Summer fun and never ending projects

At our house, summer is always full of projects that will never end.  

Several years ago I spent the entire summer (it seemed) rebuilding a picket fence, sanding and staining fence pickets.  Thinking back it was BEFORE I retired, so that was more than 6 summers ago.  

Then there was/IS the porch swing that I sanded and repainted, the summer the garage was finished. (Again, before I retired).

Swing frame

 All of it, except the swing part.  I got distracted and the swing stands in the garage waiting.  Maybe next week!  If it ever quits raining! Oh, and those porch rails and pickets that I sanded and restained while the porch was being renovated…the top rails need some work again.  Seems as though it is always something that is less fun than sewing!

 The garden…well…it is overgrown with weeds and it is simply to darn hot and humid to get out in it to weed.

 The ONE nice day we had last weekend was consumed by a yard work task.  Hubby decided he wanted to tackle some of the overgrown stuff that had been neglected for 2 years.

SO, I left my sewing room, donned my gloves and pitched in.

 We tackled brambles, and vines, and wild cherry trees, and BAMBOO.  EVIL AWFUL TERRIBLE BAMBOO.  

Honestly, I would like to strangle the person who planted this crap decades ago.  On our property, we have wisteria, privet, trumpet vine, honeysuckle and bamboo. One would be problem enough, but all of these run and have to be constantly taken down, cut out, trimmed back or they overtake the property.  We have finally gotten the worst of the bamboo that ran along the property line under control when the neighbor started to work on “his side”.  There are the odd bits out front but they are not anything like they used to be and an afternoon of cutting eliminates them.

 Out back, well that is another story. Behind our garage we have a big open gravel area that we had cleared when the garage was built. Then we have woods. About an acre and 1/2 of woods behind the garages. The bamboo has overtaken part of the woods to the point I don’t think we can do anything about it.   We could cut everyday for the next month and not make a dent in it.  

Hubby had a nice bed of daylilies between the lawn and the back driveway that he enjoyed tending.  Then, it too filled with bamboo, (while I was sewing one day I think) and he was overwhelmed. We really know it got out of hand during the 3 years where his back just would not allow him to do much more than mow the lawn, and I was sewing!

So, this past Sunday afternoon, with my gloves on, he and I tackled that 4×15 foot bed cutting bamboo.  We spent 4 hours!  He was able to hold back the top of the stocks with the rake, while I worked with the big clippers cutting it off at the ground.  Can I explain how my legs still hurt 3 days later.  TOO much bending over at the waist!!  He would pile it up in his cart and take it to his “spot” in the woods where he piles brush. Nature takes care of the composting and over the years, our cuttings have made great beds for the rabbits and the deer that frequent our back acres.  Once all the cutting was finished, he uses his mulching mower and cuts away any stalks that stick out above the ground level, and mulches up all those “leaves” the bamboo has left behind.  He has been working hard at finding the big runners that have crossed under his gravel driveway, digging them out.  This little area we cleared doesn’t look like much, and he will spray it with ground clear for the next 2 years to kill off any other sprouts that might pop up.  Then, and only then will he try to plant some grass back in the spot, and hope the bamboo doesn’t return.  

EVIL Bamboo

Yes, those are pile of cut bamboo stacked up in the foreground, and in the background all that you see is mostly bamboo, mixed in with the hardwood trees.  We were hoping the tree canopy would prevent the bamboo from growing, but the bamboo just keeps getting taller and taller.  Some of those stalks are 30 foot or more high.  What a pain!

NOW you can see why I was happy to escape back upstairs to my sewing room in the rain on Monday!

Tuesday morning I took another long bike ride with my daughter and granddaughter. What a relief to escape the yard work! We got out early before the rain!  We biked from 9 until noon, a total of 6 miles, with stops at the nature center to see the fish and at the playground to let the littlest person run off some energy.  Much more fun than cutting bamboo.  Don’t think the back of my legs was ready for another 4 hours of work in the yard.  We have been bike riding now together 3 or 4 times, 6-8 miles each time.  Turns out, I really enjoy the diversion, the exercise and of course, the company.  Once a week has been our goal together.  Of course, she is working on me to invest in a newer, lighter weight, more efficient bike. This antique I ride was her older sisters bike all thru school, and she is having her 20th class reunion this year.  Maybe a 21st century bike is in order.  Pondering…..

