The Green Green Grass of Home

My friend Sue and I got out for a walk yesterday morning. It was the first time we'd walked since last August. We had lovely weather for it, if just a bit chilly. The chill was nice for exercising, and eventually, we were both too warm. The recent rains have certainly been good for the countryside. The wheat was coming up, about 8 inches tall now.

Rounding the first corner of our loop, we came to my most-photographed barn.

And how could I resist taking pictures of every blooming thing? This rhododendron is in bloom. Ours at home (and higher elevation) are barely getting started.

Recently, I upgraded to a new iPhone. The new one has more features on the camera, and I did some experimenting. It still isn't as good as my Nikon point-and-shoot, but it fits conveniently in my pocket, which is an excellent feature.

Take a look at this apple tree. Apple trees are in bloom all over the valley right now.

Here's a close-up.

Also, the tulips are at their best right now.

I'm not sure what kind of a tree this is, but it was lovely.

One of the valley neighbors has added a herd of cows since we last walked this loop.

As we rounded the third corner of our loop, we were treated to this view of the valley and Mt. St. Helens in the background. You can barely see Mt. Rainier to its left. Walking on, we could also see Mt. Adams.

Why did the raccoon cross the road? I don't know, but he left his muddy footprints behind.

Sue had gifts for me from Christmas. I had a few things I picked up along the way for her too. She gave me these kitty slippers, which is kind of a tradition between us.

Also, remember this sign I saw on a bench as Mike and I walked the Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island?

If I'm remembering correctly, I texted this image to Sue and told her I hoped someone would do something like this for us some day. Sue just took the bull by the horns and went ahead with it. Who says you have to die to honor a good friend?

Now I'm thinking we'll get a park bench for our field, which is something I've wanted for a long time, and hang this plaque there.

There was no sewing yesterday except to make a little more progress on the latest Sundress block.

There's just that little bit at the bottom to finish. I'm hoping to finish it up this morning. That tiny chain stitch takes forever.

Now I'm about to tell you a little secret I've been holding on to. Remember that RV we looked at in South Carolina? If not, you can click on that link I just gave you. Well. When the jack on the current RV broke for the third time while we were in New Orleans, Mike called the dealer and put in a special order for a new one.

This morning, he left to drive back to South Carolina to pick it up. Why South Carolina, you ask? Because they gave us the best deal...like a really, really super deal...and so it was worth the drive to purchase it from them. It's a long drive for Mike, but it was the most efficient and cost-effective way to get it back home. Of course, he'll have the RV on the drive back, and so it'll be kind of fun for him to have the whole place to himself on his drive home. (Besides, he can get the kinks worked out while he's at it.) And that means I'll be a feral woman for the next few weeks. I expect I'll get lots of sewing done.


Winning Weather

It was bordering on warm yesterday when I went outside to pull some weeds. Oh my gosh...there are so many weeds. I told Mike it was difficult to tell the forest of weeds from the weeds as big as trees. My goal was to pick three bucketfuls and call it a day. I have the whole summer ahead of me, right? No need to kill myself on the first day. Of course, no session of weed pulling can be complete without the assistance of one's cat.

He kept the squirrels and mousies at bay.

When I committed to three bucketfuls, I should have chosen a smaller bucket. I was using this big industrial-sized bucket, and it was a lot of work. You can see the weeds awaiting my attention there. Yikes.

On this first day out, I took a good long break between each bucket, drank some water, walked around, and by the time I had filled my third bucket, the whole area in front of the house on the left side of the sidewalk was relatively weed free. It was a good day's work.

There's still plenty more to do, but I called it quits for the day. My original plan was to do the culinary herb garden, but that part of the yard gets the afternoon sun. It was a little chilly to be out doing it in the shade, and so I opted for the sunny side of the house. The herbs will have to wait for another day.

After that, I showered and ate some lunch, then got out for a walk around. In my wanderings, I noticed this dark purple hyacinth. This is another one courtesy of the squirrels.

Also, I noticed that the cherry blossoms are just starting to open.

The birds and raccoons always beat us to the cherries, but the tree will be gorgeous when it's in full bloom. Most all the trees are budding out right now, and so we should have some pretty blooming trees within the next week.

After that, I finished up the April block for Tuxedo Tales. This entailed top-stitching and some machine and hand embroidery.

Finishing this block was my April OMG, and so I'll link up when the time comes.

Here are the four blocks I've fini...oh...wait...that's a problem.

We had to review the rules of the sewing room. You stay in this little bed.

I know your rules...I purrfur my own.

I will comply, but only because I'm getting very sleepy.

