Archive for the ‘Garden’ Category

When I was on a family visit to the Midwest earlier this year, I saw this Barn Quilt when my sister and I were on the Racine County, WI Barn Quilt Trail.

Click on any photo for a larger view

I LOVE this pattern and I re-created it into “real” quilts and then created an online class with my Flags & Stars quilt!

The quilt on the left is a Wall quilt, 39 x 57 inches and the other quilt is a Twin size, 72 x 90 inches.

I am proud to announce that the Flags & Stars Quilt Mystery Quilt-Along class is now OPEN for registration!!! For more information Click Here

How does a Mystery Quilt-Along work? You sign up for the class (there is a fee to attend the class) and you will receive the piecing instructions for the class project. Piece your quilt top and have it on your quilting machine, ready for quilting on Saturday, September 7, 2019. On September 7, about 8 am Pacific Time (possibly a little earlier) the first PART of the class video will be activated. You follow along with the quilting to learn how to quilt this quilt! During the day, about every two hours, another PART of the class will be activated. By the end of the day, ALL the class Parts will be activated and you will be able to see the completed quilt and all the quilting.

This is a FUN way to learn new quilting techniques and to finish a unique class project.

For more details on the Flags & Stars Mystery Quilt-Along Click Here

Register NOW and begin working on YOUR class project!

Each summer I plant Sunflowers in my small garden. I like to plant the GIANT sunflowers and this year, I also planted DWARF sunflowers. Unfortunately, I planted both of these sunflowers a little later and they are slightly behind in their growth.

My Grandaughter Maddie was over for a visit and I had her stand next to the sunflowers for comparison. Click on the photo for a larger view.

The dwarf sunflowers in the front are already blooming, and the giant sunflowers will grow up through the top of the arbor – the top of the arbor is about 7 feet above the ground – before they blossom!

Yes, there is an angel on Maddie’s shoulder! I have a metal garden sculpture angel in another small section of the garden and it is perfectly positioned! Maddie can be a bit of a “wild child”, as any almost five year old can be, and her guardian angel is on her shoulder a LOT!!!

I’ll post more photos of the sunflowers as they get taller and blossom!





Read Full Post »

For many, many years I have grown artichokes in my garden. In fact, when I first started growing artichokes, I started them from seeds! Over the years the original plants have had “babies” and I have supplemented them with new, purchased plants.

Generally the winters here in Seattle are fairly mild compared to other parts of the country. If it does get below freezing, which isn’t very often or for very long, I cover my artichokes with old sample quilts from my longarm classes. (To view a past post about using sample quilts as garden covers Click Here )

But sometimes, the winter is cold and nasty and a few of my artichokes do not survive. I now have two fairly large artichoke plants growing in my garden.

This spring, my artichokes have gone wild! Each of my artichoke plants has at least three artichokes on them.

Did I mention that I LOVE artichokes!

Here are some photos of my artichoke plants – click on any photo for a larger view.


Artichoke plant #1 with four artichokes on it. Do you see the baby artichoke near the bottom of the photo?


Artichoke plant #2 with three artichokes on it.


A side view showing both plants and the artichokes growing on both of them. And there is one big artichoke on each plant ready to be cut and cooked!

Over the years I have cooked artichokes many different ways. I have boiled, steamed, baked,  roasted and microwaved my home grown artichokes. But this year, I’m using my crock pot!

I cut my artichokes, trimmed them, and put them in my big crock pot. I put some garlic through the garlic press and put that on top of the artichokes, along with lemon slices and lemon pepper. I put some water in the bottom of the crock pot, covered it up and set it on high for about 4 hours.

Here are my artichokes in my crock pot ready to be cooked!


While the artichokes were cooking, I was back out in the garden trimming my wisteria!

This is what my wisteria looked like before I attacked it with the pruning shears! It definitely needs a haircut!


After a bit of work……


Oh my gosh, it looks SO much better! And there is a hosta at the bottom left! You can hardly see it in the before photo!

After working on my wisteria and other garden stuff, I’m back to my artichokes.

My house smells divine and my artichokes are tender and look great! Here is the one I ate for dinner


It was SOOOOOO good! I dipped the leaves in some honey mustard sauce, yum, yum, yum!

