Sunday, August 21, 2016

Missing Garden Pictures as Promised!

   I was hoping for the clouds to return so I could take garden pictures without the glare. No luck, but at sunset I went out and took these.

  The first is my boulder garden that Randy has dubbed, Stone Henge, because we are getting a lot of sight seers since I installed it. : )  The boulders are bigger than they look in the photo. They are all about 3-4 feet across and 20-30" tall. It took a large dump truck of topsoil to backfill behind them to create the garden. The garden is about 24' from front to back and about 30-36' across. The trees are Dwarf Alberta Spruce and Birdsnest Blue Spruce. The flowers are hybrid Daylilies, Hardy Phlox, Lavendar, and Creeping Phlox.

   This is my favorite boulder which I named Snake Rock. It has a 4" wide groove snaking across the top. I have no idea what caused it, but I love the look of it. When I water or it rains, the water flows thru the groove and pours out the end between the boulders. Fun to watch! Hey, I'm easily entertained. : )

  These are of Mom's arbor and adjoining garden spaces.... There are pink Knockout Roses planted in the center of each stone wall, not blooming on this day of course!.

  There are 4 varieties of Clematis planted on the trellis fencing on each side of the patio. Next year we should have more privacy when they fill in.

  These are the new compost bin...

  This working side faces south. Perfect for composting. The lush greenery in the front is volunteer mini pumpkin and gourd vines. I never have to buy them to decorate with again! Last year I harvested 21 and the vines were a third this size. They have spread over nearly half of the Berm Garden. In fact, I've had to prune them. They are garden bullies.

  These are of my Berm Garden. The huge flat rock in the lower front is a bonus rock I got with my boulders. It is 8" thick and about 6' across. I have it extending out over the dry river bed, which during a rain is anything but dry.

  Plants are starting to mature on the berm. I added the stepping stones this year and a ton of new topsoil to mix in.

   Remember the Galvas? They are my tin family who live in the Berm Garden. Mom (Valentine) and Dad are seen here. They're started to feel a little crowded.
   Can you see Rusty Galva hanging out next to the green trellis? Typical teenager...he doesn't want to be seen with his parents. : )
 This is the waterfall end of the dry river. The tall native grasses hide the waterfall itself. We just had a heavy rain a few days ago that washed some of the river rock over the falls into the drainage ditch. Randy loves that of course. : 0

My trees are getting some size to them now too.

  That concludes the garden tour. I hope you enjoyed it and thanks for stopping by! As always...Keep Stitchin' 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

My Summer Vacation?

   School starts for me next Tuesday. This has been a wonderful summer, but it seems too short now. Every year I plan big projects to do during my summer break, usually garden related. This year was no exception. I had a long list this year. I plan to retire in two years so I 'm trying to get all the big projects done before then. I'm not getting any younger and where I used to be able to work 10-12 hour days working in the garden, I find 6-8 hours is stretching my limits now. A friend told me I needed to get back to work so I could rest!

  My first project in June was to build a two bin compost pile. I used green treated lumber and posts to build a 4" by 8' structure with a divider wall down the middle to form two bins. It stands 40" tall and sits behind my Compost Tumbler which I haven't had much success with. A church friend has a prolific compost pile and gave me the directions to make mine. By next summer I should have lots of rich compost. Of course, I had to create a garden setting around it to make it appealing to visitors. I spread a ton of river rock in front of it, moved my antique park bench, another red wooden bench, bird houses, and hung vintage garden tools , etc to the area to spruce it up. My husband just shook his head. Why decorate a compost bin? Why not, I said.

   I wasted no time starting the next project. I reclaimed an arbor I had built Mom 10 years ago. After her death  in January, I hauled it home where it spent the winter laying on its side on my patio.  I wanted to place it centered off my patio as  an entrance to my back garden. It needed some minor repairs first. Even green treated lumber has a life expectancy. It had grown out of square with the move and laying on its side. That was a challenge to fix. When I was ready to erect it in place, I had a high school boy, Rhett, help me because it was very heavy. Rhett is in a program called Silver Cord where students do volunteer labor leading up to graduation for special honors and to enhance their college resume. Yeah! Free labor, although I did feed him lunch. :) Once erected to its new home, I decided the arbor needed an enclosure. Mom had a rail fence on either side. I built a stone wall on either side to enclose the patio for more privacy. That lead to my decision to enlarge the flowerbeds on either side as well and wrap them around the front of the wall. Again Randy asked, "Why?"  And of course I said, "Why not?" Does a gardener ever really need an excuse to expand?

