I Love the Porch Shades

The shades are perfect. They were installed yesterday, and you can see that they mask the outside and will prevent direct sun on the porch, but will allow light and vision. The porch can be made cooler and more private without losing the sweeping views I have.

This picture shows the density of the shades a bit better. There are three big shades–and they stop halfway down the porch screens so they can be attached via bungee cords if needed to the wooden strip in the middle of the porch. They are so light and easy to roll up, where they totally disappear beneath their holders, leaving only their little bungee cord holders and the steel chains that control them in view. The chains are at the corners, so they don’t dangle in full view across the screens.

The shade below and the door shade can come down at night to provide privacy in my big room in the house. But I would roll them up at night before I go to bed so if a storm comes in (as happened last night), they won’t flap in the wind.

Here’s the door shade going all the way down, and you can see to its left the adjacent shades little bungee cord holder and how neatly it lives in its holder box.

Note, also, how green the neighborhood grass is getting. It is still too early to fertilize it for spring growth, and we are actually heading into a cold spell with much colder night temperatures for about a week–happening, unfortunately, while SIL Maryann is here from Boston next week.

I am grateful for the solid rain that came last night and will last much of today. I watered a bit yesterday by hand as the shrubs were looking parched. And the grass sod was looking so dry.

My back porch neighbor is a home town woman, and she called upon an old friend of hers to mow for her and for whatever neighbors might be interested in lawn mowing. I signed up and will hold off on buying an electric mower for the moment.

One More Row

Yesterday I finished the last block center for the “36-Ring Circus” English Paper Piecing ((EPP) wedding ring quilt I’ve worked on for YEARS now. And, that I’m now determined to finish.

I had these centers all prepped back in March 2022, but did not sew them together. Now, I realized I wanted to make sure that I understood how they would each fit into the last row of the quilt–taking into consideration the placement of the centers in the whole quilt.

I laid out the finished top three rows and lined up the finished bottom two rows. Hmmm. It is interesting and kind of funky with the Cotton+Steel fabric centers.

How these bottom blocks of the 6th row get placed depends on WHAT one is looking in one moment–which is always true of quilt block placement. I can already see blocks I might want to switch around, but then also see “but wait, it would be too close to `that block.'” I am going to switch out the far right two blocks though–even though the corner block will be close to the red mushroom block above it. The lighter aqua block is too pale to hold down the corner.

At some level, it just is what it is…

But, I’m seeing other issues that are not working for me while looking at this picture–which is why taking a picture is a really good idea. I need to split up the blocks with the strong blue in them.

I still have to make and sew the templates that will square off this quilt. They are larger and might go faster. I’ll use all dark solid fabrics. And I might need to add some additional borders–a narrow one and a wider one. Thank heavens as they would be done on a sewing machine.

I took a moment yesterday to finish off the edge of this cotton kitchen towel hand cloth used to dry wet hands–made from cotton balls I had on hand for grandchildren, but which didn’t get used to teach them to knit due to no visits to Maine during covid. These balls became my hand work at night while I packed up in Maine. And, later, while I was waiting to get into my new home.

I had fun playing with patterns along the way–and explored a moss stitch in one of these hand cloths. A plain old garter stitch is sturdy for this kind of use too.

The cloths sit in a dish given to me many years ago by another Enright “outlaw” wife during a visit to Maine: Judy O’Connor.

The outdoor room blinds are being installed as I write this morning.

Spring Blooms

The azaleas are blooming, as are the Red Bud trees and other white-flowered trees (ornamental pears?). And, the grass is greening up.

Unfortunately, I’m seeing all the azalea and other blooming colors from the inside of my moving car as in our new little neighborhood just has newly planted flowering shrubs.

Mine are white, which will be really pretty against my seafood green house with its white trim in a year or so.

I fertilized and have been watering these plants as azaleas are shallow rooted.

If you want to see some spectacular photos of blooming azaleas in South Carolina, here’s a nice link:


I have two new cooking adventures over the weekend.

Son Bryan has a Traeger wood-pellet smoker/grill, and Saturday night he grilled a marinated boneless leg of lamb on his smoker. His marinade included garlic, rosemary from his garden, olive oil, and salt. And while the meat rested, he grilled fresh asparagus. Corinne, meanwhile, made mashed potatoes.

Can I just say that this lamb was the best I have ever eaten. It was perfectly done inside and was tender and totally delicious. Sadly, I did NOT get a picture of this awesome family meal as I was too busy enjoying this family. But, the whole Traeger wood pellet smoker/grill was totally new to me. The pellet hopper automatically adds the pellets to keep the set temperature constant.

