The Quilt.

Soooooo……about a year and a half ago (maybe a little longer, but who’s keeping track??), my best friend’s husband, Steve,  decided that it would be a good idea, since he had retired, to have a quilt made out of all of his ties that he wore over the years to work.  More specifically, he decided that I should be the one to make the quilt, since I’m one of the few quilters that he knows personally. I very naively agreed with him that this was a phenomenal idea and that I would do it. One thing, though. Ummm….I had never worked with silk before and had not realized what a ginormous PIA this would be. Nonetheless, I had agreed to take on this project, so I set out to complete it. I won’t lie. When I first started working on it, if I could have backed out gracefully, I certainly would have. But a promise is a promise.

The first surprise was that he actually packed up (very neatly and super organized) several boxes filled meticulously with 200+ rolled up ties. He then proceeded to mail them from Georgia to Massachusetts. Seriously, people. This picture does not include all of the boxes.


After I had recovered from receiving all the boxes filled with ties, I had to get on with the process of deciding what type of quilt, specifically what PATTERN. On the surface of things, this seems like a simple task. But trust me, when you take the time and make the effort to construct something from scratch with your own two hands, you want the recipient to LOVE it. It must be perfect. I wrestled with this for a while. When you look on the internet for ideas for a tie quilt, most of what you find are silly, comical patterns. Knowing that Steve has true love and respect for traditionally pieced quilts, and also knowing that Erin (the biffle, his wife) would have to tolerate the quilt in her presence, it seemed that a “real” quilt was the right way to go.

During a conversation with Erin some time later, she casually mentioned the quilt (and how much she loved it) that is on the bed on the British sitcom “As Time Goes By”. I replied that I had never noticed it. Her response? “How have you, the quilter, never noticed this?”.  I will admit she seemed a little incredulous. 😉  I made a mental note to do a web search for it later. It really is a nice, traditional quilt, don’t you think?


When I saw it, I thought it was the perfect way to blend the history of Steve’s ties with something Erin loved, as well. Since she would have to look at it every day, seemed only right.  Then I had to get down to work. The quilt pattern itself was easy to replicate. It’s just big pinwheels. I then chose which ties I would use for the quilt and deconstructed them. This one used to be Steve’s “fine Republican tie”. Hey! No room for politics here!

IMG_2016Then I had to figure out exactly how to work with the darned silk they’re all made out of. Seriously Steve, you couldn’t have had the forethought to find some nice cotton ties for me to work with?? Surely you could’ve thought of this 20-30 years ago when you were buying these ties. 😉

Figuring out how to work with the silk was a bigger task than you would’ve imagined. It’s so slippery and uncooperative!! Turns out, all I had to do was ask Stacey at Heart in Hands Quilt Shop and she could’ve taught me. Which she did. Which made the rest of my tenure with the quilt infinitely easier. Turns out there’s this iron on backing you can use to make it not so unwieldy….

IMG_2927So I would cut the backing out in the size I wanted, then iron it onto the deconstructed tie. Once this step was completed, it enabled me to cut the silk into the shape I wanted so it could be sewn together to form the final square. Woohooo!!

Once I started accumulating squares, I started piecing them together.

















Once I had all the squares constructed, I laid them all out to determine the correct color sequences and started sewing them together. First, I sewed them into long rows. Then I sewed all the long rows together. There were many long nights sewing and ironing by the fire….

IMG_3421After that, I sewed the borders on. When I was finished sandwiching the top of the quilt with the batting (all organic cotton, of course) and the backing, the top stitching was completed.  Then all that was left was stitching the binding into place. I hand stitched that into place, just because I love the look of that so much better than the machine stitched look.


I think the finished product is beautiful. So much so, that I plan to enter it into the Marshfield State Fair quilt competition.


So, even though it started out as a painful project, it actually turned out to be quite a lot of fun to make. (Don’t tell Steve……)



It was bound to happen…..

And this is what a decimated pea patch looks like……..


I’ve been wondering why all our seemingly overabundance of wildlife has not discovered our garden just yet.  I’ve been busy believing that they thought it was too beautiful to disturb. Not really. That’s just me. Truth be told, I think the wildlife around these parts have had enough to eat elsewhere, so they haven’t had to come looking for my garden. Well, all that has changed now. Something–and I’ve narrowed it down to either groundhogs or rabbits, or both–has most definitely located it. They’ve gone through it like rogue bandits in the night. Only it wasn’t the night. I actually have seen groundhogs scurrying away on my approach and a teenaged bunny wildly flew out of the ruins aiming for me when I was inspecting the massacre. Hence my super sleuthian, Sherlock Holmes-like detective skills in figuring out that it’s rabbits or groundhogs that have infiltrated our territory. 😉

But it’s a little strange. They are mostly eating the pea shoots and not the peas! Every now and then, I like to throw pea shoots into our salads, but it’s really the peas themselves that I’m mostly after. So it’s fine–I don’t mind sharing. And they haven’t touched anything else yet, so I’ve made sure that the fence is as secure as possible.It just looks terrible now. But I’ll look on the bright side………

The tomatoes are still flourishing………….


The potatoes will be ready within a week or so…………..