  July came all too soon and Randy decided we needed to go on vacation. We left on July 1st and headed for Gettysburg! We spent 3 days there and loved every minute of it. The battle was fought July1st thru the 3rd so we were there for the reenactment. I bought yards and yards of Civil War repro fabric at the wonderful quilt shop there, Needle and Thread, which specializes in Civil War cotton fabrics. And surprise!!! Randy stepped in front of me to pay for all of it. I was shocked and he said, "Happy Anniversary!" It was our 35th on July 11th. I thought the trip was my present, but I didn't argue the point. :) We went to Antietam National Battlefield, Harper's Ferry, Manassas (Bull Run Battlefield), and Washington DC over the next 8 days. I soaked up all the history I could and Randy had fun too. I think history is growing on him!. Some people go to Hawaii or on a cruise for a big anniversary, but Randy knows how to make me happy...Civil War historical sites every time.

  Here are a few of those moments in pictures:

  This delightful lady is Shelley Reetz who portrays Sophie Porter, wife of Union Brigadier General Horace  
Porter, aide-de-camp to General U.S. Grant. We hit it off immediately and I visited her every time we were in the vicinity over the three days in Gettysburg. Randy accused me of stalking her! 

 Recognize the fellow in the top hat? These gentlemen and several more not pictured, portray Union Generals, officers, and Honest Abe himself at various venues. They speak in the first person in narrative form retelling their career exploits. You really become convinced they are the actual historical people they portray.

  I met these lovely ladies strolling the grounds of the reenactment. LOVED their dresses.

  I'm standing in front of the pool at the WWII Memorial. This is a fantastic memorial to all who fought in the war. I hope all those still living get to visit it. I got goosebumps and was so moved by it. I can only imagine what they feel when they see it.
Here I'm holding a rifle that was actually used in the Battle of Gettysburg. It was so heavy I couldn't hold it in firing position.

And, of course I I had to see the Lincoln Memorial. Standing inside at the foot of his statue, I wanted to break out into the Battle Hymn of the Republic.  Lucky for everyone present, I remembered I have a terrible singing voice, but I did hum it the whole time there. :)

I became a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution last year, so I had to visit the DAR museum. I posed with my membership card at the entrance. There was only one bed quilt on display. It was in the "Texas" room. It's applique and mind boggling to see all those apples  (?) or giant berries in the baskets.

I took 479 pictures on this trip, so believe me, we saw a lot. I won't bore you with all of them here. (You're welcome!) This is already too long. I've tried to take pictures of my garden projects, but it's always too bright and they come out blurry. I will try at sunset again and post them next time if they turn out.

Till then, keep stitchin'!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Ditsy for Doll Quilts!

    Boy, it has been a long time. We have been having spotty internet for months. When I planned on posting, I couldn't get on. When I could get on, I had too little time to post. So annoying. Finally our Hotspot died altogether and it took a week for Randy to decide on our next service provider; then another week till Mediacom could install it for us. I have more bars than ever and it is so much faster too. Win. Win.

   I participated in Lori at Humble Quilts blog doll quilt swap for the third year. I was thrilled to come home from work one day recently and find a package on my front porch. 

 Inside the package...this is looking interesting.

   Oh, wow! A darling quilt and other gifts too!

  The quilt is perfect. She couldn't have picked any more perfect fabrics to suit my taste. Yummidy!
   And she used a vintage feed sack from Washington for the backing to personalize it even further.

   Thank you Laurie!!! I LOVE it. And thank you to Lori for hosting a wonderful swap. The name I received to make a doll quilt for was Kevin of Kevin the Quilter fame. I was more than a little nervous at making a quilt for a man quilter. From my experience I've found that male quilters are more precise and mathematical than women quilters I know, especially me! I chose to reproduce a c.1875 doll quilt from Ohio for Kevin. Let me tell you, I was very careful to use my best skills and create a quilt I was proud of for him. I made the reproduction as close to the original as I could and sent it off with my breath held. He liked it! Whew, I'm so glad.  ( 14" x 17 1/2")

  The original had a brown striped homespun in the center.  I chose a brown toile with a farm scene instead. I was able to match a lot of the other fabrics with repros I have in my stash.

  I've finished a couple other reproduction doll quilts lately. It takes the most time to try to match each piece in the original to fabrics I have. If I don't have the exact reproduction fabric; then I find one with same color, scale, and similar print. It's like a treasure hunt. You should hear me squeal when I find a match!