All that is left is a pile of eaten leaves and the “spikes” from the inside of the choke!


The other artichoke I cooked is in the fridge and I’m going to warm it up and have it for dinner tomorrow!

Read Full Post »

I love the Fall, but I hate to see the garden at this time of the year! The plants are (mostly) dead and they are looking scraggly. There has been no “official” frost yet, but there has been some very cool nights – and the garden is showing it.

I planted the Jack-Be-Little pumpkins late in the Spring and in August they looked like this

click on any photo for a larger view


Today, they look like this


All the foliage has literally disappeared with the cool nights. All that’s left are the pumpkins and the vines!

So I got busy and cut the pumpkins from the vines and here is what I have. Pumpkins-3-LG

Two BIG bowls full of little pumpkins! I want to give some to the Grandkids and use some for decorating.

I have one last, late blooming sunflower that I am pretty sure was a volunteer. (I don’t remember planting it!) It sure does look pretty!


Here is one more before and after –

My other sunflowers in August


The same sunflowers now.


The birds are sure enjoying eating the seeds! I will keep the sunflowers up for the birds most of the winter.

All good things must come to an end – and I sure did enjoy my garden this year!

Read Full Post »

The month of August is just about over and things have been beyond wild!

The first part of the month I was in the Midwest visiting with family and then I drove to Southern Indiana to teach longarm classes. The classes were a LOT of fun and I met some wonderful quilters. One student drove all the way from Eastern Tennessee to attend my classes.

(I am in the process of working on the details for another teaching trip to the East Coast in mid October. I can’t say too much yet, the plans are not firm yet. As soon as I can, I will post the information.)

My Mother had her knee replaced in May. Of course we had to compare scars – her knee vs my hips! And, as I promised her last year, I gave her a quilt for her surgery.

Mom's Quilt

Mom’s Quilt

I had the top pieced for a while – it just needed quilting. I quilted free hand feathers and swirls in the body of the quilt. In the border I quilted half circle wreaths and the “math” came out perfectly! I didn’t plan the placement of the wreaths that way, but I am glad it worked so well.

Top Border

Top Border

Here is a closer view of the top border. I used Soft & Bright batting and Signature threads.

And best of all, my Mom LOVED it!!!

FWIW – I used the Longarm University 8 inch Feather Guide template set to quilt the border designs. For more details about this template set Click Here 

When I was in the Midwest, the weather here in Seattle was amazing! While I was gone my garden went crazy! (A huge Thank You to my neighbor Ellen who watered my garden while I was gone.)

My sunflowers are amazing! The zucchini are fabulous, the green beans -delicious.

Here are some photos. Click on any photo for a larger view


This year I planted two different kinds of sunflowers. These are my “smaller” sunflowers. (Note: The top of the arbor they are against stands least 6 feet off the ground. ) These sunflowers are darker, smaller and have many more flowers on them.


Then there is the “big” sunflower which is at least 9 feet off the ground! I am a little disappointed this year. Most of the seeds I planted of the big sunflower didn’t grow. So I have only this one big sunflower and one more that hasn’t bloomed yet. I’ll post photos of that one when it blooms.

The plants that have taken off like lightning are my “Jack-be-Little” pumpkins. When I left they were scraggly little plants. When I returned, they had nearly taken over part of the yard!

The photo below was taken yesterday and they have taken over most of the area behind the sunflowers and over my cinder block garden area.


I forgot how much these plants spread! And there are lots of little pumpkins on them!


Here is a close up of one of the pumpkins. (That is the garden hose next to it.) I would say that the pumpkin is about 6 inches in diameter and about 3 inches high. It won’t get much bigger.

These little pumpkins make great decorations and I will be giving them to the Grandkids in October.

They say it is going to rain over the weekend – I truly hope so! It is SO dry and in Eastern Washington the wild fires are awful! They REALLY do need the rain!

I hope your summer was wonderful and that you enjoy the last few days of summer.

I’ll post photos of pumpkins soon!


Read Full Post »

The last few weeks here in the Seattle area we have had fabulous weather. Warm to hot – and dry. Not great for the grass or for fireworks (the fire danger is extreme at this time) but my garden is BURSTING!!!