Saturday night at Mike and Tami’s, 14 people sat down for dinner: 4 adults (two grandmothers and 2 parents) and the rest ranged from 15 years to college freshmen. It was so fun to be amongst this energetic and happy crowd. M&T had BBQ with all the fixings, and Mike had also made extra side dishes, to include two platters of roasted veggies and a big salad.

I’ve never seen veggies done this way in big pieces. They were delicious! I came home with some of the leftovers. They are so pretty when cooked too.

There were many different BBQ sauces on the table as many of these folks had their own favorites. A new one to me was an Alabama white BBQ sauce made from a base of mayonnaise and horseradish, mixed with spices. It can be sweet or sour, or both, with varying degrees of hotness. There are many recipes online.

OK, that’s three new cooking adventures.

I’m stuck in the house today until my new grill arrives, with free shipping and already assembled included. Do I dare hope it actually will be assembled?

Bryan had an extra propane tank which he gave me. He told me to go to a local hardware store which will fill it FULLY, unlike, he says, getting a partially filled tank from the box stores.

Who knew?

A Busy Weekend

It’s a big family weekend. Oldest grandchild, Bowen, came home Friday afternoon on spring break from Furman University. The two older granddaughters are playing in a tennis tournament in Pawley’s. DIL Tami’s mother (Mimi/Debbie) is here, and we had such a nice visit here at my home Friday morning. (She will be relocating to Charleston in the, hopefully, near future.) Bryan and Corinne invited me to dinner last night, and Mike and Tami will have “Sunday Night” dinner tonight.

So, I started the weekend Saturday morning with a trip to Kudzu’s Bakery to pick up TWO of their famous chocolate mousse cakes, one for the dinner at each house. Bryan’s girls were ecstatic when I came in with their cake last night. (So was Bryan, actually, who said he would definitely have a second piece some time before bed.) These cakes are flourless and basically mostly chocolate mousse and looked totally deliciously rich.

Bryan has a smoker/grill that is awesome, and he cooked a boned/rolled leg of lamb on it for dinner–and followed with roasted fresh asparagus on the grill while the meat rested. Corinne made mashed potatoes, and we ate outside on their back porch and had such a nice visit. I think Bryan’s leg of lamb, marinated with fresh rosemary from his garden, garlic, salt, and the olive oil I gave as a gift, was the best I’ve ever eaten.

Tonight Mike and Tami’s long table will be full. They are six in that family, and all will be at dinner. Bowen picked up his girl, Hannah, last night at the airport. (She has the same college break he does though she is in Maryland.) Bowen’s roommate and his girlfriend are visiting. Mimi and I will be there. And who knows who else will show up as the circle of friends for these four teenagers is large and some know good cooking when they eat it.

I have now been over the Ravenal Bridge, which links Mt. Pleasant to Charleston, twice now in the past week. Yeah! The bridge is 8 lanes, is very high, has a walkway along the coastal side, has an awesome view from its high point, is gorgeous, and ends in a tangle of highways coming into Charleston. Waze took me through safely to take my vacuum cleaner to Low Country Vacuum and Sew on Savannah Highway and to retrieve it Friday afternoon.

Patriot Point, on the Mt. Pleasant side of the bridge, lies to the coastal side of the bridge, and friend Gina Caceci sent me an article about all the places of interest at Patriot Point, which include the presence of water taxis that connect Mt. Pleasant to the downtown Charleston Harbor tourist/shopping areas. The taxis would be fun and would mean one would not have to find parking in downtown Charleston. Something about which to think as SIL Maryann Enright is coming for a visit March 13th and might enjoy that adventure.

To back up a bit–I had one question from blog readers about the EPP method post I did a few days back–specifically about folding part of the quilt to attach a new piece. I updated that post with this picture–so you can see that the left side center block is folded in half, templates and all, so I can grip it in my left hand in order to manage the sewing with the flat back stitch better in my right hand. Thus the piece can be picked up–as it is pretty much impossible to stitch with the piece flat on the table. You can fold a much larger piece of the mother quilt in this way as well.

Low tide is at noon today, but Isle of Palms had a festival of some sort yesterday, and the island was packed with visitors–made worse as it was a wam day, definitely warm enough for beach swimming for the hardy.

In addition, there was some sort of accident across from the connector to the mainland when I headed home early evening. It took me forever to get home as the main artery on IOP was backed up for more than a mile. I suspect a walk on the beach today might be a problem due to weekend visitors, so maybe I will walk around Mike and Tami’s neighborhood. I can take some hand-sewing over, sit on their back porch “outdoor room” and enjoy the coming and going of the family.

