Thursday, August 29, 2013

summer camp life for the hosts . . .

What with the incredibly mild (albeit rainy) summer we've had, working outside has not been uncomfortable in the least! Which is really good -- especially for Todd, who's been working very diligently on a prototype project since he retired. We have one trail in particular, that we'd really like to turn into an educational trail -- one that can be used not just for scout troops, but also for school field trips.  
A trail with tree markers and bird houses and that sort of thing . . . as well as a turtle sanctuary up at the pavilion.  We'd seen a small one at the local Botanical Gardens -- in the Butterfly House -- and thought it would be such fun to have one here . . .  
But before he did that, he wanted to try a smaller scale sanctuary area to see how it would best work, to get an idea of materials and expenses, and to give *us* a little bit of the fun in our caretaker's corner of the camp.
Isn't it gorgeous?  I love watching it and could sit and listen and watch for hours!  Todd's done an amazing job with it!  It's really quite beautiful, but looks very natural as well.
I love the sound of running water, so this sweet pond is just music to my ears!
Todd built a stacked slate and rock waterfall at one end, which flows into the shallowest part of the pond. Then at the deeper end . . .
There's a resin turtle with a heavier duty pump to keep water (and oxygen) moving.  Todd watched last week as the first turtle walked down and climbed into the pond.  I think he walked down there because he thought the resin turtle was real and was so embarrassed when he realized it was fake ... that he jumped into the water as if to say, "That's *really* why I came down here -- not to check out a fake turtle."  I imagine, anyway.  ;)
It's filled with fish and crawdads -- all indigenous to the nearby water sources (creeks and ponds) and is about fifteen feet long and maybe about eight feet at it's widest.  And probably about eighteen inches at its deepest.  With very few exceptions, Todd's done a great job of using plants and bits and pieces--like slate from the creek and ground cover (with the exception of a dozen plants we purchased from the local nursery) that he's replanted from other areas in the camp--to really make this mini-ecosystem very 'camp' natural.
Of course, we did purchase the waterlily to go in the pond.  It's so fun to see it in there!!  It took about two days for the first pad to pop up to the surface -- and about two weeks or so for the remainder of the pads to catch up.  I can't wait until it blooms, though -- it's got beautiful pink blooms!  I'm thinking we may need one more to give symmetry and balance.  ;) 
Here's the view from the back end, near the waterfall. There are some other 'fun' things in the mix, too. Like a lit aerator in the pond, which keeps bubbles floating and also a floating solar light that changes colors. Both are especially fun when we're watching the pond at night. I'm standing under the outdoor camera that's mounted so we can even enjoy the pond at night from inside (you can see it on the corner of the shed, two pics up). It's also connected to the 'net, so we can watch from afar, too. The idea is to have one connected to the Camp's website, when it's the real deal. A nature ... or "turtle" cam, if you will!

Of course, as I mentioned earlier, turtles aren't the only thing in residence. We've put several toads in the area, but aren't sure in they're able to get out or not (as in climb over the fence) -- we haven't seen any. Todd put in a baby horned toad this evening! And of course there are frogs and tadpoles (which means eventually more frogs) and even more frogs!
This fine fellow stayed put my entire time in the sanctuary.  He wasn't worried about me a single bit!  He was pretty stout, too.  I love frog serenades on summer evenings!

The 18" fence goes around three sides and at the back, it connects to the regular split-rail fence that already existed (and is hidden in the huge holly trees).  It's covered with hardware cloth wire that also folds at ground level and continues for an additional 15"-18" under the ground cover.  And at that back end, Todd built the 'living quarters' for our turtle guests . . . 
It's constructed of concrete blocks and logs and other stuff and topped with pine straw.  And if you look real closely at the center of the photo, you can just make out one of the turtles (we have two, as of right now), stepping out for a bit of fresh air.

I think this is the second one we (aka, Todd) found, which means it's Sam. (The first one was Mr. Frodo and third and fourth turtles we add will be Pippin and Merry, respectively.) I offered Sam a carrot but he snubbed it. He also stayed very still when I climbed in the pen and chatted with him, but I think the more you do that, the more used to folks they are and likely to be....ummm....sociable. Whatever that is for turtles.
We also got two hydrangea bushes and planted them.  Lowe's had them on sale for $5 a plant.  I love them and they do tolerable in shady areas, which is what we've got.  The patches of sunlight you see in the pictures are mostly early morning.  By afternoon the area is largely shaded.  
In the front, alongside the driveway, Todd added an extra board so that we can set some potted plant along the top rail.  Mums are just making their way into the stores here and they are my favorite fall flower -- it should be gorgeous when they burst forth into glorious color!  This is essentially the view from the RV. Pretty sweet, huh?!

* * * * * * *
As an aside, evidently our 'turtle' sanctuary is also a POSSUM sanctuary.  Todd was sitting there watching the area and watched a possum crawl out of the *turtle's* living quarters to the *turtle's* food pan and then crawled back into the *turtle's* living quarters.  Some animals just ain't got no respect!!  LOL!

Man's best laid plans and all that . . . !!


Monday, August 26, 2013

busy, busy, busy . . .

