A Happy Autumn Treasure From Across The Pond

The lovely Cathy at Words and Herbs just celebrated a special birthday. I’ve been following her blog for several years. She posts stunning pictures of her rock garden in Bavaria, and she also shares vegan recipes. She is currently publishing a series of recipes for World Vegan Month. Cathy also creates wonderful flower arrangements every Monday year round, in a feature called In a Vase on Monday. I’m always so impressed.

When I learned it was Cathy’s 50th birthday, I asked for her address. She in turn asked for mine and before I could pop my little something in the mail, a charming box arrived at my door.

I’m in love!

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Crocheted pumpkin with wooden stem

She crocheted a pumpkin with soft orange and green yarn, then added a wooden stem. She even included “warts” made with straight pins for an authentic pumpkin detail.

If you’re not already following along, you can check in with Cathy here at Words and Herbs. Today she published her recipe for Vegan Chocolate Amarena Brownies. You might have to head straight to the market for all the ingredients. Yum!

crochet-pumpkin

Crocheted pumpkin with “warts” cleverly made with straight pins

Thank you, Cathy!

Campus Quilt Gem

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For years I’ve seen ads like this in the back of magazines. You send in a pile of t-shirts and they come back to you as a quilt. A few of my clients have mentioned the idea to me as well but I don’t know anyone who followed through.

Though I love to sew, I’ve never learned to quilt. I lack the patience, but love the idea and the finished results. The idea of making sentimental clothing into a functioning quilt however, intrigued me. In the ‘old days’ most discarded clothing saw a new life as a quilt. Nothing went to waste.

So after helping my sister clean out some drawers, we decided to turn her small pile of keepsake t-shirts into a sentimental quilt.

sharon explains the quilt

Sharon worked on this ad campaign at The Mercury News

Campus Quilts has the ordering process down to a science. I made a deposit online, then ordered a package with directions. They send you a large waterproof envelope for mailing your shirts, along with assorted fabric swatches and a detailed order form. You let them know what order to place your shirts, what kind of backing you want and if you want strips of fabric between each shirt. We opted for the strips and it turned out nicely.

t shirt side of quilt

Four shirts, including one with a button placket

The dark fabric frames each panel.  There are two styles of machine quilting and even an option to add photo panels or an embroidered name.

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Closeup of purple flannel backing and machine stitches

Our design is a simple one, but turned out even better than we imagined. Sharon chose her favorite color for the back of the quilt and black for the framing.

We’re tickled pink.

Sharon with quilt

The quilt is big and cozy

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The boys were nice enough to hold up the quilt for the photo, but asked to remain incognito

The Shirts:

Top row, San Jose Mercury News and a pair of wildlife t-shirts
2nd row, A gift from Mike, work shirts from Zazzle and Pindar (no she never went to prison)
3rd row, More shirts from Pindar
4th row, Shirts from the Spartan Daily, San Jose State University

Mini Plant Care Book and Happy Birthday to the Bard

Karen Philips designed this mini photo album a few years back. She taught a workshop at a weekend retreat, leading us through the steps to make our own.   After making a sample in class, I purchased a few of her kits.  It’s been fun using her template to create a few designs of my own.

The album below is Karen’s design. I just added the flowers to bring in a bit of color

Today I put it to use as a small plant care log, then delivered it with my Earth Day project. This little album is the perfect size and color.

I photocopied the back of the plant care labels and included them in the book. After removing the pointy ends of the tags, I added those too.

Putting this together reminds me that I need to make more time for projects like this.  It was so relaxing.

fold out mini album

Fold Out Mini Album designed by Karen Philips

mini album open

These photos show the steps for opening the mini album

plant care instructions

Plant care instructions

Happy Birthday Shakespeare

Now one lives forever, however the brilliant collection of William Shakespeare is timeless. Today we celebrate The Bard’s 450th birthday. To ‘men of middle age.’