Okay, so let's try this again. Here are the four blocks I have so far.

Today, I'm walking with my friend Sue. We haven't walked since last August, and so we're both looking forward to meeting for our bowl of oatmeal and then taking a walk around the rural countryside. It's going to be a beautiful day, and so I should have some nice pictures from our walk for you in tomorrow's post.


Good Day, Sunshine

Finally...a day of sunshine! And don't you know we were out in it for a good portion of the afternoon. We had to drop Mike's truck off for a repair in the morning, and then we did our grocery shopping. When we got home, we had lunch, and then Mike took his afternoon nap while I got busy working on the So Yelo mug rug. I was this far when he was ready to get going on the greenhouse clean-up.

It's so good to have Big Bertha back in the sewing room, and may I just say, she's doing a fabulous job.

We didn't have a large tomato crop last year, and so it only took about an hour to have things ship shape. Don't be fooled by this next image...it makes it appear as if the greenhouse extends into next week. Actually, it's about eight feet from the door to the window. A nice size.

All those black cords hanging down are sprinkler heads for the drip irrigation system. When the tomatoes get farther along, we'll put those to work. For now, I have them sitting in old baking sheets. I can add a little water to the baking sheets, and the tomatoes suck it up through their little roots.

These are all Romas...the lone ranger there on the right is a cherry tomato. Today, I'm hoping to get it planted in one of the whiskey barrels in front of the house. When I want cherry tomatoes, I just want to step out the door and eat them where I stand.

Also, we were dealing with bags of potting soil. I have a bin at the far right side of the greenhouse that will hold about a bag of potting soil. We had three bags from an outing last week, and there was some left from last year. Mike emptied as much as he could into the bin, and then I used as much as I could to fill the planters for lettuce and other seeds. Now the lettuce is planted.

I've given up thinking I can remember what is planted where. The seeds are barely covered with soil, and so I cover them with plastic wrap to keep them moist.

Once the seeds have germinated, I'll uncover them. Also, I planted a bunch of other seeds. This year, I'm planting three zucchini plants and lots of sunflowers.

These are the ones I'm going with this year...they're actually the same seeds from last year.

Also, if you've been following for a while, you might recall that I brought back some poppy seeds from the town of Adair in Ireland. I purchased some seeds while we were there and brought them back to the states. These are the ones I saw in Ireland. Pretty, huh?

So anyway...I had some for Mae and some for me. I tried sowing mine directly into the ground, and they didn't come up. Mae has had huge success with them, and so she saved some seeds for me. And all of that to say that I planted some in pots yesterday. Once they've germinated, I'll try transplanting them into the ground. And if they don't come up again, Mae is my dealer. Just sayin'. It's good to have a daughter-in-law with a green thumb.

While we were out yesterday, I noticed that the clematis is getting ready to bloom. A few warm days, and these flowers should open up and put on a show.

So I'm pacing myself on the yard work, and that was all I was up for yesterday. I came back inside and finished up So Yelo. By late afternoon, I had the binding sewn on as well.

I used a metallic thread to stitch the spoked wheels.

We're looking forward to some lovely weather over the next week or so. This morning we could finally see Mt. St. Helens which has been hiding behind the clouds ever since we got home.

Today's agenda includes getting out and pulling weeds. Like I said, I'm going to pace myself, and so I'll start with the culinary herb garden and then see how I feel. When I've pulled my fill of weeds, I'll get back into the sewing room. Next up is the April block for Tuxedo Tales. It still needs top-stitching.


An Afternoon of Sewing

The windshield took less time than expected yesterday morning, and so I had the whole afternoon free for sewing. My first job was to finish off the Chinese Zodiac quilt. This turned out pretty cute, and it was a good use of that What-Was-I-Thinking fabric. I agree with several of you who noted that the kids would love it, and it's also a good quilt for boys, which are sometimes in short supply.

After that, I wanted to check off the "Ugly Blocks" category from my list of categories, and so I got to work on a 16-1/2 inch block for the Facebook Challenge called "Ugly Blocks Rock." The administrators of the group are making quilts from these so-called "ugly blocks" (none of which are ugly), to be sewn into quilts and then donated to different charities. The original stated goal of the group was to make 20 quilts, and I've seen 5 so far. It took me a while to decide on a block, but digging through the archives of PINS (Projects I Never Started), I found a tutorial for this block:

It was the right size, so what the heck? And it took me absolutely forEVER to cut all those scraps and then sew them all into this block:

I had all the cutting and the beginnings of the sewing done before it occurred to me that I'd reversed the white and the blue from the tutorial image. Oh well. It doesn't matter, but I had intended to do it the other way around.

