Friday, February 25, 2011

A little color

I had a moment of weakness last weekend and ordered a bunch of fabric online.  I couldn't resist Robert Kaufman's Metro Living Circles any longer!  Of course, while I was surfing I was drawn into Ann Kelle's Remix stripes, argyle, and zig zag.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with any of these, but they sure do look happy together!

It was a slow week for me as I was down with a cold, but my garden is thriving without me just fine! 

My peas are coming up slowly, they're about 2" tall now.  I sure hope they grow quickly though as the branches I put in as a trellis look a bit silly all bare in a row. 

And look! 

My potatoes are finally peeking through the straw!

My plum tree has a light dusting of white blooms on it.  Sometimes it looks like the branches have a bit of snow on them.

There's been talk of a dusting of snow here tonight down to 500'!  Probably won't happen, but it sure is fun to think about seeing snow around L.A.

What's happening in your neck of the woods?  Got any new sewing or gardening projects going on? 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Buttercup Bag in Sanctuary

I made myself this cute purse today!

Krista at Poppyprint posted one she made last week and it looked like a fun, quick project to work on and try out some of my Sanctuary fat quarters.  This is the small version of the Buttercup bag from Made By Rae.  It's the perfect size bag to throw in your essentials.

I'll be trying this bag pattern again, but next time, using a zipper.  The magnetic clasps were difficult to sew around when putting the lining in and were too heavy for the lightweight fabric.  I was glad that I quilted the outer fabrics, as this pattern definitely needs a sturdy outer fabric to get that cute shape.

In other quilting news, I picked up some black backing fabric for my sliced coins quilt and have some ideas for how I'm going to piece the backing.  I'm hoping to get to it later this week and get it finished up! 

Linking up to Sew Modern Monday and Fabric Tuesday!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Come to the Dark Side

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!  My husband and I rarely give each other gifts, but this year, I went all out making him something special.  Back when I was making a silly amount of pillows last month, my husband said to me, "When are you going to make me a black, gray, and red pillow?  Or a Star Wars pillow?"  Some day, dear.  Then the very next morning, I received an email that had this amazing graphic of all the Star Wars characters pixelated!  It was perfect!  I had to do some internet searching to find out where it came from originally and found Andy Rash's iotacons blog.  He'd written a recent post giving permission to make crafty items from his designs, so I figured I'd just go for it!  So, I went through my stash and found three fat quarters of light gray, dark gray and black, plus a little blue and red, and some white background fabric and went at it.

For Valentine's Day, my husband gets a quilted Darth Vader pillow.

This was such a fun pillow to make!  It ended up 24" square, the Vader character is made up of 1" finished squares.  I cut up the rest of the fat quarters to use as a border and for the back of the pillow.

I had a version of it finished last week, but decided the back should be quilted, too, and that an envelope closure was not good enough.  So I took it apart and quilted the back and added a zipper under one of the white flaps.  I had also planned on finishing the edges with binding for the second go-around, but by the time I got back to making the other changes, a week had passed and I completely forgot!  I didn't want to take the stitches out a second time, so I left it.

Here's what the front and back looked like before the quilting:

I quilted the front with 1/2" quilting lines for the white background and stitched in the ditch around Darth and around the border.

Darth now sits prominently in a chair in our living room.  It's awesome.  And oh so geeky.

Thank you so much to Andy Rash for creating this fabulous design!  Check out his blog - his stuff is incredible.

Entering this in the Blogger's Pillow Party for February!  And linking up to Fabric Tuesday!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sliced coins progress and other quilt alongs

I'm finally caught up to where I should have been last Thursday on my Sliced Coins quilt for Don't Call Me Betsy's quilt along.  I attached all of the sashing so the quilt top is now done!

I also went ahead and made the binding and gathered my scraps for piecing the back.

I'm still debating what color to use for the back of the quilt.  I think I need to lay out all my scraps and see how much of everything I have before making a decision.  I'm currently leaning toward black for the backing.

I'm also starting to think about how I want to quilt this one.  Anyone have any recommendations?  I don't want to spend too much time doing anything intricate on this quilt, so it'll probably be some form of straight line quilting, or maybe wavy line quilting.

Check out how everyone else is coming along here!

In other news, I decided not to continue with the Blogger's Block-a-palooza quilt along.  Hopefully they'll do a modern block version after this one that will be more up my alley.  I'm continuing to watch other quilters' progress on the Flickr pool though!  There are some great fabric pairings going on there!

This leaves me with a little more time for other things - perfect for joining in Melissa at Lilac Lane's sewalong with the machine stitched cathedral windows pillow.  I'll have to pick out my fabrics this evening!  More Central Park?  Or perhaps cutting into my Sanctuary fat quarters?  Or even digging into my ever growing scrap pile?  I can't wait to learn this technique. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

February in the Garden

The weather is continuing to be amazing here in sunny L.A. as it has been the last few weeks.  It's starting to make up for the summer we didn't have last year.  It's also making me feel like I should be starting my summer crops much earlier!  I'll still wait till March, but it sure is tempting to get some tomatoes going.

I did start about 16 yukon gold potato chunks this last week. 

