05 November 2014

Fan Block for Connie K.

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With this block finished at last, I have completed all the round robins that I've been stitching in for the last many months.  This is Connie K's fan block.  I am the last to stitch on her blocks and had my choice of a blue fan or a pink fan.  I've been on rather a blue streak lately, so that's the one I chose! 

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Here is the block before embellishment.  Connie asked us to not embellish the outer velvet portion and gave us the option to do something with the lace if we chose.  

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I focused on the fan seams to start with.  A feather stitched seam with a bluebell theme on the two center seams and some leafy scallops with white flowers for the outer. 

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For the inside corner, I stitched a spider web rose.  The greens are more green than this photo shows! 

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For the lace, I added some small fargo roses of ribbon that I had dyed when I was working on my daughter's wedding ring pincushion.  It was too dark for that, but was just perfect for this block!   I also added some vintage "shell" ric rac trim that I had.  

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Overall, I'm really happy with how this block turned out and hope that Connie likes it too!

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Here are all the blocks after my work.  The stitchers include Lisa A., Thearica, Judy D., Gerry K., and myself. Now the blocks head home to Connie K.!  

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With the unusual shape of the blocks, I've been pondering how Connie will put them together.  This is what I would do with them if they were mine!  

I've been having trouble getting my camera to focus properly lately, despite cleaning lenses and everything else that I can think of. There are many slightly out of focus photos as a result. Time to save up for a new camera I think!  This camera has taken nearly 70,000 photos since I got it back in 2009!  It's given nearly flawless performance in all that time.  I'd love to upgrade to a "pro" level camera, but they are heavier and significantly pricier, so I have to do some hard thinking about what to get! 

Thanksgiving thought for the day: 

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts;
So I am helped, and my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him. 
Psalm 28:7

03 November 2014

Heart DYB for Renee

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This morning, I finished Renee's block for the Hearts DYB.  It's the last one in this round robin and I must admit that I am sorry to see this one finish as it has been such a pleasure stitching with this group of ladies!  Renee's guidelines were to embellish the blocks in red, white, black, silver and gold.  

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Sometimes, it's the simplest seams that I like the best.  They can have an elegance all their own.

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I have just a few of these celtic knot heart beads and thought that this small seam was the perfect place to showcase one of them. 

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Here are all the blocks together.  Now they head home to Renee who will finish the "E" block and compile them into a single project!  I'm looking forward to seeing how she finished them!

2014.11.03Crabapple

It's a cool rainy day here in Colorado and some areas, especially the mountains, have gotten some snow.  It has been such a warm, dry autumn that I am grateful for the moisture.  I love the way the damp intensifies the colors on this crab apple tree at the edge of my yard!  So beautiful!

Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for he is gracious, and a song of praise is seemly. 
Psalm 147:1 (RSV)

02 November 2014

Before & After ~ The Outside

One of the things that I am so very thankful for, is the blessing of my little home.  It's astonishing to me just how much my kids and I have been able to accomplish in the two years that I've owned it.  I would like to share the transformation of my little cottage in a series of Before & After photos.


This was the view of the house that I saw in the real estate ad about the house.  I fell in love with how it sat amongst all the trees.  Sadly, when I viewed the house, even the very first time I drove past it, I realized that the big cottonwood trees were going to have to go.  The tops of them, which you cannot see in this photo were half dead and it was obvious that some huge branches had broken off.  In fact, when you search for the address of my house on Google Maps and look at the street views, the photos must have been taken shortly after one of the big ones had come down as the yard is a mass of enormous broken limbs, branches and leaves!


I was terribly sorry to see the trees go, as the way the house nestled among the trees was half the charm, but I sleep much better when it is storming out, knowing that there won't be any huge trees coming down on the roof!

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Today, my little house still nestles among the trees, though they are just some aspen trees around the house.  You'll also note that I made a decision to remove the shutters and not replace them.  It's a decision I'm really happy with.  Many of them were half rotted and the amount of debris and bugs that had accumulated behind them was astonishing.

This side of the house is my favorite part.  I love the protected side entrance and the flagstone terrace between the driveway and the house.  When I purchased the house, it was terribly overgrown and the flower beds around the terrace were mostly bare and unkempt. 

2014.07.19House01This photo of the side was taken just as we were finishing renovations, days before my daughter's wedding.  You can see that things have been cleaned up, the shrubs pruned, and the flagstone path relaid (and completed!).  On the right of the driveway, the overgrown half dead elderberry bushes were removed and a raised bed was installed and planted with lilac bushes which will grow to create a new hedge.  

