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Archive for March, 2012

I can’t believe that I am writing this post in March, but like everyone around the country we are experiencing summer like weather about a month or so earlier than normal.  Here is a look around our yard to see what has started blooming so far.

Cornelian Cherry Dogwood - Cornus mas

Most of the early flowering trees and shrubs have very small flowers so it isn’t easy to see how much this tree is blooming.  Here is a close up of the flowers.

Cornelian Cherry Dogwood - Cornus mas

Honey Bee on Cornelian Cherry Dogwood

A farmer near our house keeps honey bees and they love all our flowering shrubs.

Fragrant Viburnum - Viburnum farreri - Nanum

I wish the internet had smell-o-vision so I could share the amazing fragrance these viburnum give off.  I am not a big fan of fragrance, but this stuff is heavenly.  A soft sweet scent similar to lilacs but not quite as strong.

Fragrant Viburnum - Viburnum farreri - Nanum

Next stop around the yard is a spiraea.

Spiraea thunbergii 'Ogon'

This shrub is one of the first to leaf out and bloom and one of the last to drop its leaves in the fall.  The delicate white flowers are almost too small to see in the above picture.

Spiraea thunbergii 'Ogon'

Spiraea thunbergii 'Ogon'

Continuing around the yard we come to the Japanese andromeda.

Japanese andromeda - Pieris japonica

The bell-shaped flowers on this shrub are similar to those of the blueberry bush and are formed into these lovely cascading groups of flowers all over the shrub.

Japanese andromeda - Pieris japonica

The other early blooming flowers in our yard are a variety of bulbs.

Glory of the Snow - Chionodoxa luciliae

We have three colors of these bulbs in white, pink and blue.

Glory of the Snow - Chionodoxa luciliae - blue

Glory of the Snow - Chionodoxa luciliae - pink

We have many daffodil varieties around the yard and all of them have popped out of the ground but only one has started blooming.

First daffodil bloom of the Spring!

The perennials have been growing steadily as well, but no flowers as of yet. Look at all the green showing up in the garden.

A corner of the perennial garden

These day lilies are over 6 inches high already!

Last but not least Charlie has started his canna lily bulbs.

Pots with canna lilies

Half of the bulbs were dug out of the ground last year and over wintered in the basement and the other half are newly purchased bulbs.  Some of these grow over 6 feet tall!

I hope you enjoyed my tour of what is blooming in our garden.  There will be lots more to report on all season.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that we don’t get a really hard frost to kill some of the perennials that have started to sprout.

In case you were wondering, Charlie insists that I show the botanical name where it is known.  Most of these he has memorized and often refers to them by that name and I have no idea what he is talking about!  So if any of these plants spark your interest you will know exactly what to look for next time you are at the greenhouse.

 

 

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Hi everyone!  With this crazy spring weather we are having I’ve been spending a lot of time out in our backyard garden supervising the spring clean up.

Hey Mom! This perennial garden needs some work.

You should get these leaves off the plants.

You really should cut down this ornamental grass.

Perennial garden inspection complete.

After I checked the perennial garden and gave mom and dad their working orders I went to my favorite place in the yard.

If you can’t see the video you can view it here.  Mom didn’t have her video camera with her, but with the Nikon on burst it is almost the same.

I love crawling through that cave and then walking all around behind the bushes.  When all the leaves are out on the plants mom and dad have no idea where I am.  Sometimes I like to dig a hole under the shrub and lie in it.

After all that I like to take a break on the patio and survey my yard.

Perimeter patrol complete. Time for a rest.

Now I want to thank everyone that complimented me on looking so young for a girl of 14 in my previous post.  Many of you remarked that I didn’t have any grey on my muzzle.  Well I have to confess that the picture in that post was a few years old although it was still taken well within my senior years.  It is true that I don’t have much grey especially when you compare it to the German Shepherd dogs that I used to live with.  According to mom they started showing grey in their muzzles by the time they were two.  Here is a close up of my face taken just last week.

I do have a bit more grey in this picture than the one from the previous post, but very little compared to some 14 year olds.

Stay tuned for more news from my garden.  The bulbs are popping out of the ground and some of our flowering shrubs have bloomed too!

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And I couldn’t be happier!

I bet you all are wondering how I could be happy about having the blues around, but my blues aren’t emotional.  The blues I am talking about have feathers.

Mr. Bluebird

Two years ago we had the first nesting pair of bluebirds in our yard.  Charlie made a couple of houses and platform feeders the previous year, but all we attracted that year was a pair of bachelor males.  We are hoping this year will be another successful breeding for our bluebirds.

Nest box in our meadow

A couple of weeks ago we started to see bluebirds regularly checking out our nest boxes.  With this very mild winter they had arrived a few weeks earlier than normal.  We decided to make them feel as welcome as possible so Charlie put up the mealworm feeders and filled them up with our dried mealworms.

