Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sew Crafty Friday - Bear Paw Quilt, Vintage Dress

After having so much to post about last week, I thought I wouldn't have much this week. But thanks to a big snow, I was able to sew quite a bit this week. Last week I showed you the following photo of a tiny pile of little quilt blocks that had been languishing away on a shelf.

Well, on Sunday when I looked at my sewing options, I remembered the advice of my watercolor teacher. Start where you think you can succeed. I knew that the tiny bright blocks of my daughters quilt would really challenge me, and I didn't want to start a new project, so I grabbed the bear paw blocks. And I'm excited to say that it didn't take me that long to turn them into a queen sized quilt top!I got the pattern out of an Australian Patchwork and Quilting magazine, Volume 8, Number 4, dated from 2001. So I think that I must have started this quilt in about 2002 or 2003. I thought up the inner border of rust and green blocks myself so I could use up the remaining rust and green fabric. I love how the middle border of the background fabric really makes the pieced border stand out. I also like the contrast of the wide outer border of the dark rusty red leaf fabric, hanging off the side of the bed.

Now comes the challenge of how to finish it. I don't even know how many quilt tops I have that aren't finished. Paying for machine quilting in my area is way too expensive. I've heard there are less expensive places in other places, but don't know where they are, or if they are trust worthy. I would never finish hand quilting a queen sized quilt. I resist tying quilts. For some reason it just doesn't seem as nice. It seems that it lowers the artist level to more utilitarian and practical, but this quilt may just have to be tied, so it can be used. I do long to snuggle down under it's cozy warmth before I'm too old. I'd be open to suggestions if anyone had any for me.

The second project I'm going to show you is one that I haven't done yet, but I'm excited about. It looks rather shapeless on the hanger, but seems that it must have had an interesting past. At the same estate sale where I got the partially complete green and blue plaid skirt, I found this vintage dress. It has only 2 of it's twelve buttons, but other then that it is in good repair. The dress has really cute sleeves. The is lace trim on the sleeves and collar. The fabric feels lovely in my hand. It is a light silky smooth cotton. I am going to replace the buttons with some white pearl ones of similar shape and style, then I think it can take it in just a little on the sides to make it fit well. I think this would be really fun to wear at home in the summer when the temperatures soar and I want to be cool and comfortable. I am wondering if any of you might have any ideas of the time period of the dress, and if it really is a dress or night wear or something else.

Dandelion Poem - Wildflowers in Winter


From "Poems for Memorization"
Rod and Staff Publishers

"Oh dandelion, yellow as gold,
What do you do all day?"
"I just wait here in the tall green grass
Till the children come out to play."

"O dandelion, yellow as gold,
What do you do all night?"
"I wait and wait til the cold dews fall
And my hair grows long and white."

"And what do you do when your hair is white
And the children come out to play?"
"They take me up in their dimpled hands
And blow my hair away."

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wildflowers in Winter - Week 3

Ok, it is time to start posting for week 3 of Wildflowers in Winter.

Thank you to everyone who found some evidence of a wildflower this last, from those of you in California who actually had a live, blooming flower, to those of you who found flowers encrusted in snow and ice. My hat goes off most of all to "Blooming Writer" who braved freezing rain to go out and hunt down photos of dead flowers in Nova Scotia!

Here is the details once again:
Week 3 - January 30 - February 5. Literary Wildflowers - Stories, quotations or poetry about wildflowers written by you or someone else. Or write a book review about a book that features wildflowers, such a guide book, picture book, travel guide or something about wildflower gardening, etc. Or Write about some special places/trails/areas to go searching for wildflowers that you are familiar with. Tell about the best time of year to go there, and what you might see. Share photographs if you have them.

Make your blog post, and the come back and insert your name with "week 3" and your post's url in the Mr. Linky.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Of Snowfall and Little Birds

Sunday morning we woke up to freezing rain, falling on the remains of the couple inches of snow we got earlier. It was a slippery mess out there. Little birds were searching around for something to eat, so I started sprinkling some sunflower seeds on the deck.
By 9:00, it started snowing. I wasn't sure it was going to stick, because it was so wet out everywhere, but then the snowflakes started getting bigger and bigger, maybe around 1/2" to 3/4" round. They were so large they almost knocked over the birds when they hit.

