Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Garden update!

I did not dig up the whole garden and start over. I took the old twist tiller tool and basically with it, and the shovel, reworked all the soil around all the plants, breaking up the clay deep down beside them and working the compost in even deeper.

My twist tiller tool is not as nice as the one pictured on the link above - its an older model and my back let me know in no uncertain terms that it was not impressed with my idea to twist-till the entire garden, and shovel major portions of it also. However, it seemed to make a difference. The plants have put out second and third sets of leaves, and are actually getting taller. Yay!

Also, across from my office window, I put some flowers on the very front of the garden wall.

Here's a few pics of what they look like up close.... the petunias are just favorites of mine, and the shasta daisies are my all time favorites.... but the others are new and different for me!

I hope they do well. I usually manage to kill flowers with the greatest of ease, so I'm crossing fingers on these! I hit them with some Miracle Grow yesterday, so maybe they will decide they like it here in my garden!

Karen and I put some fuscias in pots by the kitchen window.

We really love these and hope they like the shady spot we picked.

Patio Spruce Up, Part 1

This patio is just sad.

It's holding all my tools from my gardening attempts, and a stack of resin chairs that have seen better days. But if the patio is sad,

the picnic table is even sadder. It is losing its stain/finish I put on it two years ago.

So Karen and I had our work cut out for us. First, we appropriated Michael's new band sander.....

And Karen sanded down the rough bits.....

Michael even got in on the act..... only fair, since it was his brand new band sander thingie. Hey, I don't know what to call them, I just know how to use them!

We then contemplated the fact that we needed a hole in the middle board, for our brand new, bought-at-the-close-of-last-season-at-a-rediculously-low-price-lime-green umbrella to go through.....

We paid a visit to the Boyz in Orange Aprons at my favorite Toy Store, and came home with a bit that fit my drill and cuts a 1-1/2 inch hole. I really do know how to drill straight.... but the picture was taken as I had just finished and I was pulling the drill out and it looks crooked.... The hole, however, is nice and straight... At least, I think it is.... I guess we'll find out when we put in the umbrella!

Success! Once the hole was cut, we started painting. I had gotten what I thought was a nice neutral light grey. But once I got most of the first coat on the underside of the table,

I was so not loving it. A disparaging remark was made by one person in this house, labeling it "state park table grey". That did it! I stopped painting and started thinking about other colors.

For a while I almost went kind of crazy, thinking yellow and orange would be citrus-y colors to go with the lime green umbrella. I was vetoed. Soundly. Several times.

I decided to err on the side of somewhat more boring, but safe.... Today Karen and I put on a new color.

This duck poop beige caramel color will be accented on table top and seat surfaces with a deeper chocolate truffle color. Nice. Safe. Boring Neutral.

Until I paint the red ladybugs and white daisies with lime green leaves on top!

Heh heh!! Just kidding.



Happy Birthday to me!

I'm late posting about this - what can I say.... I'm getting old!

My sister and I celebrated our respective birthdays this month... I still maintain she's my best birthday present ever! I got a sister for my third birthday!

Jacque sent me a beautiful table runner she had made! It is such a cute, springy, happy table runner!

Look at the little nine patch she appliqued onto the point!

Sew Cute! Thank you so much, Jacque! I LOVE IT!!

I got the neatest light from Michael. I will have to post a picture later when it's installed, but it is a solar powered motion-detection activated light for the front porch. You would not think, maybe, that that was such a great gift, but to me and Karen, this is the greatest thing ever! Michael compulsively obsessively conscientiously turns off lights around the house and that's a frugal and cost-reducing habit to have..... but it's a pain coming home and finding the keyhole in the dark at the front door. I usually have my hands full of stuff and by the time I get the key in the hole I've dropped a few things, like my good mood and any semblance of refined language. So I am loving this light! I have charged it for three days in the bright sun, and tomorrow I will try to get it installed and take a picture!

He also got me the neatest radio that also is a light, a siren, a NOAA radio, a cell phone charger, and a few other things I'm forgetting. It cranks by hand, and needs no batteries. Since I've developed somewhat of a survivalist mentality in the last few years, this really made me smile!

Karen got me the most beautiful necklace. I love hearts. All kinds, colors, etc. My favorite stone is an opal and my birthstone is a diamond. Look at the necklace she got me, combining all of them!!

Thank you so much, Karen! I will treasure it always!

I was given some gift cards too! Look at the fun I'm going to have:

Thank you Karene and Michael! I'm a lucky girl! I really don't mind birthdays. I know some people aren't fond of them, but hey, what's not to like! I had a yummy cake (tiny bite!) and my favorite ice cream (low carb, so BIG BOWL!) and got some great gifts!

54 isn't so bad!!


Have you seen this dangerous criminal?

The scene of the crime.....

My fledgling crop of lettuce and spinach.....


The 'perp'!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Catching up!

So this will mean I am officially posting three times today, after not saying anything at all for days....

But, psssssst!!! Hey, Yvette!!!! We're catching up! Karene and I spent the afternoon working on our April block of Home Is Where the Heart Is.... Karene actually got all her pieces picked, fused (to the fabric) and cut! She will fuse the pieces to the background block and stitch, later at home.

Sew Cute!

I, on the other hand, did not do my homework in advance. Four hours later, I had gotten to this point!

But hey, we made PROGRESS!

We did decide, however, that its not the same without our Esteemed Enabler and third Amigo, Yvette! But in two weeks, it will be May, and we can make plans to do it again!!


Open Letter to Southern California

Dear SoCal,

Really? Was that necessary yesterday? 102 degrees? On April 19th? Breaking how many records!?

And today..... starting off with a nice 53 degrees this morning and already, at 11:59, soaring to 94 degrees? With the promise of topping yesterday, easily, by 2 or 3 pm?

