improv quilting

happy fall

It’s fall and I’ve been having a hard time embracing the change in season since we have been in the middle of a heat wave for weeks. I always forget that here in southern California fall means hot, dry wind. But I’m doing my best to hunker down and find the joy that fall has to offer.

Inspired by my crafty friend, I have been playing around with crazy quilting a mug rug. It’s a lot of fun and the perfect project to pick up and put down throughout the day, whenever I have a few minutes.

1-IMG_3571

I’ve also been doing some hand quilting on this small quilt that has been languishing for a couple years now. I am hoping to turn this into a wall hanging for the master bedroom. I want to hang it over the bed, since I am afraid that anything I hang there might come down in an earthquake. But a nice, soft quilt? That would be okay.

1-IMG_3583

And I unearthed the knitting needles and started on a Prayer Shawl that will be donated to my church. I love the color so much and I hope that it will bring some peace and comfort to someone in their time of need.

1-IMG_3636

I adore fall colors and have been enjoying them everywhere. We may not get the gorgeous fall foliage they do in New England, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy the beautiful colors of fall.

1-IMG_3578

1-IMG_3665

This is also the time of year for us to get out into the yard and start the post-summer clean-up. Hubby and I spent an unprecedented child-free day doing just that. It’s amazing what a little TLC in the yard can do.

1-IMG_3645

1-IMG_3649

1-IMG_3651

But don’t worry, it wasn’t all work and no play. We treated ourselves to lunch in a charming nearby town. It was fun to reconnect and remember who we were before we had children.


1-IMG_3595

1-IMG_3594

1-IMG_3602

I hope you are embracing fall (or spring) wherever you are!

improv quilting

in the garden

Early in the morning, I like to drink my coffee outside, in the garden. Only the other day, when I sat down, I realized that the garden really needed a little love and attention.17 garden 117 garden 217 garden 3

Overgrown and overrun with weeds is not a good place to be going into summer. The spring is when we really get the gardens in shape, both flower and vegetable. Somehow spring has gotten away from me.

Conveniently, we had a sports-free day on Saturday and the hubby, boys, and I got out there and got to work. An hour or so of weeding and mulching makes such a difference. There is is still a lot to do, but at least the part that I see when I sit out in the morning and evening looks a lot better!
17 garden after 217 garden after 417 garden after 5

Still a little overgrown, but I like it. It reminds me of an English cottage garden.17 garden after 6

What is growing in your garden?

improv quilting

a walk with teddy

Since I started working out at the gym, poor Teddy hasn’t gotten quite as many walks. And because of the heat, we’ve been staying in a bit more. But this morning, I headed out with Teddy before the heat set in and took along my new camera.

15 teddy15 waterfall15 waterfall 215 lantana15 pink 215 purple15 daylilly15 stone wallI hope you are enjoying your day, wherever you are.

 

improv quilting

coffee and friends

I am lucky enough to have a lovely, creative neighbor right down the street from me who makes the loveliest art. Here is a tiny example of a card she made me, inviting me over for coffee this morning.

7card

A latte, and a homemade apple cherry scone were waiting form me when I arrived. All on this adorable handmade tea mat. It was a lovely visit, full of ideas for her sweet little girl’s birthday party tomorrow. I have never had the privilege of having a friend that is also a neighbor. She is also my first in real-life friend who likes to sew and craft, so that is an endless topic of conversation.

7 coffee

The garden is sadly neglected, but if you look hard enough (and crop closely), there are little pockets of beauty and evidence of spring everywhere.
7 birdbath

7 flowers

We need to get out and plant the vegetable garden, but it is not going to happen this weekend. I hope you are stopping to find beauty wherever you are.

 

improv quilting

in the kitchen

Some fun things happening in the kitchen this week.

First off the Husband and I finally got around to canning some jalepenos. We grew these in the garden- a strange variety- they are quite large and red! We used this recipe, which we have used with success for the last couple of years. This year, because the jalepenos were so big, we cut them into rings. I found a water bath canner at a thrift store last year, and it made the water bath part so much easier. In the past we have just rigged up our pasta pot for the water bath. What a difference the proper equipment makes!


Also happening in the kitchen this week was an apple crisp and some avocado chocolate pudding to take over to a friend’s house for a delightful lunch (she made a wonderful portabello pizza).

The pudding, from the 30 Day Vegan workshop, is just an avocado, cocoa powder, maple syrup, and vanilla all blended together in a food processor. Amazingly good! I even fooled my two non-avocado-loving children into eating it. Boy 1 was licking the bowl clean when Boy 2 (avocado lover) and I broke the news to him that it was really made with avocados. You should have seen the look on his face!