In the past we have also used live mealworms, but we found that the birds are attracted to the dried ones just as much.  We buy them in bulk over the internet which saves a lot of money.

Chickadee on feeder

These feeders attract many species of birds especially chickadees.  We also see Titmice, Cardinals, Nuthatches, and eventually when they get here Catbirds.

Hanging worm feeder

In addition to the two platform feeders we also have this house type feeder.  The holes on each end are large enough that the bluebirds can easily get in, but it keeps many other birds out.  The chickadees and titmice are the only other birds to use that feeder.

Mrs. Bluebird

We are excited that so far we have a small group of three male and two female bluebirds hanging around the yard.

They might be dried, but they sure are good!

It appears that two of the bluebirds are possibly a nesting pair as we have regularly seen them inspecting the nearby nest box.

Mr. Bluebird gets the worm

Last year’s couple raised three broods and we are hopeful that this year will be just as successful!

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Nina here.  A few weeks ago I was tagged by the Dachsies With Moxie to answer some questions about myself so I am going to tackle the questions now.

1. Describe yourself in seven words: Ultra soft, loveable snuggler, old lady, watchdog

2. What keeps you up at night: When Cindy stays up past midnight.  I don’t like it and I come down stairs to try to get her to come to bed.

3. Who would you like to be – Well I am very happy being who I am, but I do wish I were a few years younger.  I am definitely moving a bit slower these days, but what can you expect from a 14-year-old lady?

4. What are you wearing now? – When I am at home I only wear my furs.  The only time I put anything on is if I am going for a ride in the car which usually means I am going to the vet to get poked or something.  I much prefer to stay naked (well with my fur on).

See - no collar

5. What scares you? – There are two things that frighten me.  The first is going to the vet.  I don’t know why because the people there always tell me how sweet I am and are generally very nice to me, but I guess it is because they are always doing weird things to me like take my blood pressure.  You have to lay down and be real still for a long time to get your blood pressure checked and that is hard.  The other thing I am scared of is flashing lights especially the kind that comes in the middle of the night and light up the bedroom. Mom & dad always put a light on in the bedroom if we have lightning in the middle of the night and then I settle right down.  The noise from the thunder has never bothered me especially now that my hearing is pretty bad.

6. What are the best and worst parts of blogging? – I think every one has said the same thing about this one.  Since I am so new to blogging  I would have to say I have really liked how friendly and welcoming everyone has been to Cindy and I.  Of course I don’t like to hear of anyone feeling under the weather or crossing the rainbow bridge.

7. What is the last web site you visited – Well since I don’t have thumbs I will let Cindy answer this one.  The last web site I visited was Touch & Sew that is written by a blogger that lives in the Rochester area too.  We met for the first time Friday night and had a fun time at dinner.

8. Slankets? – I had to ask my mom what a slanket was and I would have to say no to them.  Being a double coated dog I do not need to wear anything to keep me warm.

9. What is one thing you would change about yourself? – Except for being scared of lightning there is nothing I would change.  I am pretty happy being me.

10. Tell us something about the person who tagged you – I think I will let Cindy answer this one too.  I guess I will talk about Agnes, What’s Her Name of the Dachsies With Moxie, since I don’t know very much about her pups.  From the first time I emailed her about helping with the Fearless Five Quilt, Agnes and I have hit it off.  I am thankful that she allowed me to be a part of creating that beautiful quilt.  She has also been very encouraging to me with my new project of sewing bags and selling them.  I think I can accurately say she is my biggest cheerleader and my biggest customer so far too.

Now we are supposed to tag some other bloggers, but I think most of the blogs I know have already answered these questions so if you haven’t been tagged and want to play along feel free to do so.

Well I guess that is all for now.  I hope you enjoyed getting to know a little more about me.

 

 

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Before I get to today’s post I wanted to answer the question I posed on Wordless Wednesday.  A few of you were correct in guessing that the mess on the floor was a couple of piles of Nina’s fur.  She is a double coated dog and is shedding like a fiend right now so I used an undercoat rake and that was what came out.

Undercoat Rake With Fur

Surprisingly enough as a dog that looks solid black on the outside, her undercoat is mainly a light grey.

Pulling back the guard hairs to reveal the undercoat

She still has a lot of shedding and brushing to endure.  When the weather is nicer we like to do the brushing outside and leave the fluff for the birds.  Note to Remington: If Beth would like some extra fur to weave with yours I would be happy to bag it up for you.  Nina’s fur is extra soft so it could only complement your own fur.

Now on to the real reason for this post

This week I shipped my first order to a paying customer for one of my drawstring project bags and I am happy to report that she is very satisfied with her bag.

Crocheting Cat Project Bag

I made this bag for Miss Madi’s mom Cecilia who likes to crochet mini afghans that she donates to her local humane society for the kitties to snuggle with until they find their forever homes.  I love the way this turned out.

