The ligustrum is blooming everywhere now. Ligustrum is the main family for various blooming privet types in the olive family. It is super hardy in the Low Country, and it needs very little care. The blooms are very fragrant. But, the fragrance is strong–and one either likes it or one doesn’t. I like it, but I don’t have the greatest nose for scents.

Ligustrum can grow really tall if left untrimmed. It can make a really nice hedge. And as it is so hardy here, the builder has used it to camouflage electrical boxes, for instance, around the development.

I think Ligustrum is a good choice for how it is being used here. And I’m enjoying seeing all the white blooms everywhere I go right now.

Rain started off and on in the night last night–so I’m doing a happy rain dance as I won’t have to hand water the newly-fertilized grass. And as I am writing, the sky is fairing off as the storm moves north.

I came home from a family birthday celebration last night, complete with a locally made gelato super chocolate cake, with a granddaughter’s sweatshirt that needs a quick and easy repair.

The Churn Dash quilt is half done on the longarm. And yesterday I paired all the blueberry fabric pieces cut for placemats with Kona solid backings and 20-inch pieces for napkins. Missouri Star had free shipping yesterday, so I ordered some more Kona solids to fill in where I ran out of big pieces–AND, a potential 108-inch Kona backing for the Transom BOM quilt–which I’m planning to hand quilt with 12-wt. thread.

Two-Shower Days

Wednesday and Thursday were shopping (food, plants) and planting days.

I promised a picture of the Asian Jasmine groundcover I’m planting, and Lowe’s had a big bed of it as it turned out. You can see how it will put down a solid, low mat in sun or shade. And this bed still had some of its little white flowers blooming.

After shopping for plants and amendments, I was famished. So I stopped to make my dinner, which I eat in the middle of the day. Getting the major meal of the day out of the way allows me to sew later at night as its easy to fix a light supper with food that is on hand before watching tv and hand-sewing.

I’ve never tried this particular mix of veggies to sauté, but as I use what I have, this mixture emerged. I had beet greens on hand from some beets I bought for my blender drinks. (Beets are a powerhouse food, cooked or raw.) I started with veggies that needed longer sautéing in, this day, beef fat. I diced a small raw beet, carrots, sweet onion, red pepper, a zucchini for more bulk, garlic, and herbs from the garden. I added some of a dried oregano mixture and salt. I added the chopped beet greens last and just turned them in the hot mixture until they were thoroughly wilted. Then I added store-bought flat-leaf Italian parsley chopped fine and just mixed it in as a final garnishment.

Voila! I had red veggies. And, enough for two meals. While cooking the veggies, I grilled a steak. This mixture is kind of pretty with its intense red. I’m eating the rainbow here, for sure.

Yes, everything went to outdoor room, along with my current book and a freshly made espresso made with honey and raw cream for dessert.

After planting the long row of Asiatic Jasmine on the shady side of the house, I was hot and sweaty and tired. And I needed the second shower of the day. For sure.

On Thursday, I tackled planting the Stella D’Oro day-lilies, the Buddlea (Butterfly Bush), and the Endless Summer hydrangea along the sunny side of the house. It was hot, with the feel of a storm coming in, but the sea breeze was steady and cooling.

Planting these three (5 with the 3 Stellas) looks simple. But it is NOT. Digging here is really, really hard–due to the big veins of clay that lie beneath whatever topsoil there is. Some of these veins of clay are so pure and are such pretty colors–like a vivid aqua or a rich cream–that they would really entice a potter. But it takes real muscle and patience to carve out a planting hole in this ground. I’m putting in a lot of amendments (sand, organic soil meant for ground plantings) and mixing it with the clay, but…I don’t know. Clay like this can on the bottom of the hole can form a kind of bathtub that holds water around a plant’s root ball.

To loosen the cement-hard clay, I tried soaking the planting area with the hose and letting the water sink into the clay. That helped, as when water hits clay, the clay kind of softens and, even, melts. That has been a problem with the four new gutter drains. Where the water emerges, big holes start to form. Thus, I’m hoping this idea will put the water out onto the grass and away from raw dirt under the pine straw.

After getting the new plants in the ground, I needed another shower. For sure.

