Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Despite it being a busy year, Mr. Gardener and I managed to sneak in a few travels here and there.

Earlier this month, we went up to Baltimore to visit our friends, Bryan and Leah. They're actually friends of ours from Texas. Josh and Bryan were college friends in San Antonio and then we all wound up in Houston and attended the same church. About a year and some change ago, they moved out to the East Coast so Leah could pursue her MFA, and so we get to see them from time to time.

Baltimore is a fun, funny, artsy type of place.

For example, this presumably abandoned store and storefront. Just the level of chaos in its abandon amuses me. Why? Who knows? I'm weird.

Also the Senior Crossing sign. I don't know why I find this so hilarious, but I do. Is this the only place that seniors should cross? Are only seniors able to cross here? Will they check your ID?

Additional nerd alert: you can find quilt patterns anywhere. Check out that sidewalk. 

We visited a couple of fun bars, as well. Baltimore has some cool craft, local brews available. 

Again quilt patterns - check the sign. I could do something with those staggered blocks.

Soup of the day....BEER. hahahahaha

Also fantastic...this pub had ski ball!! I kicked Mr. Gardener's behinny.

Thanks for reading my ramblings. ;)

Have a fabulous day!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Summer Memories

I don't know about where you are, but it's cold here.

And I am not a fan.

Heck, it's already snowed here a couple of times. That's January/February weather, people. It is too early for that nonsense and winter has just begun.

So, while we miss the sun and warmth, I thought I'd share some pictures of a pretty little visitor who came to meet my marigolds this past summer. 

Plus, it's almost time to start garden planning and seed starting.

Never too early to start considering that. ;)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Holy Coloring Book, Batman!

I've talked to you folks about my adorable brother before. 

A few years ago, I made him a coloring book holder (following instructions from Martha), which turned out to be a big hit. 

Matt's a great artist and coloring (and music) help him deal with crowds of people when we're out and about. Since Matt has both Down's Syndrome and Autism, lots of strangers about and noise really stress him out. Coloring helps him stay focused and deal with the stressors.

However, that particular holder had seen better days...

Way better days.

So I was on a mission to make a new one. 

Once you've followed her (or others, there a million tutorials on these across the web) instructions, they're pretty easy to adapt. 

Her instructions call for felt, which makes a little sturdier case, but I was on the hunt for something a little more fun and colorful than I'd made the first go round. More Matthew-like.

So when I found this Batman fabric at JoAnn's, I knew I'd hit gold. 

These guys are the bomb. Every sewist should own one. They make turning out corners a snap.
Matthew loves Batman.

For example, when he stays at our house, he has a rotating set of DVDs that seem to live in his room. Among these are Batman Returns, Friends Season 4, and Jesus Christ Superstar.

What can I say? He has eclectic tastes.

The problem here was making it sturdy enough. Cotton alone really isn't going to work. So I got some pretty heavy duty Pellon interfacing and hoped for the best. 

I think it was Pellon 65, or something of a similar weight.

I tried to incorporate the Batman fabric in as many places as possible, including in the pen holder (Matthew is particular; his preferred medium is gel pen) and the notebook holder. 

I have to say, I think it turned out pretty well. He seemed to like it. 

I did inadvertently put my label on the front rather than the back of the book, but as far as mistakes go, that's pretty minor.

Notebook slides in on the right and pens go in on the left. 

So glad this experiment worked. It's actually much sturdier than the original. I am beginning to become a huge interfacing fan. The right stuff makes all the difference, although it is sometimes difficult to decide what type is right for a particular project. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Mr. Gardener and I would like to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas this year.

May we all celebrate and rejoice in this season that is a reminder that God is Emmanuel, that He is truly with us.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[c]
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Luke 2:8-20

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Better Late than Never

So...yes, that last post? I may have been a bit premature in declaring victory over work.

Things got a bit, shall we say, insane after that. Not quite to the point where work put me up in a hotel again (did I mention that during the craziest period over the summer they put me up in a hotel next to the office? I'm sure I didn't since I hadn't written since the Juneish timeframe.), but pretty insane.

I am definitely using the next couple of weeks to burn off as much of my comp time as I can. It certainly won't be all of it, but I look at it like an investment. :)  They do take good care of me after all and I did get a promotion when the whole bit started, so I really can't complain.

Either way, for those of you who are reading this post, thanks for checking in again. I will attempt to be more regular again in my blogging, since we seem to have hit a more regularish tempo at work, but I will also not make any promises. We know how the last one turned out. ;)

Right now, I'm using the time that I should be cleaning my house and finishing some last minute grocery shopping to write this post. Also, my mother gave me an article on ADHD the other day. I should probably read that.

