Friday, April 30, 2010

Family - I Love 'Em!

My sisters and my mother probably won't be too happy with me for posting this photo, but it's a recent photo of the 4 of us at a tearoom - I love this photo! One sister and I live on the east coast and my mother and other sister live in Texas. Though we talk and email every single day we don't get to see each other very often. Usually twice a year. Usually once a year my mother will come to my house and stay for several weeks, my sister in Texas usually vacations here, then recently we've started making a trip to Texas for a week at least once a year. As kids my sisters and I were not particularly close - that 3-4 years difference in age is sooooooo big when you're a kid, but now it make zero difference. We have become so very close as we've "matured". hahahaha I love my sisters dearly. My mother, God bless her, will be 83 in a few short weeks and is going strong. Good for her. I hope to be going strong at 83. I feel so fortunate to be part of a close and loving family; they are my support system and laughingly put up with my eccentricites. When one is in trouble we circle the wagons. When one has something to celebrate we all celebrate in a big way.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Getting Lost In My Garden

Actually, getting lost in my thoughts in my garden is probably a more appropriate way of saying it. I can putter for hours and hours and still want to do more. I want to plant, I want to weed, I want to trim, I want to clean, I want to dig, I want to water, I want to get dirt under my nails ... and then I just want to stand back and look. My garden is an ever-evolving entity that captures my attention and thoughts. Any worries seem to slip away while I'm in my garden.

The plant I couldn't name in my previous blog is a heleoestes - it's an annual and is pink foliage with a little bit of green in it. I thought the color would be pretty in the shade garden.

The night time temps are to remain above 50 so it's time to move the staghorn fern to the great outdoors for its extended summer vacation.

These photos are of my shade garden - this is only its 2nd year so it's still a baby garden, but I can already envision how lush and beautiful it will look when it is mature.

Some of the gals at work are bringing to me cuttings from their rose bushes so I can try to propagate them. Free plants are always good.

I can't wait to get home each day to my "burrow" and my garden. I think that's the sign of a wonderful home, don't you?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Planting! I love digging in the dirt

I just dropped $50 plus at Lowe's buying MORE plants. There is just something about taking home a live plant and placing it somewhere in my garden, then nurturing it and watching it [hopefully] grow. It gives me a feeling of peace and contentment. It gives me a feeling of achievement.

My herb and veggie garden is very basic - I'm planting only the things I use a lot of, otherwise I'll buy products at the Farmer's Market. I'm planting tomatoes, yellow squash, basil, rosemary, parsley, oregano, thyme, chives and until it gets too hot, some lettuces. Corn and beans and the like will come from local farmers at the Farmer's Market.

I also picked up a few more plants to add to my shade garden - a few more caladiums, a holly fern, and a ___________.

After this planting I'll begin the fun task of propagating the hydrangeas and Christmas cactuses.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Christmas Cactus - Propagating

This may be the easiest plant ever to propagate. But first, a story about the Christmas cactus in this photo.

About 10 years ago, during the holiday season, my son asked for a Christmas cactus. The request kind of surprised me because he was only 8-9 years old at the time. Anyway, I wanted to fulfill his request but for some reason Christmas cactuses were hard to come by that year. I searched and searched and finally found a small Christmas cactus that was almost dead and had zero blooms on it - it was at a nursery and was tucked back in a corner of their greenhouse. It was priced at $6 or $7 but I asked them if they would take a couple of bucks for it since it was so pitiful looking. They said yes and I brought the plant home.

I have to tell you, my son was not impressed! hahaha I watered the plant and parked it in my kitchen/dining area which gets bright sun from a westward-facing window.

That little plant flourished! And after a couple of years it bloomed - in the middle of summer. It has bloomed at Easter. It has bloomed at Valentine's. It has bloomed in September. It finally seems to have itself straightened out and now blooms between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The plant now measures a little over 36" across and puts on a spectacular show during the first bloom. It is blooming again now, for the 3rd time this year.

Propagating these plants - simply break off a 2 or 3 piece segment and plant the cutting in moist vermiculite (I use styrofoam coffee cups for the pots). Do this in May and keep the vermiculite damp. I place all of the cuttings outside in the shade garden and they just walk the dog. By the first part of September they are rootbound in their little 3" pots and I repot them in 5" pots with Miracle Grow soil where they continue to grow at an amazing pace. Most of the cuttings I propagate bloom the first year - I guess bringing them in from the outside to the sunroom simulates the environment they need for blooming.

I have a collection of 5 different colors of Christmas cactus and love to plant 3-5 colors in each pot - when they bloom it's a pretty and interesting show.

