Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thanks on Thursday

What are you thankful for today?

I’m thankful that my commute to work doesn’t include getting on the highway which was backed up for over an hour this morning.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Counting Down…

Are you ready for Christmas…is your shopping done?  Presents wrapped?  Tree tinseled?  Cookies baked? Cards mailed?  

Me neither….but tonight I did something that was festive, fun and softened up the “Grinchiness” I’ve been carrying around for the last few weeks.  Hope Santa was watching.

Several weeks ago, my boss managing partner of our firm asked me to buy a few hundred dollars worth of toys to donate to the Toys For Tots Program.  I grudgingly said yes because I’m not crazy about being unemployed again but I was also annoyed and put out that he asked this of me,  knowing I had to do this after work on my time. 

I only remember TFT’s when the marines collected used toys, fixed them up and re-gifted them to under-privileged kids and I don’t have good memories of that.  I was a new mother and had just moved to town when a neighbor asked if I would help her collect and clean up toys to donate to TFT’s.  We put boxes at the post office and library and scheduled a day to clean up and repair the toys together in my basement.  I got a persistent case of impetigo from that experience  which took several months of antibiotics to clear up.  Maybe that’s why TFT’s no longer accepts used toys.

The other day, when I called TFT to ask about drop off times and locations, they told me they really needed toys for older kids—10 to 13 year-olds—“tweens”.  I put this chore off as long as I could but last night, after another email from my boss, I decided to get it over with.  I had no idea what to buy.  Haven’t had any tweens or teens in this house for many years.

So at first I was watching other people shopping more than I was paying attention to the merchandise on the shelves but after a short time, I also realized I was having a good time---isn’t it hard not to have fun in a toy store?  There are so many animated and electronic toys—the last popular toys I shopped for were Teddy Ruxpin and Cabbage Patch kids.

I made several aimless trips around the store with my carriage before  ending up where they stock the musical toys and it was here that I found my inspiration.

I think I made  good choices.  The first toy I tossed into my carriage was a karaoke machine--for a  budding Lady Gaga maybe? Followed by an electric guitar—couldn’t we use another Jimmy Hendrix’s talent?.  Then I spotted a display case of cameras and with the advice of a salesperson, chose a compact video camera—maybe it will inspire another Steven Speilberg or James Cameron.   Next to the check out there was a display of MP3 players on sale so I picked up a couple of those too and a few  popular dvds for good measure. 

I would love to think that maybe these toys would be the catalyst to inspire some child’s future choices but even if they’re only play things and give some temporary enjoyment and take the slump out of a parent’s shoulders who’s worrying about not having gifts for their kids, I’m satisfied.  I doubt my boss, knew what he was missing when he delegated this job to me but maybe someone else “up there” knew I needed to do this.  

Goodbye Grinch! 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Losing my “Grinch”

As it gets closer to Christmas.  Yikes—there is less than a week to go--I’m feeling more “in the  decorating spirit” and less “ho-humm ”.  Friday night I ambled over  to Michael’s and Hobby Lobby after work looking for a few things to “festive up” the house.

I was inspired last week by a tiny set of lights I saw as I was walking around the General Stark Store in Derry.

December 20112 001I apologize for only taking a picture of their door and not getting any pictures of the inside of the store because those of you who love country decorating and furniture would just be in heaven. All of the furniture and most of the accessories are made HERE in the US to boot!. 

Though most of the merchandise tends to be a bit on the “prim” side which is not really my decorating style I always manage to find something that I love there and I’m definitely going back for the after Christmas sale.  They had the most gorgeous snowmen and rustic Santa's I’ve seen.

I’m probably a little behind on decorating trends because I’d never seen these lights before but I loved the way they looked and the soft glow they gave off.  I wanted something for my kitchen sideboard and thought they’d be just the ticket.  I wanted greenery too but I waited too long and the pickins were slim.  I did manage to find this winterberry garland that was just the right length and looked pretty good with my old green and red woven table runner. 

Can you see the little silicone flame tips on the mini bulbs?    They are a little on the pricey side when you think you can purchase mini bulbs at CVS for $1.99.  These  were $18 for a string of 36 but I caved when I saw them and if there’s any left after Xmas for 1/2 off, I’m getting another set.

