Monday, February 20, 2017

Windy Days and Mondays

Another windy morning at the Garden Spot here in Northern Colorado. I just took a walk outside to get a few photos of this late February weather. We have had unseasonably warm temperatures with no moisture now for a month, so the fire danger on the grassy plains is high. Even on the outskirts of cities in the undeveloped grassy fields fires burn at random.  While California gets saturated, we are drying out. And that sums up February.

I am glad that so many you of enjoyed the violet post. I am glad to report that the newly transplanted violets thrive--so far. I do lack sufficient sunny spots to set them, but as the sun continues its journey toward the Spring Equinox, we will get more direct sunlight.

With a long list of things today, mundane stuff like fold laundry, clean out the refrigerator, make breakfast burritos for the the freezer, this will be a short post. I think I am way behind in visiting, but I 'll get around.


A spot of red in the garden is a welcome sight, especially when it is the rototiller, signaling that the gardening will soon begin. The Head Gardener got in the mood last week and tilled the garden beds. Next he will add the compost then the potatoes. The garlic was planted last fall, so when we get some moisture, it should sprout.

We wondered if we should even try potatoes this year since they were such a miserable flop last year, but the lady at the garden center assured us that every one else had poor yield too, always blaming it on the last year's wacky weather. Pop and Sundance, though the HG fed them, begged to go out in the hayfield. Once you understand the language of horses, you will get the idea that he is pointing in that direction. I turned and walked away telling not today, but caved to his soft nicker--you know the one, the mournful pleeeeease. Okay. You win, Sundance.



Here is the last doll dress finished. I had a really hard time with the collar on this one, so the finished dress does not have the collar. The dresses turned out pretty cute, I think. A lot of work.

Speaking of which, ladies, I do need to get busy.

Have a wonderful week.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Silent Companions


Years ago when I was a stay at home mom raising my little girls, I collected plants. I had all kinds of plants, but my favorites were the African violets. I got started growing violets because I remember my grandmother had one when I was just a little girl. She was quite the horticulturist and as I researched the history of the house plant I came to the conclusion that she must have had hers when they were a rather rare house plant.

Today they can be found in abundance in super markets and garden centers. I will buy them at the grocery store, but I especially enjoy buying fresh ones at the garden centers because they have a better plant variety. Lured by their beautiful and delicate flowers and their rich foliage, plants collectors find it hard to resist them.

Then the blooms fade and the plant goes to the trash. Not in this house.

In those early years I spent hours tending my violets, taking leaves and setting them in little cups of water to start new babies. I was encouraged by Zelma Gregory our high school librarian, whom I met when I took my first teaching job. She was the quintessential librarian-- the thin, gray haired lady,  slightly hunched who wore her hair in a bun on the back of her head, and you could tell that her hair was long by the size of the bun. Her glasses were those thin, round metal frames, obviously bifocals. I'd stop by her house when I wanted to add a violet to my collection because she was the only source at the time. There a wasn't surface in her house that wasn't covered with some sort of saintpaulia: the beds in her spare bedrooms, covered; the dining table in the front room, a sea of color; the kitchen counter filled with plastic pill cups, each with a leaf in water sprouting roots and tiny green leaves at the bottom of the shaft. She taught me all that I have come to know about these wonderful flowering house plants. I wanted to be her.

Yesterday I decided to transplant one plant, which gave way to a morning's worth of transplanting the violets.

My project simply was to save the life of this dear plant that I purchased months ago. I finally broke down and bought a suitable pot. Oh, the egg shells?  They are drying on this lid so that I can crush them and then add them to the coffee grounds that I am collecting in a popcorn tin to feed the roses when they wake up. They will be very hungry.



More on this plant later

You want your violets to be vibrant and happy like this one that I purchased at the garden center Saturday. I love the delicate white bloom with the green edging and the touch of lavender in the center. Mrs. Gregory's violets all had their common name like GiGi, or Coral Bell, but the commercially produced plants don't get personal names, I guess.

Inspired by this beauty, I decided to replant my current collection.


Violets will survive harsh conditions and a of neglect. They may look healthy, but they when they are unhappy they won't bloom.

Mine were sent to the basement to live during the holidays. They were next to a sunny window with morning sun, but they no doubt missed the hustle and bustle of the daily routine upstairs.


If you look closely at this one, you see two plants. Violets will propagate themselves by developing suckers. There are two plants in this pot. 


I used a sharp kabob skewer to separate the two plants. Ideally, suckers should be removed using a toothpick when they first appear as tiny leaves on the main stem of the plant just above the soil line.