Artichoke Plants

Artichoke Plants

Here are my artichokes. I took all these photos a few days ago, and because of the heat, everything is growing by leaps and bounds! I have three artichokes – which I will be picking and eating tomorrow – and there are a few “babies” there too!


Basil in Earth Boxes

I have four Earth Box planters (they are the BEST!), two of which have my basil plants. The basil is going bananas! There will be more about the basil later in this post.

FWIW – I have had these Earth Box planters for many, many years and they are still going strong. I couldn’t find the “official” mulch covers this spring, so I improvised with some clear plastic bags and binder clips. The plastic bags are working very well.


More Earth Boxes with green peppers in the front and tomatoes in the back. I wasn’t going to plant tomatoes this year, but I got two scrawny starts from one of my students – and look what happened! I already have blossoms, but I haven’t seen any fruit yet. These are supposed to be green cherry tomatoes. I have never seen or tasted them before, so this is a tomato adventure!



Next are potatoes in the cinder block garden. I keep digging up potatoes in the fall and they keep coming back in the spring. Note the brown grass in the background! It may be dry but it always seems that the weeds find enough water to grow! I’ll be weeding soon.



I planted some french style string beans and here are the small plants. I’m trying mulching with straw this year. So far, so good. I also found that by putting the mulch down, my cats don’t like digging in the garden to do their business. I also put some fencing on top of the mulch to make sure the cats don’t go in the garden.



And here are the sunflowers. The bigger plants are the Giant sunflowers and there are some smaller sunflowers in there also. Again, these photos were taken a few days ago and the sunflowers are now significantly taller! They are planted under an arbor and when they grow I will use the arbor to support them. Hopefully the arbor won’t fall over like it did last year. (For a blog post about that Click Here)

And finally – zucchini!



I planted two zucchinis in a planter (a plastic whiskey barrel from Costco) and it is going crazy! I already have blossoms and fruit growing! Not too much longer until I’m making zucchini bread.


Back to the basil! The basil is getting so big and it looks so luscious that I went out and picked a bunch, rinsed it, spun it dry, put it in the food processor with some garlic, pepper, Parmesan cheese……


from basil to …..

and presto – PESTO! The first batch of the summer!



OMG! Talk about GOOOOODDDD! I made some pasta and put the fresh pesto on it and it was heavenly! Sorry, no photo, I was hungry and couldn’t wait to dig into it!

If you have never made pesto, it so easy and so good. Click Here for a link to a blog post I wrote a couple of years ago with my Pesto recipe.

Enjoy the warm weather and enjoy the fruits of the garden. I know that I am!!


Read Full Post »

Earlier this Spring I planted sunflowers in my garden.  I LOVE sunflowers – I even designed a quilt with Sunflowers. (To view the quilt Click Here)The sunflowers I planted are the giant/mammoth type  that grow to over 10 feet in height.  This year, the sunflowers flourished and they grew, and they grew, and they grew!

Here is a photo of my Grandson Nathan, 8 years old, standing next to one of the smallest sunflowers!

Click on any photo for a larger view.


Nathan is 4-1/2 feet tall, so I would estimate the height of this sunflower to be about 6 feet tall.  Below are some photos of how tall the rest of the sunflowers are.



The top of the arbor measures 7 feet from the ground, so the largest sunflower is about another 5 – 6 feet above the top of the arbor!


This is a photo of the tallest sunflower. This sunflower had about 6 more buds for flower heads on the stalk. I couldn’t wait to see these buds bloom! Note: The photos above were taken about two weeks ago in late August.

The other day I went outside and I looked at my sunflowers – and they were leaning, A LOT!!

The sunflowers are SO big and SO heavy that they are pushing the arbor over! It didn’t help that we had torrential rain last week, which loosened the soil, and then had some breezy days. The heads of the sunflowers were acting like sails!

The next day I went to the hardware store to find something that I could prop up the arbor or help secure the sunflowers. I got some rope – I was going to tie the arbor to some cinder blocks, and then put some stakes around some of the flower stalks.

Then, as I working on doing this, I heard some funny cracking noises and BAM!! The WHOLE arbor fell over!


