Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Turtle of the Week - Tervis

I am so way behind on posting my new turtles - there have been quite a few that have come into my life over the past months - I need to run around the house with the camera.

This one I was able to find a photo of online -
it was a gift from Jill when I was out visiting her earlier this month. 

The best part about this one is that I can fill it with my ice and water and bring it to work with me every day, as she made sure to get me the lid and straw to go with it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Dirty Tales - All Boxed Up

Last year I was introduced to the concept of EarthBox gardening.  It was later in the season and a bit beyond my price range, but I was intrigued.  I have been playing with upside-down growing as well as planting in both my raised beds and in flowerpots of various sizes, so this seemed a natural extension.

Earlier this spring, I came across this book at my local library.  In it the author has wonderfully detailed step by step instructions on building self watering planter boxes based on similar concepts as the EarthBox.

A quick shopping trip and about $30 later, I had the supplies to make THREE - and some left over to make some additional 5 gallon bucket planters (more on those to come).  I turned the supplies over to Hubby -and he went to town.  And Saturday afternoon I had a balmy afternoon to step outside and get them filled.  Each is now planted with lettuce and spinach, with place holders for some larger plants to come later in the season.

Empty box waiting for water and soil.  The platform is made from the lid of the tub and supported by PVC pipe, some of which is perforated for water to wick up into the soil above.
Filling the wicking areas with wet potting soil.  The bottom water reservoir has been mostly filled already.

Soil was added layer by layer and watered as it went in.  The key to how these planters work is to be sure they are kept moist and that the soil never dries out.  (check out the kickin' garden boots!!!)

Placeholders for 2 plants (peppers or tomatoes) to be added later in the season.  I can remove these pots and slip in the new plants without disturbing the lettuce or spinach.  Once the new plants get big, the lettuce/spinach will be about done producing and can be removed.
Planted, watered, and "waiting"... we should see some growth here soon.
Two of the boxes now reside on the deck - nice and sunny, warm, and easily accessible from the dining room to pick fresh greens for dinner.  The third is just around the stairs in front of the deck, and will soon be surrounded by some 5 gallon bucket planters as well as my eclectic mix of pots and "windowsill boxes".

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Step by Step

Our first weekend at home in quite a while involved a bit of "spring fever" and a bit of "spring cleaning" - ongoing studio renovations in the attic, carpet removal in the master bedroom, egg dying and other Eastery activities in the living/dining/kitchen area, and laundry in the basement.  Lots of stair climbing!

And activities even spilled out into the backyard... more to follow on that later this week when I get the photos out of the camera.

For now I will enjoy the Cadbury Egg and black jellybean coma.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What puts the "U" in my "UFO"???

Jill asked recently what causes my projects to stay unfinished.

For me I think it is a combination of factors...

1.  Cutting/piecing/bordering - these are all things I can easily do in short spurts in the late hours (9-11) when I usually do most of my quilting.  This way I am not taking away from family time.

2.  Cutting/piecing/bordering also don't take too much energy (see reference to late hours above).

3.  Sandwiching can normally NOT be done in my house -unless it is a small quilt.  There is just not enough available open floor space.  I pin baste my quilts, and have had great success borrowing Shellie's living room floor - but I don't have the stamina to pin up more than one in an evening, so they are a bit backed up.

4.  Wrestling the weight of a quilt on the table without a drop in or an extension - especially late at night - often needs more energy than I have at the time.

5.  Quilting a large quilt during the daytime/weekends takes away from family time, so I tend not to do it unless I am really up against a deadline.

So that's about the extent of it.   I am working on point #4 - and Shellie helps with point #3 - so hopefully we will soon have fewer U's and more F's. (yeah, right!)

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Shopping

Fabric Shack finds - this does not include the SEVEN yards of blanket cloth that found its way into my carry on - somehow!
Maxie checking out my jelly roll, fat quarters, and some great yardage.  I love basketweave fabrics!