I’m writing this post on Friday morning and will post it tomorrow. We got rain in the night Thursday, and today is cloudy and cool. Alex is here mowing and will put down a bit more fertilizer on the new grass. It’s a good day for that if we get more rain. He’s going to put down more pine straw for me when he comes next too. And he’s offered to help me dig holes for bigger plants when I buy them.

Here are the new herbs I added to the mint (top left) I planted–basil and flat-leaf Italian parsley. The basil is an annual; the parsley is a biennial, so blooms and seeds the second year. The mint has all sorts of new growth starting now.

The drainage spout additions seem to be working. There are no new holes in the ground.

And today, Friday, I’ll take it fairly easy–a walk with my music and sewing on the longarm.

These two Wyoming quilts are washed and dried and are cooling thoroughly on the living room couch until I pack then up and mail them on Monday.

I keep hoping the fabric on the couch skirt, which got crushed in the move, will sort itself out. But so far…NO.

“Wyoming Stars” Quilt

I finished the binding last night. I took photos and rechecked for any missed loose threads this morning. Now both the “Wyoming” quilts are in the wash as these two tops were completed and organized for the longarm in Maine and were stored in bins during the move, which necessitated storing in a warehouse in Maine for some weeks over Christmas and New Year’s while the house in Maine and the house in Charleston closed.

The fabrics are mostly from the Cotton+Steel/Ruby Star Society designers, and the patterns is a star block that is traditional. I like the way it also makes big x’s along the way as well–and all sorts of other interesting secondary patterns.

The backing is scrappy–and all Cotton + Steel. I used a soft seafoam blue/green thread, and the pantograph is Deb’s Swirls, available on Urban Elementz. I really like the texture this panto creates. This is my 209th quilt, and the “Wyoming Mountain Crossings” is the 210th.

Here’s a close-up of the traditional star. One can vary how to manipulate the color in the middle of the star of course.

After these two quilts are dried, I’ll let them sit until Monday to mail them. I don’t want any moisture to remain in the quilts before packing them up to mail. It’s a long way to Wyoming and will take UPS some days to deliver them there.

The Churn Dash quilt is on the longarm, waiting patiently for me to finish planting new plants bought this week–and to play with the placemats under construction which is more possible when I’m tired and have only a small sewing window.

Time Flies

I did make it to the beach Monday for a beautiful walk at low tide–as that’s when one can see the most shells and can walk fast along the hard sand. (And, wade barefoot through tidal pools.)

The Churn Dash quilt (Eye Candy #5) is on the long arm. And I’ve been making more placemats with the blueberry fabrics. They are coming out beautifully, and I’m ripping through my solid stash as the solids do best for single-layer napkins. I rounded the last corner of “Wyoming Stars” last night–and will finish that binding tonight. Then, I’ll wash and mail both of them to…Wyoming.

Yesterday was wild: Costco for meat and two trips to two nearby Loews to find more of the Asiatic Jasmine. I’m going to IOP today and will take a picture of an established bed with this ground cover so you can see why I think it will work well here. I found 24 more plants yesterday and planted them on the shady side of the house–which is a lot of work as the soil is solid clay and needs the addition of sand and ground compost in every hole. They will form a solid bed there. It makes no sense to me to plant that side of the house–beyond the front corner which has already a holly of some kind–as that side of the house is not trafficked very often–by anyone, including me. The long sunny side is very visible.

At the first nearby Loews, an Endless Summer hydrangea, three Stella D’Oro daylilies, and a Buddlea (Butterfly Bush) jumped into the shopping cart. I still have to plant those–along the sunny side of the house. I’m mixing blooming perennials and shrubs for spring/summer interest.

I had a late lunch on the porch before tackling the planting holes.

I know. You’ve seen my salad lunches many times here. BUT, this one, in addition to the grilled chicken, has a sprinkling of my new herbs alongside the dill I had in the refrigerator: chive, mint, oregano, and sage. They are all doing well. And yesterday I added flat-leaf Italian parsley (which should come back in this climate) and Basil.

I’ve been making my afternoon espresso when I make lunch, so it is like a dessert to enjoy while I read just a bit more after lunch–and watch and wave at the sidewalk traffic of my neighbors.

In a few minutes I’ll leave to get the raw dairy that comes into Local Jo’s every other week–and I’ll drop off some at Mike and Tami’s on IOP and take the picture of the Asiatic Jasmine bed for the blog at their old house. And, stop by Bryan and Corinne’s with something special for them. Today is their youngest daughter’s 8th birthday.

