Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy New Year (and all that)

Well, the Christmas season and New Year celebrations are all over now, and they seemed to have flashed past in the twinkling of an eye.  Perhaps this is just the grinch in me bursting out because it was back to working life for us today and of course that somehow doesn't have quite the same sparkle and lustre as time spent socialising or sweating in the garden.  Sigh.  It was good while it lasted.

Mr Shoestring toiled away mightily on the improvements he is making to the bathroom at Shoestring Cottage.  The second hand skylight is making a huge difference too, the light really floods in.  (I haven't told Mr Shoestring how many plants would benefit mightily from being put in that room now, it could be almost like a conservatory.  He tends to take a sadly utilitarian approach to these things and would no doubt complain at the lack of space and so on and so forth, in a very unimaginative fashion. If I introduce new plants slowly he may hardly notice.)  The new tongue and groove lining is coming along nicely, the floorboards will be limed and the "new" hand me down vanity has been given a nice coat of white paint.  The clawfoot bath (another cast off gratefully received) just needs to be resurfaced and all will be blissikins in the bathroom.  I won't show you a photo just yet because it looks like a big mess, but eventually it will be magnificent, I am confident of that.  Reasonably hopeful anyway.  (Have to look on the bright side, mustn't grumble, hope for the best etc.)

In the garden things really are fabulous though.  (I know vanity in a gardener is a most unattractive trait, but hard to stamp out completely.)  The gloriosa lily bought with such high hopes last year has survived a winter in its pot and it putting forth blossoms at last.  This poor plant must feel a lot of pressure as over the holiday break I was outside at the crack of dawn, inspecting it eagerly to see if the buds had unfurled.  Also The Duchess of Ringloes would keep on enquiring whether or not mine was in flower yet, so there was an element of competition there.

Though the first of the lilies have finished flowering there are still more to come and the perfume is so sweet that it is a pleasure to be weeding around them, especially at evening when the scent seems to be stronger.

When I planted this one I made a mistake.  At the back on the left hand side you can barely see a white lily struggling to be seen - the yellow one turned out to be much taller and it might be best to try and lift and move the white one to a spot where there is less competition.  To be honest I can't remember planting the yellow one, I had expected only white blossoms here.  

This moonflower was described as being an annual or possibly a biennial when I bought it from the market.  (I suspect the vendor didn't have a clear idea of what the seedlings would actually grow into, it wouldn't be surprising if we had ended up with a Jack and the Beanstalk situation as there was only the most vague of descriptions of the eventual appearance and characteristics of the seedlings.)  I couldn't resist it because the flowers were supposed to be beautifully perfumed though.  The flowers are almost luminous when the light is behind them and if I can save some seed for next year I will be very happy at the end of the season.  

There had to be time for stitching or it wouldn't have been a proper holiday.  I really am pressing on with the efforts to finish all the unfinished quilts, but Madame La Post had given me three nice printed fabric rectangles perfect for the centre of blocks in the "second hand rose" crazy quilt and they were begging to be put to work.  I spent a very happy time playing around with them and making three blocks ready to be embellished. 

Part of the fun in crazy quilting is remembering the history of the fabrics used.  Apart from the three beautiful floral centres from Madam La Post I can see some silk pyjamas given to me by a work friend and a lovely piece of silk sent from Japan by another dear friend.  Each time you look at your blocks you remember the histories of the fabrics.   

Well, another year has passed by.  I hope your Christmas and New Year was every bit as exciting as you hoped and that you had time to do some things to warm the cockles of your heart.  Now it is onwards and upwards for us all, and 2014 is going to be a very special year, of that you can be certain.


  1. I'm a fan of crazy quilts and the reds are very pretty in the one you feature.

    1. Thanks for that Kelli, I hope you have not been too badly affected by extreme weather conditions in your garden. From what I see on the news, many areas have been seriously hit by out of ordinary weather events. Hopefully your little patch of paradise has been sheltered from the worst. I will try to remember to post some photos of the finished blocks (if I ever finish, that is).

  2. Happy New Year to you, also! I am quite taken with the photo of the Gloriosa llily and wonder if I might ask permission to do a painting from it sometime? Your other lilies are so pretty, too. Madam La Post gave you some lovley pieces for your can you wait another minute before starting embellishment? That is the best part of a project to me!!

    1. Of course, feel free to do a painting from it and I hope to see the end result. It is hard to hold back on starting on the embellishments, you are right about that being the best part of any project ... sort of like "dressing the set" after home improvements. I am trying to hold on to the idea of finishing all the "ordinary" quilts I have started but the crazy quilts call me constantly.