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I went up to the attic during the week and dug out the window candles but the bulbs were missing so I picked up replacement bulbs but they were the wrong size kind because as soon as I turned on the candles, they “popped”!   This morning I found the original bulbs which I packed separately to prevent breakage, I guess.  

I also dug out my Martha Stewart pre-lit tree I ‘ve had since 2003.  I’ve always put that on the porch and on a timer so that it can be seen from the driveway. I love coming home and seeing the house lit up.   No tree inside this year—I did want to get one of those skinny pre-lit trees for the living room but it’s probably just as well since the door and carpet have to be replaced.

I wish I had my pictures from last year when the house was completely decorated…oh well.  Here are a few pictures of the decorations around here so far….Christmas & Hannukah 121711 029Christmas & Hannukah 121711 028







And, here’s a cuteness picture of Calvin.  Doesn’t that little face make you smile?

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Finding the Christmas Spirit. Thank you Mr. Grinch.

I’m looking for my Christmas spirit. I know the particulars of when, where and how I lost it, but finding it again is not that easy. 

The  cure---total holiday decorating immersion!   I’m making Christmas wreaths today.  If you want to join me, I’ll post last Xmas' wreath making tutorial.

(Side note—there are some  good things about the internet—one being that even if your laptop is stolen, your blog posts and pictures are retrievable). 

Here’s what I’ve been up to for the last month and a half since I was “liberated” from my computer.   The first photo is a UFO that I finished and will gift to my garden club friend, Sue, who really loves the country primitive decorating style. (I have the original label I made for this quilt which was dated “1991”!)  For the past 20 years it’s been sitting in my “project box”.  This was made from one of the “Little Quilts” patterns.  You can see from my fabric choices back then that I was an avid “Thimbleberries” fan.  I still have a tree skirt with these same dark greens and reds which I used to call “prairie” colors because I did a lot of Prairie Schooler cross stitch projects back then also.

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Remember the baby quilt I showed you a few months ago?  Well I can divulge the recipient now and show you pictures of the finished quilt.  This quilt was made for Kasey’s baby niece, Mia Louise.  (You’ll remember that Kasey is my daughter’s roommate)  Mia’s mother, Jess is the author of one of my favorite blogs, “Sweet Almondine”.November 2011 110 November 2011 113








Now back to lunch and wreath making.  Stay tuned—more to come. 


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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Project Updates

I haven’t had a chance to post any updates lately but I have been busy and I’ve finished the “Dressed To The Nines” baby quilt top and have an appointment next Saturday to machine quilt it at Bits N’ Pieces.

DSC01353I just love how it turned out and I hope the new parents do too.  I know the finished picture didn’t turn out very good because of the lighting in the basement where it was taken.  If you’re wondering about the blue dress on the right, it’s Liberty of London fabric that I bought back in 1990 when I went to England---boy that was 20 years ago!

DSC01355DSC01354Some time ago, I installed those energy saving bulbs in the basement and garage light fixtures and you know they take a few minutes to get bright.  They have saved me a lot of money though because I frequently forget to turn off the garage lights.

I was able to use up some old 70’s yardage for the back and a bit of the backing from by RRCB quilt as well---hooray for that!  

Can’t show you the back just yet though, that would give away the surprise.

Here it is together…again sorry for the poor lighting.  I have some cute little decorations to add to the dresses once they’re quilted. 



I’m wondering if it will quilt OK. I used Steam A Seam Lite 2 for the appliques, but they still seem a little heavier/stiffer than the background fabric. Should I quilt it all over or just the backgrounds? Anyone have experience machine quilting fused appliques before?

I recently picked up a Moda charm pack called “ Santas Little Helpers”.  It’s a Christmas charm pack with a sock monkey theme.  I just loved the prints and the the colors.  When I saw it I knew I wanted to make a Christmas stocking for Calvin.  I think he’ll love it.  Who doesn’t love sock monkeys?

I’ve been experimenting with making pinwheels.   I found a neat method of making half square triangles from 5” charm squares on the Missouri Star website.  Check it out

I’m thinking of sewing the ones I’ve made into fabric, quilting that and then making the stocking body from the pre-quilted fabric.   What do you think?  

I also found a cute sock monkey embroidery design on Bunnycup Embroidery.  I think it would look cute on the cuff of the stocking with Calvin’s name. 


