To the Outdoors!

Things have been exceptionally hectic around here.  I’ve gone back to work at a local garden center for the season and the work/life balance is taking it’s toll.  Even though some things have suffered, ie. no running currently and little creative time, I have been finding other ways to get in my happy one way or another.

I set up a make shift seed starting area in my basement in January and have so far managed a healthy crop of pansies and violas (though the pansies have yet to actually bloom which is strange) and the tomatoes are coming along quite well.

Tiny viola!

I discovered I really hate planting anything in peat pots.  They mildew and grow moss or fungus like crazy even when they’re allowed to dry out between waterings.  I ended up switching to plastic planters and as much as I hate plastic they will definitely endure several years of hard use and reuse, and most importantly I won’t have to fight off so much fungus.

Once I made the switch and moved all of my surviving violas and pansies they took off like mad!

First year growing violas from seed.

Look at those roots, baby! I also tried my hand at inpatients and found out they take a ridiculously long time to germinate….like upwards of 28 days before you’ll see ANY sign that they’re viable seeds. I managed to grow a dozen or so but that was out of 50 seeds.  Not a good success rate.  I haven’t bothered with a heating mat which I’m sure would move things along, but I’ll add it the list for next year and maybe find better seed stock.

This spring has been another odd one for us here in the Midwest.  After a wet and mild winter, spring has been unseasonably warm and wet.  I’m getting very tired of being soggy all the time and to make matters worse we’ve been bouncing between high winds and freeze warnings the last two weeks.  It’s been hard on our sinuses and the plants.

But things are looking up and I’m slowly collecting plants to put in my beds.  A few new perennials, like three lime green sedums and two red hot bee balm plants to add to the collection, and the usual annuals.

I seem to be on a red and green theme this year and I must say I’m totally digging this color combo.

When you work at a garden center and you finally give in to an unexpected color combo.  #gardenersofinstagram #gardener #flowerstagram #coleus #colorsplash #greenthumb #colorfullife #colourpop

The onion sets are in and as soon as the weather dries out enough the carrots will be planted along with the first rows of beans.  Gardening never takes a holiday!

Hello

I’ve been horribly silent these last few months for lot of different reasons, but I FINALLY have my own laptop and technical difficulties aside can finally blog on my own schedule.  No more hurried posts between preschool drop offs and nap time antics!

I will also say that 2016 was surprisingly stressful and not super fun. There were alot of ups and downs and not so much middle ground.  SO here’s to making 2017 WAY better than last year.  I think I got off to a great start by managing to freshen up my knitting skills and get over 6 Pussyhats knitted just in time for the D.C. Women’s March.

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Summer’s End

I am always eternally grateful when we pass mid-August as things can finally slow down enough for me to re-group and regain my sanity.  It’s only ever been like this since Fi came into our lives and all of my friends and family started having kids.  Summers are just B-U-S-Y. It seems like there is simply no time to be still.  But I have managed to make progress in very small doses.  I even sent off a quilt to be quilted and it should be arriving back home in another week or so.

Love my new cutting mat designed by @beelori1 of Bee in my Bonnet! It's big enough to square up my huge Birchen Quilt blocks with room to spare! I got the big 24 x 36, it's double sided and thick at 3mm. #sewcute #beeinmybonnet #loriholt #fqsfun #birchenq

Follow my Instagram (@thelittleredthread) to see more Birchen Quilt progress and other daily life fun!

I can see the tail end of summer now and I’m chomping at the bit for the cooler weather to arrive and the humidity to abate.  I’ve been continuing to run when the weather allows while trying ignore the fact that I only have 2 more months before my next Half Marathon.

And in between all this the Wee Beastie turned 4 years old.

We went to the Dayton Celtic Festival, the Dublin Irish Festival (pictures of the Wishing Tree from DIF…so many feelings reading all the wishes.)
The Wishing Tree is one of the most sobering, joyful and emotional exhibits that you will ever experience at the Dublin Irish Festival in Dublin, OH. @dublinirishfestival #beinghuman #weallwantlove 20160806_194413

There was the Lego Brick Universe exhibit and what seemed like a billion other tiny events in between.