This is the view of the side terrace when I bought the house.  I knew even then that this would be one of my very favorite parts of the house and could imagine sitting on the porch in the evenings with my glass of wine! 

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We trimmed the shrubs, dug out thousands of tightly packed day-lilies that never bloomed, added mulch and some new flagstone edging around the beds.  It transformed the space beautifully! 


The blue paint on the chimney and doors made the porch a gloomy place and it wasn't terribly welcoming somehow.  I knew it could be better! 

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What  a difference the white paint made!  It brightened up the side porch and made it such a welcoming space!  And the green doors were the perfect accent!  We spent so much time out here once it was painted and cleaned up!  


The transformation in the back yard was no less.  Here, even in that first autumn season we hauled away a huge amount of junk that was heaped in corners and in the garden and shed.  The old cottonwood stump was rotting and caused a huge mound in the yard that made it hard to mow and nothing except a few hardy weeds and dank mushrooms would grow around it.  The flagstone fireplace was crumbling and a catch all for leaves and spiders.  It just wasn't a very nice place to be.  But goodness, it had potential that I could see.  Even though I did not anticipate being able to do anything with this part of the yard for a long time to come, I started thinking about how I could transform it. 

My initial plan to knock down the fireplace and extend the patio behind the garage and put a pergola over it resulted in removing and replacing the entire patio, regrading the back yard and reseeding the lawn as well as the addition of two flower beds along the patio and a new arbor.  And the pergola that started it all?  Well, that looks like a project for sometime in the next year or two!   

The back yard was full of overgrown shrubs and things growing in seemingly random places.  The blue trim on the house gave it a rather haphazard feel and showed off every little oddity of construction somehow.  

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A new coat of white paint and only the doors painted green added wonderful new life to the house.  It looks so fresh and crisp now!  

The garden area was a junk heap full of wooden pallets, dog toys and other broken down stuff when we moved in.  There were many chinese elm tree saplings growing in it along with many weeds and a few hardy herbs that were taking over what space they could.  

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A new coat of paint on the shed renewed it and made it match the rest of the house.  

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In the garden beds, the saplings were rooted out, the weeds controlled and the herbs either moved, discarded or pruned severely to bring them back into submission.  In between the garden beds, Jessie and I added flagstone paths using the mosaic pavers that we found all around the yard.  New tuteurs were added as well as a small trellis for the grapevine.  Lots of new perennials were planted in order to make the garden look lush and ready for the wedding.   Next year, these beds will need redone as the timbers surrounding them are disintegrating and the layout needs a little work and the grapes will need a larger arbor to climb on. 

Along the side of the garage, the old fence was in terrible shape, with a gate that wouldn't open properly because the post supporting it were rotten.  It blew down in the winds of last winter.  The slope on this side of the yard was difficult to deal with as well and the water ran off the garage roof and pooled against the foundation. 

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A new step was added with a spot for the garbage cans and a new bit of fence to enclose it.  It changed the whole side yard and made it feel so open and lovely!  We opted not to replace the fence dividing the front and back yards here.  

So the little cottage that I fell in love with the first time I saw it has transformed... 

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It is still my sweet little cottage, but now it settles into it's surroundings and looks so happy, just like it's owner! 

There is still plenty to do.  I'd love to replace the windows with new thermal pane windows to match the original 6 over 6 double hung windows.  Someday, I'd like to replace the inefficient wood fireplace with a new gas fireplace.  I hope to get an oak tree planted out in the front corner of the yard and maybe another apple tree or two.  The verge along the road still needs to be refurbished.  I hope to plant a variety of shrubs with seasonal interest there ~ some bittersweet, beauty berry, Korean lilac, etc.  In back, I hope to get a pergola up behind the garage.  And the garden beds will get redone.  The side terrace flagstone needs repair as the roots from the maple tree are causing it to lift in places.  And the driveway needs sealed.  But for now, the yard is moderately easy for me to manage with just a little help and I have room for my beloved roses, some lilacs and a few blooming trees!  It's my bit of paradise on earth! 

A Month of Thanksgiving

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It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
 to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning, 
and your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre. 
For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work,
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.
Psalm 92: 1-4 (ESV)

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It's hard to believe that November is already here and that the roses are still blooming in my garden!  So much beauty to be thankful for!  One of the roses I planted this year was a rugosa rose, which I planted mostly for the beautiful big rose hips that it produces!  With the cool nights, they have ripened to the most luscious shade of red!  At over an inch in diameter, they are quite stunning! 

