Gnorman the Gnaughty Gnome

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Late last summer, Gnorman came to live in my garden.  At first I was happy that he had chosen my garden to inhabit, hoping he would chase away the resident rodents who were being so destructive to the vegetable crops not to mention flower bulbs.  Gnorman even brought his own little shovel to dig out the rodent holes and evict them.  After awhile, though, strange events began to occur.  We put in a “beach” area next to our pond, just because we could and because it gave a nice spot where you could walk right up to the edge of the pond to view the goldfish hiding under the waterlilies.  I thought it would be a nice to touch to sprinkle some of those sparkly flat marbles among the gravel just because I’m one of those “oh, look! Something shiny!” kind of people.  Here is how our little beach path looks.

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As you can see, we also have quite a collection of large seashells around the sides of the pathways, not to mention quite a few stray plants growing in the middle.  Ack!  More weeding to do.  My wonderful husband and his grandmother have always collected shells and pretty rocks, and the smaller items I display in a vintage glass cover for a ceiling light fixture which is placed just out of sight of this photo.  This is where one of the strange events started occurring. I kept finding small shells scattered along the pathways of the garden in danger of being stepped on and broken.  I would always place them back in their proper place, and the next day they would be running amok again.  Then my husband would come into my quilting room and hand me a handful of the shiny flat marbles stating he had found them two or three hundred feet out in the pasture.  I even found some near the trees in our orchard, a hundred feet from the garden area.  Then this morning, I went outside to pull weeds, and found proof of who was moving things about in the dead of night.

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The evidence is clearly sitting on the raised bed timber for all to see.  You can see Gnorman in the background pretending he knows nothing about it, but I think we all can see, he’s been caught!

Believe it or not, I haven’t spent all my time lately playing in the garden.  I have been quilting away like a madwoman as well, but spring fever has definitely set in here on California’s Central Coast.  Things haven’t looked this lovely for years, thanks to the ton of rainfall that we’ve been blessed with this last season, continuing up to this past week when we got almost two tenths of an inch.  I know it doesn’t sound like much to most folks, but when your rainfall average for an entire season is only 16 inches, every drop makes a difference.  So far this season, we have received  21.09 inches.  Two seasons ago, it was less than 3 inches for the entire season.  Some of our neighbors who live in the more hilly areas have nearly 30 inches.  As a result of all the rain, our wisteria and lilacs have never looked better.  Here is a quick sampling of the eye candy.

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Wisteria.  Can’t you just smell the fragrance?

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Lilacs

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Rosa banksia (Lady Banks Rose) which blooms only once a year but is spectacular for a few weeks in the spring.

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This photo was taken from the farthest Southwest corner of the garden looking towards the orchard which is the tree in the background that has yellowish green foilage.  As you can see, all of our 60 something roses are about to explode into full bloom, the smoky orange on the right is my Laura Bush bush.  You can also see a little peak of purple wildflowers left on the hill on the far side of the road.  Sadly, the hills and wildflowers are just starting to dry up now that the weather is hitting the mid-80s during the day.  One last photo of a red-tailed hawk I caught soaring in the skies above our home.hawk cropped lbl

As far as quilting, I have been working on a quilt for the person who won the custom made quilt that I raffle off every December to benefit the youth group at our church.  This December’s winner is a lady who belongs to my quilter’s anonymous group (quilt guild), so I feel pressured to get it perfect.  She provided the pattern and most of the fabric.  I added some fabric from my own collection because I just couldn’t resist going with the theme, which is fall leaves sewn into a very interesting Log Cabin quilt pattern.  It required me to figure out how to make trapezoids, a totally new skill for me.  In addition, the pattern made the quilt 58 inches square, and she wants it to be a 40 inch long by 70 inch wide wall hanging.  This required a bit of a redesign once the center of the quilt was done, but I think I have met the challenge.  I don’t want to post any photos just yet because she does read my blog on occasion.  I probably will have to break down and send her a photo later today to see if she approves of what I’m planning to do for the last border, though I usually try to save the finished result as a surprise for the recipient.  Oh, well, sometimes you can’t have it all.  I guess I better get back to finishing up that border.

At Home Along The San Antonio

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This is a photo of the quilt that I posted photos of my fabric choices and a story about a few weeks ago called “Heading West Once Again.”  This is another quilt that I’m donating to a fundraiser for our local museum.  The blocks on the top and bottom of the quilt are all embroidered blocks that I did on my Janome embroidery machine and depict icons that fit into the history as well as the present here in our rural community.  Yes, we have a large herd of elk (the bottom block, second from the left) that can be seen hanging around frequently. The title of this post is also the title of the quilt in a nod to the river that runs through our community.

