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River Valley Project Explore

This Saturday, October 16th, I will be selling some bed quilts, seasonal table runners, hat/scarf sets and various other crafts at the Project Explore Craft Fair on Saturday. The craft fair supports District 196 programs for special needs adults. Please come by and see what crafts are available.

I will also be participating in the Maple Grove Women of Today Fall Craft Show on Saturday, October 23, 2021.  It will be held at Osseo Middle School.

All profits from my sales will go to support various non-profit organizations (Sleep in Heavenly Peace, Hats & Mittens Minnesota, Project Explore and World Vision).

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Building Raised Beds for Gardening

Fall is a lovely time of the year in Minnesota. This year is no exception – we have had some delightful weather so far.

Unfortunately, fall also marks the end of the garden growing season. Over the lasts couple months, I have enjoyed eating fresh home grown tomatoes, peppers, carrots, cucumbers, beans, spinach, arugula and various herbs.

Before the rain fell today, I cleaned out most of the vegetables I had been growing. In years past, I had tried growing my vegetables in my yard but with no success. The deer, turkeys, rabbits and squirrels really enjoyed eating at the “Erickson Salad Bar”. So, the past couple of years, my garden has been limited to containers on my deck. While a fence would be useful to keep the critters from eating my vegetables, our neighborhood HOA rejected my original request made several years ago to install garden fencing in my back yard.

Planning ahead to next year, I really want to increase my garden space. I sketched out an idea for a couple raised beds to build on the side of my yard. Luckily the leadership of our HOA has changed in recent years and I my plans were approved. Over Labor Day weekend, I was able to construct these raised beds.

The daylilies and brick edging in the area were removed.
The boxes were built with 2″ x 12″ x 8 feet pressure treated lumber (each of these weighed 60 lb!). Each box was 4 feet wide and lined with landscape fabric and the corners were reinforced with metal raised bed brackets.
The brick lawn edging was replaced and the boxes were filled with a mix of garden soil, compost and sand.
Framing for fencing built with 2″x2″ pressure treated boards.
Rabbit fencing was added to framing. Hopefully this will keep all of the critters out of my vegetables.
A door on each box allows access to the planting bed.
The garden beds receive lots of morning sunshine.
And get some nice shade in the afternoon.

Now I just have to wait eight months to be able to plant!

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#NeverForget

2 decades ago

20 years ago

240 months ago

1043 weeks ago

7300 days ago

175200 hours ago

One day that changed our lives.

Sitting in my craft room, watching the broadcasts of the remembrance of the attacks twenty years ago, I am probably doing what many Americans are doing – thinking back on that day.

Twenty years ago, September 11th was a Tuesday. Being my day off, I went for a run after our nanny had arrived for the day. Just as I was leaving, I heard a report on the radio station that I was listening to that a plane had hit the one of the towers of the World Trade Center, but the reporters stated that the cause was unknown. A while later, while running, the radio station reported that another plane had hit the other tower. This could not have been an accident.

I think I probably ran faster than I have ever done in order to get home. The scenes on television were unforgettable.

I thank God for our military and law enforcement who have kept our country free from major terror attacks since that day. Twenty years later, the buildings have been rebuilt and most people have gone on with their lives. But, our lives were changed by that day.

2 millennia ago

20 centuries ago

Nearly 200 decades ago

Nearly 2000 years ago

726, 266 days ago

One day that changed our everything!

Sitting in my craft room, I am also struck by the events that happened on April 3, 0033. This is the estimated date of Christ’s crucifixion (https://www.christianpost.com/news/new-study-reveals-exact-date-jesus-was-crucified-scientists-claim.html).

There are no videos to remind us of that event. But, I thank God who gave his son on that day to keep my life free from the ravages of sin. Two thousand years later, people continue to gone on with their lives. But, our lives were changed by that day.

God Bless Each of You and God Bless America!

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Kaleidoscope Quilt

Yesterday, I was able to pick up my quilts from the MN State Fair. One of those quilts was a kaleidoscope quilt that I have alluded to in a couple previous postings. Today, I thought I would give some more details of the construction of this quilt.

I started this quilt while on a vacation last November. I packed up a box of fabric scraps in a variety of colors and heading to South Carolina. When not enjoying the lovely beaches, I planned to spend time cutting and sewing.