Once the sucker has been separated from the main stem , I use a sharp knife to cut through the stem that is below the surface and the root system. 


You have to look closely to be able to distinguish a separate plant. They are easily separated and sometimes come with enough root to re pot.




This plant has multiple plants that can separated and replanted.


The plants look healthy, but too many are compacted in the pot. Will it bloom? Probably. Maybe?


Once out of the pot, you can really see the tangled mess.



Using the skewer, I begin to separate the plants


The new plants will range in size from this tiny one with an early any root system to fully rooted plants.  I will start a healthy root system my nurturing this  baby in a class of water.


So from one plant I have gained five new plants.

Now I need to go out to the barn to find my violet pots.

Come, let's take a walk. It is a beautiful February morning in Colorado. Warm. Sunny. 


The lawn is still brown. The Head Gardener wears a path to the barn to feed the horses and hens. 

The pond is a mess. We are entering the windy season and are leaves and depries will blow in. We will have a month of wind in March. The pond will need a good cleaning this year. We will drain it, re pot the water lilies, and do some other maintaining. I twill be hug job. The gold fish have come to the surface. Last year the green heron ate a few and traumatized the rest and we had a hard time coaxing them back to the surface. They must have short memories.

The Garden Spot lays fallow. The HG worked on the rototiller yesterday to get it ready for service in soon. We bought potatoes to plant mid March.

The hens are happy. I was amazed to see how much this gal has grown, the Blue Laced Red Wyandotte.

And the boys are out in the hay field enjoying the winter sun.

All is right with the world.

Here then is my pot stash. (Dare I call it that? I do live in Colorado)


I came in with a nice selection of clay pots and two ceramic pots that I have had for years.


They needed a good cleaning, so I first washed them in soapy water with a dash of bleach. Then I let them soak in hot water to get all of the bleach out.



Clean pots and nice new soil. Life is good for my quiet companions.


A fresh bag of potting soil.


 

Here they are nicely re potted and back in place at the west facing kitchen window. Violets love direct sunlight, especially north facing exposure with the light diffused through a sheer curtain. They cannot take direct sunlight through the window because the heat will burn the leaves. When the plant fails to bloom or re bloom or the blooms fade early, probably the plant needs more light. 


Nor do violets like too much water, too little water or watering from the top. They prefer tepid water, not cold. Much like teaching a cold shower for us, cold water will cause spotting on the leaves too. Consistently watering from the top will cause the crown to rot, so always water from the bottom. Every now and then, however, to remove dirt and dust and help flush out the soil I will give the violet a nice warm shower under the faucet spray as long as there is good drainage and the plant does not have to sit in water for too long, causing root rot.

A bit of fertilizer now and then will make the plant happy, too.





I am not so sure that these in the dining room will be very happy. I need to find better lighting for them.


I even re purposed Lily's high chair. She doesn't like using it anymore, anyway. She's four, you know.

The arrowhead will take a while before it is has a nice shape and it will be weeks before the the re potted violets bloom.

As my silent companions, they demand nothing except water and light. They are simple friends, the kind that don't talk back, bark, chatter, meow, or throw tantrums. They carry on sitting quietly.

A quiet week planned. I need to finish up the prairie dresses. I am having a lot of trouble with the collars this time. We are in for a warm week, so unless the wind kicks up, we should be able to do some garden clean-up

Happy Valentine's Day, dear friends. 

Linking with Maggie at Normandy Life for Mosaic Monday. Hope to see you there, too.






Monday, February 6, 2017

Blogging Organically

A dull, gray dawn greeted us this morning, reminding us that it is February, still winter. Yet here this week the temperatures are supposed to work their way up to 71 F by the end of the week. Every year I promise myself to get out early and lay down the pre-emergent granules that will prevent those pesky annual weed seeds from germinating. The pre-emergent is on its way through Amazon.

Meanwhile we wait for spring. We wait for our favorite spring flower, the daffodils; we wait for the crocuses to emerge in the center court; and we most anxiously await the blooming of the eastern red bud to confirm that it survived another cold, dry winter.






I spent Saturday with Heather who lives in Denver 60 some miles south of us. She has the most amazing garden in the from of her home and indeed she has one sure sign of Spring, a yellow crocus.  





So while the weather plods along or rages, remaining predictable for the season, we amuse ourselves inside. Thrifting, one my guilty little pleasures amuses me on some dull days. I make myself become very selective with what I put in my cart, so for those of you who love dolls, I hit the jackpot again, finding Eva at ARC thrift store for 2.49. She was, of course, naked. Now she models one of the prairie dresses that I am sewing. She is so cute and in near perfect condition with only a smudge of make-up on her face that some little girl applied. It wiped off with a wet cotton ball. Of course I looked her up on Google to find that she is an Our Generation doll, Target's brand of 18 inch doll.  At first I had the thought that I would dress her and offer her for sale, but I can't. She is too cute. 

