Friday, January 22, 2016


I'm pretty excited about some new developments around here...

I have a flower bed! Yay! (Warning: There will be a lot of exclamation marks in this post.)

After three years of making do with cosmos, sunflowers, pansies and other annuals stuck in random spots in the veggie garden, I have a bed for perennials! Brian built a beautiful new deer fence for the garden and I spent last Fall planning, buying and planting flowers and fruit trees for beds that will run the lengths of two of the sides. I still need to source several and dig up a few from the Halsey house (our rental and the original garden), but I got a good start.

Seriously, I've got the best husband. He just takes my ideas and does them. (Even if it means
redoing a fence post so the gate is on an angle.)
Then a few weeks ago I casually mentioned to my husband that I would be spending a couple hundred bucks on David Austin roses and the wonderful, wonderful man said okay and actually smiled! He knows me so well.

Let me tell you a little about David Austin English roses. I love roses, but most of the hydrid tea roses I see used as landscape roses are straggly, prone to black spot, and light on the flowers. But I love roses, so when I started gardening I had to try them. At the Halsey house, I planted a Graham Thomas rose I bought at a local nursery and so began my love affair with English roses. It was perfect -- healthy, beautiful, robust growth and blooms from June to September. By the time we moved, I'd planted four other varieties of David Austin roses and they were all vigorous and healthy. According to the catalog, English roses are crosses between old roses and modern roses, so they combine the fragrance and form of old roses with the disease resistance and repeat flowering of modern roses. (I can't pretend to know much about other types of roses. I had one. It was nice, but no English rose. I've heard great things about the Knock Out Roses, though.)

So what did I buy with my $200?

Graham Thomas, of course. Can you believe this is the only photo I'd taken of my favorite plant in my whole first garden? Geez. The website's photo doesn't do it justice. It's a soft pure yellow fading to creamy yellow as it ages with flecks of pink on the bud. It does well as a cut flower with a light fragrance. The bush is a nice shape, rather tall, with abundant blooms from June to early September. I would name a son Graham Thomas if the hubster would go for it. In my new flower bed, Graham Thomas will adorn the fence and arbor over the garden gate.

(This photo reminds me to plant more lilies...)
Strawberry Hill. I was impressed by the vigor and complete absence of disease on the Strawberry Hill in my first garden. It was the perfect pink to me, and the leaves were so glossy. The branches were pretty arching, though, so this will be used as a climber, trained to the other side of the arbor opposite Graham Thomas.

The rest I bought are newbies to me (the photos are from the David Austin website, follow the links for the source):

Boscobel (two of these actually)

A Shropshire Lad (I think this will be trained to climb on the pumphouse.)

Claire Austin

Jubilee Celebration

Lady of Shalott

Wollerton Old Hall

The Generous Gardener (This one I already own and has actually survived in a pot with very little attention for the last few years. Time to find a place for it and give it some love.)

I am so excited! Plus, my mom gave me $50 dollars worth of gift certificates for the website for a Christmas present (we celebrated very late), so I get to pick two more!

If you're interested, head over to their website and sign up for a free catalog in the mail. Mine came with a 20% coupon. And it's fun to drool over. (They don't pay me, I just really like their roses.)

Expect more flower blog posts this year. I forgot I love flowers so much. Or maybe I just shoved the love down deep and smothered it because I didn't have anywhere to plant them.

To be fair, I didn't love all the David Austins I've tried. Here were a couple roses from the Halsey house that didn't make the cut:

William Shakespeare 2000. The bush had weird leggy growth, and some of the blooms were different than the others with stamens showing. It was healthy and a nice color, but not my fave.

Eglantyne. I discovered I'm not a fan of this flower form. It smelled wonderful, but looked messy and it didn't make a good cut flower.

Queen of Sweden. I actually really like this one, and it's on the short list of choices for the gift certificates. It makes a great cut rose, but the growth is very upright, and I need to find the right spot for it.

That's all for now! Off to bed to dream of roses...(it's a sickness).

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

2015 in review and looking ahead

2015 was a great year. In my non-sewing life I finished nursing school and passed the NCLEX to become an RN. In August I started my first job in the oncology/telemetry unit at the local hospital. I love it! What a relief to go through three years of torture and still feel like I am where I'm supposed to be. God is good.

Don't get me wrong. It's mentally, physically and emotionally tough, and there are days when I don't feel cut out for it. The burden of keeping sick people safe is overwhelming at times. So I take a breath, let it out slowly and reprioritize. Motherhood has been excellent preparation for that.

Speaking of motherhood, the girls are so fun. Most of the time. By a slim majority. Ha! They are two and four and I'm pretty sure I'm causing them permanent emotional damage. I do a lot of singing Daniel Tiger. To the girls: "When you need to go potty, stop and go right away...". To myself: "When you feel so mad that you want to roar, take a take breath and count to four." And chocolate. Daily chocolate is involved.

Here's my favorite pic from this year of them:

From back in June by my talented neighbor Audra Terry Photography
They are such good friends and playmates. It makes me so happy to watch how loving they are with each other.

On to sewing!

My goals for 2015 were:

- Make 50% of the girls' clothing
- Make more clothes for myself (specifically, workout leggings and a chambray shirtdress)
- Learn to use the serger

With these guidelines:
- Use patterns I already own or free patterns when possible
- Try to use fabric stash first (use two fabrics from stash for every new fabric purchased)
- Explore fabrics beyond quilting cotton

How'd I do?

I think I made 50% of the girls' clothing. In hindsight, that was hard to measure. I buy clothes on clearance at the end of the season, my mom buys clothes and I occasionally thrift store shop.

I made a few items of clothing for myself, but nothing very structured. And my shirtdress pattern was the wrong size range. Wah, wah, wah.    

I learned how to use my serger. In December. When I knew I the deadline for completing my goal was looming. Holy cow! Why did it take me so long? It wasn't as complicated as I anticipated and I love the results.

I expanded my pattern and fabric stash a bit more than I meant to. Ooops. But part of it was expanded by buying more garment fabrics and needed patterns for myself so I don't feel bad about part of it. And I don't feel that bad about the totally frivolous other purchases to be honest.

I did really well sewing with non-quilting cotton. Probably 90% of my projects were non-quilting cotton. And since I'm a bad blogger and don't keep track well, I'm not really sure how many projects I completed this year. Counting them up in my head I got past 50 which totally surprised me. I would have guessed 20-30. I guess I sew more than I realize.

2016 Re-sew-lutions

1) Make more of my own clothes. Something fitted from the black and white gingham voile. The jersey wrap dress I've already muslined and cut out. Winter running clothes from the microfleece I just bought.

2) Do more embroidery. Learn some actual stitches.

3) Make the girls' dresses, leggings, swimsuits, skirts, fancy jackets. Don't feel guilty about buying t-shirts, jeans and underwear.

4) Only buy patterns or fabric as needed if I have checked and don't have something that will work. I have a pretty extensive pattern collection, so I shouldn't need to buy any! Fabric? That's a different story. I still shouldn't need to buy too much, though. To help me meet this goal and bust my stash a little, I'm setting a limit on how much I spend on sewing supplies. I'm being pretty generous at $100 a quarter. $400 for the year. After all, goals should be realistic.

5) Start a sewing journal to keep track of ideas and completed (or paused) projects. I guess some people use Instagram for this, but I'm leaning towards good old-fashioned pen and paper.

6) Finish some of my unfinished sewing projects!

What are your goals for the near future (sewing or otherwise)?