   This is a repro of a c.1870 9-Patch found in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I had to make it when I saw the main fabric was poison green. :) It is a petite 12 3/4" x 12 3/4".

  This next one caught my eye because of all the madder prints and ONE poison green triangle! I wondered why...  It's c.1875 from New England and is 12 1/2" x 14".

   I was thrilled to find I had the exact poison green repro in my stash. The original had a blue (?!) striped binding. I had a scrumptious madder stripe I thought would look better.

  Lastly, I finished the little Square in a Square doll quilt and will be gifting it soon. It finished at 11 3/4" x 11 3/4". I used a wonderful red and creamy yellow oriental toile for the backing. I can't show a picture of the back because the label would reveal the recipient.

  I went to the Kalona, Iowa Quilt Show and Sale yesterday. I took pictures of the antique quilts and will share next time. Thanks for stopping by. Keep Stitching!


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Stitching on the Weekend

    I was a co-hostess at our monthly meeting of the DAR yesterday. We met in the Genealogy Room at the library to learn about the resources available there. I enjoy our meetings, but looked forward to an afternoon of sewing in my studio. Just me, my stash, and my sewing machine. Can you think of anything better on a Saturday afternoon? Don't think so. :)

   I've begun working on a mini paper-pieced Square in a Square quilt. I've made one before and it lives as a table topper in the entryway from the laundry room. It has been admired by visitors to the studio and the new one will be a gift for one of them. Can't name the recipient just yet. I will share a picture of the first tiny 2" blocks though.

  These are the results of Kayla's and my Tuesday Sew Night this week. The 9 little blocks at the top are my mini Square in a Square blocks (2 1/2" here) since not sewn together yet. The blocks in the bottom row are Kayla's Lucy Boston blocks and partial blocks...

 Here is a closeup of the one she finished that night...

Another recent finish...

    Aren't they gorgeous? She has quite a stack of them made. I love studying them. I swear I always think the one I'm looking at is the best, until I see the next one. She is using wonderful fabric combinations in each block.

    In my last post I mentioned Mom's Amish quilt that I had added the binding to. After charging the battery for my camera, I took a picture of it hanging on the wall outside the studio.

   The colors aren't exactly right in this picture. The sky is light rosy pink, med. rosy pink, light blue, and medium blue. The house is beige with a honey brown roof. Not sure what happened here, but some colors appear to be yellow. I also want to mention that, if you've noticed the bottom left corner of all my pictures taken of items on my design wall are dark looking, there's a reason. When I planned on the location of my design wall, I chose the space between the windows on the west facing wall. I didn't want direct sunlight shining on anything left up long-term on it. What I didn't think about was the space at the end of my cutting table (the only good space to photograph the design wall) being in the shadow of the lighting system. I cannot take a picture without my own shadow showing up!!! It's very frustrating. I'm trying to come up with a solution. My best idea is installing a track light above the design wall aimed at the design wall to use only when photographing. What do you think? Any ideas out there?

   As soon as I got home from the DAR meeting, I changed into comfy clothes and slippers and headed to the studio. I had fun raiding my stash looking for fabrics to add to my mini project. I cut lots of 2" wide WOF strips in medium and dark blues, reds, browns,golds, madders, and shirtings to add to the pile I'd been drawing form. Paper-piecing does waste some fabric, but it's so accurate, I think it's worth it. With 2" wide strips, I can cut any of the pieces needed for these blocks with as little waste as possible. After admiring the newly refreshed pile of strips, I began sewing in earnest. Randy ran  cables above the ceiling and down a post for me to have my 19" flatscreen TV on my cutting table. I bought an oak Lazy Susan to sit it on. I can swivel it to watch while I'm cutting fabric, or while I'm at my computer, or the opposite direction and face me while I'm sewing on my Bernina. I watched 4 movies, Fons and Porter, This Old House, and Vikings (recorded) all while cutting and sewing Saturday afternoon. By the end of the day (9 PM) Saturday, I had sewn an additional 16 blocks of my mini SQ in a SQ. I only stopped because Randy requested a haircut that he's put off for two weeks. He arrived home sometime during my sewing bliss, but I couldn't tell you when! lol. Yes, I'm his barber. It's gotten easier over the years as he's gotten balder, so it doesn't take long. He usually procrastinates weeks past needing it cut, because he only wants it done on the weekend and only before bedtime. So if we have a busy weekend it gets put off. I can quicken the time table if I tell him he's starting to resemble Bozo the clown. He doesn't have much hair but it's naturally curly, so it gets bushy when it gets too long, and also harder to cut. That (gentle?) comparison to Bozo gets him to cooperate every time. My little bit of evil genius. :)

  Today, Randy was well-groomed for Sunday service. After church, lunch, and a little together time watching a couple of our favorite TV shows we had recorded, I was back at play in my studio. I love sewing on the weekends, don't you?