There seem to be so many blocks that can be made from 5” charm squares. 

Till later….


P.S.  Have you put up any Halloween decorations yet? 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Happy Thoughts on a Sad Day

On a sad day of remembrance like this, we all need a happy thought or good news to remind us that life is sweet and that the world is full of good people who honor and cherish life just as we do.

…and what better news is there than the arrival of a new little girl!  

This little girl needs a quilt to commemorate her arrival on this beautiful earth.  I can’t tell you who she is right now because first of all her parents haven’t revealed her name and secondly because this quilt will be a surprise for her family.  But what I can give you is some sneak peaks at what her quilt is going to look like.  

I’ve wanted to make this quilt since I first learned that I was going to be a grandmother.  The pattern is from a 2009 issue of “McCall's Quick Quilts”.  

It  would’ve been Calvin’s baby quilt, if he’d been a girl, but I’m not complaining and now I can make it for someone else.









Even though I “shopped my own stash” first….I still had to make a shopping trip but for the most part, this is going to be made from scraps.  

I love shopping the remnants baskets at quilt shops.  For $5.00 you can fill a large bag full and most of these scraps are large cuts.  This is a great way to add variety to your stash.



I have a small design change in mind for this quilt too but it’s part of the surprise and story.  I’ll have to share it with you later.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Things to Remember About September

For the past ten years, I’ve had conflicting emotions about September.  Since first grade the greater part of me has flat out loved this month and always will.

It’s because September is a transitional month between the best two seasons of the year—you know—salad and crockpot season LOL:)  September is also the month of shorter days, cool nights, greener grass, asters and goldenrod, sweaters, getting the flannel pj’s out, putting the down comforter back on the bed, open windows, turning off the A/C, warm sunny days, no mosquitoes, harvest time, picking apples, making homemade Concord grape jelly…last cookouts.  

It’s bittersweet.  I know I only have a few more weekends to enjoy sitting on my porch.

But then tomorrow is 9/11.   Do you remember what you were doing or where you were when you first heard of the terrorist attacks?  I do.  It was a beautiful day and tempted as I was to “play hooky”, I did go into the office that day. I had just finished checking my calendar and replying to emails, when another manager called  to tell me a plane flew into  the WTC.  Though it was tragic, I remember not feeling  alarmed—it just seemed like another terrible  accident--a small plane out of control, or a suicidal prop pilot--it happened before.  It wasn’t till the second plane hit, and then the third and then the fourth that any of us realized what was really happening  Someone in my office brought up a radio and we listened as the towers collapsed.  Most of us holding our hands to our mouths and sucking in our breath so that we wouldn’t cry out in horror.

I doubt any of us actually got any work done that day.  Our office was unusually quiet and subdued.  At noon, my boss’s wife called to tell him that one of the pilots on Flight 11 was their neighbor—a nice guy who loved to drive his John Deere around his small 5 acre farm.   I suggested we lower the US Flag and the company flags in the front parking lot to half mast and later when I left work for the day I saw that someone had done it. 

Things changed in America that day.   It’s no longer easy to check in for a flight or easy to get a drivers license or credit card or even open a bank account.  That’s the price we pay for 9/11 and I’m OK with that.

But what about the other things that 9/11 brought about?  That night we all  counted our blessings when our loved ones came home and called those that lived far away and told them what so many others never got the chance to say,  “I love you”.  I once was shy about expressing such emotion but 9/11 changed that forever and I never hesitate now.

The terrorists thought they were successful, they celebrated in their part of the world—how foolish they were if they thought they had succeeded in causing chaos, fear and anti-government sentiment here.   Instead they created unity--Americans rallied, we thumbed our noses at them by flying our flags everywhere from our car antennas and pick up trucks and we carried on.

I will never forget that day, I will never forget the loss or the victory---I hope you won’t either.


Monday, August 29, 2011

The Aftermath

Thank you for your comments and concern.  Thankfully Irene blew through here without causing too much havoc and headed for parts unknown, never to return.  There seemed to be a lot more hype about this storm than was necessary but I guess after Hurricane Katrina, no state government wants to come under fire again for its lack of preparation or response.

The lights flickering on and off lasted most of yesterday, then about 3 o’clock they did their final “flickering” and stayed out for good.  I wasn’t really concerned because  I had done such a good job of preparing.  I had candles, food, water, flashlights, cell phone, reading material, hand sewing projects and even a radio.

