Wrapping up a chaotic August – 2 trips and 2 birthdays, and not much time to spend in the yard.  The weather has also been a bit chaotic – some days of hot, but mostly kinda cool.  Hence some tomato ripening issues –

Luckily some of the smaller ones have had enough sun!

This was the year of the Great Apple Thinning Experiment. So far it looks like it was a success – actual APPLE sized apples, and some nice color.

Also in the happily-ripening category – raspberries!

Still a few things in progress; check out the wee tiny cucumbers and a pepper!

As for the Brussels sprouts and the squash, it remains to be seen.

It’s not all edibles around here.  Got a few favorite flowers too.  Japanese blood grass…

Pansy and coleus…

And one of my favorite new acquistions – sea holly

the piece de resistance!

So while there were no figs or currants to be harvested this year, all in all I’d have to say it was a pretty good year in the garden.  We will need to augment the soil in the boxes – guess the fancy stuff we lugged in wasn’t so fancy after all.  We’ll add some compost and plant a cover crop of red clover to prep for next year.  The tomatoes did MUCH better in the ground than last year in the pots, and the handful of raspberries we got were very tasty.

Now we just have to pray there’s no hard frost and lots more sun or we’ll be getting creative with LOTS of green tomatoes!

birth of a quilt

When it comes to big events where a gift is required, I tend to go for handmade things.  Collages, stitchery of some sort, quilts.  As was the case of a certain recent Bar Mitzvah.  When I heard it was a Godzilla theme, I thought “how great if I could find Godzilla fabric and make a quilt!”.  Easier said than done it turns out.  An online search only turned up one option – IKEA, and the fabric wasn’t even released yet.  I waited and finally made the trek south.  At first, it was nowhere to be found, but I’m nothing if not persistent, and turned over every bolt until we found it.  The good thing about IKEA fabric is its width and price tag, and unusual patterns (also great for purse making).  This is what I came home with:

Then came the figuring out of what to do with it.  I generally don’t like to follow patterns – I’m not that precise. I usually just buy stuff I like and go from there.  Here I’m laying out pieces to see what might look good.

At first I’d thought I’d mix it up with big squares and smaller 4-square blocks.  I tried that…

but I thought it was too busy.  So back to bigger blocks of various sizes.

I didn’t do this consciously, but I like how it looks very comic-strip-ish. Bold and graphic, suitable for a Godzilla-loving 13 year old boy.  Once I got the main section (the part that would lay on top of the bed) laid out, I pieced it, and went on to add borders for hanging over.  Then it was off to the fabric store for backing fabric and batting.  I first thought I’d do something black on the back, maybe flannel, but that would gray out the white fabric on the front.  I didn’t feel like making the trek back down to IKEA or I would have gone for the striped fabric for the back too.  Instead I found a green that was close to the green in one of the patterns on the front.  On to the tricky bit.

Normally I would probably send this out to be quilted by someone with a long-arm machine – which makes dealing with this much fabric MUCH easier.  But in the interest of time and money, I opted to straight line quilt it myself.  So that meant cramming a twin-sized quilt…

into a regular sewing machine…

Don’t get me wrong – my new sewing machine can kick some serious ass – but that is a SHIT TON of fabric to maneuver in a very small space.  I rolled one side like so…

I straight-line quilted it vertically, not going for precise lines because I like the movement the wiggly bits gave it.  I also grew some new muscles pushing and pulling all that fabric. Seriously.

Onto the binding, which in the past I have always finished by hand.  This time I wanted to do it soley by machine for added durability and speed.

Cut and pieced and ironed the binding strips, and sewed onto the back of the quilt edge.  I wish I had made it a smidge wider because it was a bear folding that over to the front edge for finishing.  I chose green thread for the front edge stitching (going for contrast) but I wish I had stuck with orange.  Live and learn.

The finishing touch, and then off to San Francisco and the long-awaited big event!  We did end up having to go back home to get it when we realized en route to the airport that we’d forgotten it!

And the big reveal!

UPDATE!  Photo of the quilt in action:

little things vs. the big picture

Time is speeding by at an alarming rate,  so much going on.  There’s been some serious buckling down, trying to get things done while maintaining some semblance of sanity (pretty sure I’m failing at the sane part, given the starting point).  So many little details that make up the big deal things.  I wonder if it’s more important to focus on the little things, at the risk of missing the big deal, or plow ahead seeing the big picture, letting some of the little stuff fall by the wayside.  Chicken or the egg.

Celebrating a big event in friends’ lives is what’s important.  Not who you sit with or what you eat, though surely those things add to the night.  Acknowledging someone else’s milestone is the point –  for that we pick out fancy clothes and come together.  An annual camping trip is about friends shifting gears over food and cocktails, games and beach sitting,  and kids running amok.  Yes, we remember what we ate (some of us are a little anal this way) but it COULD be canned chili and Bud – the gathering is the point.  Those are the memories we make for our kids, and why I drag my family hither and yon 3 or 4 times a year.  Why I make The Geek do the shopping when he’d rather not and watch him get small mouth when building the tent, why I endure kid kvetching when they’re crabby.   I  look forward to the little things like cocktails in the ferry line – it’s what separates that experience from everyday life.

It’s a tricky thing to balance.  Sometimes we get so stuck on the little things we miss the big things.  We fixate on some annoying thing the kid is doing, while he grows right in front of us.  We never get that time back .    My big picture is to have a healthy and happy family, and if that means they don’t make their bed every day, I’m OK with that.  I guess I hope if I pay attention to ENOUGH of the little things, the big stuff will fall into place.

Sorry.   I ramble.

where does the time go

Today is August 4th, which is unbelievable to me.   Due partly to the fact that our summer has been less summery than usual, even for Seattle.  We’ve had one heat wave, and have been wearing sweaters the rest of the time.  Every summer starts out with grand plans of fun things to do and eat and make.  The lists don’t seem especially large or unreasonable, yet I feel like time is quickly running out.  It doesn’t help that this month is full of long-anticipated trips, which suck up time to get to the things on the to-do summer list.

The Girl Child and the Jawa – Ft. Flagler

After two years in the making, we will FINALLY be traveling to San Francisco for  the Jawa’s Bar Mitzvah.  Also under the “unbelievable” category is the fact that he is 13.  If he is 13, that means I am 13 years older than when he was born, which seems both like yesterday and a million years ago.  We are looking forward to a jam-packed weekend of celebration.

Shark Reef – Lopez Island

Then the weekend after, it’s off to Lopez Island for our 4th annual Spencer Spit camping trip.  From the minute we get in the ferry line at Anacortes, and the cocktail fixings come out, it’s a good time. Time is marked on Lopez by whether it’s time for a cocktail or a meal.  Good friends in a spectacular setting – it’s the best way to end the summer.

But what about the things still undone?  The cabinets are not painted, the backyard looks like the Oklahoma dust bowl, and the garage – well, it doesn’t bear talking about. No doubt we will be wholly unready for school to start.  We didn’t make it to the Sculpture Park or take light rail to the airport.  The kids spent WAY too much time watching Lost and playing video games, despite my attempts at math worksheets and reading.

It hasn’t been a complete waste.  There’s been camping at Steamboat Rock and Ft. Flagler.  Peach pie made.  Veggies planted.  Jam canned. Purses sewn.  A quick trip to SF for fashion consulting.  Friends fed.   A bar lease in the making.  And there’s still a weekend or two left for painting those damn cabinets.  I can’t talk about the garage though.