Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Strong Roses

Long ago and far away we lived in Germany. It is a beautiful country.  I met several Germans who gardened like there was no tomorrow. They planted the plants much closer together than the instructions say to plant them. This trick makes annuals look full and lush.  Pride of ownership showed in the beauty of even the smallest window boxes that I saw. I love all kinds of flowers, especially roses, it was in Germany, while on family vacation in 1998, that I fell in love with pink climbing roses.

Scanned a photo from our German days, this was taken near Berchtesgaden, 1998.

I didn't count to see how many roses were in this arch. Today I am guessing four.  That summer day I stood there and just stared. I remember taking this picture.  I don't remember a fragrance. Too bad, that's how I select my roses. I just knew that someday I would have an archway like that.

The garden fairy has yet to show up at my place, so I'm trying to recreate that beautiful arch in my own backyard. 

What I have is... well, it's just not there yet. 

I am such a dreamer, but that's a good thing.

Not sure if you can see it, but the right side of this arch is a bit twisted, these roses have already started to grow.  Everything around here is starting to bud and with all the sunshine we've been having I am ready to tackle my winter clean up projects.  Tomorrow most of these weeds will be gone.  They've been protecting a primrose but it's just about time for it to be at it's best so I'm cleaning up the area and getting ready for a spring that already seems to be here.

I usually prune the rose bushes the first two weeks of February, that is when we (normally) get our coldest weather. This year I started trimming in January because it does not feel like winter here. In fact, my climbing roses (which I trim up after their first big bloom) are putting on lots of new growth.  This two year old rose is so strong it's moving my arch. 

New growth on roses January 2012.

So my work this week is to untie the rose canes, straighten the arch, and then retie the little strings that are helping the roses to grow the way I want them to grow.  Sounds cruel?  Hey, I taught my children to pick their clothes up off the floor - I am going to teach these two roses to 'climb' this arch.

I'm off to garden.  If you have snow, lucky you.  I'll be searching the blogs during my lunch break looking (and wishing) for the snow.  But since I don't have it, I might as well get busy - time, tide, and weeds wait for no one.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cocoa and A Movie

It's raining here.  I love this weather and can't help going to the windows just to look out and admire all my rain.  I've finished today's work and now have plans to relax with a cup of cocoa and a favorite vintage movie.

I am not a fan of instant foods and usually do 'make from scratch'
 hot chocolate.  Encouraged by Baby when he was home at
 Christmas, I got Starbucks Hot Cocoa -just add to hot milk-
 and surprise! it's good.

The vintage movie I'm watching today is "I Know Where I'm Going!"  It is a sweet, easy to watch movie from 1945, starring Wendy Hiller and Roger Livesey.   It's fun to watch the storms in the movie and feel the thunder happening just outside my door.

Have you watched a black & white movie lately?  Some days I'm just in the mood - for the clothes, home interiors, clever lines, the happy endings. 

This Thursday I'm linking up with Suzanne at ColoradoLady  for a look at other folks' vintage favorites. 


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Black Socks Saga

I have all kinds and colors of socks, but I just can not seem to keep plain, black socks.  I'm serious - every few months they just vanish.  I think I have figured out the mystery and I have a plan to keep them from disappearing.

I believe my socks have gone to college.  I suppose I should be proud, but I have a feeling they were sent there against their will.  Two weeks ago as Baby prepared for his return to campus, my wonderful husband was sorting socks and helping to stuff Baby's laundry bag.

(Found on Pinterest)

I believe that my husband (still wonderful, here in Texas we do not shoot men who do the dishes or the laundry) put all the black socks that he knew were not his into one of Baby's bags and that's how my socks have ended up three hours away at University. 

I am curious what eventually happens to my socks.  They don't fit Baby.  They have never come back.

Here's what I have done to remedy this situation.

Bought new black socks. 

The only black, cotton socks I could find made in USA were these 'short' ones. 

Combined favorite shades of bright pink embroidery floss and -

The embroidery floss was made in France. 
There goes my plan to only buy local for a week.