So not feeling the love,

P.S. 95 degrees at 6:12 PM? Not funny at all.

Le Weekend

Saturday I played frugal Susie Homemaker games, and made my usual yogurt (whole milk-greek type), and some dill rolls:

(Michael stole two did some taste-testing for me!)

I also made Karen some granola:

Granola Recipe

12 cups steel cut oats
1 cup karo syrup or honey
1 tablespoon vanilla
4 tablespoons margarine or butter
1-2 cups desired dried fruit (coconut, apples, mangos, berries, etc)

I put the oats in a huge mixing bowl. I heated the syrup, vanilla, butter in a sauce pan until hot and mixed. This was poured over the oats and tossed until evenly coated. I figure since it makes a gazillion servings of morning cereal, its about a half teaspoon of butter and probably about a scant teaspoon or less of syrup (20 calories of syrup or less) per serving. The rest is oats and fiber and traces of dried fruit scattered through. Lots of healthy! Anyway, once coated, the oats are baked at 300 for 40 min, tossed again, and baked another 25 minutes. Then once cooled, the dried fruits are stirred in.

(Karen scarfed two cups to take to BFF TiJae and I took a cup to Karene to sample! That's a 12 inch tall container, 6 inches wide....still lots left!)

Yum. Looks pretty on the counter too, and it's a good snack compared to the Pringles hiding in the pantry.

I got to attend a machine quilting class at Timeless_Quilts taught by Ruth Blanchet. What a delight she is! (not to mention a walking encyclopedia of knowlege and techniques, etc!)

(Here we are in the classroom. Notice the flag quilt on the wall.... That one made Yvette drool! The walls are covered with some of the most beautiful pieces - Ruth's work is just indescribable! If you get a chance to run by the shop, DO!!)

Karene, Yvette and I were the only three in the class! Below is a picture of the sample piece we worked on, with different techniques.

If you embiggen the pic above, and look for the red arrows, the number of bars in the line of the arrow corresponds with the technique listed below:

1. We took freezer paper, cut out a shape, ironed it (shiny side down, please!) onto our fabric and free-motion stitched around it. Then, to make it show more, we used a smaller stipple stitch around that shape. Me likee, but me needs practice.

2. We aimed for something in the realm of a quarter inch inside the squares and stitched each block, individually. Lots of starting and stopping, which for yours truly, the obsessive one, means a lot of burying threads and/or somehow trying to disguise my stops/starts. Cos I am weird that way. Me likee less, but I see the usefulness for items that I make like table runners or maybe even masterpiece quilts where I really want that level of pretty detail (and have a few drinks nearby).

3. Echo quilting attempt using free motion quilting. The goal was to closely match, I believe, the initial shape of what I was quilting around, the first time, and then with each successive evenly spaced (oops!) row, to somewhat lessen the sharpness or clarity of the shape and round it out a bit.... Okay. Me likee, when Ruth does it on her quilts. Her pieces are truly works of art, just gorgeous, every one! I am fully aware that I need practice and could get better; and I will try it from time to time, but it's not really my favorite.... By the time we were done, however, it was growing on me!

4. Oh yeah! Familiar territory. A grid, either marked with masking tape, or penciled on with washable quilt marker.... This is one of my favorites!

5. Free motion, following a penciled on (washed out later) design. This is really fun. I see lots of this in my future.... along with lots of P3 (practice! practice! practice!)

All in all, a WONDERFUL class, super teacher - and I expect I will be checking out her on-line classes pretty soon! Neat concept! Take a class when you can, even the middle of the night! I bought a beautiful table runner pattern of Ruth's... can't WAIT to start that one!! (2014?!)


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Britain's done it again!

Go here....


Please listen to the whole thing! Yvette shared this with me this morning (I hardly ever watch TV and if it weren't for people sharing stuff like this with me, I'd be completely in the dark!) and I've listened to it three times now!

She's AMAZING. She made me cry. My crusty husband who doesn't really go for this stuff, LOVED IT. She is 47 years old, so spunky and determined and a bit awkward and cute and absolutely endearing.... and man, what a set of pipes!

The whole thing reminded me of Paul_Potts when he won (last year?) What amazing talent! Such ordinary folks with their extraordinary dreams, and they open their mouths and you just drop your jaw in awe!

Thanks, Yvette!

Friday, April 10, 2009


I think I'm going to have to amend the soil in the garden again. It appears to still be too clay-ish to support garden vegetables. The seedlings did great for a week and then, they just froze in place. No bigger, slightly yellow-tinged, and the roots don't look healthy. This time, after looking at a LOT of gardening information online, I'm thinking I must turn more compost in, at least 10-12 inches deep. I had not gone that deeply last time.

Let's is two rows, 4-6 feet wide, and about 48+ feet long. At 8 feet a whack, in 12 days, I could be done turning it.

If I restart seeds this weekend, I could be transplanting seedlings by April 25th. That's not too late in the season for SoCal.

Great. I get to do it all again! :(

But seriously. The hard part One of the hard parts is done. The terracing and board placement is already accomplished.
"All" I have to do is turn over the soil, and work in the compost more deeply. I'm $100.00 worth of supplies into this, and it will take maybe another $8-10 of additional seeds (and a lot of energy shoveling) to do it all again. At the other end MAY be, a lot of vegetables!

Okay. I start tomorrow.

And somewhere along the way, I plan to make one or two of these guys to hang in the rows, along with a scarecrow or two, and maybe a plastic owl too! Just for cute and just for scaring off some pesky blue jays that have been munching on my seedling flats of flowers! Is he not the cutest tinman? One version I saw online included a heart painted in the appropriate spot - mine will definitely have that!