See the snow on the birds tail? That's a sample of how big one snowflake was.

Around 10:00 the deck started turning white, and birds came in with intensity, looking for something to eat.
The cats took notice and found a front row seat to the show, eyes glued on every movement out the window. The most numerous birds were Oregon Juncos and another shade of junco.

Mr. and Mrs. House Finch came. I haven't seen them for a long time. They were skittish and hard to photograph, but amazingly I caught them together at one time.

There were white crown sparrows which were impossible to photograph because they were very alert and quick to take of at the slightest movement. These other sparrows, (not sure of which kind it is) were a little easier to photograph and seemed to be very hungry. As the snow got deeper, I sprinkled seed right by the sliding door, so that it wouldn't get covered by the snow, and the birds got braver and soon were eating right by the glass. That is how I got such close up photos, right through the glass, after I cleaned off all the finger smudges.

By bedtime we had around 8 - 9 inches of snow. Forest was just delighted!

I took this photo the next day just as the sun was getting ready to set.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Young Naturalist.

I am proud to announce that my son, Forest Zoo, has started his own blog called The Young Naturalist. He says that you will find it to be very interesting. He says in his description: "This is a blog about things you see everyday and never think about. Let's take a close look at all God's wonders in nature." Since he has more words then typing skills at this point, Mama is his main typist. He anticipates keeping her very busy by posting something new every day. If you go over to take a look, be sure to post a comment. He would love to know that he has readers.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Sew Crafty Friday - Quilts, Bags and a Skirt

You would think that from the looks of my blog that all I can think about now is wildflowers, but that isn't true. It is winter here and not gardening weather, so I do have time to work inside. I have been doing some sewing over the last few weeks.

I bought a second hand jean skirt last summer. It fit really nicely in the store, but when I washed it, the waist band shrank several inches. I was amazed. Nothing else shrank on it. I tried to give it to a couple friends, but it didn't work. Then I got the idea of using it to make bags. It was a nice rich color, didn't look worn out and had lots of cute details. I cut the skirt in two and started to sew. It was great fun! I had never made something like this before. I had just the fabric for linings. The first bag has been come my regular "purse."

I sewed the bottom closed, adding a couple pleats to make it more full inside, and I squared off the corners. I laid the bag on my lining fabric, and cut around the outside using the jean bag as a pattern. Then I sewed together with pleats in the bottom and squared off corners. I put it inside the jean bag, and then hand sewed in the lining, so it started just below the waist band, with a blind stitch. It turned out lovely. Then I made a handle, and belt, and sewed in giant snaps to hold it closed. Those giant snaps are really fun to sew in an use. I think this purse would best be made out of a small size of jean skirt, or the purse might be too wide.

The second bag was made out the bottom section of the skirt. I sewed the slit closed and trimmed it to a size I thought would work good for a large tote bag. I made reversible handles out of the denim and lining fabric. I cut the lining fabric to be exactly the same size as the bag. I gave them both deeply squared off corners. I sewed two big pockets one side and a one bigger pocket with a divider in the other side. It turned out great. I have used the bag several times now, and love it's solid sturdiness, and yet feminine fabric details. I'm going to make some more of these when I find another skirt needing a new life.

I sewed two big pockets one side and a one bigger pocket with a divider in the other side. It turned out great. I have used the bag several times now, and love it's solid sturdiness, and yet feminine fabric details. I'm going to make some more of these when I find another skirt needing a new life.

Several years ago I made my son a quilt for his bed. I gave my daughter the pretty bedspread I used in college. But then decided I should start a quilt for her too. I had been eying a quilt pattern in a book that looked interesting, so I let her choose the colors. It uses strips of fabric sewn together, then sliced up to make strips of little squares. It sounded easy enough, but I had never worked with such tiny squares before. I soon got confused as to which strips went where. I made a couple mistakes, got discouraged, and put the project away. Sadly this project has languished way too long. It has been begging to be finished, but I wasn't sure I could do it. I had put a lot of money into the fabric, so I really couldn't abandon the project forever. And Emily Rose still doesn't have her own quilt yet.

