Monday, April 13, 2015

Rock Strawberries... will it work?

My strawberries are starting to show fruit and I decided this year I wanted to harvest more strawberries than the birds! So I looked online and found a lot of references to rocks painted to look like strawberries then placed around the strawberry patch to fool the birds. I decided to give this a try...

So I found a bunch of rocks...

Brought them last weekend when I went to visit my arty friend Leslie and we painted rocks...

then I put them into my garden...

and now I wait. Will the new little berries stay uneaten?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


Wow, we had a flash storm pass through yesterday bringing some much needed rain and then towards the afternoon, hail! We get hail maybe a couple times a year at best, mostly in the winter. But this was a cold storm with thunder and lightening in the afternoon, and the hail soon followed.

I probably should have covered my planting area but I was too busy watching the hail. Poor plants!

The front of the house managed fine, but the side garden got pretty pounded...

Monday, March 30, 2015

Getting serious about the side garden...

I had to make a decision:  would I be traveling a lot this spring and summer or would I have a garden? I decided I would travel in the Fall and do a big vegetable and herb garden this Spring and summer. I haven't done a large food garden for a few years and I thought it would be fun and interesting.

Plus, now that we have our new side door from our kitchen, it is so easy to step outside to water or tend the garden. No excuses! And I can admire the new blue and white paint job while I work out there!

north side of the house
new side door
So we left the straw bales from last year although they are starting to fall apart. They will last one more year once they are retied. The one which had totally fallen down was dug up and is being used to add organic material to the bottom of new grow pots I am trying out this year. 

Straw bale that fell apart

There were some strawberries that came back even though we basically ignored them all winter. I am hoping if I am a little more watchful this time around we might have a better harvest. Also I plan to fertilize more to increase the fruit growth. Last summer the birds mostly got the berries.



I have planted 4 tomatoes so far: 1 each of a grape cherry size, a San Marzano (for cooking), an Amish paste (also for cooking) and a beefsteak for slicing. And so far I have planted a jalapeno and a green bell pepper. I need to do a lot more maintenance on the rest of the bales before I plant more. I think the chard that came back is ok for now although I may pull it out since the plants are rather spread out and bolting already. It is also a comeback from last year.

tomato plants

I am planting things like carrots and lettuces in the grow bags at the moment. I still have many more plants to decide where I will put them and whether I will start from seeds I have or get already started seedlings. 
Grow bags with carrots and lettuce seeds planted

Most of the herbs are in the front at the moment, although I am planting more Italian parsley and cilantro in this side garden.

As you can see however, the mint that was planted last year is still there and taking over the bale. I trimmed a lot of it back and may have to go in and cut more out. This time I also want to clip it and dry it for tea!

Further along the garden area is a blueberry from last year and a lime tree we planted last year. No limes yet but it is still young. Along the back of the house is our lemon tree. We planted another satsuma mandarin too but I am not sure it gets enough sun to be successful.

lime tree

blueberry plant

More garden news and photos to come as I get it planted and rearranged over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

More flowers and my new blue house...

The sweet peas are starting to bloom. They are coming up all over the place, both from intentional planting and their own seed scattering. I love the subtle scent although right now it is being overpowered by the orange blossoms across the yard.

And my freesias are also starting to bloom. I mostly plant these yellow ones because to me they have the sweetest most wonderful scent.

I love how the colors of the flowers play against the freshly painted house. It really brightens up the place! And I love the blue scattered around the large white chimney... it was just too much white at once without the little shots of color!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A bit of sewing...

and a present I bought for myself...

First off, I needed to make a name tag for the quilt guild meetings so I took a quilted scrap piece, folded it over wonky style, stamped my name, and left threads dangling since I often have a thread or two on me these days.

Then I wanted to practice machine quilting with my walking foot so I made a little mug rug out of colors from a charm pack (5" squares) I had.  The waviness on top went away after I pressed it more. I decided to serge the outer borders to keep with the more modern feel of it.

And I had totally forgotten my new polka dot cup so when I went to get a cup for tea, realized I had made that mug rug exactly for this cup! It worked!

And then since I had been so good about cleaning the kitchen while the house was being painted last week AND since they were on sale for 60% off or some crazy thing from Craftsy that day, I bought myself 2 Kaffe Fassett shot cotton fat pack (1/4 yard) bundles.  I love the shot cottons -- they are solids but the warp and weft threads are different colors (from nearly the same to wildly different) and that gives them a wonderful sheen and woven quality. Not 100% sure what I will use these for yet but it was such a deal I couldn't pass it up!  62 lovely quarter yard pieces... I am sure I will think of something!

Friday, March 6, 2015

More evidence of Spring...

Not only is my house getting painted, my garden is starting to take shape again... (house photos coming soon, they are still finishing it today)

But in the meantime, from my garden.... a few early signs of spring:

Apricot blossoms:


And my African daisy came back (I thought I had killed it from neglect):

Monday, March 2, 2015

In a sewing mood...

Lately I have been in a sewing mood, so I started rearranging my sewing space in the kitchen, bringing in some bins to live closer to the machine and adding a new Costco table for a cutting area. This is all makeshift until I can do more living room decluttering and rearranging to have my sewing area take over, I mean... be in there.

