Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Heat lovers

This week, not only did it continue in the triple digits but it ramped it up into the triple teen digits. Yes, it's a "dry" heat but it's still hot. I decided that it was time to highlight some of our heat loving perennials. They provide the color in our garden during our very warm summers.

Bougainvillea comes in many colors. We think that the color is worth the pruning while watching for thorns. Many do not. We are constantly told, "I will never plant bougainvillea." Glen loves his bougainvillea. The above picture is what is left of the "trees" that he had nurtured for years until our big winds last summer. This was followed by a couple of very hard freezes this winter. All above ground growth froze. Thank goodness for hardy root systems just waiting to send up new growth once it got warm enough.

The Mexican Bird of Paradise is pruned all the way back during the winter and makes its way back for a splash of color on the corner after the sunflowers have come and gone.

It's showy and the hotter it is, the more it blooms.

The plumbago sits back and waits for the sun and warmth again in a shady winter spot.

More bougainvillea grows on the back wall by the pool.

These two colors are planted together for a real splash of color.

I've always thought I had a lilac vine, but a neighbor told me it must have been mislabeled at the nursery. Does anyone know the correct name for this lovely plant? I know that it loves the heat and that I love it.

The hibiscus love the heat. They also froze back this winter and had to be heavily pruned.

I especially love this ruffled variety.

This morning brought a lovely surprise. Clouds in the sky! There may be some of you who may have clouds in the sky everyday and are wondering why this is such a big deal. Well, it has been weeks since there were clouds in the sky. Weeks! Hopefully this is a sign that our weather pattern is changing and that moist air is making its way up from the Gulf of Mexico signaling what we call "the monsoon." We often receive much of our average 7 inches of rain during July and August.

We will also be blessed with amazing thunder storms. Hopefully, there is rain and not just lightening. The last thing Arizona needs is lightening caused wildfires. There have been more than enough of the other kind (mostly man caused) during the month of June.

Just for the record, I am not a heat lover! But I do love to swim. There are positives and negatives to every season.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Halfway mark!

This is Civil War Block 26, Barbara Frietchie Star. These blocks are being posted one at a time at Civil War Quilt blog on Saturday mornings during this sesquicentennial year of the Civil War. So at 26, there are only 26 more to go!

I found the blog at the beginning of June and have managed to make all 26 blocks during June. Now I will just have to wait patiently for Saturday morning when a Civil War history lesson and directions for a new block will posted. Such anticipation!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Vegetable garden officially closed

This morning I picked the last of the peppers, pulled the last of the carrots, and then cleared the grow boxes. By the end of June I am more than ready to be done, out of the heat, and watering free.

I was rewarded with one last luscious Old German heirloom tomato.

That one tomato made all the tending worth it. It was so good! Come October I'll be planting again. That's the way it goes in low desert Arizona.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Civil War quilt blocks, batch 4

Finally, I'm caught up with the Civil War Quilt blog until Saturday morning! I feel like I'm getting better piecing these blocks and then I find a mistake or cut something the wrong size and I'm recutting and picking out again!

Block 15, Fort Sumter came together pretty easily.

Block 16, White House did not. When scrolling through the Flickr pictures for this block, someone mentioned that they had cut the strip part all in one piece instead of trying to match up a square and a triangle. It seemed like a good idea but this is what I learned. Cut just one piece to see if you have the right dimensions with a combined piece instead of all four. Lots of fussy cutting on this block.

Block 18, Union Square also has some fussy cutting from the fireworks fabric for the corners.

I found myself going out of my designated fat quarter pile for this block. I purchased a collection of fabric in 2004 as part of a Lewis & Clark commemoration while in Seattle. Most of that fabric became a quilt for my grandson born in 2004. There were 3 fat quarters that I had never touched that I delved into for this project.

Block 19, Missouri Star was my favorite block so far. I really liked the look of the flower in the middle of the block on the blog, thus the search for more fabric. I then decided that the small print fabric was perfect for the background. That's a punch of a much brighter blue and hopefully I can use more later.

Block 20, New England seemed easy until I switched some triangles around. Got to love the seam reaper! I decided to make it more patriotic since the blog post about this block and New England was so patriotic and red, white, and blue.

Block 25, Calico Puzzle was fun to make. I used the last of the 3 "found" fat quarters to fussy cut another flowered center.

This project has been so much fun. It's been nice to have something to look forward to doing inside now that we are consistently in the triple digits everyday.

I've decided that figuring out each block is better than Sudoku for keeping my brain cells alive!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Travel this summer by book

When the library notified me that the latest Erik Larson book, "In the Garden of the Beasts," was ready for pick up I also found myself wondering through the children's book section. I knew the Larson book would be very heavy reading (more about it in another post) and it might be nice to find something light. The former elementary school librarian in me wanders through the children's section frequently. I found two books that I had not read before. Both books took me traveling.

"The Moon at Night" is by Madeleine L'Engle and was published in 1963. It is a part of the Austin Family Chronicles. The time is 1959 and the Austin Family is taking a cross country camping trip before moving from Connecticut to New York City. It took me not only back in time to my own childhood but also took me to many places that I have visited in person, although not all on one long trip like the Austins.

The references to the Cold War, bomb shelters, world unrest, and civil defense were very easy to relate to for someone like myself who grew up during the same time period. The main character, Vicky, is fourteen and trying to figure out how so many hard things can happen to people.

