Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Merry!

Favorite quotes of the day:

"Someday I'm going to surprise you and decorate the tree all by myself (imagine me registering pleased surprise) and I'm going to put every single ornament on (I'm joyfully thinking that he's got Real Christmas Spirit at last) and they'll all be right together!" proclaimed adult son #2  as he held his hands showing about six inches square, knowing that he really had me going there for a bit.  Hey, at least he kept me company while I finally decorated the tree early Christmas morning.  And he made me a delicious bowl of Apple Spice oatmeal for breakfast.
 

"Something that I've learned about your mother is that she never thinks there are enough ornaments on the tree," said my husband to aforesaid son. I promptly informed both of them that it's been over a decade since Every Single Ornament We Own has appeared on a Christmas tree at the same time.  Which is my way of admitting I'm guilty as charged.

 
"Wow, these Legos are older than I am!" marvelled my nephew as he opened a pack from Santa.  The nephew is a teenager and the pack was dated 1989.  The Queen Mother has a history of misplacing gifts which is apparently genetic.  My kids shake their heads at my forgetfulness but I have every expectation that they've inherited the same gene.  Although they do favor their dad so maybe the Forgetful Gene stops with me and there will be whole generation deprived of vintage Legos in original packing.

Another Christmas has come and gone, bringing memories of times past and creating new stories to tell.  Each Christmas with its own character, each to be enjoyed and cherished.

Happy Christmas to all and to all a Good Night.

Bring joy,

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Vintage Ornament Wreath

I made a good start on my latest Christmas obsession.



I've been drooling over wreaths like the one below from BHandG on Pinterest for the past year or so.  It's almost a yard across and the ornaments are glued on.  It's gorgeous but how does one store such a beast?  Happily there are other ways of making them.

I've been diligently collecting vintage glass ornaments from yard and rummage sales all summer. Not only did I score some old Shiny Brites in their original box, but I found some oldies like these blue carolers and the green and gold flowered balls in the background.

 
I found that the simplest way to make one is also completely reversible.  Which means that I bent a white wire coathanger around my spaghetti pot to create a round shape, then strung my five boxes of thrifted glass ornaments.  I secured the coathanger and used the hook to hang it.  And when it's time to store it, I'll simply unstring the ornaments, replace them in their boxes so they can't break and tuck my trusty coathanger in the same bin.

Turns out I really need a sixth box to cover the last six inches of wire--so the wreath is temporarily hung from a wall sconce.  I'll either stop by the Goodwill in my spare time, cannibalize our regular tree ornaments or add a large bow and leave the wreath unfinished until next Christmas while I collect another six inches of ornaments.

I'm leaning towards option three since there are only nine crafting days before the Big Day and I am loving the sparkle it brings to Mrs. Santa's workshop.  Hopefully Mrs. Santa can stop admiring it and commence some serious holiday present-making now that she has wreath-making out of her system.

Bring joy!
 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sleeping Bag Upgrade


At our cottage, if you put away the Halloween crows in witch hats because you're currently focused on velvet pumpkins, you'll probably start thinking about Christmas projects. And you'll remember the rocking horse that your dad gave your son decades ago and think how sweet it would be for your son's daughter to use it.  And probably you'll realize that the rocking horse is stored in the basement. And you'll go to bed.

The next day you'll wake up thinking that it might be fun to repaint the rocking horse which used to be a dapple grey with a black mane and tail.  And as you walk by the door to the basement (where the rocking horse is stored), you'll realize that a sleeping bag still needs to be put way.  And you might as well do it now since you'd like to get the rocking horse out now, well before the holidays, so you can have it ready as a special gift for the littlest grand-daughter.

But you'll look at the sleeping bag and feel your skin crawl as you remember how hot and twitchy the bag felt when you used it during the quilt show/Fall Fest/slumber party.


Because you've never been cold since peri-menopause hit, and synthetics and memory foam give you the hot flash heebie-jeebies.  Plus the whole University of California color scheme hasn't ever done it for you even if yellow is your favorite color.  And then you'll remember the floral fabric you saw in the linen closet that morning when you changed the sheets.