I have now worked on this several evenings. I have figured out my mistake, and corrected it. I have all the smaller pieces into the larger sized blocks. And next I can start working on putting the strips of squares in between the blocks. Somehow I have come up short three of the large blocks. I have no idea where they are. But I am going to press on with the 9 blocks I have and figure out how to make it still work for a twin bed with extra borders. I think I have enough fabric to do that. If I ever get it finished, I'll be sure to share it with you.

I have pulled out another quilt that needs to be finished. It is made of quilter's flannel and is the perfect to color to put in our family room. (The room I gave a brown wall last summer.) This is a bear paw type quilt. Thankfully I got the squares pretty far along before I gave up. I stopped working on this because the machine I had didn't make consistent 1/4 inch seams. The blocks didn't come together as good as they should, but I am going to figure out some way to make it happen. I have a better machine now. I worked on this a little while last night while my husband read stories to us all. Yes, everyone gathered in my sewing area for story time, instead of up on the couches. One kid was drawing and one kid was coloring.

The final thing I'll write about is a skirt I made. I found the partially made skirt at an estate sale, complete with lots of extra fabric. The fabric is a wool of high quality. I am wondering if it might even be Pendleton wool.) The six panels of the skirt were cut and sewn together, except for near the top of the skirt. It appeared that the original seamstress fell into problems. It appeared that it might have been too small for her and she was trying to take out the seams to make it fit better, but it wasn't going to work. It was never completed. I took it home for almost nothing. (Everything we bought there, including a cat carrier, a set of sheets and some books and things for the kids came to a total of $2!) It didn't take me long at all to sew up the seams. The waist band was missing, so I had to create one myself, but that wasn't hard. I hemmed up the skirt so it is like a long walking skirt from the turn of the century. I have worn it to church twice with black button up boots. It isn't a modern style, but I like it very much. It feels classic and feminine to wear. And there is enough fabric left that I think I could make a skirt for my daughter, and maybe a vest for my son. If I can find time with all the other projects I'm working on.

You can see what other people are making by going to Shereen's blog. You could even make a post on your blog and share your creativity too.

Winter Wildflower Walk

I had a wonderful time out searching for the remains of more wildflowers on a chilly winter morning. I took my camera so you can see what I found.

Goldenrod - Golden yellow in the summer

Wild Sunflowers - So cheery on hot July days

At this time of year the birds have already eaten all the seeds.

A single rosehip

Sagebrush - it really is kind of pretty though in the warm light

Yarrow - Grows hardily where other flower perish quickly

Black-eyed Susan - A favorite flower. I even like the distinctive seed head.

Unidentified composite - I'd love to know what this one is called.

Star thistle - A noxious weed to some, but it does have it's beauties,
for those looking for wonder.

Wouldn't it be fun to make a journal of wildflower through the seasons in our individual areas.

Mullen in Winter

La Tea Dah at Gracious Hospitality showed us her Mullen that still had a flower left. Well, this is what the Mullin I found looks like, tall silhouettes against the sky.

They really don't look like much, but down at the ground there is hope of spring, where a rosette of soft velvet leaves prepare to send up a spike of flowers when days warm.

Winter is not without hope. There is always the promise of spring.

Winter Table

Since there is nothing blooming outside in our 10 degree sunshine, we have set up a winter table. It is a first time experience for us, but one we will surely do again. Our bouquet is made of lovely dried things we found on our Saturday afternoon walk. The main structure is one variety of tumbleweed from the mustard family that has no pokies like the Russian thistle tumbleweeds. Then we added some grasses, Queen Anne's Lace and teasel. Not shown is a wooden bowl of pebbles I later added that I collected at the beach last March.

