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I’m working on Amy Butler’s layered skirt. Instead of using one of her (gorgeous) fabrics, I’m using a blue-grey calico I found at Crafty Planet. It has a very soft, old fashioned look I think will go nicely with the skirt’s frayed edges.

So, I’m sitting at the dining room table sewing, and I look up and realize I have a visitor. A very skittish, visitor who usually won’t come very close to me unless I’m going to feed her.

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That’s Pippi, our kitten. She’s nearly ten months old, but she’s still a kitten to us. She and her mom came to us last fall. Her mom (who’s also part of the family now) was a stray in the neighborhood. It took us a while to find where her kittens were, so Pippi lived her first seven or so weeks without any human contact. She’s very affectionate with the other cats, especially her mommy, but she’s a bit more timid around Kurtis and I.

She’s awfully curious, though. So if I start doing something unusual, she’s likely to come check it out.

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I was very flattered by the attention. It’s unusual to have close-range Pippi time. When I was a kid, I used to hang around my mom while she was sewing. I liked the rhythm of the sewing machine, the soft light and the fabric chugging under the needle. It would make me very sleepy, too.

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Lush

Peony bloom

I planted this peony bush just after Kurtis and I returned from our honeymoon. For two summers, it’s been a nearly tropical mass of shiny green leaves, but no flowers. I started to worry. Did I plant it too deep? Not deep enough? But sometimes living things just need time to grow, to adjust to their surroundings.

This year, the plant must have felt pretty comfortable.
peony close-up

Aren’t the blossoms breathtaking? There’s something so opulent about a peony. The blooms are so big, so pink and frilly. It’s like having a garden of can-can dancers.

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Thanks for reading. Over the week there will be more pink blooms, sewing, and a kitten.

Oh, boy. I have so many pictures I need to share. I’ve actually done a lot of stuff lately! To be completely up front, though, I have to admit I’m not doing very well with my original goal of finishing things I’ve already started. I keep buying stuff. I really need to stop doing that, but it would help a lot if designers would stop coming up with such fabulous stuff. So give me a break, okay designers? Take a holiday, design some ugly stuff … just leave me alone for a while!

One of my favorite dens of temptation is The Scrapbook Shop of St. Paul. I love that store. I walk inside and feel all inspired and invigorated. The owner, Rhonda, came up with a terrific little minibook and I was so enamored by the design I had to take her class. Neat, huh? The book is made from die-cut envelopes – some glued at the sides for storage, and others left unglued for displaying pictures.

Here is what I made at the class, loaded with cat pictures printed in sepiatone.
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I love the envelopes for storing extra pictures and doo-dads. Interactive scrapbooks are more fun – you get to make little discoveries, sort of like finding a secret drawer in your desk.
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At home I made my own version. This one was a gift for my mom, who at this time of year gets lots of graduation pictures. She usually tucks them into the corners of picture frames, but this way she can store them more permanently and add notes, too.
envelope book

Now, the challenge to myself. I’ve got tons of pictures to share and lots of stuff I’ve done lately. I’m daring myself to write a post each day for the next week. That would double the number of posts to this blog, and I’ve lots of good stuff to share, I promise. I hope you like peonies. Mine are in bloom and they’re dreamy.

Now I’m off to watch my kitten sleep.

Progress!

We’ve done a lot of work in the yard over the past couple weeks

Strawberry plants

First, I planted strawberries (divided from a generous coworker’s garden) in the hot, sunny strip on the south side of the house. That spot gets unfiltered sun all day long, and so far the only things that I’ve gotten to grow there have been portulaca and tomatoes. This year I decided to try filling the space with perennials. My initial idea was to let the birds and bunnies feast on the strawberries, but now that I’ve been watering and weeding them, I’m feeling a little less generous.

Evans Bali Cherry Tree

Then things got a lot more expensive. We have a tiny yard, and most of it is unshaded. A local gardener suggested planting a couple trees, so after some research, I decided on a couple small, ornamental trees. The cherry tree below is hardy enough to last during our harsh winters. It was an easy choice.

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It was blossoming when we planted it. I’ve always wanted a flowering tree in my yard. It’s so pretty I can hardly believe it’s real.

Tinkerbelle Lilac tree My other tree choice was a bit more impetuous. Where the cherry tree comes by her beauty and strength through generations of Minnesotan ancestors, the Tinkerbell Lilac tree has science to thank for her tall stature. The photo on the tree card caught my eye – the blossoms are an incredibly vibrant dark pink. The fact that she’s rather a Frankenstien didn’t bother me at first, I was dumbstruck by the thought of pink lilac blossoms.