A brief digression:  fabric lives in the stash, this one floral alone is in the linen closet because during the summer you throw in on the (nylon) carpet when you sleep under the window if the bed gets too hot.  Resuming.

Inspiration hits:  six feet of fabric that's just barely misses being ugly plus a bag that needs a cotton lining equals an impromptu project.  Because it's a three-day weekend and you don't have anything else really important nagging at you.

So you unroll and unzip the sleeping bag to lie flat and realize that the floral fabric is long enough but just a bit too narrow.  You think to yourself that there might be some eighties-era hand-me-down fabric in the stash that won't be used for anything else.


So you'll sew them together knowing that the seam can be on the top of the bag so you won't have to lie on it. And really how could a seam be worse than the slick feel of the poly bag anyway? Sometimes rolling with it and not overthinking is a really good idea.  You'll sew the cotton onto the bag using the longest and quickest machine stitch and the bobbin thread will magically last through the entire project, which never happens.

Then you'll decide to tie the layers together using some variegated blue embroidery thread which you know you'll never use but will match the cover, using the needles you bought at Bird Brains during the quilt show because Aunt Bette (K.C.'s aunt, not mine) said they were good for embroidery and her word is law.  Thirty knots later you're finished.  And the bag rezips without any cloth getting caught in the zipper so it's all good.

You now have a sleeping bag that you are looking forward to using at the next quilt get-together and during the summer and you didn't have to buy anything plus you used up some of your stash so win-win-win. 


I don't know if you meticulously plan your days or your projects, but serendipity is a good thing around here.  You've followed your whims on a chore that has nothing to do with any holiday and won't get used for another eight months or so but it's DONE and the sleeping bag gets rolled up and stored in the basement, and the rocking horse that started the whole process is unearthed and awaiting her makeover. 

Then you preview your post and see the original velvet pumpkins you made in your header and realize you should upgrade that tute since you've evolved some new twists on attaching the stems...

And they lived happily, if somewhat distractedly, ever after.  The End.

Bring joy,
 
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Thursday, October 31, 2013

October Thirty-first

Ah, my pretty, we've been waiting for you to drop by.
We've saved some special treats for you.

Don't let the zombie scare you away.
  He's just cranky from eating too many candy brains.  Kinda like the kindergartners will be tomorrow.  That's much scarier than any zombie apocalypse.

Our pumpkins get tricked out fancier every year, but this is one jack o'lantern pattern I won't be repeating--it was the hardest one I've ever attempted even though it was rated Moderate instead of Challenging.  I mighta kinda sorta winged it after I'd transferred the pattern when I couldn't figure out if the dots were to the eyes, mouth or hair.
It did come out cute though. 

Cute is allowable on All Hallow's Eve, right?

Speaking of cute, I can never decide which I like more: the little toddlers in costume (naturally I gave milk chocolate to the one in the sweet cow costume) or the middle schoolers (twins who were in my class many moons ago) who are still having fun dressing up and going door-to-door.  I know some folks think the big kids should stay home but the operative word for me is "kids".  I think we should all enjoy every bit of childhood while we can!  

Maybe I'm just a grown-up kid at heart, said the girl who dressed up like Dorothy, ruby slippers and Toto included.

(No maybe about it, actually.)

I hope you enjoyed your trick-or-treaters as much as we did.  And that you have enough candy left for you to enjoy, but not so much that you regret your lack of self-control.

Bring joy,

Saturday, October 26, 2013

My New Halloween Wallhanging or the "I Need A New Camera" Post

Black Friday can't come soon enough for me!

Not that I want Christmas to arrive any faster than usual...but I really need a new camera.  Need not want,  NEED!  Really!

But behold, Exhibit A:  The former Monster quilt in all its hideous orangeousity.
 
Kinda sorta mostly in focus (I forgot to tell you put on your sunglasses before viewing).