Biking fun

When I came home, I saw the hubby was occupied writing an article for his model railroad club newsletter, so I spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening in my sewing room. I told him I was held captive in the garage by a rain shower!  (Good excuse for an 8 pm supper!)

Remember those placemats?  Well, I made MORE.  I got the 4 additional ones finished, and had my 12 I wanted.  And then, well…just kept sewing.  We are up to 18 now.  I am starting to think about how to back them.  Since these are totally scrap happy, I wonder if having a plain muslin back would make sense?  I have LOTS of muslin thanks to Dottie L. at church.  Going to consider that….while I prepare some “scraps of batting” for these.  I was happy to use some of the batik scraps my friend Nancy B saved out for me to give some more bright colors to the last 6.

More placemat fun

I still have 6 blocks left and miles of batik strips, so I am certain there are more to be made.  Maybe I will mix them all up, and dole them out in groups of 6 for gifts, and just keep the table runner for myself.  I really have had fun playing in the batiks.  (Much more fun than yardwork!)  Off to the sewing room…..shhh…don’t tell the hubby the sun is shining!

What are you doing for fun this summer???  Do you have some of those never ending tasks that you hate to work on??  How do you balance things?

EDIT to add some hashtags (because I just learned about them…)

#lifecycleDE #youcanridewithus #bicyclesforall

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Spring has Sprung back to Winter

My Goodness what is up with the crazy weather?

Yesterday was nearly 70 degrees, and we worked out in the yard in SHORT SLEEVES.  We also went over to the beach for dinner and only needed a lightweight jacket. At bedtime it was still above 60 degrees.  Friday I had a lot of errands to run, and I was going through town, I was very excited to see the first of the daffodils in bloom along a fence.  That was at noon.  By 6 pm, we were out again, and EVERYWHERE the daffs were up and blooming.  I was so excited to see them in my own yard.

first week of SPRING

first week of SPRING

Yes it is finally Spring, or it was on Friday and Saturday….not so much today, where we will only get to 51 degrees, and tomorrow where we will only get to 39 degrees and Tuesday the report is for SNOW….  It wouldn’t be so bad, but the lows are in the LOW 20 degrees…..

Next Friday it will be Spring again, so I guess I can maintain a little hope.  I had hoped for another warm day to get out in the yard and clear the leaves and winter mess from the flower bed.  I do hope MR. RABBIT is quite happy with his diet of TULIP greens. (I am on the hunt for that critter……)

Seriously, we rocked yesterday.  Got that darn bamboo out of the forsythia and lilac bushes; and also out of the bed of tiger lilies.  Hubby wants to divide that bed of tiger lilies up and relocate a large portion to a couple other places in the yard, along the driveway near his garage.

More daffs in the garden

More daffs in the garden

I don’t relish digging around the bamboo roots tho.  I think if we move the whole  bed, we can use some ground clear this year to get rid of the bamboo that will start growing in another two weeks.  Seems we spend our whole spring “whacking” bamboo. Our neighbor finally has taken control of some near the front of the property. We had been clearing for years along our chain link fence, and his side was pushing the fence over.  2 years ago he took a stand against the bamboo too.  At least along the driveway.    Now it is time to tackle what has started to grow out in our woods and try to control it from spreading.  I don’t know who thought it was a good idea 30 + years ago to plant it, but holy cow is it a huge problem.  We have 2.75 acres and 3/4 of it is wooded.  Bamboo is in about 1/4 of the woods. So, you must work around the trees clearing it out, and being careful with any spray product.  Then there is the lot line issue with the neighbor and his lack of interest in clearing his side.  Often we “cross the line” to keep it away, but it sends out shoots fast.   Maybe if he sees us out working with the chain saw, he will join the endeavor.

