Sunday, June 29, 2008

Out with the Old, In with the New

Out with the old, in with the new.This photo shows a brand new flower that just popped open today on my peony bush - alongside evidence of a spent flower from last week's rain storm. I thought the image was fitting for my blog since I am working on clearing clutter and re-organizing the studio. Out with the old, and in with the new.

I spent some time this afternoon finishing the last of my flower planting in the garden. I got the last of them planted then wanted to cool off. It got hot outside in the garden. It feels good to be done. I had several packages of flower and vegetable seeds that I planted as well. Most of the seeds are supposed to come up in about a week. I can't wait to see what takes hold and grows.

Finally got my flowers planted.These zinnias were starting to look a bit peaked and stressed since I didn't get them planted right away. A lot of watering and a few hours later they looked much better.

Zinnias up close.These are now housed in a very large outdoor pot by the patio. I still have lots of weeding to do by the patio. The bright daytime sun and warm weather limits how long I can stay outside - sunburn and all. Later in the evening I am bombarded by mosquitoes. The choice between the two? I'd take the sun and possible sunburn before the mosquitoes. The mosquito bites leave little red welts that stay for several days. I hate that itchy feeling.

4th of July spool basket.It is hard to believe it's going to be the month of July in a couple days. The year seems to be absolutely flying by. One small tribute for this 4th of July holiday sits in my Sewing Studio. A small flag finds a home in among my collection of old wooden thread spools. It is displayed on a shelf in my studio right now. A larger flag we use outdoors still needs to go up. I will get that flying in the morning. We usually don't go overboard for most holidays around here. A few simple things usually do just fine. I think we'll probably be celebrating at least a few hours of the weekend out on the boat with a little fishing. It seems funny, but add a little summer-time sun, a pleasant breeze, an afternoon out on the water -- yep, sounds like a good way to celebrate to me. I know we've still got some fireworks left over from last year, so it's likely we'll take those along. There are usually a lot of people shooting fireworks out over the lake each year. That means we get to enjoy sending off a few of our own, but also get the benefit of viewing fireworks from the others out by the lake also.

Studio Re-Organization Progress So Far

Sewing Studio photo one.I have been busy with the reorganization of the Sewing Studio this week. Here are a few photos showing some of the progress on that front. So far I am pleased with what has been accomplished, but I still have a huge stack of stuff to go through in the other room. The goal for this coming week is to try to get that stack of stuff whittled down to manageable groupings. I originally thought I would put a bunch of stuff in a yard sale, but I am dragging my feet on that idea. I don't really look forward to sitting around out in a yard sale. It just doesn't appeal to me. Maybe I'll divide what I don't want any longer into groups and sell it on-line.

Sewing Studio photo two.This is another view of the organizing that is done so far. I labeled and sorted small bins with my ribbons, trims and various embellishments. I know I have more of this kind of stuff to sort through this next week. We'll see how much more shortly. Perhaps I'll have to part with some if I don't get it to fit where I want it to go. This shelf is essentially filled.

My collection of reproduction 20s-30s fabric prints.I love the look of those Aunt Gracie 20s-30s reproduction fabric prints. I purchased this stack of this type of fabric to create a quilt. I want to start working on my idea for this quilt soon. It's been on my mind lately. So once all the sorting and organizing are complete I'll have that move higher up on my list of priorities. The folded fabric below the ribbon-tied stack is in this fabric category. That means there is quite a bit of fabric to work with. My idea involves digitizing some 20s-30s type applique designs using this fabric. I have not started digitizing any of the applique shapes that are in my head yet. I know there will be a butterfly, a flower, a Scottie dog among the designs. These are typical applique shapes for the period. I may have to do a little research to see what else was the rage at that time. I want my designs to fit the period, but be unique from other designs already being used for this type of quilt.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sewing Studio

My golden chicken pincushion.I'm working on clearing clutter and organizing the studio today. I was here for awhile yesterday starting some work on it, but ran out of steam before I got too far. Here are a few glimpses of what I am seeing: This golden chicken is something I made several years ago. I used it as a sample for a class I taught once. It was about using the decorative stitches available on our machines for a useful project - small, quick and easy to sew together with just a few seams.

