Friday, July 10, 2015

Catching up #7: One more quilt


 I finished the binding on Levi's cowboy quilt before they left so he could take it home with him. I wrote about it here while it was in process. I think he likes it!

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Catching up #6: Another little quilt

This little quilt was made for Matthew and Kailie as a memento of their wedding rehearsal dinner and the wedding party celebration we had here in NC several months after the wedding. I finished it up right before we went to Matthew's graduation back in May ... in time for their first wedding anniversary!

I had some fabric left over from their wedding quilt so used it to make half square triangles with one side a piece of off white cotton. The squares were used to decorate the tables at the rehearsal dinner and all the guests were asked to sign a block, using a permanent fabric pen. Even the kids at the dinner signed blocks, as you can see. Those are some of my favorite blocks.

At their NC party last November for folks who hadn't been able to join us at the wedding, I used a piece of the same off white cotton and had people at that party sign it. This piece was used for the back (sorry, no photo of the back).

I hadn't planned it this way, but had just the right number of gray, orange and blue HST's to make a chevron design. I had the orange sari fabric with white zig-zag on it in my stash and that was the perfect fabric for the border. Some antique buttons, a bit of ric rac, and some embroidered flowers from the orange sari embellish the front of the quilt.

It was fun and easy to make and will, I hope, remind them of all the loving family and friends that celebrated with them on their special day!

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Catching up #5: The beach

Do you know how hard it is to get six grown children who are scattered around the country - some married, some with children - all (minus one son-in-law) in the same place at the same time, all together, when there is not a family wedding happening? It is very hard, practically unheard of, requires months-in-advance planning. It's a minor miracle and a gracious gift.

I am thinking back on that sweet time with our family together and feeling incredibly thankful for our children who all made the sacrifices of time and money to get there. They are now scattered quite widely again. In fact, as of 1:00 yesterday afternoon, none of our children were here, none even in this same city. Ouch! Not a situation this mother particularly likes. A couple are still in-state, but only one son, one sweet d-i-l, and one grandbaby will be in NC come tomorrow afternoon. They should get some kind of prize, don't you think?!

The porch swing sat empty this morning. Only the cat joined me as I sat in the quiet with my coffee, Bible, and books. Ah, but let's not think about that right now. Here, with minimal further comment, are a few wonderful reminders of our all-together, completely wonderful beach week ...

 Aunt Kailie and Uncle Matthew and Clara, wave jumping 

Good morning, babies.

 Not only were all 14 of us there, but we had the privilege of times together with my parents and sister's family. Barbeque on Sunday night supplied by my mom. And see all those peaches in the middle of the island. Thank goodness, McCleod's is on the way to the beach. We stop there, coming and going, every beach trip.

 We even managed a family photo which isn't half bad. (Cue the comments from the 20 somethings about photo sharing online and the unnecessary imposition of posing while everyone gets a picture with their own camera or phone). Here we are ... great grandparents (my beautiful Mama and Daddy), grandparents (that's Coty and me!), Great Aunt Anne and Uncle Rusty, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, parents, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. That's us, ya'll.

 Porch time. Beach version.

 The last time this particular group of people was all together (minus the children, of course) was at Lil's wedding. Erin was 13, Matthew was 3!

My children can cook!  And they did. 
Each one took a dinner, planned the menu, and cooked for the rest of us. 
We ate very well.

 Aunt Yogi supervises handstands.

Always a baby to hold and play with ... 

Some of us made a visit to one of my favorite places on earth, Brookgreen Gardens, 
which was only a couple of miles from our house.

Sandcastles ...

 Walks with uncles ...

Lots of Frizcup. These two are the champs. 

 Lots of cornhole on the beach

 Coty and all 5 sons went for a run together on the beach on Father's Day morning!

And now, we're all scattered ... the guys from left to right in New York City, Cary (NC - he's the one that gets the prize ; ), Minneapolis, Nashville, and Denver. And Erin, on her way back to rural New York state near the Vermont border. 

Looking forward, as always, to the next time we gather, whenever and wherever that may be!

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Catching up #4: Before and After

A trampoline used to fill this space. For years, the boys and friends enjoyed it. As they grew into adulthood though, the trampoline sat empty. With some missing side springs, rips in the surrounding net, and decrepit padding, it was starting to be a hazard ... and an unsightly one at that. Several years ago, we said good-bye to it, leaving an empty space that filled with weeds and grew unattractive and unusable for anyone but the bravest Frizcup players.

This spring was the time to make this section of the garden into a grandkid and visiting-little-ones-friendly area again.

Before ...

After ...

Before ...

After ... 


Before: Overgrown redtips, brush and weeds, no place to sit or play, unusable, unattractive

After: Redtips cut waaaaaay back, area cleared of weeds and mulched, paths lined with stones, sandbox, firepit, Mud Pie Cafe, baby swing, hammock, chairs, Frizcup "court"

We love our made-over backyard. I love that we have maintained the natural feel of the woods. We've already had several fires in the fire pit this summer. The sandbox has been used by grandchildren and friends. The Mud Pie Cafe has served lots of customers delicacies like mulch mud casserole and sand tea. Babies have been swung. Frizcup has been played. It's a usable, fun and relatively low maintenance space now.  A backyard for grandkids. Win,win, win!

Friday, July 03, 2015

Catching up #3: The garden


I can manage one garden area at a time it seems. The one that I attend to blooms and shines and the others seem to languish, weedy and sad looking, needing attention and loving care.