I planted them in a slight ditch down the middle of one of my beds and lined one side with three rows of peas and a few cosmo seedlings.  I pruned my nectarine trees the week before and kept some of the larger branches to use as pea trellises.  Once the potatoes grow up a few inches above the straw, I'll be evening out the dirt on once side to build the ditch back up in the middle.  I'll be planting green beans on the other side once the potatoes get going. 

I never got around to planting more lettuce and beet seeds last month, but my current bed of beets and greens is still growing well.  The beets have slowed way down, but I still have plenty of chard, lettuce, and spinach. 

apple blossoms
Two of my apple trees are covered in blooms, the Anna apple and the Dorsett Golden, while the Fuji apple is growing much more slowly than the others.  They have only been in the ground for a year and a half, so I'm happy with the progress anyway.

I'm currently fighting with the chickens over the blueberry bushes.  They're loaded with flowers and green berries, but it's the first thing the girls run to when I let them out of the coop in the mornings.  I'm considering moving the blueberry pots to the front yard while the fruit is ripening, then moving them to the back yard once they change color. 

Oh - this is my carrot harvest from the seeds I planted back in October:

Yup, that's all of it.  I think it's the pill bugs in the front yard that eat up all my carrot seeds and seedlings.  All of my clover and alfalfa sprouts disappeared as well.  Even a couple of the cosmo seedlings I transplanted have been eaten down to the stem.  Some day, I'll have a fence in my front yard so I can let my chickens out to help me with the bug population! 

leeks and celery
My onion/leek/shallot/celery bed is coming along nicely.  They should be ready to harvest once the days get longer in May or June. 

My spicy greens circle is providing me with plenty of treats for the chickens.  They get some of the wheat grass and the weeds from the front yard as well. 

nectarines and nasturtium
The second of my three nectarine trees is just beginning to bloom, while the first is already finished blooming and has begun to fill in with leaves.  The nasturtium is taking over and spilling out of the boxes beneath the nectarines.  No flowers yet on most of the nasturtium, but that should change soon!

One more month till I get to start my peppers and tomatoes for this summer!  I'm skipping eggplant this year after last year's crop failure, but adding more varieties of green beans, potatoes, and peppers.  What are you planning for your summer garden this year?  Any new varieties?  Anything you aren't planting again this year?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sliced Coins - Strips completed

I struggled with the Sliced Coin Quilt Along this week.  Not due to the design (which I'm loving), but to how my fabric choices all looked together.  I was done sewing my coin strips together Friday morning and had them hanging on my makeshift design wall all day.

First pass with the coin strips
 I kept coming back to them and either liking them or not liking them.  Then I tried to photograph them and there was nothing I could do to make the colors come out on the camera.  With that, I figured something wasn't right about the color choices.  I liked it up close, but not from a distance.  So Saturday, I unpicked all the blue coins except the one print that had a lot of beige in it.  Over the next few days, I slowly pieced the strips back together, adding in a dark red and a few extra pieces of the main print. 

New version of coins with sashing laid on top

I'm still not sure about it, but I think I'll like it once it's all sewn together and quilted.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to use black for the backing at this point.

In other news, I also received a fat quarter bundle of Sanctuary by Patty Young for Michael Miller in the mail this week.  It seems much lighter weight than fabric I'm used to, but it's soft and the colors are nice.  I was hoping the orange would be a little deeper in color, but the whole line is growing on me.

I have no idea what I'm going to do with it yet, but maybe I'll try and redeem myself and make another sliced coin quilt with those.  I still want to play with my Central Park fabrics a little more before I move on to these new ones.  I've also got yet another pillow to finish up, though this one is very different from the rest!

How are all your projects coming?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

January Harvest Tally

For anyone new to my blog: Welcome!  I have a small vegetable, herb and fruit tree garden and keep track of what I am able to harvest each month, then post it here to track my progress.  With a year-round growing season in Los Angeles, I'm still picking quite a few vegetables throughout the winter months.  My chickens started laying eggs again (a few days after my last post about them!) and my nectarine trees, apple trees, and blueberry bushes are all starting to bloom, so April and  May should be a great fruit picking time which I'm really looking forward to.  We've been eating a lot of salads and I'm ready for something new!

The harvest:
Lettuce:        2.55 lbs @ $8.00/lb = $20.40
Beets:             1.2 lbs @ $1.50/lb = $1.80
Spinach:       1.16 lbs @ $4.00/lb = $4.64
Chard:          3.22 lbs @ $1.50/lb =$4.83
Limes:           2.34 lbs @ $1.00/lb = $2.34
Zucchini:       0.55 lbs @ $1.50/lb = $0.83
Herbs:          0.36 lbs @ $5.00/lb = $1.80
Celery            1.0 lbs @ $1.00/lb = $1.00
Chicken Eggs: 8 eggs @ $0.25/egg = $2.00

Total savings:  $39.64

Just under last month's total.  The only things I currently have on my seedling table to go into the garden are flowers, so next month will probably be about the same.  I have some sprouted potatoes and pea seeds to put in the ground this week, so those should add to the total in the next few months. 

I'll leave you with a few of my favorite photos that I took during a break at the Learning Garden over the weekend:

Happy gardening!
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