The dear tree is actually a tinkerbell lilac bush grafted on to the trunk of a Japanese Lilac tree. I worry about how she’ll fare in high winds; she’s very top-heavy. I tethered her loosely this weekend, in hopes it would allow her to withstand the spring storms we’re bound to get.

Hen and chicksLastly, remember the succulents I bought that snowy day in April? They are planted and thriving. Now I’m waiting for a few more blooms, and a couple more sunny days for planting

Gardening

When I was a kid, my dad was retired and he kept a huge garden. I always helped. I had a few rows of carrots and radishes and lettuce to tend, as well as some flowers. Going into a nursery always reminds me of my dad. I love the smell of dirt and green and fertilizer, and all the plastic pots with tender little buds stretching out. I remember looking over the seed packets with him to pick out the carrots I’d grow, and getting his advice on which flowers would be the best for our garden.

Today is the season opening for Malmborg’s, our local garden center. All week I’ve been planning what I’ll buy. I started clearing out a rock garden in our back yard that’s been neglected for years. I planted two of them last year, and my husband asked me why I didn’t do the third. I looked at the space he was referring to; it was so overgrown I didn’t even realize it had also once been a rock garden.

When I woke up this morning, there was a “crumb crust” of snow on the ground. You know that first layer of frosting you do, where some of the crumbs still show? The green grass was poking through the crust of snow just like that.

It was windy and still snowing when I went to the nursery, but everyone there was in good spirits. The flowers might have been a little cold, though.

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Usually the store has lemonade for customers on their opening weekend, but today they had coffee and hot tea. It was very welcome after a chilly scene like this one.

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I found a table full of succulents that looked really pretty when I brushed the snow away. I picked up six of them. Let’s hope it warms up quickly so I can plant them. I have big, big plans for our tiny yard this year. I’m hoping for a few weeks of mild weather before it gets too hot and humid to go outside. Stay tuned.

Lightbox Tester

After reading a few tutorials from folks who’ve done this before, I decided to make a lightbox to better photograph some of my stuff. (And I should probably finish some stuff so I have something to photograph, too). I went to Target and bought the clear storage box, tag board, and a couple clip lights. Minnie was more than happy to model for me.

Uh oh. We have a visitor.

Or perhaps Bertie would like to my production assistant.

Or better yet, my model. I’m going to need a bigger plastic tub.

A Pile of Scrapbooks




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Originally uploaded by periwinklejane

One of the biggest mess-causers in my craft stash is scrapbooks and all the stuff for them. The point of a scrapbook is to contain all of this stuff, right? Not for it to sit in magazine files and cute tin buckets and various piles on my shelves. But there it is, mostly unsorted and definitely not in books.

I’ve had a problem figuring out what I want a scrapbook to be. When I was in high school, the only scrapbooks I could find were these oversized, spiral-bound, construction paper numbers I bought at the local drugstore. I used scotch tape and rubber cement to paste in clippings from magazines. I should drag one of them up and photograph it, though I’m sure it would be embarrassing. They’re all pictures of Madonna and Sting and PeeWee Herman, and some mementos from birthday parties and movie tickets and stuff.

After college I found some archival quality scrapbooks in black. I started buying origami paper to use as accents to the reviews of concerts I’d gone to (Juliana Hatfield, Matthew Sweet, the Jayhawks).

Then came Archivers and all the “memory” type stores and wow, things got a little weird, didn’t they? All of a sudden it became about the paper and the ribbon and the doo-dads. And boy, that stuff is cute, no? I have a hard time resisting it. And a harder time figuring out how to fit my pictures and mementos with the spectacular papers I’d bought.

I did a few pages with a little bit of text and a couple pictures and a lot of pretty papers. It took me a while to figure out that the papers needed to be less prominent. I felt like I was featuring them, not my stuff. Silly.

I really like the idea of making a scrapbook part journal. That top book there, the green one, is going to feature our two newest cats, and how they joined the family. It’s a long story (complete with rabies shots!) and has a great ending, as well some some extraordinarily cute kitty pictures.

The striped book is going to be our honeymoon album — lots of pictures, museum tickets, and silly stories.

The pink album is from the months leading up to our wedding and, amazingly, that one’s almost done. I just need to finish up the page about my dress and my hubby’s vest and bow-tie (I made all of them).

I can’t remember why I bought that black album on the bottom, but I have lots of concert tickets and movie stubs and pictures to go in it, so I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

There. Some plans. Some projects to finish. Meanwhile, I have a couple gifty things in the works, so I’ll post pics of them soon. Progress!