Keep stitching!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

February Frenzy

   February has been a busy month. My birthday month, the 10th, so cake and celebrations. The usual work, of course, and lots of wrestling. I haven't taken it up myself, but I am a big fan, of Iowa Hawk Eye wrestling and Mt. Pleasant High School Panther wrestling. The Panthers had a successful season, winning some 2nd and 3rd place finishes at districts, but best of all, advancing one wrestler, our 145 pounder, Colten Mertens, to the Iowa State Tournament. He wrestled and won Thursday, then in the morning Friday, and in the semi finals Friday night. He was in the championship match on Saturday night, which was televised. He came away with 2nd place after wrestling the #1 seed in the state. Colten is a super kid, humble in victory and gracious in defeat. He had a 44 win / 1 loss season and a 117 win high school career record. I couldn't be prouder if he was my own son. I put up 6" gold stars for every pin or win our wrestlers get on a wall in the library. The wall is full from 3 foot up to the 12 foot ceiling and extending to the adjoining wall. There are 2 large windows into a study room that I decorate for any wrestler competing at state. This year it's a huge display and Colten is very deserving of it.

  Hawkeye Wrestling continues with a special after season dual meet tomorrow night at Carver Hawkeye Arena and Randy and I will be in our season seats, Isaah joining us. We'll also be going to the Olympic Wrestling try outs in a couple weeks. Maybe not expected of an avid quilter, but I love it. :)

  It hasn't been all wrestling for me though. On Tuesday nights, Kayla has been coming to my studio for "Sew Night." We take turns providing supper and sew from 4 ish till 9 PM. It has led me to finish some quilts. Kayla has been working on several wool projects and which inspired me to purchase a good supply of wool and thread to try my hand at wool applique. Granted, I don't usually need an excuse to buy fabric, but her wool projects are gorgeous. I don't have anything started yet, but I hope to soon.

  Remember the Amish quilt my Mom had left unfinished? I fished the quilting she had mostly done and sewed on a bias binding to finish it. I love it. It now hangs outside the entry to the studio. I showed it at Breakfast Club yesterday along with 2 other finished quilts.

  OOPS! I thought I'd taken a picture of Mom's Amish quilt finished, but I hadn't. Now, the battery is dead in my camera. I'll take one later and post it next time.

  Here are the other 2 finishes, both small Christmas quilts I had very good intentions of finishing before Christmas 2015. Well, you see how that turned out! Thank goodness for our Sew Nights. 

  This is Christmas Balls, 18" x 18". It's a paper-pieced Court House Steps pattern done in mostly Civil War reds, greens, and shirtings.

 A close-up...

I backed it with a Christmas toile...

 This is Christmas Trees and Nines, 18" x 18", also CW prints with lots of poison green, even the binding. Have I told you before that poison green is my favorite...only a million times. Right?

   A close-up of one of the trees. Each tree was quilted in a different pattern. This green print is an old 
Cranston Printworks fabric from the early 1980's. My stash dates back from 1980 to yesterday! Not counting my collection of vintage scraps and pieces.

    I'm currently working on a new pattern for my Orphans of War line. It's called North and South and will be a small quilt for all of you who already have too many full size quilts. I'll share pictures once it's finished and patterns printed. :)

  I'll close with a picture of Baby Abraham, whom I made the baby quilt for, featured in a previous post. He is adorable as you can see. I've adopted him as my wannabe grandbaby, since I have none at present and none in the foreseeable future. No pressure, son, seeing how you're not married yet.

  That's all for tonight. I want to get some quilting in before Downton Abby is on! Keep stitching.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Tribute to Mom

  My Mom , Elizabeth Jane (Drebenstedt) Lillard, passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, January 5th. She was in the hospital, but not for anything serious. The doctor came in to check on her that afternoon and told my SIL, Joyce, that Mom could go home in a couple days. Mom said to the doctor four times, "Why don't you let me die? I want to die. I'm ready." She had never said that before no matter how sick she was. My SIL drove home a half hour away and when she walked in her back door the phone was ringing. It was the doctor to tell her Mom had passed right after she left. I guess Mom really was ready to go. She had been living in an assisted living place for the past year and the last couple of months, she had been unhappy with life.

