Monday, March 31, 2014

And so it begins ...........



Spring is slowly arriving to the garden but it is time to get to work.

We have a very long list of projects ... as always.  But one of the first projects is to remove this raised bed and tuteor.

The raised beds were put in to contain mint.  (Like that is possible!!  I swear mint could take over the world!  Or at least, my yard.)

We are removing them because they take up too much valuable flower space.  During the season, this one in particular is neglected so it always looks unkept.   I will gain another 24 square feet of space ..... and that's a lot of bloomin' pretty!!!!

This is really the tough time.  It is hours on my hands and knees ... cleaning and stripping the garden of last years debris and this year's early weeds.

I no longer till the garden.  The soil is rich and beautiful.   Friable ... the agronimists would say.

But I have to say .... this is my time.

 I look at the trends in the winter.  What colors are hot.  What flowers are new.

So now is the time of planning and moving the plants.  What color will look best here?  Is there too much shade for the salvia there?

I make a color plan in the fall ........ but it will change as spring arrives.  What plants will catch your eye?  What will benefit from more sun??

I hear the wind whistle through the trees ..... the robins bob in and out of the garden.  The ground is cold ... and frost is only a few inches below.

It will be a long time before it is warm enough to plant.

Until that time .... I revel in the peace that is found in my garden.  No phones.  No questions.  No emails.

Just the gentle clucking of my partner in crime.


Bug patrol, weed eater, fertilizer and tiller .... rolled into one!

The day will soon come that she is not welcome in the garden  but until then..... she is the best company I could have.

And she provided supper!

Score!!!!


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The flower farmer's new skirt

I can't show any blooming flowers.

I can't plant any future flowers.

And Lord knows, I can't order any more flowers!!!

But I can wear them ... so that will have to satisfy me for a couple of weeks.

I will be speaking again at the Illinois Valley Community College Homestead Conference on April 5th.  And I am soooooooooooooo tired of wearing the same old sweaters over and over again .... I decided I needed something pretty.  Something springy.  Something that would make me smile.

I am tired of wearing someone else's discards.

I am tired of wearing over priced clothes.

I am tired of styles that are too young, too old, too tall, too skinny.

I am tired of wearing clothes that don't last.

And most of all, I am tired of wearing clothes made in 3rd world sweat shops by children.

So to be honest ...... this is the result of my kitchen sweat shop.

This fit the criteria set by me ...... it is new.  It was less than $15 ... including fabric, thread, elastic and pattern.  It fits.  It is unique.  And it was constructed carefully.





A simple 4 panel A-line.  Chocolate brown linen-look fabric made of polyester and rayon.  The joy of this fabric is its care.  You can pop it off the clothes line and it doesn't look like a crumpled mess.  Its comfortable wear. 

I embroidered flowers on the front in shades of pink, yellow and blue.

And if I raised the eyebrows of a 4-H judge or two about a "linen-look" fabric ..... please note the inside of the garment.......




Look at those finished seams!!!!

I know!!!! 

Who knew that I could do that??????

I have a top to make in a pink linen-like stuff.

The other thing .... from the fabric store to completion...... less than 24 hours!!  And I taught a class!

We could have had breakfast at the kitchen table!!!!!!

Or not!!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The cover-up

They say the cover-up is worse than the crime.

Well ... not in this case!!

These cover-up's are adorable.  At least, I think so.

Obviously, my trip to 5 quilt shops in 5 hours was incredibly successful.  Cuz I have had a ball sewing 3 aprons in one week.  I know many of you would have sewn more .... but I also spun 2 skeins of yarn, embroidered two tea towels, knit one sock and taught 3 classes. 

Now do you forgive the slowness of my needle?



You know .... I love the vintage charm of the church lady apron and these three are so much fun to display.



This apron has a lovely bias cut ruffle .... and the citron green with the bright red strawberries make me smile.

But I don't think anything could make me any happier than this 1960's inspired mod print.  And a new apron pattern will follow the fun-hippie-feel of the fabrics.





