Winter Garden in Central California

Evening comes early now in Elderwood, CA. Mornings are chilly, yet the sun is still hot in the afternoon. It seems to be the perfect time of year to enjoy the fruits of winter gardening.

Many varieties of lettuce planted from nursery sets grow across the isle from broccoli planted from seeds.

I am not a gardener, but as a kid, I loved playing in the dirt. Nothing changed as I aged except now I have the time and space to play again. Each year I learn something new.

Vince read an article the other day that talked about growing enough food on an acre to make $20,000 a year. It told me to plant my plants much closer that they are supposed to be and to intersperse varieties. You can see in my broccoli bed above, I planted spinach and Swiss chard. Right now it looks pretty and sparse. That will probably change.

You can see at the end of my box some very healthy, happy onion sets in neat rows, those that the cats didn’t rearrange. Last year I learned that gophers love onions. For breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Every day I would find a new fatality. This year I planted the sets in a raised bed with wire netting on the bottom to keep out those silly pests.

The rest of the box has not yet fully transitioned to a winter garden. I can’t bear to remove the marigolds. Last year I pulled off thousands of marigold flowers and kept ALL their seeds. I stored them in a clear plastic bag and only a few of the seeds escaped the solar cleansing of their sprouting power. This was one of the hardy few seeds that bore children.

Basil seeds, on the other hand, survived the Ziploc bags and are ubiquitous. The basil will wilt at the first frost, but they are all volunteers and I have more seeds than you can imagine. I cut them and keep them inside for Caprese salads, a favorite in an Italian household. The lemongrass seems indestructible. Along with cilantro, these spindly hairs of flavor spice up an Asian salad. Spinach and dill are reluctant to sprout. I’ve planted them both from seed packets I bought.

Vince wanted only flowers this year in this garden.

The pictures aren’t close up enough to show you that I do have a few flowers sprinkled in with the new strawbabies that I just planted yesterday from all the runners. I still have about 100 runners to plant somewhere if you’d like some strawberries for next spring.

I lined peas along the fence. The green starfish looking plant with light purple flowers at the end of the strawberries is a gift from my friend Sally.

I am also propagating more Mexican pansies that Manuel Jimenez cut from plants in the Woodlake Botanical Garden. The new ones sticking up against the fence behind the cauliflower look wilted now, but by spring I’m hoping that some of them make it. They have beautiful purple flowers and are very invasive, so if you have them, they are like mint – hard to remove.

Kale, hollyhocks may be in danger from either the ant, grasshopper or the truck, but I’m rooting for the plants to win.

I like to experiment, but not in an organized, scientific-write-everything-down way. A friend gave me some mint plants years ago. They took over my blueberries, so I tore them all out.

They still grew into a forest on the other side of the fence in my neighbor’s yard. I love the smell and the taste of them so I cut a few of them that started to invade my blueberry bushes again and stuck them into leftover pots. Guess what? You can’t kill them! They’re back. On the plus side, I hear that mint makes you lose weight. I guess it would if that’s all you ate.

In the picture below, you can see that I did plant some snapdragons for Vince. I planted two rows of spinach seeds to be a nice green contrast. Interestingly, cosmos, which had been planted this summer sprang up when I started watering, not spinach. And they didn’t stick to the nice straight rows I thought I had planted. Who knows what happened to all those spinach seeds.

Even the seeds love to frolic in the dirt. The flats of flowers I buy from the nursery are much better behaved.

Today I raked leaves to make a light blanket for the seedlings. I’ve heard that leaf mold is an excellent soil builder.

The cauliflower plants are big enough to see over the mounds of mulberry leaves, but I had to scratch a hole in them to find the strawberry plants.

Even though my garden is more walkway than garden, it’s amazing how many plants we can fit into this small space. My tiny garden produces much to keep me munching for the next few months. Imagine planting an entire yard as a garden!

So, are you gardening this winter? Or if you’re in Australia, this summer?

Gourdeous Works of Art

I have long admired the work of Toni Best, a retired teacher. A couple of years ago my husband and I toured her house and studio where she does all her work. She teaches classes at home and around the country.

South Valley Artists' Studio Tour
Toni Best weaves a backdrop for one of her wood sculptures.

Active nationally Toni belongs to several national basketweaving organizations two of which include the National Basketry Organization (NBO) and the Handweavers Guild of America. She will be traveling to attend the NBO conference in July to display two pieces.

Free Form by Toni Best.

Toni Best, a Visalian, was one of the three featured gourd artists at the Exeter Art show that runs from April 14th to May 26th.

