Sunday, February 28, 2016

cleaning out a closet

So, today was the day.
The day I emptied one daughter's closet of her stuff.
It at the moment fills the living room...so she can go through it when she comes...in a day or two.
In the shelves that housed her stuff....blankets, pillows and bedspreads....
I can't show you pictures here...it's too scary and messy! But, at this juncture of our lives, it's time for the girls who have moved out ages ago, to take their stuff.....
So, now the guest room will have wrapping stuff in the closet and blankets!
And then there is the other closet, the other daughter's closet, which when cleaned out can make my craft room's closet more organized! I might be able to see my fabrics more clearly...oh, it makes me giddy!
How many of you have craft rooms??
Do you have grown children that have stuff still there?
Am I alone here?
Well, they are stepping up and helping out....
Pictures may follow....
Nancy

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Another Baby Quilt Order

Well, I had a request for a baby quilt, so this one is a mixed Irish chain with the open squares filled with an appliqué.
I purchased the appliqués as I am not fond of making them, and the theme for it was supposed to be "jungle" for a girl.
I got the appliqués from an Etsy vendor, Patchwork Mommy. They are truly darling appliqués (I couldn't make these)....
The only caveat was that the iron-on glue, would pop off after a few days. So, they had to be stitched on. Not an easy task, but do-able.
I think it turned out pretty darn cute....I think mom and baby will be pleased....





The free motion quilting was fun on this one....I treated each square differently, and made it playful. The border is a growing vine all around..
The trimmed pieces you see in the first photo...that became the binding since I have the Accuquilt cutter for 2 1/2" strips....best purchase of all the Accuquilt cutters! I can make my own binding and jellyrolls!
The appiques really Pop off the quilt and are more 3D made this way...
The fabric is Bloom and Blossom, purchased from Missouri Star Quilt Company....one of my faves!
Hope you have a great day.
Nancy

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sunday is Gardening day

It is spring here in Southern California. Not other way to see it. Yeah, we might get some more rain, but spring is here....the peach tree started blooming early, but it always does, so I paused. Then, yesterday I noticed the apricots are both starting...they are the true markers. If they bloom it must be spring!
So, I have a date with the garden.
The kale is done....
We had dear friends for dinner last night, and I harvested the last of the good kale and created a kale and arugula with pear salad last night....it was pretty tasty. However, the kale got attacked by aphids and other bugs...so it's time. It is not a warm weather plant....
Then, the parsley has gone to seed as has the arugula and cilantro. Parsley I can dehydrate and keep dried for ages...not so much the cilantro....


Beds will be cleared and revitalized for new crops and then.......
I will move out front....


Along with these plants that need a little tending...I will be planting the tomato boxes. Yes, I am.
It is time since I will be planting from seed.
Last year the best tomatoes were the ones from seed. Directly planted where they would live they grew big and strong...I will plant 5 varieties...one in each box...so I will keep you up to date on those.
Have a great weekend.
Nancy

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Craft Room ....now

Well, after Valentine's Day...I actually worked on laundry and other things. Then, Hubby went one day with a friend to a special show he wanted to see at a museum. I took that time to clean and organize. That's when it hit me.....I couldn't stand working in the craft room.....
It has gone through a few transitions...
 If you remember, from way back, this corner cupboard started the snowball effect...I couldn't use it and it was taking space...so out it moved....
 The sewing table moved for a while to this wall as you come in....but that bothered me because you practically ran into it as you entered the room...so it moved to this wall.....
 For months, I've been wanting to get rid of the twin bed in this room, and it will happen, one day....
See?? What a cluttered mess! Yes, the corner cupboard got a new home, thanks to craigslist...
And the other day, while Hubby was away....I moved the big armoire (it's on wheels folks!) into the corner on the left side...the toy box moved out to the garage (that's another story)... and the bed moved into the right hand corner.
I spent all day on the project. I gave away dozens of pieces of fabric...yes I did. I purged. I got rid of so much I am proud of myself! I cleaned up and organized and today...the craft room looks like this...
 This is the way it looks right now...still a touch cluttered...but I work here....
 Here is the view as you walk in...far better...though I am still wanting to get rid of the bed.....

