Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Won't You Join Us?

I ran across something really fun out in blogland!  I follow a wonderful little blog called, The Pleasant Times, which has many crafts, edifying articles, and just nice stuff.  It's kind of like a blog about Simple Living with an emphasis on appreciating beauty.

Today, I was reading the latest post and they are having a Snowflake Event during the week of December 12th! It's a celebration of all things snowflake!  There are beautiful paper snowflakes on their site and some patterns, links to other patterns, etc.  You can showcase anything with snowflakes on your blog:  sewing, quilts, stencils, rubber stamping, folded paper, embroidery--really just anything at all.

Most of these crafts are really inexpensive, but gorgeous!  Imagine snowflakes of all sizes cut from left over winter themed scrapbook papers.  The new fine glitter could be great, too.

For those families with loads of kiddos (or nearby friends) how about having the kids lie down on the ground and make the shape of a snowflake all together.  What a fun photo that could be!

My boys and I discussed it and we will be cutting out paper snowflakes and talking about crystalline structures during our home school science time.  Hmmm.  I think I will also sneak in a bit about properties of water (why it expands during freezing) and 60 degree triangles and bonds.

This is not about competition, money, or anything else.  It's just a compilation of links from folks who will all be celebrating the season together with snowflake themed crafts, art, etc.  No pressure!

But, the best part for me is that reading the blog post reminded me of making paper snowflakes with my science students in public school to go along with atomic and crystalline structures.  We decorated my classroom with loads of snowflakes and it was wonderful!  It's one of my favorite memories from that time in my life.

So...long story short, won't you please join us in making some snowflake crafts and sharing in a bit of frugal Christmas joy?  I'd love to see yours!

A few sentimental things

In my bedroom, on the small portion of angled wall next to the bathroom door, hangs a sampler that is very, very precious to me.  My Nana hand stitched this sampler and it hung over the cribs of all of her babies.  My Aunt Edith, my Dad, and my Uncle Phil all slept under this prayer.  Nana died when I was 10 months old, so I never really knew her.

I was in High School when my Aunt located the sampler and sent it to me because I was the last child in the family to bear the family's last name.  I always loved this piece of hand work.

Above the sampler hangs a dessert plate with roses on it.  While I am sure it is rather unconventional to hang plates beside and above the doorway to the master bath, I don't care because I love them.  There are a set of six in total.  Five are above the doorway and the sixth sits above my prized sampler.

The plates are from my late great-Aunt Mackey.  Her given name was Effie Maxine.  We have always laughed that the Maxine cartoon character was really about her.  She was a hoot!  And she definitely spoke what was on her mind!

They are made of china with a distinctive rose pattern that I have learned was very popular in the late 30s and 40s.  The design seems to be on some sort of decal or maybe the paint is bubbling up a bit.  Either way, they are a bit cloudy in places and not fit to eat on, but a wonderful reminder of my Aunt that I visited with and spent time with into my adulthood.

Neither of these items would be worth anything much financially in the big scheme of things, but they are precious to me.  They were gifts full of meaning that I have used to decorate my home.  My children are growing up around these items and they are learning about connections and family history.  It's a good thing.

Hmmm. Ideas....

Okay, I am looking for a really good idea for a gift for our wonderful math tutor.  She is a retired special education teacher who has taught kids with learning disabilities and autism her entire career.  She has been such a blessing in our lives.  DS14 (my Aspie) has really grown so much while working with her.

When she started working with us in May of this year, my kiddo was doing marginal 1st grade math.  He is now doing basic algebra and geometry.  She has to present it in ways that make sense to him (which I just don't know how to do) and he is thriving!  She is definitely an answer to prayer.

I'd love to make her something to show appreciation.  I am trying to be mindful of both time and money.  I am not sure when the sewing machine will be arriving.

In a perfect world, a lap quilt would be in order, but I am not sure I will have time to get that completed this time around.  I was thinking of potholders (can't everyone use potholders?) or a candle mat, maybe with one of the new, battery operated candles (love those because of my cats.  The tutor has a cat also).  Hmmm.