Diana Pearcy a Woodlake Artist

It’s so much fun to go to an art or an arts and crafts show and discover that people you knew in other settings are actually artists in disguise. That’s what happened this month at the Exeter Art Gallery and Museum.

gourd bowl woven with pine needles on the top.
Diana Pearcy from the Woodlake Foundation Gourd Artist next to her favorite piece.

What Do You Do with an Old Gourd?

You can poke and prod them, paint on them, oil them, coil rows of pine needles around the edges, and use your imagination to create almost anything.

Animal Totem made from gourds
Animal Totem by Diana Pearcy shows personality

Diana Pearcy grows her own gourds, her garden yielding over 3,000 gourds per season. She says they have different personalities, and we saw some of them on April 14th.

Gourd with maple leaf carved out
Maple Leaf

It’s hard to believe the same artist created these two very different pieces from gourds. This one might have been my personal favorite, although several others were close.

Female  gourd statue
Gourdeous! Spirit Shawl

Sam McKinney from Lindsay

Sam McKinney with her favorite piece
Sam McKinney with her favorite piece

Sam surprised me when we shook hands and she was not a man but a woman with amazing talent. Her time-consuming projects were vases rather than statues like Diana’s. This vase took front and center at the show. Sam’s work is almost like exotic clothing. I love the neckline and jewelry on this vase.

Free flow’s woven accessories and perfect eyelashes caught my eye.

Since I can’t even hold a pencil still for even a second, the thought of making all those little triangular marks in a perfect pattern made me swoon with envy.

This multi-sided vase is drilled and stippled, painted and carved. It would be beautiful with a digital flame inside. Sam, like Diana, also grows her own gourds.

gourd vase with beads
Cupid’s Arrow Beaded Gourd vase

At an art show at the Woodlake Airport on April 20th, my friend Jaime Beck drooled over the picture of Sam McKinney’s beadwork on this gourd. The perfect v or w pattern must have taken an enormous amount of patience to create.

When you come to the South Valley on your way to the Sequoia National Park, spend a few minutes of your weekend touring the Exeter Art Gallery and Museum. It’s open Saturday 10-4 and Sunday 12-4. They change art regularly so there is always something new to see. To enjoy more from this show check out their Facebook Group.

  • Animal Totem made from gourds
  • gourd vase with beads
  • carved gourd vase
  • gourd bowl woven with pine needles on the top.
  • Sam McKinney with her favorite piece
  • Female gourd statue
  • Gourd with maple leaf carved out

If you loved these, please press like, share the post, leave a comment or do all three. I love hearing from you. 🙂 Marsha 🙂

What to Do in April – Best of the Valley Quilt Show

Beyond the Average Tourist Stop

Furrnando approves this post.

To enjoy the Best of the Valley, set aside one weekend in April to come to the Central Valley. There’s a lot to do and experience beyond the average tourist stops. Mark your calendars for early April of each year. The 2019 show took place at McDermott Field House, or McDermott X, an amusement center in Lindsay, CA.

The regional show of quilts and cloth dolls featured 163 competition quilts, 83 dolls, 8 challenge quilts, 8 quilters by quilters 80 years old or older, and 9 quilts by quilters under the age of 18 for a grand total of 271 pieces of stitchery.

Introducing Carmen Friesen, Featured Artist for 2019

Sylvia, Connie, Carmen, and me, Marsha pose at the Best of the Valley Quilt Show.

This year my good friend Carmen Friesen from Strathmore, CA was the featured artist with over 30 quilts on display. She started seriously quilting about the time I met her in 2002.

One of my favorite quilts, The Story Teller, she made during that time. The simple style appeals to the old kindergarten teacher in me. Carmen told many stories to students during her teaching and consulting career.

table display of quilts

What makes Carmen an interesting artist is that she stretches herself and moves from style to style. She studies her art and takes classes from master quilters all over the country. In the picture alone, you see dolls, pieced quilts and applique. She also raises iris, which you can see peeping up at the back of the table.

quilted boot latitce square quilt
Lattice quilt with boot applique

After she retired, Carmen also took up horseback riding, bought a horse and even took a dude ranch vacation or two. For this quilt she couldn’t find the pattern that she wanted, so she used her own boot as a pattern.

Most of her quilts, Carmen quilts on a long arm machine. These garden kitties got special attention while Carmen hand quilted this piece. Several people at the show asked her if she could quilt something for them. She snickered to herself.

“They have no idea,” she told us. She told them, “You can’t afford me.”