We are meant to get some rain today–which will determine if I plant or sew after lunch–a grilled steak and…something. I need to stop at the grocery store for more veggies too.

Yes, another busy day is happening.

It’s Monday Again

How did that happen?

The last Churn Dash quilt is off the design wall–and I spent some of the weekend prepping it for the longarm: backing and batting are sewn and ironed, and binding strips and label are cut.

It’s scrappy cute–made 99% from the Cotton+Steel/Ruby Star Society project of the last three years–information which I seem to be repeating endlessly here. It’s a good thing this quilt is the last big project made with these fabrics.

I threw the finished rows of the Traverse BOM project up on the design wall–Tara Faughnan designer–without much of an attempt to line up the rows. I have the fabric to finish this quilt now, so will start sewing the remaining rows this week.

And, I will play more with placemats, using the blueberry fabrics I unearthed from the stash. Gosh it feels good to be tackling the stored sewing projects/fabrics now. I feel like I’m making real progress on whittling down the stash. Having some small projects to work on here and there is gratifying, as one sees immediate results.

My kitchen lights came–and with family help they got put together and installed Saturday. That was a true labor of love, let me tell you, as there was a switch issue and a ceiling hole issue. Plus, the lights are up over the kitchen bar, so one can’t reach them easily from a ladder. One has to get on the kitchen bar.

The lights are beautiful.

And another view:

As you can see in the picture, two of the holes in the ceiling were cut too big for the standard 4 1/2 inch ceiling plate. So there will have to a solution for that problem. And the switch that activated the hanging lights WAS activating the under-the-counter kitchen light dimmers. And the far right junction box up in the ceiling is not stable–so the far right light is not hanging straight.

These lights will also dim, but that’s above the family pay grade. So this morning I asked a local electrician–recommended by the light store and who did connect with me last week–to come and sort out the junction box, the switches, and to make sure the lights are ok. Maybe he’ll be able to connect one of the available switches to dim the hanging lights too. AND, maybe he’ll have some sort of cosmetic plate to conceal the ceiling damage–otherwise the builder will have to repair it. In any case, the family helped so much by putting the lights together and figuring out how low to hang them.

Life is part glorious and part messy, isn’t it?

Today is cooler, but meant to be pleasant with sun and clouds. So I’ll probably take my hanging-light worries to the beach. Mid-low-tide will happen around 3 pm.

Visitors and The Tree

I woke this morning to a solid much-needed rain. The grass and the little tree are happy, as is my water bill.

Yesterday morning I looked up while typing here to see a pair of geese just strolling down the sidewalk–in the back of my house.

It didn’t bother them at all for me to go out and take this little video. There are numerous little water basins on the property. Do they have a nest in one?

My little tree out front finally leafed out. I was sure it was dead. A plant identifier says it is 89% certain that it is a Willow Oak–which makes sense given its leaves. They are common here and very hardy here–especially given the low water levels. Other possibilities were below 5% possibility.

Here are the leaves:


There will be some type of acorn in 15 years. And the shape will stay conical for some time. In 30 to 50 years, it will be as tall as 50 feet with a full canopy.

I am totally loving the back screen porch outdoor room. Being out there is addictive. It is so fun to see all the activity on the street, but the porch is also serene and peaceful–and with the shades when needed, private, but with a screened view outside. The view from the outside in is totally opaque–as you can see from this picture from before I planted shrubs to the left of the door. And the shades definitely lower the temperature on the back of the house.

And, on most days, there is a breeze that comes straight onto the porch. So far, it’s been cool.

I did get some sewing done yesterday. The Churn Dash quilt is close to coming off the design wall. I can’t wait to see Traverse BOM up there.

Enjoy your weekends!

The Placemat Project

It started with the notion that one of the granddaughters who likes to sew might want to make more placemats. She had made some and had a good time, and the family loves using what she made. So they made the suggestion that my granddaughter and I make more placemats.

So I started researching simple ways to carry out such a project with a new sewer so she wouldn’t get frustrated. That meant NOT using binding methods, for starters.

