garden update

I made a nice little dress yesterday, but I don’t have photos yet.  I also began working on my brown scraps for my quilt, but I’m not really far enough to take photos either.  I thought instead I would give you a little garden tour.

This year my sons have taken over the garden and are having much more success than I usually do.  Here is a cucumber that we will likely eat today.


Here is some beautiful tomatoes:


And lastly a huge amount of grapes:



I got a lot done this weekend so I have a lot to show you! I am making good progress on my Christmas stockings. I have the monograms done and ready to sew to the stockings.  I am on track to finish my first ufo for 2012!

On Friday night, after much complaining and irritation, and after I had every single person in my family try to put them together, I finally decided to put these together in flowers.  In my mind, I would put these together in rows like I would squares.  For anyone doing one of these quilts, which I definitely would not recommend at this point, you have to put them together in flowers.  What I will do next with them is still unknown.  But I did get one done already!

Lastly, I am most excited about Paul’s quilt.

I am now working on the hand quilting, which besides the binding, is the last part of this quilt!  I am so excited!  I am also very excited about the way it is turning out.  As usual my hand quilting creates a landscape that interacts with the surface but also floats above it.  By the way, I plan to leave my knots showing on this quilt, since I just read Alabama Studio Sewing + Design: A Guide to Hand-Sewing an Alabama Chanin Wardrobe.  I am still on the fence, but since my some of my hand quilting knots that I popped through the top of the quilt on some of my other quilts didn’t stay, and this quilt will get heavy use from a teenage boy, I’m going to try her idea of leaving the knots exposed as a design element.

denim ender leader wrap up

With the holidays, I missed showing you some projects that I finished for gifts.  Here is the finished ender leader denim quilt.  I am very happy with how it turned out.  It is backed with polar fleece, then I simply brought the edges up and over and used a zigzag stitch to create the binding.  It’s funny how denim can just glow.  Since these quilts always evoke landscape for me, I did some circles for the quilting, reminding me of the drainage fields I saw once when we flew to the west cost.

I put this in our ten-dollar gift exchange in North Dakota, and my sister, Becky, won it. She traded for it, so I was excited that she was so interested in it. I have a mental image of her all snuggled up under it that night.  (I wish I would remember my camera sometimes).

On a different note, I want to let you know that I have joined the amazon affiliate program.  You may notice on the sidebar that I have added a picture of what book I am now reading and what I am currently listening to.  If you are interested in the book, the picture is a link to Amazon.  If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission. I will be doing more with this later, including book lists and reviews.

Happy New Year, and may your year be full of blessings!

Pant free fishing

So, first: I totally have permission to tell this story.  In fact, I was even encouraged.  About two weeks ago, Paul and I went fishing.  We were trying a new place very close to the Mississippi River.  We parked the car and started walking.  It was a surprisingly hot day for October.  I had my big tote and Paul’s fish cooler. Paul had his backpack, his fishing rod and a little pail with minnows.  We hadn’t ever fished at this place, but we had talked to a ranger the day before that said that there were some man-made ponds that they used to use to raise fish. Now they were naturalizing the ponds and stocking them with pan fish.  Even better, there were several men who told us they had caught northerns in the river.  So, to get to the ponds, we walked down this long hill.  When we got to the bottom the path forked, and we saw the ponds.  The problem with the first pond was that the banks had very steep inclines. The first one wasn’t so much a lake as a large square ditch.  It made me a little nervous he would fall in.  The water wasn’t clear and I had no idea how deep it was.  Paul tried to fish, but no luck.  Then we walked a little further and found a dock at the next pond.  This was kind of nice because it had a bench I could sit on. Again, he didn’t catch anything.    Finally, we decided we had enough trying with no luck and turned back to go to the car.  Now, keep in mind, we had walked a long way and he had gear in both hands.  It was laundry day and he was wearing his last clean pair of pants. They were a little large for him and they kept on falling down.  I mean really falling down around his ankles.  He would stop, put down all his gear and pull up his pants.   He started to get really frustrated with his pants.  I said, “Just take them off already.  It’s a hot day and there is no one around.”  He had boxer shorts underneath. I didn’t really believe he would because he is not really that kind of person.  He is very modest.  I mean, he wore long pants all summer long.  He even wore a hoodie for much of the summer.  But he stopped, looked around and took off his pants.  I mean sort of, they were already half way off.  Then, of course, being the kind of mother I am, I had to tease him, ” Now watch, a pretty girl is going to come.”  He said, “Mom, there is a girl walking this way right now.”  I looked back and there was a girl walking toward us.  She stopped and turned back then walked forward again, then back.  “She’s freaked out by your boxers, Paul,” I told him.  We were both laughing.