But today, too darn cold.  (I am joyful…really…as my lower back has forgotten what it means to garden……)

First week of Spring in Delaware!

First week of Spring in Delaware!

I shut the thermostat down to the off position Friday, but thinking this morning I may have to turn the heat back on. Toes are cold.  Planning for next winter…thinking we need a new heating system and the cellar of this house spray foamed insulated.  The problem with a 110 year old house is the drafts you get.  Maybe adding a modern heat pump (and associated duct work) would solve a few of our heating a cooling issues.  Wish Bob Vila would come by for lunch…..or one of those HGTV experts……

I have not done much sewing this week for my own projects.  I had Quilt Bee on Wednesday; and we worked on heart pillows for  breast cancer patients.  I stitched up one at home, and 3 or 4 at the bee, and had 2 more in a kit at home.  The hand stitching is time consuming, but you need to close that opening where you turn the pillow right side out.

I also worked on a foundation STRING piecing project. More about the project after it is delivered, big secret…..but I will show my 2 block contribution.

String piecing

String piecing

I was given 1 piece of fabric as a sample, and pulled the rest out of my “50 shades of blue basket” of fat quarters.  We were told blue, green and purple.  I only added a touch of the green, and most of it will get trimmed off.  I decided to stick to batiks, as that was what the sample fabric was, so I sliced off a strip or two from about 5 fat quarters. Yes, I know the foundation is showing at the bottom of the one on the right, but that is all in the area they will be cutting away.  They are rough cut at 9″ now, and someone else will trim to 8″ .  I really liked Bonnie Hunter – Quiltville’s instruction for String piecing: http://quiltville.blogspot.com/2005/06/string-quilting-primer.html  .  In fact, I liked it so much I shared it with the ladies in our Bee.  I think I am an overachiever, because I did these two blocks on Friday afternoon, in less than an hour.  I like the method, and I must admit, I like to press with the iron after I add each piece.  I think it just gives a nice result.

Speaking of the quilt bee….guess who won the fat quarter game ???           🙂   🙂

wpid-20140319_165045.jpg

22 SPRING fat quarters

They were fun to fold and refold, and sort into colors~!!~   I showed up with 3 and brought home 22 !~!  Thanks Material Girls.  Into the stash you go!  This is the second time in less than a year I won our game.  We have about 12 ladies, and I feel a tad greedy. Thinking next month I should just contribute, but sit the round out….feels to me like that would be fair.

So, busy day today with church, and then TAXES…I must dig through my folder of stuff and get ready to see the Tax preparer tomorrow. Does not sound like much fun, but once it is in his capable hands, I can stop thinking about it.   On to more pleasant thoughts….

My friend Judy who has an embroidery machine posted a question to me about stabilizers and “crinkles” in the finished project.  Her thoughts were if you used a light fabric, you want a light stabilizer.  If you look at the picture below, you will see how the fabric crinkles around the design.   This is a 4×4 design; stitched on white cotton; stabilized with a lighter weight iron on stabilizer, and extends to the edges of the fabric. My machine only permits a 4 x 4 design, but the hoop is about 6×8; so I iron on the stabilizer on an 8×8 square, hoop it and stitch.  I like the iron on stabilizer the  best, because I don’t have to worry about the extra thickness shifting etc. when I am hooping the project.

crinkles

crinkles

I shared my limited knowledge with Judy (she is much more experienced than I); and then asked my other friend Debbie, who is VERY experienced.  The answer seems to be…change the needle.  Does anyone else offer any ideas why this would happen?  Is this just a cotton fabric issue? Is it a stabilizer issue?   How do you decide what weight stabilizer to use?  I have medium weight tear away; medium weight iron on; and several heavier pellon products that I have used.  Anybody with thoughts or ideas, please let me know.

Enough rambling; seems my blogging goes from one direction to the other.  Thanks for listening!!!

Keep stitching and pray for SPRING  to show back up in the Mid Atlantic.