I have managed to sew quite a few things in the interim with stolen time here and there.

But, because I'm dumb, pictures of most will have to wait until I can snag them back from their recipients. With whom I'm spending Christmas, so it shouldn't be a problem. ;) They can model. Probably unwillingly. But I'm persuasive.

But what I'm really excited to show you is new fabric I got for a new quilt.

New quilt, Ashleigh? Have you finished the other million that you're working on?


I did finish one!

But probably not the one you're thinking of....that one is almost finished. It needs a few more hours, then it should be complete!

Here are some pictures just to give you some of the progress (it's been basted and partially quilted at this point, so I'm much further along, but I have no pictures of that progress for you):

I hope to finish this guy this week. So close!

Then I will have four quilt finishes for 2013, which is four more than I have ever had!

By the way, this method of keeping my seams straight and at a consistent quarter inch really didn't work for me. This is one of the areas that I really need to work on. 

This, above and below, is the finished quilt. I've been working on this baby for about a year and a half. It's actually the quilt that brought about the final death of my old sewing machine (wherein I may or may not have punched the machine). 

It's for my brother, and since you may or may not be able to tell from these pictures, yes, it is a Halloween themed quilt. 

That he will get for Christmas. 

More with final pictures later. It's in the wash as we speak. 

And finally, new quilt in the works below!

Yum. Look how fun that is!

Above is Rain Basic in Black from Timeless Treasures. I think that I will need to stash some of that. It's so pretty! And colorful!

I'm pretty stoked about this quilt. It's a baby quilt for an artsy friend, who has similar tastes to mine when it comes to bold color and whimsy.

From the top, there's the Rain Basic, then you can see a tiny sliver of Alexander Henry (you can see it better in the picture below), followed by Stella Solid in Lime from Dear Stella, Free Spirit Solid in Parrot Blue, Free Spirit Solid in Saffron, Free Spirit Solid in Red, Pure Elements Solid in Burnt Orange from Pat Bravo, and Crosshatch in Black from Carolyn Friedlander.

Again, you can see the Rain Basic, followed by Pop Art Countdown in Multi from Alexander Henry. I am in love with this, too. I may stash that as well. Perfect for baby quilts. 


And I'm planning on mixing in a bunch of scraps. Stay tuned. 

And friends, they may not be the best pictures because it was darn cold outside. Especially, since it was 70 yesterday and today there's ice in my ornamental kale (look in the middle). 

But pansies keep the area bright even in winter. :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

I'm Not Dead

If you're reading this, thanks for hanging in there for my lengthy absence.

So, as you might know, if you read prior to my departure from the blogverse in the July timeframe, my work was getting really busy. (Also, I went on vacation, but I don't like to announce that on the web until after I get back. You know, keeping the burglars out of the loop and such.)

Frankly, I knew it was going to be busy, but I had no idea. :)  I worked anywhere from 12 to 18 hours a day during that period. My work even put me up in a hotel (because since I live in the Northern VA area, to live in any kind of affordable house, I live 45 minutes to an hour from my work). Aren't they sweet? (That's sincerity, not sarcasm. I really appreciated that.)

So you, my bloggy friends, fell by the wayside for a bit. I'm sorry, but I do appreciate your patience. 

Fortunately, we are out of that now and have been out of that level of craziness for a bit, but it took a little while to get my life (and my house) back in order. So, now I'm back, hopefully with some semblance of regularity and we have got some catching up to do.

-New project finishes
-Garden updates (and it's never too early to start planning next season!)
-New projects (yes, that's plural - I can never just one run at a time)
-Vacation photos & update
-New stuff - part of what I do is read resumes and there are just some things that I think would be beneficial for people to know about their resumes

So, I hope you join me this week and the days to come. 

Missed y'all and glad to be back!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Good Morning Monday

The next couple of weeks will probably feature really little quickie posts.

I hope that you'll stick around until my schedule calms down a little.

Busy, busy at work. Good busy. Very good busy.

Work we've been waiting on this side of forever has finally come through and, as with many projects, the beginning is the busiest. There is a season for everything.

And (praise God!) this also equated to a promotion for me and a new position! It's nice to be in a company that really looks to advance your career and mentor you to get to new places.

But that's not what I wanted to post about today.

Just wanted a quick share.