I was thinking that we would just walk back to the car, but as we walked back we saw an access to the river. Sure enough, there were the fishermen.  Paul said, “I have to try it here.”  There was a steep incline toward the river. I knew we weren’t going to be there very long so I said I would wait on the road for him.  He bounded down the hill in his boxers, fishing rod in one hand and little ice cream bucket with minnows in the other.  And wiped out.  Mud all over him, minnows everywhere.  I have to give him credit.  I would have just come back and said, well, that’s it.  My bait’s on the ground, I’m covered with mud, and I don’t have any pants on. Let’s call it a day.  But not Paul.  His determination was not diminished by challenges.  He got up picked up all of his minnows and put them back in the little bucket. He marched over the shore.  He went to each fisherman in turn per the fishermen’s protocol and asked them if they had caught anything yet. Then, he stood on the shore of mighty Mississippi and casted in his underwear.

Now, what do you think happened?  If this was a story with a moral, he would have caught a huge fish.  No, such luck. He caught no fish.  But I have to say I was proud of him.  He had such self-possession and confidence. And the girl who was acting so strangely? It turns out she was an artist, and was walking back and forth to find the best view.  Paul stopped on the way out (still in his underwear) to talk to her and see her painting.

August Ufo

Yes, I finished it!  I expect I will trim it and sew it onto some kind of back. I think it will eventually be part of a tiny quilt.  I started this a long time ago and carried in my purse for several years.  Periodically, I would take it out and do a little bit.  It’s great to have it finished.


So I have started really biking.  I say really biking because I have been a casual biker for years.  However, I am proud of myself this year because I have ridden my bike to work eight times.  My work is about 6 miles from my house each way.  Riding to work, combined with some recreational biking brings my total bike miles for this spring to 100 miles.  It all started with my son who is much more than a casual biker.  He bikes every where.  He just got back from a 200 mile trip on his bike last weekend.  Now, he is planning a cross-country bike trip.  He told me: “You can do it!”

So here I am in one of my biking/work outfits:

So here is my mythbusters:

Weight loss: False.  I have not lost any weight.  Nothing is budging.  However, maybe things will change if I do it more than twice a week. As I get in better shape, I will do more times a week, and hopefully, I will drop some weight.

Sweaty: So far so good.  I have been taking a shower at home when it is below 70 in the morning.  I am fortunate to have a shower at work so I shower there when it is hotter than 70 or so.

Tired: mixed.  I did feel worn out at night but in the daytime mostly very stiff in knees and hips.  Now, that stiffness passed, but I always sleep like a rock the night after I do the ride. 

Saving money.  Somewhat true. I have been using quite a bit less gas.  Some of that is because we have not been doing as much on the weekends, but I think I have contributed somewhat by not driving two days.  Also, a couple of times that my husband would have had to drive me to work, I was able to bike, saving four trips instead of two.  However, I did need to buy new tires for my bike which were sixty dollars, so at this point I am still probably behind.

Getting faster.  False.  I have only managed to shave off ten minutes off my original 50 minute ride.  Through tuning my route and the new tires, I am now pretty consistently at 40 minutes.  Maybe, as the summer progresses, I will get better.  However, since I would have gone  home and gone for a walk or bike ride for exercise, I really haven’t lost any time.

Nerves improved: true.  I have a lot of nervous energy.  When I ride, my stress is much reduced at work.  I feel much more focused and happy at work on the days I ride my bike.

Anyway, I will have a blog later about ideas about dressing for bike riding to work.  I got some ideas from a Real Simple article I read a few months ago but I also have some ideas of my own.  Also I am still hoping that by the end of summer I will also be able to report some weight loss.

God’s message

I don’t know if God speaks to you through your radio, but he does to me.  Now, he doesn’t tell me when the world is going to end.  He knows this would be a bad thing to do because I am usually driving when he talks to me.  If He told me when the end of the world was coming, I would definitely crash my car.  But he does give me messages through songs.  This morning I was so worried about all the things going on in my life, mostly happy things, but still stressful.  Then suddenly, I hear:

You’re so mean, when you talk about yourself, you were wrong
Change the voices in your head, make them like you instead
So complicated, look happy, you’ll make it!

Perfect-by Pink

Yes, I am mean when I talk to myself.  So, I laughed at myself, and moved out of my little haze of anxiety. Nice pep talk!

Anyway, I do have a picture to share as well. Here is a page from the graduation scrapbook.

