Color quandry

I’ve been preparing to make a purple quilt for a gift, and it’s a bit of a challenge. Purple is the one color I am just not drawn to in fabric (well, that and peach, but I dislike the color peach in all things, not just fabric). So, by preparing, I mean buying fabric in purples because I have very little none in my stockpile of fabric. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw this post today on design sponge, with the color of the day:


I was reminded of the significance of the color purple in the Church, and in regards to royalty, because of how rare and expensive the dye was in ancient times.  It is a rich, vibrant color… I just don’t know why I’m not drawn to it.  Purple in the garden?  Adore it!  Photos of fields of lavender have always given me a warm, happy feeling (maybe because I’d love to be there seeing the sight firsthand!):


and in a perennial garden?  Almost a necessity for me! I have crocuses and hyacinth blooming in my yard right now.



Those are some lovely petals, right?! And my favorite Spring buds?  Lilacs:


I had a part in making this gorgeous purple and grey quilt, and I even had a hard time parting with it!


Yet I have no purple clothing and until some recent online shopping, no purple fabric.  I guess I’m just not drawn to it in textiles.  However, this Tyrian Purple yarn could change my mind, especially when I get around to watching my Craftsy knitting and crocheting classes:


So what’s your color?  The one that just doesn’t draw you in?

What color do you buy the most often (in fabric or other products)?  Mine has to be green, hands down I have more greens and blue-greens (aqua, etc) than any other color of fabric.

I’ll share my purple fabric purchases (and hopefully some purple quilt blocks) soon…


Parrots, swords and skulls–oh my!

That’s right, it’s getting close to Halloween and creepy characters start to rear their *not-so-pretty* heads. It’s also the month of my little pal Brennan’s birthday, he turned 4 last week. He has a very vivid imagination, and is currently obsessed with all things Pirate. His party is this coming Saturday, and it is, of course, a pirate themed party. He has had a collection of gold and silver coins, or treasure, for quite some time. They get buried and dug up from the sandbox several times each month. I played “pirate ship” with him early in the summer and we had to carry our treasure in a Glad-ware container. Not very pirate-y. So, I thought, he needed a treasure chest. I bought this unfinished one at Michael’s and I got to work:
The sketches on it are mine, it was pretty much a blank slate. Here is the finished product I gifted to him last night, along with a pirate hat, flannel eye patch, some new pirate coins, a few tattoos, and a 3×5 pirate flag that my sweetie found at Menard’s, that Brennan’s parents will be proudly flying this weekend!Near the clasp is his initials with a skull and crossbones insignia. On one end is his very own pirate, and on the other, silver and gold crossed swords. Yes, I free-handed the drawings/paintings on it, that B.F.A. degree comes in handy once in a while! It’s lined with pirate flag fabric, applied with Mod Podge.
His reaction was worth all the effort, time and expense (although, that was quite minimal). He had to find a special place to “hide” (store) his “very special treasure chest”, his words, :-> !! The “real” pirate flag was a huge hit, too! It’s easy to impress someone who is four, no matter how worldly and brilliant he is!

A touch of autumn from my window sill:
Mum’s I trimmed to bring inside for some color…don’t you just love the reflections from those glass jars?
and from my brother-in-law’s garden:
Oh, and one more lovely Autumn sight:That’s right, folks, gas dipped below $3.00/gallon on Sunday. Oh happy day! Another reason for you to come here, for this….!

Happy Autumn…Happy October….and Happy Halloween!!!!!

Meet me at the fair

Friday I went to the fair. I was going to see my niece participate in the State Spelling Bee. And to see the butter cow. And all the food-on-a-stick. And the quilts. And the people. It is, after all, one of the 1,000 Things to See Before You Die. I’m not kidding. It’s in there. Right along with the Eiffel Tower, the Grand Canyon and Machu Picchu.

So I took off early Friday afternoon and went to the fair. It was a beautiful day, a mild 81 degrees and relatively low humidity. I found a parking spot (shaded!) on the street a mere three blocks from the main gate.

Free parking is good. You see, starting about 5-6 blocks from the fair, you start to see signs like this one, usually accompanied by a homeowner and/or child and/or family friend beckoning people via their parking wand/stick/prod into their makeshift parking lot, i.e. “Their Lawn”.

Here we are at the front gate to the Iowa State Fair. I know, it looks locked. Don’t be alarmed, these days they use the turnstile entrance to the side of the front gate.

Our fairgrounds are impressive as far as the buildings, the relative cleanliness of the grounds, and the park like setting. I never went as a kid, but I’ve enjoyed going as an adult and always see something new. Here is the grandstand…I think it is a very impressive structure.

And the Administration Building…festively draped in bunting.

The Agriculture Building…

probably the most crowded building at any given time, and home to the infamous “butter cow”.