A happy finish ... well, piecing finish, anyway . . .
I so love the way this pretty little Christmas twisted hexie looks!!  The basting stitches are still intact -- I haven't removed my template pieces, yet.  Now my quest to find an appropriate 'skirt' for it!  I think it will make a gorgeous holiday table covering!

I put my fall fabrics to good use and made another spirograph topper.  I think this may be my go-to project for a pretty little hostess gift.
But I think I may play around a bit with the center applique, too. Any thoughts? I made the center of this one a bit smaller than my original, and I don't think I'll do that again.  I *did* miter the corners of the borders on this one -- and I *will* do that again!

I got out and about a bit this weekend.  Our church had a huge yard sale to benefit the children and youth ministries.  I was mostly good.  I found a couple of fun things for Ellie's dress-up trunk and lucked into this group of silk ties . . .
For a buck!  I figured that between Easter eggs and crazy quilting, I'd be able to put these to very good use!

I also headed over to one of my favorite quilt shops.  I needed backing fabric for Pixelated and Hooked on Quilting was having a guild appreciation sale -- 25% off! So I headed there and found the brown Civil War print (on the left):
It works well with the muted red binding and the front, I think, and will be good for a son to roll around in. I've decided I really do need to machine quilt this, since it is for James ... now I just need to settle on how I'm going to quilt it.  Both the pattern *and* the logistics in the RV!  

I also grabbed some 'burgundy' (the photo doesn't translate that well, I'm afraid) for our guild's 2-1/2" strip exchange that starts next month.  
And I filled up my Martindale card and picked up this book on Baltimore Album blocks (which I *WILL* make one day).  Now I get a freebie book!  Yay!

I also have this fun thing pieced and ready to put a back to:
I'd won the strip kit for it in March and got a hankering to put it together. So I did (minky is a *mess* to work with, by the way!).  But then I needed a back in keeping with the front!  I swung by Sirs, where I remembered seeing the Dr. Seuss prints in wide minky.  Sure enough, I found what I think will make the perfect backing from that same line:
Don't you think?  Technically this won't be a quilt -- the minky is so thick, it really doesn't need batting.  I'm going to stitch the outside edges together (with the right sides facing), then pull it inside-out and 'quilt' down the vertical lines. It'll be an interesting finish!

All that fabric shopping injected another healthy dose into my August stash report, but I also will have some big yardage finishes to include, which will help balance things out!  Linking up this post to Judy Laquidara's Patchwork Times and Design Wall Monday and Kathy's Quilts Slow Sunday Stitching.

Before I head out to tackle the world, thought I'd share some of my favorite peeps . . .
Todd is *thoroughly* enjoying retirement and the ability to grow a beard!  I have to admit that I find him quite dashing in the beard and I'm enjoying the "Duck Dynasty" commando look!

Sawyer is now a dragon whisperer.  Seriously.
He's making up wonderful dragon stories and everything -- his imagination is quite vivid!  I got the dinosaur costume for him last October -- and he'd carry it, but refused to wear it.  Until just this past month or so. Gotta love it!

Ellie's driving.
Good gravy, slow the growing down!!  That's a smile she's sporting, just in case you're not sure.  She's pretty much able to give Sawyer a run for his money these day!  She's a clever little chatterbox, too -- Joc asked her to sing her ABC's and Ellie replied, "A, B, C . . . no more!"  Sassy pants!

June is ... well, at home she's called the Princess Baby.  
I think that means she's queen of the show -- I know she's got both daddy and big brother wrapped around her little fingers! 
With a smile (and giggle) like that, who can resist?!

Have a GREAT week!


Monday, August 19, 2013

happily stitching along . . .

It's probably no big mystery what's on my design wall this week . . .
Thankfully, between a meeting at church that Todd needed to stay for (and so, consequently, did I) and the guild transition and board meeting, I got *all* of my fabric pieces tacked to their corresponding paper pieces . . . 
. . . and I got two full twisted hexies whipped together!  These are going together so smoothly and I just continue to adore the way the fabrics play so nicely together!  My next step is to see if I can find a pretty crocheted tablecloth (in a thrift store or flea market or yard sale) to attach the finished project to.  It will be sort of like a hexie topper with a swirly skirt!  LOL!

Speaking of the board meeting, our new guild president, Jane, has the most beautiful home!  In addition to being a quilter, she's also a master gardener, so her yard was lovely.  But I was quite taken with this darling little critter in her front yard . . .
Isn't he fun?  Much better than the real thing (it's an armadillo) which she told us they get a lot of up on the mountain, there!

I was keeping my pretty little hexie pieces all together in this sweet little bag that the outgoing president made for each of her board members . . . 
I love the colors in this -- right up my alley!  And it's the perfect size for my bigger hexies.  I also came home two fat eighths richer . . .
Everyone got to pick their two favorites as a pot luck favor!  I'll happily add these to August's intake.

I also came into possession of this sweet little pin keeper:
Isn't it beautiful? My friend over at Quilting Lion, awarded it to me for submitting the winning theme to her Christmas stocking exchange for this year.  The theme I submitted was All That Glitters!  No surprise there, either, huh??! 