I’ve also been helping out on a friend’s farm once a week since the end of July. We just crated 100 chickens last week for processing.  It was quite an event for two women and with the summer heat no creature was happy.  Free range chickens are very crafty birds.  Good food means hard work.

Now our yearly trip to the Renaissance Festival is looming and once more Fiona will need a new costume.  Going back to the basics though and hoping that leaving a generous hem at the bottom will let me get an extra year of wear out of it.  We’re going on Pirates weekend with some of our good friends and as long as it doesn’t rain I know it’ll be a blast!

 

Hand to Heart

My grandma Brewer, on my mother’s side, has always been a sewing gal, but over the years and decades her rheumatoid has taken a harsh toll on her hobbies and sadly, many things have had to be handed down to the next generation.  I use the word “sad” because it’s a signal to me that her heart is ready to start letting go of things, ensuring they end up in the right home with the right person.

Great Grandma Dills Quilt

There were a few quilts that I had never seen before hiding in the basement laundry room.  Safely tucked away in plastic zipper bags and sealed away from dust and bugs, I was able to pick my own hand sewn quilt from my Great Grandma Dills (Grandma Brewer’s mother).

This quilt is such a time capsule of an era and is simply amazing.  We judged the fabrics to be from the late 30s-40’s (this quilt is almost 80 years old already and will turn 100 in my lifetime). Most likely sewn while the kids were in school.  I can’t say for sure if a pattern was followed but I’m almost certain those hexies were paper pieced even though I couldn’t find a trace of old newspaper anywhere.

And it’s soft.

Great Grandma Dills Quilt

Wrinkled with use. Great Grandma Dills Quilt

Falling apart slightly and all hand sewn.

Great Grandma Dills Quilt

Beautiful. I didn’t know my Great Grandma that well. She suffered from dementia and it was hard for us to visit and be present for her at such young ages, but having this quilt is a quiet reminder that we are all young once. Great Grandma Dills Quilt

Great Grandma Dills Quilt

We all have dreams.
We all have creativity.
We all have skills.

And even if age slowly steals them away the things we make will keep.

A Vacation, Tropical Storm & a Cat

It has been nearly 3 and a half years since our last vacation.  No vacation is truly perfect especially when traveling long distances by car with a toddler and additional family, but it’s definitely memorable.

The last time Chris and I were in Kill Devil Hills, NC (or the Outer Banks in general) was over a decade ago.  We were both surprised, but not surprised by how much it’s been built up since then.  It’s crowded now, like really crowded.  We’ve already decided that when we go back again we’ll be staying much further south to avoid the crowds.

It was still beautiful though.  Fiona saw the ocean for the first time and it was pretty magical.

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Kids being kids she was soaked within 2 minutes of taking this picture, but that was okay.  She was beyond excited and proceeded to prance and scream with excitement for the next few hours we were on the beach.

Unfortunately, this was the calmest day we had as Tropical Storm Bonnie swept in for the next few days turning our vacation into a soggy, humid adventure. We still made the most of it where and when we could.

Pigman’s BBQ
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Bodie Island Lighthouse.  Did you know it’s the U.S. National Parks Centennial?! It’s officially been 100 years since our country started to designate land for preservation and stewardship.  Go visit one this summer and show some support.  It’s not easy to keep these areas pure, commercial and industrial developments out and it’s run by thousands of volunteers.  It’s one of the things we should all be most proud of especially in an age of climate change and the longevity of human life.
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Adventures on Pea Island Nature Preserve
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Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo, NC
OBX 2016