The only thing that I didn’t prepare for was being able to cook---I forgot to cover the gas grill and it got so wet from the torrential downpours that I couldn’t light it. :(

The power did come back on about 3:00 am this morning but so did everything else that had been left on, LOL.  It took me a good half hour to run around and shut off the lights and appliances and reset clocks on all of the appliances! 

I am grateful to have power again so quickly.  I know there are still many that don’t.  My sister is one of them. 

This morning I was expecting a lot of trees down on the way to work but there wasn’t any damage to see.  I have a feeling that all the bad storms and power outages we’ve had in the last couple of years since the ice storm of 2008 have thinned out the weak and sick trees. They’re usually the ones that topple first.  This is the worst destruction that I came across on my commute, and it’s my road.




Sunday, August 28, 2011

Goodnight Irene

Irene has been downgraded to a tropical storm but she’s still packing a punch and giving us a good whipping, even here 40 miles from the NH coast.  

My lights have flickered on and off twice and I’ve decided to turn off my sewing machine after a morning of playing around with some new designs.  It’s a good idea to always have your machine hooked up to a surge suppressor, especially if it’s a computerized model.  You should also read the warranty that came with your machine.  You’ll find that most of the warranties only cover  the electronics for five years!  I don’t think that’s a very long time when I’ve had my Viking 6570 for over 30 years.  It’s probably the most expensive item to repair also.

Not sure how much longer I’ll have power because in the last half hour, we’ve had some pretty big gusts and it’s the noise that was the scariest part—sounds like a locomotive roaring by. 

So I’ll say “Goodnight and good riddance” to Irene now, in case I’m offline for the next couple of days!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hoping for the best

So many people in the path of Irene.  Most of my family lives in that path on the South Shore of Boston, Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard but they’re safe, thankfully. Those that live in coastal areas have evacuated to higher, safer ground.  They’ve done what’s needed, they’re prepared and now it’s just the wait.

But how do you evacuate a beloved beach house?  The beach house of my friend Sandy is in a very vulnerable area prone to flooding and has endured many hurricaines and major storms in it’s 125 years— Hurricane Carol in ‘54, the blizzard of ‘78, Gloria in ‘85, and Bob in ‘91.

It’s a beach house that has seen several generations of children grow up in this family.  Cousins and grandchildren come each summer weekend with their parents to spend a day at the beach with their aunts, uncles and friends—boogey boarding in the waves, building sand castles and finding shells and seagull feathers  to show the adults, later standing excitedly in line for snow cones.  Their pictures adorn the walls of the beach house and tell the story of it’s history and theirs.

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Each of the bedrooms has a name:  The Blue Room, Gert’s Room, The Fisherman’s Room, The Chimney room and Edie’s Room.  Named for what the room is or who’s room it once was.   Sandy's Room

It’s not a fancy beach house, the walls are not insulated and there’s no central heat. There’s also no insuance.  It’s just too cost prohibitive to insure an 1885 building  that’s only used for 3 months in summer and  located in a flood zone but like a cat, the beach house seems to have nine lives and survives.  Even an anonymous arson attempt that destroyed the building next door and sent burning sparks onto it’s roof failed to destroy it.

I’m just praying it’s still got a few more of those lives left.

Letting go and moving on to grilled pizza!

Since I went back to work in April I’ve been struggling to keep up. Maybe some of you know where I’m coming from and can relate--the house, yard work, garden, bill paying, paperwork, errands, family, friends, community and commitments, it’s left little time for anything else.

I didn’t plan on this job turning permanent or being so all consuming—but those are good things, right?  With the economy in shambles and so many still unemployed, it would be selfish of me not to be grateful for the good fortune of finding a job with such potential for growth.

I hate disappointing anyone and “No” has never been a word I’ve been comfortable using when I’ve been asked to help out (a psychologist would probably have a lot to say about that).  I’m also a “recovering” procrastinator which means I’ve sometimes had to stay up till 3:00 AM to finish projects that had deadlines.  That was “OK”  while I was unemployed because I could steal a cat nap during the day, but I doubt I’d be able to come up with  a plausible explanation to my boss, if I did that at work. 

