Monday, April 20, 2015

Some Things Never Change

At least it seems that way as far as my design wall goes.
The sad quilt on the wall waiting for me to get up the inspiration/energy to get it done.
The same finishing strips waiting for their place in the mix. I have no idea why I'm so bogged down on this one. I just don't feel the love.
As you may have guessed by my blog absence we've been traveling again but I did get a little bit of fun sewing in before we left.
I made this darling little fabric book for grand daughter Evie who is 10 months old now. These little projects are so much fun to do but just like everything else the adage of measure twice and cut once applies even on small items.
Can you spot it? That's right, I got the pages sewn in backwards! I was so happy with the clean finish too. I had to pick this apart and re-sew and I had embroidered her name in the spine too. That had to come out as well because it no longer would read correctly. All's well that ends well but still. I have to laugh at myself sometimes because I get so excited about the outcome that I overlook the details, you know what I mean?
I do have a good tip to share with you though. When I have to trim the bulk out of seams, in this case trim batting out of the book seems, I use my billed applique scissors. They make quick work of this job and keep the fabric out of the way.
Often we have tools lying around which we only think of for one purpose but they can be used for so much more. Those billed scissors are very handy anywhere you need to be careful about cutting layers of fabric.

I hope all of you are feeling more creative than I am these days. Have you ever been bogged down by a project? What did you do?

I'm linking my pitiful design wall to Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times. Let's all hop over and get inspired.

Until next time,

Saturday, April 11, 2015

And Then This Happened...

On Monday I showed you all the riotous color blooming in my garden. We shared the wonderful wisteria and lilacs, budding clematis and peonies. 
 On Tuesday the view outside my window was quite different.
That's right, it's snow. The first snow we've had in more than a year and it fell on April 7. Even though my flowers are ruined I'm not complaining. We so desperately need the moisture here in California but I can't help but sigh at all the beauty lost in an hour. The flowers will recover, their beauty is fleeting in any case.
We have a saying here in the foothills, spring cannot arrive until there's snow on the dogwoods. It's official - spring is definitely here!
Hope it's warmer where you are.

Until next time,

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

More Projects?

You know me I can never leave well enough alone. Just like the book says, "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" she'll want to renovate the whole house! If you don't know what I'm talking about you never had kids/grandkids so you'll have to look it up.

Here is my faithful minion Chris slaving away painting the back hallway/mud room. That wood trim is about to go! I found a beautiful warm shade of white at Restoration Hardware called Linen and we painted the whole kitchen, back bathroom and now this. It brightens the space without blinding if you get what I mean. 
The most difficult space in the whole house to paint! I will never understand this design choice, what a lot of dead/ wasted storage space but there it is.
A handy coat rack right by the back door holds dog leashes too. Chris made this from an old piece of lumber, he's so clever sometimes.
That gave me an idea to use a piece of fence we had lying around and turn it into a hat rack in the bathroom by the back door.
Handy to grab that garden hat as I'm going out the door.
The old kitchen curtains just had to go so I made these from yardage I already had in the stash. Simple and non-fussy. Just the clean lines I'm going for. The brick red color is exactly the accent I have going throughout the house.
I saw these letters on Creative Cain Cabin and saved them to my Pinterest board ages ago.You should visit Dawn's blog and see all the neat things she has done in her beautiful house. Anyway, I finally found a spot to shamelessly copy her idea. I love this pop of color over my kitchen sink!
I'll show you how I made over the kitchen table to match the barn wood pantry wall next. Any spring projects on your agenda?

Until next time,

Monday, April 6, 2015

Spring Fever On Dogwood Lane

I know, I know. I've been gone a long time but when you hear why you'll forgive me. I've been up and down the state visiting the grands of course. We walked on the Southern California beaches, built sand castles and dipped our toes in the waves. We ate wonderful fresh sea food on the Redondo Beach pier. Managed to have a meal with each and every brother and SIL which, if you've been a reader for any length of time you know means a lot of meals. Built Legos and changed dolly diapers, read stories and cuddled. Having five little grands living so far away means there are a LOT of cuddles to catch up on!
I made a surprise visit to Bunco night with my So Cal Bunco Belles. By my reckoning the Belles have been playing for almost 30 years and as an original and founding member I'm happy to say I always have a place at the table whenever I'm in town. So much fun to laugh and hang out with my gal friends. Where else can you be so comfortable than with friends you have known since you were young mothers together? All in all a glorious trip.
Of course, there is a price to pay for so much fun and ours came in the form of a mystery illness which sapped our will and caused both Chris and I to spend days in bed once we were back home. Nothing too terrible but exhausting all the same. Maybe our age catching up with us, with a mild fever thrown in?
The smallest dogwood tree putting on a show
The garden here is in full riot with the dogwood trees bursting out. The wild trees on Dogwood Lane are all white, the oldest trees bloom first and the youngest like the one in the picture above come into bloom last. If the weather holds the flowers will last for weeks. We have an ancient dogwood in the front of the house, tall and gnarled which I fear is putting on her last show. Only one branch is blooming this year, all others are dry and lifeless. The whole lane will be so sad to see her fall. This drought is taking it's toll in big ways and small.
The wisteria is almost past her prime. I wish you could walk out with me in the morning and evening when I pass under the arbor on my way to tend to the chickens. the wisteria's perfume mingled with  the scent from the lilac is intoxicating.
 My lilacs are glorious. I hesitate to call them bushes since they reach far above my head at least 15 feet tall. Shades of blue, pink, purple and this year finally, the white lilac I planted about five years ago has decided to bloom!
Yes, we really do have spring fever here on Dogwood Lane and we plan to enjoy it all the more knowing that the hot dry days of summer are not far behind.
I hope your spring is glorious too.
Until next time,

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

We Have a Winner!

image source
 It's official! Ohio Lori is the winner of my 3rd Blogaversary Giveaway! I sent her an email and I hope to hear from her soon so I can mail her prize. From Lori's Blogger profile it's looks like she doesn't have a blog herself but she does follow many interesting quilting sites so I think she'll like this prize.
The prize - McKenna Ryan art quilt kit
Thank you so much to all the kind folks who participated in the party this year, I only wish I could give each of you a gift. I do send out a virtual hug to all my faithful followers new and old. You make my day each and every time you leave a comment and continue the dialogue we have going. I love this exchange of ideas.