And Exhibit B:  The New and Greatly-Improved Monster wallhanging. Only the front is sewn but it's hangable.  And before Halloween too!
 

But is there any focus-ness going on in this photo at all, people?  And this IS the edited version with as much sharpening as I could get.

Sigh.  My lens is permanently stuck open.  The camera might focus (or it might not, depending on its mood).

It's frustrating.  I've been productive throughout the summer and fall, but haven't been able to document my accomplishments.  Have you seen any more of the wedding projects of which I'm extremely proud?  Of course not--missed the boat on those. Thank you so much, Ms. Camera, I really had a special use for those that might relate to what I want to be when I grow up.

In short, Mrs. Santa has been combing the early Black Friday ads looking for an affordable steal of a new point-and-shoot.  I'll be reading reviews and doing a hands-on trial beforehand.  And saving my nickels and dimes.

Hang in there, people.  Help is on the way thanks to the Black Friday elves!  Golly, regular posting again complete with photos that are worth looking at.  Insert Big Smile here!

Bring Joy,


p.s. I just now stepped back from hanging Monsters2 above the mantel and did a little happy dance. All the colors play so nicely with the rest of the autumn decor. It's a keeper!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Saying A Not-So-Fond Farewell to a Wallhanging

How do you define hot mess?  Let me give you a hint.

I made a Halloween quilt to display over the mantel.  I used an extraordinarily-flamboyant orange fabric.  And some seasonal black to go with it.  As well as vibrant turquoise.  And purple.  And then I hung it in a room with red-trimmed curtains. What was I thinking?

I don't have one single photo of my mantel with the wallhanging.  I realize how disappointed you must be.  Just know that your eyes are thanking me.  And you won't need counseling to overcome your PTSD.

I've hated it every single time I walked by.  For years and years.

I put up all our Halloween decor at the beginning of the month except the obnoxious wallhanging.  I told myself I'd wait until right before All Hallow's Eve so I wouldn't have to look at it for very long. 

Then I realized I had no intention of ever hanging it up again.  Ever ever ever.

No matter how much time, effort and thought go into a project, sometimes it's a failure.  I'm specifically blaming the orange in this case.  It's loud enough that it practically fluoresces in the dark.  I could donate it to a local construction company for their employees' safety vests and I can guarantee that even a driver on a cellphone would avoid them.

On the other hand, last year I grabbed a stack of nice autumnal fabric from my stash and quickly put together a little Halloween gem that I promptly gave away.

 
A small quilted wallhanging that has orange and black and purple--but in lovely mellow October shades.  It lives at my sister's home.


Have you every seen a happier Frankenstein?  He looks like he's waiting for pumpkin muffins to come out the oven.  Totally content.

The difference between the two pieces is kinda like choosing a double espresso before bedtime instead of a cup of warm milk and a cookie. 

Like feeding your toddler all the Halloween candy at one sitting and letting him wash it down with a Coke instead of dipping graham crackers in milk one by one.

Like growing your fingernails extra long to scratch that chalkboard instead of listening to a dove coo. 

Like...well, you get the idea.

Fortunately for me, I'll be at my favorite quilt show this time next week.  And I'll be looking for some fabrics that will play nicely with my family room decor.  Maybe next year, I'll have a Halloween wallhanging that doesn't make me cringe.

Bring joy,
 

Monday, October 07, 2013

Spooky Silhouettes

There's a time to go over to the dark side. My kids are grown and my little neighbors are quite a bit taller than I am, so it's safe to spookify my Halloween decorating a bit.

There will still be benign scarecrows and lurking bats. You might find spiders crawling over orange pumpkins. But this year I'm having fun cutting out these seriously spooky silhouettes for my windows.
 
I copied the templates (Dave Lowe's blog always has inspiring Halloween designs), laid them over some black construction paper and cut away while I was watching Netflix.  I ended up with a blizzard of coal-colored scraps to pick off the carpet, but it was worth it to gain some spooky decor.  I had them laminated for durability.  Yes, it seems silly since construction paper is notorious for fading, but I spent plenty of time cutting them out and I figure that they'll still be provide a nice dark silhouette at night even if they do turn greyish or purply over time.  It's just plain easy to tape them to the window now and you can only see the laminating film if you're really looking hard. 

