Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Blooms

It has been incredibly nice outside for the past two days, with low humidity.  That is a rare occurence here in the South!  I walked around with my camera to see what was in bloom (and yank some weeds that are coming up despite my 45 bags of mulch!)

The day lilies are spectacular this time of year.  I have several different colors and varieties.

These double orange flowers are probably my favorite.  I tried to paint them with watercolors, working from this photograph, while we were in the mountains last weekend.   I was not too happy with the painting, but will try to salvage it with a little more work.

The knock-out roses have really started blooming along the front of the porch.

One of the shrubs that does okay with our hot dry summers is the butterfly bush, or buddlea.  This one is sort of periwinkle blue, and hides the garbage container next to the garage. 


I have never had much luck with hosta before.  They like the shade.  I finally have some that are thriving at the edge of the camellias under a tree in the back.

For areas with full sun and a tendency to suffer drought, you can't beat crepe myrtle.  I have some growing along the driveway and in the shrub bed out front.


And if the hot summer sun gets to be too much for the flowers planted in the yard, I always have a few pots in bloom.  This one has lantana plus a petunia that wintered over from last year due to the mild temps.

Some things look nice in the garden even if they don't bloom.  I like this crimson barberry.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mountain Weekend

I sure enjoyed my birthday weekend in the mountains!  We had to drive through awful thunderstorms in Greensboro and Winston-Salem on the way Friday, but it was worth it.  The temperature went from 92 degrees when we left to 72 when we arrived.

On Saturday, it was creek-sitting day.  This was my spot.  Nothing like plopping your chair in the water and letting the cold stream cool your feet.

While we were down there at the creek, my brother-in-law's Uncle Gary showed up with his bulldozer to help us with some landscaping prior to adding on to our cabin.  We want to be able to drive the Gator or four-wheeler behind the house to park in the basement.  Gary started pushing over some trees parallel to our existing driveway.  Now we have a bigger yard and a new road.

We all gathered to watch Gary in action, a master land mover.

He also took down a large hemlock tree that I always thought would be outside our bedroom window.  Oh, well, they grow quickly, and now we will have more room for the builders to work.

Notice how he knocked it over without touching the bird feeders, my flowers, or (not pictured) the charcoal grill right next to it.

On Sunday we went to Boone for a get-together in honor of my nephew, Ryan, who is leaving this week for the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis.  We are so proud of him!  He will be playing baseball for Navy during his time there.


My sister-in-law, Patti, has done a gorgeous job with the landscaping on their hilly, forested lot.  What an inspiration for me, once the bulldozers and builders are done at our place.

She definitely had a red, white, and blue theme for the party.

Their natural hedges of rhododendron were in full bloom.  Just beautiful!

Today it is back to work on de-cluttering and cleaning...but we sure had a nice weekend!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Shoveling out the Sewing Room

If you have been reading this blog lately, you know that we are trying to get our house ready to put on the market.  De-cluttering, re-organizing...and some of it is looking fabulous.  The kitchen cabinets, for example.

Have you been waiting for the part where I cleaned out the third floor, which is my sewing/painting/craft area?


The word clean usually does not apply to that area.  But I have been valiantly trying to find the floor.  Actually, the sewing room is not too bad, because I re-organized it a couple years ago.  I just need to get all the projects I have worked on since then off the floor!

Below is a storage area for fat quarters in the cubbies, hand-dyed fabric in the drawers, little cut pieces in the fabric boxes, and some miscellaneous stuff that needs to be organized better.

I probably need to take down the design wall with this unfinished scary lady's face! She got started during a Pamela Allen class when some of us decided to make a fearless woman portrait in honor of Pamela.  But... don't want to frighten any possible future occupants of this room!

It always makes me happy to see this belt hanger on the back of the door with colorful fibers hanging there, ready to embellish some postcard or journal.  It's a little sparse right now, since I have been trying to buy less and use up more.

I probably will have to paint over the stenciled hearts on the door to the other upstairs room.  I will wait until the meeting with our realtor to see if it has to go. 

Behind the cheerful door is a terrible mess.  I hate to show it to you!  I never cleared off my cutting table, and it is a repository of many sewing, painting, and crafting projects.  Somewhere under there is a jacket that I partially completed in a Karen Eckmeier class several years ago.