As you know, I've been working on my Bloom Bloom Pow Quilt for a friend who is about to have her first baby. You may or may not know that I like to use (at least part-I'm being honest here, I'm FAR from perfect with this) time making things for other people to remind me to pray for them.

It's exciting to be able to pray for a new baby. For health, for the mommy and daddy-to-be, for their marriage, their faith, their ability to raise their new little one. For so many things.

Tonight, I had a few minutes to work on the quilt. (Piecing the blocks together is often the most frustrating part for me - more on that another time.) While I was sewing and praising God for this new little life, He reminded me of this verse:

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek with all your heart.'"

He knows this baby.

He has plans for him or her.

And that applies to you and me, as well.

Even in this imperfect life, with all its bumps and bruises, our God is there. With a plan. A plan of hope, of salvation, of love, and of life.

How reassuring.

Hope you all enjoy your Monday!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Let's Go Nats!

So, I thought I worked a lot last week?

No, I'm working a lot this week.

But it's all good.

I really like my job and I love my company. I have room for growth there.

Plus I don't work like this all the time. This is just a busy season (with a lot of opportunities!).

So, in honor of my Nats winning last night (finally!!), I shall share my pictures of the Presidents' Race with you.

We are at the second half of the season now, guys. Everybody's healthy again. I respectfully ask that you get it together.

Sadly, no pictures of Teddy. :(

I think he had already fallen down and lost by this point in the race.

I think these are from May when I went to the game?

I won tickets from my company (See? Told you I liked my job).

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Giveaway over at Charming Lucy

So...I think Susan is my first virtual blogging friend... :)

I feel almost like a real blogger saying that.

I visited her blog through the Funday Mondays link up over at my blog/in real life friend Molly's blog a few weeks ago and she kindly returned the favor and checked out mine. 

And left me some super comments full of sunshine. Don't you just love that?

Her blog is super cute. You really should check it out.

Plus, she's having a giveaway that you should check out.

That's all I'm going to tell you so that you head over there.


Works in Progress Wednesday 5

Making major strides on my Bloom Bloom Pow quilt.

Finished piecing the "starter blocks," cut them up into triangles and pieced the triangles together in half hexagons.

I should take more pictures between steps, just for my own benefit to see the progression, but I get excited and have to keep going.

More in the stack, but I decided I didn't need to spread them all out for photographing at this juncture.

I think I'll be done soon. At least with the quilt top.

Eye spy with my little eye, something Phi Mu related!

Can you see it?

Bloom Bloom Pow Quilt-Along at Freshly Pieced

New fabric arrived for my next endeavor.

Actually, I think I'll be working it concurrently with a couple of other projects.

I just love the bright colors. While I do like the look of solids in quilts, I love bold pattern so much that I couldn't resign myself to just solids. So, that hot pink zebra print? Yeah, that's for the backing. :)

More bright zebra print. That's for the back of the Bloom Bloom Pow.

Yes, it will be loud and proud.

I'll explain it, but I have to wait.

The lime dots are for the binding. A smidgeon tamer. :)

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Also linking up with Kelly for Needle and Thread Thursday

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tomato Tuesday - Why your veggie garden should always have flowers

My garden is really coming along.

I've got these little mini peppers ripening.

I'm about to pick them, actually. Gotta figure out what I'll do with them. Mmmm...

And lots of 'maters. 

We had a couple of the cherry ones already. They were GOOD.

Yellow squash is blooming.

And I've picked one zucchini so far...

Pumpkins are starting to flower.

And bush beans are starting to grow.

Here's my secret...


Lots and lots of flowers!

Veggies ain't gonna grow without pollinators. 

It's not the birds and bees talk for nothing, folks. ;)

Bees and butterflies are always welcome in my garden.

Squash vine borer is another story, but we'll revisit him another time.

How do you attract those bees and butterflies?

With food!!

Which, for them, means lots of flowers.

Fortunately, my flowers are looking quite lovely, if I do say so myself. So I'm just going to give you some eye candy and call it a Tomato Tuesday. ;)

Hope you enjoy!

I attempted to grow a number of violas last fall and didn't get them in time before frost. But they all popped up this spring. A number of them appear to have interbred and made lovely numbers like this one, which I did not plant myself. Just popped up.
Good heavens, I'm a sucker for zinnia. 
Amber's Kiss Viola

Oh that color.

Some lettuce still hiding in there. It's starting to bolt.

Mmm marigold. A gardener's best friend. A lot of the nasty beasties  hate the smell, so they stay away.
This little sweetie is getting ready to pop soon!