And this is the wall by the door....better, yes?? I was going to remove the window, but it gives the feeling of another window...at least to me...and I like it, I just cleared most of the things that were hanging on it....
Ah....I feel better...I know it still needs a little something....(a big something gone might help)...
Why isn't the bed gone?
Well, when Hubby and I have bad backs, how are we going to get it out?? It is an old bed and bed boxspring and metal frame....I can arrange for the city to get it...when it's out by the trash...but it has to get there first. That requires backs and arms...maybe one day....In the meantime....it is where I can layout small quilts....
Hope your day goes well..
Nancy

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Magnificent Valentine's Day

Ah, Valentine's Day.....a time to share something special with your loved one.
My Hubby went over the top on this one....
We started the Friday before with a evening VIP trip to Odysesso (Cavalia)...the wonderful traveling spectacle of horses and men....65 horses, 11 breeds! It was wonderful...we had dinner from a huge buffet under a big tent with free flowing drinks....
Then, two hours (with an intermission where we could go get drinks and dessert) of sheer amazing stunts and acrobats. The whole thing is somewhat mind boggling. The magnitude of logistics to move such a show is beyond comprehension...really and if you have a chance...go see it.
Then, on Sunday, Valentine's proper....I got up and made Hubby Swedish pancakes filled with raspberries and whipped cream...
He got two of those...this one is mine....pretty filling....
Then, for the day we went out to look at new recliners...we want ones that look like club chairs but are recliners....Boy! I tell ya, it is hard to find something worthy....
Then, we came back and cleaned up the patio and it was so nice out, we decided to eat out....so I pulled out some fabric I had picked up and it worked as a tablecloth for that huge (120") table now in the backyard.
And when he was ready I made us a tomato salad with a slice and a half from a yellow heirloom tomato.....

I served it on leaves of arugula with a fig/vanilla balsamic dressing sprinkled with parmesan and chopped parsley....it was pretty yum.....
While we ate our salad, we steamed some asparagus on the burner of the BBQ.

Then, we pulled out the lobsters that we bought at Costco on Saturday (they were already cooked)...and I had split the underside. He threw the lobsters on the grill for 2.5 minutes and then turned them and cooked them underside down for about 1.5 minutes. It was perfectly done.
The whole meal was pretty awesome and delightful outside....
Dessert was leftover "crepes" with melted chocolate and whipped cream. Very delicious.
Hope your Valentine's Day was lovely.
Nancy

Friday, February 12, 2016

Out In The Garden

Our weather has been very unseasonably warm here in Southern California. So much so, that the birds have arrived. I was awakened by birds attacking the little mirror out front and another looking for a nesting spot. Yes, an early spring!
Unfortunately, it is still a drought year. Good thing I figured it might be, and have planned my planting accordingly. Almost all my plants are drought tolerant, once established. You see, it doesn't have to be cactus and succulents....my biggest pet peeve lately. Everyone giving up their lawns and gardens to gravel and succulents.
I have a parkway garden that has been established now for about 10 years or so, it blooms and is beautiful. It gets drip system spray once a week. Period.
The rest of my garden is adjusting....what dies is not replaced with the same but with something that is considered a native plant or drought tolerant. There is a surprising list of plants you can plant that are blooming and beautiful, if you just look.
One of my favorite sites is Annies Annuals (not just annuals)....they are primo! Today I received a shipment and was able to open the box and go plant them....which is totally awesome!
What did I plant??
Well, for starters,


 Digiplexis "Illumination Flame"....a perennial "foxglove" that apparently did well in 2012 Chelsea flower show. Adaptable to many different gardens, sun, no sun etc. and it needs average water....
I also ordered Digiplexis "illumination Raspberry"....should be beautiful around here soon.
Then there is Orlaya grandiflora "MinoanLace" which comes from Crete, a "go with everything" plant that has 4-5" pure white flowers. self sows...and isn't fussy....my kind of plant. 

I also ordered and received Platystemon californicus "cream cups" a type of native....should be great.
Yes, they need water to get going....time for all that water we stored....200 gallons of rain water.

