We have family visiting so we have been busy doing lots of fun stuff which hasn't left me much time for keeping things updated here. All our local fruit is ripening and it is lovely to visit our Saturday Farmer's Market and see all the fabulous fresh and perfectly ripe produce. These apricots though, are on the tree in our garden...well they aren't anymore but they were. I first realized they were completely ripe when I found my greyhound wandering the garden with one held very carefully in her mouth. She wasn't sure what to do with it but she surely wasn't going to give it up to me easily! When I eventually got it from her, perfectly intact, I split it and removed the pit before offering her the juicy morsel. She wolfed it down and spent many happy moments apricot hunting in the following few days. I decided I'd better pick the rest! They were perfectly juicy and sweet.
We also picked the rest of the lemons on our trees. I've made mouth puckering lemonade, gluten free lemon drizzle cake and have plans for a lemon cheesecake with a hazelnut crust at the weekend.
At the Farmer's market last Saturday one of the farmers I buy from had mulberries. I'd never seen them before, let alone tasted one. They look like elongated blackberries, about 2 - 3 inches long. I bought a box so we could all taste them. The flavor is like sweet cooked blackberries, almost like jam.
They do look a bit like caterpillars though!
Also from the market were apricots, strawberries, blueberries, plums, nectarines, peaches and of course, cherries. Over the next couple of weeks the fruit will just get sweeter and more perfect. This is one of the things I love about living in California!
One of the things I like to do when I am up in the mountains is look at the stars. Without the city light pollution I am used to, they are astounding. They are so numerous there seem to more stars than night sky in between. Sometimes it feels like I could reach out and touch them and gently outline the constellations in awe.
I have a number of night sky books but my favorite way to identify stars and planets is the "Star Walk" app on my iPhone. It allows me to point my phone anywhere and the sky appears with all the stars, planets, satellites and even the ISS. If I'm using it at night, there is a red light version so that you don't mess with your night vision. I can even point it at the daytime sky and still see the stars!
This screen shot was taken this morning. The one below was taken just now (lunchtime) and the one with the nighttime sky was taken pointing at the ground so is the night sky visible on the other side of our planet! Mind boggling.
When my son was little we painted the Winter star constellations on his bedroom ceiling, because he was born in January. He is 22 now and still won't let us paint over them! This pincushion is inspired by the stars, by the Winter constellations and the meteor showers we are sometimes lucky enough to see.
The stars are french knots of different sizes in white floss and the meteor or shooting star is silver metallic thread with a colorful tail. I know we don't see colors like that in shooting stars but might we be able to, if our eyes could separate out the colors in light, like a prism? In my imagination, I see colors in the streak of space debris shooting across the night sky, like an artist painting a swathe of color across a piece of paper.
Around the side band I have embroidered a fragment of a poem by Lord Byron, "Ye stars! which are the poetry of heaven"
I am hoping to get these finished and stuffed later today.
I made a set of summery napkins today. I'd spotted and bought this fabric at our local Joann's store. I like napkins to be between 18 and 20 inches square and bought enough fabric to make six napkins....except they had cut my fabric about three inches short which was really annoying and meant the napkins ended up a tad smaller than normal.
I'm pretty picky about the fabrics I buy at Joann's. Most of the quilting fabric is not very good quality but they do have a small section of nice designer fabrics. This is one of those and it has a lovely hand. I thought the design was lovely and bright, perfect for summer.
When I hem napkins I use a really simple double fold which I press with my iron before sewing. I use the walking foot on my sewing machine whenever I can. I love it and how it keeps the fabric layers from shifting. Because these are everyday napkins, I don't worry too much about having completely perfect corners.
The double row of stitching gives the napkins a nice tailored look and holds the corners securely in place.
I love my iPhone for many reasons but one of the things I love best is always having a camera to hand. I have a Canon DSLR that I use a lot too but nothing beats the camera on my phone for spur of the moment pictures. After all the best camera for the job, is the one you have with you. There are a lot of cool photo apps for iPhone too and sometimes it is just fun to play. After a serious morning of sewing french knots (me) and napping (Tia) we took my lunch and my phone out into the back yard to enjoy the sunshine. Tia is all shiny and silky soft after a bath last weekend.
Do you see my phone reflected in her eye?!
After all the effort required for having her photo taken, Tia decided another nap was in order. Warm sunshine and a soft bed, what could be better?
I finished up these two flower pincushions today while sipping tea and chatting with a friend who was needle felting a little pig. The felt colors in these are soft and Spring like which is a bit of a departure for me as I'm normally drawn to brighter colors!
The pincushion above has forget-me-nots, apple blossom and some other make-believe flowers! On the side band I added a stem of little forget-me-nots. The pincushion below is inspired by English woodland wildflowers. There are miniature daffodils, wild dog roses, forget-me-nots, lily of the valley and delicate little snowdrops.
Added bonus...these flowers don't make my nose run and my eyes itch.
Spring feels like it has moved on to early summer here. The trees are done blossoming and now there are local strawberries and early cherries at the roadside fruit stands. I know from reading blogs whose authors live in other parts of the U.S. or in Europe that this is not the case everywhere!
This week I finished up a batch of antique clock face pincushions and the two deer pincushions which you can see here. After that lot I wanted something completely different to work on and settled on some pretty flowers.
I began working on this pincushion in the car while my daughter was riding which is why the light is different in the first two photos. I stitched a simple wreath with brown thread to give me something to work from. Then I added the leaves and flowers as I went. Each leaf and flower is individually hand cut.
Below are photos taken at home and these are the true colors. The little blue flowers are forget-me-nots and the others are just imagined blooms!
I'm not sure what I'm going to put on the side band yet, or even what color it will be.
The next pincushion top that I will be working on will be similar but with English woodland flowers, daffodils, snow drops, bluebells and primroses etc.