I got this photo from a wonderful tutorial at http://33shadesofgreen.blogspot.com/2010/02/amy-butler-quilted-potholder.html.

Any ideas that you would be willing to share?  Please?????

Woo Hoo! Victory!

My log cabin quilt (Christmas gift for someone special) made it out of the laundry intact.  Whew!

I am quite relieved!  

Monday, November 29, 2010

575 Posts and a new finish!

It's hard to believe that this is my 575th post!  When I started this blog, I wasn't sure if I would have much to say or whether anyone would want to read it.  Looks like I have kept on writing and a few folks continue to read, so it's a good thing!  It's been a good outlet for me and a way to connect with others with similar interests.  So, for you who read this blog, thank you!

I have been kind of restless today, possibly because I am trying to decide what I want to do, gift wise, while waiting on my sewing machine to arrive.  I guess it has made me a tad more productive.  I managed to get the binding on a quilt that I had quilted as a QAYG and had been waiting for the binding to go on.  I had used a friend's machine to do the seaming and was folding it to the back and stitching it down.  Right as I got to the final foot or so on the last side, my kitty, Natasha, decided that the quilt looked good enough for her and she just hopped on up!

Yep, my quilts are kitty approved!  Now I just have to get brave enough to wash it and pray that it stays together (unlike the shirting quilt).  Wish me luck!

I don't think I have ever shared this....

As I anxiously await the arrival of the new sewing machine, I thought I might share a quilt that I am really fond of.  It is my one and only antique quilt.  Back in the late, gulp, 1980s (when I was 2--LOL!), hubby and I saw this quilt in a yard sale.  They were using it to pack up items to cushion them for transport.  I was a very, very new quilter and I knew that it was pretty and old.

That pretty much sums up my quilting knowledge.  The edges were tattered and some of the patches of a black fabric had worn down to show mostly foundation muslin.  Some brown is very worn also.  The batting was just clumps of cotton pressed flat and sewn through.  The back was made up of feed sacks that came from a flour mill about 40 miles from here.  You can just make out the printing on only one of the sacks.

It was a mess.  It really should have been a cutter quilt, but I was young, stupid, and fell in love with that faint printing on the feed sack.  The owner thought I was crazy but sold it to me anyway--cheap!

My mom helped me to put a turkey red border around the edge to protect it (yes, I know, a restoration no-no) and it has hung in my home ever since.  For a while it was folded over a hanging rail in my bedroom.  In another house, it hung in the entryway.  Currently, it hangs from spring clips on a display wire behind my couch in the living room.  It's beautiful.

It is made up of shirting fabrics and is quilting in an unmarked Baptist fans pattern.  At least I hope that the ladies didn't mark this out, otherwise those Baptist gals had been drinking rather heavily!  LOL!

I didn't really pay too much attention to the details of this quilt; I just knew that I liked it.  But, it does explain why I seem to be fascinated with quilts made from shirting fabrics and the Baptist fan quilt pattern.  It's just kind of familiar to me after all the years of living with my quilt.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The tree is up!

 The boys took a much larger part in getting the tree up this year.  They stuck with the process for the entire time and worked along side us instead of playing or leaving the room while we parents did the work.  Even better, they decorated the entire tree and not just strips at their personal eye levels.  We didn't have to go back and move ornaments around after the fact.  We listened to Christmas music and talked, reminiscing about ornaments that were sentimental.  I really enjoyed it.

That evening, I had completed decorating the mantle and hanging the Christmas quilts up.  We lit the candles and dimmed the lights.  It was warm and beautiful and full of all of the Christmas-y magic.  We were together.  It's all that matters.

Friday, November 26, 2010


This year has been a financial struggle for us.  It has been a necessary one as I have left my full time teaching gig in order to homeschool my boys (an unpaid, full time teaching gig).  But, for all of struggles, I have loved being with my boys more and helping them to learn.  In many ways, life has improved.

I started my home business and it is growing.  It is slowly growing and getting stronger by the day.  I have no doubt that it will eventually be able to replace my earlier income.

But, I have to admit horrendous frustration when my sewing machine died.  I inherited a couple of older ones that died soon after also.  Hubby is great at being able to do minor maintenance on them and he kept me going for months longer than I should have been able to go.  But, he can only do so much!

