Monday, February 22, 2016

Early Risers

It's a couple of weeks early, but we're getting some beautiful color outside now.  The trees are still bare and grasses are dormant, but many bulbs are starting to come up.



...and snowdrops are all showing their faces.

It's almost crocus time!

Strangely, many of our azaleas are budding out.  They really don't get going here until mid-March through April, so hopefully they don't all blaze out and wither prematurely.

I love seeing all the green.

I planted tons of muscari (grape hyacinth) and peonies, but the ground in front was so churned up by machines when our trees were felled, chopped, and carted away that I don't hold out hope that any survived.  Still, we have our "old faithfuls" in the helleborus:

Carolina Jessamine:

And, of course, camellias:

I don't mean to pick more flowers when I go out to take photos.  But they're so beautiful and plentiful, and those not picked just fall to the ground in a few days.

So I pick.

And every room, from late February to mid-May, is full of bouquets.  Big bouquets, small bouquets, single stems, whatever. 

I read a story about a famous gardener who regularly cared for over 60 bouquets in her house in spring, so at least I'm not the only one who's crazy for them! 

I've been too busy to do any crafting, but I did find time in the past two weeks to start and finish a mini-quilting project.  Eight wedges are sewn together separately and then pieced together.  I did make ONE mistake:  I used a white piece instead of tan.  Overall, though, I don't really notice it.

I decided to hang it over the back fireplace.  It blends in well, I think.  

I found more vintage craft books at a thrift store this weekend, so hopefully I'll have time soon to pull some design ideas from them.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Planning ahead...

After an absolutely frigid week, we're finally warming up.  The cats have assumed their customary stations.

I've been too busy with work - and too cold - to do much outside.  I've brought in a few flowers that survived the cold... add a little color to the dining room.  Camellias and helleborus are in full swing...just waiting on the bulbs and forsythia, and finally, the azaleas!

In the absence of outdoor activity, I've mainly enjoyed the view from my office window...

...and planned future projects.  I'm bored with my octagon quilt project, even though I'm only a row away from being done (lap blanket size), so I started a large square that I'll hang up somewhere when completed.

I finished the second panel of my embroidery project.

The two identical pieces fit perfectly in the front wooden panels in our back living room cabinet.

As soon as I locate the first fabric panel, I'll wash, iron, and frame both pieces.  Hopefully it will fit my vision!

I measured the dining room hutch that holds my German pottery for shelf edging.

It's kind of an old-fashioned European style, with embroidered lace or fabric edging hanging down 2 - 5 inches from each shelf.  Sometimes the fabric is embroidered with pictures, or sometimes words.  I'm thinking of embroidering in German one of my favorite quotes about marriage:

"Es ist niche mehr schon, freundlich und charmant Beziehung, Gemeinschaft oder Gesellschaft als eine gute Ehe."

Or, "There is no more lovely, friendly, and charming relationship, communion or company, than a good marriage." 

I found one I *loved* on eBay, but it was $65 and also too long for these shelves.  I'll probably start on my own this spring! 

Speaking of love, we had company on Valentine's Day so didn't do much in the way of "officially" celebrating.  I did make a batch of cookies to mail out to friends and relatives, although much smaller than I usually do due to lack of time.  I just baked basic chocolate sugar cookies and dipped them in melted candy melts.  Then, sprinkled them with candy hearts.

They were individually bagged and I made a little Valentines-themed label for each bag.

Hopefully I'll have more time at Easter for a bigger baking session. 

Have a great week! 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Cats in Sun & Valentine's Fun

I'm loving all the birds that are starting to come out, even though it's definitely not spring weather yet.

Carolina wrens are constantly singing outside my office window.

Our belted kingfisher is back!  He won't let me get very close...

...but he hangs out on a branch over the water.  I love to watch him skim the surface for insects, but I have to watch from indoors.  Even stepping out onto the back deck, a considerable distance from his perch, elicits a scold

We have lots of red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks around here, and the local crows have been mobbing them on a daily basis.  As soon as I hear the crows start up, I know that a lone hawk is nearby.  Sometimes I watch them chase him from tree to tree until he's safely out of their territory.

A brief respite... he's on the move again!

Mostly I just see the little songbirds in the gardenia bushes outside.  Here's a dark-eyed junco tidying his feathers.

The local squirrels are tired of being in their drays and are scampering about, or doing some bathing.

The cats go out on the deck when the sun is out...

...but mostly they hang out in the back living room, under the couch.  We have a sectional couch in there which is directly over 2 heating vents.  It makes a nice warm place for an all-day nap.  Sometimes I'll just see a tail or a leg...

...but I always know they're there!

I finished knitting the socks I was working on, but I'm not very pleased with them.  They're a little loose on the leg, and I like a nice tight fit.  Oh, well, I'm not going to fix the problem, so I'll have to just live with them the way they are.

Valentine's Day is coming up, and this year I decided to do an advent-style calendar for Todd.  I really don't like mushy/overly sentimental messages, so I searched online for sentiments that felt more 'real' to our relationship.  I'm definitely more Spock than Cupid.  ;)  I used this tutorial to fold Valentine-themed craft paper into tiny envelopes.  Each envelope has a number to denote the date for opening.

Sealed with a sticker...

...and taped to a big piece of craft paper.

He opens one every morning.  I love the buildup to "the big day," even though we'll probably just play board games and watch The Walking Dead.  Maybe even a TWD that's romantic!  :) 

Have a great week!