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.

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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

Mercury News Garden Calendar: An Annual Tradition

DSC_0047Our local paper publishes a garden calendar every January. The 2013 version arrived with Saturday’s paper. The calendar is a single page, always beautifully illustrated, with general gardening guidelines arranged by month.

I hang the calendar on the back of the garage door and refer to it throughout the year. It doesn’t hold any special advice or information that I couldn’t easily find online, but I hang it up anyway and check in to be sure I’m on track.

I used to be a haphazard gardener. My intentions were good, but also easily derailed when my boys were young. Months would pass before I checked in with the calendar again, but I hung it up just the same.

In this era of declining print, I wonder how long ‘the papers’ will stay in business?  Though I enjoy the immediacy of the internet and the incredible access to information, I still enjoy the feel of a newspaper.  It’s fun looking forward to the yearly calendar.  We check the local section for “spare the air” days and my boys check the weather.  Yesterday’s news is great for catching debris when you re-pot a plant.  You can even add it to your compost pile.

Of course newsprint comes from lumbar, so less paper means more trees.  I can certainly get behind that.  Change is both good and inevitable, but as annual rituals go, I’ll be sorry if and when this one is gone.

For a closer look at the San Jose Mercury news Garden Calendar (available, of course, online) follow this link.  Illustrations by Dave Johnson.

Waiting for Tomatoes: Looks Aren’t Everything

Green Tomatoes

Green Tomatoes

All six tomato plants are healthy, sporting a plethora of green tomatoes. We have a heat wave moving through this week, with temps predicted in the 100s three days in a row, a boon for ripening fruit. What’s good for the tomato isn’t good for this fair-haired gardener, however, so I may follow the cats lead and take a nap on the cool tile floor for the entire afternoon. Ha!

Tomato sandwiches were a summer staple growing up. We grew our own tomatoes and used them in a variety of ways. I love eating warm cherry tomatoes, straight from the garden, bursting with flavor in my mouth. I miss those delicious red beacons of summer.

We rarely enjoy tomatoes served in restaurants these days, and find few tasty options at the grocery store. I assumed it had more to do with a too-early harvest, but I learned this last week from our local paper that it’s even worse.

Accordingly to Lisa Krieger of the Mercury News:

“Scientists have caught the culprit behind those tasteless tomatoes. Turns out, tomato growers’ best  intentions over decades are to blame.

By Breeding tomatoes to ripen evenly and harvest easier, growers unwittingly robbed those sumptuous ruby reds of their taste.”

By disabling the GLK2 gene, tomatoes were more efficient and economical to process.  What farmers didn’t know, is that tomatoes with the normal version of the gene are 20% higher in sugar content and 30% higher in lycopene thought to be useful in human nutrition.

What can we do?

  • Heirloom tomatoes retain the gene, along with sweet cherry tomatoes.  If you plant your own, be sure to choose these varieties.
  • Shop at farmer’s markets when possible, where you are more likely to find heirlooms.
  • Take some time to inform yourself of the Right to Know Movement. If you live in California, you can vote to label genetically engineered foods on the Ballot this November. Help ensure Californians have the right to know and choose what they buy to feed their families.

You can read Lisa’s full article on-line at Mercury