Another find this week was Julia. She is a German made doll by a Gotz or Goetz, a German company known for it's exquisite dolls, both play quality and collector quality. They are now very rare in the States, but Goetz does make Pottery Barn's 18 inch doll. They are very expensive dolls. On eBay this doll sells for $110.  On the website she is priced at $75, but she available now only through second markets, such as Tuesday Morning where I found her. Still pricey at $50., She had been on the shelf since August 2016. I gave in. She will go to daughter number two. Goetz introduced her in 2015. 

I was even worse earlier in the week. Jen texted me that Goodwill had a dollhouse with 5 bags of furniture for sale. I said "no." Then slept on it. The Head Gardener took me to town the next day 
and. . . .

It is pretty cool dollhouse, a mid-century modern, which I like very much because it is contemporary instead old fashioned and Victorian. I am leaving it as it is, not doing a remake. If you'd like to read more about it, visit Ann's Dollhouse Dream.

With my favorite dollhouse store and the only one the Denver area--in all of Colorado for that matter--closing, Heather and I made our final trip to the store. The store has been open for 39 years and with the aging owner, dwindling customer base, and a hobby with lots of completion on line, the  80 year old owner decided to close. So that's one reason that prompted me to buy this Brookwood by Green Leaf.






I most certainly need Spring to make an early appearance so that I can get outside and play in the dirt.  We have lots of projects on our list, which I will save for another blog.

Winter blogging when your focus is on gardening does get difficult, doesn't it. But we all do it, throw in tid bits about live around the home and that's what we love about what I suppose some would call natural or organic writing, writing inspired by our life. So what inspired you this week?

Thanks so very much for visiting. It is always wonderful to read your comments and it is always a treat to visit your blog. Have a great week.

Linking with Maggie at Normandy Life for Mosaic Monday. Join us.







Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Wishing You Good Cheer, Too

Monday I had started to prepare a post of Mosaic Monday. I had photos on my iPhone that I wanted to use, but that Air Drop feature does not always work, so I cranked up the iMac, hoping to have quicker access to the photos than on the lap top. Too many devices. I have had a problem with malware on the big guy and it can never find the lap top to use Air Drop on the iPhone, so I called Apple. I was on the phone with them for over an hour, but I got rid of the Malware and updated the operating system, using up all of my blogging time.

So here I am today with a short, quick post to let you know that I am still kicking. I have been working on the prairie dresses for the 18 inch dolls. The pattern is very easy, but I am finding that the directions in the book that I am following are somewhat lacking, so it is a good thing that I know a little more about sewing dress patterns to help me past the rough spots.


I have been buying my fabric at the thrift store when I can find the homespuns and the calicoes. The dress takes a 1/3 of a yard; I had this piece in my stash. It is my trial and error version, first time around piece. You will note that as my sister-in-law suggested that I have not added straps with buttons to the apron because  "way back then", instead of buttons the women would pin their aprons. I may make straps for the next apron.








The bonnet was a bit challenging. I have made this type of bonnet before, and I like this pattern, too, but I need to be more patient. 

I will give this little dress outfit to my sister-in-law since purple is her favorite color. I have another dress finished, and I am working on three more. I cute out 4 at a time and do an assembly line. I stitch all of the hems on the skirts and put in all of the gathering stitches for the skirt and sleeves. Next I will assemble all of the tops and then make the sleeves. Once the dresses are done, I have the aprons and bloomers cut out ready to stitch. I know that when I take this to the next DAR meeting women will want dresses. I haven't not set out to sell them, so I will tell the ladies to provide the material that they want and I will sew the outfits.

I will tire of sewing soon. I will clean up my sewing mess and make paper Valentines. I will also get back to work on the Texas farmhouse dollhouse that I started last fall. There is so much work to do it. And soon it will be time to garden. 

Thanks for visiting. I must get on with my day. I am tutoring at the university today then I'll get groceries so I my day is planned out. 

Can I take a moment and really thank you for being a kind and gentle audience and friend?  Here in Blog Land I have such a wonderful, eclectic group who all lift my spirits, helping me stay cheerful and happy. I hope that I do the same for you. Enjoy your day.



Monday, January 16, 2017

Cheerfully Pink

This is one of those days when you stay inside, light the fire, and get out a good book, or you blog. I have already been downtown this morning; now it is time to get this post written on published before Mosaic Monday closes.