Last year I propagated 20 pots of Christmas cactuses and gave them all away as gifts except for one. This year I plan to do at least 25. The adult cactuses benefit from the pruning.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

My Shade Garden - It's In Its Infancy ...

This photo was taken 2 weeks ago and the plants were barely visible. I can't believe how much they've grown in the week I've been on vacation - I'll post some new photos soon. It will take years for this shade garden to mature and there is so much I want to add to it - it's hard to pace myself.

My goal for this week is to propagate about 20 hydrangeas - hoping that 10-12 will actually root. One side of the shade garden will be nothing but hydrangeas and hostas. I love adding little elements of whimsy to the area, too.

The area also becomes a "nursery" for the Christmas cactuses that I will propagate - this year I plan to propagate 25 or so - they make great gifts to give to friends and last year I enjoyed the plants that bloomed with 2 or 3 color blossoms in one pot. I'll create more of those this year.

It will be a joy to watch this area grow over the summer months.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Quilt That Took 75+ Years To Make

Linking to:

This pattern was very popular during the Depression and is called Sunbonnet Sue. It is applique and there are a gazillion different versions of Sunbonnet Sue. Most of these quilts were made from whatever little scraps of fabric the ladies had hanging around, or from old feed sacks, damaged/worn out clothing, etc.

My grandmother made these Sunbonnet Sue blocks around 1930. My mother had them and had pretty much forgotten about them until 3 years ago. Thankfully they had been lovingly stored in her cedar chest and she remembered them and asked me if I wanted to see them. Well of course! So she got them out and we inspected them. Overall they were in terrific shape. A few little tiny stains that give the blocks character ... a few places where the embroidery needed to be repaired ... the blocks needed to be squared up and cut to a uniform size. Then we assembled the blocks using some 1930's replica depression era fabric for the sashings/borders and binding.

This was truly a quilt from the heart and I love to look at it and know that 3 generations of women (my grandmother, my mother, myself) had a part in making it come to life. My grandmother passed away 20 years ago, but I'm sure she is smiling about this quilt.

Irish Chain Quilt?

This is a simple 9-patch pattern that I believe becomes the Irish Chain pattern when you put all the 9-patch blocks together - not sure on that. However, there is an interesting story behind this quilt. I made this quilt for my ex-husband. ??? What? Actually, we may be divorced but we're still friends so I wanted to make a quilt for him. During a shop hop event I found these boxes of 3.5" pre-cut fabric squares on sale - a big sale. There were over a hundred squares in each box I purchased and all the colors were dark which looked masculine to me. Pair it with a beautiful white fabric and the dark colors just pop. I have to tell you, he was very surprised to get this quilt. I asked him if he uses it and he said no because he's afraid he'll get it dirty. Geezzz ....

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

These are a couple of quilted wall hangings I've made - the one with the hens is called Sister Chicks 1 and I gave it to my sister, Shelley. Each hen represents one of the 3 sisters - and each hen is sporting beaded "jewelry" in their birthstone color. This was a pattern that I purchased. I have Sister Chicks 2 waiting in the wings to make.

The other wall hanging was inspired by an art card that was given to me by my friend Kahla after her visit to St. John's Harbour in Newfoundland - it is of the crooked houses of St. John's Bay. I love the card so much so I used it as a guide for making this wall hanging - all applique and it consists of a gazillion little teeny tiny pieces! A piece of tulle has been quilted onto the top of this piece to help protect all of those little pieces.

Both wall hangings won an award at the Pamlico River Quilters' Guild 2008 show.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Oh, And Speaking Of Knitting

Over the past 6 months I've re-taught myself to knit using the continental method instead of my very clunky Sally method. It's been hard to make myself refuse to go back to my old ways, and gradually, very gradually, I'm getting a bit faster at the continental method. Teaching an old dog a new trick, though, has been challenging ...

Knitted Washcloths

Google "knitted dishcloth patterns" and you'll get a ton of responses - for free patterns! The dragonfly pattern in this photo is one of my favorites. They are super easy and fast to knit up. Pair a washcloth with a beautiful bar of soap and give it as a gift - this gift is so appreciated! I've made over a dozen of these. It's also a good way to practice new stitches - maybe a lace pattern or a cable. I use the inexpensive Sugar & Cream cotton yarn; it knits up beautifully and comes in so many pretty colors. I've done the dragonfly several times, a fish, a rose, a lighthouse, a martini glass, a flamingo, the letter "S" and the letter "H", a hummingbird ... no kidding, there are a gazillion free patterns out there.