OBX 2016

OBX 2016

OBX 2016

The resulting sunburn of being out an entire day from Pea Island, Bodie Lighthouse and the Gardens. To say nothing of my lily white skin *silent weeping*
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Currituck Lighthouse (TS Bonnie resurrected after it had gone out to sea. Apparently it wasn’t done being a killjoy) Fiona climbed all the way to the top of this one and we were sodden by the time we reached it. Worth noting that this is the only lighthouse that is not federally owned on the OBX so kids of all ages can make the trek after signing the waiver. She couldn’t climb Bodie Island’s Lighthouse because of Federal Park guidelines that she had to be taller than 42″.
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Roanoke Island, Manteo, NC. Chris inspecting the sails on the Elizabeth II (yes, she sails on occasion!)I love Manteo. It’s got a small town vibe without feeling overly touristy.  I also came to realize how much I miss having a small local bookstore.  Not a used bookstore, mind you, but a well curated shop that has a cat, knowledgeable staff and a love for cozy nooks.  We found 2 such store while we were there and they were both a breath of fresh air over all the chain stores up here.  So here’s a plug for your independent book store, keep them awesome and show them love.
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And lastly, the Wright Brother’s Memorial. I like to joke that Ohio and North Carolina must constantly argue with each other over who gets what Wright Brother’s artifact. Dayton, the general area where I live, was where they were born, but Kill Devil Hills is where they took their first flight. Oh historical technicalities.
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The nice thing about looking back on vacation photos, however, is you forget all the in between antics that went on that may not have been so pleasant and see all the good and wonderful things your heart and mind were wanting to see instead.

All Things Start Small

"It always amazes me to look at the little, wrinkled brown seeds and think of the rainbows in 'em," said Captain Jim. "When I ponder on them seeds I don't find it nowise hard to believe that we've got souls that'll live in other worlds. You couldn't hardl

“It always amazes me to look at the little, wrinkled brown seeds and think of the rainbows in ’em,” said Captain Jim. “When I ponder on them seeds I don’t find it nowise hard to believe that we’ve got souls that’ll live in other worlds. You couldn’t hardly believe there was life in them tiny things, some no bigger than grains of dust, let alone colour and scent, if you hadn’t seen the miracle, could you?” – L.M. Montgomery, Anne’s House of Dreams (Anne of Green Gables, #5)

This has been my mantra for this week as I struggle with finding the balance between home, working again and running.  All of us start small and weak in the beginning. Helpless and clueless as to what the end result will be, but what we fail to see in the short term is evident when we look back over the long and grueling days and years.  We all grow. Sometimes in quick bursts and other times slowly as our ideas ebb and flow, but always growing.

That’s the miracle though, isn’t it? No matter if we’ve stopped for a moment we still press on like the tiniest, most stubborn seed.

The Space Between Breaths

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It has been a long month and I have no idea where things have gone off to but I feel like this short hiatus from blogging has given me the deep exhalation I needed.  I even had to take a break from quilting for a short time.  It was a result of procrastination, poor time management and feeling like other things needed priority.

Plus, I’m at a rather painful juncture in The Birchen quilt that involves matching up endless seams and pressing everything open to reduce bulk.  If I were a stronger person I would do a few rows a day and knock it out within a few weeks, but I have balked at it.  Each row has been taking about 5-10 minutes to match and pin. You might ask, why are you pining at seam intersections instead of “nesting” them? That’s because there are so many intersecting seams that everything has to be pressed open.  This helps the whole quilt to lay flat, but makes extra work when it comes to aligning seams properly.  There is a reason to the madness but darn it if it’s not a tedious affair.

I also took on another seasonal job! This one at a local garden center.  Just in time for their busy planting season.  This will not help my flower addiction in any way, but it will be outside with green things and really that’s a win no matter how long I’ll be working there. I’m not planning on doing any vegetable gardening this year as I’m preparing to solarize the soil to kill off the bad stuff that’s been lurking there for some time. Jump over to Garden’s Alive to find out more.  It will only work if we happen to have an actual hot summer though and if our climate pattern holds we might not see much constant heat.  Fingers crossed it kills off most of the crud!

I also did a quick pattern test for Betz White and her newest pattern: Tutti Fruity Penny Pinchers.

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 I opted to use mine to store my Garmin watch cord and it works out splendidly! Just the right size for storing small cords in or gift cards even.

I also have been knocking out a good chunk of books so far and have even made it 4 books into the Wheel of Time reread! Look for a few updates to What I’m Reading to pop up soon.

Here’s to making time for all things big and small.