Monday, March 21, 2011

Gardening Spring 2011

Yesterday was the first day of spring, the vernal equinox, and it was just lovely on Long Island. All the nasty dirty snow is long gone, the sun was shining strong, birds were twittering tweet tweet and it was just fine digging in the dirt, trimming various firs and cleaning up after winter and decades of neglect. It's a barren rock strewn front yard of a house in my neighborhood, with ancient Montauk Daisies that attacked me last week when I went in with my bare hands. It isn't just poison oak or ivy that'll get you - the plants themselves defend themselves. I have such a rash!!! I finally sought medical intervention and my wounds are healing nicely.

Meanwhile, I have been working this little piece of earth for a little while now, and am really paying attention this year. The owner, who is blind, moved in over ten years ago, and I think it's been that long since anyone worked it seriously. She has some beautiful roses, heirloom, with a lovely aroma. Remember when roses had scent, and not just beauty? Right now of course they are just thorns sticking out of the ground, but new buds are emerging, and I put good dark composted dirt on them, and it's raining today.

These are just some of the remaining Montauk Daisies I have to trim back. This is what an overgrown bush of daisies looks like. The base is actually woody, like a shrub. Hopefully this year the flowers will be thick and pretty.

This is the daisy that attacked me last week. I have learned my lesson - always wear gloves! I have a nice pair of old red leather gloves that are definitely past their prime, and I wear them now in the garden. It's still cold out there for all the sunshine.

This is the front walk/driveway, with overgrown firs and spruces. Last week I cleaned off and swept the porch, made that tidy and inviting. I
left this horizontal branch for a bannister and the large vertical branch for safety, as there is no railing on this porch, and we would sure hate for someone to fall.

Now to tidy up the driveway. Before...

And after...I need a pair of big loppers to get those thick branches that are so unsightly. I know where I can get a pair, and will be back...

The good dark dirt I found under the firs overhanging the ashpalt went on the thorny roses.

There is still a ton of work to be done. There are irises and a yucca buried under overgrown firs in front of the house.

The child of the house came out to help and keep company. She got a pricker pretty quick, so she drew with her chalks while we chatted.

In a couple of hours it was gettting pretty chilly, so I swept up and put the tools away. Today it is raining, so it feels like the circle is going 'round and 'round.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dresses for Little Girls

I've been busy with my fabric shop,, making good sales, and haven't done much sewing lately, but Krista who has a fantastic blog with a huge following invited me to do a giveaway on her blog, so I had to "get cooking" as they say. I relisted my aprons rearranged and jazzed up my shop, and even ventured into a new realm for me, clothing for little girls. I found an adorable Butterick pattern with a nice little bodice, ruffled armholes and nicely gathered skirt. It was a struggle for a while, remastering inserting a zipper, but I liked the dress so much I went and made three of them, and then found another pattern and made that too!

The Winterthur Museum toile dress in green, little flower spring dress , Winterthur red toile and the blue strapped dress are all available at my etsy store

Sunday, September 12, 2010

SEPT 11 2010

Sept 11 is a special day for Americans, and especially so for people who were in New York on Sept 11 2001. Yesterday, the 9th anniversary, was just surreal for me, partly because I was still congested - see Apron Congestion blog post - and also because it was another beautiful day, clear blue skies, not a single cloud, just like 9 years ago. And I am back babysitting again on Saturdays on a regular basis, because my favorite little girl has resumed her ballet lessons. I woke up good and early, read the 4th Discourse of the Bhaghavad Gita, meditated, did a little stretching yoga, and drove to my little girl's house, just surreal and congested in my ears and head, still contemplating action and inaction, desires and selfish purposes and trying to "abandon attachment to the fruit of action":

"Content with what comes to him without effort,
Free from the pairs of opposites and envy,
Even-minded in success and failure,
He is not bound."

I arrived and the child immediately dragged me to the park to play. I will be 60 next June, and she will be 5 in December - do the math. Remeber my recent knee surgery? I had just said to my good friend Jan that it was pretty well all healed, like it never happened - HAH!!! I played with her, climbed play towers, went through tunnels, slid down slides, swung on the swings. Today I can barely walk! We had a great time though, and she really helped ground me in physical reality, here and NOW.

We went back to her house and played with my aprons. I needed pictures to list on etsy, and asked the child to take my picture with the aprons on . That didn't turn out so well:

But we did get this one

So then I asked her mother to model for me for etsy, and she was very nice about it.

"They're all the same pattern" I told the child, "just different colors". "No they're not" she said. "Yes they are, see?" Meanwhile, the mother is blind and couldn't say either way.