Fabric Stack number one.These pics are just some of the current fabric stash. I have them stacked right now, somewhat by color. I am going to be working at cutting most of the fabrics into 2 1/2" strips for jelly roll quilts. I'm also planning to cut blocks in 3", 4", 5", 6" sizes. These work right for most quilts.

Fabric stack number 2 - whites/off-whitesI have this stack of whites and off-whites to use for lights in quilts, and some to use for backgrounds for machine embroidery. This is pretty much my full stack of lights. Looking quickly through the stash I could probably use more lights to balance so much of the darks.

Fabric Stack number three.The third stack is a mix of black and white prints and some assorted colors. This grouping of color pieces are fairly small. They'll likely be cut to 2 1/2" strips as I get time. The scraps of plaid you see are already left overs from other projects. They are not very big, so I'll cut what I am able to from them and see how many blocks I come up with. Again, they will be 3", 4", 5" or 6" blocks.

Fabric Scrap Bins.Here's a look at how I have chosen to sort some of my smaller scraps. These are mostly odd-ball sized strips narrower than 2 1/2" but I hated to throw them out. They will make a String Quilt - a scrap quilt with randomly sewn narrow strips of fabric scraps. I recently saw some sites on the web that talked about Crumb Quilts. This is somewhat along the same idea, but crumb quilts use tiny pieces, not narrow strips. I had not heard this term before this week, but apparently I have been making Crumb Quilts for awhile not. I've got several blocks pieced like an old crazy quilt using up random small scrap pieces. I like the name Crumb Quilt.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Backdoor deck and steps are done!While I was finishing up with my on-line classes, the Mr. finished the back deck and steps. He did an excellent job. They are much nicer than that cement slab and old rusted cast iron hand rail.

Enjoying a day out on the lake.My last assignments were due on Friday; we hit the lake on Saturday. What a great day it turned out to be! Sun, cool breeze, quiet day on the lake. We got a few bites, but no fish. That was okay, we had a wonderful time.

It started cooling down as the sun began to set.It was a wonderful, warm relaxing day on the lake. This short stop at the dock gave us an opportunity to get jackets out of the truck. It was about this time of day, as the sun started to set, that it started to get a bit cooler.

The sun shown golden on the lake as it started to set.I love this shot taken from the rear of the boat in the warm glow of the setting sun. The water absolutely glowed with light from the sun. It seemed like sparkles on every ripple.

Shiny like glass, the lake reflects a golden glow of the sun.We stopped to take a bit of a break at the dock, grabbed some jackets out of the truck and what do I see? The breeze quieted and left the lake nearly smooth like a mirror. Beautiful!

The landscape is typical of North Dakota with very few trees to dot the view. The prairies stretch for miles in every direction. Typical wide-open spaces.

Cool summer breezes on the lake.Cool summer breezes blew across the lake, you see me here with an old long sleeve shirt. This was just enough to take the nip out of the breeze so we stayed and fished a little longer than planned.

Calm and peaceful lake fishing.
Fishing in the channel was quiet and peaceful. This time of day the sky picks up those dusky pink hues. It was absolutely beautiful reflected back against the water. Since the breeze calmed to barely any movement on the water the reflection of sky was like looking at a mirror.

The Mr's new toy.Another way to celebrate -- and save gas! The Mr. got a new toy. Woo-hoo!

He said he has been wanting one of these for some time. He used to have a motorcycle in our younger days and kept his old helmet with the hopes of getting another one 'sometime after the kids left home'. Now was the time.

Another view of the bike.Here's a look at the Mr. just before he sets off. He chose a nice bike, now to get out for a spin.

And boys, no, I don't think he's going to want to share for awhile! :) You might have to wait till the newness wears off before he'll let you on it! Sorry ;)

Ginger on the front steps.Ginger peers out between the cast iron rails on the front steps. She accompanies me on my outings, but looks ready to go indoors with this shot. It's as if she thinks getting photos of the new bike is no big deal. Like she's thinking, "Come on guys. Put the camera away and let me inside, already!"

Large pink peony blossom.My peonies have bloomed this week. I have white ones, these pink ones and one bush is white with just a bit of deep pink streaks. They're absolutely beautiful with a light fresh scent.

This variety is somewhat different from the others because it opens up more wide and flat. The others are the usual big balls of fluffy petals. They smell luscious.

