Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Let Summer Begin

The Hyacinth Bean is already a beast, and I was so worried when initially the three or four little sprouts looked so lame. But all it takes is sun and water and Vavoom! I really hope to have flowers soon, as they are so amazing and can be used in cut flower arrangements. This is my smallest garden spot, but what a lot is crammed into it. The flower pot has pennisetum, sweet potato vine, verbena and Proven Winners Supertunia Vista Bubblegum, which is living up to it's name. I learned from my Youtube Guru what to buy to get the most impact and she was so right.
The porch planter is coming along nicely too. What a difference it makes to have a garden in full sun. Included in this planting are two more varieties of those Proven Winners Supertunias, which just keep on producing blooms. Bordeaux (by the gate) and at the far end the white Snowdrift. It is crazy abundant. Next year I will not be shy about getting more of those in the beds.

 The peony beds are engulfed with lots of other thriving beauties and I am especially excited to have the Rhea Blue Bedder Salvia looking so ferocious. Those purple blue stalks are such strong growers, and even tho they are perennials, they behave like annuals and just keep blooming. The red velvet petunias are peeking out, but have to fight for space. Who knew I was overdoing it with too many plants? Not all of my starts survived. I lost almost all of my calibrachoa, as they got waterlogged while I was trying to keep the rest of the plants happy. Turns out they prefer living in a pot versus a landscape. I made sure to have nasturtiums just in case and they are filling it any possible spot with fragrant bouquets of orange, yellow, and cream. White coneflowers are opening up and lots of red gallardia are blooming, which are making me so happy, as I have always hoped to have these in my repertoire.
 The driveway side of the same bed, with overflowing Easy Wave petunias. If it weren't for the Japanese Beetle invasion, this would be my most successful garden. They have attacked my zinnias with abandon and I go out and squash them with relish. Mwahaha! Still, the zinnias have won and are tall and flourishing.

 I thought I would show you the Prince of Pugs, Tony, basking in the shade. We have a nice matching gate to keep him safe. 

 Inside, finally all three of my shelves have arrived and now I have a place to display some stuff. This is a preliminary arrangement, but you get the idea. I ordered these from Michael's because they were turquoise. As good a reason as any.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

A new living room

Out with the old and in with the new. You might recall that I gave my bestie Patsy the reins to teach me the way to get my living room to look fabulous...She found this chest as the first statement piece and we were off to the races. Her best advice was to imagine walking into the room and saying to oneself, Yes! That's the way I like it! (or similar words...)
In search of doggie proof furniture I decided to get an outdoor couch and chairs, washable and plain enough to act as a backdrop for the accessories to come later. Of course they were 'some assembly required' but I am experienced with an Allen wrench, and Dave is great at cutting down cardboard boxes, which tend to accumulate after an online order is delivered. That ladder shelf is one of three, which came first, and then just as I quit assembling today, the other two arrived. The fireplace screen is an actual fence panel which is kinda tongue in cheek as decor, but I just couldn't stand that big black opening, even tho it has logs in it. It still is ugly to look at. I decided to make a chaise from the center chair of the couch and the ottoman and arrange the remaining pieces in a conversation spot.
The gingham pillows will be recovered with orange/red/pink silk dupioni and quilted, which I am aching to do next. And altho I have a quilt draping the chaise, I think a knitted throw will be in the making, as it is more cosy and I really wanted to hang that quilt anyway. There are lots of already made paintings, quilts and collages waiting for a spot on the wall, which will be decided in good time.

I was inspired to make this painting to echo the design on the chest, and have been working on it (still in progress) while I awaited the furniture delivery. 

I am happy and relieved to have this project well underway, and feel even more like this is really home for good for us, and those rascally doggies.

Friday, June 18, 2021

By Request: Home #4

 Home #4. Hand dyed and commercial cottons, fused, machine quilted, hand embroidered, mounted on painted wood panel. Made by request for Rosalind. 
I couldn't find the sleeve to my memory chip for my camera, so I resorted to using my tablet to photograph this work. I like the result so much I may just put my camera down for a time and take the documentation photos with that tablet, which is large enough not to misplace.