And the ever-present Wheatberry Salad, a staple in this house. It encompasses everything I love about whole-foods eating.

I think that next week I’m going try my hand at bread making again. It is something that I have aspired to for a long time, but have been able to work it into my daily/weekly rhythm.

Have a lovely weekend!

improv quilting

weekending

Enjoying the last weeks of summer here.

~ picking tomatoes, picking tomatoes, picking tomatoes- they are really kicking in now!

~ enjoying the huge batch of pico de gallo and guacamole the Husband made to use up some of said tomatoes

~ making tomato salads a couple times a day

~ cleaning out/sprucing up the pantry and refrigerator in anticipation of the 30 Day Vegan workshop (more on this later)

~ taking some boys fishing to finish off their Fishing Merit badge for Boy Scouts

~ helping the boys (and Husband) pack and get ready for their backpacking adventure tomorrow

~ planning what the Girl and I are going to do while the boys are away

~ thinking that I need to get back to Boy 1’s quilt and get started on the quilt back

~ wondering where this summer went

improv quilting

perfect summer lunch

Nothing is easier or more delicious than a simple summer salad for lunch.  Cherry tomatoes and basil from the garden, little mozzarella balls from Trader Joe’s (called Ciligene at TJ’s), a splash of olive oil, salt and pepper.  Putting it on a plate is optional.  Yum.

I am enjoying fresh mozzarella with tomatoes so much right now, at the height of tomato season.  I guess I’m especially aware of it because in a couple of weeks I am participating in Heather’s wonderful online workshop 30 Day Vegan. Then I will put aside my beloved mozzarella along with all other dairy and meat for 30 days.  I did the workshop back in March and enjoyed it so much.   I learned a lot about clean eating, slowing down, and self-care.  In some ways it like a little month-long retreat.

But for now, I will continue indulging in summertime treats like this tomato mozzarella salad, and loving it.

improv quilting

scenes from the garden

First tomatoes of the season

We got a bit of late start on the garden this year, so we are just starting to get tomatoes.  After a few disappointing years with tomatoes, we planted them in a new spot this year.  Wow! They are looking great!  We were having some trouble with tomato bugs, but a quick online search yielded a recipe for pepper spray, an effective, organic solution.  It is basically a spray bottle of water with a few drops of dish soap and cayenne pepper.  It clogged up the bottle a few times, but the Husband eventually got the plants sprayed.  It probably helped that while he was spraying the plants, we found two tomato bugs and eliminated them.  Things are looking much better now.

In addition to the tomatoes, we have a couple of jalapeno plants.  The Husband likes to can those so that we always have jalapenos on hand.  This year they seem to be a different variety, long and skinny.  Isn’t that half the fun with gardening, never quite knowing how it will turn out?  I picked up a large canning pot at a thrift store this year, and I am looking forward to using for the first time with the jalapenos.  We also have a large blackberry bush and a couple of rather pathetic blueberry bushes.  Sadly, the season for both of  those is over.  I think that it is interesting to see that in Maine, blueberry season is just getting going.

The kids always look forward to our bean tepee.  This year I planted it with sugar snap peas.  They love to eat these right off the plant in the backyard.  Unfortunately, so did a gopher, who devastated the whole plant in about a week.  I am leaving the tepee up to plant sweetpeas, though.  Here in southern California, if you plant sweetpeas in August, theoretically you can have blooms by December and all through the spring.  I’ve done it before, with varying degrees of success, but even if you don’t get Christmas blooms, you can’t beat sweetpeas in the spring.

Always easy and ever useful, is our herb garden.  It is bursting with thyme, oregano and a couple different types of chives.  Our basil plants does better over in the vegetable garden.

herb garden
garden chives in bloom

The flowers are going crazy as well.  I love being able to cut flowers for the yard to bring in the house and summertime is especially plentiful.

purple coneflowers- they come back year after year now
hydrangea- I wish we had more of these

I can’t wait for the sunflowers to bloom, you can actually see them get taller everyday.  We planted them in the hottest spot in the garden, where the tomatoes have been in the past.  They seem quite happy there.

I used to have bigger aspirations for our backyard garden, and certainly in years past we have had larger gardens.  Over time, though, we have figured out what works and what we actually eat from our garden and have focused on those things.  This year’s garden reflects that and the reality of the time constraints of having three busy kids

What is happening in your garden?