While the Sun Shines

It’s a sweltering 102-degrees in the afternoons, while I sip hot tea and sew a Christmas quilt. Like Billy Mumphrey, I suffer from the all-consuming affliction known as unbridled enthusiasm. (They said it would go away this side of childhood, but I think it’s gotten worse.)

This quilt’s been such fun. We call it ‘Washi Star’, because it features sawtooth stars, squares, and rectangles in a lovely, twinkly, washi tape array. We designed it so that all the pretty fabrics could take center stage. (By “all the pretty fabrics” I mean the most delightful Andover and Kaufman cotton chambrays, paired with Cotton+Steel’s ‘Tinsel’ and ‘Garland’ collections.) All that’s left is piecing the larger blocks together to finish the quilt top. I’ll see about taking a proper photo of the layout for my next post.





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Against his will, Dennis has been watching Poldark with me. (Though by the way he yells, “I can’t hear!” whenever I talk over the dialogue, you’d think his lamentations were, well, fake.) The production is just glorious. The acting is splendid. I am a bit torn though: I just can’t muster any positive feelings for our protagonist, Ross, no matter how hard I try. Oh, I have the time-honored love-by-proxy, and having been by his side through all manner of misery, I also have a good dose of wifely pity, but that’s not the kind of love you want for a fictional spouse! On the other hand, there’s the diabolically enchanting George… I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to be so fond of him, but I am and that’s that. Demelza’s a dear girl. And Elizabeth? My feelings wax and wane for her, though I positively adore Heida Reed and her performance.

Now I have to read the books. Winston Graham has such a charmed writing style: a few sentences and you’re drawn completely in. I’ve ordered the first through the fourth novels, so that should take care of my social life for a while. What with design-work, stitching samples, miscellaneous craft projects, making dinners, doing laundry (though not folding it,) etc., I have way too much time to spare. Hence, reading. Oh, who am I kidding? I predict everything but reading will suffer.


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The garden’s bursting with flowers these days. There are fresh blooms all over the house, like every summer, making everything in life a bit better. Flowers do that. Cuddles is his dapper self, (when he’s not being a complete brat, that is.) And my ‘Life on the Farm’ cross stitch is growing cheerfully each day. I will have to pause for a moment and start ‘Trick or Treat’, because that jolly Jack and his curious black kitty are calling me.










In the meantime, we’re working on so many lovely new projects (some we have to keep hush-hush for a bit.) And ’tis the season for holiday stitching, so be sure to pop into the shop regularly to catch all the festive new cross stitch patterns!

‘Till next time, cheerio!

Strawberry Days

Goodness, it’s been a while! Life’s been wonderfully busy: lots of designing, stitching, gardening… And now we find ourselves in the midst of a sun-drenched summer. Summers in Southern California stretch on and on to eternity. Some days you feel lucky to have the deep blue skies and everlasting sunshine. Other days you’d give up sugar for a cold winter afternoon awash in storms. But the flowers! I can go on about the heat and the scorched grass, but this sun brings forth the most glorious jewel-toned flowers.


The zinnias seeds we sowed grew tall and blossomed. Once they were transplanted into the garden, they grew dark and robust and started blooming like mad. (With the help of some special fertilizer “tea,” which gave them a much-needed boost of energy.)

We grow zinnias every summer, in all sorts of different colors and varieties. They remind me of the Mad Hatter and the March Hare and all the wonderful crazy things you’d find at one of their tea parties.



I finished my ‘Succulent Wreath’ a while back. Loved every moment of it. (The ‘chalk board black’ aida by Wichelt is a dream to work with, and I encourage anyone who’s wary of true black to give it a try.) I love the perennial quality of this wreath; The colorstory is earthy and soothing, perfect for stitching and display any time of year.


Of course, after one big project you need absolutely no time off before starting another big project. Enter Trellis & Thyme’s ‘Life on the Farm’ sampler. It’s an absolute dear. All the little farm motifs just melt my heart. (My favorite is the herd of curious cows on the grassy hill.) And the colors! We wanted this design to exude happiness – so we chose a lovely array of primary colors. Strong, bold, bright – happy.

I absolutely love cross stitch process photos – don’t you? It’s like a sweet story unfolding with every new stitch.




In other news: Our intrepid little strawberry plant delights us daily with precious red berries.

Cuddles the Garden Cat sleeps the day away under the rose bushes, where the soil is moist and dark. In the evenings around six, he wakes up, stretches, and realizes his belly is empty. Then we’d better hurry up and feed him, or else…








And that’s a teensie glimpse of our summer days. I made a promise to myself to blog more frequently, so please stop by again soon!

(Also, bake these. They are delicious.)

‘Till next time, cheerio!

Borage

After a bit of rain the sun returned and the bees are all over the borage blossoms. I love the gentle hum of bees. They are the heartbeat of the garden, truly. And you won’t find a busier community of bees than that around the borage.

They say borage isn’t the prettiest of plants, but I find it enchanting. The first time I saw it was during a visit to Earthbound Farms in Carmel Valley. We walked through their kitchen garden, and there beside the flush of chamomile blossoms grew a tall and prickly green plant with the loveliest clusters of purple-blue star flowers.

