Buzzings from a quilter who bumbles her way through life!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

May 2015 at the Hill Country House

We had a really busy long weekend in the Hill Country! It was a gorgeous weekend with a few rain showers scattered throughout.  My husband spent many hours with a pressure washer, a brush, and enough Clorox to float a boat!



I planted some Cinco de Mayo rose bushes (a Mother's Day gift! I LOVED the ones I had at the other house) along with some Coreopsis, Ginger, Hydrangeas, and a Loquat tree. That also meant pulling out the overgrown plants that were in those beds. I left some lavendar that smelled so good I couldn't pull it despite the fact that it has grown toward the sidewalk and not the flower bed. 
(The lattice will be removed, but right now it is keeping the deer from eating the plants in this area! Most is fenced.)

My husband installed a drip system on the plants so we can keep them alive during the hot summer. Mulch will be next, but we ran out of time!
I cleaned up a $50 thrift shop secretary and moved it into the corner of the living room. 
We ordered ceiling fans for the living room. We ended up going to a specialty shop to find what we had in mind, namely fan blades of real wood and not "contact paper" wood look or plastic. They'll be here in about two weeks.
 We ordered granite for the pantry (cream with a gray throughout that coordinates with the gray in the kitchen). It will be installed in about three weeks. We also ordered a sink and faucets for that area.
 AND, I painted and glazed the cabinets in the pantry.
First of two coats of base paint.

This photo is from the island cabinets, but the glaze in the pantry is the same. For some reason, I failed to get an after photo!

All that work and I still managed to stop by a thrift shop for a quick look. I found these little tea cups for 99 cents each! I bought 13, which was all they had.
Things are moving along! 

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Great Beginner Project Tutorial! The Yo-Yo!

This type of simple coverlet was among the first sewing lessons I had from my grandmother. This tutorial is for people of any age who have any level of experience with sewing, including none!
Sugarplum thinks that everything I work on is for her! This gives you an idea of the scale of my yo-yos. If you are from the UK, you may know them as Suffolk Puffs. 
 Yo-yos have been around in the United States since the 1920's and 30's. They were especially popular in the south because when sewn together, they form a lightweight, airy coverlet that needs no batting or backing, although it can be added. That comes in handy in areas where the temperatures climb into triple digits!

This is a Yo-Yo!  Most of you have seen it before and probably haven't even considered it seriously as something worthy of your time. I invite you to look at it with fresh eyes. It is easily made by hand with only a needle and thread. It is portable and very, very versatile. The arrangement of colors can give it a completely different look. OR, you can make it an explosion of color like I did.
You can use leftover fabrics, fat quarters, even that ugly, out of date print that you have hidden in your stash! I have also seen very old yo-yo quilts made from silks and satins as well as wool recycled from old clothing. 

Get Started:

 1. You don't need to buy a pattern! You can determine the size of  each piece. (Of course, the bigger the yo-yo, the faster it will be to put together.) For a
more "standard" size, a
ll you need is a DVD or a circle about that size that you cut from the top of a plastic Cool Whip container. Remember that your finished circle will end up about half of this size. Cut hundreds of circles using this template and you are ready to begin! 

2. Thread a needle with a strong thread (I use button hole thread) and make a knot at the end. 
(You don't know how to knot the end of your thread? It's not hard to do. I lick my pointer finger lightly, wrap the end of the thread  around it once, and then "roll" the thread across my finger with my thumb. The thread will roll into a knot that you slip off your finger and "slide" to the end of the thread with your fingernails. )

 Turn the edge of the circle over to the wrong side about 1/4" and sew (by hand) a running stitch around it with stitches about 1/4" to 1/2" long. (This is one time when short, neat stitches do not work well! The shorter the stitch, the less gathering you will be able to do!)
NOTE: I find that it is easier to hold the edge between my thumb and pointer finger in my non-dominant hand and turn the seam allowance under as I go.

 3. When you get back to where you started, pull gently to gather.

4. Use your finger to push out the fullness inside the circle.

5. Pull the thread until your circle is neat and compact. Your circles should all be the same size, so compare. You can manipulate the size by how tightly you gather the center.

 6. Put the needle back through the inside and back up (going through one layer only!). Give it a little tug to bring the knot more to the inside and less visible and then cut the thread close to the fabric. (It has not been cut in the bottom photo.)