In an effort to make this as accurate an image as possible, I have included this shot on the easel.

Update on hanging the artwork in my living room:
 It was a group effort that came to naught. My sister saw that I was planning on hanging my quilt on my own and volunteered to come over and help. I was so happy to have her here. But soon we realized that we needed reinforcements so she called her husband (working at home) and he brought a second ladder and the much needed 30lb test fish line. We placed the Command hooks, and hung the quilt and it looked great, Unfortunately I didn't take a picture. They left and I began reorganizing Dave's room, moving furniture and vacuuming the tumbleweeds of doggie hair. Soon I heard a sound that could only mean the quilt had come down. Luckily it fell onto the couch, leaving one Command hook in the quilt sleeve and one remaining 85" up from the chair rail on the wall. I left it there for two days, finally getting it down yesterday. 
It was meant to be, because after our failure to hang, my pal Patsy and her hubby Charly, took me shopping in their truck. 
O boy! We went to Home Goods and since Patsy had been there the previous day, she found a statement piece for my living room re-do that she had to show me. 

Swoon! I fell right in love and had to agree this was meant for me. We both opened a credit card so we could get 10% off our purchases and were such happy girls. This is abalone shell inlay, four doors with shelves inside. I am so happy. And also happy that the quilt didn't get hung because now I have another quilt in mind to hang that will be better when the rest of the new furniture arrives and I have assembled it all. 
Alls well that ends well. 


Monday, June 14, 2021

Gathering the artwork

Now that the rain is over, the garden is established and the 90+ degree days have arrived, I am finding time to do the necessary things to get this house decorated. It's only been 10 months since we moved in, but with the advent of new furniture and a complete decorating reboot, I know what needs to be hung on these huge blank walls. 

This is Bosna #2, 69x78"Hand dyed and commercial cottons, machine pieced and machine quilted, and has never been hung because the rod pocket has yet to be sewn down. This will be my task for today. I have an electical conduit pipe all ready to cut to size and hopefully with Dave's help I'll be able to hoist it up high enough to look appropriate. I am using Command hooks, as I have a big distaste for nail holes in my walls. I don't think I have ever tried to hang a quilt this large in that manner, so we'll just have to have faith that it can be done.

Lots of much smaller work has been unpacked and I have grouped them by color. Good news for me, I just found out my BFF Patsy had a decorating company in the 90's, and she'll be supervising me, I need help.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

New Views

Here's the new living room rug, which is still relaxing from being rolled up for shipping. I had a cream and black buffalo check rug here but it wasn't helping the look so it went on the front porch, since it is a indoor-outdoor fiber. I wanted/needed a red and white rug and ordered one online that turned out to be beige and maroon in real life. I had to return it and pay the return shipping ($60!!! argh) and then accidentally found this one online from Kohl's. If I opened a Kohl's charge I could get 35% off my first purchase. Well, needless to say I did. It is really really red.
Now here's the know I love my pugs, but because of them I can't have anything nice, and the view here lasted only minutes. I have to have that gingham cover on the couch or I would be washing the cushion covers weekly, which is a real hassle. Plus the skirt on the couch is an invitation to my little criminal Prince Tony to lift his leg. Mostly his aim is off, so the floor gets the puddle, but it is the skirt he thinks needs to be marked. Arrghh again.
Prince Tony

I have come to the conclusion to start over again with doggie proof furniture. The couch will go in Dave's room which is plenty big enough to accomodate it and since he loves to nap on it, I am sure it will be quite welcome. The two rust colored IKEA leather chairs will return to my sister's house and the other two metal chairs really belong in the screen porch. 
So here's what I decided to order. Outdoor furniture with rain impervious cushions. They have zippers, which is great for those times when I feel the need to machine wash them, but they wipe clean. What I really love is that the frame is acacia, and not all that outdoorsy looking. 