I depend on my sewing machine to do some repairs, make things for around the home, make great gifts without spending loads of cash, quilting, and just general therapy for me.  I love to make things.  It makes me happy.  It saves me money and I enjoy it!

When the shirting baby quilt fell apart because of faulty stitching, I knew that my machine sewing days were nearing a close.  My mom and a friend allowed me to finish up a Christmas gift on their machines, but I had to re-think oodles of gifts because I couldn't do the sewing projects that I had planned.

But, Black Friday came and my hubby blessed me tremendously.  I had an online coupon to a site and they put a sewing machine on deep markdown.  It isn't fancy and it wasn't a pricey machine to begin with, but it will serve my needs well.  We were able to pick it up for less than 50% of the original price with free shipping, the coupon, and the sale in progress.  It's not my dream machine and I will continue to save a little here and there to eventually get that one, but it is a Consumer Reports Best Buy rated machine.

I am SO grateful for my hubby and this blessing in my life.  I can't wait for it to arrive.  I am going to take amazing care of this little baby!   And yes, the photo above is of the machine that I am getting.  Nothing to brag about, perhaps, but it means the world to my little, creative heart!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Thanksgiving Day is probably one of my all time favorite holidays.  The older I get, the more I appreciate that it comes with no hype and little drama.  It is a day that has remained (more or less) as it was intended, a day to celebrate all that we are thankful for in our lives.

It's not about showing off material possessions or having to mortgage your future to purchase just the "right" gift. It's about family, food, enjoying each other, and gratitude (which is too little expressed IMHO).

Just a few things that I am thankful for this year (certainly not an all inclusive list):
Salvation from sin
Living in a free nation
my parents and brother
my husband and children
the home we live in (our haven in the woods)
my extended family, some we will see today and others we can't be with
that I am able to homeschool my children
that I can legally homeschool my children
my friends, particularly those who have been with me through thick and thin
our pets
the doctors we see and the medicines we take in order to be healthy
my weight loss (getting healthier by the day)
good medical test results a couple of weeks ago (dodged the big "C")
the Boy Scout troop that my boys and hubby are involved in
having a Mom and a friend who will let me borrow their sewing machines when I am in a pinch
shade grown coffee--mmmmmmmm!
Good books
Crochet hooks, knitting needles, quilting tools, fabric
big hugs from my kids!

I wish you and yours a wonderful and fantastic Thanksgiving Day!  What are you thankful for this year?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Stash Manicure Post

Yay!  I have been invited to be a guest blogger at Stash Manicure for the second time!
Check my post out on November 18th!  Can't wait to see you there....

Saturday, November 13, 2010

How Rude!

Some days never cease to amaze me!  Today was one of those days.

I am a small business owner.  Much of my work takes me into other people's homes.  I love what I do and I really enjoy the other people that I work with.  That being said, it really bothers me when people treat my clients unethically, or are just downright rude!

I think that lying is rude, at the very least!  It nearly broke my heart to see a hostess and friend who had received 10 definite RSVPs to a get together (just the day before) sit and realize that nobody was coming.  Not even her mother.  Nobody.  Surely, all ten of those people didn't die overnight.  They couldn't all have been hospitalized or in car accidents.  Some only had to come from a house or two away.

Eventually, we did have a few guests arrive.  The first arrived 20 minutes after the stated time (she was at a child's sporting event and it ran late, totally understandable).  The next two arrived 45 minutes late (including her mom).  I have no idea why.  They may have had very good reasons.  Now, all of these ladies were delightful and had fun.  I am so glad that I got to meet them.  But, it bothered me that the whole situation made my hostess sad.

Why couldn't the other 7 or so people call?  Is our culture really that okay with being so rude?  If you commit to doing something, is it okay to blow it off at the last minute?  These weren't acquaintances, either.  They were close family members and long time friends.

When I work with a hostess, it is my goal to make her feel like a princess and have a really fun time.  It's hard to overcome that kind of disappointment in order to do that.  At the end of the event, the hostess was far more relaxed and happy.