And finally, one last item for the design wall (or design back-of-the-chair, as the case is here).  
I'm interviewing fabrics for another spirograph piece.  This one will be a hostess gift, so I'm trying to think autumn ... to match the record cool temperatures we're experiencing down here in the Heart of Dixie!

Linking up today's post with Judy Laquidara's Patchwork Times and Design Wall Monday as well Kathy's Quilts Slow Sunday Stitching (seeing as how that's how I spent the majority of my day yesterday)!  

Happy week!


Saturday, August 17, 2013

when one needs *help* . . .

HeLP, that is, as in Help for Hexie-aholics!!

I had indicated that I would share the plans I had for the gorgeous Christmassy prints I bought earlier in the week and today is the day!

You might remember this darling little twisted-hexi topper I saw in a quilt shop in June:
I knew I wanted to make it but I also wanted to find the perfect fabrics to use ... and until I spied those beautiful big poinsettias on Monday, I was at a loss.  
I also had ordered some more of the 2" hexie pieces and the 2" half-hexie pieces, which came in the mail on Tuesday . . . 

I had taken everything over to Joc's on Thursday, hoping I could get some ironing and piece cutting out.  But when I laid the fabric out to look at it, someone else took an interest in the project:
She didn't like the thought of leaving, either. In fact, these seven prints got the ultimate cat seal of approval:
They were deemed worthy of a catnap! In fact, Leia so loved these prints that when I left to get Ellie up from her nap, Leia brought her very favorite cat toy up onto the fabric, too!  

And speaking of Ellie, isn't she just precious?!  
She's left babydom behind and is definitely *all* toddler!  Just look at how big my sweet girl has gotten!
But I happily digress!  Back to the hexies-at-hand here . . .

I got ready to cut out my centers, but realized I didn't have a good way--short of guessing--to line up the flowers in the center.  
But then I thought -- I need a small hole!
And voila -- a small hole was just enough for me to identify the center of the flower, so I could cut from there.  Which I did!
Seven centers down!  Next came the easier sides . . .

Put 'em together and what have you got?  
I adore the muted reds, greens and golds in this combination -- how fun it will be to work with my hands with these prints!  Plus I'll have something to keep my hands busy tomorrow afternoon -- transition meeting *and* board meeting for the new guild year.  LOL!  I also think I may use some metallic red thread to outline the poinsettia flowers, before I quilt this -- and maybe some yellow metallic thread French knots in the flowers' centers.  I think that would be a pretty touch and really make the those flowers stand out!

I also got a special tea I'd ordered earlier in the week . . .
The combination of the dreary day and the delivery of the tea (what?!? Chocolate coconut truffle?!!!!) means just one thing . . . 
Time to put in a movie and get busy!

Linking up today's post with Sarah's Feline Friday *and* HeLP linky parties!!


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

two in a row . . .

Posts, that is.  Quite out of the norm for me these days, isn't it?!  But I couldn't resist showing off a bit!

I bustled out to the closest LQS yesterday morning, and spent an hour or so with the pieced top spread out over a couple of tables, interviewing fabrics for the border and binding.  The binding was an easy pick for me, but the binding took a couple of tries.  I finally ended up with this combination:
The black print for the border and the red for the binding. Many thanks to Sharon, at Patches & Stitches, for all her help (and putting away all those bolts)!

Like I could walk into a quilt shop and *just* get what I came for.  I spotted the Christmas fabrics and, with a very specific project in mind (more on that later in the, definitely not tomorrow), I scooped up these lovelies:
I'd say my August stash report is blown, but since I've got a top finished, that'll take care of that!

And . . . because I just realized I didn't have an 8.5" square ruler . . .
I can't believe I made all those blocks way back when, without an 8.5" ruler! Was I mad???  I threw in a package of my favorite redwork/embroidery needles, too.

After a quick stop at the grocery store (Todd has to eat, even if I could quilt through dinner), I hurried home to get BUSY!

I'm so, so pleased with how this turned out!!!  Here's the original pattern and what we were going for (20 of us participated in this block swap):
She used jewel tone batiks, which are really pretty, but our group agreed to use Civil War prints and shirting for the blocks (this is when I realized how beautiful and rich CW prints were and how much I love them). Her pattern calls for 48 blocks.  Here's my finished top with 40 blocks:
Yup, I'm totally in love with this!  The four corner blocks make it, for me . . .
And I did something new-to-me . . . I mitered the corners of the border around the corner blocks!
You really can't see it, but I think that's part of the charm.  It really does make the block look like it's floating.  Mitering the corners wasn't too tough, once I figured out how to do it.  I will say that I was glad it was only happening in one corner!  LOL!  I used a video tutorial by Penny Halgren to help me figure it all out.

There are so many things I could name this ... but when I texted a picture of it to my son, he commented how striking it was to him -- that it reminded him of pixels of color, all coming together to make a picture.  Since he's a graphics design guy, that makes sense.  I think I may gift this to him and call it Pixelated!  :)

Now I just have to decide how to quilt it . . . but that can wait.  I just had to have the top pieced for Thursday's show & tell!!