- gave each pair that 'pretty with pink' touch.  Yes, I could have done this on the sewing machine but I just like the hand stitched look - perfection is highly over rated.  Now, with just this little change, my socks are ready for Valentines Day and beyond.  I suppose if I had lots of family members I could do each person's socks in their own unique color.  One thing I do know, the men in my life will have no problem recognizing my socks.

Silly, but it only took 30 minutes or so and it gave me something
 to do while I was watching TV.

Sometimes a woman's got to do what a woman's got to do.

Have you made any little changes in this new year?

Wednesday I'm linking up with Uncommonly Yours to show off my silly socks, join us to see what others are creating this week in the blogging community. 


Friday, January 20, 2012

Secret Santa Strikes Again

I want to thank Annie, my SSS partner.  Her blog is  Annies Ruby Slipperz .  She's the one who sent me chocolates back during the second week of December ( Good Morning Secret Santa).  That was a fun, good tasting surprise and, yes, I enjoyed it very much. 

Then just as the New Year began she surprised me one more time when she sent me fabric and a beautiful pin cushion.  I'm knee deep in other projects but I'm thinking there's an apron or two somewhere in this fabric... or maybe a table runner.  I've already started using the pin cushion - and I'm happy to report it works beautifully. 

Thank you, Annie! 

I've been twice blessed. 

Bonus:  I have a fun, new blog to follow.

Christmas 2011 is officially over. 


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Time to Quilt

I'm quilting again. 

I've put it on my calendar - a day here and there, sometimes two or three hours blocked off, just to be creative.  I plan to make all of this year's Christmas gifts.  Plus, I've got a few friends having babies or grand babies, I want to give them something special, and baby quilts are my favorite thing to make.  I'm also trying to use fabric I have on hand mixed in with some new designs and colors.

One of this month's projects is an easy baby quilt.  I'm looking for ways to make them quick and easy, to make them ahead of time so I'm ready with a gift.  Yes, I'm trying to get away from taking forever to make a baby quilt. 

To speed up my quilt making I'm using bigger blocks.

I'm making this one with six inch blocks.  Last summer I found some fabric I liked and bought fat quarters for the entire collection.  Then bought a couple of yards of the fabric I wanted to use as the backing and binding.  Sketched out a plan.  Washed and ironed all the fabric.  Cut out my six inch blocks.

First look at my project...

I noticed that one fabric was just not right for this quilt.  No matter how much planning I do there always seems to be a change or two needed when I see everything together for the first time.

This is for a baby - I want it to be bright and cheerful.

I checked through my stash of goldy yellows and found one that would work (o.k., there was more than one, but this is what I chose).

All better.

I think this is a much happier piece of fabric.

One more thing - if you want this striped fabric let me know I'll be glad to send it to you.  One of my resolutions is to not hold on to stuff "just in case."

Anyone out there need a bumblebee yellow and black?

Now I've got to dash - I'm quilting today.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Still Life

My mom's home is out in the country.  It is a beautiful place, with lots of trees, flowers all around the house and bird feeders tucked here and there.  In the summer it's even fun to do the dishes because you get to stand there at the window and watch the hummingbirds - they seem to spend more time fighting over who gets to eat than eating - they are so tiny and gorgeous.

In the winter visiting the feeders shifts to a frenzied pace.  Birds vying for the best seeds try to eat as much as they can before they slip off into the woods to wherever it is they call home this time of year.

Mom took this picture through the window with her cell phone.

This poor little one darted in for a quick meal and hit one of Mom's dining room windows.  He was gently picked up off the snowy deck and carefully placed in the flower pot in hope that he would recover.  He sat there a long time.  Eventually he shook himself off and flew away.

Whatever is coming at you this week I hope and pray you can shake it off and keep going.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Vintage Friendship

"Although my neighbors
 are all barbarians,
and you,
you are a thousand
 miles away,
there are always
two cups on my table."
(Tang Dynasty)

That's right, this Vintage Thingy Thursday is all about my Vintage Friendship (I guess that makes it official - I'm vintage).

Bev and Me

Just for the record, my neighbors are great, but they are not my oldest playmate (o.k., she probably thought she was babysitting me in our tea time photo).  

Bev is my mom's youngest sister, she has always been a part of my life - which is pretty amazing because we have spent the last 35 years living on opposite sides of the country and, at times, half a world away from one another.   