But, was it really necessary to put her through that?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Authors Post

In addition to basking in quilty loveliness, I also like to read.  I don't get to very often, but with my machine down for the count, I may sneak a bit in.

I read a challenge (here) where the blogger listed 15 authors that they enjoyed, strictly off the top of their heads, no tweaking allowed.  So here they are, fall where they may!  Of course, there are many other authors that I have enjoyed!  Please post your list!

T.S. Eliot
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Phillippa Gregory
Margaret Armour (the author that I actually know!)
Alexandra Stoddard
Harper Lee
Christopher Marlowe
William Blake
Edgar Allan Poe
Janise Ray  (I think that's her name, Ecology of a Cracker Childhood)
Phyllis Schaeffer
David Bottoms
Madeline L'Engle
the author who wrote A Bridge of Birds, a paperback that I borrowed and LOVED!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Does anyone know of...

a good sewing machine store in Georgia that does a trade in sale?

Right now, I would love to buy a new machine and if I could trade in the 4, yes 4, machines that I currently have that are certifiable junk, it would help me to afford one.  I know that I used to hear of such sales.  I guess that they would then repair the old ones to sell?

I don't even know if the ones I have are worth repairing.

My LQS has a sale on BabyLock machines, with the Audrey, in particular, for $359 through December 31st.  I would love to be able to swing that.  Don't know if I can, with Christmas and all, but a girl can dream.

A local private school is having an even to purchase old gold/silver jewelry.  They are paying going rate and the dealer is donating their portion to the school.  I certainly don't have much jewelry that I could sell, but I am seriously thinking of getting together all that I have and seeing what I could get for it.  Every little bit would help, right?

I have toyed with the idea of taking one of my clunkers in to be repaired, but they are all such cheap-o machines that I wonder if I would do better by saving my pennies and buying up a little bit in quality.  The LQS is a BabyLock dealer.  I have checked out (and drooled) over their machines on more than one occasion.  One of the owners even went to school at the BabyLock factory to become certified to repair their machines.  He does all of the repairs in the shop and I really like that they don't have to send the machines out and he does it right there in his workroom.

I guess time will tell.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Insert Picture Here

of the beautiful, sawtooth star quilt that I finished just in time for the baby shower for a dear friend.

For those of you who have followed this blog lately, it is a quilt that I have had hanging up, looking at it, being very deliberate in making every decision because I wanted it to be just right.

When my second hand machine quit working, I took it to my mom's house to finish the quilting and put on the binding.  Then, we threw it in the washer.

That was the end of my quilt.  It, literally, fell apart in the wash.  I have had a seam pop once in a great while, but have never made a quilt and had it shred in the washing machine.  I made my first quilt in 1988 and have made every mistake in the book, but my work has held together.  Until now.

I don't know if the fabric gave way.  Large parts of the stitching seemed to come out.  Could this have been from using a crappy machine?  I use good seam allowance; nothing should have pulled out.  I probably make too large a seam allowance to make sure everything is very, very secure.

I had to go to this very special shower (which I was one of the ladies who threw it) with no gift.  I was embarassed and mortified.  I could have sat and had a good cry if I had a quiet moment.

So....  I don't know if I shouldn't have used the vintage shirts.  I don' t know if it was the machine.  I just know that I am not happy about it right now.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Women Helping Women

I just learned about a new company that is allowing women from wealthier countries to help women from more poverty stricken areas in a really meaningful way.

That company is Seeds of Blessing.  They are an offshoot of the group The Blessing Basket which bought woven baskets and other products from women in poverty and sold them.  The ladies who made the baskets benefitted tremendously by bringing in a good and fair income, having a ready market for their goods, and learning solid business skills.  It is a great opportunity for them and a great opportunity for ladies in wealthier nations to be able to help these women by purchasing their products, but also by receiving gorgeous, handmade items of great quality!

In order to spread the word, Seeds of Blessing is bringing their products into the Party Plan format.  You can also purchase from their website.

I learned about this from a fabulous blog.  This blog is part of Party Plan Divas, another example of women helping women to succeed.

I think it is high time that we women stick together and help others to make their dreams come true!