In My Sewing Room in June

IMG_1315I must admit, I got lots more sewing done in June than I ever expected. It seemed to have rained more days than it was sunny. My garden refused to grow without sun, as I waited 2 extra weeks for radishes and spinach. In fact, it took so long, I thought I planted them wrong. But that was not the case. Once the sun came out, my salad garden was great. But, yes, I sewed a few things. This little boy quilt is for Kelly’s friend. It’s such a great pattern. This fabric has little bees and bee hives, and some stripes, and a plaid…so fun.

Then on one of the blogs I read, the blogger started a scrap quilt-along. I organized my scraps a few weeks ago and knew I had to follow along. I really wanted to make something with just scraps, but I didn’t have a clue where to start. Crazy Mom Quilts blogger Amanda wrote a book called No Scrap Left Behind. This pattern is one of the quilts in the book.  It started with 1 – 2 inch strips, 5″ long. I just kept sewing them together until I could make a 4.5″ by 8.5″ block. I made 48, then sewed them together with 4.5″ blocks and 8.5″ blocks. The picture is of just the first half going up on my design wall. As of tonight, I have 3 rows left to sew. I must finish that before we go on vacation Saturday morning. That may not be too difficult…rain is in the forecast. But it’s predicted for AFTER my golf league tomorrow morning. Whew!


Happy Birthday, America, I said while listening to fireworks…

Yes it’s the 4th of July. It has been a month since my last post. Time flies in the summer around here. I am home in a quiet little neighborhood every day of the year except the Fourth of July. Really. You know…steady booms since dusk. I guess we just have to accept these things. Are we one of only a few who don’t go see or do fireworks today? We haven’t been to see fireworks since the kids were little. Crowds of people just aren’t John’s thing.

Since I’ve been here last, I’ve gotten a few things done. I’ve been golfing every week, but not well. (Can’t expect to if it’s only twice a week.) We’ve been rained out twice, and I’ve golfed with John only three times. We golfed today, and I have to admit, it was an excellent day. Beautiful weather, very few people on the course because most people are “at the lake.” I also golfed an 85, one of my best scores ever. 39 on the back which is excellent for me.

IMG_0397 On Sunday we rode up to the lake and visited with Dan, Kari, and the girls. I took the grandgirls berry picking. They weren’t really enthusiastic about it, but we had a good time and got some yummy berries. The season has just begun in Rice Lake, although it’s been in full swing in EC for two weeks. We were told that Sunday was the first good day for berries. Look at the size of those gems. They said the berries seemed to explode these last few days with the warm, sunny temps. The pie was great and we have lots left for strawberry sundaes.IMG_0394

Last Tuesday Renae and I went to Minneapolis to the Orpheum to see the 50th anniversary of Days of Future Past album by the Moody Blues.  I saw them 25 years ago for the 25th anniversary show. It’s very funny watching 60+somethings trying to rock to music that’s 50 years old. Enough said. Great concert. Visited with Kelly, stayed at The Hewing boutique hotel 3 blocks from Kelly’s, and had a wonderful time with a great friend. Days of Future Past is the only album I bought, and have, in vinyl, on tape, in cd, and digital forms. It’s exactly the same in all forms…

We are gearing up for our annual family vacation Up North. This year will be very different and we don’t know what to expect. No Iron River. We out-grew it. It’s off the Hayward Treelands Resort. We will all be together again, but I don’t get to be with my family. Boo. I will be bunking wth BIL and SIL and spouses. I promise to try to get along with them…

That will probably be what my next post is about. Can’t wait…

We Missed Spring

IMG_1294June is here; that means the peonies are in bloom.  These medium pink are always the first to show off.  In two or three days the white ones will come out, with the deep pink the last to show their faces.  They’re all in the same place with the same amount of light, but those deep colors just take a while longer. I have a bouquet in the house and we get whiffs of them every time we pass.

And just like that, summer has appeared.  Saturday was a full-fledged hot and humid day to get all my flowers potted. Eleven pots in the front yard and fifteen more in the back.  We are finally seeing some summer beauty and bounty as the garden is finally producing now that we have some heat. I think I should just let the pictures speak for themselves.

These are some of the pots out front that the walkers can enjoy.

Here’s the back yard and deck, from sunny to filtered sun where impatients grow profusely.

…and two of my gardens.  We are attempting to water our shade garden and raspberries with a drip system. It is going to take some getting used to the timing with some close watching. I also have to adjust the hose so everything gets the drink it needs. I will be cleaning up my perennial garden in the next few days, weeding it out and adding mulch. Those  pictures are for another day.

My veggie garden is ready to give us radishes, onions, and greens. Broccoli is wired off from the bunnies so they are growing nicely. This year I planted an heirloom tomato along with the usual better boy, early girl, Romas, and grape tomatoes.  Cukes are planted along the south side of the garage–nice and hot and sunny. Gladiolus and zinnias are there also so by August I should have lots of color there, with plenty of cut flowers for my house.