   My sister (Sandra) and brother in law (Jim) flew in from Maine and their youngest son (Rodney)  flew in from Texas for the funeral. We all gathered at Mom's house and sorted through her pictures, papers, etc. They were only here for 3 days, so we couldn't waste any time if they were to be involved in the sorting. We found some "treasures" and tons of cards and school papers she'd saved for decades from each of her kids and grandkids. Boxes were packed full and I shipped them to Maine, Texas, and California to the people Mom would have wanted to have them.  The one thing she would have most worried about finding a new home for was her Christmas village. It was large and I couldn't add more to mine. Fortunately Rodney was very happy to take it. Mom would be thrilled. He has two young daughters of his own to pass it on to in the future. My brother and I are co-executors and have been busy with her house and contents. The house is in the process of being sold to a young family with a 7 yr. old boy and expecting a baby girl in a few months. Mom would like that a young family was living there.

   Here is Mom's funeral program. The picture was a few years old. Mom was 92 yrs. old.
We found these photos of Mom in her youth...
 This is a photo of Mom and I at one of my presentations. I teased her that she was the only "heckler" I ever had. This was 3 years ago.

I was delighted to find this quilt in a spare bedroom drawer. I had forgotten she had ever made it. It is all done except for the binding which she had basted black bias tape on for that purpose. She made this in the mid 1970's. I will add new bias binding and treasure this quilt. She had only ever made one finished full-size quilt, a Dresden Plate, which her oldest granddaughter, Tina, is getting.
  Mom's real talent was painting. She was very good even though she'd had no formal training and never had good canvases, paints, or brushes. She painted on boards, crocks, paper, cardboard, whatever she had. She was legally blind after 1993 and never painted again. Mom also was a wonderful writer of stories and especially poems. We've found a lot of her writings and will copy and make booklets for the family.

  I haven't done any sewing in the studio since this all happened. The last few nights I have been hand-quilting on a small Christmas wall quilt while watching TV with Randy. It feels good to be quilting so I'll be getting back into it now bit by bit.

Keep stitchin'

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Ghost of Christmas Past

   I hope all of you had a blessed and merry Christmas. We certainly did. We actually had balmy weather here, which was nice since we traveled an hour and a half away for Randy's family Christmas. I had planned on blogging before Christmas, but you see how that turned out. I feel like the ghost of Christmas past that visited Scrooge sending my greetings after the fact. :( Better late than never, I hope. Before I forget it, let me wish you a very happy New Year. I hope it's one of good health, good fortune, and lots of quilting!

  We have a full 2 weeks of Christmas vacation from school this year. I have spent every minute I could in my studio. What bliss. I've done a lot of organizing and started a couple of new projects. Yesterday I finally put some antique quilts on the design wall and took photos of them. I'm adding antique quilts and tops to my Etsy shop. I have too many and want to whittle my collection down to Civil War Era quilts. Check them out by clicking my Etsy button on the right side of my blog. I'll be adding more and maybe some quilts I've made and no longer want to keep.

  This little beauty was delivered by the mailman just before Christmas. Let's just say it was a present to myself. It is a c1870 crib quilt with wonderful double pink setting blocks and tons of half square triangles, all hand done.
  I finished hand-quilting the baby quilt for my boss Jessica on December 18th. Just in time to share at Breakfast Club show n tell the next day. It's 54"x54".

   Here's a closeup of the border. Since she and her husband are both librarians, I know they will appreciate the Little Golden Book fabric I used for the sashing, border, and backing.

Here is a peak at my new projects on my design wall. They are both paper-pieced.

A closeup of the Christmas Logs that will grace a wall for next Christmas. Kinda thought it would be done this year. Oops. : (

   Randy always thinks of a way to surprise me at Christmas. This year after we had opened all the gifts under the tree, he said he noticed that I had left the light on in the furnace room. I didn't think I had, but he insisted I look and turn it off. When I opened the door I found a large box with a repro cast iron stove in it. I had mentioned I wanted one for the studio a year before the studio even existed, after seeing one at Menard's. Randy never forgets, which is sometimes a wonderful thing like this instance and sometimes, well,  to my disadvantage! We left shortly for his family Christmas and we got home late, so I had to wait till the next day to make room for this little gem in the studio. It really puts out the heat and  looks adorable too. :)

It turned cold and windy by Monday, so I really enjoyed firing it up while I sewed. We got 1/2" of freezing rain followed by sleet and snow. It's so cozy sewing in here and looking at the snow outside the windows. I hope Santa brought you nice things too.Till next time, keep stitchin'.