When my phone rings and she's on the other end it's a very good thing.  We can talk for hours or just a few minutes and life just seems better. 

Her homes have always seemed sort of magical to me.  When I smell apples and cinnamon I think of Bev, the last time I was in her house it had that wonderful scent.  When I light a candle, I think of her (I've always thought of her as a candleholic, in the nicest possible way, of course). 

We learn so much from our parents and siblings, but it's amazing what we learn from our first friends.  I feel doubly blessed because my friend is a family member (that's right, we're stuck with each other).

Today, about 50 years after this photo was taken, I would still enjoy having a cup of tea with her.  And I bet this time she would let me pour.

Join me at ColoradoLady's Vintage Thingy Thursday (button just the the right) to check out other vintage treasures.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Garden in Winter

My garden in January is a bit ragged and sleepy. That's o.k., I need the rest. Just like the ground, I'm enjoying these sleepy winter days. These rainy, sleepy, winter days.   Yes, it's been raining here - it's great.  The perfect day to read about gardening.  Right now I'm enjoying Julie Moir Messervy's book Home Outside - Creating the Landscape You Love.  Garden Porn.  I'm really enjoying it, some of her ideas I hope to use in my landscape.

Proof I am human:  On a day when it is almost impossible to
 be out in the garden, that's all I can think about.

It is winter, but there is life in my garden, especially my container gardens.  At the front door I have Oxalis, "Purple Shamrock" it's blooming now, little white blooms. I've got a few pansies in the pot with it. The largest plant in this group is a Gardenia, evergreen and dormant now, in three or four months it will have the most fragrant white blooms. There is a bit of ivy tucked into one of the pots, the rest of the flowers are pansies. On Monday, I trimmed them back confident that in a couple of weeks I'll once again have pots full of blooms.

The Purple Shamrock is hidden in the blue & green pot on the stand,
 behind the light blue Pansy. The Gardenia is held up in the broken
tree limb that I trimmed and popped into the pot.

Purple Shamrock, Blue Pansies

At the back door it's a different world.  Morning sun and the shelter of the patio create a perfect little garden area.

I have one pot with Sage, Rosemary, & Thyme.

Two pots of lavender - that bloom whenever the mood strikes them. 

I was given some Aloe Vera last summer and still haven't found a place
to put it out in the garden.  It has doubled in size so I'm guessing
 it likes the pot on the patio next to the (usually) warm bricks.

I have a few pansies in pots on the patio and, somehow, in the pot with the seashell, two Thai/Asian Basils are still alive. 

That mass of twisted almost totally brown plant is called "Big Twister Rush"
(Acometidas Grandes De Twister) - that's right I bought it because I liked the name.
It's an ormamental grass, green in the summer, that will be cut back in February
when I trim the roses.

I've got lots of work to do in the garden.  Those two big empty pots are for the lettuces and cilantro I'm going to plant in the coming week, but it can wait.   There's a cold rain outside so today I'm just going to stay inside by the fire and read.

What's going on and growing in your part of the world? 


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Empty Bowls

Next week on Thursday, January 12th, this bowl will be going with me to my favorite local pottery studio, Hart Street Pottery.  I will use it as inspiration for at least one of the bowls I plan to paint. 

I know this will work because in the past I have used other vintage bowls and plates and even a picture or two cut from a magazine for my inspiration.

That's how this:

Became this:
Artist:  cJOY

I have all kinds of plans and never know what I will get done, but I always know that my mom will love them.

Artist:  cJOY

The great thing about this is you can come, too. 

We would love to have you join us.  Sure it might be a bit hard for those of you in Alabama, Utah, Wales, or New Zealand - but if you are in the Metroplex you are welcome to come join the party.  The directions are here and for more information check out the Hart Street Pottery webpage .  Also, click on the HSP Calendar and scroll down to the Empty Bowls section to learn everything there is to know about this event in Fort Worth. 

Janet Rodriguez,  the owner of Hart Street, is wonderful. On the second Thursday of each month she hosts an Empty Bowls Paint Day for artists, and want-to-be artists like me, to gather at her studio and paint bisque bowls. Most of us bring plans and drawings and a few bring their own brushes and we work and visit from 10 in the morning until 6 in that evening.  Some work an hour or two, some work all day.  The results range from Totally Amazing to How Cute to I Wish I Could Do That. 