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Another item I am so grateful for ~ my Heart blocks arrived home this weekend!  They are simply amazing and I cannot wait to get the other blocks finished so I can put this out after Christmas is over!  I'll be making a square wall hanging with a total of 9 heart blocks, so that means I have 4 heart blocks to complete in order to put this one together!  The work that Renee, Tahlia, Barbara, Alexandra and Kathy did on these blocks is just wonderful!  

2014.11.01Stash
Yet another thing to be thankful for!  One of my blog readers, Linda P from Illinois, sent me this fun bag of fancy scraps!  Lots of lovely brocades and fancy fabrics in there along with some Angelina fibers, trim and doodads!  There was a lovely piece of soft buttery yellow satin ~ which was exactly what I was needing for a little project I am working on for my new sewing room!  Thank you Linda!  

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Though many of the trees have already dropped their leaves, others are still deep green.  The maple tree in my side terrace is just now starting to change.  

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I love watching the leaves change from solid deep green, to mottled green and yellow and now yellow tinged with red. 

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The burning bushes are slowly changing to scarlet red.  Just beautiful!

Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. will arrive at the end of the month.  I love that it is a day with no expectation other than to spend time with family and friends, gathered around the table.  In the past, I have loved that nearly no stores were open and that few people had to work.  I do think it a wonderful thing to have a national day of rest and relaxation.  As a nurse, I do sometimes have to work a holiday, and this year, my holiday to work is Thanksgiving.  My co-workers and I will have a potluck Thanksgiving on the unit instead.  Since I will not be celebrating with my family this year, I hope to share some of the many blessings that have come my way this year here on the blog.  A month of Thanksgiving!  


30 October 2014

Be My Valentine DYB Bell Pull

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Another item from my unfinished project basket is complete!  This is the "Be My Valentine" DYB round robin that I participated in back in 2012.  Shortly after I sent these blocks out, my Mom got sick in Costa Rica and subsequently passed away, so I ended up doing almost no stitching in this round robin and someone else took over my spot.  But my blocks got to continue through the rotation and came back to me, beautifully embellished!  How nice to have this one finished! 

Valentine Blocks in progress
I fell in love with these vintage bird valentines and drafted two different crazy quilt blocks to use them on.  To vary them, I simply rotated the block designs.  It was something I had never done before and they turned out to be some of my favorite pieced blocks, so I definitely need to remember to try this again.

Valentine Bell Pull
These are the pieced blocks placed in the order I wanted them to go.

Valentine RR Blocks WIP
Here are the blocks as I received them back! Everyone did a wonderful job of keeping to the colors in the blocks as I had asked.  They also did a nice job of maintaining the somewhat "Zen" feel to the blocks. 

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Cathy Labath stitched this block and it is overwhelmingly my favorite of the group.  I love them all, but Cathy was able to interpret the feel I was after perfectly! 

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Elizabeth  Ahsanullah  stitched this lovely block!  Gorgeous beading!

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Alice Topp completed this block.  I loved how she kept things simple and in the colors of the block and added some background stitching to create interest. 

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Connie Kalina stitched this block.  She also did a fabulous job of keeping the serene and simple feel that I had hoped for! 

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Nicki Lee Seavy stitched this lovely block.  She creates lovely hand dyed lace and incorporated some of it into this block.  

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On the back I added a label in order to remember the ladies who participated in this round robin and where they were from. 

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For the backing, I used a linen fabric with a color that blended well with the silk blocks.  I used a variegated thread around the perimeter in a feather stitch.  Here you can see some of Cathy's fly/fern stitch leaves up close. 

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I just loved these vintage valentines!  Such sweet birds and sentiments!  I also love Cathy's green flowers on this block.  It's something I would never have thought to do, but they are simply perfect and just the right embellishment to this block!  It's a good reminder that sometimes it doesn't hurt to stray from what one "expects" to see! 

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Before I go, I have to share a photo of my sweet Mollie Kitty!  I'm so grateful that she seems fully recovered from her illness this past spring!  At 14 years old, going on 15, she is still kittenish in so many ways!  She brings so much joy to my life!  I hope we have a few more years together! 

Thank you all for your gracious and kind comments about my last blog post!  I'm so glad to know that so many of you are uplifted by my blog!  

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