I have some zombies and other creatures from the netherworld that I'm currently cutting out.

I want to enlarge these to life-size to display in our front windows for All Hallows Eve.  Enlarging them is easy but I haven't figured out how to stabilize them (black butcher paper) since they'll be too big to laminate.  Maybe a clear Contact paper sandwich?  There has to be an answer.  I wonder if I could enlarge them just enough to fit on black poster board?  Hmmm.

Stay tuned.

Bring joy,

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Things I Love - Autumn Edition

I enjoy living in a four-season town. Of course, I love summer the bestest--but there are still plenty of things to love about the other three seasons. Which is lucky because I wouldn't want to hurt their feelings.

So...things I'm currently loving about Autumn:
  • Using the oven again..
  • Pumpkin soup.
  • Chile Chicken Cheese enchiladas.  
  • Not having to think about creative ways to use up ripe peaches for another whole year.
  • Nights cool enough to sleep with a comforter on the bed.
  • A crystalline Lilypad Pond.
  • Baby goldfish unexpectedly appearing in the pond.
  • Noming on golden raspberries every time I use the garden gate.
  • Finding flat stones to replace the river rock gravel around the pond.
  • Embracing a weekly schedule of chores and delighting in how productive I feel.  And how nice the cottage looks.
  • Enjoying our garden and making mental notes for next year.
  • Giving the new Halloween silhouette decorations a whirl.
  • The beginnings of fall color in the maples, oaks and aspens.  Especially aspens.
  • Morning light that's perfect for sewing.
  • An ever-increasing pile of quilt blocks.
  • Decorating the mantel for autumn.
  • Using my upcycled-down (not to be confused with upside-down) pillow forms for the first time.
  • Buying new "teacher" shoes to replace my well-worn and well-loved oldies.
  • The new LED light fixture in our walk-in closet.
  • My newly-reupholstered footstool.
  • Yellow chrysanthemums and purple violas. 
  • Yellow rabbitbrush.
I think autumn is wondrously beautiful in my little corner of the world.

Bring joy,

Sunday, August 18, 2013

My Busy Paintbrush--Wedding Version 1.0

I love weddings!

And since I'm just the helpful aunt I get to enjoy the wedding preparations without stressing about travel arrangements for out-of-town guests and requested microbrews that don't seem to be available. (I'm going on record now that my two boys can just elope and it'll be okay with us and our bank account.)

I love making signs and chalkboards so I volunteered to take on several projects for my lovely niece.  Like these "thank you" signs--take a photo with the bride and groom holding them and you have  perfect, memorable thank you notes.
 
This was based on the Chopin font with a sprinkle of Brock capitals--I used the  same combo for my Meadowsweet Cottage sign.  You know that the partnership is going to go well when the bride chooses one of your favorite fonts!

BTW, she's fabulous at getting her thank-you's out immediately.  I appreciate that great etiquette and I'm happy to help her out.

I have some swirls to add on her Choose a Seat sign and I'll be finished with that.  I had a lightbulb moment about how to transport and assemble the biggest project I took on for the bride and groom.  (Now I just need some dowels and a drill, she said mysteriously. ) And I'll soon have the food and drink menu in hand so I can do the lettering on those with a chalkboard pen.  The end is in sight--good thing, since the wedding is right around the corner!

Bring joy,

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Peaceful August Day

August is such a relaxing time in the garden. The seeding and planting and transplanting and pruning and digging are done.
  
I can settle back and enjoy eating breakfast and lunch by Lilypad Pond.

I wonder when my neighbors' grapes hanging over our fence will be ripe?  
I love fruit that requires no work on my part.