But first I have to go to the grocery store myself. And mop all the tracks I’ve made on the floor while reorganizing the garage yesterday (to get ready for the grill that will arrive fully assembled tomorrow…hopefully) and while giving “Girlie” car a good cleaning.

The pine pollen…continues.

Beach Walk With Corinne

I treasure my beach walks with DIL Corinne. She is as curious as I am about all things in nature, and I never end a beach walk with her without having learned way more about all things we see on the beach. She is especially knowledgeable about all the shells.

Yesterday’s walk produced a shell I’ve never seen (a Stiff Pen clam shell) and the info that a beautiful shell we ran across, the Lettered Olive Shell, is the SC state shell.

First, we saw a jelly fish stranded in the tide, which was just starting to come in, so maybe it will survive. Corinne said it will sting if you encounter it in the water, but that this one’s sting isn’t too bad. Corinne said it is a Cannonball jellyfish and is very common in these waters.

We didn’t find any whole sand dollars–that requires deeper wading on to the sand bars at a falling tide most of the time. But we found lots of parts, and I picked up some until I can find whole ones. These will dry and bleach to white over time.

The four shells at the bottom were worth bringing home: on the left a Lettered Olive snail shell, which is the SC state shell. The shell’s markings make people think of written letters or hieroglyphics. At the top an intact beautiful clam shell from a clam that can grow quite big. To the right, a still-connected and smooth, shiny white clam shell. And at the bottom, a baby conch shell.

But, the shell I’ve never seen is this big one, which Corinne told me is a Stiff Pen clam shell. And there were a lot of them on the beach yesterday. She wouldn’t let me bring it home as she said it would stink to high heavens, even though the birds had already eaten whatever meat was left when it washed up.

It is called a “stiff pen” as the family of this kind of clam is pointed only on one end, which it sticks in the sand on the ocean bottom to bring itself upright to feed.

Here are some links to the Lettered Olive shell and the Stiff Pen shell if you are interested. There are better pictures, and I hope the links work as for some reason WordPress is not letting me copy and paste a link this morning. I have to research how to make that happen.

The Lettered Olive: State shell of South Carolina

The Stiff Pen clam:


My Dining Room Table Came Back

And it is GORGEOUS!

I sent it out to be refinished by a local business–Chehaw River Woodworks– that had/has wonderful online reviews.

This cherry table is many decades old and has held us around itself for so many, many meals. But its surface and legs showed lots of faded places, scars, and scratches.

It now looks brand new and is presently preening itself in its new spot in my new home. And I am giggling with delight.

John and I bought the cherry chairs over 50 years ago now. They were one of our first early marriage purchases, along with a dining room table that matched. We left that table behind when we moved to Maine as we didn’t need two tables, and this table sits two on each end if needed and is less “formal” in design.

Look at the beautiful finish.

Corinne and I will have a beach walk this morning. Will I find some sand dollars for my growing shell collection?

And sometime today I’ll pick up the local raw milk as today is the day it arrives. Will there also be raw cream today? I hope so.

Yes, I’m making progress on the quilt from hell. All the centers are made for row five, and I’ll attach block 5 now. That might take more than one day.

An English Paper Piecing (EPP) Method

One reason I have hated this EPP project is that the curved rings are so very hard to attach. I finally saw Tara Faughnan, in one of The Color Collective classes, hosted by Sewtopia, use artist tape, installed on the front of the block, to hold pieces in place while they are being stitched. With the tape, I can keep the rings lined up without losing how they should fit properly into the bigger block. Basically, one runs into the same problems with these curves that one has with sewing any curves together–seemingly excess fabric that falls into place if both sides are laid flat.

To remind, here’s how I start a set of rings so I don’t wind up with colors butted up to each other that don’t work in one way or another.

When I have the outer rings sewn, I can overlay them on the center piece and use the tape to hold everything firm. (The tape can be reused–and when I’m done for the moment, I put pieces back on the tape ring so they don’t dry out.) When sewing the rings, I also use a small piece of the tape to hold the inner curved top pieces firmly while I sew them. The pieces in the middle are easy to sew with the standard method of putting right sides together and whip stitching them.

One uses what is called a “flat back” stitch to sew a block that is laid out flat. Note that I’ve written how the block will fit into the larger block on the back pieces. And remember that I also take a picture of the block so I don’t get mixed up with what color goes where and how the finished ring piece fits on the final block. When sewing rings to the mother row, I can just ruthlessly fold the mother row so I can get hold of what I am trying to sew. One needs purchase as sewing into the flat piece on a surface is too hard to manage.

