This and That

This morning I finished off canning the Calico Sweet Pickle Relish started yesterday. My yield was 3 pints, which is what I expected. I'm usually only doing small batch canning...just enough to feed Mike and me with gifts for family and friends.

While I was waiting for my water bath to boil, I took a walk around the garden. There's lots blooming right now. The hens and chicks are putting on a show...I think they have more flowers than ever before. I've only ever known these as "hens and chicks," but if you want to know their snotty botanical name, it's this: Jovibarba globifera. Now, isn't hens and chicks a lot more fun?

The tomatoes are blooming in the greenhouse. I took some time to fondle their flowers. Because these are greenhouse grown, we give their sex lives a boost with a soft make-up brush. The door and window to the greenhouse are open most of the summer, and so wind and flying things can come through. Nevertheless, I like thinking that I'm doing something naughty and so the caresses with the make-up brush continue. Yes, it is a little kinky.

We had to purchase a new make-up brush this year. The old one disappeared. We suspect squirrels are responsible for this. Honestly, with the number of squirrels we have running around here, including a whole lot of babies, I can only imagine what they're doing with it. In fact, let's just not go there, shall we? As for the tomatoes, I've yet to see a single tomato among the flowers. With it being mid-July, methinks it's going to be a small tomato harvest this year...as in, none. If there are any, they'll be for the neighbors to enjoy.

Behind the tomatoes in that image above you can see the bolting lettuce. There's more on the way, however. There are more seedlings that aren't really visible in this next image, but we'll have plenty more lettuce in no time. Also, off to the right and out of the frame in that image, there are two more loose leaf varieties that we're still able to harvest from. It's so sweet and good.

Right now, the hydrangeas are the stars of the garden. This next one was a gift from Mae and Erik one Mother's Day a few years back. It's one of the most unusual colors I've ever seen. We wondered if it would continue with that color beyond the first year, and I think we're about four years on now.

On the other side of the house is this variegated pink. (I knew you were curious about our garden hose, so I was sure to include it in the picture.)

Also this bush that has all colors on it. It blooms pink, blue, and lavender. Sometimes one flower has petals of all three colors.

And finally this one, which is the largest of the bunch. It grows in shade all day, and so it has done better than the others, although they're all well established by now.

This clematis was bloomed out by the time we returned from our trip last month. This morning I noticed it had put on a few more flowers. You can see the bloomed out ones behind.

The wisteria has a few flowers on it. These are way up over my head, so I can't get a very good picture of them without standing on a ladder, and excuse me, but perish the thought of getting on a ladder.

Mike bought this lily last year in a grocery store. It was finished blooming, and I think he paid about a dollar for it. We were kind of surprised when it came back this spring because we totally neglected it all the live-long-cold winter. It might have been pretty if the squirrels hadn't eaten it. It had two more buds on it, but those have been thoroughly munched.

Our butterfly bush is starting to bloom. This bush is completely out of control having grown huge and fallen over. We'll wait for it to finish blooming, and then there's an appointment with a chainsaw in its future. These are identified as noxious weeds in our state, and they're pretty hard to kill. We figure we can chainsaw it off and it will probably still come back next year. And if not...well...no great loss. We refer to this as "slash and burn gardening."

The echinacea grown from seeds last year are doing really well when the deer leave them alone. This one is looking very pretty, and there are lots more coming.

And the sunflowers are tantalizingly close now. They too have been pretty much mowed down by the deer and the squirrels, but I have a few survivors that will put on a show within a week or two.

While I was out, I had the company of my kitty companions. They stay side by side while they're out.

Sadie, as a black cat, gets too hot in the direct sunshine, and so she stays under things or else in the shadow of things. Just after I snapped this image, she jumped straight up in the air and spun around as a baby goat would do. She is so happy these days, and it's good to see her running and playing outside. Occasionally, she gets a wild hair and takes off after Smitty. He's all too happy to run away from her and after her.