What a disaster! At least I wasn’t standing under the arbor! Most of the stalks of the sunflowers were broken in two or cracked so badly they couldn’t be saved. I had to cut nearly all the sunflowers down to the ground and put them in the compost pile!

Here is what I had left.



This lone sunflower is the ONLY one I have left. In fact, the root ball of this sunflower was completely out of the ground when the sunflower was laying on its side. I put it back in the ground, put some more dirt around it, added some fertilizer and hay for mulch and watered it a lot.


Here is a photo of the bottom of the lone sunflower and the arbor which is laying on its side.

I have the sunflower taken care of, now what about the arbor? I could lift the arbor, but I am not strong enough to lift it and position it in the garden. Yesterday evening my daughter-in-law, Reesia, came over for something else, and I enlisted her help to get the arbor upright and next to the sunflower.


I would estimate that the sunflower is about 4 feet above the top of the arbor.

Now I have to wait a few days to see if this sunflower will re-root and keep on growing. I miss my other sunflowers and this part of the garden looks naked.

I’ll keep you posted if this sunflower makes it through the next few days!




Read Full Post »

I have been working on a lot of things lately, but my most recent project is my new Daffodils in Bloom quilt! This quilt is soooo cute. If you are feeling like Spring will NEVER arrive, you can create your own Spring with pieced Daffodils hanging on your wall or on your bed!

Click on any photo for a larger view


This is the single blossom wall quilt, which is about 23 x 28 inches. The piecing is easy and the quilting, all free hand, is also easy. This would make a quick project for a spring gift.

And yes, I have an online class for this pattern. For complete details about this class  Click Here 

You can view this class online, purchase a DVD or purchase the piecing pattern only. For all the class details and pricing information Click Here 

Here is a 4 Daffodil Banner or Table Runner, finished size about 29 x 59 inches.

Daf 1

I know that some of you may be looking at the piecing and saying “I hate making those long triangles.” You don’t have to say that anymore! I have found a quick and easy way to make these long triangles by folding and pressing them. There is NO special cutting equipment needed.

Here is a video on how this fold and press technique works



And here is one more photo. This is a 15 Daffodil Quilt, about twin size-ish at 68 x72 inches. This quilt has not been quilted yet, but it will be soon – and of course I’ll post photos!

Daffodils 3

Bring Spring into your “space” with a (relatively) easy quilt!

Think Spring!!! Think DAFFODILS!!!

Read Full Post »

Today is Labor Day and it sure is beautiful here in the Northwest! Many times, this holiday has been cool and rainy, but not this year! We have had 80+ degrees and sunshine all three days of the holiday weekend!

I have been incredibly busy the last few weeks so I have taken the weekend “off” and have been working on my own projects and some future online class projects. I have spent a lot of time either at the computer or at the sewing machine piecing quilt tops. Most of which has been done at my dining room table sitting under the ceiling fan staying comfortably cool.

With the warm weather this summer (there have been more days with 80+ degrees than ever) my plants have gone absolutely crazy! I have even gotten some red tomatoes from my plants! For those who live in the Midwest or elsewhere, red tomatoes are no big deal. But here in Seattle, red tomatoes ARE a big deal! I just had a salad with some tomatoes from my garden. They were wonderful!!

My sunflowers are HUGE!!! Some of them are at least 10 – 12 feet tall!

Click on any photo for a larger view.


The black “bars” near the bottom of the photo (above) is the TOP of an arbor. This “top” is 7 feet above the ground! The sunflowers are at least 3 – 4 feet ABOVE the arbor and the heads of the sunflowers are GIANT!

I call the sunflower in the photo below “Big Daddy!” The head is huge and it is at least 12 foot tall! It has been the tallest stalk while growing and the first to blossom. I can’t get too close to the flower because there are a ton of bees and yellow jackets. I’m not allergic to them, but I don’t like getting stung. And of course, this sunflower is in the middle of all the others!


I planted a few other varieties of sunflowers. The sunflowers below are smaller and one is a beautiful, rich, burgundy color! There are also at least 6 – 8 flower buds on each stalk! (If you click on the photo to enlarge it you can see the other flower buds.) If the weather holds, there should be more flowers blooming. I’ll try and remember to take more photos, especially if all the buds blossom at the same time!