Our volunteer pumpkin plant is pretty low-key too. Although I did prop it up on some old two-by-four pieces to keep it off the wet ground.  And I did have to wrangle the vine itself so it didn't wander all over the lawn when it was in its how-fast-can-it-grow phase.  It's only mid-August and it's plenty large and getting larger in spite of a most impressive hailstorm (see the shredded leaves).

It sprouted (along with some siblings that I culled) from the compost I used to enrich my raised bed last spring.  The Bombshells like old pumpkins and I guess some of the seeds escaped their notice.  As composters, they're pretty good but not perfect.

And if I can ever find the right-sized staples for my staple gun, this little beauty will be finished.

It's coming out nicely. It's part of a roadside rescue and I have no idea of what I'm going to do with it when it's finished.

This footstool was planned and it makes my old easy chair even more perfect than it was before. 

I had just enough leftover fabric and trim from the chair reupholstery to cover it. Oh, how I'm going to enjoy sitting in the winter sunlight with my feet up while sipping hot cocoa.

And here's a glimpse of my extremely high-tech and fancy-shmancy weight room.  I'm hoping all the tricep/bicep curls payoff as muscle by Labor Day.

It doubles as a workbench when I'm jigsawing, sanding or painting. The dogs use it as their preferred lounging/lookout area.

I hope you're enjoying every last delicious summer day too.  Summer is my absolute favoritest season!


 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The New Fridge--Life's Good

When we last left our heroine, she'd bravely made a choice without moaning or groaning more than absolutely necessary.  Let's resume our story as she begins life anew.

I'm adjusting to our new LG refrigerator--now happily ensconced in her cubby.  It's wonderful to have a freezer that freezes!
 
It's the simple pleasures, ain't it?

We bid a fond farewell to our reliable Frigidaire workhorse.  Well, sort of farewell--it's attractively occupying our eating nook right now as we wait for the energy company to come recycle it (and rebate us $50).
 

Fridges that sit in the middle of the room--a decorating trend I'm starting right now.  Remember, you saw it first at Meadowsweet Cottage.  And yes, feel free to Pin It.  Maybe I should slap a watermark on the photo just so I get credit?  On second thought...no.

I'm getting used to the increased width and depth of our newbie quickly.  The height is another kettle of crawdads entirely--the cutting boards which tucked nicely atop the old fridge are still looking for a new home in the kitchen and are currently scattered in three places (the cereal cupboard, the appliance drawer and atop the new beast where I can't reach them).

I confess that the textured surface I was sure I was going to hate is smoother (in a good slippery sense) than I thought. 
 
I'll think positive and hope that cleaning the shallow grooves is easier than I anticipated.  I am VERY glad that we went with the smooth finish on the front though!  And white was definitely the right choice.

I love the French doors although we haven't entirely succeeded yet in figuring out where things should go.  The split shelves inside have allowed us to customize the heights to accommodate two liter bottles and leftover containers.  Plus my guys are enjoying the ease of the deli tray after having to bend way down to access the old cheese shelf.

 
And the narrow drawer between the veggie and fruit drawers has proven ideal for egg storage.  It's probably not designed for that, but it works.  Now that I think of it--what was that lil drawer created to hold?  I think it's funny that our freshly-laid butt fruit (don't you hate it when somebody creates a clever-but-fairly-rude phrase that you just can't purge from your brain) ended up in one of the fruit and vegetable drawers.  Bet the designer didn't see that one coming!

Not that I know where to find my Miracle Whip or his mayo, or if the salad dressing goes in the right or left door yet.  We'll eventually figure out a logical way of organizing things so that we all know where to look and where to put away without standing there with the doors open while we puzzle it out.  I just discovered the butter dish today--I couldn't see it way up high where my sweetie put it (in the butter nook of all places).

The bottom freezer rocks.  My sweetie has a convenient tray for his frozen juice cans which also holds ice packs for migraines, sore muscles and owies.
 
The two drawers make it as easy to organize as my two shelves did but it's definitely easier to find what you want on the bottom of a drawer compared to the back of a shelf!

