Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Perfect English Summer Day

Happy to be back in South Dakota!

It is a perfect English summer's day, the temperature is about 55, it is very damp, drippy & overcast, looks like more rain. There is no snow, the lawn is greening up, some of my plants have unexpectedly survived the winter and so have the ones that were supposed to. Spring is just around the corner. This is actually pretty much the same weather I left behind in Hawaii and I like it.

Lori picked me up in Sioux Falls in my normal state of full on streaming allergy attack and some hours later poured me into my house, then shut the door and left me blessedly alone with a box of Puffs. There is something on the Delta Connection planes which fly from Minneapolis that 'gets me' every time.

Yesterday I went through a month's worth of mail, paid all the bills, napped a lot and just enjoyed being back. I do love my cozy little house but, unfortunately for me, I also love my husband and his job is not in South Dakota so I can't stay here forever.

I didn't have time to sew at all in Hawaii. Today I planned to put together the throw shown below. It is called Mary's Four Patches and the pattern (and picture and kitty) are from Country Threads of Iowa.

I made the four patches as leaders & enders last year, mostly of scraps salvaged from Lori's trash box. The setting squares and triangles are a dark jade tone on tone from Lori's stash which she bought many years ago. All ready to go except for the borders.

The first thing I did was to sew one of the smaller corner triangles to a four patch for a setting triangle. Oops! After unpicking I found the correct triangle in the box and carefully sewed it on with the wrong side up. Ah!

Maybe it is time for a nap.

Y'all come back!

Friday, April 26, 2013


Flowers of Pride-of-India (Chinaberry) tree, called Inia in Hawaii

Click to enlarge

So many names for one tree, Melia azedarach is a member of the mahogany family;
  • Pride-of-India,
  • Persian Lilac,
  • Bead Tree,
  • White Cedar,
  • Chinaberry,
  • Indian Lilac,
  • Umbrella Tree,
  • and it is called Inia in Hawaii.

Inia is comfortable in USDA Zones 7 through 11, it is both deciduous and will tolerate an occasional hard freeze. Although it is fairly short lived it is a good shade tree. The flowers have quite a strong fragrance. Everybody's sense of smell is different but to me it smells like Buddleia which also has a lot of names

I grew this from seed, it is about 7 years old and this is the first year it has flowered heavily. Yesterday it blew down in strong winds.
I am sad, but all is not lost, sometimes Inia will grow back from a stump and I have another one which has grown through the bottom of its pot.

Y'all come back!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Peacocks On The Roof & The Old Avocado Tree

A young peacock on the roof of our lean-to shed. He and his wife visit almost every day because somebody throws yummy lay pellets up there. Isn't he just gorgeous? I particularly like his little white pantaloons. I am not sure when the tail feathers grow but will be sure to take pictures if I am here. Click pictures to embiggen.

The shed is attached to the garage directly opposite the deck and shaded by the same incredibly messy avocado tree. Not to say that this particular tree is messy, they are all just messy in general. The cycle is as follows starting in February:
  • All the leaves fall off. There are lots of leaves.
  • Flowers form, many flowers, then 98% of the flowers fall off, you can see flowers behind the peacocks head on the right.
  • New leaves grow and baby fruit. Shoots to make new branches.
  • All summer the tree provides dense shade which cools about half our house. Dried up branches & twigs fall constantly,together with immature fruit
  • Generally around November 'Green Bomb Season' starts. Large avocados hit the tin roof with a thunderous crash and rumble roll noisily down to drop with a thud on the ground.
  • We all eat avocados until we can't stand the sight of them. Humans, dogs, chickens, sheep and Mr Quigly the pig.

Y'all come back!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Design Wall April Fools Day

Saturday it was almost 70ยบ, I sat on the porch, the birds were singing and little green things were visible in the garden. Yesterday it snowed, and froze, hard.

Last week was the unpicking week. Don't ask .. a border I didn't like, another one that was so wavy it was seasick, a sashing strip that mysteriously moved 1/8" over and wasn't noticed until I went to press it.

Domiciles is done and on the design wall so I can admire it. See many other quilter's design walls at Patchwork Times.

No two house blocks are alike although some fabrics have been used several times. The blocks with tiny houses were done 'freestyle'. Some are short and stout, others tall and skinny. There is a barn with a tall grain bin. Very tiny scraps were used and that part was fun.

Only the bias binding to make and the backing to piece, then it goes into a bag to wait it's turn to be quilted.

Y'all come back!

Thursday, March 21, 2013


I love to read. At home I have an enormous collection of books. Almost every wall has a bookshelf, yes even in the bathroom. I am one of those people who will re-read a book, more than once.

In South Dakota I haven't stopped buying books but I treated myself to the most basic model Kindle and now I am reading more downloaded books than 'real' ones. I enjoy the convenience of being able to carry it in my purse. If I am waiting for Lori who likes to shop a lot more than I do, I can find a place to sit and read.

Although I am told repeatedly that this is a very mild winter it has been cold. Some days I only go outside because Boysie needs to 'go' outside. On days like that I read more.

This week I have finished reading The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig. It is a novel set in rural eastern Montana 100 years ago, written from the view point of Paul who is thirteen years old. I enjoyed it so much that I bought a paper copy, it is a keeper.You can read the publishers blurb and the reviews via the link above.

If I had to describe this book in one word I think it would be "evocative".

It is set in the era of homesteading prairie farmers and their children who attended a one-room schoolhouse. Although the family is not dirt poor their way of life was hard enough to make me very grateful for what we have today.

I am sure the quality of schools 100 years ago was dependent (as it is for the most part today) on the quality of teaching, but I can't help feeling that children were better educated in their eight years of compulsory schooling than many are today after twelve years. Where did we go wrong? What do you think?

Y'all come back!

Monday, March 18, 2013

On My Design Wall Today

This is "Cotton Garden" by Margaret Languedoc of the Pattern Basket. It is a UFO and I wrote about it previously here and here.

The pattern called for 30 blocks set 5 x 6 with 1-1/2" sashings between to yield a 56" x 74" quilt.This was a bit smaller than I wanted, so I planned changes, including upping the sashing width to 2".

It wasn't until after I had carefully set out all my blocks, adding an extra row of five that I realized I would then have a very long and still very skinny quilt. Ooops! Rearranged to a 6 x 6 setting my quilt will finish to at least 70" square, possibly larger depending on my border width choice.

I will finish the last three blocks today. Then I will wait for the batiks I ordered from Hancocks of Paducah to arrive so I can cut and piece the sashings and borders. See many other design walls at Patchwork Times

Y'all come back!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Take Care of the Pennies

Lori introduced me to the wonders of Clorox Kitchen spray last year. I love the stuff, it works miracles on stained tea cups, sanitizes surfaces and kitchen tools (I eat a lot of chicken) and is easy and convenient to use.

Unfortunately it is a bit expensive and I go through quite a lot. I have bought generic brands which seem to work just as well, but they are not exactly cheap either!

I was looking at yet another empty bottle and saw the ingredients. Basically water, chlorine bleach and a surfectant. Those ingredients are cheap.

Here is my recipe for home made bleach kitchen spray. It makes enough for one recycled 32oz spray bottle:
4 tablespoons bleach
1 tablespoon of liquid soap
Fill with cold water (hot water decreases efficiency of bleach) and use.

Caution! be sure your liquid soap is just soap. Adding anything containing ammonia to a chlorine product can produce harmful chlorine gas.

Approximate cost is about 6c a bottle based on $1.49 per gallon for bleach. Now that is some serious saving!

Y'all come back!