What gal doesn't like accessories? That is the name of this quilt. It is about the size of a lap quilt and the idea was inspired from a photo in QuiltMaker magazine, I think. This is another piece that was made entirely from my fabric stash. I machine quilted this one myself. It is heavily embellished with beads and I was so surprised with how much weight the beads added to the piece. If I were to make another piece similar to this I would do a few things differently, specifically each pair of shoes, each purse, and each flower would be unique.

One Of My Favorite Quilted Wall Hangings

Actually, they're all my favorite or I wouldn't have made them! This one is called "Nordstrom's Christmas Window" because it was inspired by a photograph of Nordstrom's of Seattle's window decorated for Christmas several years ago. I found the photo in a photo collection essay on the ABC News website. As soon as I saw the photo I thought that it would make a lovely wall hanging. The fabrics all came from my fabric stash. It is an applique design. The "snow flakes" are made from white flannel. I hand quilted this piece and embellished it with lots of beads for a bit of bling. It's a little larger than a poster size. This wall hanging won first place at the Pamlico River Quilters' Guild in Washington, NC in 2008.

Sometimes I'm inspired to design a quilt from off-the-wall photos, and this was one of those times.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Plant Chandelier

I love love love this plant chandelier. The original chandelier was very plain - it was in the cottage my sister recently bought. She replaced it with a more updated fixture and gave this to me. I think the outdoor sitting areas with a cute chandelier over them are just precious but knew that would not work in my garden. I thought about just using candles in it and hanging it in my garden but that also wasn't practical. However, ripping out the electrical guts, repainting the whole thing, adding some painted tomato cans filled with planted begonias ... now that would work. It adds a bit of whimsy to my shade garden.

Another Unique Journal Idea

I think this idea came from a recent issue of Country Living magazine. Anyway, it's an old book that is filled with paper that would have been thrown away at work. What's fun about making these journals is the book titles! For instance, the title of this book is "The Whole Truth and Nothing But" - isn't that a fabulous title for a personal journal? Of course, some folks might get peeved at me about defacing a book but honestly, it was in pretty bad shape otherwise I wouldn't have been able to buy it for pennies. So the book cost pennies, the rings cost pennies, the scrap paper was free - sounds like a deal to me! I'm on the hunt for more cheap-o books with neat titles. To make this, take the guts out of a book - you want only the front and back covers and the title from the spine. I sealed the cut end with duct tape. Cut paper to the size needed, clamp everything together and drill holes. Add the rings. Viola! A very personal journal.

A Great Blog with Photography Lessons Taking Place has had 3 blog postings in recent weeks about how to get the most from your point & shoot digital camera. The lessons are presented in layman terms so even I can understand them. So far she's talked about tripods, lighting, and photo enhancing software. It's worth taking a quick jump to her blog to look at the lessons.

Scrapbooks - they're more than just scrapbooks

I'm not a serious scrapbooker, though I think it's a fabulous hobby, and I have made a few scrapbooks.

The first scrapbook I've made is still a work in progress. It is how I document every single quilted item I've made. I write down the name of the quilt, when it was made, if it was entered in any shows and won any awards, who the quilt was given to, what inspired the quilt, any little quirks about that particular quilt, etc. I love to occasionally leaf through that scrapbook and get my memory cells working ...

My son has been fortunate enough to travel a bit with his father so I have made scrapbooks for each of these trips - last year he went to Israel, Germany and Holland with his father and I'll admit that I have yet to make that particular scrapbook though I do have all the photos, ticket stubs, brochures, receipts, etc. that they brought back - I just need to find the time to sit down and assemble the scrapbook. Maybe this summer ... I've made scrapbooks for his trips to South Africa, Venezuela, Germany, and Philadelphia. While these scrapbooks may not mean much to him right now (he's a teenager, 'nuff said), I know one day they will.

Sometimes a scrapbook doesn't have to be a traditional scrapbook. I started a "journal" of projects that I've seen that I would like to make one day. The journal contains photos and directions for more projects than I will ever be able to make but I have made a few. I then take photos of the finished product and add them to the journal along with information about how I made the item, problems I may have encountered, cost, if I gave it away as a gift.

The idea for the journals came from a Martha Stewart show - they are simply the black/white composition books you can buy at Walmart. They are then covered with pretty scrapbooking paper (or you could use wrapping paper). I use some of the pretty color duct tapes for the binding. I have found that sealing the edges with clear scotch tape helps to keep them pretty, especially if they're heavily used like mine. You can also use this same idea for covering plain little cheap-o memo pads. They make terrific little give-aways, and who can't use something to jot down notes (or poems or song lyrics or memories).