I’ve been waiting for this since March. It’s worth it.


Birthday Weekend

IMG_0316It started out on Saturday. I traveled to Kewaunee for a birthday gathering for my mother.  98 years. Hard to imagine but she’s doing fine. Her body doesn’t like movement, as her elbow, shoulder and finger joints refuse to move at times. But she gets around fine at her assisted living apartment, and wins most of the money at their sheepshead games–she’s the only one who can remember which cards are played.


Four of the siblings were there to celebrate with her. We gathered for the picture, but had to reposition ourselves so we stood in birth order. Totally Jim’s idea, but it works. Right to left is oldest to youngest in second picture. Oldest and youngest were unable to attend. Joanne, Lois (deceased), Elayne (deceased), Judy, me, Jim, Mari, Debbie. My mom was #2 of 6 and is the only one remaining in her family. But they produced lots of cousins for me: over 60. I know. Isn’t it great?

Then I had to return home so I could attend a party for Hailey. She turned 11 on Sunday. But first I had to make her birthday cake. Monster cookie icebox cake. She picked out the recipe, I made the cake. Cookie butter, cream cheese, whipped cream for the filling. Layered with chocolate chip cookies and chocolate chips, peanut butter cookies and m and m, caramel cookies and Heath pieces. More whipped cream on top. Yum.IMG_0326then she opened presents. I bought her a sun dress, shorts long enough to wear to school, and a summer top. Kelly got her nail polish and nail art, hair barrettes, and lip balm. She got lots of money, too, but presents are more fun to open.

I love Memorial Day weekend just for the birthdays. I got lots of family time with my mother, I stayed with my sister, Kelly spent 3 days with us and we saw the grandgirls and Dan and Kari. Couldn’t ask for better company.IMG_0372

Frustration, But Finished

IMG_1260I completed one quilt in the past few weeks. I read a blog post about a picnic quilt recently. Now I’ve been wanting/meaning to make one of those almost since I began quilting.  After reading that post I decided it was time. I pulled out a jolly bar set, Sundrops by Cory Yoder, I got in a Sew Sampler box from The Fat Quarter Shop and decided to make Picket Fences pattern from the jolly bar book. The main color is such a beautiful peachy pink.

Turns out, it is not a picnic quilt. I have a friend who has been diagnosed with cancer so it went to her. It HAD to go to her because that peachy color is her favorite color. She can now surround herself with a quilt of her favorite color. The picnic quilt will have to be another project down the road.

What frustrated me was the quilting. For the first time I decided to spray baste the quilt. I read a few blogs and it was as easy as they said. BUT something went terribly wrong. Either I sprayed too heavily or the spray was too old (I think I bought it a year or so ago) and the machine quilting was nearly impossible to do. First it skipped stitches, and then it frayed and broke the thread.

I refused to give up. I found a needle/thread conditioner that I received from a Sew Sampler box again, and I stopped and conditioned the needle every few feet of stitches. It was a quilt-saver, for sure. I refuse to show a close-up picture of my loop-d-loop quilting as I could never get into a rhythm. But I finished and gifted the quilt. Ruth is not concerned with perfection, nor am I. Her perseverance is much more critical than mine will ever be.


The Hearts of Men: A Book Review, of sorts…


Nick Butler is a local author; he lives in FallCreek.  The book is set in Eau Claire and Northwest Wisconsin at a fictional boy scout camp in Haugen.  I liked the book; my friend, who lent me the book, didn’t like the subject matter.  Most of the men in this book do not have many saving personal qualities. I felt the characters were very real, whether you liked them or not.

Butler’s language was beautiful; I loved his descriptions. A good story, well written is a winner for me.  The book follows three generations of scouts and what/who they grow into. All is not rosey, and there are bullies, macho men, and soldiers. I like getting into the heads of different people to understand where they are coming from. After reading this, I get it.  I felt that same way a “Girl on the Train.” I understood alcoholics and what drives them after reading that book.  I feel I understand some men’s personalities better after reading The Hearts of Men.  I’m glad I read it. I will be going to hear Butler when he speaks at the Chippewa Valley Book Festival this fall.

A Change of Pace, Kind of…

A few years ago I decided I wanted to learn the art of crochet.  It’s similar to quilting in that it takes some skill and you can make warm blankets. I learned to crochet, but I haven’t made a warm blanket yet.  The task seems too daunting for me. And it seems I seldom get the number of stitches I need.  I do a lot of ripping.  So I’ve learned to stick with mandalas, coasters, and dish/face cloths.

Because my dish cloths are wearing out, it was time to get out the crochet hook and make a few for John (he does the dishes and cleans the kitchen; I cook). I found a pattern and this is what I turned out.IMG_1253It’s just a simple granny square with a tight weave.  I made the green/yellow one first.  It was way bigger than it needed to be with four different colors.  Therefore, the second one in blue and yellow has just three colors and two fewer rounds. A much better size.  I made the first two Monday evening while watching tv.  Maybe that’s why my number of stitches is off a bit; my mom says you have to pay close attention while you crochet. I’m sure that’s why she was much better at it than I am.