Here is the butter lady working on one of the butter sculptures:

This year we had the life-size butter Ayrshire (pretty sure that’s a breed of cow) which you can see the hindquarters of in that pic above. As well as butter portraits of four famous Iowans who contributed to innovation in agriculture…that’s George Washington Carver in frame #2

and of course, our very own butter Shawn Johnson. That’s right folks, she’s a home town girl in these parts. This is “Butter Shawn” holding her bouquet of roses on the medals stand. we can only presume the medal around her neck is gold. What other metal would it be?

This butter lady recently took over for the now retired original butter lady. She works in a refridgrated display case sculpting in butter for weeks leading up to and including the fair.

The Ag Building is also the place to see the judged crops:

Honestly, I looked closely at these ears of corn. For the life of me I could not figure out what made that one with the big blue ribbon any more special than the rest of them. But, I’m a city girl, what do I know?

Prized cucumbers, zucchinis, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes…. the list is endless.

That purple ribbon is a Best in Show. Again, I have no idea why. Maybe next year I will have to try and find out how these things are judged.

The Ag Building is also the place to see Iowa produced products such as emu meat, ostrich eggs, the Pork Producers booth, the Egg Council, and my favorite, the Iowa Honey Association. This is where I buy my annual glass of honey lemonade…Mmmmmm….

Outside the Ag Building are the garden displays…absolutely beautiful, and pleasant to stroll through in our unusually mild August weather this week.

I typically don’t make a special trip to see the livestock. A cow is a cow to me, just like an ear of corn is an ear of corn. But on my way to the Cattle Barn where the Spelling Bee would take place (makes sense, right?!) I had to pause for a cattle crossing. These future farmers and their prize cattle were being led by none other than the 2008 Iowa Ayrshire Queen. That’s her in the red pumps. It doesn’t get any better than this.

They are leaving the Livestock Pavilion, where they “show” their animals to return to the Cattle Barn where the animals live for the entire fair. That’s about all I know of it.

So we finally got to what I came for. Here is a very nervous Sparkles (lucky #7 there) before the start of the 5th-6th grade State Spelling Bee.

She told me I couldn’t take a picture, but she indulged me and smiled just the same… Here she is at the microphone spelling a no doubt challenging word. She did well, she made it through to round #6 before she misspelled the word “attorney”.

Sitting through an hour or so of spelling made me hungry, so I stopped by one of my favorite trailers for a peppermint bar… I should have taken a picture of that…more ice cream than you need in a week!

One final shot (I’ll posts photos later of the quilts and creative stuff I saw…):

This is the floating globe outside the Agricultural Building, installed to commemorate the 150th year of the State Fair in 2004. The granite globe rotates/floats on water…very impressive…


Beating the Heat…

Des Moines is a great place to be in the summer months, there is something going on every weekend, we have farmer’s markets on almost every night of the week, including a mega-massive downtown market every Saturday morning. We have an amusement park, great arts festivals, one of the (if not, THE) top-rated state fairs (that even inspired a musical), a great zoo, and beautiful botanical center…the list goes on and on. The only trouble is–the heat. Well, the humidity, really. The percentage of humidity in our air this time of year is typically in the high 80% and 90%’s. Which means when the actual temperature might be only 91 degrees, you often have a heat index of 96 to 98 degrees (what the temp actually feels like). It also means that every time you move faster than a turtle, you immediately start to ooze and exude moisture from every pore. Not pretty. God bless the person(s) who invented air conditioning.

There are somethings I refuse to pass up, though, even if it does mean sweating it out among the masses of cranky hot citizens. (Yes, we get cranky. Very cranky when it’s that humid.) One of them is the art festivals…

Last weekend we went to Art-A-Fair at Hoyt Sherman Place. It’s a small arts festival held on the front lawn of a 1877 mansion that now serves as home to the Des Moines Woman’s Club and many shows and performances in its 1923 theater. There is just something about strolling from tent to tent admiring the creativity and creations of other craftspeople and artists that just makes me giddy. I love it. I never tire of it. I would attend one of these every weekend if I could.

It was miserably sweltering in the sun, but thankfully, there was a lot of shade. There was also an awesome jazz trio playing music that just added to the ambiance of the day.

One of my favorite finds were these limestone wall sculptures of veggies and critters with human characteristics and expressions:

I don’t know how well you can see the picture, but those peas, asparagus and carrots are way too cool not to be found hanging in my kitchen or dining room one day. The little fish at the top is probably the cutest thing ever. I should have taken more than just this one photo. They are in the process of setting up a website, I’ll post about it again once I know the site is live.