The first idea was to perhaps use the 3 1/2-inch Cotton+Steel/Ruby Star Society squares I had already cut up. AND, to use the method she already knew. Along the way of this placemat journey of recent weeks, I also researched and found an easy way to make single-layer napkins with beautiful mitered corners. Thus the napkins you see in the following pictures. Paige Handmade had a method I really like:

Tara Reid, “The Fastest Way To Sew A Placemat without binding,” is where I started, which was a good refresher for me.

That produced this placemat. It’s ok, but I wanted…something more…something that didn’t need to be sewn AFTER the placemat was turned and ironed.

Next I found Kim Jameson Hirst of Chatterbox Quilts, whose video teaches how to make a placemat where the backing comes forward to the front AFTER using her method to make nifty mitered corners before turning. These placemats were the result–and this method works best with a front that is not pieced with squares as they would be partially covered on the front.

Before turning the backing to the front, you can go back and add a line or two of quilting to hold the back down firmly. Note that these added lines would just show double on the front, as you can see with the cats.

This link should work if you click on it: quilted placemats without binding

Geta Grama, a Romanian quilter, gave me the best method to use with my squares I think, because I could maintain the integrity of the squares–as in not cutting off any of the outside squares AND creating an opening in the center back of the placemat so I didn’t need to worry about turning the placemat and closing up the hole on the side in a way that didn’t make a straight line.

These placemats were made with that method. For the top one I sewed over two lines so the back would be anchored to the front. And on the bottom I just sewed two extra lines alongside existing lines, about 1/4 inch apart. I was careful to start and stop my seams along the outside sewing line and to tack them down well so I could trim off the threads easily.

Finally, along the journey I did make a placemat with a binding–which allowed me to quilt all three layers at one time, of course. And of all of the placemats, I do prefer this one for myself. I tried something one of you suggested when I was playing around with potholders–I used 1/4 inch fusible tape to glue down the binding on the back–then I sewed (with my walking foot) the binding down from the front. I should have put on the binding with the fold coming to the front–that would have worked really well too, as long as the binding is held very stable with the fusible tape.

And, here is the back of one of the napkins–it’s a print, so the back is not as attractive as the front, as it would be with a solid fabric or a batik. But, you can see how nice Paige Handmaid’s method is–and it’s easy.

The placemats all look really cool on my dining room table. Surprisingly so.

They look so much better than they did on my design wall, LOL. I ordered some wooden napkin rings to go with them–having failed to find any napkin rings locally.

You’d think I’d be done, right? Oh no. In the middle of quilting on the longarm, sewing together the Churn Dash quilt on the design wall, and now hand sewing the binding on “Wyoming Stars,” I pulled out the stack of Maine blueberry fabrics that has been sitting in my stash for 18 years. And I cut another placemat and napkin out.

I’m clearly crazy.

I Was Out of Veggies

So there was a quick trip to the grocery store first thing this morning.

I wanted to grill a whole cut-up chicken for dinner (noon for me), and I needed veggies to go with the chicken.

I came home with full sacks, and set about grilling the chicken and prepping the veggies (more of the little gold potatoes boiled and set into raw butter and fresh dill and sautéed rainbow chard).

While cooking the chicken (low and slow), I made fresh blender drinks (celery, red bell pepper, carrot, cucumber, apple, peaches, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, and a tiny bit of maple syrup). Now I’ll have a healthy dessert after supper tonight. I forgot the ginger, but the drinks are still delicious. Note: Most of the mixture is veggie, not fruit. I just use bits of fruit–maybe 1/4 of the mixture. Too much fruit sugar causes inflammation and sends the body into an energy pattern that goes up and down rather than holding long and steady.

I took my full plate to the outdoor room with my book. I didn’t eat all these potatoes I cut up–too much–so they went into the roasted veggie container alongside the rest of the rainbow chard–and I’ll have that container with some chicken for supper.

I made a nice dinner yesterday too: Baked haddock, okra (yes!), a medley of roasted veggies, sliced cucumber, and a glass of local raw milk.

“Wyoming Stars” is off the long arm, trimmed, bound, and is downstairs in the tv room where I am sewing on its binding at night. Here it is fresh off of Innova.

I am still marveling at the beautiful, beautiful stitch Innova makes–front and back.

“Wyoming Mountain Crossings” Quilt is Done

And is is so, so cute!