If you make a winter table, feel free to blog about it and add it to Mister Linky.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

January 23 - 29 A Winter Image of a Flower

Queen Anne's Lace (winter gown)

We have finished our first week of Wildflowers in Winter. Hasn't it been fun looking at everyone's photos! It is snowy and cold outside, but your flowers are bringing joy to my heart. I know spring will come. And we still have seven exciting weeks of Wildflowers in Winter left to help us enjoy the season.

Our assignment for this week is to find some evidence of flowers that are outside right now. This could be tough, if you have too much snow on the ground, but just a little will make your photos more interesting. To make this a little easier, I'm going to open it up to not only wildflowers, but domestic flowers and plants, just in case you are unable to stray too far from home this time of year.

So just like last week, make a blog entry, then come back and enter the URL in Mister Linky. I have figured out that I can only have one Mister Linky at a time without paying extra, so I'm going to just put the link box in the top post on my blog. In the box where you enter your name, please add which week you are posting for, and it will help us. You might type it something like this "Elizabeth Joy (week 2)

Note: It is no problem to join us late. I welcome posts on the previous weeks themes. Each post you make and enter in the Mister Linky will enter your name in the drawing on March 12.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Wowy Zowy Almond Ginger Dressing

I have found a new favorite salad dressing. It is so very yummy! You've got to try it! Nothing from the store shelf compares in nutrition or taste. And it is free of MSG and preservatives and other chemicals. Recent dinner guests were so excited about this dressing.

Wowy Zowy Almond Ginger Dressing

3/4 cup raw almonds
1 cup water
the juice of one fresh lemon (the bottled stuff isn't near as good, really)
1/2 to 1 t. salt
2 t honey or other sweetener (optional)
1 large clove raw garlic
1/4 cup raw onion or about 1 T onion powder
1 TBSP fresh ginger (powdered won't work)

Put this into your Vita Mix or food processor and blend until smooth.

Note: About the ginger. Buy a piece at the supermarket. Wash it carefully. Cut off any bad spots. Then cut it into little chunks. Yes, leave the skin on. There is nothing wrong with it and you won't know it is there when it is blended up. Put the ginger in a little bag and throw them in the freezer. Then when you are ready for dressing, pull out what looks to be about 1 TBSP and blend it up. Exact amounts aren't that important. You will always have ginger ready, and won't have any rotting in the back of the fridge.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Western Trillium

Ever since I was a child one of my favorite flowers has been a Western Trillium ( Trillium ovatum). They grew near my house and I was always eager to find the first one in spring. They weren't the first flowers of spring, Spring Beauty or Indian Plum might have been the winner there, but they were among the earliest flowers. They start out white, and then turn pink as they age. As a member of the lily family, they come in parts of three, even having only three leaves. Every one is sad when they learn that the flower won't bloom next year if you pick it, because most everyone picks the lovely leaves too. The plant needs those leaves to make energy store up so it can flower next year. I don't know how many years it will be until it blooms again, but it is a long time. There are rumors out there which make guesses which may or may not be right. Needless to say, I have restrained my impulses to hold one in my hand, and now limit myself to taking photographs. Do any of the varieties of Trillium grow in your area?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Pass the Wonder

One of the best things we can do for the young people (children, grandchildren, friends etc.) in our life is to model our love of nature, our sense of wonder of the things of creation for them. Take them outdoors to the fresh air and get excited about what you find there. Use all your senses, and get down on your knees if you can and look at everything. If you are excited, the kids won't be able to help it, they will want to see what you are looking at. They may even want to touch it, if you are. Take drawing paper, pencils, even watercolors, or a camera and bring home images to remember. The recording of images will help you see more, and learn more.

Do this often and a change will start to come over your kids. They will start seeing things that they always overlooked before. They won't be able to help themselves, and will start wanting to learn more about what they are looking at. Get some guide books to nature in your area, and sit and look through them. Get excited when you find a page that tells about what you saw when you were out. Take the books out with you and use them to look up the names of what you are looking at. When you do that, it is like gaining a new friend, you will know who that particular wildflower is when you walk by. It really is so much fun.

