Month: May 2016

BUSY WEEKEND

I had a full notebook sheet of items on my “to do” list for this past weekend, which also included Friday night, Saturday, Sunday and Monday visits to the cabin.  Getting food ready for a group is always on the weekend agenda.  For Saturday brunch I prepared a make ahead potato egg bake which is always a great thing to have ready to put in the oven.  I can make it at home and it travels well to the cabin.  This time I changed up the recipe by using Italian sausage rather than the usual breakfast sausage blend and served it with warm Marinara sauce.  That with some fresh fruit and cornbread muffins, got everyone on their way for the day.

ITALIAN SAUSAGE HASH BROWN CASSEROLE recipe

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Also on my “to do” list was to finish planting and getting some new mulch laid in the garden.  A few weeks ago, we had a very late frost three nights in one week.  Even though I covered what I needed to with bed sheets upon bed sheets, some of the very tender plants did not survive.  So I had some replanting to do.

Here is a quick glimpse of what is blooming in my yard this weekend.  These blooms are always the first out and so rewarding to see after the long winter and spring clean up. The plants will show their splendor on a weekly basis, blooming throughout the summer.  The garden changes every day.  That is the joy and the challenge.  The garden house garden is the first thing I see from my deck in the morning.  I love how the sun makes the birch tree leaves light up.  The purple Iris with the variegated leaves are early bloomers.  The blooms are modest but I grow them because of the pretty leaves that add interest to the garden all summer.   I couldn’t resist snapping a shot of the Hosta with all of the lovely dew drops.  And, my favorite new Hosta this year is the 2016 Host of the Year…Curly Fries.  It is a charmer.  I planted it in a pot arrangement this year to raise it up a bit.  When it is larger this fall,   I’ll put it in the ground for its permanent home.  It is small and I thought it deserved a bit of a babying and its first year.  I have planted a ten foot row of staggered Creamy White Marigolds around my back patio.  They are in front of a row of short Blue Stem grasses and when they are all filled out will be a nice contrast in both color and leaf shape.  These look quite yellow here but are very soft , creamy yellow.  The last two pictures are of my two different Weigela shrub varieties that I use in a number of spots around the yard.  The blooms are lovely in the spring and I like the leaf color and shape of both all summer, even when not in bloom.  Tomorrow, something else will be ready to pop.  My Peony hedge is on the verge….can’t wait for those plants to blossom out.  They make the whole east side of the house smell so good.

2016-05-29 08.49.00 2016-05-29 08.50.12 2016-05-29 08.50.42 2016-05-29 08.51.10 2016-05-29 08.52.20 2016-05-29 08.53.332016-05-29 08.51.31As usual, sewing is always on the list of things “to do”.  I had two quilts that needed binding and one runner to finish.  I save that kind of handwork for after gardening is done.  It’s a good way to relax, and rest up a bit.  I can share the runner with you now.  The other two quilts I will have to save for later when the patterns and kits will be available.

The Ricky Racky Runner is made from my new Autumn Landscape fabric collection which will be arriving soon, if not already, in you local quilt store.  I am in love with the prints and colors, especially the large floral print. This particular color way is yummy.  It’s always a great starting point when putting together fabric for a project.  Notice how the design focuses the attention inwards to the lovely floral center.  It’s a quick project.  You are going to love making it in any fabric collection. The pattern for the runner is also on rjrfabrics.com as a FREE download. Look for the Ricky Racky Runner.

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ITALIAN SAUSAGE HASH BROWN CASSEROLE

If you can’t find bulk Italian sausage, purchase the links and simply cut the casing to remove the meat and crumble before browning. I use half mild and half spicy sausage because my family likes spicy food. However, I have also used regular breakfast sausage as well. Many times I use a mixture of cheese… cheddar, colby, mozzarella, Asiago, etc. (more…)

A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING AND….

The Big Quilt Cupboard has arrived!2016-05-25 05.26.38

Whenever I amass a collection of a category of things, storage becomes critical.  When my quilts started to become an issue, I decided I needed to dedicate a special storage space to accommodate them. A  spot that was easy to access and a good environment for the quilts…meaning not plastic tubs or plastic bags, but shelving with good air flow was a must. Luckily, I have a spare room that really has become my grandson’s bedroom that he uses when he visits. The room had a nice big vacant wall that allowed me to design a wonderful quilt cupboard.  It actually is three separate cupboards that were placed snuggly against each other and then the top crown molding and bottom base molding were applied to make it appear as if it were one, huge cupboard.  It certainly would not have been able to move it into the house without breaking it up into thirds.  It has adjustable shelves.  Right now, they are placed about 18 inches apart.  You can see a couple of throw pillows tucked in the sides of two of the shelves on the right.  Just in case…the measurements of one of the three units are 34″ wide, 20″ deep and 72″ tall.2016-05-25 05.16.39