There are few people who hand quilt anymore since it is so time-consuming. Even at pennies-an-hour a bed-sized quilt, quilted as intricately as most quilts are today, would cost hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars. Quilters today enjoy the modern conveniences of precise cutting, marking and sewing equipment. They turn out amazing works of art that their ancestors would have marveled to see.

My phone ran out of power before I could take all the pictures of Carmen’s quilts, but you can see more of her work in related articles.

Speaking of Ancestors

One of the quilts that caught my friends’ eyes was a Civil War-type quilt. I had to slow down and see what made them gawk. Trust me, those stitches were tiny, as were the triangles. Each tiny blue triangle that formed the larger triangle in the block had a different navy blue print.

Award Winning Quilts

This quilt, Heart of America, captured our attention for several minutes. The artist’s attention to detail made us go back for second and third looks. My friend Sylvia marveled at the flying birds. Connie loved the expression on the dog shivering in the snow not warm and cozy in the barn. Each square had too much to take in for a drive-by look. Artist, Sharon Engle won the Viewer’s Choice

Dolls

Girls love dolls, and there were some fabulous dolls at this show you would have loved to take home. My personal favorite did not win, but I kept going back to try to cheer him up. He had the same look as Furrnando, and my Puppy Girl. He looked little rough around the edges and needed a lot of love.

There were some wild women (dolls) at this showing and a few freaks! The third one over, Looking for the Isle of Guinea Pig, captured the Viewers Choice award for dolls.

Conclusion

The quilt show draws hundreds of viewers who love quilted art. If you are one of them, plan to come to the Central Valley in our most beautiful month of the year – April. Bring an empty suitcase because the vendors have some amazing gifts so you can stock up for Christmas and birthdays.

Find the Best of the Valley Regional Show of Quilts and Cloth Dolls on Facebook. You can learn more about the show on their website,
http://botvquilts.com/.

To make my day, leave me a like and share this post with other quilt lovers. 🙂

Related Articles

What Could You Give for Valentine’s Day?

Paper Engineering

Six of us learned the art of making fancy boxes at an eat-and-craft pre-Super Bowl party. We stuffed dainty portions of cookies or candy in them to make the perfect Valentine’s Day gift. Of course, we ate them right away.

paper engineering
This little box held a three-inch brownie. Perfect for a little sweet tooth.

In retirement our friend, Helen Bauer has taken up several crafts that she teaches to Boys and Girls Club Members. These activities align perfectly to S.T.E. A. M. or Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics as students solidify and apply their knowledge of fractions and three-dimensional geometry.

Helen donated her time and all the materials to make these boxes and all the goodies to go inside of them to the Woodlake High School Foundation. Thank you, Helen. We had a great time.

The creative part of our box making experience involved fancy papers and stamped designs. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on this subject. There are lots of those. Stampin Up (SU) demonstrators give away their templates, measurements, but the products can be costly if you get hooked like Helen.

If you want to learn more about making boxes online check out Pootles, Sam Donaldson’s website. For advanced boxers try Julie DiMatteo, the Paper Pixie. Helen also recommended Mary Fish at Stampin Pretty. Jeanie Stark at Just Stampin, and Susan Itell at Simple Stampin. I also found a Pinterest site by Nancy Bates.

Equipment Needed

paper engineering
  • Instructions Type “stampin up youtube” into your search engine.
  • Cutting /Scoring tool
  • Tombow glue
  • double-sided, narrow sticky tape
  • scissors
  • paper clips
  • 80-110 lb cardstock
  • DSP or Designer Series Paper
  • Burnishing tool to crease edges – sharp fingernail works
  • a pad of 11 x 18 graph paper
  • something to put in the boxes as gifts

Our Boxes

Click LIKE if this brief post inspired you to do at least one of these things.

  • Have fun with friends and/or family
  • Work on your fractions
  • Be creative
  • Eat before you box, not during
  • Take a class where the materials are provided.
  • Laugh at your mistakes.

Related Articles

Two Ideas to Create Gifts or Products from Your Great Photos

Bravo Lake, Woodlake, CA – Puzzle

You’ve all taken iconic pictures of your vacations, family, friends, landscapes. Some pictures you just have to share. I started doing this, and you can too.

Winning Cards 4 You
CA Agriculture – Playing Card

These two websites exist to turn your gorgeous images into puzzles, playing cards through separate websites.  Fine Art America offers even more options. 

Margaret
Queen of the Ranch – Greeting Cards, Phone Cases, Spiral Notebooks and more