Here’s an example of folding over part of the quilt, templates and all, so you can sew it more easily. Note that the center block on the left is folded in half. I am right handed, so it is easier for me to fold left and sew with my right hand.

Here’s a finished ring block.

And here it is attached to a center block with the tape so I can attach it from the back.

Now both rings are attached and the block is ready to go into the “mother ship.”


I am so not looking forward to attaching, when completed, these rows to the other three rows.

It will be…painful.

But let’s not borrow that trouble this morning as progress is happening steadily!

Tennis Weekend

Saturday and Sunday involved watching tennis matches as granddaughter Talula played in a local tournament.

It was so fun to see her play after following her matches from Maine.

Both days were ‘murky” in the morning, and the gnats were bad. I didn’t bring my Young Living peppermint essential oil with me, but I have it with me permanently now, along with lavender. I’m sure the cooler, cloudy weather was a mannerly boon for the tennis players, but on both days the sun came out in the afternoon.

Look at these pretty palm trees. And that’s Tami’s back with a leash holding her mother’s little puppy. I have not seen Mimi in…decades…so it was very fun to see her again. She came down from Spartanburg for a family birthday party. Mike and Tami had a family dinner with both grandmothers Sunday night. It was delicious and very fun and a nice way to wrap up the week.

Mike and Tami traveled Friday to attend son Kelly’s wrestling matches for the state winners. So, I slept over with the granddaughters and cooked dinner Friday night. I went over Friday morning to let dogs out and took part of the hand sewing EPP project with me and had a peaceful hand-sewing day, though I had to go home once in the afternoon to retrieve a delivered package from the front porch–a wooden table for the back porch.

I finished another block and will attach it to the mother ship row.

Two more blocks to go for this row–and I finished the next center but need to lay out its rings.

The pine pollen is TERRIBLE here. Of course, there are so many pines that heavy pollen should not have been such a surprise. Maine had pine pollen too, and it could be heavy. Here, though, the pine pollen is over the top. Everyone is happy when there is a bit of rain to wash off the cars and walkways. The porches have to be cleaned though. And my dark floors show it tracking inside so easily.

I put together the little wooden table this morning–it’s the last piece of furniture for the porch. Now only the porch blinds remain to be installed for my outdoor room to be complete.

The refinished dining room table comes back TOMORROW! I can hardly wait to see it.

I spent some time this morning observing gutters being installed at my neighbor’s house behind me. Oh my! I had not thought about the need for gutters, though we installed them in Maine. And, yes, many houses here in my neighborhood have had gutters installed already I realized as I stopped to check.

I’ll have to get a quote. For sure.

It is a quiet kind of a day. I’ll probably run over to the beach in a bit for a walk.

Some Ways to Hang Your Quilts

I had a request to blog about how I hang my quilts.

I can do that.

Note that one can always hang a curtain rod with its own supports that is long and just switch out whatever quilt one wants from time to time. I think Bonnie Hunter hangs quilts this way in her Inn. If you don’t know Bonnie Hunter, check out her blog.

Note, too, that for really heavy, bigger quilts, I use curtain rods with decorative ends. Note that the middle quilt below, as it is not as wide or heavy, uses an invisible dowel wooden rod which can be bought at most hardware stores and cut to size. You want the SMALLEST dowel/curtain rod that can support the weight of the quilt without bending as you don’t want a bulge at the top of your quilt. And you want the quilt to sit at the top on the rod so that the rod is at the top and not down into the quilt–where the bulge of it can detract.

Thus, the most important thing with hanging quilts is installing a hanging sleeve that is level with the top of the quilt AND that allows space on the outer sides for the dowel/rod to show.

I double a wide band of fabric (for a big quilt about 4 inches, which means a piece about 9 inches wide. I cut and turn in the sides twice (neat finish on the sides) so that the sleeve leaves space on either side for the dowel to peek through. A curtain rod’s ends are always going to show–but you have to figure out where to position nails so they don’t show–they can hide just inside the edge of the quilt if you leave proper space between the binding edge and the sleeve edge. Dowels should not be cut wider than the binding on the quilt as you want to hide the dowel in the gap between the edge of the sleeve and the binding outer edge. I double the 9-inch strip and press it before sewing the sleeve’s two raw edges to the quilt top when I install the binding.

For a big quilt I might machine baste the sleeve into the seam allowance first. And some quilters recommend splitting the sleeve into two parts for a wide, heavy quilt. Next, after binding, you have only to sew down the bottom of the sleeve.