These sunflowers are the smallest that I planted and I planted them next to my house. These flower stalks have about 10 or more flower buds. You can see the many flowers that are blooming – there are only about 4 or 5 plants there! And again, LOTS of yellow jackets and bees and I’m standing back a bit!


AND, my Basil is going ballistic! I am up to my eyes in Pesto – which I love, love, love! Home made Pesto is one of life’s simple pleasures. If you have never made Pesto before, here is my super simple Pesto recipe.

Super Simple Pesto 

Fresh Basil, about 2 – 2 1/2 cups lightly packed
1 cup olive oil – more or less to taste
3 – 4 cloves garlic peeled
1 cup shredded Parmesan  cheese – more or less to taste and preference

Rinse and spin dry the basil leaves (I use a small salad spinner to do this) and place in a food processor. Pulse a few times so that the basil is mostly chopped. Add about 1/2 cup olive oil and the peeled garlic cloves and pulse a few more times so that the mixture is mostly smooth but still has a little bit of texture. Add most of the cheese and the remaining olive oil and pulse a few more times. I like to pour this mixture into a bowl and, if there is more basil leaves, I will make a few more batches of pesto. Each batch goes into the bowl and gets mixed together to blend the batches. If you like your Pesto a little “jucier” add a  little more olive oil. Add the remaining shredded Parmesan cheese to the pesto and mix. Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste if desired. Your pesto is now ready to use.

Note: some people like to add Pine Nuts or Walnuts to their Pesto. I don’t usually have these ingredients in my cabinet so I don’t put them in my Pesto. If you want to add them to your Pesto,  do so when you put in the garlic.

Now you have this (hopefully) big bowl of Pesto. What next? I take my Pesto and put it into a muffin pan and then put it in the freezer. When it is frozen solid, usually overnight, I wrap the individual “cubes” in plastic and store in the freezer in a big zippy freezer bag.

In the middle of winter, when it is cold, rainy and dreary, I defrost a Pesto cube or two, put it on top of some hot pasta with some cooked chicken, and I am back in the middle of summer sitting in the sun! Fresh Pesto in the middle of winter smells SO GOOD!

Of course, after making the big batch of Pesto I have some left over so I can have the fresh Pesto over pasta for a quick summer dinner! And guess what I am going to do after I post this! The pasta is cooking, the Pesto is made and I’m hungry!

If you have a recipe that uses Pesto in any way, post it in the “Leave a Comment” area. I am always open to new recipes and can’t wait to see what others do with their Pesto.

Read Full Post »

Seattle and the Northwest is having a heat wave! Last week, the temperature was way below normal and rainy. This week its, hot, hot, hot. OK, I am sort of complaining, but those of you who are in the Southwest are having a worse time than us. You are in the triple digit temperatures, we are only in the high 80’s and even the low 90’s!

I was born and raised in Chicago, so this hot weather is taking me back to my childhood, except that the humidity in Chicago was / is MUCH, MUCH higher than it is here in Seattle.

Because hot weather is not the norm here, many of the (older) houses, like mine, don’t have air conditioning. Instead of working at the quilting machine, I am working on my laptop, sitting under the ceiling fan and staying sort of cool!

To keep myself cool, I have made several neck coolers using the water absorbing crystals that I use in the garden. I was telling some people about this over the weekend and they had never heard about these coolers. So, (sitting under the ceiling fan) I will post the instructions on how to make these nifty coolers.

You will need to get some water absorbing crystals for the garden. There are several brands of these crystals and I prefer the WaterSorb crystals www.watersorb.com I was out of these crystals so I got the Miracle Grow brand which I got at Home Depot. For a link to these crystals on the Home Depot website Click Here

Click on any photo for a larger view.


Here is something fun to do. Take a cup or bowl and put about 2 cups of water in it. Then put in 1/4 teaspoon (yes, only one quarter teaspoon) of the crystals (no matter what brand) in it. Wait for about 30 minutes and look at the crystals again.


Here is my glass mug with 2 cups of water and 1/4 teaspoon dry crystals in it. The dry crystals are at the bottom of the glass and look white.


