August 31, 2011

dirty work

Thanks to the support (um, hard labor) of my husband the backyard garden project has taken off. He gets full credit for digging out the cement block border, reinstalling said border as a back edge, ripping up sod, inserting the edging, buying and hauling the dirt (I did manage to help with the this), and using the scary looking rototiller.

I removed, relocated, and replanted existing plants. I also used scrap stones from last summer's backyard project to make a path back to the rain barrel. And I very gleefully purchased new plants and arranged them in the new garden. I remember looking over my work and saying "it's just like graphic design!" as I considered how to place different textures, leaf shapes, and plant colors.

 The back edge is raised, allowing the garden to slope forward

Crafting my stone path through the mud and muck

All my new plant babies!

August 29, 2011

quilt reading

Over vacation, I took along a few nonfiction books on quilting. My favorite by far was the slender and inspiring book The Practical Guide to Patchwork: New Basics for the Modern Quiltmaker by Elizabeth Hartman. As you can see, the cover art is gorgeous as are the twelve quilt projects she has compiled within.

The book starts out with a concise how-to section. For overly excited and ambitious crafters like me, it is definitely the perfect amount of information. There is just enough detail to give you the confidence that yes, you too can quilt. I was particularly inspired by the fact that she is self-taught. That seems to be the route I am going with all things sewing and quilting!

As for the patterns, I loved them all and want to make them all. The instructions very helpfully explain exactly how to cut the fabric so you efficiently end up with all the little pieces you need. The designs utilize patches, which my beginner quilt project did not. I can see a lot of possibility in working on a patchwork project patch by patch. I also enjoyed the fact that each pattern was showcased in 3 different fabric combinations.

Hartman writes in a friendly and encouraging tone:
As you work, keep in mind that every step of this process is achievable. You may need to take out some stitching and redo it. You may end up with some wrinkles or unexpected wonkiness. You're very unlikely to end up with a quilt that you can't use.
And with that encouragement, my friends, I resolve to finish my daughter's quilt (yes, it will be functional!) before winter and perhaps even embark on a brand new quilt project!

PS In the interest of full disclosure, I want to let you know that this post represents my first experiment with the Amazon Associates program. Basically if you, dear reader, happen to click my link to Amazon and then happen to buy the item I would earn some money. I hardly expect to get rich off this blog but I thought it would be worth a try!

August 19, 2011

black and sand

As a child, I always found these streaks of dark sand quite mysterious. I still think it is beautiful to happen upon. Perhaps someone of more geological knowledge could pinpoint the different type of rock the two shades of sand are derived from?

August 17, 2011

my favorite place

Lake Michigan!

A long walk along the shore: gentle waves on one side and cool, deeply shaded forest on the other. Such a feeling of calm and of home fills me.

August 15, 2011

paper craft greeting cards

This month I needed to send a birthday card and two anniversary cards. I used the blank cards that I swear by as one of my best craft purchases (they're colored paper on the outside and blank on the inside), some paper punches, and old greeting cards and scrapbook paper I whipped out these beautiful creations. Much cheaper than purchasing cards and, at least for me, more creatively satisfying!

August 12, 2011

morning sun and new blooms

One of the pleasures of getting up early in the morning is seeing the sun shine on your garden as it is rising for the day. I can't claim to have actually seen the sunrise itself, but I did enjoy the glow upon my hibiscus plant. I can't help but love the oversized blooms in a bold and brilliant red.

August 10, 2011

farmers' market treasure: sunflower

My sweet husband bought me a stunning bouquet of flowers at the farmers' market. The bunch that caught my eye featured a huge sunflower. So amazingly beautiful! Summer is overflowing with visual inspiration.

August 8, 2011

design inspiration in a pea pod

Call me a city slicker, but until my green thumb mother-in-law recently gifted us with some fresh peas I don't think I had ever opened up a pea pod and paid attention to what was inside. I am most impressed with the way the peas grow from each side of the pod, carefully spaced apart in such a way that each individual pea has a spot. The way the two halves fit together is genius. What a fabulous design!

August 5, 2011

a flowering field

This field of flowers grows in Allegan County, Michigan, not far from a recent blueberry picking adventure. I had my husband pull over so I could stop and take some photos.

Isn't it lovely?

August 3, 2011

a roadside beauty

We were driving through the county admiring the wildflowers growing alongside the road. My three-year-old daughter especially loved the Queen Anne's Lace. "When I am bigger, mom, I will go by the side of the road and pick you some white flowers."

We seized the day and picked them later that evening. Of course I couldn't help but play with the camera. Who says this lovely plant is a weed?

August 1, 2011

garden dreams and schemes

Lately I have been making plans to expand and improve my backyard garden. A variety of experiments combined with my denial of the shadiness of the site has resulted in an odd mishmash of plants. 

I have been doing my plant research (love the library!) and even drew up an accurate plan on graph paper. If you're feeling inspired to do some reading yourself you might consult these books that I found helpful:
Stephanie Cohen & Nancy J. Ondra

Anthony W. Kahtz

Tim Wood & Alison Beck

Larry Hodgson

The white outline shows the new border. I have to hold off on getting started because the current plants, several of which I will be gifting to others, are still in bloom or have yet to bloom. It may be that the most I will get done in August and September is preparing the site for next spring. I am planning on building up the dirt in the back and sloping it forward. We are also going to replace the raised cement edge with simple edging. The plants that I intend to keep can be put into place as well.

I will keep you updated on this new project!