It is a challenge to get couch potatoes, computer crazies, TV addicts, and book worms to get moving, but not impossible. There may be some reluctance at first, some whining, and complaining, but don't let that distract you for a moment. Smile and have fun. The first time out might not be as great as you had hoped, but don't let them drag you down. Take them outside again as soon as you can. You might even make a time for a walk in nature every week.

Let the kids try out your camera. Remember, it is technology. Technology appeals to many young people. A zoom lens is fascinating to many kids. Ooo and ahh over their photos, no matter what they look like. It is like giving a kid a new eye with which to look at the world. It might not be long before you find them absorbed in the moment, focused on one small speck of wonder in the middle of a field of wildflowers.
So what was my bookworm photographing? (Yes, she did bring a book and had her nose in it part of the time when we were walking up the trail. Yes, there was a bit of whining about something, but how could she stay like that with things like wildflowers to look at? Nature has it's powers that even a mother doesn't have.) The big meadow of flowers had caught her attention. She was zoomed in on Glacier Lilies, Erythronium grandiflorum, growing in a profusion of yellow on Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park, Washington.
They are very similar to the white flowered avalanche lily, Erythronium montanum, which grows in the same habitat. You can find them in alpine and subalpine areas in the middle of summer, but much earlier in spring in the Columbia Gorge, on the border of Oregon and Washington. They grow between 6 and 12 inches tall.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Red Columbine

Red Columbine
Aquilegia formosa
Julbilee Lake, Washington

"The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. He is my God and I will praise Him, My Father's God and I will exhault Him." Exodus 15:2

Friday, January 18, 2008

Glasses Found!

Wonder of wonders, the eye glasses that the wind blew away two weeks ago were found this morning, in a pile of wood chips. They actually weren't too far from where they started, but we sure couldn't find them. Some guests at our house found them when they were out doing some work for us. They were dirty, but not damaged. Of course, they were found after my husband had already been in to have some new ones made. They will be great back up glasses now.

Take a Winter Wildflower Walk

To get ready for next weeks theme, plan a walk for sometime in the next few days to a natural area, and take your camera. While you are out walking, look for some evidence of the wildflowers of last summer, or the wildflowers that will come when the weather warms. Have the children in your life come along and help you search. While you are out walking take time to look for the little beauties that we normally pass by. You might find some treasures such as dry seed heads, colorful sticks, grasses and such to bring home and put in a vase. Look for cones from conifer cones, such as pine cones or fir cones or spruce cones, because they are also like the flowers of the tree, part of the pollination and seed making process. Once you are home you could decorate a little table in celebration of winter. Here is a winter table that Tiny Happy set up in her home in Norway. If you set up a winter table at your house, be sure to blog about it and link up with the Mister Linky.

I walked around our property today and photographed what I could find. Seed heads and colorful stalks caught my eye. I found some rosettes of leaves, waiting for spring. Weather allowing, we hope to go for a walk in a more wild park tomorrow.

Orange Thai Flower

Flower photographed in Thailand. I really don't know if it truly is a wildflower, but it is beautiful. I'm not sure what kind it is either.

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
-William Blake

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Coral Root Orchid

Coral root Orchid, Mt. Rainier National Park, Washinton
"The life of Christ in you produces the same fruits as in Him. Living in Christ, adhering to Christ supported by Christ, drawing nourishment from Christ, you bear fruit after the simlitude of Christ."
The Desire of Ages, page 668


Yesterday when I arrived home from some errands, I found a lovely gift waiting at my door from my dear friend, J. I was so surprised and delighted, for when I opened the package, there was a true gift of friendship. I have admired Willow Tree figurines before but never owned one myself. J knew which one would bring me such a big smile. It is called "Gratitude", and it's perfectly "me", hands full of wildflowers (I think they might be black-eyed Susans or sunflowers), a lovely dress, and bun in her brown hair. But the thing I like most is the peace, thankfulness, grace and love she conveys.

Thank you so much for such a special gift, J.