You can laugh, but our ice cubes now come from an older-than-old double metal Frigidaire ice tray contributed by the Queen Mother. 
 
My family doesn't throw anything away--we just store it until someone else needs it.


It's been an smoother change than I anticipated.  Once I finally made what I thought was the best choice (click the link to enjoy my making a fool of myself just because I was forced to get a new fridge), I just mentally shifted gears and didn't look back.  Now if I could just grow another three inches so I could reach the top... 

LG doesn't know I exist.  Neither does Frigidaire.  But my offer to help them design the perfect refrigerator still stands.

Bring joy,

Monday, May 20, 2013

My Thirty-Four Year Old Fridgidaire...Farewell, Friend

I'm a little fond of our fridge--a Gemco purchase for our first home way back in 1979.  It's lived through two kitchen remodels.  It survived babies and toddlers and teen-aged boys with hollow legs, and two adults with an empty nest. It's outlived our washer (same vintage) and our dishwasher (a whippersnapper by comparison) and two station wagons.
 

Yep, it's been running flawlessly for a long, long time.  Although it now does tend to freeze stuff stuck too far back in the summer.  It might have a barely noticeable dent or two.  The door seal is a bit torn in one area. And a green glo-stick leaked and stained the freezer fluorescent yellow when the kids were small.  And, okay, the meat drawer is a distant memory.  But...basically it's still chugging along.

That's actually the problem.  It's now running 24/7 in an effort to keep the freezer compartment cold, and failing.  Our frozen fruit for smoothies is slightly squishy rather than frozen solid.  Giant sigh.  The day I've been dreading finally arrived.  We need a new refrigerator and I knew I wouldn't find anything I liked as well as our old one.  I was right.  Sometimes I hate being right.

We spent the weekend refrigerator shopping.  Which, let me tell you, is a whole different category than mere appliance shopping, for say, a microwave or range or dishwasher.  Those were relatively easy.  I'd rather spend a day in a room with garter snakes than go refrigerator shopping.  Garter snakes just make me scream and levitate three feet laterally.  Modern refrigerators make me moan, groan, gripe, wail, curse and drive my husband crazy.  Snakes do one thing and do it well.  Refrigerators do over a dozen things but none of them in a combination that suits me.  I'm picky simply practical and unimpressed by bells and whistles.

My Frigidaire is easy to clean.  It's large enough to hold plenty of food and still small enough that it doesn't dominate our kitchen but plays nicely.  I can store my extensive collection of wood cutting boards, my family-sized serving bowls, two recipe boxes and all my metal measuring cups on top and still reach them easily (I'm only five foot two).  Our galley kitchen is small and I use every inch of storage including the refrigerator top.

New fridges are so deep that they either stick out into the room or come at a premium price. They are mostly stainless steel and I'm sooo not a gray person.  New fridges have water dispensers and ice-makers and I need neither.  New. Fridges. Do. Not. Have. Egg. Storage.  Someone apparently circulated a memo regarding eggs being jostled as the door opens and closes.  Seriously, people?  Your store-bought eggs are already probably at least a month old, what possible harm could come from storing them in a nice egg bin in the door?  My eggs seemed to weather frequent door openings and shuttings for thirty-four years with no adverse effects.  I'm just sayin'.
 
Worst of all...the new refrigerators are textured.  Have appliance designers ever cleaned a refrigerator?  Do they all have maids? Do they enjoy scrubbing grease off a textured surface?  Sheesh.  The smooth top of my fridge still needs more than a bit of elbow grease to sparkle. It takes me thirty minutes to remove the stuff on top, climb up on a stool with a warm soapy washrag, scrub it my smooth surface, climb down again, rinse my cleaning cloth, climb up again, scrub, dry it all off and replace my goodies.  I can only imagine how long it would take to scrub the greasy residue off those textured surfaces!

(I know...what a tragic First World problem--choosing a new refrigerator.  I should be ashamed. I am ashamed.  Just a tad.)