Originally, I planned to hand piece the quilt using English Paper Piecing as described in the book “The New Hexagon”. Using a graphics program, I printed some sheets of paper with the number of hexagons that I intended to use to make the quilt the size that I wanted. Next, I sketched out the location of medallions that I thought would look nice and decided on the color placement. However, like most projects, I did change the color locations as I worked on the quilt.

The first medallion that I worked on was the one I intended for the center of the quilt. After a lot of “fussy cutting” to make create the symmetry of the hexagons, I started hand stitching.

Three days later, after sewing the seams of this section by hand, I was concerned that my stitched seams may not hold up to normal usage on a bed. So, I stopped stitching and focused on more fussy cutting. When I returned home, I reinforced my hand sewn seams by sewing them on my domestic sewing machine. For the rest of the quilt, the seams were sewn by machine. Being hexagons, this was not a simple task – way too many Y seams!!

But, it was fun to watch the different sections come together.

After all the sections were pieced, they were then sewn together into the final design and black hexagons were sewn on the edge to create a black border. The pieced quilt top was quilted on my long-arm machine. Each of the medallions were quilted the same with designs selected for each row of hexagons for the medallions.

For the backing fabric, I found this really fun fabric.

And, for the binding, I was really excited to find some fun fabric that when folded matched the quilt really well.

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The Great Minnesota Get “Back” Together

Each year, I enjoy going the the Minnesota State Fair, viewing the artistry of the creative activities entries, as well as entering a couple quilts in the competition. In 2020, I was disappointed when the fair was cancelled.

This year, I had originally thought that I would not be able to enter any quilts in the competition. Having a trip to Colorado scheduled during the drop off days for the creative activities, I was at first unsure how I would be able to enter. About a week prior to our trip, I learned that I could drop off entries at the fair office during early drop off days before leaving on our trip.

After entering, I was still hesitant to attend the fair due to the increase in Covid cases. However, with the attendance numbers on previous days being down, I decided to go this morning. Being there from 8 to 11am, the number of people that were there was pretty small. The weather was cool and it was an enjoyable morning.

Things that I did not do:

  • Utilize a Park & Ride bus – to avoid the crowds of people on the buses, I left home early morning and was able to find parking in a lots across the street from one of the fair entrances.
  • Eat Fair Food – I usually avoid the fair food, so this was nothing new for me.
  • Ride any amusement in the Mighty Midway
  • Do any shopping in the Market areas.

Things that I did do:

  • Wore a mask and avoided crowds
  • Arriving early, I walked through several of the animal and 4H exhibits prior to the other buildings opening
  • Enjoyed the artistry in the Creative Activities building, including quilting, weaving, crochet and woodworking
  • Enjoyed the flora of the fair, a much overlooked aspect of the fairgrounds

Animals:

Creative Activities – My entries:

My hexagon quilt received a third place ribbon. The quality of the entries this year was amazing. So, I am pleased with a third place finish.
My miniature doll quilt, made with hand dyed fabrics received a second place ribbon. This was a huge surprise to me. I only entered this quilt as a whim at the last minute, the quilt was never intended to be entered into a competition.
The Twin Cities Skyline wall quilt that I made for a friend did not place. However, it is displayed in a very prominent location at the entrance to the Creative Activities Building. I will be interested to read the comments from the judge when I pick it up next week.

Creative Activities – Noah’s Ark: My absolute favorite of all of the creative activities entries that I saw today!

Creative Activities – Other Quilting:

Creative Activities – Weaving:

Creative Activities – Others:

Butter Sculptures of the Fair Princesses:

Flora of the State Fair:

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Rocky Mountain High, Colorado

Retirement has given me more time this summer to take a couple trips, two of them to Colorado.

In July, I took a road trip to Denver. The purpose of this trip was to bring several boxes that my eldest son was storing at our house.  While a long drive, it passed quickly thanks to a good book to listen to on Audible. 

Besides helping him settle in to his new apartment, we also took a drive to Rocky Mountain National Park.  Photo intense!

My second trip to Colorado was to serve as crew for my husband as he participated in the Leadville 100 mountain bike race. 

A few weeks prior, Keith had participated in the Leadville Stages race, but I did not accompany him for that trip.  The weather for this race was comfortable, but the race was still intense.

While there, he stayed with a family from Minnesota that have a second home in Leadville.

To thank them for their hospitality, I mailed them a bike quilt that I had made in 2020 when my office was closed.

