31 May 2022


I finally got my little Christmas tree from 2021 planted!

my 2020 Christmas tree

I'd decided after buying my first cut Christmas tree in decades in 2020 to get live trees from that point on. Why kill a tree for a month of potential Christmas card photos? (I didn't cut that year's tree myself; I bought it that way.)

I actually bought two little live Christmas trees last year, but one wasn't really alive. I didn't realize that until a couple of weeks after the purchase. The surviving tree now thrives. I plan to repeat this again this year (hopefully getting two live trees instead of a live one and a dead one) and add tree barrels to my backyard landscaping each spring. My backyard landscaping project continues; sometimes I think it might not ever end. So much to do! But this most recent little bit of work gave me just the perfect spot to plant my first Christmas tree.

The landscaping project began as a way to prevent my window well from flooding my basement during and after storms. First, I terraced the steep slope that carried all rain water and snow melt right into the window well. It helped but did not solve the problem.

Everyone asks what made me think of putting flowers inside the bricks I used in the terracing. The bricks I selected had holes in them. I love flowers. So why not???

One of the benefits of all those rocks is an extended growing season. The rocks provide a ton of heat when cooler temperatures begin to settle in, and many of the flowers in the bricks last longer than the flowers in my front yard and raised-bed garden. That captured solar heat also gives California poppies an idea environment before the official start of spring. I didn't exactly plan for weeds and poppies to take over the rocks, and weeding is taking up far more time than I anticipated. But how could I not be thankful for the poppies???

We discovered after the terracing project that the gutter along the back of the house and its downspout were causing as much havoc as the slope had. We had to wait until this year's tax refund to get an estimate on replacement. What we thought would be a fast, easy and not-too expensive fix morphed into a new roof. HOAs are so much fun. But that's another story for another day. We're still awaiting the new gutter and downspout, and the May 20 foot of snow re-emphasized the need to raise the level of the ground closest to the window well and slope it away from the house. We spent the sunny melt bailing water again.

As I dig up the rocks near the window well to enable beefing up the soil content, I find tons of volunteer grape hyacinth bulbs, which I have been transplanting in the bricks.

I decided I could try to do the same with the volunteer California poppies that are flourishing in the red sand between the flagstone I put in last year.

Unfortunately, that didn't work so well.

The May 20 snow didn't help.

My main concern prior to the storm, though, was the tomatoes and peppers I'd just planted a few days prior. I covered one raised-bed garden with the rain fly from the tent we haven't used in about four years now. I covered the second raised-bed garden with fleece and a towel. I used tomato cages to keep the weight of the snow off the plants. I stuck photo lights beneath each canopy to prevent the 26-degree overnight low from destroying everything I'd just planted.

I covered my stevia with a plastic construction bucket and then insulated it with a down vest from my closet.

I didn't know if I'd be able to save the veggies. I removed the pounds of snow and cloth coverings after the second hard freeze night to give the plants some air and sunshine. Another hard freeze initially was forecast for the third night, but by the third day, the forecast had been upgraded to a low of 44 degrees overnight. I took a chance and left everything uncovered that third night. It's been a week now, and I'm very pleasantly surprised.

Meanwhile, I rescued already-blooming flowers for bouquets for neighbors and for inside our own house.

Also inside the house, my hoya cuttings are beginning to root!!!

We lost a few tree branches to the storm. Chipping stations have been set up throughout the metro area to give second life to all the trees and tree limbs that came down as a result of the storm.

I took advantage of the extremely wet ground to dig up more volunteers... this time, spiderwort, bluebells and cosmos. We're just a few days in now, but these transplants seem to be taking to the improved growing conditions a lot better than the California poppies did.

cosmos and bluebells

And, as I expected, the irises survived the extreme cold. Some gave way to the weight of the snow, and I've got some upside down blossoms now, but I don't think I lost a single iris flower!

raspberry sorbet, I think

30 May 2022

Thread Crochet Monday

I've wanted to duplicate this gorgeous little treasure my grandmother made more than 60 years ago for a long time now. I just found out the mother of one of my bosses has breast cancer, recently had surgery, and is now going through chemo. I think a pink version of this hat will accompany the pink snowflakes I send her this week.

My grandmother crafted the original hat before her eyesight began failing her. She used a much smaller thread (looks to be size 30) and a much smaller hook (perhaps a size 12), and she tea-stained her thread. I don't know if she used a pattern. She created many of her patterns as she crocheted, which is how I got into designing. She typically stiffened her work with sugar water, but this one did not deteriorate, yellow or get eaten by pests and creepy crawlies, so I suspect she did not use sugar water on this. It's been in a mini cedar chest I inherited from my grandmother back in the 70s all this time. It took me a couple of tries to get my pattern, which is slightly different from hers, just right. (So my hats don't match.) I felt a little bit close to my grandmother as I worked on my version of her hat.

