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Pizza- you can grow that!


Well, not the whole pizza, there’s no such thing as a sausage tree or a mozzarella bush, after all, but we do veggie pizzas around here, mostly, and it is certainly possible to grow your herbs and veggies for pizza.
I have an oregano plant that has come up reliably for five years. I always swoop down and brush it with my fingers when I walk past, just to smell that evocative scent of …well…pizza.
You can plant onion sets simply by pushing them into the soil, pointy end up. Pull them throughout the summer for green onions.
Wait until after danger of last frost to plant tomatoes, peppers and basil. In my area, that is traditionally mother’s day. This has been a weird year, though, with hardly any snow all winter, then a couple big dumps- one that closed school on May first- this spring. The snow has melted, but the soil is still very cold. I’m going to set up Walls of Water, to warm up the soil in advance of planting.

Yes, this is our meat thermometer. Yes, I washed it! 43 Fahrenheit is around 4 degrees Celsius. Tomatoes are happier with warmer toes.

Yes, this is our meat thermometer. Yes, I washed it! 43 Fahrenheit is around 4 degrees Celsius. Tomatoes are happier with warmer toes.

I have designed my garden on purpose to mix in edibles with the flowers. Rather than having a big “vegetable garden” out back, each big border has an area without perennials or bulbs that I can turn over and plant annual vegetables. I think it is prettier, and easier to take care of, to have a couple of square feet of tomatoes right next to the asters and iris.

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Mistakes in Scale


My tulips bloomed last week. I know this because as I was pulling into the driveway, I saw a flash of yellow, very far away.
Then it snowed, and I forgot about them. Now they are pitiful- squashed by a foot and a half of very wet snow.

See- way over there, by the bricks...under the window? Yellow and orange tulips?

See- way over there, by the bricks…under the window? Yellow and orange tulips?

Why, oh why won’t I learn to plant big things far away, and little things close?
I kind of learn it- I did put about 20 bulbs into a pot on the porch, where I can sit next to them in the morning sunshine, and I have some other tiny scilla mixed in with the grass just off the patio, so I can strum the ukulele and enjoy their tiny bell shaped blossoms. But putting 6 inch tall yellow tulips 30 feet away from where I walk, or sit, or drive, that’s just silly.
Mistakes in scale are super common- my favorite (now that it is gone) is the Russian sage that the previous owners planted underneath the mailbox. So, think about this- a shrubby perennial, beloved by bees, that gets to be 5 feet tall and 6 feet wide, in a 2 foot wide bed between the driveway and the front walk, right under the mailbox. Did I mention it was beloved by bees? Yeah. It was not beloved by mailmen.
I broke two separate digging forks trying to uproot it. DH was heard to comment one time after I cut it back severely and tried to dig it out, “I hope I never make you as mad as that russian sage made you.”
It didn’t make me mad, it just was in the wrong place. When you are in the wrong place, I let you know.

Another mistake in scale I see all the time is a narrow flower bed along the back fence, planted with geraniums and marigolds. A wooden stockade fence 6 feet tall, with 6 inch flowers in front of it, 20 or 30 feet away from the porch or the patio or the deck.
So, maybe size doesn’t matter, but scale does… what mistakes in scale with gardens to you see? What mistakes do you still make?

Progress on the Duvet Cover


The previous owners of our house finished the basement in idiosyncratic ways- for example, when they installed the basement shower, the drain holes didn’t line up. That’s bad. They also put in a storage system in the playroom with a sewing closet. Open the doors, and there is a desk with a rectangular cut-out for a sewing machine, and little drawers for scissors and bobbins and ribbons and things. That’s good.
The result is that I can leave projects half finished and come back later, without having to clean off a table to sew.
The bad thing is that it is in the basement, which is cold and dark in the winter. In summer, it is great, because when it gets unbearable upstairs in the afternoons, we can go down and play with legos and sew. In the winter, I don’t get much sewing done.IMG_0038

But, today we have a project. So, today, we’ve cleared off the dining room table, brought the sewing machine up, and the ironing board, and we are making some bedding for Kate.

I mused to myself how I would be able to control my “control-freakiness” with Kate, and let her sew without hovering over her.  It turns out, I am not having to, very much. I helped her wind bobbins, pinned some seams on pillowcases, let her sew…and then she kind of got bored. We had 6 long panels, 84 inches by 22 inches, so we sewed them together, then sewed across the top.  Kate drifted off leaving me to zigzag the six long seams and press a hem  in the opening.IMG_0033

Thanks to my panel of experts, who advised me to leave a longer seam allowance, 1/2 inch rather than 1/4, and to zigzag the edges.  IMG_0044

For the opening where the comforter goes in, I have hemmed it, and am thinking about attaching snaps? I am feeling a little lazy, though, and have made comforter covers in the past without them. What are your thoughts? I have snaps in the basement…

Yeah...okay, probably needs snaps.

Yeah…okay, probably needs snaps.

Good-enough Twin Comforter Cover

9 yards cotton quilting fabric, 3 yards each of 3 coordinating fabrics

Cut 25 inches off each fabric length. Choose one that will be the contrasting trim for both pillowcases and cut in half along its width. Set aside.

Cut the selvedges off the long pieces of fabric, and rip them in half along their length. You will have 6 pieces that are 22 inches wide and 83 inches long.

Working with two strips at a time, pin right sides together and sew together with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, then sew the pairs together to make one big tube. Pin the seam on the top of the cover, and sew it together. I lined up my seams at the edges, although as I type this, I realize I could have lined it up any which way, so the strips wouldn’t have the seams at the same place. Next time…And of course, you could make the strips any width.

Take time to zigzag the seam allowances and press the allowances to the darker fabric.

The open end is where you will feed the comforter in.  I double-folded the hem and stitched it down, leaving the center open.