Smitty was a kitten when we brought him home, and Gracie was an old lady cat by then. She never would play with him and scorned the air he breathed. Maggie was also never comfortable as a playmate, although they did learn to get along. And so that means Sadie is the first cat playful enough to meet him at his energy level. They're both happy campers these days...as long as there is no actual camping involved.

The only other thing I've been doing is to get a start on quilting the Wheel Estate quilt. Yesterday, I took a cue from my recent quilt-along with Lori Kennedy and "stabilized" the quilt by stitching in the ditch in the vertical seems. I had just started on the horizontal seems when I needed to stop yesterday.

I'm using a white thread on top and an aqua thread on the back.  My plan is to use the white thread to quilt clouds in the sky and to outline all the appliques. Then I'll switch to a bright green thread and quilt some grass into the grass sections. I'll stick with the aqua thread on the back.

Initially, I thought I might follow the pattern of the fabric in the outer border. While I was looking at it yesterday, I decided it was really too narrow a border for that to be very effective, and so I devised a strategy to quilt campers all around the outside edges. I'll switch to the aqua thread for that. Just now I drew it out to see if it was even something I could do. I'll need to do some marking to keep the height and spacing even, but it will look something like this:

Finally, a big load of thanks to my friend Carmen, who sent me this poppy fabric when I was unable to find any in the quilt shops of California. What's the matter with you, California? Anyway...isn't this pretty? Just a coincidence that the blue bird happens to be a part of it. Kind of makes you think it was meant to be, doesn't it?

Thank you, Carmen. Very sweet of you.

So with that, I'll get back to my quilting. It's a CSA pick-up day, but aside from that, it's going to be NBS (nothing but sewing) from here on.

11 comments from clever and witty friends:

Quilting Babcia said...

I love that poppy and bluebird fabric - so perfect for your project. So good that you've found the perfect playmate for Smitty in little Sadie. Best buds for life, just the way it should be!

Sandra W said...

The canning looks great. Yum.
My, Smitty is a handsome looking fellow. And glad to hear Sadie is enjoying life. Two cats is certainly the way to go.
I love the camper van border stitching--great idea.

Vroomans' Quilts said...

Numm-numm relish! The furkids look very content with life. Oh, I love that poppy fabric!!

quiltzyx said...

It's great that Sadie has settled in & is enjoying her new indoor/outdoor status. I can picture the 2 of them racing about the yard - and I can see in that photo that she was getting ready for action!

The canning is gorgeous - almost as much as all the bloomin' thangs!!

Wonderful poppy fabric! And I do like your camper quilting motif too. :)

Brown Family said...

It is fun to watch two happy cats play together!

Dana Gaffney said...

Beautiful "all things purple" pictures, did you pick a theme? I'm so glad the kitties are enjoying themselves, it's nice for her to be happy.

gpc said...

It is good to see your happy kitties. Love your fabrics, love all your blooms -- my lilies had just started to bloom when something -- squirrels? bunnies? -- ate all the blooms. But my tiny tomatoes are starting to blush and I'm happy about that!

piecefulwendy said...

I am grateful you remind me that you do small batch canning. When I think of canning, I always think jars and jars on the counter (from the days of my mom/grandma canning), so I need to remember that I could do small batch for us. Your garden is lovely. That hydrangea from Mae and Erik is gorgeous! Sorry about the tomatoes and the sunflowers. Fun to see the kitties enjoying themselves! I like the camper border idea; will be fun to see how it looks!

Susan said...

Beautiful flowers. Sadie blends in so well with the wood chips. So glad she and Smitty get along so well.

Kate said...

Thanks for sharing your flower garden, hydrangea are some of my favorite flowers. They don't grow well in OK, it's too hot and sunny.

Lyndsey said...

Mmmmm relish. I also only do small batches of relishes, chutneys and jams. I'd love to do more but I have limited storage space. However friends love it if I make too much. It great that Sadie likes to play with Smitty as he's needed a playful friend.