So here is my baby.  I love the picture in the lower left corner.  He looks so mischievous even though he is just newborn.  I actually think he is looking around.  As a baby, he always had his eyes wide open, taking in the whole world.

graduation again

So, for the past few weeks I have done almost no sewing or crafting.  I have been busy cleaning and fixing up my much neglected house up for my son’s graduation party.  I supposed there is some creativity involved, but mostly I am imposing order on my much-loved chaos.   Also, I have had a few temper tantrums in the middle of Home Depot.

So here are some of my projects in process.  I wish I could say they are complete, but not quite.

This is my bathroom.  Yes, after much discussion we decided on a color.  This is the THIRD color we tried.  The first color was a light pink.  It was very intense. Actually, I didn’t mind it on the wall as an abstraction, but behind me as a backdrop it drove me crazy.  I know this is self-centered but seriously: I look at myself in that mirror every day.  I couldn’t look bad every day until I get the will up to repaint ( I know my lack of will).  So we took a quart of dark rose that I had and mixed it in with the pink.  We had a pink I could stand, however it was very dark and bright.  Everyone in the family was a little shocked by it, especially when confronted by it in the early morning.  Finally, I gave up on frugality and went back to buy another gallon. I used my personal colour palette  pick out a shade this time.  I had my colors done by Victoria Sazama, from the Sazama Institute of Colour, Wholeness and Balance, a couple of years back.  She assembled a color palette based on all the tones of my body and then also put together harmonizing tones.  I have very few pastel colors, which is why I don’t really respond to light colors in a space. I went through all of the light colors on the palette and found matching swatches, then Steve picked his favorite. We agreed on this color, kind of pinkish sand.  It is technically my skin tone.  This is not exactly fair to others in the household since no one has exactly the same skin color, but in the interest of time, we went forward. If I would have thought of it, the better solution would have been to consult with Victoria, since she also does interior color selection and could have a color that would flatter everyone. I would have saved time, if I would have started with her, because I wouldn’t have had to go back to Home Depot so many times or repainted the same wall three times. (sigh)

So, here is our organized garden.  Steve and I ripped out most of the raspberries and lifted the stepping-stones.  We are doing a purple and white theme which I am enjoying even though it is a little over the top.  However, considering my natural tendency toward chaos, it probably is good to limit the color scheme to a few colors.  I didn’t limit myself in the front, so I will have one multi-colored garden.  I had Steve do the design, because again, I just would put them in with no intention.  I guess that is what makes us a good pair: I work from chaos to order, he works from order to chaos. If it were easier to move flowers after I planted them, I would do my own design.  Actually, I usually do.  It ends up looking like I planted random plants in random order. However, it doesn’t look like the plant naturally sprouted there either.  Each flower is pretty enough but there is no overall design that visually makes sense.  The best way I can describe my flower designs is “awkward”. I deferred to my husband when it comes to plant placement and so far it looks great.

I will say that two things emerge from this process.  One, under all the chaos in my house, there is a really nice house.  The good news is: I will get to live there after the party until I mess it up.  Second, we are not getting a divorce.  It truly shows how strong the trampoline that is our marriage and our love is, that it can survive our craziness no matter how hard we jump on it.  (Seriously, it was a complete breakdown in Home Depot, I had to go home and take a nap.) 

Anyway, I am working on my bathroom rug, so I hopefully will have that done next week.  Even though it is not the most creative piece it is kind of interesting.

spring bounty

Steve had an exciting time mowing the lawn.  He was luckily looking where he was going, and he found four of these little fellows.  So, we went down to the parkway and we found some more.  We had a beautiful meal of pasta with morel cream sauce.  So good!  Even made better because we saw them at the Farmers Market for 11 dollars for a half pound.  We debated buying them, and now I’m glad we passed!


My mom sent me an awesome gift for my birthday.  Here’s a picture:

I totally love it.  Also, I was completely surprised.  She told me my present was coming in the mail and I shouldn’t let it freeze.  I assumed it was liquid.  When I saw the box said mushrooms, I was very confused.  I thought maybe she had got some truffle oil or something.  But no, it was much, much better.  A mushroom log!  Science experiment and food in the same awesome project.  So, Paul, Steve and I sat down to put it together.  It was easy to assemble. The only thing we needed to provide was a sharp knife and a shallow bowl of water.  In one week, we had the little protrusions above, but then a few days later:


It was only one more day and we ate them.  They really grow that fast.  If you are interested in doing this fun, delicious and even educational project, the company she ordered from is Gourmet and Mushroom Products.

So we had the mushrooms sautéed in chicken stock and butter, then mixed with a little cream over angel hair pasta with a little parmesan cheese on top.  Wow! So delicious!  Thanks again, Mom!  Now, we have started growing our second batch.  I can’t wait.  I already know that I want: cream of mushroom soup. Yum.