You want the opening to be as close to center as possible. A little press with an iron will help it stay in position. 
Put two yo-yos back to back (or front to front if you prefer) and overcast (sew through two, pull the needle through and insert it back where you started.)  along the edge for about an inch. Of course, the amount sewn will depend on the size of your yo-yo, but you want just enough to secure them together, about 1/6 of the circumference of your yo-yo.
 I like to start and stop my thread inside the yo-yo, but you don't have to. I tie off my thread with two knots when finished, just to be sure it is secure.
I like to sew a long row together and then sew the rows together. You can choose to sew them into blocks of about three across and three down and then sew the blocks together. There is NOT only one way to do it! 
Sew the blocks or rows together as shown above. You will have a little diamond shaped space between each set of four yo-yos. You will notice that mine are NOT perfect. It will not matter when all is finished and it is on a bed. It is very forgiving!
You can change the look of your coverlet by manipulating the colors you use. You can use colors in rows or blocks or as borders. You can use a color as a "sashing" between yo yo blocks. Play with them a little if you want. I love the scrappy look, so that is what I did.
 I like to also press the entire top when finished for a neat, tidy look.
That's all there is to it!
Give it a try!!

The coverlet in our temporary bedroom.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Progress at the Hill Country House - April, 2015

Wow! This has been such a busy spring! After the Hawaii trip, I spent a couple of weeks sick with bronchitis. Now I leave again tomorrow for three weeks taking care of grandkids!
We did manage to get a little done on the house during that time. I'm still playing with furniture placement in the living room. I have two thrift store recliners. (They are the "Stickley" style chairs you see on the right in the photo). One is black and one is tan, so I would love to have them reupholstered. I haven't checked into that yet and I'm really intimidated about doing it myself. If it doesn't cost too much, I would love to have them done in cowhide.
 The two portraits are hung and I've found some antique books and a few other things to put on the buffet to tie everything together. I found the old watering pitcher in an antique shop for about $10. Everything else, except the flowers, was from a thrift shop. I'm sure this arrangement will change, but for now it makes me smile.
Here's a view from the dining room end of the room. We are going to replace the ceiling fans with some in wood tones. I haven't found the ones I want yet.
 My island cabinets had been painted gray, but I wasn't happy with how they turned out. (I know that when the red cedar top is put on, it will make a big difference!)
I decided to put a glaze on them. If we don't like it, it is only paint!

Here is a photo during the process.
Here they are finished, except for the island top. 
We are also waiting on bids for the countertops in the pantry. We haven't decided yet what to call that area - prep kitchen, working pantry, butler's kitchen, dirty kitchen. All of these are names we've found for a pantry that you can actually work in. We had planned to reuse the Corian countertops in that room, but found that it will cost more to have someone come in and seam them than it does to buy new granite!
I also went "estate sale" shopping. I found this Raku vase. Inside is a receipt and a note from the potter about how she did it. If you know Sunee Rakowitz, tell her that her beautiful pot will be appreciated and loved. As a young art student in college, we made Raku pottery. It is a fascinating process!
I also found this Mexican casserole "dish". I love the simple beauty of it! I even love the clay color on the inside!
I hope to do some posting while I'm away, but I'm about to enter the lifestyle of the "young and restless"! I don't know how these young families keep up the pace! What a privilege to be part of their lives for these coming weeks!

Monday, April 6, 2015

I'm Back from Paradise!

My husband and I have been in Hawai'i for the last couple of weeks. It was a dream vacation that we really hadn't planned for. Wow! What a wonderful experience!
A quick picture taken with my iPhone)

 We stayed in a hotel in Waikiki, just a walk across the street from the beach. We ate breakfast on the beach most mornings. (There were covered pavilions and picnic tables.) 

We experienced TWO luaus!

We watched our grandkids learn to surf! (Fast learners!)

They talked me into going parasailing even though I was terrified! It was fun! (Yes, our legs are snow white!)  My sons have teased me about the look on my face. I'm afraid of heights and of swimming in the ocean, so this was a stretch for me!

 (Our view of the boat from the air.)

We did a lot of other things while we were there:
We saw the Dole Pineapple Plantation and  a macadamia nut farm.
 I hiked up to Diamond Head and saw the panoramic view.
 We paid our respects at Pearl Harbor. 
We drove around the coastline of Oahu and saw the beaches on all sides. 
We watched fireworks on Waikiki from the beach. 
We took a submarine ride to see sea turtles, plane and ship wreckage, and lots of tropical fish.
We shopped at a flea market as well as the International Market.
We tasted Spam flavored macadamia nuts!

I am still a little jet lagged. It was a long flight. I made yo-yos (Suffolk puffs for some of you) when I needed to do something with my hands during the flight. I have a nice start on a little coverlet. I like having something I can grab up for times when I know I will be sitting for a while.

To my friends in Hawai'i, you really do live in a paradise! Wow!

I came home and bought a couple of albums by the late Israel (Iz) Kamakawiwo'ole. I have always loved his renditions of Somewhere Over the Rainbow and It's a Wonderful World, but I also appreciate his Hawaiian traditional songs. If you haven't heard them, you should check it out.
Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
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