What’s really painful for me, is admitting that I can’t finish something that I started and having to give it back unfinished or pass it along to someone else partially complete. I feel a bit like a failure or a fraud.

So this past month, I’ve been having some serious conversations with “SELF” about what I can reasonably achieve in the limited time I have available outside of work and still feed myself and wear clean clothes.  The net result of these “heart to hearts”is that some of my leisure time activities have to be shelved and put on the back burner, at least for the present—maybe indefinitely. 

In order to do this, I had to make a list of the things that I’m unwilling to give up  with a scale of 1 to 10 based on their value and importance to the quality of my life,   Don’t worry---blogging made one of the top spots on the list!  So did sewing/quilting and gardening though I’m going to scale back a bit on gardening.

Some of the things that I’m shelving, I will miss but in the long view  they are not adding enough enjoyment for the amount of time that I allot to them and are cluttering up my life and my space and possibly holding me back from achieving more in my other areas of interest.

I feel good about the decisions I’ve made because I know I’ll now have more time to devote to the pursuits I really care about and I’ll be able to share more with all of you too!

So now on to grilled pizza!

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I started making grilled pizza a couple of years ago.   I can remember why too—I’d picked up some pizza dough at the supermarket on a humid Friday night on the way home from work because my daughter and a friend were here for the weekend. After being closed up all day the house was just too hot and humid to turn on the oven.  

This pizza comes out delicious.  If you like thin crust pizza, flatbread pizza or anything other than deep dish you will LOVE, LOVE this pizza.

I should first tell you that I  use my gas grill just about everyday during the summer and fall and even in winter.  Heck the only time I haven’t used my grill is during a nor’easter! 

So here’s how to make grilled pizza.  Once you make this, you’ll never settle for any other kind.  It’s FAST too.

Grilled Pizza Ingredients: 

  • Gas grill
  • Pizza dough, either homemade or store bought.  (I buy a brand called “Portsmouth Pie Company” at my supermarket).  My favorite is whole wheat.  It should be room temperature for best results
  • Olive oil for brushing or make ahead garlic oil (see recipe that follows)
  • Pizza Sauce – any kind, jarred is fine, you can use left over spaghetti sauce.   I’ve also used Alfredo sauce for white pizza and mixed BBQ sauce with tomato sauce for BBQ chicken pizza.
  • Any toppings you like—Fresh tomatoes from the garden, leftover veggies, spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, grilled eggplant, turkey pepperoni, leftover sausage meat, shredded cheese, leftover chicken, fresh mozzarella, goat cheese,
1) Preheat your  grill, if you have a top shelf, heat it to medium high, if you don’t have an upper shelf on your grill, light only one side or burner.  Spray the grill with PAM or brush with olive oil.    Close the cover of the grill and let it get hot.   One note here—make sure your grill racks are clean or whatever is stuck to them will be on the pizza, hopefully it will taste good.
2) Divide the ball of dough into four parts.  This will make four good sized individual pizzas.  You can refrigerate any dough that you don’t want to use up to 3 or 4 days (I wouldn’t go longer than that before using it up).
3) Shape the four pieces of dough into a ball and brush very lightly with olive oil and let them sit for about five to ten minutes to rest.  After that roll the dough out onto a plastic cutting board (mine is about 10” x 13”) so you can pick it up and put it on the grill.  Shape it into a rectangle as best you can with a rolling pin or your hands.   If it “fights” you, give it a short rest and repeat shaping till you have a pretty even thickness.  Brush it lightly with olive oil and let it rest another five minutes.
4) Now carry the cutting board to the grill and carefully peel the dough off the board and place it onto the top grill rack with the oil side down.  You still have a few seconds to pull/ push reshape it if it didn’t come off the board perfectly—this is a rustic pizza anyway so don’t OCD about the shape. 
5) If you don’t have an upper rack in your grill, do the same procedure but put the dough opposite the burner that’s lit (indirect grilling). 
6) Close the grill cover and wait 5 to 10 minutes, then using kitchen tongs—check the dough.  You’re only cooking one side at this point—the bottom, so carefully lift to check for grill marks and that the dough can be lifted easily off the grill.  The top should be under done but not doughy. 
7) When the bottom’s done, lift it onto the cutting board and brush the top lightly with oil, then flip it so the grill marks are on top and spread your sauce, seasonings, toppings and cheese onto the pizza crust.   Return it to the bottom grill rack.  Reduce the heat or turn off the opposite burner and close the grill.  Check every five minutes.   My grill takes about 15 to 20 minutes to cook the pizza using only one burner and indirect heat. 

