Sunday, August 31, 2008

Elephant Ears, Dahlias, & a Bumble Bee Vase

I've had the same elephant ear bulbs for a number of years. The leaves are just green and not super huge. I find them a bit boring on their own.

So I always plant them with something else. This big planter combines little pom pom dahlias with the ears.

Yesterday while going to the farmer's market to buy tomatoes for my potluck contribution, I passed a garage sale. I have not gone to any sales this year. I decided to stop and take a look. I almost left with nothing, but decided at the last moment to grab a metal thing with a bumble bee on it. I really don't know what it's original purpose was, but my eyes saw a whimsical flower vase.

I think it's perfect for black-eyed Susans and a few of the other yellow flowers I have in bloom.

I just got home from our Labor day event. I am happy to say that the two appetizers I took went over well. I brought home two empty trays so I think most people liked them.
I took these ingredients:

and made bacon & herb stuffed cherry tomatoes.

They turned out very pretty. I had intended to mix yellow and red tomatoes, but I didn't like the way the yellow ones turned out, so I left them home and just took a tray full of red.
I also took a tray of BLT minis. I solved the naked pick by dressing it with a chive. The larger chives have a nice hollow center and I just cut them to size and slipped them over.
I had a lot of left over tomatoes and herbed cream cheese stuffing, so I ended up cooking all morning to use it all up. I made two pans of lasagna (one to freeze) and a big pot of chili for later.
I even strained the juice from the seed centers I removed to use in the lasagna sauce.

All in all it was a good productive day.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bad Buy & Possible Hors d'oeuvre

A couple of weeks ago I was flipping thru channels and saw a Sealy Posturpedic mattress cover similar to this one on Q V C. I recently bought a new mattress set and thought this would be a nice comfy cover. I thought the $100 (which included S/H) price tag was reasonable for a King bed.

Oh my, what a mistake it was! The pad was at least 6 inches high and throughout the presentation the sellers carried on about the fine quality and how you would not be able to feel the ups/downs because of the equalization of pressure caused by the sewing around each square.

They lied.

Worst of all, when I made the bed, it looked all lumpy, even after I put the top quilt over the two sheets.

So I packed the thing back up and had the box hauled off to UPS. QVC had a couple of return labels in the box and I stuck them on. They charged approx. $15 S/H to send it to me.

You will never believe what UPS charged to send it back....


What? Get Out of Here! I couldn't believe it and told them so. Lucky for me the UPS lady was a frequent shopper at a different TV site and told me I should call QVC because her TV channel sent labels that reduced the price.

I immediately called QVC. Sure enough they had a label they could email me that would reduce the shipping to $8.95. That I can live with. The lady I talked with was very nice and promptly sent me the label.

But my question is why wasn't this label already in the box? I asked the QVC lady if perhaps I had overlooked it. No, she said it was not there. How the heck was I to know it was even available? Geez, I think this will be my last QVC purchase. Many years ago I bought things from them, but I believe the needed label was included when they sent the item. I never returned much, so I can't be certain.

So let's move on to more important things.

Sunday we have our annual Labor Day cookout at my Brother-in-law's home. I have to think of something to bring. I am thinking along the lines of a BLT hors d'oeuvre. Since I am alone tonight, I decided to test my thought with the produce I had sitting on the counter.

I sliced a little cherry tomato.

I toasted two slices of bread and cut out little stars (I am still in the patriotic mood). I didn't have any bacon, but I had one cuke to use up, so I used that instead. I layered the lettuce, tomato & cuke on top of a mayo smeared star. Then I smeared a tad of mayo on the top star. I went out to the deck and grabbed a basil leaf and some chives, which I chopped up to garnish the top.
Not bad. They are pretty small and I wonder if perhaps I should use the next size up (I have a full set of different sized stars). I also think I might want to insert a pick so they will be easier to pick up.

I don't like the look of the naked pick. Maybe I should put the bacon on the pick??? One basil leaf and the bacon on the top?? Hmmm, that just popped into my head as I am writing this. I think a small piece of bacon twisted on the pick is just what it needs! .

I am planning to use three different breads for different colors. What do you think? Would a mini BLT appeal to you?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I am in the campaign spirit!

With the continuous coverage of Obama and Biden this weekend, I must have had some unconscious inspiration to finish my campaign table runner. I had no plans to do so, but I ended up spending quite a few hours working on it today.

It's done, but I am not terribly proud of my work. I am still finding it tough to machine quilt even these small items. Perhaps if the local sewing center would ever get my quilting attachments in, it would be easier. It's been over two weeks and, as I expected, I have not heard from the man. Nonetheless, I did it all by machine, even the binding.