I just don't remember chickens being so groovy????????

Monday, March 17, 2014

Lipstick on a pig

The other day, Honey and I walked through the kitchen department in a big box home improvement store.

I looked at the shiny catalyzed lacquer finishes .....

I glanced at granite countertops ......

I walked on the 24" square ceramic tile floor ....

I saw the stainless steel appliances.  Only stainless steel appliances.

And then I came home to my 1892 farmhouse.

If I put that in my kitchen ..... it would be like putting lipstick on a pig!!!

I have to embrace the fact that my old farmhouse has to look like an old farmhouse.  Not some slick designer's idea of what a farmhouse looks like.

I've Pinterest'ed and Houzz'ed pictures galore of "Farmhouse Kitchens".  And I love them!!  But they are all alike.  White cabinets, wood floors, granite countertops, maybe a hint of color.  And they don't scream anything personal about the owners.

So -- I will be doing milk paint finishes on the cabinets.  With glazes and wax and color.

I will replace the current light switches with push buttons and un-lacquered brass plates so it might mellow and age.

I'll hang the same light fixture that came out of my parents house in 1961.  It hung in the dining room and had been there since the house was built in 1913.  When they took it down .... in 1961 .... I cried.

My dad took mercy on me and put it in the basement.  Every time they cleaned the basement and would pick up that light fixture for the trash container  ... I would cry.  I would put it in my home someday.

It is not "hip." 
It is not "in".
But it hangs in my kitchen .... a small story of who I am and where I came.

I will use wood and laminate countertops .... granite/marble would never have been in a lowly farmhouse like mine.  If the house had been out east .... you might have seen soapstone, but not in the mid-west.

There will be dirty feet, baby chicks, garden fresh produce and sick kittens in my kitchen.  And that's exactly how I want it.  A reflection of who we are and how we live.  Simply.  Honestly.  Struggling.

It will never be a show place .....

It will be without lipstick.




Saturday, March 15, 2014

For the Beer Tuesday Group...........

There are two things that our Beer Tuesday group does extremely well.

1) Drink beer.

2) Laugh.

And we laugh a lot more than we drink.... otherwise, we would be under the tables.

We are not known for highly intellectual humor.  In fact, most of our humor would go over well with second graders.  Not too high brow.

For in fact, we are lovers of the lowly pun.

So yesterday, I was stitching away on a new tea towel.  And suddenly, our Beer Tuesday group came to mine as I decided to name this tea towel.



Wait for it.


Wait for it


And you can groan .... Lord knows, I did.


It is ..... My goat of many colors.


I'll drown my embarrassment in my pale ale now.




Monday, March 3, 2014

Cabin fever ..........

Well, everyone in the Midwest has to admit to some degree of cabin fever.

It is cold. 
It is snowy. 
And it ain't ending anytime soon!!!!

Nothing is happening outside. 
No gardens cleaned.
No magic created.

So Honey and I continue on our project lists.

Honey had an uber-productive weekend!!  Six projects done!  Six!!

Most were little things ... like trimming a couple of branches and fixing the basement door.

Now I say they were little things ..... but I was snuggled into the house, nice and warm,  while he was outside working on the trimming the branches and fixing the basement door.

Obviously ..... our perspectives might be different on this!  ;)

But I think this was super cool!!


He did a Shaker tape seat on this foot stool that we had found at a flea market.

I am really happy with the way it came out.

And I am pretty happy with this.



It is a micro-fleece jacket.  I think it would be awesome in boiled wool!! 

And maybe easier to sew.  I can't say I am a huge fan of fleece.  The pattern suggested fleece and the techniques were perfect for fleece .... but I do love the stability of wool.  Even after trimming and grading and pressing and pressing seam allowances .... I still think there is too much bulk in the facing.

But it is cozy and warm ...... and this winter, I need that!!!

So that is project number 10 for my list.

On to the next one!!!

Cuz it's not warming up any time soon!!!!