Here's the couch with ottoman scooted up to look like a chaise. The coffee table is included, also acacia. I know from experience that outdoor cushions are not 'cushy' since they must drain the rain, but for the time being they will do. When they flatten out for good, I can easily get foam and fill them to satisfy my cushy loving desires. I hope this works better and is going to be a bad doggie deterrent. 
The same day the rug arrived, so did my landscape guys. Ten shrubs and an Autumn Blaze maple tree got planted and major mulch makes it all look so grand. 

Of course we still have those circles of weeds left from the previous owner's flower beds. But I am promised that those will be taken care of soon. We have had an entire week of rain, thank God, and the plants are going nuts, but wait, a week of high temps will be coming and then look out!

7 am in the veggie garden. The potatoes and corn are going full on, and I am hoping to train the cucumbers, butternut squash and watermelon to climb up the tomato cages. I can't believe how well those kiddie pools work for these vegs.
But I do have deer, rabbits, and chipmunks that insist on sharing the feast. My first tomato had a big chunk bitten out of it, and lots of ants finding it tasty. I could have a fence around it all, and maybe I will but even so, I am enjoying the garden just the way it is. 

The green beans have had all their top leaves eaten off, but the buds for the beans remain. We'll see if the poor plants can produce beans after that haircut.
I did rescue an almost ripe tomato, and four, yes four baby zucchini.
One of three planters of basil. Lettuce Leaf and Mammoth varieties, with purple basil to boot. Can pesto be far behind?

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Home #3

Home #3 
Hand dyed cottons, silk charmeuse, commercial cottons, fused, hand embroidered and machine quilted, mounted on painted wood panel, 11x14". SOLD

Yesterday my pal Patsy came over to watch how I make a fused quilt, where and how I begin and what comes next etc.
It was good for me to have a 'student' again and explain all the steps. We had a lot of fun and I especially like the resulting composition. I had more courage after making the last few works and got out my special charmeuse silk which is the part with the hand quilted circles. I am using a new photo editor which means there is a learning curve on getting the image to look like I want it to look. The focus seems a little soft to me, but I hope you get the idea.

Here's a closeup of the stitching. I am all about pots of flowers these days so just for fun I included a polka dot flower pot with French knot flowers. 

As for any questions you may have about the process, I will refer you to my free online lessons on my Focus on Fusing site. 
Please go to the beginning lesson, which can be found in the sidebar, starting with July.

This work is available for $100 plus shipping. Email me at fibermania at g mail dot com.

I have discovered that the post office is now operating more like UPS or FedEx and the cost for mailing this is between $8.85 and $13.65, depending on the final US destination. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

By Request

Leaf Light #2.    Hand dyed cottons, fused, machine quilted, 24.5 x 33". 
Once I got back to quilting, I got an email from a long time reader who has been following since way back when I was still knitting socks! and she cautiously wondered if I would consider a commission. 
Hmmm. Would I? 
Well, she made an offer I couldn't refuse.
And after reading further, and finding her interested in something with leaves or trees, I sent her pics of a few previous works to see what she might like. Then she replied with some more ideas. Of everything we exchanged, I had made repeat editions of most of the works, with the big exception of this one:
Leaf Light, 53x56, hand dyed fused cottons, machine quilted.

This was the only suggestion that was unexpected and lit my fire, so to speak. So to make a smaller version was so exciting and I got started by looking for fabrics that would be as vibrant and rich as the original. In order to help myself, I pulled the quilt out of my storage closet and that gave me all the information and direction I needed. I actually like the newest version better, because the quilting adds more to the surface, as the first one was just stitched in the ditch. 
The work in progress, aided by the bright morning sun.


To say I am thrilled with the results would be an understatement. I keep looking at it and taking pictures and just feeling like....I still got it!