Here is the finished product.
It looks a lot better since I added my campaign buttons. We started collecting these as a family about 20 years ago. We would go to flea markets during the summer to look for buttons. The hobby only lasted a short time, and we have not added any new ones in years. I must remember to get some for this election. We missed the last one. Drats! I wish I would have gotten a Hillary button. Maybe I will luck out and find one.

Here's a few of my older buttons:

Woodrow Wilson

William Jennings Bryan & Kern (whoever that was). They made an unsuccessful run in 1908, I believe.
I did find about an hour to get outside and tackle some of the garden work--mostly cutting down spent daisies and trimming the evergreen hedge. The weather was much nicer today.

I am watching an old Andy Griffith show as I write this.....does anyone remember the episode where Aunt Bee makes pickles? It's a classic. I 've seen it numerous times and I still laugh every time these poor guys have to eat one of the awful pickles.

Now I must go and clean up the kitchen. I didn't do much cleaning this weekend. I don't really know where all the time went. I always goes quickly.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

An Entire Weekend to Putter

It's been awhile since I have been able to stay home and putter all weekend.

I've been enjoying my Saturday morning. I went outside to work, but after filling and hauling only three wheelbarrow loads of top soil, I decided it was just to hot for that. It's 85 degrees and very humid. So I rearranged some of the deck containers and made some new bouquets instead. Since most of my new Rembrandt dahlias have bloomed in shades of pink, I decided to embrace the color and go pink from top to bottom.

This old vase is totally adorable and I like to use it at least once each summer. I stuck a few branches of phlox in for the enticing aroma.

Can you guess what the vase is for this dahlia and phlox bouquet?
Look closely and think outside the box.

It's a light bulb cover! One of those things that hooks into the ceiling to cover the bulb.
I used both bouquets in my living room. That desk I painted in May makes a great receptacle for my garden bouquets.

This bouquet is totally different even though it also uses Rembrandt dahlias.
I did an entire table around this centerpiece. You can see the table here.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Remember the Whiskey Barrels that I Planted on the Cheap?

I was trying to see what I could do without spending any money, so I dug up some perennials and used some dahlia tubers and cannas that I already had stored from previous years. One Sedum Autumn Joy plant, a Black-eyed Susan and one clump of chives overwintered in the barrel from last summer's planting.

This year I added a Russina sage plant that I had in my Arbor garden for the past five years. It never grew more than about 8 inches tall and had only 2 or 3 branches. I also stuck a hosta or two in the front.

Here is what it has grown into:

I am pretty happy with it. The only real disappointment was the canna did not grow big and tall as I had planned. But just look how tall the silver Russian sage grew! It's the best that plant has ever grown.

The chives are spilling nicely over the sides. The hosta got buried underneath everything else, but next year it should be better able to hold it's own.

The Sedumn Autumn Joy from last year is HUGE.
It should be turning pink soon, which will be a major clash with that bright orange dahlia. That orange was a surprise. I thought I had planted a more mellow 'peaches and cream' dahlia in these containers. I recently did a little rearranging on the whiskey barrel area of the deck. I love to group containers--there are three containers here.

I have two of these half barrels and I tried to make the groupings very similar.

I have also been making blocks for a new project all week. Can you tell what it will be?

You can see it almost finished on my qulting blog. Just click here.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Have Hairspray Will Travel

We left early Wednesday morning and spent 4 days in Michigan's upper peninsula.

After two hours of travel, we stopped to walk through a few tourist shops. It gets us in the "tourist" frame of mind.

We thought this garden sculpture in front of one of the shops was really cute.

Within 30 minutes of walking about, my hair rebelled against the early morning humidity. One glance at myself in the fudge shop mirror and we were off to the nearest rest stop/tourist center park.

I just don't do flat hair.

A bit of finger tousling and a couple of quick sprays and I was good to go. Thank goodness I didn't forget the helmet spray!

The red spot marks the furthest North we went-- Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore-- in Munising, MI.

We arrived in the small town of Munising an hour and a half early and decided we would walk around town to kill time. We were totally surprised to learn that all the downtown shops close on Saturday! Imagine that.

This is Miss Superior, the boat that took us on a three-hour tour of Pictured Rocks.
We chose to sit up on the top even though the sky hinted of rain. (Yes, my hair blew in the wind and a couple of raindrops fell on it. Every now and then I decide that some things are worth having to endure flat hair.)

Pictured Rocks are mineral stained sandstone cliffs that rise majestically for over 40 miles of the Lake Superior shoreline.
Lake Superior is the largest, deepest, and most pristine of all the Great Lakes.
Here are a few of the more notable named rock formations that were all naturally shaped by the powerful waves, ice and wind:

This one is known as the "Flower Vase".
The trees on the top represent the flowers in the vase.
This is "Indian Head". Can you see the profile of the Indian head?
This is the "Pirate". It takes a bit of looking to see where that name came from. The hole is one of the pirate's eyes. Just under the hole, is the moustache. The darker top rock forms the pirate hat.
"Lover's Leap" - It seems that every place where there is tall cliff there is a legend of lovers jumping to their death.
"Battleship Row"

It was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. After seeing these, I will never look at rocks in quite the same way.