More basketweave, some fat quarters from Fabric Shack, and more yardage.  The robots are for the Munchkin, as are the "shark" goldfish.
I wanted to play with some wool work- and this seemed a good way to get started
Shirtings, some great rusts, and the ruler I bought for my class -and beyond!
Doesn't everyone need peanut and monkey fabrics?!????!!
So did you really think I could get through an entire weekend of 300+ vendors AND a trip to the Fabric Shack (WITH a tent sale no less) and not buy anything???
The South Carolina contingent even brought everyone some goodies!!!
Pictures of actual people to follow when I get emailed copies of them (hint hint hint)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Show

I cannot even begin to sort out the photos on the quilts - there are too many and I took them for so many different reasons.  Some I was able to get the shot of the information card with the quilter's name -and some I was not - so I apologize to anyone whose quilt is shown here that I am unable to name them.

The ones I am showing here are mostly pairs of a broad shot and an up-close of something unique that caught my attention - either texture, content, or something I want to try and was figuring out how to do.

The beadwork on this for the sunflower seeds was incredible.
This is sideways - but I love how this one combined the sun printing of the leaves with the piecework of the overall quilt.

Had to have a turtle.  More info to follow on this one at another time.
This was an oriental design.  I have seen these blocks in a book I have on Japanese style quilt blocks and have them on my list to try.
The book I have uses striped fabric for these - which I don't have much of - but the piecing of the strips is GENIUS!!!  (I already made one of these last night!)
Oh Look - A Squirrel (sorry it is sideways)

Sideways -but the texture and use of fonts and colors in this was inspired.
Of course it was awesome that it had "Queen" in it... no bee though!

Tessellating MOM!  WOW!  I am so going to try this one - for a pillow in my studio.

These were INCREDIBLE artists!!!  Some were quilts that I would like to try some day - some were things I would not try but admire -and some just made me go ????????? - but regardless of my reaction to each of them, the skill and artistry on every single quilt was unbelievable!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Class

When Jill and I first decided that my trip to the International Quilt Festival was really going to happen, we decided that taking a class would be a great experience.  The biggest question was which one to choose - there were so many and they all sounded so good in different ways.

We finally settled on our class based on three things... it was on Thursday before the rest of our group was to arrive, it was all day, and it was a process/techniques class that would lend itself well to many kinds of quilting, including the scrappiness that I seem to be working with most of late.  We were online texting each other and registering the very first day that class registration was open - we were NOT going to miss this opportunity!

Our class was "Savor the Scraps" and was being taught by Gayle Bong. This was the picture of the quilt that we were shown in the catalog and on Gayle's website - but rather than being an exact project - Gayle taught us how to make the different elements in this quilt -namely the 30 degree angled blocks - plus some bonus elements that we could combine to make lots and lots of different blocks and quilts.

These are the blocks that came out of my little pile of scraps.  I had most of them finished before we broke for lunch - about 3 hours - and that included the introductions, show and tell, and cutting time, as well as sewing.  This is a great little block for using up those bits and pieces of 2.5" strips - I was even able to 'recycle' some leftover binding strips to cut the dark triangles from!  I was getting excited with the possibilities just with these stars alone!

Then I started playing with laying them out in different ways.  This diagonal layout was only one of the versions I came up with.  Of course Gayle's examples were all GORGEOUS and gave me even more wonderful wonderful ideas.

After lunch we worked on the larger rectangular blocks -these had even more layout possibilities and I just kept turning them and going "ooh" and then turning them again and going "ah-ha!!"  I was having battery issues in the camera and had yet to hit the show floor - so I did not take pictures of all my different variations.

Jill has two of her books (now BOTH signed) - and it was fun to look through them back at the house and just marvel at how complex the designs looked and all from just changing the layout on some simple elements.

Jill was a great sewing buddy - even though she ribbed me about not giving her enough table space during setup.  Jill was "Teacher's Pet" so responsible for taking attendance and collecting evaluation forms, so she was a bit distracted while I set up our work spaces.  I did skooch over a bit later and give her more room!  The class had 19 of a possible 25, so we had some extra open spaces to spread out a bit.

Here is the "Teacher's Pet" doing a bit of sewing for Gayle as she demonstrated assembly of the rectangular blocks with the equilateral triangles in them. There were gals from all over the country (and Canada) in the group - including some that came on a bus from my area (and that like to shop at my favorite local quilt shop).  Meeting the other people was great fun, too.