And my art table somehow works for me, as I can totally ignore clutter, such as all the jars and tubes of various paints and media, but I need to hide most of it away.  I really can't put my feet under the table because of all the stuff down there.  Really, how could anything pretty come out of this mess?

I am feeling a terrible need to do something creative.  As I have been carrying things back and forth between the two upstairs rooms, I have allowed myself to do a little journaling.  I always have lots of different journals in progress. 

This one is a tiny sketchbook.  My granddaughter Lily scribbled lots of the pages with crayons when she was about three.  I then tried to make some of the scribbles into pictures.  On this one I used colored pencil over the crayon, and then applied a layer of Quinacridone Gold watercolor paint.

I purchased the book Stash & Smash: Art Journal Ideas by Cindy Shephard recently. 

One of her ideas is to take paper from your junk mail, paint it, and use it to make a colorful journal.

So, between picking up projects off the sewing room floor, I have been painting some magazine pages and junk mail to make a scrap paper journal.  This page is one of Helen Kelley's quilting diagrams from Quilters Newletter Magazine with some watercolor paints on top.

This painting project is lots of fun, and super quick.  You can take window envelopes from your junk mail, add some paint, and then use them in your journal to highlight something from the next page.

Don't know when the journal will ever get put together, but at least I am splashing some paint around!

Well, you can see I still have a ton of work to do.  But I am still trying to exercise at the Wellness Center and walk the dog each day.  Kasey got her summer shave while we were at the beach.  None too soon, because like the rest of the east coast we are experiencing a terrible heat wave. 

Tomorrow is my birthday, and we are heading for the hills.  We have some things to do before we can get our building permit for the addition to the mountain cabin.  But mainly, I want to get away from the heat and sit by the creek!  (And get away from that mess on the third floor!)  And celebrate that I am old enough to start getting Social Security after five decades of paying in to Uncle Sam!

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Pretty Quilt

Back to reality...home from the beach.  Got to start cleaning out rooms and closets again!

While I was gone, the Cyberbee had their quarterly meeting.  Finally, a secret project was revealed!  This quilt was made by members of the group for Holly Sweet, in honor of her seventieth birthday.

All the participants made and signed the star blocks, using the same background fabric.  The applique border by some VERY dedicated volunteers really adds a wow factor.  Isn't it beautiful hanging on Holly's freshly painted wall?  It was hand quilted using the "big stitch" method by Jenny Copeland.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Family Wedding at the Beach

It was a beautiful night for a wedding. 

We had a pretty cake...

A pretty flower girl...

three somewhat bored little groomsmen...

my three handsome men

and a happy bride and groom committed to loving each other and their children. 

Oh, yes, and some wedding guests...all family members.

These are all the Mr. McBrayers

and all the Mrs. McBrayers

Charlie and I are truly blessed.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Surprise...Something Quilty!

Since I have not been working on any of my own quilt projects lately, today I will share the work of some of my talented bee members.  The Whacky Ladies met last night in Franklinton, NC at Sharon's house.
Here is one of Mary's Christmas ornament wall hangings.  She added sparkly beads to embellish.

Our hostess Sharon showed this unfinished quilt

as well as this one from a Marti Mitchell class at guild.

Sharon has also been busy making these small purses or wallets.  She is selling them at a local beauty salon.

This soft baby quilt is for Lori's great-grandchild.  None of us can believe that Lori is getting ready to have a great-grandchild!

Lori also has been doing some English paper-piecing to make these spiraling hexagon blocks.

Here is the latest of Carolyn's red and white Blocks of the Month.  Only one to go, and then she can piece her quilt top.

Carolyn also added two more batik BOM's to her series.

That's it, now it's off to pack for our beach trip!  I will try to post pictures of my son's wedding while we are still down there.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Of Dirndls, Deer, and Drama

When my husband was younger, he was first chair trombone at Grimsley High School in Greensboro.  He did not pursue being in the band at NCSU because it conflicted with the ROTC program.  However, when we had been married for a few years, he joined the Little German Band.  This volunteer group was started by staff members at N.C. State, and Charlie was working in the business office at the university.  We had some great times with the band, who played for free beer!  We traveled with the band to Germany and Austria in 1976.  I bought a dirndl in a beautiful lake village on St. Wolfgangsee, Austria.