Garlic Oil

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves, separated, peeled and smashed.

Place garlic in a sauce pan with EVOO and heat on medium till tiny bubbles form around the pieces of garlic.  Watch carefully if garlic starts to brown, reduce heat,  garlic should just simmer for seven to ten minutes.  Remove from heat and cool.  Pour into an air-tight jar and store in the fridge for up to a week.  Yum, yum—use in salads, brush on veggies before grilling, use for garlic toast.  It’s wonderful.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Indian PIpes!

Just thought I’d share some pictures of Indian Pipes (Monotropa uniflora). I found blooming in the woods the other day.  Have you ever seen this unusual flower?  Believe it or not, it’s related to blueberries! 

It’s translucent white sometimes tinged pink and often has black spots. The reason for the lack of color is because it doesn’t have chlorophyll (non-photosynthetic). It grows in rich dense woods where little light hits the forest floor.  Even though it’s bizarre looking, It’s a true flower with leaves, sepals and petals but it’s also a parasite feeding off of beneficial micorrhyzal fungi that grow in the soil.

It’s common name refers to it’s resemblance to the clay pipes used by early Native Americans.  It’s beautiful and ethereal and looks as if it’s made out of glass. 

This is why I love walking in the woods —you just never know what magic you’ll find.

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Saturday, August 6, 2011


I like August even better than June or July.  I know some people sadly see it as the last month of summer but to me it’s a quiet month.  A month for sitting under a tree and reading a new book, and later sitting outside on my deck to watch the stars come out just because the night sky is beautiful this month. 

All but the very latest perennials and annuals have come into bloom, most are past peak and have stopped making new growth.  We gardeners almost have the month off.   With the exception of watering and deadheading, there’s little to do now but harvest veggies and listen to the crickets and tree frogs--even the lawn has slowed down its growth and needs less cutting.

The coneflowers, liatris and cleomes are the stars of my garden this week along with rudbeckia and Russian sage.  The Autumn Joy sedum is all budded up and those pansies I told you about that have been on vacation are eager for me to let them start blooming but I’ve been pinching them back.

Wild flowers are adorning the roadsides, empty lots and fields.  Queen Anne’s lace is a favorite of mine.   This is also a good time to hunt for Monarch butterflies—look for milk weed plants—that weed that everyone seems to hate but butterflies love.  When you find a plant, check for caterpillars and adults laying eggs.

I fertilized my roses last weekend and I’m hoping for maybe one or two more flushes of blooms before the end of September.  Roses love water—not wet feet—just lots of water, so make sure your roses get a good soaking at least once a week, twice when the weather is really dry.  Keep water off the leaves.  I water mine in a big circle around them to avoid black spot and mildew.

Newly planted (this year or late last fall) shrubs and trees need to be watered well once a week.  Depending on the size of the shrub or tree that’s 2 to 5 gallons of water a week.

Now’s the time to wash out a couple of peanut butter jars, fill them with soapy water and give them to your kids  with a popsicle stick.  Tell them you’ll give them a penny for every Japanese beetle that they pick or scrape  off your plants and drown in the jar.  This is so much better than using a chemical spray or a pheromone trap.   In fact, the best thing you can do with those expensive traps that attract the beetles is to give them to your neighbor.

I can tell you firsthand that several years of drowning Japanese beetles has drastically reduced the number of grubs in my lawn and beetles on my rose bushes and shrubs without the use of pesticides!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

And the winner is…..

I’m glad that you liked the butterfly.  Someone guessed that I was giving away a butterfly die set for the Accuquilt Go.   Sorry.  I don’t even own an Accuquilt product but I have been experimenting with the Photoshop Elements program that came with my laptop and I have to say it has a ton of amazing photo editing capabilities.  I can see a lot of potential there for adding some neat design effects to to my blog but I need to play with it more.

So are you ready for the surprise?   Remember last week I said to think “hot, hot, hot”?

Like this….








and you already know about this…Blogiversary Give-away 002







and you’ve seen the butterfly…but did you guess what it was?