Here are a few of his garden quotes:

Yet mark’d I where the bolt of Cupid fell:
It fell upon a little western flower,
Before milk-white, now purple with love’s wound,
And maidens call it love-in-idleness.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2.1.169-72)

When daffodils begin to peer,
With heigh! the doxy over the dale,
Why, then comes in the sweet o’ the year;
For the red blood reigns in the winter’s pale.
The Winter’s Tale (4.3.1-4)

Here’s flowers for you;
Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram;
The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun
And with him rises weeping: these are flowers
Of middle summer, and I think they are given
To men of middle age.
The Winter’s Tale (4.4.122-7)

 

 

 

Anthurium Christmasum

It’s not every day you receive a box on your doorstep from Volcano, Hawaii.

Squeal!!!

My friend Laura and family sent us a dozen Mini Anthuriums by way of Akatsuka Orchid Gardens in Hawaii. Aren’t they breathtaking?  It wasn’t until I looked at the website that I realized we had been there on our visit to the Big Island several years ago.  Goosebumps!

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Anthuriums, banana leaves and flax

The waxy stems traveled 2,352 miles (3,785 kilometers) to get here. They arrived wrapped in beautiful green paper, soft foam, a sheet of plastic and damp, shredded newspaper. The contents smelled like an evening on the shore.  I’m going to add it to my compost bin for a bit of Hawaiian flare.

damp shredded newspaper

Packaged in damp, shredded newspaper

In addition to the heart-shaped stems, they included several exotic greens, including banana leaves and flax. The greens, reds and golds light up the room. What an extraordinary gift.

Mini Anthuriums

Mini Anthuriums

anthuriums

Reds and corals

According to The Flower Expert:

The red, heart-shaped flower of Anthuriums is really a spathe or a waxy, modified leaf flaring out from the base of a fleshy spike (spadix) where the tiny real flowers grow. The anthurium flowers appear as a roughness on the spadix as compared to a smooth spadix. Most common colors of anthuriums are red and shades of red.

In Greek, the name Anthurium means tail flower. The plant’s stem lengths may grow to a height of 15-20 inches depending on the size of the spathe, i.e., the bigger the spathe, the longer the stem. Its leaves are usually simple, large, attractively colored and borne on long stalks. The flowering stalk is slender, ending in a fleshy column crowded with many unisexual flowers. They have leafy bracts which may be white, yellow, red, pink, orange or green.

glass bowl and flowers

This glass, lotus-shaped bowl was a wedding gift. I think it’s perfect for these blooms

Aloha

 

Reclaimed Fences, Birdhouse Charm

My friend, Michele and her family get together every year and make birdhouses. They reclaim wood from broken fences and other old materials, then craft them into unique designs. I’m the lucky recipient of this charming model, below.

reclaimed fencing birdhouse

Reclaimed fencing

I love their family tradition of gathering and creating together. I’m also a huge fan of reclaiming materials and giving them a new life.

back of birdhouse

Back of birdhouse

They attached the back of the birdhouse  with screws for easy removal and cleaning. Weathered wood blends beautifully into the landscape.

Ceramic "chimney"

Ceramic or porcelain “chimney”

The birdhouse “chimney” is a vintage ceramic or porcelain insulator. Once used as old telephone wire insulation, the markings  indicate manufacturing by WP or Wisconsin Porcelain. The top of the insulator reminds me of a peppermint Lifesaver. I’m never far from my sugar-loving roots. Ha!

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Even the rusty nail is re-purposed, artfully bent into a perch.**

Do you have gift-making family traditions?

Related Articles:

**I plan to display this lovely birdhouse as a piece of art. If you want to attract nesting birds to your yard, here are a few safety tips.

Summer Camp for Sunflower Seeds

They’re not really at summer camp but it looks that way, doesn’t it?

Flower House

Sunflower Camping

Keeping the sunflower seeds in the ground long enough to grow is an ongoing effort.  They’re simply irresistible to squirrels.  It took three tries last year.  I finally came up with a contraption made from small, sliding window screens locked on the planter boxes on the deck.

This year I wanted to plant seeds in a new corner plot so I needed more coverage.  I ordered a pair of pop-up tents, also know as mini-greenhouses, from a company called FlowerHouse. They’re staked in place, with rocks for added weight. They seem to be working. So far.