I had out my Day of the Dead quilt blocks for the Circle of Nine quilt in that photo. HERE is where I described that quilt.  I finished those and now have 5 out of the 9 blocks. The bigger one with the black border is the center one. The other 2 have 2 of the same block and are for around the sides.

And then I made some curtains for the window above the sink...

and yesterday starting gathering fabrics for the next Modern Block of the Month club class on Wednesday over at Country Sewing Center:

These are for the larger block. Each month we make 2 blocks. The smaller one fabrics are cut and bagged for class. I still need to cut the fabrics to size for this block. I had to see them together for a while to be sure they went how I wanted together. I think they will work, so now to just cut them and I will be ready for class!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bits of color here and there...

I have been noticing Spring approaching in it's various ways.

Our garden tulips are starting to bloom...

My increased need for colors in my life...

Colors coming out in some paintings I have been doing lately...

I have stacks of fabrics to sew, quilt blocks to work on, canvases to get ready for a little corner of an art show a friend is sharing with me in May, and a ton of new ideas that seem to blossom in the Spring. Oh and a garden to plan... what to grow this year that the snails and bugs won't get to before I do?

Monday, February 16, 2015


It is definitely taking me more than a day or two to figure out the direction my life/my art is taking but I have that on the back burner now while I do ahead and play some more...

This week I dabbled at some painting. Making some backgrounds, doing the Flora Bowley online Bloom True class, and playing with some canvases I had other things on and wanted to reuse and start over with.  

And then there is You Tube. I have been spending a lot of time watching videos lately: mixed media, art quilting, sewing, painting, you name it! I found one via Facebook from Mystic Tulip Arts and after watching it thought I would make my own version. HERE is her video. It is Betty Franks Krause' Love Grows Painting and Doodling on Canvas.

This is what I came up with. It still needs a lot more doodling to go with her style, but it is getting there. I love how bright the colors are. It is painted over a paper collaged canvas which is what you can see through the colors.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Stop and smell the flowers

I have been crazy busy the last few weeks and the other day it hit me: why am I doing this? I have a gazillion art projects and sewing projects and things to keep me occupied and there I was, sitting at my desk, not wanting to do ANYTHING. My body and brain were fighting back: I am retired -- I don't need to be doing something every moment of the day. I was so tired from running to this class and that class and doing part of one online course then rushing over to another one...

So I stopped for a day and let my thoughts rush in and boy was I in for a surprise! It turns out I really do not know what I want to be doing with this part of my life! I had so many options that I was overwhelmed.

Time to step back a bit, think about my word for the year:
OPEN. Yes I was open to everything -- was that a problem? Or could I learn to be open to ideas and let them flow through me? Did I have to DO everything I thought of, or could I just notice and let it go?  It was obvious to me I needed to work on this idea.

And my CDFs (core desired feelings from the Danielle LaPorte Desire Map book): had been taking a back seat to all my running around lately. Time to reflect on these:
Unencumbered: started on a major house cleaning then sort of stopped when I got so busy arting and sewing. Need to return to this one.
Aligned: well I have not done as much yoga as I thought I might be doing, what is stopping me?
Vibrant: well the art stuff is happening -- lots of color, but there is still something missing -- I am not as happy about creating my art as I thought I would be. I keep asking myself this question:  What is my art asking of me?
Connected: I am getting out and seeing friends, but there is more I need/want to work on for this one.
Mindful: at first I was thinking of this for eating and it has sort of been happening, but I want it happening in more areas of my life too.

I think I will be doing more sitting back and reflecting today...

Monday, February 2, 2015

What a fun week it has been!

And a busy one!

First I want to welcome new followers to the blog who found me though the Grow Your Blog Party from last week! It has been a pleasure reading your comments and finding more new blog friends with similar interests. I really can feel the "web-ness" of the WWW when we do things like the blog party, which connects people from all over through a desire to share all the fun things we do.

Then, last week was a week of a lot of sewing! The week before I finally bought myself a Baby Lock Eclipse serger (after thinking about one for at least 6 months)...

I had one serger lesson before I took LisAnn's Serger Club Tiered Skirt class at Country Sew and now I can very quickly and easily make skirts...

What I love about the serger (also called an overlock machine) is that it does several things at the same time in the sewing process. It is essentially a finishing machine (all those weird stitches you see at the edges of your clothing seams, those are overlocked -- keeps fabric from fraying), but it also can gather and of course it cuts the edges of your stitches so instead of 5 or 6 steps with a regular sewing machine to make gathers (pin, baste, gather, stitch, take out basting, trim seams), it does all that in one step. In the class we learned how to make the casing for elastic (like a blind hem for you sewers out there), how to figure out the fabric for the tiers, and for the hem, a nice rolled hem stitch. 

And then yesterday, I went to Oakland for an all day workshop at the lovely A Verb For Keeping Warm yarn and fabric shop. The workshop was to learn the basics of the Alabama Chanin  hand-sewn method of stenciling, stitching, and cutting a garment. We made a simple bandana sampler as a beginner project. 