Cheerfully Pink: these supermarket carnations
and baby's breath add a warmth and cheer
on a cold winter's day.
Yes. We have snow. Not much, a skiff, but it is a cold, slushy snow. I have plenty to keep me occupied inside. This time of year we have to find indoor projects to keep us entertained. The Head Gardener caught the "clean out the closet" fever, and now I am no longer fearful of opening up his storage for all of his guy gear. You will glad to know that order has been restored to the crafting/sewing/office area, only to mess it up again with my latest sewing project. I enjoyed reading your comments, and I hope I inspired or encouraged some of you tackle that out of control closet or drawer.

At the November DAR meeting, the Colorado president came to speak to us and brought her American Girl doll that travels with her. Word went around that our local leader would like to have a doll dressed to reflect the Colorado pioneer spirit, so I am making a dress that I will submit or donate if it is good enough. Today's mosaic tells that story:

Just before Christmas I found this beautiful Madame Alexander 18 inch doll at ARC, our local charity thrift store, face down on the pile of donated stuffed toys. I love her. I could not believe that someone would donate such a beautiful doll. She came in her original costume, a lavender ballet tutu. Her hair in a messy pony tail brushed out very nicely with out needing any washing. Her skin is a bit soiled, but will be easily cleaned. Her head is a wee bit wobbly and not as tight as the first thrift doll that I bought. None-the-less, she was a great find for $5. And no I will not donate her with the dress. She will be my model. I think the lady who wants the costume already has a doll.

My sister-in-law purchased the pattern book at JoAnn for me. It is really is a great book with wonderful patterns that come on a CD and great "show me"  instructions . All I had to do was to find the pattern on the CD and print at 100%. No sizing. No sweat. The book is expensive, but can be purchased when JoAnn puts such items on sale.

I have chosen the little blue prairie dress representing the 1870s, which seems rather appropriate since Colorado joined the union in 1876, thus, known as the Centennial state for having become a state 100 years after the union was formed.

I found two very nice pieces of fabric from ARC as well. I have not decided which piece I will use. The bonnet and the apron will be white.

I ordered the sweet little boots from from Silly Monkey, a website for 18 inch doll clothing. By next week I should have my practice outfit finished so that I share it.


 Other Projects


I have also been crocheting. Unfortunately I forgot to take photos of each of the projects that I created, but here are two. Top: first pair of mittens that i have made. The thumb, by the way, is rather hard to get correct. The mittens are very warm.


Needing to pass time, keep my hands busy while I watch TV, and use up odd bits of yarn, I am finding these simple patterns that I found through Pinterest severe all of these purposes. Ellie got this set.


On last Christmas left over. I have to share my new teapot and mugs with you. I will keep it in the china hutch and not hide it away with all of the other Christmas serving ware. I especially love the mugs because of their size and they have great balance, feeling comfortable in the hand. I drink coffee first thing in the morning then herbal or decaffeinated tea later in the day, do these mugs are perfect. I had seen this lovely set in our favorite kitchen gadget store in Ft. Collins last year and again this this year. The HG is an amazing shopper for a man, so when I fussed over the set this year, he  bought it me for my birthday. Thank you sweet heart.

And there you have it. A quiet snowy day. A holiday to celebrate Dr. King. Peaceful and quiet. I hope your day is the same. Thanks you for visiting. 

I'll be linking with Maggie for Mosaic Monday. Join us. 



Monday, January 9, 2017

Where I Work

The New Year is a week old. Has yours had a good start? I'd say yes to my own question. As I am putting away Christmas, I am cleaning, sorting, reorganizing, and purging.

I began with the hall closet that should serve the guest bath and bedroom; however, when we moved in here 8 years ago, I just loaded up the closes and kept piling stuff in it. At the old house I had two closest that held the junk that I pushed into this one. I wanted to have a better, easier way to store my good serving dishes, so I unloaded this closet, put all of the junk in a storage tub, which my husband moved into the guest bathroom, and I piled that counter high with more stuff. My serving dishes have a safe, nice home and the bathroom is a mess. I have sorted the tub: throwaway, give to the daughters, and donate. Then there are the things that I don't know what to do with sitting on my coffee table.

I have 36 glass punch cups that I use for the holiday parties that have been awkwardly stored on a high shelf that requires a average height man on a short stool to get them out and put them away, so I bought those Christmas ornament storage tubs with the little compartments to store the punch cups in. Love it. And I reorganized with the help of the Head Gardener, those high, out of my reach kitchen cabinets.