My chicken pots ready to be planted.My clay chicken pots are waiting to be planted yet. I think they'll be happy housing these pink and white flowers. I have just a few other plants to set into the garden, then lots more weeding to take care of. This year is mostly flowers, some tomatoes, cucumbers, peas and carrots, watermelon and cantaloupe.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Done with classes for the quarter

This photo is to symbolize my joy at being done with classes for the quarter. That means I can move on to working on some other things for awhile before I hit the books again. I'm happy and my sewing machine is happy!

First even planned is to spend some time with my husband in his boat fishing, then get back to organizing and straightening my sewing studio, combined with some much needed Sewing Therapy. That sewing therapy is going to seem like long anticipated relaxation. It'll be sewing retreat in my studio for the next several days! Yeah!

My hubby finished the deck and steps in the back - Yeah! The building inspector came today and it passed. Hubby planted some tomato plants in the garden and will put in some cucumbers tomorrow. My peonies have started blooming, the prairie roses took a beating in the thunderstorm that swept through here a few days ago. Life goes on, now I feel the relief of being able to enjoy it a bit better with no class requirements to stay up-to-date in.

I'm looking forward to working on my own website this summer. I've got to stay fresh and up to speed and continue to memorize the tags and other info while I wait for classes to start again in the fall. That will be another project to keep me busy.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Done with four

Staining the pickets/slats on the deck.I just finished submitting material for four of my six classes. Last day is Friday the 20th so I've got three more days to finish work on my HTML and Dreamweaver CS3 classes. I'm hopeful I'll be able to finish up with all my assignments. Don't know if that's too optimistic since I am a bit behind and need to do some catch-up on assignments for both those classes. I'm definitely going to give it a try. I checked and there were only a couple submissions of websites so far out of all the students in both classes so it doesn't look like I'm the only one being a slowpoke to get things posted.

Another view of the deck and steps.Right now I'm extremely tired from another late night writing papers. I got to bed this morning around 6:00am so feel like I'm really dragging right now. I may head off to bed for a couple hours sleep before I jump into this next round of marathon class work on my websites.

The steps are nearly finished.I've got to get some "in progress" pics of the deck and steps. There's been a lot of cutting and pounding wood since Pat got home from work today. I think I need to check it out.

Yep, the deck is coming along wonderfully! Pat is doing such a great job! He worked on putting up some of the pickets (pickets? is that just for fences? what is the name for those slats on a deck?) today and staining them. Just a few more pickets/slats to go.

Ginger loves her blue ball.While I was outside with the camera Ginger decided it was time to play ball for awhile. She's so good at hanging onto that ball it hurts my arm. She just loves a good tug-of-war. We played so much her tongue started to turn blue.

Look at that smile on Ginger's face!Guess it's time to bring her to PetCo and pick out another ball. This one seems to be disintegrating on us. It's been well used (and left out in the rain and snow)!

That sounds like a plan for later this weekend. We'll go ball shopping.

Two little dogs ready to go back indoors.The little dogs had fun watching -- and trying to stay out of Ginger's way. Talk about a danger of being mowed over! Poor little Sparky, for a moment of panic there he thought he was a goner. Then he saw his moment to skedaddle out of the way. What a look of panic, though. I wish I would have got that on film!

Sparky sticks out his tongue.Go ahead and stick your tongue out at me, Sparky. I still say it's not time to go in till I say it's time to go in.

Sugar's really a pampered housedog.Here's another one just waiting to get back indoors. I think we've certainly got two pampered HOUSEdogs on our hands. You'd think the backyard was the wilds of a new frontier the way these two coddled pups act. Com'n guys, let's stay outside! It was nice out today!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Decks and Roses

The deck and steps from the backdoor are progressing nicely.
My husband's work on the deck and back steps is coming along nicely. I think he's done such a great job on this project. He's staining the boards as he goes. The rails were going up today along with the floor boards. The dogs were out enjoying the sun, notice Ginger relaxing nearby. She didn't seem to care that sawdust was flying. And the sound of the saw and assembly work were no big deal.

Sparky loves to bask in the sun.
The little dogs were enjoying their time out in the sun today. Earlier this morning it was bright and sunny and quite warm. They just love to soak up the sun. I call this one "Squinty Sparky".

Not to be outdone, Sugar does her share of sunbathing, too.
And here's "Squinty Sugar" to match. She seems the least thrilled with the noise and commotion of deck building. Sugar constantly indicated her desire to go back indoors.

