Summer colors

In the “it’s the small things” category, we have a new mat for the back door and it’s beautiful:

It looks nice with our interior green walls in the living room, and each time I go out to water the plants I admire it. Our old one gave five years of steady service, but it was so worn that you couldn’t see the pattern anymore. It’s so nice to have the bright, pretty colors on the step. :-)

Fun family visit

My sister is in California for the summer on an internship between her two years of business school. We were so excited when she suggested flying up for a weekend. Great to see her, and fun to show off our house. This is her fourth Seattle trip so we skipped the touristy things for normal weekend activities (the farmers market, the bread store, a walk around the neighbourhood and Grasslawn park, grilling). It was a treat to see her.

The weather finally cooperated, and she saw both Rainier and the Cascades. (The Olympics were hazed over, but we went down to Lake Washington and the sun on the water was at least pretty.) We have a handful of photos. At the farmers market:

And some of the pretty flowers:

Sharon with the bounty (including the mysterious kohlrabi):

And all of us at dinner, thanks to the tripod and camera timer:

It’s so nice to think that the next time we see her, the baby will be here, instead of just a kicking, hiccuping presence, and Sharon will be an aunt!

Harvest

The plants on the patio are actually producing! The first bit of a crop, picked while Sharon was here:

The strawberries are doing great in their pot. Last year they didn’t really produce, but there are a lot more berries and flowers in the wings, and I’m feeling very pleased with them.

The beans are a bit confusing to me. I feel like the plants should be spending their energy growing and they can produce later, but I don’t know how to convey this to them. Each plant (I have two) put out a few beans when it was so hot a few weeks ago. The plants are still mid-to-small in size, and now they each have several more baby beans. Any ideas on whether to cut off the baby beans now, or just let them grow?

The pea vines are the most pathetic. They’re each about a foot tall, and they also produced 1-2 peas each during our hot streak. So you have these sad little vines (with half dead leaves from our hot week) with a big plump peapod on the upper end.

They seem happy (green, firm) in a stunted kind of way, but if anyone has thoughts on magical pea growing tricks, I’m all ears.

We’ll need some practice

We are slowly starting to accrue more baby things. I’d made a series of spreadsheets, with links, a few months ago, but aside from placing an order for the crib and myriad knitting and sewing supplies, we’ve just been waiting. My parents offered to buy us a baby carrier though, and our moby wraps have now arrived! We’d gotten to try them out in our baby class, but we’d both managed to forget just how long they are – high amusement value.

They come with a thick booklet of possible wrapping strategies, and we both managed the basic without too much trouble. Can’t wait until there’s a baby to put in them!

Roundabout

Here’s a late-night photo of the beginning of the quilting.

I love the way the rings are turning out. I had to run out and buy a compass to build my circle templates, and this is as far as I could get with it (it has a max diameter of 13 inches). I’m thinking I should be able to eke out a few more with a longer pencil, and then I’ll start using a string/pen homemade system. Each circle’s radius is an inch greater than the previous one. The sewing went very smoothly, except for the tiniest circle (the size of a quarter) – I just can’t turn the fabrics quickly or smoothly enough to make it circular. I keep ending up with misshapen ovals. I’m going to need to practice until I can manage a better version, I think.

This was my first time using a fabric pen – rather a success. I found a purple one that has disappearing ink. The package said it would disappear within 48 hours, but my experience has been more like 10 min to 2 hours, depending on the weight of the line I drew. It’s hard to consistently trace the stencils hard enough to get a heavy line that lasts. Instead, I started tracing a circle or two at a time and then sewing it before it disappeared. Not entirely efficient, but the end result is great.

A bit more coordinated

Since I finished my Olympic Mountain comforter a year and a half ago, I’ve been meaning to use the extra fabric left over from the trim to make a matching bed skirt. For a while we had a ruffled white lace thing, but it did not look nice with the dark quilt and wood bed, so we’ve just had a bare box spring. Not the most attractive option.

The sewing for the bed skirt was not hard (straight seams, cotton fabric), but there have been a slew of delays. First I didn’t actually have enough of my patterned fabric (amazingly, three years later Joann’s still had it in stock!), then I was dragging my feet on measuring and cutting the pieces. On the whole, I’m good at designing things to fit a space or an object, but when the measurement is larger than my arm-span, I always seem to get a bit off. Luckily, a bedskirt does not demand the same precision of measurement that trim does (and this one doesn’t even require perfectly parallel lines, since the skirt bottom is going to be tucked behind the base of our bed frame), so once I finally got started last week the project moved pretty quickly. The biggest issue was actually just that I’m getting ponderous enough that doing all of the measuring out, pinning, etc. on the floor was harder than it would have been normally. I made three long panels (one each for the two sides of the boxspring, and one for the base), and four squares to wrap the corners. I still have my bed sheets from college, though the twin extra long isn’t a useful size, so I used one flat sheet for lining the panels and the other for the piece that lies between the box spring and the mattress.

Here’s the empty box spring after we’d removed the mattress and bedding:

And here it is with the new bedskirt in place:

And the made-up bed in the morning:

It looks so much more polished, and it’s a great long-term item to finally have off the list.

Quilt sandwich

I basted the baby blanket this morning, and I’m so happy with the medium blue/turquoise bali fabric that I found for the back.

The quilt front came out to what seems to be a perfect 36″ square, without any trimming. I cut the batting and backing about an inch and a half bigger in case pinning it out revealed some sort of stretch or slant, but now I just have a neat border to trim once I’m done quilting. I was having trouble settling on a quilting pattern that felt right, but I’ve come up with a concentric circles plan that I really like. Can’t wait to see how it works out. I found a fabric pen to mark out the lines (a bigger achievement than it sounds at first glance – there are so many different options), so that’s on the docket for later this afternoon. We’re going to see Up for a Father-to-be Day evening out, so I’m curious to see how much I can get done around that.