It just fits into the hallway, so I can get a good picture of it.

To remind, this quilt’s crosses and border are 99% Cotton+Steel/Ruby Star Society fabrics, and it is one of the last projects of the past three years now of cutting up these fabrics in my stash. The neutrals are more mixed with other fabric lines.

This pantograph is new to me, and it has such lovely texture. Plus it is swirly and girly, and this quilt is going to a great niece in Wyoming. The pantograph is “Lovely” by Denise Schillinger and is sold by Urban Elementz. This quilt is my 210th quilt.

The scrappy back has some really fun fabrics–which helped further clean out my fabric stash.

I was hoarding this fox print by Tula Pink and the one below which is Cotton+Steel.

The bright green below on the upper far right is not C+Steel, but all the rest of the blocks are.

Owls and ice cream cones and crosses–what I love about the C+Steel/Ruby Star Society is the sophisticated whimsy they create. And I like and appreciate their plain and neutral fabrics too.

AND, “Wyoming Stars,” meant for my Wyoming great nephew, went on the longarm yesterday and got basted. Two passes are done. I will do more today.

And the journey continues…


Odds and Ends

It’s a very pretty Sunday morning here.

And we had more rain in the night. My grass is finally coloring up to a deep and healthy looking apple green. Maybe it will start to spread into the few problem patches now. The scant fertilizer application is working. I’m just taking out the few glaring weeds by hand for the most part as I don’t like and won’t do grass herbicides and insecticides. Those products are NOT safe for humans, and especially not for children.

I am moving from one fun sewing project to another. Happily moving, too. And will likely post more pics later in the week.

I’ve been experimenting with making placemats and single-layer napkins with mitered borders. It’s astonishing what you can learn online. This project got started with my curiosity about the best way to work with a granddaughter who wants to sew placemats for the family. She’s so busy, but I got hooked on trying out different methods. There will be a post when I finish all 6 placemats–with links to the videos that helped me so much.

I finished one of the two Wyoming quilts I started back in Maine. The last stitch into the binding happened late last night. The other Wyoming quilt is all ironed and the back is on Innova–that will get sewn this coming week. For sure, as I love to work with my sweet longarm.

I’ve been hunting for pens with colored ink that stays put in the wash. I use them for quilt labels. The ink from these pens did well in the wash. I would iron whatever I wrote to make extra sure before washing. And look at all the colors. Note: some pens seemed a bit dry–so I’m storing them with the caps down to see if that helps. I just tested the bright colors I might use. These pens would work on garment labels really well–so ownership of clothes get marked, for instance. I’m alway leaving my raincoat behind, so I have my name on its label.

Slowly, the last Churn Dash–which is totally scrappy–from the last of the Cotton+Steel scraps–is coming together on the design wall. I like how the narrow sashings and small cornerstones are working. And I was surprised by how effective these blocks are when one just combines interesting colors and prints. It is so full of lovely energy. Note: the next row to be sewn is on the table next to my sewing machine. It will be 8 blocks wide and 9 rows long, and the blocks finish at 7 1/2 inches. AND, I’ve moved any leftover strips and squares into the appropriate bins that hold cut fabrics ready to be used.

So, I’m declaring the COTTON+STEEL and RUBY STAR SOCIETY project made with stash fabrics FINISHED. (I continue to love these designers, however, who are now Ruby Star Society.) I’m forgetting the two FULL bins of 3 1/2 inch squares separated into colors and neutrals however. And the blocks I’ve made from some of the small squares. Still…

Here’s the 6th and last placemat I’ll make–from the 3 1/2 inch squares.

The last of the fabrics for the Traverse block-of-the-month project came this past week. I have three more rows to make. Tara Faughnan designed Traverse, and Sewtopia hosted the project–though I can see from online comments that other quilt shops hosted this project as well. Traverse will go on the design wall when the Churn Dash (“Eye Candy 5”) comes down. To remind, here is a pic of where I am now:

I spent Friday day and night over at my older son’s house as they were away. I took the quilt from hell with me and got two of the 6 blocks needed for the 6th and final row done and sewn to rows 4 and 5. Later when I got home, I organized the 3rd block for that row. So…progress.

Whew! I’ve run on here way too long. I appreciate your patience.

Have a great day and a great week next week.