Prairie rose blossoms are a delicate pick color.
I looked out the window this morning to find lots of blossoms on my Prairie Rose bush. They look just gorgeous with a delicate pink shade and a light floral scent. I love seeing them all blooming right now.

This bumblebee had a hard time hanging on in the wind.
And so do the bees. This big bumblebee was a delight to watch. I mean that in a funny way, I had to start laughing at it. Poor thing, the wind was blowing the rose branches around and with its poor coordination it had a lot a trouble aiming and landing on its little rose petal 'heliopads'. Numerous times it seemed to almost fall right off. Here I was able to get a shot of it hanging on for dear life while trying to gather pollen. There were two bumblebees working their way through these blossoms.

Another bee searching for pollen on the roses.
A bit later another type of bee came swooping in on the roses. It was very accurate about landing and more methodical about pollen gathering. But it didn't stay long on each flower. I think the bumblebees managed to gather much of the pollen beforehand.

A glimpse of three prairie roses.
Another look at the roses, here's three in a grouping. Such a pretty flower.

I have a few machine embroidery designs of prairie roses digitized by Sue Box. Check out her website, for some very nice designs. Seeing these blossoms makes me want to get out those designs and stitch up a few things. Sue Box calls them Briar Roses in her Golden Classic Collection, but they're the same flower.

Honeysuckle flower just popped open today.
I am very pleased with the growth of my honeysuckle vine this year. I was afraid I might have killed it last year with the lack of rain and my neglect to routinely water it. Apparently it was working more under the soil putting down roots because it came out in full force this year. One little trumpet flower has opened so far. I just love the smell of honeysuckle!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Prairie Rose Buds

One of my favorite types of roses and also the North Dakota state flower: The Prairie RoseI've been blessed with a natural growing Prairie Rose Bush in our backyard. My husband and I have had debates on the merit of having this bush, especially in it's current location. At one point he tried to convince me we should get rid of it because it sends it's prickly branches across the walking path along the side of the lodge. I consented to allowing him to move it over a few feet from its original position. That bush is a sturdy thing. He only managed to transplant a second bush by digging it up by the roots in his attempt at relocating it. Obviously he didn't get all the original roots removed. Now it is two-three times the original size as it is more spread out than before. He just works on keeping a portion of it cut back now.

Yeah! I love that Prairie Rose. It is ideal for our state and our climate. It's such a hardy plant and has such pretty, delicate pink flowers.

We have had rain for awhile now and cool weather. The photo was taken yesterday after the rain; notice all the raindrops on the leaves. This year it sent forth many more buds than in previous years. I'm excited to see them all and hope to have a wonderful summer with Prairie Rose flowers making a great show.

I've been absent from posting very often because we are getting down to the wire with coming to the end of the semester with my on-line classes. It has taken up so much of my time I just haven't had the time or energy to post often. As it is I've already been up all night working on papers and such. I'm about to head off to bed for some sleep before I get up to continue with class assignments later this evening. Everything is over and done and needs to be posted for class by next Friday.

I cannot wait till next Saturday!! ;)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

What's for Supper Tonight?

Supper is soft shell tacos and nachos for tonight.Tonight's supper is my quick and easy taco recipe. I'm working on putting together a website for one of my classes that features 'Mom's Home Cooking' and this is one of the feature items. I took step-by-step photos tonight for that site. Once it's up and running I'll post a link for anyone interested.

Two soft shell tacos hot, and ready to eat.The taco meat is rolled up here in two of the smaller size tortilla shells. We like to heat a cast iron pan and warm the tortillas prior to rolling them. It gives them just a bit of an extra toasty taste and heating them makes it easier to roll them without tearing the tortilla.

Yummy nachos, a quick fix for supper or a snack.A variation on using the taco meat in a different context is to spoon it over tortilla chips, add a bit of cheese and microwave for 40 seconds for the cheese to melt. Yummy! This option has a bit more salt because of the chips, but is a tasty, filling alternative. I love the combination of the crunch of the chip, the gooey cheese and the spicey taste of taco meat.

What's in my cupboard - spices view oneWhen putting my info for the website together it occurred to me to get some photos of what's in my cupboard. Here's shot number one. Notice my inclusion of this inexpensive plastic revolving tray. I used to struggle with getting to all my spices before I came up with this idea. Now, just a little spin of the tray reveals all my spice choices. There's less chance the spices will get stale and old, forgotten in the back of the cupboard when they are all visible.