You may do whatever you'd like with hats you make from this pattern, but you may not sell or republish the pattern. Thanks, and enjoy!

Finished Size: 3 inches across
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 7 crochet hook, empty pizza box, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, water soluble school glue or desired stiffener, water, stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, satin ribbon remnants

Grandmother's Hat Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: NOTE: You may use either the 3-dc shell on this Round or a 3-dc cluster. I used the 3-dc shell on the prototype but used the 3-dc cluster on the following attempts. I think I like the cluster best.
Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 2 dc in ring, [ch 3, 3 dc in ring] 5 times; ch 1, 1 dc in 2nd ch of starting ch 2 to form 6th ch 3 sp of Round. Don't pull magic circle too tight.

Round 2: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc) 1 dc, 1 hdc and 1 sc over post of dc directly below, [in next ch 3 sp work (1 sc, 1 hdc, 3 dc, 1 hdc, 1 sc) (shell made)] 5 times; in next ch 3 sp work (1 sc, 1 hdc, 1 dc), sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.

Round 3: Ch 4 (counts as 1 tall dc and ch 1), 1 dc in same ch as sl st, [ch 2, in middle dc of next shell work (1 dc, ch 1, * 1 dc, ch 1, 1 dc)] 6 times, ending * on last repeat; sl st in 3rd ch of starting ch 4.
If you're not reading this pattern on Snowcatcher, you're not reading the designer's blog. Please go here to see the original.

Round 4: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 fpdc around next dc, [ch 3, 1 fpdc around each of next 3 dc] 6 times, omitting last 2 fpdc of final rpeat; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.

Round 5: [In next ch 3 sp work (1 sc, 1 hdc, 3 dc, 1 hdc, 1 sc) (shell made)] 6 times; sl st in starting sc.

Round 6: Sl st into next hdc, ch 3 (counts as 1 dc and ch 1, [[1 dc in next st, ch 1]] 4 times, [sk next sc, 1 tr in gap between next 2 sc, ch 1, sk next sc, [[1 dc in next st, ch 1]] 5 times] 5 times; sk next sc, 1 tr in gap between next 2 sc, ch 1; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 3.

Round 7: Sl st into next ch 1 sp, ch 3 (counts as 1 dc and [ch 1), [[1 dc in next ch 1 sp, ch 1]] 17 times for a total of 18 ch 1 sp; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 3.

Round 8: Sl st into next ch 1 sp, ch 1, 1 dc in next ch 1 sp (starting dc dec made), [ch 3, [[yo and draw up loop through next ch 1 sp, yo and draw through 2 loops on hook]] 2 times, yo and draw through all 3 loops on hook (dc dec made)] 17 times; ch 3, sl st into top of starting dc dec for a total of 18 ch 3 sp.

Round 9: [In next ch 3 sp work (1 sc, 1 hdc, 3 dc, 1 hdc, 1 sc)] 18 times; sl st in starting sc; bind off. Weave in ends.

Finish: Saturate hat with school glue and massage it in, leaving no drips or bubbles. Tape wax paper or plastic wrap to top of empty pizza box. Pin hat to box on top of wax paper or plastic wrap, stretching out as you go to properly shape it. I put a ball of thread the size of the crown in a sandwich bag, then placed the hat over the wrapped ball of thread and pinned. I think a ball of crinkled-up plastic wrap would work, too. A tiny water balloon blown up to the proper size probably would work as well. Any kind of stuffing that won't adhere to the glue should work.

Allow hat to dry at least 24 hours. Remove pins. Gently peel hat from wax paper or plastic wrap. Add ribbon around hat and tie a bow. Use a dab of glue on the center of the bow, if desired, to prevent it from coming undone over the years.

26 May 2022

Bits and Pieces

I was kind of hoping I could finish another quilt last weekend, especially since 12 inches of fresh snow kept us inside most of the time. However, snow melting after the sun came back out flooded our window well again, and I spent most of Sunday bailing water. Ugh.

We did finally get an estimate on gutter replacement, and it turns out... we need a new roof. The gutters will be replaced, too. And that should take care of our basement waterfall. Let's hope.

In the meantime, I was able to wash Scrap Gobbler, and I love it even more now. The rough-edge appliqué came out so much better than I anticipated!

Perhaps I needed a tiny break from quilting; I enjoyed piecing the backing for the next Moda Blockheads 2 block.

I finished a few more houses for my Scrappy I-Spy Neighborhood.

And I finished three more scrappy blue log cabins. These may eventually become another WIP, but for right now, it's just another project to use up my strip scraps and leftovers. I still have two more blue scrap collections representing solids and textures, so I may have to try to come up with an alternate log cabin layout so this will be big enough to become at least a lap quilt.

Linking up with Alycia Quilts.

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