For the MBT100 race, I really didn’t do much, just cheered him on when I was able to see him and help him switch out his water and food supplies mid-race. 

It was, however, an intense day for him.  The race started at 6:30 am with the morning temperature around 40 degrees.  Unfortunately for the riders, the temperature rose higher than anticipated.  By 2pm the temperature was 87 degrees with a fairly strong wind blowing. 

He did finish, albeit slower that he had hoped. 

However, given the conditions, I am very proud of him.  This is something that I personally would never ever consider doing. 

While in the area and after some time for Keith to recover, we took a ride on the Leadville Colorado and Southern railroad.  An enjoyable and scenic ride. Also, photo intense.

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Copper Garden Art

Owning a house in the suburbs, we have a few utility boxes visible in the corners of our front yard. In one corner of our property, adjacent to the driveway, is the large electrical utility box. This box is mostly on our neighbor’s property, so I have not done anything to block the view of it.

However, in the other corner of our yard are the cable and telephone utility boxes. Since these are mostly on our property, a few years ago, I made some decorative screens to help them visually blend with the landscaping. Around the telephone box, I made a mini fence by attaching cedar pickets to several pieces of metal strapping that can be lifted up for easy access to the box.

Around the cable box, I placed a trellis that I made out of copper piping. To help camouflage the box, each spring I would plant morning glories to grow on the trellis.

This worked really well the first two years after I made it. However, when the cable company would need to access their utility box, they would uproot the morning glories. Unfortunately, this has happened each of the past three years, and this year it was only a few weeks after planting the morning glories. Instead of replacing the plants, I decided to try something different to make the trellis more appealing.

A while ago, I had made a piece of decorative art for the side wall of my garden shed. This wall sculpture was made out of pieces of copper pipe soldered together. Leaves were cut out of copper sheeting and soldered to heavy copper wire that was then twisted and soldered to the main copper framing.

Using this earlier project as inspiration, I decided to add some leaves and butterflies to the trellis surrounding the cable box. The leaves were cut out of left over pieces of heavy copper sheeting from my original project. The butterflies were cut out of a slightly lighter weight copper that I recently purchased.

To speed up the aging process, I sprayed these new pieces of copper with ammonium sulfate (Miracle Grow) and set them in bright sunlight for a day.

The butterflies turned a lovely shade of green. Unfortunately, the older copper used for the leaves did not patina very well. I guess I will need to wait and see what happens over time. These copper leaves and butterflies were attached with wire to the original trellis and placed back around the utility box (see photo at beginning of this post).

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3D Garden Ideas

Since the wildlife is abundant in my yard, and our neighborhood HOA does not allow fences, I have moved most of my gardening to containers on my deck.

While I have been able to continue to grow my onions, hot peppers, peas, and cucumbers in my planting beds, tomatoes were problem. I thought tomatoes would be safe from the critters in the yard and for years I have grown them in planting beds in my yard. However, during the summers of 2018 and 2019, the wild turkeys would peck at them and ruin the fruit. So, at the end of 2019, I purchased a couple large Lechuza planters on clearance for growing tomatoes on my deck. Each of the planters had three removable planting boxes for easy storage in the winter.

At the time, I did not purchased the trellis system that went with the planters because they were not on clearance and would have cost more than the planters cost. Plus, I thought I would just use the tomato ladders I had used in the past when I grew the tomatoes in the planting bed in my yard. Unfortunately, when I used them last summer I discovered that these ladders were too top heavy for the new planters and the planters would tip over when we had a summer storm.

This summer, I sought other ideas for supporting my tomatoes. I originally bought a couple of the smallest tomato cages that are sold at the garden centers near me. Unfortunately, even the smallest cages were too big to fit the size of the planter boxes. So, I looked on line for other ideas. Having made other garden decorations out of copper, I considered making a couple copper trellises. But, again the cost was something that I thought was more than I wanted to spend.

A couple weeks ago, while doing laundry, I walked past my 3D printer and thought maybe I could print some type of trellis. After looking at ideas on-line, I tried out a few ideas. What I finally settled on was some fiberglass garden stakes and then designed some printed connectors that snap the stakes together. So far, they seem to be working well.

While perusing different printed gardening ideas on-line, I came across some plant labels. Did I really need labels for my plants? Well, no, I do know which plant is which. But, I liked the labels and decided to print a few.

Can’t wait to see how my garden does this year.