You may have heard of Pictured rocks. Recently the area made national news when a man was convicted of murdering his wife by pushing her off the cliff. Dateline did a story of the tragic event . You can watch the highlights of the story on this video.

Monday, August 11, 2008

What Can you do with 3 Minutes and 3 Flowers?

This morning I was all ready for work about 15 minutes early.

What can you do with 15 minutes?

Well, I grabbed my clippers and went out to the deck and clipped one big dahlia that I thought would look good in a Chinese vase. Many of you are probably wondering what can be done with just one flower.

Here is what I did in about 30 seconds:

Right next to the vase I had a pitcher and creamer set. I still had plenty of time and went out and cut two more smaller dahlias.

In less than three minutes I had this little trio, which I think proves that you don't need a full arm load of flowers to make a beautiful bouquet for indoors. I even had time to take pictures before I left for work.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I Could Just Cry

Look at this!

It's been a rainy and sometimes windy weekend. When DH went out just a few minutes ago to start the grill, this is what he found.

My recently bloomed canna has snapped off about 4 feet down.

I thought being next to the house would protect it from the wind. I guess I was wrong.

I spend almost the entire weekend inside sewing. If you want to see how the campaign table runner turned out, you can read about it on my quilting blog, Perpetually Paper Piecing. I go into more detail than you probably want to know about my thought process as I make a project. If that bores you, just scroll down to the bottom of the post and you can see what the table runner turned out to be.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

One Week Later

As you can see I forgot about the bouquet I made last weekend. I put it in the living room and then did not go in that room again. Poor thing thirsted to death.

It looks like I put some sort of filter on this photo, but it's just as it came from the camera. I really think the yellow dahlias look pretty interesting just like they are. A few more filler flowers and I would have a nice dried bouquet. I doubt if the colors will stay like that, but I will save it for a while just to see.

It's raining today, so I have been playing around with some new quilt blocks. I bet you would never guess from these pattern pieces, what the block turned out to be.
He's the Democratic donkey. I love this guy! He finishes at 6 inches square.

I got the pattern from a very generous web site:
This lady offers many free patterns as well as patterns that are for sale.

Of course, we can't have the democratic donkey without the republican elephant.

I wish I had used a different fabric for the neck scarf. Too late now.

I decided to use the finished squares as the center in a patriotic block.
I guess the elephant looks O.K. in the finished 18" block.

I am planning to turn these into a table runner. I will use it during campaign week.

It sure feels good to be back at the sewing machine! I cleaned up the sewing room in June (when we cleaned the carpets) and have not been sewing since. I took all the fabric down to the basement, which means it's such a chore to find fabric that I don't bother sewing at all. Now my room is getting back to a "creative" mess, which is exactly what I need to be able to sew whenever the mood strikes.

I may work a bit more on this tonight. I need to put the donkey into a star and then design a center block and two end blocks. Then it will just need to be quilted. I will throw it on the pile with the pumpkin table runner that also needs to be quilted.

I called the Sewing Machine Store owner yesterday. He said the Husqvarna no longer makes the quilter's kit for the Sapphire. Wonderful. He says he is going to call some other dealers to see if they have one of the kits. I won't be holding my breath for him to call me back.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Doesn't this Look like a Brain?

It's one of these new dahlia tubers. It started out in April much smaller than it is now!
In early June, I tranferred it to this larger container with a Tropicanna. I planted it under the soil, but it's grown so big that it exploded right out above the soil.My plan was for big black Tropicanna leaves to shoot up above the dahlia. It didn't quite work that way. The dahlia took over and you can't even see the Tropicanna unless I spread the (bug eaten) dahlia leaves.

Here is the twin container planting. Different color dahlia, but otherwise the same planting.
This dahlia took off nicely, too. I must have planted a larger Tropicanna because it did exactly what it was supposed to. I love the red dahlias with the black leaves. Can't wait to see how it looks when the Trop blooms.

The orange dahlia I showed a few days ago keeps getting bigger and bigger. Look how you can't even see my hand spread out behind it!

The three wall planters are doing O.K.
I wish the orange geranium would have gotten about twice this size, but I have yet to grow a lush-looking geranium. I do like the shape of the Sweet Potato
vine in the front. It has completely covered the front of the planting area, which is exactly what I aim for.

All in all the deck plantings are looking pretty good right now. In the next two weeks I should have a lot of cannas in bloom and I will rearrange the containers to best show off the canna blooms. Of course, I will post more pics when that happens.
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