It was so much fun that I made a third one the next night.  All the stitch-counts are correct, and I only had to pull stitches out twice. They are made from left over cotton yarn from projects I did more than a year ago when I was “into” the craft. So does that mean they really didn’t cost me anything? At least I didn’t have to buy any supplies.

At 98 years old, my mom no longer crochets.  She made and gave away 99 afghans, and she didn’t count the number of doilies she made and gave away.  She was good. My sisters, brother, nieces, nephews, grandkids, and step-grands all have afghans and doilies and scarves to remember her by. And I got all her hooks, too.

IMG_1256I had to sew something this week so I took some charm squares and some background fabric and made two blocks like this one. I made a pillow out of one and the other is waiting for quilting to use as a mug rug.  When I don’t know what to do with a block, it usually ends up being a mug rug.

I’m still waiting for spring to progress so I can do outside work.  I worked up my raspberry patch, as many of the canes were over 6 years old. I dug out the old rooted canes but kept the younger ones and trimmed them back.  That was ALL I could do because very few plants are out of dormancy yet.  Maybe this warm weather we’re having now will awaken them.  You know, April showers bring…outside work.

A Wicked Easter Weekend

IMG_0301Kelly and I were in Emerald City last Saturday.  A few months back Kelly texted me from work saying “Wicked” tickets were going on sale.  I quickly looked at the schedule at the Orpheum and decided the Saturday Matinee of the first week would be ideal.  I wasn’t thinking about anything other than being able to get tickets, that I hadn’t realized that was Easter weekend.  We usually have family plans for Easter Sunday so it wasn’t until after I was able to secure the tickets that I realized Easter plans would be different this year.

As it turned out, it wasn’t really such a bad idea.  Dan had air miles available so he booked Easter weekend in Florida at Harry Potter at Disney World.  He, Kari, and the girls left Friday, toured the park on Saturday, and flew home on Sunday.  It was a quick fun weekend for them.  That left Easter Sunday for us with just Kelly.  Everything worked out. We decided to dog sit Jhanna so we travelled to Coon Rapids on Friday to arrive after Dan had left. We scheduled a car checkup for John’s car in Wayzata for Saturday morning, getting another errand completed.  I went to the play while he walked and watched the dog, then Kelly and I returned to Coon Rapids for dinner Saturday night because we were eating at Burch for Easter brunch.

The  play was amazing. Kelly has seen it once before, but it was a first for me. The Broadway productions in Minneapolis never disappoint. It was funny, fun, heart-warming, and she’s really not the “wicked witch of the West.” What a great story. Spending the weekend in The Cities made everything convenient for us and the dog didn’t have to go to a kennel.  We all won.

My next visit to the Twin Cities will be in June when my friend Renae and I travel to St. Paul to see The Moody Blues.  Renae and I looked for something to attend in The Cities last summer but nothing excited us.  When this came up we jumped at the chance.  I’ve seen the Moody Blues once before, live, maybe 20 years ago.  “Days of Future Past” is the only album I have in every format: album, tape, CD, and digital.  It may be my favorite piece of music ever. (Ya think?)

Can’t wait.

Where Have I Been?

I have been playing in my sewing room.  These two blocks are leftovers from projects I did last year and the year before.  Both will probably end up as pillow covers unless I can think of some other use for them.  I love half-square triangles because they can make so many different patterns.  The one on the left is from Jeni Baker’s book Half Square Triangles.  She has close to a hundred patterns and lots of quilts, too.  I picked one I liked and went with the blocks I had left.  It’s so cute.  The one on the right is larger. It ended up being 18″ square.  The first one is 16″.  Those will be some pretty big pillows.IMG_1241Then this happened.  Can anybody sew together 64 half-square triangles without making a mistake?  That seam ripper sitting next the block was useful.  It’s all correct now and waiting for a pillow and a chair to sit on.

IMG_1247My next project was a table runner I made with charm squares I received in a quilt box from the Fat Quarter Shop.  Moda color of the year is flamingo, and I received a charm pack of the color. I also got the floral charm pack earlier and the two seemed to fit together. I have a table runner from that same pattern in red and apple fabric for fall.  This one seemed suited for spring and summer on my side table.

Speaking of spring, that’s what I’m waiting for.  Last Saturday it was warm, 70 degrees.  I went to a landscape center and bought the best compost ever.  Pure cow manure, no seeds, no weeds, nor straw; just pure, unadulterated manure.  I covered my raised bed garden and enhanced my flowerbeds.  I’m really wanting the weather to get warm so I can get some early seeds in the garden: lettuce, radishes, broccoli, parsley, onions.  I’m watching gardening videos, planning my summer landscape.  But until it gets warm in Wisconsin I’ll remain in my sewing room.