I also ordered seeds from a company that sells from Etsy! Garden4butterflies
Poke milkweed (Asclepsis exaltata), Bush's coneflower (echinacea paradox), Common milkweed (asclepius syriaca), Showy milkweed (asclepius speciosa), and orange coneflower (rudbeckia fulgida)...

Why so many milkweeds?? Well, monarch and other butterflies are running out of plants on which to feed and breed. Monarchs only lay eggs on milkweed...no milkweed....no monarchs! Here in Southern California monarchs winter....which means they need food etc. Some actually stay year round. And of course, there are other butterflies too which benefit from milkweed....so we'll need lots!

Early fall I planted some African milkweed and before I knew it they were bare of leaves and I had about 13 caterpillars of different sizes feeding on them. Birds ate most of the caterpillars...sadly, however, after hanging some lace in the tree to scare birds off we successfully hatched some monarchs. That made me a firm believer that it was more than necessary...especially since if you drive down my street there are fewer and fewer gardens. I keep telling Hubby that I too will leave if more of the desert gardens (with no taste) go in. Our garden is an oasis of sorts to hundreds of birds and butterflies....
Another benefit of milkweed?? Once established it is in most varieties drought tolerant and a native plant....

The rest of my garden has adjusted to being watered once a week. You can train your plants to adjust. It is also helpful to water granules that absorb water and then slowly release it back into the soil.
I  have done this with most of the pots around the house. There are pittosporums on the side of the house in pots with water granules, those plants get watered every other week! 
Yes, I have lost many plants in the last year...a couple of fussy roses, a small tree and a few other small plants....but, most of the garden has learned to adjust...I have a very happy peach out front that just finished blooming (told you it was an early spring) and has little peaches on it. 
The blueberries....most died and early death due to drought...they aren't particularly drought tolerant...but I do have 5 left...and they are blooming and setting! Not bad out of 10....
I actually lost several lavenders....however, I didn't water enough to get them off to a good start...there wasn't rain in the rain barrels at the time.

We've added two rain barrels now....we have 4...and are now planning for a fifth....yup we are.
In any case, I can't emphasize how important gardens are! Not just veggie gardens that give us healthy veggies with no pesticides or inorganic fertizliers...but also flowers to beauty and for the wildlife. 
If you are considering redoing your yard to make it "drought tolerant" please do research. Go to the Annie's Annuals site for info on plants that make your garden not only beautiful but helps the world around you. 
Nurseries such as Rogers Gardens that can guide you to put in more than just succulents. Yes, you can garden on limited water ...it takes a little more dedication and planning....but it can be done!
And no, you don't have to be an expert...there are experts out there to help.....
In any case...have a great day....go garden! (and if you are where it is cold and snowy, plan your garden....)
Nancy

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Contest

I don't usually enter contests....but I did Tuesday. Just before going shopping with my friend to look for treasure....
You see, our patio is drab. Drab, with a capital D.
It is old and worn out...function but not fun.
Last year we hardly used it as the weather was too hot.....
The contest is from Lowe's and French Country Cottage...a blog I read every morning. I read lots of blogs everyday, they are my newspaper.
Anyway, she and few other bloggers are working with Lowe's to do contests that give you a chance to fix a space, in a day.....and I chose the patio.
I know, I fixed it up a few years ago, but really? It is not pretty. I know it's "winter" but here in So. Calif. it is 89 degrees and cold at night...(54 is cold here).
 See? It's ugly. The old cracked patio....the drabness. I'd love new patio seating...other than at the table....I'd adore ( have wanted for 26 years) a patio cover....The table is handmade by Hubby (so I love it) but the chairs are his Grandmothers and honestly...cumbersome and her old table off to the left that we use as a "buffet" well, its so rusted that it will quite honestly fall apart one day.
I hate the umbrellas, did I mention I want a patio cover?? They are lovely for the first few weeks, then with birds...well...you know what they do to it. Don't get me wrong, I love birds, and encourage them....they really have no where else to go...I'm one the die hard gardeners in the area...everyone seems to be going to gravel and succulents....
Anyway, see the fountain? I adore it. It was something we got for our 35th anniversary...so not matter what it stays!
Will I win the contest? Probably not....but it is fun the day dream...right??
I do hope you have a great day.
Nancy

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Baby Quilt

Ok, so we had a Super Bowl Party on Sunday....Hubby wanted to have people over. Who would've guessed he was so social?? So, I couldn't quilt on Sunday as I had planned.....
But come Monday, I got to work.....
And I have to say work it was!
Four broken needles, and many broken threads later.....