I also enjoyed the descriptions of the places where the Austin family visited and camped, especially Mesa Verde National Park. My family took just such a trip in the 1960's. It was one of my most memorable family trips and I enjoyed reliving that trip vicariously. As the book progressed, I would think, why I've been there and there and there.

And then towards the end of the book, the biggest surprise and event to live through once again vicariously. The family visits Yellowstone National Park and then camps in Montana. While camping, the large earthquake of 1959 occurs. I was a child living in southeastern Idaho at the time who was rocked in her bed by that quake.

L'Engle and her real family, the Franklins, took just such a trip prior to the writing of this book. I also remember my teacher reading aloud "A Wrinkle in Time" by L'Engle (which was a Newbery Award winner) to our class in 1963.

"The Silver Pencil," by Alice Dalgliesh is also semi-autobiographical. It is the story of a young girl born in the West Indies. My daughter just returned from a year and a half on an island in the West Indies so that made it appealing for me. It was fun to read the descriptions of island living. Janet, the main character, eventually goes to school in England, returns to the island, and then as a young adult moves to New York to study to be a teacher and also becomes a writer. The book is descriptive not only of each location, but also of the people she meets and lives with in each country. This book was first published in 1944 and was a Newbery Honor Book.

Do you have a favorite "travel" book?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Solstice and a little green

Summer Solstice in Arizona signals the end of the vegetable garden as the heat stops fruit from setting and stresses plants. We have four seasons. They are just a bit out of whack with the rest of the country. If you are a low desert Arizona dweller, you must take most gardening articles in magazines and adapt accordingly!

Early this morning when I watered, I enjoyed so much the many different greens I saw as well as the great textures. Isn't this coleus just amazing? It is thriving.

We have three different types of sweet potato vines growing in our side yard planter.

They love our hot summers and will soon cover the planter down to the sidewalk.

Glen planted what I call "snake grass" next to the patio just off the family room. It has grown taller than I am. When an Idaho farm girl, I would pick it from along side the canal, pull it apart and reassemble into necklaces and bracelets.

The plumeria spends the colder months in the greenhouse and then comes out for a growth spurt.

Something new, white vining bougainvillea.

Trailing vinca which began in hanging baskets but trailed far enough to get a foothold in the planter below.

I love the rounded shape of this desert loving plant's leaves.

Draping ice plant, not quite a succulent but a very low water user.

The cat's claw vine is attempting to cover the house.

English ivy fills wall baskets.

The pomegranates are a lovely green now but will turn golden.

I know, we are not in Egypt, but the constant gardener is still growing papyrus.

I am growing basil. . . .

because then I can make pesto! YUM!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A day to celebrate two ways

That little boy in the middle (you know, the one in red pants) is celebrating his 35th birthday today. How it that possible? Years fly by! His Grandma Elma bought out the red gingham at the fabric store and sewed her grandchildren matching outfits to wear to the Jensen Family Reunion at Murray City Park. Eric had just celebrated his 1st birthday.

Now he is not only a son, but a husband and father of four. I went to hear him speak to his church congregation today about fatherhood on his birthday which this year is also Father's Day. The topic was very tender to his heart, especially when he talked about becoming the adoptive father of Julianna. He is a very blessed man and I am proud to call him son.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Civil War quilt blocks, batch 3

I can't seem to stay away from the quilt blocks. Good thing that life is kind of quiet right now. There are not a lot of "have to dos" so that helps.

The above quilt block is my substitute for Block 3, Seven Sisters. It was an applique block so I kept skipping it. When my new fabric arrived, it included large print star fabric so I decided to use seven fussy cut stars and design my own block. It probably would have been easier to applique.

The fussy cut stars were on the bias and I could only get the star blocks a certain size before cutting into another star. Thus, the sashing using stripped fabric which turned out to be a good thing as it kept all the bias star blocks from stretching. I know that I will lose part of that cute flowered border when the quilt is put together. Oh well! But there are seven stars!

Block 4, Texas Tears and there is a reason that I kept skipping it. I could cry a few of my own tears. It turned out too big so I lost some points when cutting down the middle square and when I sew it into the quilt, I will lose some more. Perhaps some day I will try to make this one again, perhaps not.

Block 13, Little Blue Basket

Block 17, Comfort Quilt

Block 22, Blockade

Block 24, Ladies Aid Album

Tomorrow morning Block 25 will be posted. There are still five more catch up blocks. So hopefully a week from now I will have finished another batch of six and be all caught up - until I go on vacation that is.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

World-wide views

Nichelle & Oscar dining with family in Puerto Alegre*

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness . . .Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the Earth all one's lifetime." - Mark Twain

Oscar celebrates his 1st birthday in Rio de Janerio*

All five of my children have had the opportunity to live abroad. My four sons served as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in South America and my daughter studied abroad for a summer in London. For each one it was a life changing experience.

Recently, three of them have been traveling or living abroad again. My daughter and family just returned from a year and a half of living on the island of St. Kitts in the West Indies.

Ranes family headed to the beach on St. Kitts*

Her just older brother joined his wife's family on a trip to Europe and her younger brother returned to South America with his wife and baby boy as they visited their mission areas of southern Brazil and northern Argentina. Their "views of men and things" have expanded once again. I am thankful for their opportunities.

David and Sally in Italy*

I also feel comforted when they are all once again within driving distance!

*All pictures were "borrowed" without permission!

Little Oscar proved to be a great traveler. He also came home with new skills. He can now use the bar stools as a walker and empty the kitchen cupboards in record time!