And soon I’ll have more squash than I can handle….


So we made it until the end of June before we were invaded. All in all, I’d say that’s pretty good. And we still get a pretty good “catch” every evening!



Everything’s coming up roses….

Well, maybe not roses proper, but everything sure is blooming! IMG_3282

The lilacs have come and gone, but the were as resplendent as ever this year.  They are breathtakingly gorgeous and smell delicious. My photos do not do them justice……..must work on that.  IMG_3279There’s an entire row of them that runs across the length of the front of our property.  They very nicely shield us from the busy street.






IMG_3387Gertrude’s irises have begun to bloom as well.  There’s all different varieties. They are all beautiful.







George’s favorite is the White Siberian Iris.  It’s very small and delicate. IMG_3569










The clematis is climbing up the north side of the house…..






















My geraniums are the most brilliant color of hot fuschia pink I have ever seen! Okay, this particular one could use a little deadheading…….


The dogwoods have already reached their peak and passed it, but they were lovely, too.










The birds seem to have brought us a few, um,  presents this year, too. A new poppy appeared this year where there was none before……..

IMG_3585And a lovely foxglove has also sprouted for the first time….




Cleo totally photobombed this picture. She’s running with one of her favorite toys here.





    Even the okra is starting to bloom!IMG_3640










One of the most breathtaking sights around here these days, though, is the rhododendrons. Someone, at some point long ago, did a beautiful job of planting these delightful bushes. They are big enough now to be pruned as trees, but really shouldn’t be. In the blizzard of 2013, several of the ones that had been pruned to look like trees split into pieces, due to the lack of support underneath and the weight of all the snow. They seem to have recuperated okay, but we are trying to let them grow back as the bushes they are intended to be. IMG_3593Little Cleo seems to get herself into a lot of my pictures…. 🙂








They come in all shades of pink………










I love the view from the butler’s pantry window…..

IMG_3594The bees seem to love the blooms, too.


I wish this time of year could last forever. As I’ve said many times before, Spring is my favorite season, but as summer has actually just begun,  I’m happy to move forward. There are fun things to do in the summer in New England. But I’m sure I’ll be missing the Spring and all it’s charming attributes. So for now, all is well on Isaac Brown’s Farm.



Everything is coming along quite nicely…..

As I’ve said in previous postings……..I really love Spring. It is my absolute favorite season. Always has been, always will be.  It’s my favorite at this point in my life for a different reason than it used to be. In Georgia, Spring is a time of beauty. Everything is in bloom and it is SPECTACULAR. The wisteria, azaleas, forsythia, magnolias, dogwoods and hydrangeas are all in bloom at the same time and it is absolutely glorious. I was born in the Spring and always use that as an excuse to go for a visit to see my family, but really, it’s the blooming season I’m after.  The family is just a bonus. 😉

Since I’ve moved to my transplanted home of Massachusetts, Spring is a time of rebirth, reawakening. The dregs of winter are over and you can actually walk outside without your lungs freezing. Garden dreams are mobilized and the crocus plants start to peek out of the ground. Soon after, forsythia starts to bloom and that’s when you know you’ve survived another cold season.

Although those reasons for loving Spring seemed totally different to me when I started writing this, it has since occurred to me that they are really much the same. The Spring in Georgia, in my mind, is the equivalent of Autumn in New England. Total splendor! I suppose it’s the quickening of nature that I seek after a long Winter’s slumber.

This is why I focus so much attention on my garden. So far, this attention is paying off in spades.  The lettuce is growing faster than I can keep up with. I honestly don’t know what made me think I should plant that much of it. I’ve been feeding my neighbors and coworkers regularly. IMG_3481




This one is a particularly pretty variety, although I can’t remember the name of it. And I grew it from seed! Tastes delicious, too.






I planted 3 beds of actual lettuce (WHY??), which doesn’t include the bed of Swiss Chard, spinach, or bok choy. One of the many bonuses here is that our grocery bill has decreased dramatically. Always a plus!





The Red Romaine is growing very quickly, too. And the bees love it! Can you see the bee in flight in front of it?





The tomatoes are finally big enough that I needed to stake them up this week. Instead of paying tons of money to buy prefab stakes or cages for the 48 tomato plants that I have ($$$$), my husband very resourcefully procured “natural” stakes from our property that are doing a fine job. You either love this look or hate it. I do love it, but the garden in general is starting to have that scrubby look that they get when baby plants grow up. 🙂


And look what I’m starting to see……..the first tomato blooms!! It won’t be long now…..well, probably still longer than I’d like to wait, but at least I have visible evidence that things are working.




The pea patch is out of control. If I ever go missing, look for me there. It would be easy to get sucked into it, never to be seen again.

Love the baby pea pods that are starting to pop up all over the place. It’s going to be a full time job to keep up with these when it’s time to pick them.










A close up of the pea thicket……..





The beets are growing like weeds, too. They take forever to grow!





But they are so worth the wait…..





And we’ll be knee deep in potatoes before you know it…..








This is what my kitchen counter looks like every evening…..










So, for those of you who are still unclear. I do love Spring and I will continue to love Spring. Bring it! Happy Spring!