Why so many broken needles?? Well, the first one was due to the thread getting caught under the bobbin winder guide....
The rest probably from the quilt pulling against the needle.....afterall, free motion quilting is somewhat fickle....
Everything you see is all free motion and free hand...no stencils, no lines....
I used the wool batting to give a bit more plush....hence the puffiness...
And I discovered that when it is Santa Ana winds here in Southern California....don't do sewing of this magnitude...the lack of moisture may have been part of my problem...
I was using silk thread, which being a natural fiber, it may not have had as much resiliency in sewing, thus the broken threads and perhaps some of the issue with broken needles...along with the quilt itself pulling on the needle. I also changed the free motion foot three quarters of the way through to a different one that kept a different pressure on the fabric. That was weird....perhaps I need a new free motion open toe foot....it's been fine even with a wool batting...but I do quilt....a great deal...maybe it's worn out??
In any case, I like the puffiness of the quilt...and think it turned out ok. I wanted to do more quilting to it, but with the issues I was having and my back was grumpy, so I finished with what I had....
Next stop is binding.....
What do you think??
Have a great day??
Nancy

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Rest of the Story

Well, here are some leftover random shots from party and prep..
 Cheese and crackers....
 This is the counter where I had appetizers for guests as they arrived...after all, people do not always arrive on time....                                    


These are the 12 chicken breasts that I put into the oven....I had a hard time getting chicken with skin...but just a little skin and bones, helps flavor meat and keep it moist when you are doing courses and feeding a large group.
 This is the raspberry crisp...dessert after.....served with ice cream....I had to adjust the recipe I found to account for gluten free and dairy free....it worked....but I did have doubts.....(ice cream fixes everything).
These are the gravy boats....not used for sauce....but this time for dressing as there were so many likes and dislikes for dressing.....
So, did it work??
Well, my daughter said it was awesome....and friends said yes.
For me, well, I was so busy serving and clearing and making sure everyone had what they needed...I am quite numb.
I would recommend having platters next time, let the guests take what they wanted (though that could be a problem if they took two breasts...)...I felt with such a big table it was hard to get around to everyone....took too much time to serve. After all, we don't have footmen, or butlers.
Also, when I set the table, it was actually awkward, saying now pass your salad plate so I can serve you your salad.
It made a delightful presentation of the table, but next time....leave the plates off and just serve each course....
The chargers worked, but if you leave plates off then you don't need them....
So, if you are thinking about table settings and all....unless you are having servers....don't worry.
The point is, we were acting as servers ourselves and the cooks for "a restaurant feel"...for our daughter's birthday....so we hit that on the head. However, if there is a big event in the future....we either catering or going out.....
So, I'm off to wash the rest of the dishes that didn't get  into the dishwasher and those that have to washed by hand.
Have a great day.
Nancy

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Putting the Pieces Together

Today is the day!
My eldest daughter turns 35! Wow! Where did the time go??
Well, it's the party tonight...so it's time to put all the pieces of the puzzle that I have been planning and collecting together....
 The tablecloth was rented....and flowers were cared for to keep them alive....then wrapped with the elegant burlap....
 Then chargers, plates, napkins, salad plates were added, then the glasses started to assemble...as if by magic (that is what happens when you plan and organize weeks in advance...)...

 We used a water goblet, a multi-use wine glass, and old family heirloom champagne glasses....
 The silverware was also heirloom...my daughter made the placards, and I created a menu....


Here are the amuse bouche dishes ready for service....

And my trusty supervisor making sure I did it all right....
And on to the cooking....
Have a great day!
Nancy