Most of my quilts are housed in this cupboard….well most.  Others are in use around the house, some are in big baskets ready to grab for TV watching  and I do have another closet that I had shelving put in for quilt storage.  I left the rod bracket in the closet and the shelves are removable so the closet can be easily turned back to one for clothes.  This closet houses my antique quilts.2016-05-25 05.20.122016-05-25 05.19.13

Let me be honest here, my quilts often get used for many other creative things.  We have a cute playhouse in the corner of the playroom of our house that for some reason, Taylor and Ella always want to have dark inside, so the quilts come out to cover the whole house….go figure!2016-05-25 05.12.36

Now, the challenge is to not grow the collection beyond this so I have to be willing to share, keeping those that for some reason or another, seem special to me.

I have posted these quilt display items previously, but they too, are a part of my quilt storage system.  The quilts on the metal curtain rod in the basement family room gets changed out often. It is a good way to rotate the quilts and to actually enjoy the design, color and workmanship of more quilts.2016-05-25 05.11.45

The cupboard in Ella’s room is a new addition and will probably always hold quilts that match her room.  She may unpack them now and then, but that is okay with Grandma.2016-05-01 15.49.19

If you have a few quilts to store, remember not to store in plastic bags or tubs.  Fold and put in cotton pillowcases to keep the dust away and gently protect the quilts.  Take the quilts out often and refold in a different way so fold marks don’t become permanent.  Sometimes, a quick fluff in the dryer on the “air only” setting (no heat) is a good way to remove dust. Treat your quilts nicely and they can be loved for years to come, well into the next generation.

SPRING IS POPPING

2016-05-07 12.41.08Last week, when I took these pictures of the blossoming trees in my yard, we were having warm, sunny, spring weather.  I was busy planting annuals in the garden and in my many pots around the yard.  In a few days, the weather turned on us and it has been rainy and downright cold.  I am actually going to have to cover my planted areas and pots this weekend to try to protect the new plants from frost. This is way too late in the season to worry about frost, but it is happening and there is nothing I can do about it except hope my efforts will save the plants.  I think we go through this every year and I never learn my lesson.  But generally, we can plant after Mother’s Day.  Just not this year, I guess.  This weather actually puts me in the mood for flannel quilts.  We are certainly still reaching for them this week at our house.

2016-05-07 12.44.412016-05-07 12.44.16So, it is back to the sewing room while I wait for nicer weather.  A dear friend of mine is about to move into a new home and is finding items deep in the closets that need to be addressed.  She found a Thimbleberries kit for a flannel quilt from the late eighties.  I was at her house when she found it.  I  took it off her hands to get it made so she can enjoy it in her new home   in front of her new fireplace.  The quilt is Fireside Cozy. It was a very popular quilt design and I am sure many of you made it.

2016-05-15 12.53.29We are still using the original two I made.  It’s the perfect size for curling up on the couch for a little TV watching or nap.  Flannel quilts are the best for overall family use. Everyone loves them…just as they love well worn flannel shirts.  The designs are generally simple and piecing is easy.  Quilters often categorize quilts as “users” or “keepers”.  Flannel quilts definitely fall into the” user” category.  I really have to dig out my flannel stash and make a few more. Everyone grabs the flannel quilt first and there just aren’t enough to go around when everyone is home for the weekend.  This pattern is no longer available but I have included a great flannel quilt design in this post.  It is a quick and easy quit to make…that goes for any fabric, flannel and otherwise.

Here are some general hints when sewing with flannel and a FREE PATTERN for a flannel quilt called Block City for those cool spring evenings.

SEWING WITH FLANNEL Sewing with Flannel

 

 

 

Block CityBLOCK CITY

A SPIRITED ENDEAVOR

2016-05-07 06.16.39Like many communities across the US, mine has a group of dedicated quilters that give of their time and talents to make quilts for our service veterans.  The Quilts of Valor effort is nation wide and flourishing by all accounts. Check out qovf.org for the full story.  There are general guidelines for sizes and quality requirements, but in our group, the quilt maker makes the decisions concerning fabric selection and pattern.  However, most of the group does stick to the red, white and blue theme.  Sometimes a family of a veteran will request a specific color scheme, but that is the rare exception.  The labor is all volunteer and in most cases the materials required are all donated.  Our group also accepts donations of cash to purchase batting and fabrics for the quilts.  I am one of the many volunteers involved and my job, along with others,  is to do the hand stitching on the bindings.  When I pick up the quilts they are already for me to sit down for the evening and stitch.  Even a label is provided for me to stitch on the back.  It takes many hands and dedicated people to pull this effort off every year but such a touching tribute to the veterans in our country.  Each year, a beautiful display of many of our groups quilts are on display at our McLeod County Fair.  It’s quite breathtaking to see an all-patriotic quilt display. My local quilt shop, Quilt Haven on Main is instrumental in helping our group coordinate the piecing of the Quilts of Valor by providing their sewing studio to the group on a monthly basis so the quilters can gather to sew together.  It’s also where we all drop off and pick up quilts for all the various stages of getting the quilt completed.  Since we are approaching Memorial Day at the end of the month, I thought I would share the quilts I am working on right now.

