Saturday, June 30, 2007

Deck Flowers

This time of year, when the pots on the deck have started to fill in and everything is looking lush and hopeful, is one of my favorites. Granted, I miss all the first blooms of spring (which really is the most hopeful season) but the abundance we experience this time of year is reassuring in a different way.

I have to admit, I'm only indulging in flowers here. All I've put in the vegetable garden is a couple of tomato plants and a couple of cucumber plants. Mom used to point out the miracle of gardening when I was a child, when you had the ability to take a 29 cent package of cucumber seeds and just a few months later, have so many that you were handing them out to the neighbors and taking them to the office. One has only to go to the pick-your-own strawberry farm to witness the abundance. It's reassuring to me...Mother Nature says "just give me a little bit...just a small amount of attention and some water, and look what I'll return."

Here I am, rhapsodizing about abundant fruits and vegetables, and I'm going to show you flowers. Let me get to it... Here's a view down one side of the deck railing. I'm always happiest with a mixture of colors and textures, and nothing too matchy-matchy. If I can get some fragrance out of the deal, so much the better. The strawberry pot near the railing is filled with "million bells" in two colors, and each of the little side pockets has a different kind of sweet potato vine.

Another shot of the cluster of pots, with the strawberry pot elevated toward the back.

I'm especially pleased with this planting. It looks like a fiesta, with the orangey-red and yellow lantana, the pinks, and the portulaca.

A better view of the lantana, which is so vivid, next to the pale lavender and pale yellow petunias.

Today I added some New Guinea impatiens to the pot with the elephant ears, which has just begun to sprout. Note the iridescent purple Persian Shield plant - it has such an intiguing leaf.

Here's a better view of the Persian Shield, plus the licorice plant, and some of the sweet potato vines.

Here's a layered look with the Persian Shield leaf, the red-violet petunia in the back, and of course some of the foliage.

Here's a view of the railing on the other side of the desk. The ground down below the railing is loaded with hostas, daylilies, and a hydrangea that isn't blooming! See the bucket of hen & chicks?

We took a little break at McDonald's. I had one of their iced coffees, which I CRAVE regularly, and Gerry had a milkshake. When he was done, Cosmo made sure the cup was really empty.

After his little snack, Cosmo stood watch over the newly trimmed area below the deck. Or is he watching the pond in the distance?

A Gentle Summer Saturday

What a lovely Saturday this has been. We haven't been under any real pressure to complete a project, so we've been taking our time, puttering in the gardens and deck pots, having breakfast out, taking little cat naps. We also visited a new-to-us garden shop, six miles away and "in the country," where we found the rock we'd like to use to build a little deck near the pond. It seems to be a better day for planning and dreaming than actual doing.

I was inspired by a post at Tongue in Cheek (here - 3rd photo down) to make use of a "fire bucket" I was given while living in NC. Here's my version:

I'm hoping that it will fill in with the lushness of the inspiration photo.

About 20 of the feeder goldfish that we put in the pond have made themselves known to us. Last night, as Gerry & I walked around the perimeter of the pond, one of those little goldfish actually jumped! Even when we know where they are in the pond, it's easy to lose sight of them, so we were really happy to get a good glimpse of the orange-y school drifting through the deep part of the pond.

Today I'm feeling so very fortunate. My dear husband and I had a peaceful and charming day, simply enjoying our home, doing small tasks, and congratulating ourselves on knowing how to relax.

Friday, June 29, 2007

New fabrics and projects...

As if I didn't have enough fabric! Yesterday I received an order from Vogue Fabrics, plus a few other things in the mail (and only one bill!). Now that I have used the serger a few times, I'm eager to make some things to wear, so had to start stocking up on clothing-type fabric.

These are the fabrics I bought with clothing in mind. The dark taupe in the back left is a lovely, heavy, jersey knit. I see a drapey tunic top and matching slacks (assuming it doesn't cling to my saddle bags TOO much). The floral is a soft but dense woven linen blend. That's currently planned for a top that sports pointed sides, longer than the front, but that may change. The two front fabrics are soft and gauzy -- perfect for summer pants and flowing tops.
Also from Vogue Fabrics is this soft, almost silky, cotton fabric with the look of batik and stamped with African women with baskets. I got a full yard of this, and have at least three projects dancing in my head. I wonder which it will be!
In a much smaller package came the "blank" for a self-portrait doll. I've been buying pre-made blank dolls from Monica Magness (Girl Gone Thread Wild, on eBay) for several months. She makes quality doll blanks, perfectly stuffed, from unique fabrics. She has begun a monthly challenge, where she provides the blank. This month's challenge is a self-portrait doll. I received this unique yellow and orange body with numbers, and some orange wings! Note that Monica also provided some Timtex for a crown. The green tissue background and the variegated ribbon you see were used to wrap the blank inside the shipping box. Even the packing and shipping is a delight! Incidentally, Monica has a blog, too, where the challenge results are posted.

Cool Summer Evenings

A cool front came through yesterday. Though the skies threatened rain all day, we weren't fortunate enough to get any. It was the perfect evening for enjoying the deck (after fixing supper, touring the pond, play time with the dogs, watering the deck plants, and finishing the laundry). Though dusk had set in, I told Gerry that I wanted to go outside, try to read in the half-light, and simply enjoy the evening.

It didn't take long, sitting in my chair with light breezes brushing bare shoulders, to realize that the evening was significantly cooler than the previous one. Gerry brought me a light throw from the sofa to cover my shoulders, so I wouldn't disturb the dogs -- each had taken up some reclining position near me. So there I was, remembering the light summer breezes of my youth, the times we would make a tent of old blankets in the back yard and "sleep out," and guess what happened? Yes, I drifted off.

It was deliciously soothing and relaxing. And, true to form, my dear husband had to get a photo...and obviously stirred up all the dogs except Buddy. (See him on the chaise next to me?)
The deck flower pots are filling in beautifully. Each one is a burst of color, fragrance, and texture, and the blending of them all together is a visual delight.

Here's to soft summer breezes, lush plants, and the pleasant memories they make!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Mental Health Through Blogs

For me, certain magazines are like taking a mini-vacation. I used to treasure the weekend following the arrival of Victoria magazine. What a loss to my personal well-being when first they changed the content, and later they just discontinued the magazine.

Though I don't feel quite as strongly about Romantic Homes magazine, it still provides a great deal of pleasure and inspiration. This past week, the August issue arrived, and when I spotted some gorgeous photos of vintage linens and lace, I had to read the fine print. That lead me to this blog, and while I'm certainly not the first to discover it, I want to share with you here -- it's called Tongue in Cheek - I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I.

With one thing leading to another the way it does (especially on the internet), the Tongue in Cheek blog lead me to another, called L'Armoire de Suzanne and though I neither read nor speak a lick of French, I take away enough via the photos to give me a little "soul trip."

It's odd to grandparents (maternal) spoke French in the home, mostly when they didn't want their children to know what they were discussing. They were adamant that THEIR children would speak English. I could have used a smattering of French when Gerry and I took our anniversary trip to Paris a few years ago. Of course, I got by. It's amazing what you can communicate with pointing, shrugging, and holding up the proper number of fingers for quantity. I could always tell when they were asking for money, and then I could just point to my dear husband!

I hope you enjoy this little blog tour, and that it fills your heart the way it did mine.

(Here's a picture of my dear husband, the one who always paid, at the top of the Arc de Triomphe.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

LIfe Requires Flowers

One of my personal sayings, part of my personal belief system. Life requires flowers.

When the kids and grandkids were here, I spent some time at the park where they were fishing, taking close-ups of rain-kissed blossoms. They threw fishing lines and rocks in the water, and I wandered and took photos.

This was at the park - it appears to be a forget-me-not. It was much more blue in real life.
These peonies were blooming near the deck stairs in our back yard. They are rather overwhelmed by a pine tree, but I found them peeking out. I'm enchanted with that double, double pale pink. This bunch is in a pitcher on the dining room table.

OK, so this isn't really a flower, it's moss. And it has a slug creeping on it. But I was already doing close-ups while wandering the park, and isn't the texture of that moss fascinating, close up? And really, the slug isn't nearly as creepy as when you find him on your leaf lettuce in the kitchen sink.
Also at the park...a beautiful, rain-kissed yellow flag.
Near the yellow flag, the pink rhododendron. Look at that detail! All that complexity, in a little tiny bloom.

This close-up is of one of last year's brown-eyed Susan blooms.
This from a huge coleus I had on the deck last year. Love those colors!
Really not a close-up, but I love the layering and texture of the dark daylilies in front of foliage and "Never Ending Summer" hydrangeas.
REAL close-up of the center of the brown-eyed Susan. It's an amazing design, when you think about it. Yes, it's a little blurry, but when you zoom in that closely, you have to hold your breath and hope for the best! Closer view of the hydrangea blossoms. I just love hydrangeas.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

ATD swap on CPS list

Here are the submissions for the ATD swap I hosted on the ClothPaperStudio list. Aren't they great? (All were made using the same template, provided by Sherry Goshon.)

From Betsy Tauer:
From Nina Owens:
From Jodi Evans:
From Wendee Deal:
From Toni Yancey:
From Gayle Sword:
From Wendy Coyne:
From Ruth Palmer:

Cosmo helps...

I guess he's determined to torment me, one way or the other. If he's not capturing critters, he's trying to nest in my treehouse! I was going to show you how I look, napping on the deck, but have decided I don't need to publish evidence of my encroaching old age :-)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Weekend projects

Well, I hate to admit it, but I am awfully spoiled and indulged. I have practically made a career of complaining about the cost of raising three children in Minnesota, the way my ex short-changed me, and what the election of "W" did to the value of our retirement fund.

However, I don't go without, especially at this point in my life. Gerry is so quick to pick up on every little thing I might say I want, I have to be careful what I wish for. Case in point: Last week, I mentioned that I've been wanting a serger. So many of the new clothing and bag patterns that are making their way into my sewing room give seam allowance instructions for sergers. My ten year (or more?) hiatus from sewing left me in a different century! I showed Gerry the one I thought would be best for me, and the phone calls began..."Order it!" And "Have you ordered it yet?" And "You better get it before the price goes up!"

So, somewhat guiltily, I ordered a serger (via Amazon) last Wednesday. It arrived on my doorstep Friday afternoon. I made this bag yesterday. I used that wonderful pre-appliqued primitive fabric I got at the sewing expo in March, and I used a piece of batik from my stash for the lining. The lining is so striking, I'm kind of sorry that it's hidden. Here are a couple of photos:

Also over the weekend, I put the finishing touches on the two Artist Trading Dolls I'll be contributing to the swap (which I'm hosting). We all used the same template (provided by Sherry Goshon, an extraordinarily generous doll designer). The gals that participated came up with some wonderfully unique creations. Here's the first of mine, titled "Brilliant with Hope."

And here's the other, titled "Flower Child." I made this one with some really unique petals, some sort of tortured material, I think, sent to me by my friend Phyllis:

Here's the one I didn't finish. Oddly enough, of all the bases I made, this was my favorite, but I didn't know how to embellish and decorate this one. I'll work on it later.

I have a zillion things I want to make right now, mostly clothing for myself. The problem is, I put back a bunch of weight with all the guests we had and the indulgent eating we did! Still, purses won't make my hips & tummy look bigger, so I can work on those till I get the other parts under control again. I have dreams of flowing artistic pants, funky jackets, simple but drapy tops.

Watch for another post on our father's day weekend project. We really tortured some shrubbery. Good thing Gerry's favorite thing to do is work -- that I can give him. (I *did* give him a watch, and he got plenty of other goodies from the kids.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Oh, my!

Can you believe it's been three and a half weeks since I last posted? That's just about how long we've been having out of town guests, and that alone really affected my computer time. We had glorious visits with adult children, grandchildren, and explored our "new" home further. We've had the opportunity to explore local fishing and lakes, good bakeries, ethnic foods, shopping, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, book reading, all kinds of wonderful stuff!

In between cleaning house, doing laundry and the multiple little jobs one does to prepare for (and recover from) guests, I did finally complete my charms (inchies) for a charm swap and I trimmed, labeled, and shipped soaps for the Soapnuts NINTH annual State Soap Swap. I dithered about what state to create soap for, as you can do the state you live in, the one you wish you lived in, or one from your past. Mine's a little more general than any of those, though. I'm pleased with the scent, the all new formula, and the labeling. Unheard of in a swap soap.

The rest of the summer is ahead of us with no travel plans, no more expected guests. As I told someone else in a recent email, "we are now going back to being funny old people, puttering in the garden, and having quiet, companionable meals that contain vegetables." I'll post some pix soon.