I continue sewing away on the Fern Creek Sampler.
All the rows are now complete and pressed and not one of them is the same length as any other! My new storage racks have assumed a duel purpose as hanging/design wall additions. Pretty nifty.

See the second row on the left? Those two light triangles really bothered me and that row was super wavy. That's the fabric that was sent in the kit but I don't like it. So, after this picture was taken I decided to take it apart and put in two triangles that were more on the tan side and hopefully correct that wave. Well... easier said than done. I got the tan triangles in, no problem. But that wave just got worse and worse. The more I fussed the worse it got. There are a lot of bias edges to deal with and this is not really quality fabric here and I think when I originally made this row I may not have been as exact as I may be now. Anyway, this entire row now resides in the trash can! Sometimes you just have to let things go bye, bye and move on. Just like a bad relationship we were not jellin' and this could only end in heartbreak. I'm starting to put this together with black connecting strips as called for in the pattern. We'll see how that goes.

Until next time,

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Visiting Grandkids er...Dogs

I confess I miss my grand kids. I haven't seen the littlest since Christmas and I'm jones'n for some Grammy time so look who I have to fill in the gap.
Smiling doggie face!
This is Lullaby. She belongs to my middle son's family. Those of you who have been readers for a while know that Dogwood Lane Farm is really Dogwood Lane Farms because our son Zack and his family live on the next property down the road and we share much of the same animal chores and garden activities. Zack's two boys are our oldest grandchildren, all grown up now in fact. One is in college a few hundred miles away and one is a high school senior. I catch glimpses of that red headed boy now and again but he's a busy kid in his senior year. My other five grandchildren live in Southern California and we travel to see them several times a year as time and money permit. We have a trip planned soon but in the mean time I make due with fur kids. Some days it's a regular doggie daycare around here!
LaLa is a cross between an Australian cattle dog and some other herder of unknown origin. She is what we refer to as a Mar-Val box puppy, that is rescued from a box in front of our local Mar-Val super market. She's about eight or nine years old, no one can remember and the kids named her because they used to sing her to sleep when she was a baby. When she's here she's queen of the yard and goes unchallenged.
This sweet faced girl is Luna. She's also a rescue that Zack brought home from a tree nursery/ranch. The folks that had her were going to put her down because they could not break her from chasing their live stock. She's a border collie x cattle dog and it's in her blood. They had no fences to keep her away from the animals and no inclination to train her. She is the sweetest girl and so affectionate. 
Zack's a sucker for a spotted dog ever since we had a rescue puppy named Algebra when he was a kid. We got Algebra from the local shelter and she was sick from the beginning. After enormous vet bills we couldn't save her and Zack has always loved spotted dogs since then.
Shadow & Luna
Whenever Luna is here she hangs out with Shadow since they're both of the same temperament, energy level (semi-hyper) and size. They chase each other around the yard until they about give out, lots of barking is involved.
Shadow & River on the move
A chase game is going on here involving all four dogs but I could only get two of them in the frame.
River is the largest dog in the pack but since she's also the youngest she defers to all but Luna. Luna is the most timid so she holds the bottom position. They all get along wonderfully well and enjoy their play dates. Whenever I walk down the road I tell Shadow and River lets go to Zack's house and they dash for the gate separating our property, ready to play.

Still, not a very good substitute for grand babies but it will have to do for now.
Times running out for the Blogaversary Giveaway so don't forget to click over and leave a comment for a chance to win! I'm drawing the winner in four days!

Until next time,

Monday, March 9, 2015

Filling In The Blanks

If a pile of trimmings is any indication then I've been very busy this week on the Fern Creek Sampler. If you remember this is the UFO I decided had marinated long enough and is now at the top of my To Do list. I need at least three more rows added and then I can start putting this together.
This is the block that makes up the next row and as you can see it's a fussy little thing that has a million points and finishes at 6 1/2". As I'm sewing this I have a wonderful tool that is indispensable, my dental pic.
Each of these half triangle squares is only 1 1/2" and they really need to meet as perfectly as I can make them. The dental pic is my helper to keep the fabric secure under the needle and save my finger from being sewn into my project!
This extreme close-up shows you how close to the needle I can get with it. As you can tell I've had to re-sew some seams for better accuracy, a threads breadth makes all the difference sometimes. And, yes I did clean my foot and needle. Yikes, this old fabric is shedding like a dog! I got the dental pic at a sewing trade show last year and I recommend it to everyone, it was only about $1 and well worth it, far better than any stiletto I've tried.
I love chain piecing - so satisfying.
Two of the three needed rows completed. I really like the chevron for it's pop of color.

I did not like the overly complicated pattern of the next paper pieced row in the directions so I used the same fabric provided and pieced a simple churn dash block. That's as far as I've gotten. I think I may need one more row before I can start assembly. I'll have to think on it.

Linking up to Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times.

Don't forget the Blogaversary Giveaway. Click the link and leave a comment to be entered in the drawing. I'll draw the name on March 15.

Until next time,