Mighty Mouse and green house

Mighty Mouse stands guard

I bought assorted flower and vegetable seeds last month at the garden show. They came in the prettiest packets. The corner plot, tucked up against the sidewalk, includes sunflowers, violas and forget-me-nots. The purple and yellow are a nice complement.

Garden show Seeds

Franchi Sementi S.p.A

I’m already seeing poppies blooming all over the neighborhood, so wish I had planted mine sooner. I added some new color this year, so it will be exciting to see what comes up.

Renee's Garden Cosmos and Poppies

Renee’s Garden Cosmos and Poppies

Pruned Lavender

I hard-pruned the lavender, making way for sunflowers and cosmos.

This bed is a diamond in the rough. Once the lavender comes back, along with cosmos and poppies, it’ll be gorgeous.

Cosmo seeds 2012

I scattered these throughout the garden. They were beautiful last year and a favorite with the birds.

I hard-pruned the lavender to remove the dead wood below, then tucked in a few seeds in the newly open space.  I had high hopes the critters wouldn’t notice. Silly gardener.  Of course they noticed.  So, I’ve put my proverbial eggs back into one basket, the tiny plot that reminds Boomdee of a camp site for squirrels.  Nooooooooo!!!

I'm on it!

I’m on it!

Smashing Good Time?

I had a smashing weekend, which is to say I smashed several fingers in the fire door leading to the garage. Heavier than usual winds blew all day. The draught created by the wind pulled the door closed faster than usual, smashing three of my fingers in the process. I went down on my knees, the pain was so intense, but I’m on the mend now and extra vigilant around that door until the winds subside. My dear friend C. stopped by with a card of well wishes and two comfy pairs of gardening gloves. Isn’t that the sweetest? Between finger-smashing and the news out of Boston, this thoughtful gift was a bright spot in my day.

Thank you

A sweet gift from a dear friend

Sending love and healing energy back out into the world.  Thanks for joining me on the journey.

The Art of Felting: Warm and Beautiful

felting processFelting, simply put, is matting wool. The art of felting has been around for centuries with many conflicting stories as to its origin. This Wiki article sites:

Sumerian legend claims that the secret of felt-making was discovered by Urnamman of Lagash. The story of Saint Clement and Saint Christopher relates that while fleeing from persecution, the men packed their sandals with wool to prevent blisters. At the end of their journey, the movement and sweat had turned the wool into felt socks.
Felt making is still practiced by nomadic people (Altaic people) in Central Asia and northern parts of East Asia (Mongols), where rugs, tents and clothing are regularly made. Some of these are traditional items, such as the classic yurt (Gers), while others are designed for the tourist market, such as decorated slippers. In the Western world, felt is widely used as a medium for expression in textile art as well as design, where it has significance as an ecological textile.

What I do know is that it’s a lot of fun. Merging the wool fibers creates, a warm, durable and water-proof felt, used for centuries. The artistic possibilities, beyond the basics are endless.

My talented friend Liz held a felt-making workshop for a few friends on a visit home from New Zealand.  She’s become quite the expert.  We started with a small pile of wool fibers and a few basic tools, and left with a finished piece.  Liz is also a gourmet cook, a talented seamstress and a gifted fibre artist. You can see more of her work in the Facebook Album Fibre Art.

I wet-felted pieces in orange and black, then combined them to make a small Halloween hanging. I dry-felted the pumpkins on top,adding the orange felted cord at the end.  It’s my new holiday favorite.

felted wool pumpkins

Laura joined me that day, and crafted a beautiful multi-layered piece in white and blue.  She dry felted and embroidered flowers to the piece, then made it into a purse. A certain gardener turned 50 that year, and unwrapped this stunning purse for the occasion!  Getting older has its pluses.

felted wool flowers

Felted Wool Flowers

felted purse

Felted Purse

The Process

It can take a bit of finesse to create beautiful pieces of felt, but the basics are simple. GFWSheep offers a tutorial to get you started.

Halloween Countdown

Felted pumpkins

Felted Pumpkins