This year, I've focused on the back terrace/retaining wall garden, which is my favorite simply because I see it the most. I come in and out the door above the terrace so look down on it every time I come and go. I walk on the brick walk at its edge when I go down to the pool or take out the compost. I see it from the kitchen window, my reading chair, the porch, the deck. We put a whole lot of work into this area several years ago. It was the summer of 2007 when we dug into the collapsing hillside and built a retaining wall. A few years before that, we had terraced the hillside using busted up concrete slabs. My boys put a lot of muscle and sweat into this garden, so it's no surprise it's my favorite. I'm glad that it is finally really coming into its own.

I've planted several day lily cultivars in the past couple of years. This year they were so lovely.

The lemon thyme, rosemary, sage, lavender, and comfrey are well established. Parsley and basils of various types fill in the gaps. A couple of tomato plants find sun in the top terrace and volunteer butternut squashes are winding their way through the lower beds.

The knock-out, Julia Child, and other roses and the purple salvia were at their peak a few weeks back.

The white phlox and shasta daisies are starting to bloom. The pixie hydrangea has filled out nicely and the hostas are multiplying. I'd like a few more annual flowers for cutting. I did start seeds this spring, but they were old and the germination rate was poor. So, few or no bachelor buttons, cosmos, or zinnias.

Up next, some garden before and after pics ...

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Catching up #2: A Quilt Reveal

I love showing you quilts but can't always do it when they are in process because they are so often gifts. Erin and Luke celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary on June 5th (really??? 10 years! hard to believe). I'd been working on their quilt for ooooh, three or four years and was very glad to finish it and get it in the mail in time for their actual anniversary.

I suppose I wasn't actively working on it that long, but I did start collecting fabrics quite a while back. I also quizzed Erin on colors and quilt styles that she liked. She mentioned the Double Wedding Ring and together we picked a few fabrics. Fabric shopping with her was helpful and gave me good ideas about color and fabric styles. I also purchased a Marti Michell Double Wedding Ring template set a few years ago.

Maybe a year and a half back , I started cutting fabric. Lots and lots of little tiny arc pieces which were chain pieced over quite a few months. I would work on the quilt and then put it aside, pull it out again and have to re-read all my directions and start over. Did that a few times with both the arc piecing and the "clamshell" construction. (See here to get an idea of how it came together. This isn't the template set I used, but it's a helpful graphic).

97 "melons" with 1,358 tiny arc pieces sewn around 42 center diamonds later, I was done with the top! I chose vintage looking print for the back and used a Windsor blue marbled fabric to bind it. I'm pleased with both choices. The long arm quilting was done by Rebecca Verrier-Watt and, as always, her work is top notch!

I like to embroider my quilt labels and then hand-stitch them to the back.

Happy anniversary, Erin and Luke!

And thanks, Lindele - for reading, for your comment, and for your love of fabrics and quilting that inspired me so long ago. Wished we lived closer and could sew together!

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Catching up #1

Oh, my word's been way too long, friends. I apologize. Though I do sometimes wonder if anyone lands in this space any more and bothers to read since I have been so remiss about posting lately. That's gotten to be a constant refrain, hasn't it?! I think about posting, but there just doesn't seem to be physical time or mental space to sit down and plunk it out here. But, I have hopes ... hopes of writing more.

How about a little catching up to start with. The last post was pre-triathlon. Andrew and I did the TriLatta on June 13th and I can honestly say that it was a blast! I was worried about the swim and figured if I made it through that open water swim without freaking out, I was good. I am happy to report that doing the practice swims paid off and I was calm and happy during the race. I never felt like I was hyperventilating, never had to roll over on my back, hardly even breast-stroked. It was easier than I anticipated to site the large red tomato shaped buoys and I even sort of "drafted" behind or alongside other swimmers. I was so happy when I finished the swim that I flashed a thumbs up at my cheering squad and headed up the hill to T1 (first transition).

I took my time getting ready for the ride. Wiped the sand and dirt off my feet. Put on socks. Drank some electrolyte drink. Remembered to tie on a bandana for the sweat (I hate getting sweat in my eyes) and buckle my helmet.

The bike ride was fun. I passed people going uphill. That, my friends, was a thrill that I had not expected. I passed a woman I had met the night before (at the pre-race meeting) on the uphills and she leapfrogged past me on the downhills. I ended up finishing before her in the bike portion, but she passed me on the run. No surprise there.

The run went pretty much as I expected, which is to say ... slow. Quite slow.  I walked some of the uphills, but did it with no shame as I saw people who were in front of me also walking. It was so encouraging to see Coty at several points along the run course. He is the epitome of race spectators. He figures out just where to go and shows up oftener than you expect along the course with claps, cheers, words of encouragement, and coaching. "Drop your shoulders, sweetheart. You're looking great!" (which I don't really think I was at that point, but it was still nice to hear, and yes, I did drop my shoulders and try to relax the rest of the way to the finish).

After crossing the finish line and seeing Coty and Andrew, I burst into tears. Just. so. happy! Andrew had finished strong, running the 5k at the end faster than he expected. We talked about doing the TriLatta again next year or finding another race. I'm thinking about a race in the fall, perhaps. We'll see. Anyway, I'm so glad we did it, enjoyed it thoroughly, and want to continue doing triathlons as long as I'm able.

Just a few more yards to go. 
There's Coty in the red shirt behind me heading toward the finish line.

My triathlon partner moves to New York City next week. Though we haven't trained together, except for a few bike rides, it meant a lot to work toward the same goal with my son, Andrew. Hoping we'll both keep it up and compete in another race together before too long!