It's kind of a cool block. I think originally I printed off the tutorial thinking I'd use it in a Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I still might, but it did take a long time. I've searched for the original tutorial to link to it, but the link I have goes nowhere now. Also, it's pictured on Pinterest, but that link likewise goes nowhere. The only other hint I had about its origin was a link to a BOM that is now for sale, and so I don't feel comfortable giving out the dimensions for cutting. If you really, really, really want it, email me, and I'll send it to you.

And I'd like to blame the cat for the length of time I spent on that block, but really, he just wanted some catnip, and he was set for life.

Excuuuuuuse me...I think we're expurriencing a dereliction of your duties.

This morning I got started on the latest of the Sundress blocks. It's going fairly quickly, but most of the stitching that's left to do is a tiny chain stitch, and that will make it slow-going.

We're finally seeing a break in the crummy weather. Today we have yet another truck drop-off for some repair...I've forgotten what...we're catching up on little annoyances we experienced while we were traveling. Then, we'll make a trip to the grocery store, and then...drum roll please...we'll be cleaning out the greenhouse to make way for this year's tomato crop.

Big Bertha is back from the shop now, and so if there's any time this afternoon, I'll be able to get the top stitching done for So Yelo...

and the Tuxedo Tales block I started seemingly forever ago.

Once those are finished, I'll be ready to sandwich about half a dozen small quilts for quilting. That will, no doubt, have to wait for another day.


A Brief Sun Break

When I looked out the window this morning, I could scarcely believe my eyes.

Holy Moly! It's the sun!!! We were beginning to worry that we'd somehow been transported to a different planet, far from its warming rays, where tomatoes wouldn't grow, and there could be no salsa, and no marinara sauce, nor tomato jam. Gasp! (This is my idea of Armageddon.) As it stands, the clouds are gathering again. It's possible we'll get more sunshine today, but I'm not counting on it.

There was a brief break in the rain yesterday. I went out to fill the bird feeders. While I was out, I noticed our Andromeda is loaded with cascading white flowers now.

It seems there's hope. It was danged cold though. It was 42°F, but it seemed colder for some reason. My hands were frozen by the time I headed back inside.

After that I traced out the 5th of 12 sundresses. Not that anyone is wearing anything like this right now.

You would not believe the level of help I received.

More catnip, please!

Then I got to work on the quilt I'm making for Quilts for Kids. Quilts for Kids used to be sponsored by Downy fabric softener. Since "Downy" has disappeared from their name, I'm thinking that might have ended. In any case, you can find the website right here. There are some cute patterns on their site regardless of who the quilt is for. I'm making the one called Four Patch Pattern, but you can make whatever pattern you like.

So I went digging through my stash of fabrics. This one can only fall under the heading of "What Was I Thinking?"

It took me a while to figure out what this was. They're the Chinese Zodiac animals. I have three yards of this...and it was one of the first fabrics I purchased when I was building a stash, so that isn't surprising. Back then, I bought three yards of everything. Nowadays, I'm more discriminating since my bins have filled to overflowing. I can only think I must have purchased this online, and on sale, as a way to get over a threshold for free shipping. Here's what the selvage says.

Out of curiosity, I went looking for my own year...

Turns out I was born during the year of the Horse. It says the horse is "popular and attractive." (Guffaw.)

Once I had my strips cut, I thought I'd do some sewing. Smitty had other plans for my sewing chair.

We negotiated a trade of the chair for the pile of quilts to be quilted.

Then, and only then, was I allowed to sit.

Then I got started. I needed 15 of the four patches and 15 of the whole blocks.

When I had the first two rows sewn together, I laid them out. Not bad.

By day's end, I had the blocks all sewn together into rows.

When I get back into the sewing room, I'll add two borders, and this top will be done.

I'll use that same zodiac fabric for the quilt back...and I'll still have plenty leftover...probably enough for another quilt.

Today we're going into town. While we were traveling, the truck windshield picket up a couple of rock chips. One of them spread into a large crack that travels about 2/3 of the way across the lower portion. He didn't want to repair it until we got home, figuring we'd probably pick up more rock chips along the way. His windshield is a fancy-dancy high tech one that knows when it's raining. It also knows when you've been sleeping. It knows when you're awake. It knows if you've been bad or good...oh wait....maybe not. Anyway, it's getting fixed today, and we have to take it to a place that deals with fancy windshields. No mobile windshield repair for us.

So I'm hoping to get into the sewing room this afternoon, but sometimes these early morning starts turn into unexpected adventures. One just never knows.