I really had a great time searching out appropriate embroidery patterns to use, selecting the right colors and stitching them out.  We have a covey of quail that has made our property their home and they conveniently showed up outside my quilting room window so that I could study their coloration when I was selecting thread colors.  It’s really funny, but the fabric I used for the embroidered blocks’ background actually says it’s “Beach Grass”, but it gives the flavor of gently rolling hills with scrubby brush which is typical of the valley we live in that runs along the river.

The fundraising dance will be held this coming Saturday, and I hope that this quilt raises a lot of money.  Right now the museum only has one metal building, but the hope is to have a small “town” of various buildings complete with Western facades to recreate the original town.

Heading West Once Again

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In January I made a western themed quilt to auction off at a fundraiser  for our rural museum that the community here has been working on for many years.   See my last post, “Playing with Potholders” to view that quilt.  The quilt was so popular that there was quite the bidding war, so the powers that be asked if I could make another one to auction off at their next fundraiser on March 11th.  This time the fundraiser will be dinner and a dance and they are calling the event “Boot Scootin’ Boogie”.  The request was to include a covered wagon in the design, so I set out to search for covered wagon fabric.  It was nearly impossible to find.  I was only able to find one piece of antique fabric, and it just wasn’t what I wanted.  So I decided I would try an embroidered design as the centerpiece since I have an embroidery machine and  digitizing software on my computer.  Everything I tried came out too small.  I guess I could have done applique, but I am too lazy to take that on.  So I searched and searched, and I finally found the panel in the photo above at Ebay.  I just love the old west look of the panel and the composition is simply charming.  It came complete with the printed “border” of triangle squares and the wood look border.  I don’t know the manufacturer since the selvedge only has the title “Point of View” on it.

I plan on adding some sort of additional pieced border at the top and bottom and then adding blocks that I will embroider with a covered wagon, a stagecoach, a ranch scene, a town scene that I purchased and perhaps some cattle and/or horses, then some additional borders..  I haven’t decided exactly what will look right yet, but I need to get a move on since March 11 is right around the corner.

This next photo is the fabric choices that I have to use in the rest of the quilt.  You can see the covered wagon embroidery that I experimented with lying on top of the fabric I intended to use as the backdrop for the embroidery.  I thought it had a nice prairie look to it.  I might also design some additional detail to go into the embroidery design like mountains or something.  Anyway, I was really excited to find the wagon wheel fabric right in front on our trip to town yesterday.

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Time to get my creative juices flowing and get this quilt done.

A Little Taste of Spring for My Poor Snowbound Friends

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Spent the morning strolling through the garden and pulling those dastardly weeds. I thought all you who still have no sign of Lady Spring might need a little hope…it is on its way.
Just praying that we don’t get a late freeze, which is always a possibility until the middle of May. But I’m going to enjoy this time while I can.
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I’m freshly home from a fabulous 4-day retreat with my Quilter’s Anonymous (Quilt Guild) group. The above photo is the main building which houses the quilting room to the left, a spacious lobby in the middle and the dining hall to the right. It was held at the St. Francis Retreat Center near San Juan Bautista, CA. What an incredible setting.
These next two photos are where the rooms were located that we stayed in, a short walk from the quilting space…and more importantly…the food!
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This photo is taken from the patio in front of the dining hall looking past the quilting room.
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And this is just a lovely shot from the same patio looking towards the rooms.
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The next photos are all of the interior of the quilting room.
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This last one is of my sewing station. Looking out the window just to the right of my station, I saw a herd of 5 deer and a flock of turkeys strolling by. Of course, they wouldn’t wait for me to get my camera out.
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There were a total of 30 very talented quilters as you can see from the sampling of quilts that were hung as they were completed. The food was also wonderful…and it was such a treat to not have to cook or clean up afterwards. This was my first quilting retreat experience and I am planning to go every year from now on because it was such fun. One of the few times that I was not ready to return to my home routine after four days away.

Spring Is Here Early

Here on California’s Central Coast, we don’t usually get into spring until the end of March, but for the second day in a row, I accidentally flushed a mourning dove out of the Carolina jessamine vine growing on our gazebo.  I checked, and sure enough, she’s sitting on a nest already!

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So, I guess I’m not going to be able to get in there and trim off the frost damaged leaves until the babies leave the nest. Hopefully, they only have one batch a year. Last year we had a quail nest in a potted plant right next to our front door and had to use the back door exclusively for weeks so as not to disturb the birdies.
And I think it might have been very windy last night…
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The goldfish seemed to be saying, “What the heck is THAT!?” Well, at least the ones who aren’t begging for me to feed them. 🙂