Lining fabric for Crochet Cat bag

My favorite feature would have to be the lining fabric.  I was at one of my local quilt shops during a sale and saw this fabric and knew I had to get it for this bag.  The snap loop in the above picture is used to feed the yarn through to keep it neat as you pull it out of the bag.

Cats & Yarn lining fabric

Of course I got more fabric than I would need for this bag so it will likely show up again in another bag sometime. As an added surprise I included a handmade mouse filled with catnip for sweet Madi.

Nip filled mouse for Madi

You must visit her blog to see just how much fun she had with it!  I can’t help but smile looking at all those pictures of Madi playing with the mouse and the commentary is very funny too.

If any of you are interested in owning one of your own customized drawstring bags feel free to contact me regarding pricing, sizes and available designs.  They don’t have to be used as knitting or crocheting bags exclusively.  I am currently working on a few new orders so stay tuned for more fun creations.  I am also working on setting up an Etsy shop to make the process easier and I will let you all know when that is ready.

Thank you Madi and Mom for being my first customers.  It has been a pleasure to work with you.

 

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Warning – Long post with many pictures – Grab a Cuppa and a snack and enjoy!

As many of you may know Sandra and her family have received the Fearless Five Memory quilt so now I can reveal my part in this project. When I received the quilt top from Agnes (What’s Her Name from Dachsies With Moxie) I thought it would be better for the quilt to add some borders around the outside edges.  After getting approval for that from Agnes I proceeded to add that to the quilt top.  The size of the quilt top was now about 115″ x 93″!

The next step was to cut the backing fabric and batting (the middle layer of a quilt) to the correct size and then baste all three layers together.  I like to spray baste my quilts together which means I use a spray adhesive on each layer to allow them to stick together.  The process involves laying the backing fabric on the floor and pinning it to the rug to keep it stretched out.  Lucky for me our living room was just big enough for the quilt to fit.  The next thing you do is start to apply the spray baste and stick the batting to the backing.  This requires much crawling around on my hands and knees to smooth the batting as you go.  Then you repeat the process to add the quilt top to the sandwich.

Basting is complete!

I regret to inform you that there were no pictures taken during this process so you will just have to use your imagination regarding me crawling around on the floor.  And for those of you who were wondering where Nina was through all of this we put up barricades to keep her out of the room.  I don’t think I want her getting sticky paws by walking over the quilt as I was working.

Then it was time to start quilting.  I decided to use a variegated pink thread on the top and bottom and had purchased a 2000 yard spool.

Variegated Pink Thread

When I quilt I use a device called a Fab-U-Motion that includes a stitch regulator.  I hope some of you haven’t stopped reading yet as I don’t want to bore you with the details, but I think some of my readers might be interested so bear with me. In case you are wondering, a stitch regulator helps you to keep your stitches even while you are quilting.

Fab-U-Motion Set Up

With such a large quilt there is a lot of wrangling involved.  If you don’t know anything about quilting I will try to explain.  When you are working on the middle of the quilt you have to squeeze half of the quilt into the area to the right of the needle.  To do this you have to bunch it all up and still have room to quilt. This gets a little easier as you work you way out to the edges.

Quilting in Progress

The other thing you have to do is support the quilt so there isn’t too much weight on the needle as you move the fabric under it.  It is not a pretty sight and sometimes you have to wrap it around yourself to accomplish it.

Not trying to keep warm. Just wrestling with the quilt.

The motif I used over all of the quilt is what I call hearts and loops.  It is just as it sounds and meanders all over the quilt.

Hearts & Loops Quilting

Back of Quilt - Click to biggify and see detail

Here is a video of the quilting action.

I lost track of how many hours it took to complete after the third day of 4 – 6 hours of quilting, but it was not a chore at all.  This was such a labor of love for all of us involved and while I was quilting I was thinking of all the bloggers that contributed fabric for the quilt.  When I am quilting along it is almost like having a “runner’s high” and I don’t pay attention to what is going on around me.

Thread Usage

It’s a good thing I had a 2000 yard spool of thread to start as I almost used every inch of it.  In the above picture the spool on the right is a full spool I am using on my next quilt, and you can see there isn’t much left of the pink.

After I finished all of the quilting I had to trim the edges to make them straight and then attach the binding.  The final finishing touch was to add the label to the back.

Quilt Label and Extra Blocks

There were also a couple of quilt blocks on the back that I added before I did the quilting.  As I like to say, “better late than never” so these two blocks of fabric were added to the back after the front was completed. The label reads as follows:

The Fearless Five Memory Quilt

Made With Love From All of Blogville

Pieced With Love By Agnes P. Bullock

Quilted With Love By Cynthia Welch

February 2012

And here is the finished quilt.

The Fearless Five Memory Quilt

I am very honored to have been able to be a part of this wonderful project and I just know it will bring Sandra and her family years of comfort and love from all of Blogville.  Once again…Blogville Rocks!

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