2016-05-07 06.18.032016-05-07 06.19.572016-05-07 06.22.31This is a sample of the lovely labels that are prepared for each quilt.  Two sides are stitched on when the binding is attached leaving just the other to to be stitched on my hand.  A special thanks to Nancy Greve and her entire group of volunteers who make these quilts and present them to the recipients each year.2016-05-07 06.59.28

OLD IS NEW AGAIN

I had a very busy and productive weekend.  The weather was perfect to do a lot of outside scrubbing, cleaning, painting and planting.  I was even able to squeeze in a trip to Babe’s Blossoms to pick up my first load of plants on Saturday and got all the plants in on Sunday afternoon in the midst of other projects I had going.

This dresser has been bouncing around our family for a number of years.  I bought it second hand ages ago and gave it to Kerry about twenty years back when she was in college.  She kept it through the first years of marriage and then when Taylor came along, she painted it yet again and turned it into a changing table for the nursery. It worked great and then two and half years later and another coat of paint and new drawer pulls, it became the changing table for baby Ella.  Now, 4 years later it has been permanently replaced, mostly because the bottom of the lower drawer completely fell apart leaving the drawer bottomless and useless. 2016-04-12 10.46.23

To give this chest another “life” I had my handymen, Butch and Rod, put shelving in where the two drawers previously occupied.  Next, the interior needed to be painted yet another coat of paint  and new drawer pulls were added. This has become a cute quilt cupboard for all those quilts that look like they belong in a sweet little girl’s room at Grandma’s house.  The top two drawers are perfect for stashing small treasures.

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2016-05-01 15.49.19To think this was on its way to the trash.

MORE OLD BECOMING NEW AGAIN…I really can’t resist a good flea market find.  This little table has so much character and is such a good size. It has been hanging around for a few years and it is time to make it “new” again.  Today is the day!2016-05-01 10.44.06

It will be perfect in so many places in my house.  Just enough space for a book, beverage or a cute accessory.  I pulled a page from a 2015 Country Living issue.  I love the color scheme…all rich and neutral with a pop of this great teal green in the side table.  This was my favorite aunt Gladys’ color scheme of choice.  I wonder if that fond memory has always influenced by affection for the color combination and why I have always been attracted to antique pottery (and new) in this color family.

2016-05-01 11.14.58I keep a file of pictures like this so I don’t have to go back through all of my older magazines to find pictures that I eventually use as inspiration around the house whether it be for gardening, decorating or design.

I cleaned the table with warm water and a little PineSol to remove the dirt.  Then rinsed with clear water with a bit of white vinegar.  I use this combination on most of my finds that need refurbishing.  Then I allow it to dry thoroughly.  I use satin latex paint for furniture.  It gives it just enough sheen to be a bit easier to keep clean than a flat, matte finish would produce.

2016-05-01 10.55.35Now the table is ready to use and adds a nice pop of color to the room.  It is the perfect size and shape for a painted piece of furniture…really, an accessory all on its own.  FYI…I used Benjamin Moore satin in Caribbean Teal.

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Next ups on the OLD IS NEW AGAIN category are were my father’s horse shoes that were  used many a Sunday afternoon by my father and uncle Vernon at the lake cabin we now own.  I still love the sound of clinking horse shoes that I can hear from the park across the river on a summer evening bringing back some very sweet memories.   I am cleaning up the horse shoes with a good scrub of soapy water and then finishing with a spray of polyurethane to give a little clean sheen to the shoes and keep any further rusting from occurring.  My son remembers playing a few games with his grandpa at the cabin and is now planning to use them as an accessory in his new office.  It is always a good thing to have a fond memory around you on a daily basis.

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Now they are clean with a coat of finish and ready to display.

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“TO DO” LIST PROJECT UPDATE…I did get four outdoor pillows made last week during our rainy weather for our patio chairs.  I found an outdoor fabric at JoAnn Fabrics that coordinated with the chair color. Granted the fabric is waterproof, but I will often put them under cover when I know rain is in the forecast.  I have a large drawer from an old pot-belly kitchen cupboard that I quickly pop them into  and keep on my covered deck out of the rain.  It makes them handy to grab and a good looking display of color and print on the deck while protected from the elements.

2016-04-27 18.19.09It is a good feeling to have another project checked off my “To Do” list.