My friend Laura and I have gotten together twice to make journals - they are fast, easy, fun and cheap to make. We have a ball making them. If you make any of these journals save the left over paper - it can be used for smaller projects, or you can make bookmarks, or you can use the left over paper to make gift tags.

I think it's so important to keep a record of the things that you make. Once you give things away it can be difficult to not only remember the details of that project (my memory is terrible) but also to get a photo after-the-fact.

Quilts! Quilts! Quilts! and other projects

For me, working on a quilt can be one of the most rewarding activities, or, as I've recently discovered, it can be one of the most frustrating activities.

Normally what drives me to make a quilt is 1) gorgeous fabric that I just can't resist then I'll design a quilt around the fabric, 2) creating a quilt to give to someone specific as a gift, 3) an inspiration photo, or 4) the desire to try a new quilting technique. I'm sure there are other reasons but those are the ones that come to mind right now.

However, at this point in time I'm working on a quilt for my mother and my heart just isn't in it so it has become quite a frustrating project. I'm not really sure why, either, because I love the pattern and the fabric. Oh well, after much procrastination it is finally coming together and despite all my whining and complaining about it, it is going to be lovely. I still need to add the borders to it but at this point the bulk of the work is over and I feel that I'm home free. I need some feedback from my mother regarding the final size of the quilt which is why the borders will have to be added in a few days.

While I was working on this quilt last night I was mulling over my frustration at this project and came to the conclusion that the frustration stems from the fact that this is not a quilt I would have elected to make on my own. Which is exactly why I won't agree to make quilts, or anything else for that matter, for money - at that point it becomes work and is no longer fun to me. While working on this quilt I kept stopping to make two baby quilts - the baby quilts I wanted to make ...

My frustration at this quilt also comes from the fact that I've had to put down other projects that I really want to do in order to get this one completed.

Okay, now I just sound like a spoiled child ...

My frustration at this quilt will end tonight because at the end of the evening I will be able to see the finished piece (well, I'll still need to add the borders but that's a piece of cake). This quilt will be machine quilted so it will be off my plate then. When it comes back from the machine quilter all I'll need to do is add the binding and that happens to be one of my favorite parts of any quilt.

Explanation of these photos - the train quilt is a baby quilt I'm making for a friend and co-worker. The dog quilt is also for a co-worker who is expecting his first grandson. And the pink/green/ivory quilt is the one I'm making for my mother.

Other quilting projects that are waiting in the wings - a foundation paper pieced quilt my cousin and I are making together for my sister, a wall hanging for my other sister, a cathedral window quilt for my son that I just work on occasionally, an origami flower quilt that has me a little perplexed but I'll work through it, and a multitude of ideas rattling around in my brain that are just waiting their turn to be created.

Besides quilting projects, I have many other project want-to-do's ... gardening projects, furniture projects, house redecorating projects ... There are so many things I want to do that I sometimes feel discombobulated. That is when I stop and make a list and see what floats to the top of the list. And that tiny step towards organization helps me see where I need to go next.

So in addition to quilting and gardening, what is coming to the top of the list is naming each room in my house and creating a beautiful sign for each room ... Not only do houses need names, room do it. For instance, doesn't it sound so much more fun to say, "That belongs in the Garden Room" instead of "That belongs in the bedroom at the end of the hall on the right."?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sally's Burrow - The First Post

This blog will be about my home, my many sewing and crafting projects, my garden, my canine and feline companions, and my passion for creating.

The sweet little guy in this photo is Charleston, an 8-month old terrier-something. He has recently joined our family, much to my old cat's dismay. While my old cat (Lucky) may not be so happy about this decision, I most certainly am because so far not a day has gone by that Charleston hasn't managed to do something to make me laugh.

I follow a number of blogs that focus on decorating on the cheap, repurposing what some may consider junk into something useful and fun, decorating homes, and such. I admire the creativity and passion of these bloggers.

"Repurposing" does not come naturally to me. It is not my first inclination to look at something and envision it as something else, or in a different color, or turned on its side, and so on and so forth. I'm trying to develop this skill, and a skill is exactly what it is. So, I will use this blog to share that adventure with you.

I'm also an avid quilter and would love to share this passion with you as well. I'll post photos and explain the purpose and origination of various quilts.

I named my house The Burrow. I chose that name for a couple of reasons. First, I love my home. It is a pleasure to come home to my burrow and "burrow" in for the evening. Second, I think rabbits are so cute and have a number of rabbit-related things scattered about my home and garden.

I think everyone should name their home; it will give your home its own personality.