Shopping day one involved a patient husband researching refrigerators and dragging a kicking and screaming wife into Home Depot.  Shopping day two involved a patient husband listening to my moaning and rants in Lowe's, Best Buy, Sears and a different Home Depot and ignoring some tears.  Shopping day three involved a patient husband taking me back to several stores to take a second look as I began to accept the fact that I was never going to find the perfect fridge and would have to compromise.  Late shopping day three involved a husband who'd pretty much had it up to here.  I suspect he then slyly played the I-think-this-stainless-steel-model-would-be-our-best-choice card which steered (or panicked) me into immidiately choosing a model available in a less obnoxious appliance color--white.

Voila!

 
Our choice has been made--astonishingly, amazingly unlikely as it would have seemed when we started.  I'm not going to like it as much as our old one.  It probably won't last as long as our old one. I'm sure enough of that we bought an extended warranty and we NEVER buy the extra warranty.  But I can live with it.  And I'm busily figuring out how to reconfigure all the junk (see photo 1 above) that's currently living in, on and around Frigidaireland--a task I'm realizing was long overdue.

 

Throughout most of the process I wondered if I was being unreasonable.  I found out I wasn't the only picky customer out there.  One lady wanted an almond microwave with no negative reviews.  One gentleman wanted a shiny stainless steel front, not brushed.  I guess we all have an idea of what we want and sometimes it doesn't exist, at least in the here and now.

I have to say that every salesperson we encountered was patient, helpful without being pushy, informative and just plain nice.  Even with picky customers like moi.  They're probably the only reason we survived and are still talking.

There are over seven hundred fifty refrigerator models available at one of the big box stores but not one shallow, short, smooth, white one with adjustable shelves.  So, our deep, tall, smooth (sort of), white LG arrives Friday.   I'm good with what we're getting, but if I were to design refrigerators some would be smooth on all surfaces including the top and sides.  Some might be deep and wide for large families but would be available as a traditional, shallow counter-depth model too.  I'd design some wide and some narrower, some tall and some petite.  I'd offer them in every color and finish.  (Okay, not every color although it would be fun to have turquoise or cherry red or sunshine yellow or apple green to choose from.) All my fridges would have infinitely adjustable shelves.  I might even design some without honkin' big pulls. And, oh yes, they'd all have thirty-four year warranties.

I'm available for hire should any appliance makers want some real world input!

Bring joy,
 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I Never Give Up On Plants

I've had a rhododendron for over ten years and it's bloomed exactly once in all that time. And that was only because it had flowers when I bought it!

I apparently planted it in the wrong place.  The deep shade under our cherry tree was way too much shade.  Who knew?  I watered and fertilized and hoped, but nary a blossom.

When we remodeled the back patio I was able to move my sad little rhodie over seven feet.  She began to put on new growth and looked a lot happier in the partial shade.  I made a real effort last summer to fertilize regularly and keep her well watered, and crossed my fingers.

She finally bloomed this week and was totally completely worth the wait.  Her mouth-watering color reminds me of a delicious raspberry smoothie and was the reason I didn't give up on her.  It's as glorious as I remembered.

And she has sweet freckles.

There are only three blossoms this year but they just highjack your gaze whenever you are in the backyard. 
 
I'm determined to have an outstanding display next year so I'm already in fertilizer mode with Miracle Gro for acid-loving plants plus I've mulched with our homemade compost.  I love rhodies but they are a challenge to grow in the hot, dry, alkaline gardens of the high desert.  I appreciate them all the more when I do have a success story.

Of course that doesn't prevent me from rejoicing when my more-reliably flamboyant perennials bloom each spring. The bearded iris outdid themselves this year in the front yard.
 
I'm not sure how that sunshine yellow one snuck in.  Naughty iris. I'll be marking it for relocation when it finishes blooming.

The Nelly Moser clematis blooming by the front door is probably my springtime favorite.  The combination of low maintenance, huge flowers, deep color and abundant bloom is hard to beat.

Best of all, I get to share her with the neighborhood!
Bring joy!