Here is a section of three ways of stitching around the cut or stenciled areas...

All of Alabama Chanin clothing is made on jersey knit (think t-shirt material). I had never actually worked with jersey before so I discovered how difficult it is to cut when I was making the squares to bring to the workshop. I guess it takes a little getting used to. And lest you think oh, t-shirt material, how plain can that be, check out her collection. Keep in mind these are all hand-sewn and take weeks to make... and cost thousands of dollars if you want the full embroidered beaded clothing! 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Grow Your Blog Party 2015

Welcome to Full Circle, a ragtag mix of mostly paper and textile arts and crafts, painting, yoga, photos, travels, thoughts and quotes, an occasional recipe and other assorted nonsense! Today is GROW YOUR BLOG Sunday!

If you are here for the first time and came via the Blog Party, I welcome you and would like to thank you for dropping by! My name is Rhonda and I am blogging from Sacramento, California.

I am a recently retired middle school science teacher and now that I have more time, have gotten back into the arty side of my life. I have been doing some form of art most of my life and now I am finding I want to do everything! So I divide my time with some painting, art journaling, crocheting, natural dyeing, bookbinding, sewing and quilting. When did I ever have time to work before? I think the best way to see what my blog is all about is to scroll down through the posts. As you can see it is a bit eclectic!

It is time for Vicki's Grow Your Blog Party and this year I am participating! This is my second year to participate. Her "GROW YOUR BLOG" event is designed "to bring more readers and FOLLOWERS to our blogs. The premise is simple-- just visit as many blogs as you wish and sign up to follow those that interest you. In turn, all the other folks will be doing the same thing~ we will all be growing our blogs!" Last year she had over 500 people sign up! I visited a bunch of cool sounding blogs and found many I still follow today -- not all arts and crafts or cooking, but some just an interesting life somewhere else. So I am hoping some of you will visit my blog and find things you like that will keep you interested in more. Either way, I am so thrilled you have stopped in and would love to hear from you!

One of the keys to discovering new blogging friends is to leave a comment, which I always do when I visit a new blog for this kind of event. So please feel free to leave me a comment below if you are visiting for the first time or a repeat visitor! And of course, always feel free to follow or subscribe to my blog. If you use a blog reader, please add my blog to your reader. I usually post a couple of times a week. Welcome to my blog today! I hope I will see you again in the future!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Getting ready for Grow Your Blog on Sunday...

Last year I took part in Vickie's Grow Your Blog party to help arty type folks expand their blog audience. It was a great way to not only find a few new readers for my own blog but also I found several new blogs that I am still following today. So when it came around again this year I decided to do it again. It will start on Sunday, when over 500 people with creative arts blogs will all post a Grow Your Blog post. I look forward to visiting more blogs and finding new online arty friends.

In the meantime, I have been thinking a lot about all the art I have been doing and wanted to find where I had put the photos for it online. This has made me think about -- sometime when I have spare time -- that I need to reorganize the photos on my computer and get rid of old things (like school lesson plans) that I no longer need.

I made a little mosaic of a few of the things I have done in the last year or two, favorite journal pages, mail art postcards, paintings, textiles...

Linked to:
Paint Party Friday
Off the Wall Friday

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Coming back to quilting...

Maybe it is the colder months but I find myself drawn to working with fabric more in the winter. And now that I have more time, I happened to look at the class schedule at Country Sew and found a couple of quilting classes I wanted to take. I am not a very proficient quilter, having only made a few quilted things before.

This is the first quilt I made for one of my teacher friend's new baby about 2 years ago:

Ajays Quilt

Now I am working on some separate blocks mostly to learn various techniques, such as this one from this month's Modern Quilting Block Party:

Each month we learn a different block (with a slightly more modern quilting edge, not your grandmother's quilt blocks) and I guess eventually put them all together in one quilt. Except this one is going to become a table mat once I quilt it and put a binding on it. It is about 12 inches square. Turns out I happened to have some dinner candles in these colors and I thought it would make a nice addition to the table for those rare occasions I put my sewing stuff away and we eat at the table!

And the one I am having fun with now that will make up a whole quilt is called Circle of Nine and is from a 3 week class at Country Sew.  This is the original pattern of the quilt (from the book):

Last week we learned how to make the wonky squares for the middle.  This week I think we are learning how to do the background and next week, who knows? Probably how to put it all together and finish it. But... it is the "homework" that is killing me! It is taking a lot more time than I thought to cut the strips and sew 8 more of these funky blocks! I like the modern "wonkiness" of the blocks -- you don't have to worry about measuring or making perfect seams!  The nice thing is that the blocks are huge -- nearly 13" square, so it only takes the 9 to make up most of the quilt.

My theme is for a Day of the Dead quilt. I have had this fabric for a long while and thought it would be fun to use it in a quilt. The centers are fussy cut from the fabric, then the large border (grey print in the book pattern) will all be the Day of the Dead fabric. The colorful squares in the pattern are going to all be black for my quilt, so it will be a lot of black and white. I am hoping the reality looks as good as the one in my imagination!

Linked to: Can I Get a Whoop Whoop!