So, let’s get to the big reveal and  congratulations to “REGAN” the winner of the Fairy Gardener’s first Blog-a-versary give-away.  Regan, please email me your mailing address.  I’m so excited for you! 

Many thanks to all of you for celebrating with me.  It’s been a great year and I have so much more to share with you in the future and lots of neat ideas for gardening and sewing.   I just need the TIME to share them, LOL.

Regan, cast your eyes on your prize.   Don’t these fabrics just shout summer---hot, hot, hot and cool, cool, cool! Just like the sunny days and cool nights of a summer in New England.

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Sneak Peak at Give-away Bonus!

Yup, today is the last day to enter my one-year blog-a-versary “Give-away”, so if you haven’t left a comment, you still have till 7PM tonight when I’ll select the winner and reveal the bonus surprise.   Till then, here’s a sneak peak!



Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Don’t Forget…Tomorrow Night is Give-away night!

I work tomorrow so when I get home I’ll do the BIG REVEAL and show evveryone the SURPRISE PART OF THE GIVE-AWAY! AND THEN I’LL DRAW A NAME AT 7PM!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summer Replacement

I swear every spring that I won’t buy pansies that will end up being a “throw-away” item when the weather heats up and yet I still buy them. It’s hard to resist the new colors that seem to pop up every year in the garden centers as soon as the snow melts off the  plant tables and once I smell the fragrance of pansies…I cave.

This year I bought a flat of “coordinated” colors ranging from a soft burgundy to a pale apricot.  They were lovely in the hanging basket between the garage doors and in the terra cotta pot at the foot of the walkway but once the  hot weather hit…they went south, lol.  I cut off all of the blooms and arranged them in a clear glass rose bowl and enjoyed their loveliness indoors for a few days along with their scent.

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 Instead of sending the spent pansies to the recycle bin (compost pile), like I would normally do.  I gave them a severe haircut (think flat top), a couple of shots of organic fertilizer and moved them to the shady side of the house for their “summer vacation”. 

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As you can see from the picture above, they look pretty sad but over the summer, I’ve been making sure they get watered and fertilized regularly, and occasionally pinching back some of the taller growth to get them nice and bushy again.  I’ve even been pulling off the flower buds that have started to reappear so that the plants will put their energy into growing thicker, lusher stems and leaves.  When cooler temps return and their summer replacements are done, the cold-loving pansies will take center stage again blooming well into late fall and early winter.

So what is the summer replacement…

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Garden 2011 057I love the look of coconut fiber baskets and have several different sizes.   I have a large 12-inch  basket for between the garage doors and  I planted it with “Blueberry Ice” petunias mixed with “Royal Purple” verbena, white verbena, white allysum and white petunias.  All of them with the exception of the blueberry ice petunias are “Proven Winner” varieties. 

It’s not difficult to make your own hanging container but it takes a couple of weeks before it will fill out and look as good as the ones that you can buy right off the rack so to speak, of course you’ll pay a pretty penny for having the work done for you and you won’t have as many color/combo options either.   

In my area you can spend a small fortune buying a beautiful hanging basket and I’ve seen some go for as much as $75.00 depending on the size of the pot and what plants used.  Mine cost me a grand total of $13.98 and the best part is, I can reuse the wire basket and compost the coconut fiber lining and not add another plastic pot to the landfill.  Here’s the cost breakdown:

  • wire plant basket $6.99 at Big Lots several years ago
  • coconut fiber liner $1.00 at Dollar Tree
  • potting soil – had on hand (I buy this in bulk) $2.00 worth
  • 4” pot “Blueberry Ice” petunia – FREE give-away from a garden club guest speaker
  • 4” pot “Royal Purple” verbena – $2.99 – local garden center
  • 6” pot Mixed White Annual Assortment (Proven Winners) from Big Box Garden Center- $7.99

I water hangers EVERYDAY unless it rains and I fertilize my outside planters weekly during the summer with liquid organic fertilizer “tea” (Neptune’s Harvest).  This is a lot of fertilizing but with five or six plants in one container you have to feed often.  The roots will fill the pot first before the top growth kicks in and takes off and that accelerated growth depletes all of the nutrients in the potting soil in a matter of a couple of weeks.   If you use a granulated fertilizer like “Osmacote” you only need to add it once when you plant your container and it will continue to release fertilizer over the course of the summer.