I purged the closet in the guest bedroom and reorganized my yarns. I am also redecorating that bedroom which has been the Lady Bug room with red and white since we moved in. I like to display the only patchwork quilt that I will ever make, but it has to come off the bed when company comes, so I have put it away. The room will be pink and shabby chic. Girly. I am sure that our farmer friend will enjoy the frilly pink when he comes to stay.

Then there is the closet downstairs that spreads underneath the stairs, an odd, awkward place to work with. The majority of the closet is easily accessible, but it gets really cluttered, so as I put away all the tubs of Christmas decorations and the village, I sorted and purged. The storage looks great. I even unloaded another closet in the downstairs family room, asking the HG to go through a couple of boxes that he had in the closet--I needed more room to store Christmas boxes. Lucky for him, he found battery operated head lamps that he hadn't been abel to find since we moved here in 2009. He showed me his closet where he stores his hunting/fishing gear. I am never opening that door again.

I am sure that you have seen the beautiful magazine in the supermarket magazine rack Where Women Work Create. (After a note by a reader that I had the title of the magazine wrong, I have made the correction, thanks, Anke).I take time to browse through it, awed by the beautiful work spaces that these professional crafters and artisans have created with their vintage, shabby decor, their beautiful antique furniture and their perfectly organized art and crafting supplies. Would like to see where I work?

My Space: Office/Craft Area


When we decided to finish the basement, I had the opportunity to design my own workspace. the HG's uncle, a talented finish carpenter, built the cabinets, but not quite exactly what I wanted, but the layout works as long as I don't overload it, which I have done. So I am purging this area, too. Now I am sorting through the clutter. That's what I did most of this afternoon.



The nice counter that I had built was supposed to be my workspace to scrapbook, sew, make cards, and house the computer and printer, but I never have enough space so I put up a table as a work space.


Two summers ago my daughter talked me into buying this desk because it was so cheap at the hospital thrift store. It spent a long time in the barn after I sanded it down and painted part of it. Last summer I determined that I would finish it, so I had the HG move it into the garage where I painted it. It took many coats of paint. This is as close to an antique I can get: a junk desk purchased at a charity 
shop. It works.


I like this shelf, but it needs some help. It is supposed to hold ribbon and wrapping paper. It has a razor sharp serrated edge on the bottom bar to tear the wrapping paper. Now the shelf is unhandy because the desk is underneath it. 

Photo Storage


Some years ago I was introduce to Creative Memories scrap booking. Then we were still doing film. I have a box for photos for each family member. Now all of my photos are in iPhoto, Picasa, and Shutterfly. I do a mass printing when I want to do a photo album. I bought a lot of scarp books paraphernalia to create photo albums, and that all has to be stored, too.




The open shelves on one side hold more boxes, buttons all sorted by color and stored in spice jars, and the bottom shelf holds miscellaneous dollhouse minis--part of my stash.

Chaos


I worked on this pile this afternoon sorting a variety papers: computer paper, stationary, miscellaneous envelopes, notepads, and writing pads. What a collection. More purging and piling.


This oak biology lab table from a school district is my favorite work area. On the wall, sweet memories of my tour of Ireland in 2003.

Sewing Center


This computer stand has been in the family for a long time. I purchased it on sale for $40 at Office Depot. It was a great computer table; still is. I wanted to get rid of clutter to make the downstairs family room look clean and uncluttered, so I had the HG take down this computer stand that I was using for the sewing machines. We hauled it to Denver to our grandson. His parents decided that he didn't need it, so we hauled it back home. It is a great table for sewing. It holds both of my sewing machines. Side Comment: The serger and I are not on very good terms. We are not the of friends.


The map has pins on it representing the general locations where my blogger friends live. 


Here I am, a few years decades ago. I was 15, barrel racing at a Little Britches Rodeo.  My foot is roughly bandaged because it got stepped on by a horse. That's my best friend at the time Sailor, a young gelding, a throbbed/quarter horse. What grand steed he was. 

So this is where I work. I'll spend the week bringing order to the chaos, with the hopes of getting rid of unnecessary stuff. 

An alternative blog topic might have been about the weather, but I am sure that of many of you are experiencing the same cold weather, unless you are in Florida.


The snow turns the Garden Spot into a winter wonderland, and it has been very cold. -20 early one morning last week. 


The birds are hitting the bird feeders pretty consistently. The HG spotted a new visitor to the avian food court, a male ruby crowned kinglet. This part of Colorado is their breeding ground, so he is hanging around a little late. He should be out on the prairie down by the river. 

Thanks for visiting. Stay warm. Drop by Maggie's at Normandy Life for Mosaic Monday.