And if you ever ever ever have the opportunity to take a class or workshop with Gayle - I highly recommend it!  She was EXCELLENT!!!

Here are some examples that Gayle shared with us:

And given the 11:45 PM pickup from the airport, the 2:00 AM bedtime, and the 6:00 AM wake up call and subsequent rush-hour drive to the Convention Center - the "Teacher's Pet" needed a little noon siesta.  They gave us 2 hours for lunch - and since the vendors were not yet open, we finished our lunches quickly and came back to the room for some extra sewing (and a bit of shut-eye).

We hit the afternoon refreshed, re-energized, and ready to enjoy the rest of class - all the while anticipating the arrival of Lazy Sister Sue and the South Carolina contingent (Sue, Marj and Carolyn) - and the opening of the quilt show and vendors for Preview Night.

Next up ... the Show!!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Home but Tired

Had a wonderful wonderful wonderful time at the International Quilt Festival last week/weekend - getting home close to midnight last night.  Running on energy reserves today -and it is going to take me a bit to mentally process the experience, and physically process the photos.

In the meantime I will share with you one of the quilts I saw - this is not my photo but was taken from the artist's website.  It was for sale - but a bit beyond my price range....

I settled for some other goodies that will allow me to make some fun projects -for me and for others.  More to follow!!

Thanks Jill for hosting us and enabling this wonderful weekend to happen!  Love ya!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Brief Pause...

 There will be a brief pause in my blogging efforts (although they have been so sporadic of late that many may not even notice...)
A brief pause because I am HERE.
And quite possibly heading HERE.
And most definitely HERE.
And the computer was left there - in the capable care of the Hubby and the Munchkin - who won't be bothering with my blog as they will have 'guy' things to do while Mommy is away!

hmmm... maybe I should have enablee the webcam to keep an eye on things?  nah... I am going to be too busy!

Will catch you all up later - with probably a bajillion photos!!!  :-)

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Hope Springs Eternal

Early spring -and around here that means it's time for dirty hands, little cups of soil, and lots of crossed fingers.

Last year, planting took place in a large number of peat pots placed on a small stacked shelving organizer in front of my south facing French doors.  We did OK - but I was looking for A) more space and B) a way to keep my seedlings a bit warmer during the day when we are away and the heat is set back.

Early this spring, I found this shelving unit at our local Wegmans.  It was the PERFECT size for the space - and the vinyl cover would give us a little greenhouse inside the house.  Hubby outfitted it with a thermometer to track humidity and hi/lo temperature - and we were off and running!

The Munchkin and I carefully selected our seeds from my big seed tub - and picked out the ones that could be planted this early in the season (we are about 6 weeks before our last frost now).  Some were old packets from years past, some new - we went heavily for tomatoes and peppers for this first round and planted them in long-saved egg cartons - the kind made from compressed paper, so we will be able to drop them right in to the ground.  I planted heavily - as I was not sure what the shallow planting container and the age of the seeds would produce.  (plus we have another trick up our sleeves for this season to give us more capacity outside - more on that to come later!)

And then the rains came!   I failed to calculate what the addition of all that wet soil in a warm environment would do - and came home to water running down the inside of the cover.  I also was noticing that days with direct sun through this window would soon spike our temps over 90, and I was afraid I was cooking the seeds instead of warming them.  I opted to open up the cover and tent some plastic wrap over the trays instead.  It still stays warmer in there as it is enclosed on 3 sides, but the air can still move about and the humidity stays closer to the soil surface.

Shortly after planting, and while the Munchkin was counting the days until germination - carefully marked with big stars on the calendar and varying depending on what plant and what variety - we awoke to a return to winter.  It's tough to see past the seed trays and through the windows - but that is not flash glare out there -it is a covering of freshly fallen snow.... snow that stayed with us for a few days.

I am happy to report though that the snow is now gone, the tomatoes have sprouted (all 72 of them!!!) and a 2nd round of seedlings has been planted.  We have hops and rhubarb and onions/chives sprouting outside, and peas and salad greens newly in the ground.  More planting is to come - and with it more hope for a bountiful harvest this year.

Although my best harvest is watching the Munchkin take an interest in the process, and want to learn how seeds grow.