Green Tea and Sweet Beans quilt.  I have enough cut to make 2 more blocks, but also found some fabrics to possibly cut out the rest of the blocks for that section.
I told you here that I purchased and planted 3 more blueberry plants to go with the one remaining the DH did not mow down last year.  Guess what?  They are projecting snow 1-2 inches tomorrow morning and cold.  So I put buckets over them to hopefully keep them from freezing their delicate leaves. 
Michigan may just break their record which is from the 1890's and it would mean that we had over 93 inches in the year.  Not too sure if it is a record that we should want to break especially since it is April.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Watching the Grass Grow

Wow we have had a few days of warmer temperatures and it has been wonderful.  They say April showers bring May flowers, but DH and have not been really watching the grass grow. 

Early this morning we delivered a newer side by side refrigerator that was going to the dump at DH work.  It is in better condition than the original one we gave her when she acquired her house.  Which meant that one returned to the house once more. 

There are plants which are pushing up through the dirt.
Yep those are dead leave....where they came from I have no idea since I had the beds all raked and cleaned out last fall before all of the snow.

My sticks with leaves are getting bigger.

These are boxwood bushes that I bought 3 years ago.  They arrived and DH called them sticks with leaves.  10 plants for $15, yep they were sticks with leaves.  They have grown quite a bit even over the winter.  Just a few more years and we will have a nice hedge in front of the house.

My roses seem to have survived the winter.

I see green and yes I know they need to be pruned.  Again with the leaves!  This is the undefined flower bed. 

The grass is starting to turn green, and

 the burn pile is growing, and we kept loading my little sad wagon with debris and driving it out to the burn pile for a couple of hours. 

A clump of daffodils are starting to bloom.  Look I was photo bombed by more leaves!
The berry patch has been cleaned out.
The canes need to be trimmed and I need to string the wire and get them tied up to get them more contained.  I have raspberries and blackberries. 

The bed where the strawberries were cleaned out best I could because it is quite damp still so I could not get to the back
Lots of runners and more freakin leaves!

The lone blueberry plant got 3 friends since DH ran over his mate last year with a lawnmower.  I added some sand to the bed.  Maybe I will get blueberries one day.
You can see their little green leaves barely.
The chicken house was finally cleaned out, going to need a good scrubbing with bleach before we do anything else.  It was delivered from a friend's house it had been his dog house and run for years.  The dog passed away and so it was not needed anymore and it found its way down the road to our house.  The problem is it was delivered full of dirt, straw and other debris.  YUCK!

Explain why the weeds turn green and start growing faster than everything else and more stinkin' leaves!

I sewed on my quilter for a while today, then hit the scrap pile.

This pile really is getting smaller, and the bins are starting to fill up.

I have 1 inch strings which are escaping their box so I will have to move to a larger box. 

I also got my stash enhancement for the backing for my barn quilt.  I had to have some Oink a Doodle Moo which I think is just too cute. 
Cows, chickens, pigs, donkeys, barns, silos, and tractors.  Definitely cuteness overload. 

How was your Saturday?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Oh Enough!

After showing the horrendous mess I made while stash shopping the other day I realized that I had also spread the mess into the stairway, the dining room, the family room (in 3 different spots no less) and onto the sun porch.

I decided it was time to get control of these scraps.  I swear that they multiply overnight in the dark!

I had this pile on the dining room table.
This pile on my cutting table in my sewing room.
This pile
and this pile on the floor.
And this pile and
This pile on my ironing board.

Where to start?
Load up a book on my Kindle
Clean up the sewing machine table
By pushing the machine back and layout my boxes and bins
2 1/2 and 2 inch strips
1 1/2 inch strips, 2 1/2 inch squares, 5 inch squares, 2 inch squares, 1 1/2 inch, 1 inch squares and strips, selvedges.

Then clean up the patterns and put them away.
Put up my blocks for quilts I am working on.
And start pressing and cutting.  I made a teeny tiny dent.  

I think I may need to dedicate a couple of hours a day to scrap management.  Also i am going to attempt the fabric folding so I have a better grasp of what is in my stash.  I ordered some comic book boards, I have this neat wall cabinet to refinish for some fabric storage which should work nicely too.  I have a plan, now to implement.