BUT, and this is important, there is a method for sewing down that bottom edge as you have to place it a bit above where it would go without allowing for some excess hanging room. But not high enough from the bottom so that the top of the sleeve starts to show over the top edge of the quilt. Mostly I bring that bottom edge up about 1/2 inch, but I always test with a rod to make sure I haven’t gone too high. Pin and sew down the bottom edge of the sleeve.

You can see the excess fabric on the outer sleeve side in the picture below. The bigger the dowel/rod, the bigger amount of excess fabric you want. And here, I should have gone higher at the bottom of the sleeve so the dowel would locate higher near the binding.

See the bulge at the top?

I use nails that have a head big enough to hold the dowel so it won’t slide off the nail. For a bigger, heavier quilt you will need bigger nails. But always get ones that have bigger heads.

Lay your dowel where you want it on the wall and mark where you want the nails to go. Remember to put the nails at least 1/4 inch or a bit more from the edge of the dowel. The position of the nails will be a bit different for a curtain rod depending on the decorative end of the rod. The nails have to be inside those ends and very close or inside each side of the quilt edge. Then use a leveler to make darn sure the dowel/rod is level. I have a long leveler and a short one. After I put in the nails, I use the leveler again to make sure all is level at that stage. And I check again after I hang the quilt as it is fairly easy at that point to remove a nail and replace it if needed.

Remember we do the best we can all along the way to make sure a quilt is square and the top level. But quilts are rarely perfect. Fabric stretches, things shift. Just do the best you can. Remember the nails have to fall below the top binding on the quilt.

I measured from the ceiling down to line up the quilts below. And for the 4-season trees, I used matching white rods–and when the top two were hung on their rod, I used my long leveler (about 3 feet) to place the vertical placement of the lower rod so it was in line with the top rod and its nails.

If you want to remove or change a hanging quilt, you pull out the nails, patch the hole with sparkle, sand it totally smooth, and repaint the patch with matching paint.

And, there you have it.

Palmetto Islands County Park

It’s time to start exploring the local parks. I started yesterday with the Palmetto Islands County Park.

What a find!

Here’s the start of one of the many trails in this treasure of a park.

This “blue” trail runs about a mile out to a fishing pier. Here it is further into the woods:

The saw palmetto is a prominent understory shrub in these low country woods and can form dense thickets in oak and pine forests. It provides protection and food for forest creatures, is very hardy, and can grow very tall if not cut back.

There is a VERY tall observation tower that shows a full view of the Lowcountry tidal channels that surround the islands that nestle within this terrain.

I climbed to the top. Of course I did.

Here’s a video of the tidal channels, which are such a rich part of these coastal lowlands. These channels are huge filters, provide habitat for all sorts of creatures, and are full of fish. It is about half-tide, with the tide going out. And you can see the wooded islands that are higher ground.

A wooden boardwalk crosses some of the low country marsh, and on the other side I surprised a group of fiddler crabs occupying the muddy, wet path in the woods. They ran too fast for me to get a picture.

This path reconnected to the blue path, which moved toward its end at the fishing pier and the pavilion that ran alongside a channel. Here, too, were public bathrooms.

Here’s the path to the fishing pier. Further back on the path a man on a bicycle passed me, and he had been fishing.

And here’s a picture from out on the pier, where I could see how fast the outgoing tidal current was running.

On the way back to my car, I noticed, several times, some small yellow flowers on the path. I looked up and could see a vine in the trees above my heads. When I got home I googled the flowers and discovered they are Carolina Jasmin, the state flower.

BUT, this plant is NOT in the true Jasmin family, which is edible and used to make fragrant teas and perfumes. The Carolina Jasmin flower is fragrant, but poisonous. And it can cause a rash on the skin if picked up. I don’t know why I didn’t pick up one of the flowers to smell it. Some sort of sixth sense at work I guess.

I was hungry when I got home and made my local, stone-ground low country grits, sautéed my collards in raw butter, and baked a cod fillet.

And while the grits cooked, I made a batch of blender drinks with fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables and some ginger. I had a glass for my dessert.

Leftover grits are so useful. I’ll cut some squares out of this pan when it cools, wrap them in wax paper, and freeze them for future meals. Squares of grits are easy to heat in the oven with a bit of butter topping them–or fried slightly in a pan. They are also great topped with fried or scrambled eggs for a meal.

AND, there is absolutely NO COMPARISON between these local, stone-ground grits with their lovely texture and the mass produced ones in a grocery store. You would have to live here or order grits online to have this treat. NO COMPARISON.