Sometime during that wonderful European trip, we conceived our first son.  He was promptly nicknamed "Helmut" by the band members! 

Anyway, as I was de-cluttering and re-organizing my closet, I came across my dirndl.  I am sure I could not even zip it up any more, and have not worn it in many years.  Charlie quit the band when our boys were little, and only played once more when the band had a big anniversary re-union.  But, this costume holds very fond memories for me.

There is gorgeous hand embroidery work.

Look at the lavish amount of lace on the sleeves.

Anyway, I wanted to offer the costume to someone in the Little German Band or Dance Group.  I found a website with a contact e-mail address.  Soon I had an interested band member who wanted the dirndl.  Since she lives in Apex, she offered to send me a pre-paid UPS shipping label.  When I received it yesterday, I loaded up the package and the dog.  I figured we would go for a walk on the nearby greenway after shipping the box.  There is a UPS store a mile from my house, so I went trotting in...and found out that the label was from Fed Ex, not UPS!

I could not think of a Fed Ex location in Wake Forest, so I cruised through downtown and along Main Street.  No dice.

Then, I remembered my i-Phone.  Surely "Siri" could help me!

Have you met Siri?  She is the voice that allegedly helps you manage your life via the Internet, your calendars, contact lists, etc.  There is a commercial on TV where she forecasts the weather, finds a restaurant that delivers tomato soup, sets a reminder to clean house, and plays dance music.  All instantly.

Siri does not speak "Southern" very well.  The usual reply to my inquiries is "Sorry, I don't understand what you mean."  After about eight fruitless tries, she finally turned up three Fed Ex locations, all seven miles away or more.

So, Kasey and I drove to Raleigh and found the Fed Ex store, which my i-Phone told me was on the opposite side of US 1 from where it is actually located near the Best Buy store.

Mission accomplished.   Now, since we were in North Raleigh, maybe we could walk on a different greenway that we had never tried.
Siri reminded me that Camp Durant was just a few miles away.   This hidden-away jewel has a lake, a small wildlife zoo, and lots of trails.  It was the location of the Field Trip from Hell when I took my special education class there one year to walk the nature trail.  One of my little autistic students decided to walk in a swampy area, got his feet stuck in the mud, and guess who had to go pull him out.

I got him out, but one shoe and sock remained in the mud.

This did not sit well with the little fellow, who commenced a screaming fit while I retrieved the muddy footware, attempted to clean it off with a Kleenex, and tried to convince him to put it back on. 

Oh yes, and two of the other boys got in a fight on the trail, and the little girl petrified of bees had to be practically dragged along the path.

Anyway, I saw that there was a greenway trail head on Camp Durant Road, so we tried that first.  It was very shady and inviting.

It also followed alongside a creek that was strewn with large boulders.

We had only walked for a few minutes when I spotted a deer grazing across the creek.

Kasey was more interested in the squirrels, rabbits, and birds, and sticking her nose in the greenery along the edge of the creek.

On the way back,  I saw a deer crossing the greenway in front of us.

As we approached, we saw there were two deer calmly grazing in the grass in the adjacent neighborhood.

The deer that live in the woods near Camp Durant must be very used to people.  They did not run off as I approached with my dog and clicking camera.

That was a lot of fun.  I am sure we will return to this area to walk again next time Siri sends me to Raleigh!

Last night we went to our last performance of the season in the Broadway South series at the beautiful Durham Performing Arts Center


We saw one of my favorite musicals, West Side Story.  As always, I was impressed with the musical talents of the cast.  The man who played Tony had an amazing voice that filled the theatre with songs of love and longing.  We have enjoyed the performances so much that we signed up again for next year.  The shows will include Jersey Boys, War Horse, Sister Act, The Million Dollar Quartet, Mary Poppins, and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.  Wonder if they will re-enact the ping-pong ball scene from the movie?  If you don't know what I'm talking about, rent Priscilla and find out!