25 April 2011

late april blooms

Spring is galloping along here, aided by plenty of rain and warming weather. The rhododendron in front of the house is just opening up. We've now got a purple + lime green thing happening out front that was unforeseen but is quite awesome.

Last year I planted a viburnum and I killed it. I think he was a casualty of poor drainage. I kept watering him religiously, which probably didn't help. Last year overall was not a good year for me and shrubs, but I am determined to do better this year. I really wanted a white viburnum, so we picked out a common snowball viburnum. I figured "common" might mean "hardy." I didn't even realize until it bloomed that these are the exact flowers that I had in my wedding. Bonus.

The arbor roses are taking off, and I fully expect this year they will make it over the top of the arbor and reach toward the sky. They are called Morning Magic roses and they are somehow akin to the knockout roses which just bloom and bloom. These do indeed seem to have a lot of get up and go. The buds are a lovely apricot pink and they open to almost white.

The snowmound spirea is just budding. This might be my favorite thing we planted last year. It's a petite shrub with delicate little leaves. It branches beautifully, sending out gently waving arms in all directions. It stays pretty all season, long after the blooms fade.

Someone at some point planted some mint in this garden which entrenched itself with fierce determination. I have been methodically pulling it out and replacing it with heuchera of various colors. I can't remember the names of these, I'm pretty sure the bronze one is called "Caramel."

The iris just opened up today. I got home from work and they were ready for their sunset photo.

The veggies are also coming along nicely. Looks like we are going to be eating lots of salads this summer. It really does taste better when it's out of your own garden, doesn't it? Part freshness and part pride, I expect. :)

23 April 2011

his and hers aprons

This picture cracks me up so much because Matt and I are wearing matching crocs, which also happen to match our aprons. I love it. This is a set of his and hers aprons I made as a wedding gift for Matt's cousin. I made a set like this for one of my cousins who got married last year and it's fun to choose coordinating fabrics for the bride and groom versions. The girl apron is from the pattern in Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing, which is an awesome pattern that I have made several times before. I love the silhouette of it, and the little darts at the top give it such a nice neckline. The boy apron I made based on an old half-apron that I have.

The fabrics are a cheerful lemon print and a blue stripe shirting from the stash. The aprons are both reversible and have a Lisette blue chambray on the other side. (Oh, and my Joann's had all Lisette fabrics 50% off when I was there last week. Get thee to Joann's!) I love this chambray and have been using it in all my projects lately. It frays like crazy but that might just be the nature of chambray.

Abby is a camera hog.

Wishing all a very happy Easter! Hop hop.

18 April 2011

bookcase lined...and dining room is DONE (for now)

Neither of us had ever had a proper dining room before this house, but we've managed to acquire some really lovely pieces and it's now one of my favorite rooms. The corner cabinet above was from my grandma's house and I feel so lucky to have inherited it. And every time I open one of the doors on the cabinet, the smell of my grandma's house envelops me. I love that part.

The bookcase is a hand-me-down from my parents that we painted white. For some reason the bookcase never had a back panel on it--I can only assume it used to be mounted flush against a wall and didn't need a back. This has been bothering me for some time, so last weekend I went to Lowe's and bought a piece of the thinnest plywood I could find. The nice Lowe's man cut it to the right size for me and I brought it home, covered it with fabric, and tacked it to the back of the bookcase. I contemplated using wallpaper remnants, but I didn't have any wallpaper. Fabric, I have lots of that. And this way I can switch the fabric out if I want.

I've had this leaf print in my stash for a long time and it seemed like a cheerful choice for the room.

I blogged before about our wall color choice and the awesome hoosier cabinet my parents got us for a wedding present. The rug is a beautiful old Karastan that has been in Matt's family for a long time. I never would have chosen a rug like this, thinking it would be too formal, but once we put it down in the room, it was perfect. The colors tie everything together and look so beautiful. Matt's hometown has a Karastan factory and his grandpa worked there for many years. I am fascinated by the art of carpet-weaving, and one of these days I want to get Papa to tell me all about it. This part of NC used to have an incredibly vibrant textile industry with thousands of mills. Most of those companies are now gone and the mills abandoned, though some are being reclaimed and turned into lofts or retail spaces. Thinking about it all makes the historian crafter nerd in me start to itch. But I digress.