This is where I should have put in snaps… and I probably will.

For the pillowcases, sew the 12 inch long piece of accent fabric to the 25 inch long piece, along the width of the fabric, 38 inches. Press the seam toward the 12 inch side- it will be covered with the folded accent fabric. Fold and sew along the bottom and side. Press a half inch hem along the top of the accent fabric and topstitch down to cover the seam that attaches the two fabrics to each other.

 

The perfect is the enemy of the good


IMG_0032This is my motto, or one of them, anyway.  The idea is that if you wait until every thing is perfect, then you will miss out on the good- enough moments. For example, Kate has a new down comforter. Her room is on the east side of the house, so the sun wakes her in the morning, but it means it is pretty cold at night. Especially lately, because she closes her door for privacy. This fall when I saw her layering two comforters and three fleece blankets, in addition to pajamas, I was like, “would you like a down comforter?”
Short answer, “yes.”
So we shopped at all the linens and baths and beyonds and things, (which I hate) and I wound up ordering one on Amazon (which I love). While waiting for it to arrive I started sketching ideas for duvet covers, thinking about embroidery, and patchwork, and scalloped edges.
Now…this was before Christmas, the end of the quarter at my school, while Kate was sick and, even though I didn’t know it, I was about to catch the flu (at least I think it was the flu, I felt terrible, but I hope it makes me immune, because I still haven’t gotten a flu shot.) Seriously, it was a terrible time to start a giant quilty craft project.
So, I didn’t.

But I didn’t want to put the comforter on the bed just naked, it needed a cover.
I didn’t actually buy an official duvet cover- I got a king sized sheet and folded it in half and sewed it together. It was the best thing to have done (well, I acknowledge that maybe just buying a pre-made duvet cover would have been easier, but I have mentioned already I hate shopping.)
Now that Christmas is over, and the new quarter at school has started, and Kate is feeling better, and here’s hoping, that was the flu, not just a random virus and I won’t get sick, we went out and bought some fabric.

The middle one is Kate's favorite- it looks much better IRL- pale green with a swirly resist pattern. My favorite is the top one.

The middle one is Kate’s favorite- it looks much better IRL- pale green with a swirly resist pattern. My favorite is the top one.

We found inspiration in Last Minute Patchwork Gifts, by Joelle Hoverson, where I have found inspiration in the past. It was funny, as we flipped though it, Kate kept finding her quilt, and her brother’s, and one that I started for the guest room but still haven’t finished. It is a great beginner’s quilt book.

We found one that was 2 bold fabrics, in vertical stripes and agreed to adapt it.
We hit the fabric store and Kate found three fabrics she really liked in blues and greens.
We got three yards of each, so we would have enough to make pillow cases as well. (the book has directions for pillow cases with contrasting borders, as well.)

Here’s another opportunity to work on my belief that the perfect is the enemy of the good, because I am going to let Kate sew, as much as she wants to. It will be 6 really long straight seams, and they don’t really have to be that straight, in the grand scheme of things. No school for Martin Luther King Day, so maybe we’ll bring the sewing machine up into the sunshine and work on it.

This almost reads as a solid, but there are little dragonflies up close. Love it.

This almost reads as a solid, but there are little dragonflies up close. Love it.

Watch for photos of progress.

Here’s a question- as I understand it, you don’t finish the seams in a quilt with zig-zag or pinking shears because they will get quilted over, and aren’t likely to fray.  With a duvet cover, should we zigzag? Quilty people? Are you there?

These Seven Pieces? Really?


At the bookstore the other day I flipped through Good Bones, a book about the seven essential pieces of furniture that you should buy and keep for a lifetime.

I was pleased to see a demilune table- I have one in teak, that I paid too much for, probably, but that I really love.

But the rest of the stuff threw me off. A dresser, obviously.

Wait…You have to write a book to tell people to buy a chest of drawers?

Slipper chairs…really?

A loveseat? ummm…I want a big couch that several people can flop on, especially as two of my favorite people to flop with get bigger and taller.

Bookshelves, a necesity for me, don’t get a mention in the book. Entertainment center… likewise not in the book. Coffee table? No. Rocker/recliner? Not in there.

So, what are your 7 essential pieces of furniture- if you were starting over, what would be the 7 first things you would get?

Funky or Fugly?


See, the pink fading into brown, and then the baby poop green? I just don’t know.

I’m making a baby blanket out of Noro Silk Garden sock yarn. I love this yarn– it is from Japan, and has lovely color gradations- I made a cowl and leg warmers from a colorway with copper and greens and blues. I am working on a scarf in a colorway with deep purples and teals.

This baby blanket makes me wonder…on the one hand, it has bright pink and turquise…fading into brown. Then on the other hand it has purple and indigo and green…and green…and another green…a green that can really only be described as “macrame green.” Or avocado green- some kind of green from the 70’s.

I’ve been working on it a while, and I go back and forth between thinking it’s super cute…and thinking it is ghastly.

There is a kindergartner whose brother takes a Tae Kwan Do class while my kids do, and Erin, the kindergartener, keeps track of my progress. She is very interested in the baby, and the process of the blanket. She has serious doubts about the color combo, though.  She’s polite, and she’ll say she likes the pink, but then she gets a crinkle in her forehead. I get a crinkle in my forehead, too.

The pattern is from Knitting Wrapsody and it has an interesting construction- it starts with a square, which is divided into quarters, then triangles are picked up along each edge, then more triangles are picked up along those edges, then a rectangular border. Because of the way the colors fade into each other, sometimes the stripes on the picked up edges… clash. I don’t know. every time I look at it, I change opinions. So, look at the pictures- funky or fugly?

Alice really likes it- you’d think I made it out of catnip.