We sowed borage last spring, but they languished and never grew taller than a foot. This spring we were surprised to find a single, stalwart volunteer. Amidst a thick tangle of weeds and dried sunflower stalks, he grew mighty as a four-foot oak (now bound in a beautiful love-tangle with the pomegranate.)







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The pumpkin seedlings sprouted two weeks ago and are growing quickly. I’ll need to thin the mounds of two or more seedlings down to one. (This part I do not like.) The more robust of the seedlings is the one to keep, of course. The one most interested in growing up, we like to say. (If I’ve learned anything in life, it’s that dilly-dallying with anything or anyone who refuses to mature is not a good idea. Garden lessons are life lessons, to be sure.)

The tiny zinnia seedlings are also growing, and will have to be thinned momentarily. We’ll sow another round of zinnias in a week, to ensure a steady burst of blooms until mid-December. Gardening is all about tomorrows. And who doesn’t want their tomorrows to be filled with flowers?





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And as with every other green thing, my ‘Succulent Wreath’ cross stitch has been growing. This project has been a delight. I look forward to it every day, and it always leaves me in a place of calm. But truth be told, I’m a little anxious about finishing it; So much life and love is involved in every stitch – it’s hard to come to the end of it.

I plan on framing it simply, in an 8-inch wooden hoop. I’ll share a bit more about that soon.





We’re looking forward to introducing Trellis & Thyme’s first cross stitch sampler. The design is truly heartwarming! More on that very soon.

We hope these days find you with hope and in good cheer.

‘Till next time, cheerio!

These Are the Days

I was born and raised in the concrete wilds of Los Angeles, where nuanced is a fancy word to describe the imaginary seasons. After 25-years, I never noticed much between warm and warmer, and so the longing in my heart kept growing. Seasons. Some day.

Where we live now – 2 hours north of Los Angeles – there is a greater accent on the cold. Sheets of ice sparkle on the lawn on winter mornings. The afternoon sun is pale and frosted, and nights are frigid, blanketed by thick moorland fog. We experience the seasons more richly, more noticeably, and for me, more thankfully. (Not in the least because, unlike our southern compatriots, we get to wear hand-knitted scarves, gloves, and hats.)

If March was a lioness, with raging storms and torrents of rain, then April is a chameleon. The morning before last dropped to a chilled 42-degrees. The following afternoon soared to a balmy 81. Every evening the winds pick up, climb the hills and break against the south-facing garden, scattering rose petals across the lawn. Spring in all her effervescence. We’re positively mad about it.





I love all the roses in our garden, but these burgundy climbing roses are my favorite. Their petals are frilly and feminine – casually elegant, like a woman who’s unconcerned with how beautiful she really is.


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I’m thankful my work is also my pleasure (though not solely, and that’s important, too.) Stitching is comforting. It’s soothing. I was never a numbers person, but I find the counting in cross stitch to be the perfect antidote to monkey mind. It keeps me gently focused. More than ever I look forward to the sunlit hours I get to spend with needle, thread, and my ‘Succulent Wreath’ cross stitch pattern.





We designed this wreath to look lovely in any season. The darker aida (chalk board black by Wichelt,) adds a serene and dramatic element to the design. With each stitch a new petal unfolds, urging you to stitch the next. It works up with a quiet enthusiasm, perfect for the days when you need something tranquil to focus on.

After this design was complete, D and I realized how much we loved the entire process. Needless to say, we will be designing more botanical wreaths to cross stitch.


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For Easter we baked Italian Easter Bread – a recipe we love and bake every year. It’s so buttery-soft and light, even ’till the following day (if there’s any left by then.) This year we left out the colored egg in the center, and found it no less charming. A cup of tea, this bread fresh from the oven, my loved ones smiling (and purring) – I’m in heaven right here on earth. Life is so sweet when we learn to cherish the simple things. This has been my big revelation, anyway. Want less, love more, cultivate beauty where you are.




Wishing all of you a beautiful spring, a Happy Easter, and all good days.

‘Till next time, cheerio!

Busy As Bees

There are two approaches to spring that I notice in the animal kingdom: The first is to get up and do all the things. The second is to go back to sleep. Keeping pace with nature becomes a funny thing. I’m all for spring-induced over-activity, but I also love stopping, pressing my face into the giant red roses in our garden, and breathing deep.



Much of March passed by in storms. (I love the heavy rain-soaked drape of lavender and coreopsis over the garden stones.) Hot Ceylon tea with hints of cardamom have been a balm for my over-eager, sometimes over-anxious, spirit. That and needle & thread. Always needle & thread. Even on a perfect day the mind will dig and sort through reasons to feel not quite at ease. Does that happen to you? To counter that tendency, we try to focus on the things that bring comfort and harmony: a potter in the garden, design-work, stitching, painting, reading, baking…



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D and I are firm believers in working until the Muse arrives. (None of this waiting around for her nonsense.) From small simple designs to large complex ones, there’s so much going on at Trellis & Thyme, it makes me giddy to think of it. I’m excited to share everything, and irked that I have to be patient.

The ‘Little Microbus’ cross stitch patterns really won me over. I couldn’t decide between an orange-based colorstory or a green one, so we made them both. Choosing the right combination of colors out of hundreds of possibilities is one of my favorite jobs.





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Hope you’re having a delightful spring.

‘Till next time, cheerio!