For weeks we've been looking for just the right cabinet for a tiny bar tucked into the corner. Matt found this one which fits perfectly and has two handy shelves inside for glasses and drinks. The 5cent beer wallhanging was another wedding gift that came from the consignment shop downtown. We love that consignment shop. Our wine glasses are hanging from the business end of an old garden rake.

Under the window sits the hifi I got for Matt last Christmas (also from the consignment shop for $40). It didn't have a needle and the volume knob was wonky, but I found someone to repair it for $50 and now it plays perfectly. Matt's collection of albums is stored in an old crate that was unearthed when we cleaned out my grandma's garage. I have been trying to find a second, similarly-sized one because his collection will soon outgrow this one.

The Flatt and Scruggs albums get place of pride above the trim of the french doors.

And I'll leave you with the first peony of the season. He opened up on Saturday to say hello and I brought him indoors before the thunderstorms could toss him around. Is there anything more beautiful?

11 April 2011

porch makeover

The past few weeks we've been working on lots of projects to spruce up the front of the house. Now that the weather is really warming up, we'll be spending lots of time out on this porch.

It's a nice wide porch with lots of room for sitting. We've got quite a hodgepodge of furniture out there--the rocking chairs and metal chairs were inherited from my grandma's house and Matt scavenged the table and wooden sofa on the far end from the dumpsters in his old apartment complex. We've sanded and painted them all so they look bright and cheerful. Matt stained the porch decking a dark color which sets off the furniture and paint colors so perfectly. The outdoor rugs came from Lowe's.

OK, you might have to click this image and view it larger to really see the difference in the before vs. after. (But I've always wanted to do a Before & After photo!) The shutters and front door used to be hunter green, and they are now a lovely smoky blue. It took some experimenting to find the right shade of blue, not too bright but still a nice contrast for the mocha-colored house paint.

Here you can see the blue color better. Pretty! Of course, I wanted to add some fabric and softness to the porch, so I sewed up two cushions for the rocking chairs.

I love the bright pops of color on the dark background of this fabric. The piping adds a nice pop too.

For the wooden bench, I recovered the cushions in a pale green floral print, then made two new throw pillows as well. Natural linen and chambray is my new favorite combination.

We just planted the hanging baskets and pots this weekend, so they are just getting going. Matt put together the combination in the galvanized tub. We're going to have lots of color--blues and yellows but also splashes of red and purple.

One day we'd like to install ceiling fans out here, the nice big rattan ones that spin lazily on a steamy summer day. Ah, steamy summer days--they are coming!

09 April 2011

and we have a winner!

I used the old-fashioned kind of random integer generator--I asked Matt for a number between 1 and 21. He responded with "16" so our winner is lulabelle's view, who is Laura and who has a most beautiful blog. Laura, send your mailing address to me at juliemarieblog (at) yahoo (dot) com. Hooray!

I am going today to cheer Matt on in some kind of extreme 5K thing--he says there will be both slogging through mud and jumping over fire involved. Should be interesting. Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend!

05 April 2011

5 + 32 = a giveaway

I've never done a giveaway before but this is a week for celebrating. Today the good old blog turns 5 years old, I turn 32 years old, and Twin turns 32 years old too (funny how that happens).

It's so funny for me to go back and read my oldest posts--how much things have changed, how much they have stayed the same. I don't think I had any idea when I started this blog how much it would mean to me. But when I think of all the talented, kind people I have met here, and how much the blog has inspired and motivated me to create and explore, I am amazed. And very grateful.

As a thank-you, I'll be sending a box of sewing goodies to someone. Three vintage dress patterns (size 12), some assorted fabrics, woven trim, vintage buttons, and a set of my gocco-printed cards. There is also a bag full of 2" square fabric pieces that I cut for a quilt and never sewed together. It all comes in a homemade fabric box.

So leave me a comment and I will choose a random winner this Friday, April 8. And now I will sing happy birthday to my blog:

happy birthday little bloggy
happy birthday dear sweet bloggy
happy BIRTHday good old thing you
and you smell like one too