Like I said, it was surreal, and a little stressful too, taking the mother's pictures. The child of course did her best to help:

After that it was the usual Saturday routine, which we hadn't done since spring when ballet lessons were over for the summer. Drive to the school, change into leotard and tights, see familiar faces again and be amazed at how the children have grown, McDonald's on the way home for a happy meal, singing "Old McDonald had a farm, E I E I O" at the top of our lungs, lots of "MOOOS!" and "BAAAA" and our favorite "SNORT SNORT" piggies, laughing and carrying on. After lunch I tried to teach her how to write. She can sing ABCDEFG... but can't write or read them. She's in pre-K now, and I wanted to give her a head start as they say, so I said "Let's play school!" and brought out crayons and paper, and she brought out dolls and toys to be students, and I tried to teach her to write A a B b C c, but she is still lacking in eye-hand coordination, and frustrates easily if she can't do something well. She knows her name though, so I tried spelling that out, and saying each letter really loudly as I wrote it, and she would repeat yell it after me and then scribble all over the paper. (Sigh) I decided we are Calvin and Hobbes, and she's Hobbes and I'm Calvin.

Meanwhile, we're out on the porch and can see the jets coming in on the flight path to JFK, low and slow, one after the other. Like I said, a surreal day.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Hi everyone, sorry I've been away for a while (again). You may or may not know I babysit the most adorable little girl - she's hiding under the table in this picture

Last week her mother asked me to weed her front garden, which I did, and then I jumped into their pool to cool off. Meanwhile, the dog got out so I walked up and down the neighborhood with the little girl calling "Petey! Petey!" which she echoed back. She loves me and wants to be with me and do everything I do, so I must be EXTREMELY careful what I do. Eventually Petey found a cat who fought back, the cat's owners caught the dog and I brought both little girl and dog back safely home. However, the next day I woke up with serious nasal congestion - did I mention the child had a small cold? - which became a big grown-up cold, compounded with serious welts and scratches from weeding. Jeepers creepers I was a mess for a whole week, loaded on cough suppressant and anti-itch cream, watching WAY too much TV (don't like the Real Housewives, but am now all caught up on House). Completely neglected both my stores: Custom Designs by Nancy and Nancy's Fabric Shop , but this little peacock sold itself

and this lovely pea green velvet is in a blog


Aprons. My aprons sell pretty well. Next to catnips, I have sold more aprons than anything else, and my last sale left me with only one full apron left

So a couple of days ago, as I was becoming human once more, I started making aprons again, this time with a lovely feathery frondy Laura Ashley print on really good cotton fabric, from Kravet, Inc. I love this fabric, it is so wonderful to work with, great body and hand, lays down and does whatever you ask it to, so well made, sturdy, durable, perfect for a working apron. This stuff will stand the test of time. Here are some quick shots of cutting and sewing a standard no-frills apron:

I use the wooden spoon to turn the straps inside-out, which is the most time-consuming part of the process, depending on the fabric. As I said, this stuff is wonderful to work with, so it all went pretty quickly, and I made three aprons in two days. Same print, different colors:

I haven't listed these yet. I need a model, so am going to my Aunt Sally's in Connecticut ( you remember Sally, she hosts all the family parties), and will list and blog again when I return! Oh goody, something to look forward to!

See you real soon!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Poppy Place Appreciation Day

This is a blog about a friend I have made on etsy, in the forums and following her blogs, Poppy Place. She is a photographer and artist, a generous soul and supportive friend. She is a member of POE, Photographers of Etsy, and she sells her pictures at Photos by Chipperfield. These are a couple of favorites of mine:

Beautiful Poppy

Twilight Over Mt. Hood

She also paints and is a serious artist. I love this watercolor of hers:

Golden Waterlilies

She sews, too! Check out this beautiful little piece:

I follow her blogs also, which are always interesting and entertaining, and you may enjoy them too!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


More Rhode Island!!!!

My sister has been hooping for a couple of years now, and brought her hoops to RI while we were on vacation. She was very good about doing it every day (I know!!!). She demonstrated her skills to me, and told me "this is the corkscrew", or "watch me do it with my hands only" and "this one is really hard". I tried a couple of times and it IS hard, but I didn't want to try too hard because my knee is still a little out of whack, and those circular motions scared me. My knee is healing nicely, all the walking to the beach and swimming was good exercise, my knee is much stronger now, but I didn't want to chance throwing it out and causing myself immense sharp pain.

So here's Nora hooping it up. I forget which is the corkscrew, and which is what, except for the arms and hands which are obvious. She sure has good time with it, though, as you can see:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

More Rhode Island!

The house we stayed in while on vacation in Rhode Island had a lovely mimosa tree in the backyard, that smelled so sweet, and there were hummngbirds! A small flock, I think maybe 6 or 8 birds. I could see them best from the bathroom window. I tried to take pictures of them but they were so fast, WHOOSH and they were gone in a blur of wings.

On our walk to the beach there were plenty of beautiful gardens and plants, lots of hibiscus and hydrangeas, and a funny little pine decorated with shovels and playthings, like a Christmas tree.

This is the summertime Christmas tree decorated with toys and shovels. Dig the pink flamingo:

When we were on the actual beach road there were glorious beach roses, all bright red with their hips, and a few flowers that were wonderfully fragrant.

And then the ocean! It was pretty calm, and shallow, and nicely cold which was so refreshing after the hot walk and then basking in the hot sun. Here's me glorying in the whole experience - please ignore the flabby arms.

Ah, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!