Both petunias and verbena love the hot weather but do need to be deadheaded every couple of days and pinched back when they start to get spindly looking.   Don’t be afraid to prune annuals back hard when they get floppy and stringy.  If they really look awful after a bad haircut, move them into a protected spot and continue to water and fertilize till they bounce back which is usually in a week or two.  

Don’t forget about the give-away this week!   There’s an extra surprise in store for the winner!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cooling off!

This past week has been brutal….I rushed home from work every night so that I could make sure and soak the garden good but even so, there was a lot of wilting going on and not just outside either.

My daughter came up Friday night to visit for the weekend both of us were really beat from a long work week and the sweltering temps and we both wanted to go someplace cold and wet. 

Sitting in the sun all day at Hampton Beach, just didn’t have the same appeal it usually does so we decided Saturday morning to drive up to Zealand Falls and hike to the waterfalls that we’ve visited before but Carolyn read the wrong directions in my hiking guide and we found ourselves in Lincoln, NH at the trailhead for Franconia Falls.  We had gotten a late start and it was already nearly 4PM—too late to turnaround and head for Zealand Falls which is at the end of the White Mountain National Forest so after talking briefly to the park ranger who told us it was a flat hour and a half hike to the Franconia falls, we decided to give it a try since neither of us had been on this trail before.

We walked along an old logging railroad bed that followed the Pemigawasset for most of the way.  I wouldn’t categorize this as a hike because most of the distance was flat with a slight climb at the end to the falls, unlike the  Zealand Falls trail which is vertical for the entire hike.  It took us about a little over an  hour to walk the 4 miles to the falls and even though the trail is heavily wooded, we were still hot and sweaty when we reached the end.  Which made the cold mountain water at the falls feel all the more refreshing!  

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Help Me Celebrate with A Give-Away!

This give-away is now closed.  Thank you for for stopping by.

TODAY is my one-year “BLOGIVERSARY”!   My first post was made on July 21st, 2010.   I can hardly believe it’s been a whole year since that first nervous post.  I worried that no one would be interested in reading what I had to say about gardening and quilting or whether I would be able to come up with new things to write about.   Back then my goal was to write at least once a month and while sometimes I’ve exceeded that goal, there have been some dry spells too but what I feared most—running out of topics—hasn’t happened and  I still have lots of  ideas and information that I hope to share with you in the future.

Up until last July I had only ever followed ONE blog myself, knew very  little about blogging and struggled with the mechanics of adding pictures and “gadgets”—what were those? I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers  and  I have  been lead to some wonderful blogs that I follow and even have followers of my own.

My last give-away was several months ago  when I celebrated my 50th post by giving away a stack of fat quarters.  This time, I’ve decided to give away something garden-related.  So I’m offering a wonderful book called “Month By Month Gardening in New England” written by Jacqueline Heriteau and Holly Hunter Stonehill.

Blogiversary Give-away 002This 383 page paperback book is packed full of suggestions for each month as well as sections called “Did You Know” which feature hints and projects. It includes eleven plant categories from annuals to water and bog plants, charts and lists for trees, shrubs, companion Blogiversary Give-away 003plants, summer bulbs, fall bulbs, tips for drying herbs and flowers, thinning vegetables, how to deal with bugs, prune roses, lawn care and maintenanc, organic alternatives, how to stake perennials properly, the language of flowers and what they mean…..and on and on.   Blogiversary Give-away 005

Don’t be deterred from entering just  because this wonderful  book targets New England---the information inside is relative to any area of the country, because it’s written in almanac style.  For instance, when I’m reading the planning ideas for March, you may be reading the planning ideas for April or May if you happen to live in the mid-Atlantic or southern half of the US.Blogiversary Give-away 004

Oh, and did I mention there will also be a surprise included with the give-away?   The “surprise” will be disclosed once the winner has been chosen by random number drawing.  Here’s a hint….think hot, hot, hot just like the temps around the country this week!

So to enter the drawing, leave a comment about what is in bloom in your garden right now.  If you don’t have a garden you can still leave a comment telling me what summer sewing or craft project you’re working on.

This give-away will last till Thursday, July 28th at 7PM.  Winner will be announced then.   Good luck!