Artist:  PAULA

Artist:  GLENDA

Artist:  AMY

Artist:  HOLLY

Artist:  JOHN

Artist:  RITA

Artist:  JANET

Generous donors have bought the paint and there are paint brushes just waiting for a bowl painter/artist like you to show up and join us.  The bowls stay at Hart Street where they are glazed and fired and made ready for their big day.   The $3 donation to offset the cost of each bowl will be waived for the first bowl of all new artists who mention my blog on Thursday.  Leave a comment below and show up next Thursday and I'll pay for your first two bowls.

It's creativity for a wonderful cause. We are using our talents to feed the hungry. This link will explain how all this got started and show you other Empty Bowls events around the country - there could be one near you.

If you will be in the Fort Worth-Dallas area on February 17th, and you are in the mood for some wonderful food and amazing art work, get your ticket now (all tickets must be bought in advance) and attend this year's Empty Bowls Event.   Then one of these beauties could go home with you.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Something New for the New Year

My resolution for this year:  Drink more water.

That's it. My one big change for the year.  Suzanne at ColoradoLady is starting a new Tuesday series "Tell Me Tuesday" and today she's asked the question:


Number one for me is drink more water.  I sometimes get to the end of the day and think, "I'm thirsty."  Sure, I try to catch up on a day's worth of water in those last few hours before I head off to bed, but that's not an ideal solution.  So I am looking for ways to drink water through out the day. 

Oh, Suzanne, how can I have just one main goal?  Maybe next week I can just write about one thing but honestly, there's another thing or two I need to do.  Like exercise regularly.  And .....(how can I tell you this?!)....

I am also going to limit my blogging time.  I have to, you all are good - and good to me.  I could get lost in this fun little adventure called blogging. 

I've been entertained and inspired. Sometime last week I saw beautiful mercury glass candle holders, candles, and Epsom salt and loved that look.  Thanks to Dixie at French Lique.  My own version of this is a candle in a jelly jar with kosher salt - and quite REDNECK now that I see it in a picture. 

The salt looks a bit like snow and in this jar the candle seems brighter.
This is no where near Dixie's beautiful candles, but still it gives me warmth and comfort.

In December, I won some fabric by participating in the "Occupy Your Quilt Room" event.  Thank you Barbara at Cat Patches - I won second place - the Moda Little Apples Charm pack.  Not only does Barbara inspire me to quilt, she also gives me fabric!

Thank you, Barbara!

Blogging is like treasure hunting.  I discovered Cat Patches "Occupy Your Quilt Room" contest on the blog Count it *all* JOY!   Now I'm getting to know Denise, inspiring quilter and blogger.  The night I entered the contest something inside me said "if you win anything - share with her."  So when I learned of my win, I contacted her and  explained that we were in this together.  So Denise and I are sharing this one.  She came up with the Pattern - (Little Bluebell: Pillow Talk Swap 6) and our completion date is the first week of March 2012.

And where did I first see Count it *all* JOY?  I don't remember.  I guess she left a comment on a blog I read and I saw the word JOY and had to check it out. 

I do know that all of this started with  ColoradoLady - Suzanne has a little bit of everything on her blog.   She has her vintage link party on Thursdays - see button on the right (the one with the little bird) - maybe that's what got me following all these other blogs.

Now I have to set a timer so I don't spend too much time blogging, because there's lots of stuff I want to do. I see blogging as a good thing, and I'm only spending an hour or so doing this every day. But that adds up, and I have to ask myself WHAT'S THE BEST USE OF MY TIME RIGHT NOW? So YOU tell me:  How do you find the time to blog and live?

And, for the record, how did I learn about Suzanne's blog?  From my friend, Patti - no link - Patti's a friend in the real world.  She's into all kinds of clever, fun, inspiring stuff.  One day Patti was walking with me and talking about our friend, Suzanne, and when she got home she sent me a link ....  And since then I don't think I've walked with Patti one day.  How horrible is that?  So add exercise with a friend at least once a week to that list of things I'm going to do in the next six months.