Monday, June 7, 2021

Garden Update

Who would have thought I could really grow a garden in baby pools? In this first picture we have lettuce, onions, watermelons, brussel sprouts, Doggie Tony, potatoes, green beans, corn,  zucchini and tomatoes. Not making this pic are sugar peas, which I will never be able to cook as I eat them as soon as I see them forming. So great, and tasty. In another bed are butternut squash and cucumbers, plus a second planting of French haricot vert beans. The potatoes are in large grow bags and for weeks it looked like nothing was happening and then whamo! So I have a bunch more bags in the wings should I decide to get more dirt and have more of a real crop. I will have plenty for this trial/experiment as it is. So if you will recall, the initial investment in this no dig, raised bed garden was around $100, which is by far the least expensive one I have ever attempted. So I am pretty thrilled with how it is coming along. I have four pools and one bed I made from landscape bricks, plus four grow bags in use. Not counting the planters full of basil on the back porch railing. I will take pics of those soon.

 Here's the corn field. I knoooooow they are too close together, and will be thinned out but it was such a surprise how fast they germinated (2 days) and appeared in neat rows. I have divided the bed into two parts as tho this will help me know which variety I planted. One is bi-color, and the other is small 7" ears of super sweet, both will be mature in 60 days or so. I have never even tried to grow corn before, in all my years of gardening. But my pal Patsy encouraged me and what the hey? We'll see what happens. I fertilized this bed first, knowing corn is a heavy feeder and will mulch when the plants are thinned a bit. 

 In another bed, I have more brussel sprouts, bibb lettuce and my four pepper plants. Poblano already forming! All they needed was warmer nights and lotsa rain. Thank God for rain.

 Lotsa tomatoes, five on this one plant, Better Bush a determinate variety. Two more indeterminate plants in containers. Alongside them are radishes, the few the rabbits didn't eat. Nothing to write home about but so quick to mature. My beets and rutabage all got eaten too. I could replant for a later harvest when the first round of green beans are over. Luckily we have a really long season here.

 When I see 4 packs of lettuce I think, why are they so expensive? and then I buy them anyway. This head of Bibb is gigantic and could feed the neighborhood. I will be making a big salad and some pasta and we will dig in. Next to it are the watermelon vines. I love their leaves and would grow the plants just for them. 
 A little baby zucchini is forming, and so far no vine borers, which are always a menace. I did find one cucumber beetle, and crushed it immediately. I must be vigilant. We have been blessed (finally) with days of rain, and this morning I walked outside and it was like a steam bath. Hot and wet, so great for the garden.

 Out in front in the peony bed, which has been overtaken by all the plants I could squeeze in there, we have had nasturtiums start to bloom. Love these dependable darlings! Also planted here are lots of Wave Petunias, calibrachoa. coneflowers and blue bedder salvia. The lilies I planted will not be blooming this year, except for one, but will store energy and be great next season. 

This is the driveway side, and because the nasturtiums here are shorter, the other plants are more visible. A big garden sage is up in front, because it is beautiful as well as a great herb, and then lots more petunias, lobelias, bacopa which recovered from the frost earlier, and in the center, hard to see, are a lot of zinnias, which will fill in shortly.

 I have four kinds of hardy geraniums, (aka Cranesbill) and one is spreading out and filling in and engulfing a peony. It has small purple flowers with a black throat and is so lovely. They are perennials and will be great to see returning next spring. I'll be saving their seeds and see if I can get them started in other spots. The more the merrier.

 The shady end of that bed has a neat bunch of impatiens blooming under the crepe myrtle. Not in the pic is an ostrich fern bought in a bag from Walmart. It is growing great and I hope to have it spread and fill in the shady spots. 
I made a solemn vow to not have so much gardening to do in this house. Yeah, right. But here's the thing. So much of it was already here and I just added to it, sorta. And while I prefer raised beds, growing right in the ground does help with watering, a bit. And now that my retractable hose is hooked up, if and when I do have to water, it is easier than it ever was.