What's in my cupboard - spices view twoHere's view two after spinning the rotating tray. There's a huge difference in accessing my spices now. And I find I don't make the mistake of buying duplicate spices because I didn't see them hiding in the back.

Okay, it's off to walk the dogs after supper now. We had rainy weather all morning and afternoon. Seems to have cleared up enough to get outdoors a while before I settle down to working on homework for my classes again.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A New Start from the Rubble

Rubble from the back steps in the process of being cleared.This weekend has seen some improvements on the back step contruction. For one thing my hubby has finished tearing down the old concrete steps as evident by all this rubble. He was hauling it off a little at a time, so what is shown here is only a portion of the rubble.

Those steps were pretty much solid concrete with some compacted rubble and rock in the interior. We found one tin/aluminum can and part of a small tree limb had been tossed into the mix as it was being poured. What a job my sweetie had on his hands. Several days work busting it up, hauling it off and clearing up the mess.

We had some rain showers here and there so there were a few breaks during the process. He definitely got a workout!

A start to the new wooden back steps. With newly poured cement slab the pillar posts are set in place.The task of mixing and pouring a fresh slab of concrete around the pillars took place last evening. That had an opportunity to set up and harden throughout the night; this afternoon work consisted of setting in some 4x4 posts as deck supports.

Now that he has a good start, Pat doesn't think it should take much longer to get the steps completed. We should be making use of them sometime this week.

Ginger waiting patiently for me to open the front door.In the meantime, the dogs have had to be let out through the front door. This was a quick outing for them this afternoon. We got a bit more thunder and some sprinkles today.

Here we were trying to take a quick outdoor exercise break around the front yard before the rain started pouring. The dog photos at right are not very good. They were not in a photogenic sort of mood. They seemed to only want to get right back into the house.

Sparky giving me that look to say, what's the hold-up? Let's go inside.By this time it had just barely started sprinkling, but they were having none of it. They did not cooperate very well for me to get any decent pictures. Nearly every single shot I took they turned their backs to the camera and had those ears laid back. They were whining and making all kinds of verbal complaints while displaying their impatience with me dilly-dallying around instead of letting them back inside.

Sugar attempting to jump up the front stairs. She's not as agile as she once was, but hey, neither am I.We are getting some wind as well this weekend. Everywhere you look outside in the yard you will see these little seeds blown down from the trees. To me they look like someone came along with big boxes of rolled oats and let loose sprinking them all about. They'll eventually blow away, but every year we end up with lots of these seeds plugging up the gutters and filling holes and cracks. Most of them don't end up making it to the seedling stage, but for those that do it's another chore to work at pulling them up from the garden and the flower beds.

I've been putting off tending to my planted area in the front yard and even some of the back garden. We spent a bit of time this past week laying down a soaker hose to water in and among the plantings in the back patio garden. I put in two rose bushes earlier this year along the chain link fence. I'm hoping the fresh scent of roses will make using the patio a much more pleasant experience in the heat of summer. The honeysuckle vine I put in two years ago managed to survive last year's dry season and seems to have established itself inspite of it all. That will also be a pleasant sensory delight. I love the scent of honeysuckle on a warm summer breeze.

The ants have a job to do opening up these peonies.These big black ants finally found something to do besides roaming around in my basement sewing studio. I think they were bored with nothing to do this year so they made their way into the house. That is something I don't recall happening in past years. We got some bug killer, but didn't put it out. I was a bit concerned having it inside the house with the dogs around.

Peonies in the front corner of the house host a group of ants.The problem is the weather has been so cold this spring not much was growing or blooming till just lately. Spring was certainly slow to come to North Dakota this year.

Now that the peonies are up and have buds, the ants have not made their presence known inside anymore. It was starting to creep me out since they don't usually come into the house. I'd be sitting at my computer doing some work for school or checking things on-line and out of the corner of my eye think I see something moving. I'm freaked out thinking it could be a spider and here it is a big ole' black ant. Of course they all got squished, ant or spider makes no difference. They're in my territory and I don't want them around. So, boom, they get squished and swooped into the trash can. As long as they're outside working away on opening the peonies they're happy and I'm happy. Just as it should be.