Here is a photo after about 30 minutes of the crystals soaking in the water. About 90% of the water has been absorbed and the “crystals” at the bottom of the photo are the hydrated crystals! You will not believe how big these crystals will become.

I like to sprinkle these crystals in the garden then dig them in. The roots of the plants will grow around these crystals and will draw water from them. This means that you may not have to water your plants as often.

But back to making the neck coolers!

Cut a piece of fabric 4-1/2 inches by the width of the fabric, about 40 – 45 inches.


I am making two neck coolers for these instructions.

Stitch the long edges together, right sides together, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. I keep my stitch length fairly short, like for quilt piecing. This will make a tube of fabric.

Press the seam open and then turn the tube, right sides out. I like to take a large safety pin, pin it to one end of the tube, then push the safety pin through the tube to turn it right side out. Press again.


The top tube has been turned right side out and pressed again. The seam on the bottom tube has been pressed open and NOT turned yet.

Fold the tube in half and stitch a line across the middle of the tube.


Now the fun begins. Using a funnel that has a longer “neck”, I push the fabric onto the neck of the funnel so that you are close to the middle stitching line as you can get.


Turn this all over and put 1/4 teaspoon of the water absorbing crystals into the funnel and shake the crystals down to the stitching line. DO NOT PUT MORE CRYSTALS INTO THE TUBE! It will feel like almost nothing is in the tube, but trust me, they are there.

Now measure over about 9 – 10 inches from the middle line and stitch another line to keep the crystals from falling out. Repeat for the other side.

After the other side has the crystals put in and stitched, you neck cooler is completed! If you want, turn up the ends 1/4 inch two times or, if the selvedge  looks good, leave it un-stitched.


Here is my finished, but not “soaked” neck cooler.

Now put your neck cooler into a bowl of cool water and let it soak for about 30 minutes. If you want, squish the crystals around in the neck cooler about every 10 minutes or so.


Here is the neck cooler after it has soaked for about 30 minutes. The first time you soak your cooler, it will take a longer time for the crystals to expand. After that, it should take about 10 – 15 minutes to have the crystals expand again.

These neck coolers are fun and easy to make and WILL keep you a bit cooler in the heat of summer.

I hear Rubina,  my quilting machine, calling to me and I will leave the coolness of the ceiling fan for the quilt studio.

Read Full Post »

Spring is finally here – well, at least for a few days! My garden beds are an AWFUL mess. Last year, because of my hip issues and hip replacement surgeries, I was not able to work in my garden. And now, it looks like I haven’t worked in my garden for a year or so!!!!

I am almost embarrassed to show these first few photos! Believe it or not, there is a garden bed under all that grass!! Click on the photos for a larger view.

B Garden 2-2013

Here is another view of the same garden bed.

B Garden 3-2013

So, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work! I used a pitch fork to loosen the roots and then, bending at the waist, used brute force to pull up the grass and weeds. It was HARD, HARD work! But soon I began making progress.

Below is a photo which shows about half of the grass and weeds gone!! This took about an hour and a half of HARD work!

B Garden 4-2013

I did have to take a rest for a bit, but then, back to work and after more HARD work, I began to see the garden bed emerge!

B Garden 5-2013

I felt like I was on a treasure hunt! Under the grass, I found the four solar lights, the two concrete fishes (at left) and a few other things like, pieces of bent fencing, etc., which were put into the recycling.

Between the sides of the arbor (above) is where I normally plant sunflowers – the really tall sunflowers! I knew that I had some sunflower seeds someplace in my garage.  I looked around a bit and finally found them, but, they were dated for the 2006 growing season! I went ahead and planted them anyway. I even counted out 26 seeds, soaked them in water for a few hours, then planted them. We’ll see how many actually start growing! I’ll keep you posted on their progress.

(And yes, there needs to be some serious weed whacking done on the outsides of the garden bed!)

B Garden 6-2013

The photo above shows one of the huge piles of pulled weeds and grass! All of which went into the garden recycling bins.

One garden bed cleaned and ready for planting, only 4, or 5 or 6 more to go! Guess what I will be doing a LOT of this spring and summer!!!!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »