Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Readying the Garden

Each year we plant a vegetable garden, mostly tomatoes, squash, beans and herbs. This last weekend we began readying the raised beds and planting some of the vegetables.

home gardening

Some things come back on their own. This is the third year for the rhubarb and it's doing well. I'm looking forward to making strawberry rhubarb jam and a deliciously sweet rhubarb coffee cake
It's the second year for this artichoke plant and we have already been eating artichokes for weeks. I cleaned out all the dead leaves and debri that had collected under the plant making it look kind of whimpy, now. But it's super healthy and has few bugs, which is a plus.
artichoke plant
Artichokes are just so pretty, aren't they?
We didn't do much with the raised beds in the winter or early spring so there was a lot of weeding and nutrient replacement needing to be done. My man power and I ran out of steam, so this job will be continued over the next week.
raised garden beds
Did I tell you we have our own Mojito garden? The limes grow like crazy ...
bearrs lime
and so does the mint. They are a nice refreshing drink to whip up in the afternoon after a hot day working in the garden.

This is one of my favorite garden tools. This garden wagon was a gift several years ago and I love that it is all rusty and still works great for hauling things from the car to the backyard.
garden wagon
We went to our favorite nursery, Roger's Garden in Corona del Mar, and bought all the starter plants.
I usually have a contest with #2 son to see who can grow the biggest tomato. This year, Paul went to the nursery with me and we spoke with David, a wealth of knowledge about tomato gardening. He said to try Big's supposed to produce a fruit 4-6 pounds. Look out Michael, dad has a plan. He also saw a tomato called German Johnson...need I say more? He bought it just for the name. Boys never grow up! The Big Johnson tomato will be the talk of the garden when all the boys are here.
I usually buy all heirloom tomato plants, but this year we took David's advice and bought the ones he recommended.

I transfered the herb garden to another raised bed because this one has become so full of roots. It will take a while to clean it out and replant it with something else.
pitch fork
While cleaning out the old we found a baby cauliflower. Guess what I am having for lunch today?
Our first hydrangea has bloomed and I can't wait for these huge blooms to fill the patio with color.
pink hydrangeas
That's my garden prep story...I was covered in dirt and smelled like chives, even after a shower. It's a good feeling to get down and dirty and to know that we are growing our own food.
gardening shoes

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Clam Bake

We celebrated Evan's birthday this week with dinner at Mozza Pizzeria in Newport Beach.  I had an ulterior motive...I wanted to do a photo session at the beach with my clam shell quilt as well as celebrate our dear son's 34th birthday.

The future Mr and Mrs Evan Stanley
While Evan, Lauren and Mr. Romance walked onto the pier, I snapped the seagull and pelican enjoying the sunshine.
seagull and pelican

They were so careful to gently lower the quilt over the railing as I shouted directions from the shore. The wind was blowing quite a bit so I didn't get the shots I had hoped for but I think I still got some really good photos of the quilt.
quilt on a pier
Trying to get the quilt without the tourists was a difficult task, especially because it is Spring Break and the beach was quite crowded.
denyse schmidt fabric clam shell quilt
I like that even from afar you can see the beautiful job Natalia Bonner did quilting this beauty.
clam shell quilt
I made it very clear to Paul that the quilt has a direction and the points of the clam shells should be pointing downward when he was holding it. Too bad I didn't pay attention when he was shooting me holding the quilt. The grimace on my face is because 
1. The sun was very bright.
2. The quilt is very heavy.
denyse schmidt fabric clam shell quilt

This might be my favorite shot of the quilt which I am now calling Clam Bake.
denyse schmidt fabric clam shell quilt
The quilt is so large and heavy. It was a bear to manuever when binding it. It was also quite stiff from being densely quilted and I was worried it would not be very cuddly. It would not fit in my machine at home,  I had to take it to the Laundro-Mat. I was so glad when I pulled it out of the dryer and it had softened just like my friends assured me it would.  And now that it has been in the sand at the beach I will have to wash it again.

Miele washer

denyse schmidt fabric clam shell quilt

I just had to try editing this photo with the Waterlogue app. I think all the colors look so pretty as a water color piece of art.
waterlogue app

About This Quilt:
I have always been a fan of Martha Stewart and her talents. I watched her network morning show regularly until her show went to a cable channel. I don't know if she still has a show on TV or not. But anyway...that is where I first heard of Denyse Schmidt and fell in love with her quilt designs and fabrics. Fast forward to about 3 years ago when I became a major fabric collector/hoarder and I started buying different lines of Denyse's fabrics. I have used bits and pieces of them in different projects but for the most part I was saving them for something special.
When I first met Latifah she was sewing the binding on her Neon and Neutral Clam Shell quilt and I was instantly smitten and knew I had to make a clam shell quilt of my own. Latifah has a free pattern on Craftsy using templates and also a YouTube video to show you how to sew the curves. These things are all very helpful. I only used the templates for the top row and chose to just square up my quilt after piecing all the rows instead of using her templates for the sides and bottom rows. I was a confident curve sewist before I started this quilt but her idea to sew every other clam shell in a row and then go back and fill in the blanks really makes sewing these rows a breeze.
This last Christmas I received the clam die for the Accuquilt and my plan was launched. I cut almost 400 clam shells from nearly 150 different Denyse Schmidt fabrics. I did not use them all in this quilt, so there is still another clam shell project in my future. There is Katie Jump Rope, Flea Market Fancy, Shelburne Falls, Chicopee, Florence, and lots of DS Quilts fabric from Joann's in this quilt.
It took me about a month to piece it and then I pondered the backing. I knew I wanted either a flannel or corduroy and when the Paisley corduroy from Chicopee went on sale on I snatched up 10 yards.
I really wanted it to be quilted by someone I knew would put a lot of thought into the quilt design and Natalia Bonner was the perfect person to ask. She used five different free motion quilt designs, filling each clam shell and trying not to have two of the same designs next to each other. She did a fabulous job and I am so glad I asked her to quilt this one for me.
The binding is also a DS Quilts fabric from Joann's. I really like the orange with all the other fabrics and think it frames it perfectly.
This quilt will live on our bed. Now I need to make some pillow cases to compliment it.
Quilt Stats:
Name: Clam Bake
Fabrics: a range of Denyse Schmidt fabrics
Backing: Chicopee Paisley Corduroy
Binding: DS Quilts Orange Circles
Pieced with Aurifil 50 wt. thread
Batting: Quilter's Dream Poly Batting
Quilted by: Natalia Bonner
Size: 99" x 98"
As a side note, this quilt weighs 9 pounds! This quilt has been "Over-Instagrammed" and has made several appearances on my blog but I have to say, it is my favorite quilt that I have ever date, and I am so glad it is finished. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

2014 Finish-A-Long, Q2

Last quarter I made it easy on myself and only put five things on my Finish A-Long list. I completed all five projects so I decided to make it easy again. This time there are five things on my list but only four will really count as projects eligible to compete on this list.
The first is a quilt for a secret someone. The top is all pieced and it needs to be basted, quilted and bound. I found the perfect fabric for the backing at Sew Modern in Los Angeles, where our monthly guild meetings are held. This Fig Tree fabric quilt will be my next finish and hopefully gifted soon.

Fig Tree Fabric quilt

Next up is a quilt I am making for Lemonade International. This is a charity I found through my friend, Valerie. It helps children living in a safe house in Guatemala. It is made with Briar Rose but it is a secret project right now, too. Let's just say it is going to make a little girl feel very special. The top is all cut and some pieces are already sewn together. I bought the backing last night at Sew Modern, too.
briar rose fabric
Next up is my Selvage Block Along quilt. I have about 12 more blocks to make and then I will decide on a layout and start sewing the blocks together. This is one I really want to finish, but since it does not have a deadline I keep pushing it aside.
selvage quilt blocks
These socks are for my secret Post Sew South partner. I have one sock finished and have turned the heel on the second sock, so I am pretty sure I will make the May 1, mailing date.

madelinetosh yarn knit socks

This is my project that will not count on the Finish-A-Long, but it is one that will take away a lot of my sewing time. This is most of my stash, packed away while we have a bathroom remodeled and then get ready for new floors to be installed and the interior walls to be painted. By the time the Finish-A-Long Q2 wraps up, this should all be back in my sewing room. 
my fabric stash

Finish Along 2014

Saturday, April 5, 2014

My Bee Blocks are Buzzing Around the World

I really like being a part of the online quilting community and getting to know people all over the world who share my passion for fabric and all things quilty. Being a member of an active online bee is very rewarding. I not only get to chat with friends through social media but we get to share our creativity and also some of our mishaps. The Instagram community has come to my rescue many times when I am in a bind as to how to proceed with a project or if I have a general sewing question.
Here are my bee block projects for April.
This month in the Stitch Tease Bee Annabella is our queen. She asked for Maple Leaf blocks with low volume backgrounds. She wanted one block in a "fall" color and one in a jewel-toned color. I chose mustard and fuchsia, as they are two of my favorite colors and I know my friend, Bella, likes them too.
This bee fabric caused quite a buzz {yeah, I'm clever with words, hmmm} on Instagram and the lovely Amanda of Westwood Acres Fabric said she had an entire bolt of it. So anyone who is in need of some bees can contact her. It is an older line from Andover fabrics.
X and Plus quilt bee block

Maple Leaf quilt block
Next up is Rebecca in the Modern Stitching Bee. She asked for x and plus blocks in deep saturated colors or fussy cuts. I hope I filled her wishes. I accidentally made one a little less scrappy, so I am sending her three blocks instead of the customary 2-121/2" blocks.
X and Plus quilt bee block

X and Plus quilt block

X and Plus quilt block

Going back to Stitch Tease Bee's Miss February, Susan designed a great play on an ombre effect block but asked us to keep it a secret because she was having it published as a cushion in Love Patchwork and Quilting magazine. Well the magazine is out now so we can show our blocks. 
You can see Susan's cushion in her post here.
I am so very happy for all my friends who have recently become "famous" in the quilting world and so glad that I have them to keep me inspired with all their creativity.
ombre quilt block

ombre quilt block

Thursday, April 3, 2014

5 for 5, First Quarter Finish-A-Long

In January I declared that I wanted to finish 5 projects in the first quarter of the year. I wrote about them in this blog post.

There were three quilts, a bag and a pair of socks on the list. I finished all 5 projects with barely a minute to spare until the deadline.
Here are my finished projects and the blog posts that go along with them.

First up was the Super Tote I made for my friend, Mim.  It was a thank you gift for her generous hospitality when she hosted me and another friend at her home in the Seattle area in January. You can read about the bag and the fun we had here and here.

Super Tote

Next were the socks I was knitting for my mom's Valentine's Day gift. She sure was surprised and really likes them. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than making things for the people I love. You can see my mom's reaction in this blog post.
posey knitted socks

Next on my list of finishes is the Winterkist Chevron Quilt. It was waiting a long time to be finished and in the end I sent it off to the long arm quilter. I am really glad I did. You can see more photos in this blog post.

Winterkist Chevron Quilt

The Mosaic quilt is one of my favorite finishes of all time. I just love the way all the components came together. I still have not gifted this quilt to it's intended recipient. You can read about this quilt in this blog post.

Mosaic quilt

Last to finish is the Denyse Schmidt Clam Shell quilt. Technically it is finished, but it still needs a tumble in the washer and dryer and a proper photo shoot. I'll be blogging about this one next week after some of the technicalities are taken care of. I'm hoping to go "on location" this weekend to take some good photos. I take so much pride in finishing this quilt. I can't wait to put it center stage and tell you all about it.
denyse schmidt fabric clamshell quilt

So now to come up with a few projects for the next quarter.
Thanks to Katy for hosting the Finish-A-Long and all the sponsors for their generous donations for prizes.

Finish Along 2014

*something happened to my blog header and if anyone knows how I can get the size back to how it was please comment.