The Hoyt Sherman Place is a site to see in itself. Hoyt Sherman was a relative (cousin, I believe) of the General Sherman that marched across the South and burned Atlanta (a little over a decade before this was built). Here is the 1877 cornerstone:

The front of the mansion:

The theater that was added in 1923:

with some amazing architectural details on the interior (this is the ceiling in the audtorium):

And a detail of one of the windows:

I only took one item home with me from the festival. This awesome little bag is made of upholstery weight fabric with a beautiful vintage brooch embellishing it. These bags are made by two sisters of retirement age who are just having a ball sewing together and starting up their own business.

Isn’t that brooch awesome?!? Yesterday, one of my favorite bands, Hello Dave (from Chicago) came and performed a free concert outside of one of our malls. This mall is only four years old this summer, they built a terraced amphitheater for these summer concerts, but without the forthought of providing shade for the poor performers on 101 degree days with heat indeces of 106 degrees. I seriously felt for these guys.

They are a pretty energetic quintet, though, and the show didn’t suffer as a result of their suffering. Here they are doing the fight song for their bass player, whose bass literally overheated about 2/3 of the way into the show. You might notice the people in lawn chairs across the lake there. Yeah, they’d be the smart ones.

If you’re wondering what got in my way at the top of this photo, that would be the broken umbrella that I grabbed as I got out of the car to protect my friend and I from the sun. You see, the developers also didn’t take into account the fact that these evening concerts are taking place in an amphitheater that has this great terraced arena that faces due West. That’s right, listening to the music as the sun goes down, down, down directly into your EYES! It’s gets a little hard to see the performers after a while, but my trusty broken umbrella that probably should have seen the inside of a trash can a year ago, performed like a champ. It’s not pretty, there is a metal spoke that pokes through the top, another metal spoke that no longer has an fabric covering it…it wouldn’t keep you dry in a downpour, but it will keep you cool in the sun. Oh, brelly, how can I ever throw you away now?

One thing that is enjoying this humidity? The green stuff! My flowers are taking over my porch. This is a huge pot that houses these plants, and you can’t even see it anymore. I don’t water as often as I should. But no matter, the moisture in the air is taking care of them just fine…

I hope you are beating the heat, wherever you live, and taking advantage of all the great summer events and activities your town has to offer. Just remember the sunscreen. (It’s 70 SPF for me).

Old Man River

We (mom and I) had a fabulous weekend atop a bluff overlooking the Mighty Mississippi. Our road trip down was puncuated by three stops at three very nice Iowa Quilt Shops (of course!), and I took a stop in the middle of a road to shoot this awesome birdhouse condo/tree/collection/whatever-it-was-it-was-cool!

And, how much I am I loving this new camera?! You have no idea! I haven’t even used any of the fancy modes like “fireworks” (!!!), “night skyline”, “portrait/smile mode”, or any of the other gazillion features of my new favorite toy!

We made it to our destination in a about four hours. This was the view across the river to Nauvoo, IL, that impressed us right off the bat…

We watched many a barge and tugboat travel up and down the river…

This was the house we stayed in…complete with lovely perennial garden and big shade trees…

A perfect opportunity to try out the new toy… I caught this bumble bee on the purple coneflower with my zoom:

And, as if that wasn’t enough, got the lilly (and the ant on the leaf) without even turning on the macro mode! Wow! I can’t wait to see what I can do when I’m really trying!

The house was very comfy, spotlessly clean, and well-stocked! Here’s the kitchen:

My comfy bedroom complete with pillow-top mattress and lovely river view:

And there was a drop-down living room and dining room, which we turned into “sewing central”:

After a few hours of sewing on Friday night, we watched the sunset over the river…

and headed off to dreamland on our more-comfortable-than-any-hotel beds…

There is just something so peacful and relaxing about watching the water…

Spring has Sprung!

It was just a few short weeks ago that I was still belly-aching about the elusiveness of Spring in Iowa this year….well….it seems it finally decided to make an appearance! I got so excited by our one warm day last week, that I stopped on my way into the store on a milk call, and ended up picking up a dozen or so plants! They sat on my porch in flats for a few days, but I finally found the time to get them into containers Wednesday night.
Three varieties if sweet potato vine, two varieties of vinca vine, two colors of petunias, a gerber daisy, and a few bacopa plants. This next week will be my selection and planting of veggie plants! Who says you can’t garden when you live in an apartment?! I used this book which is full of great tips for low-maintenance gardening in large or small formats, containers or in the ground. I’d highly recommend any of Patricia Lanza’s gardening books.

The awesome “chair” planter came from a craftsman/artisan in Kentucky. I purchased it when I traveled through there in 2005, and hauled it back to Iowa in the hatchback of my VW Beetle along with all my other luggage and treasures. It’s a good thing I was travelling alone! I don’t have the maker’s name any longer–but I LOVE this piece!

Happy gardening, and Happy Spring!