Friday, February 28, 2014

Project Nine .... Nine .... Nine

Oh. My. Goodness.

I will hit double digits very soon!!

My 52 projects in 52 weeks goal keeps on humming along.

It does help that it is sub-zero weather ........... day after day after day.

And the snow doesn't stop falling on the weekends.  Every. Weekend.

Seriously .... every. weekend.


Yea .... I am drowning my winter sorrows in crafting.

And this week's craft was basket weaving.  And a big project for a gal that hasn't woven too many baskets in the last 15 years. 

It is coming back .... but not as easily as the sewing bicycle that I am currently trying to ride!!!!

I made a laundry basket to store blankets. 

It is HUGE!!!!

It should store lots and lots of blankets and quilts.

If and when they ever come off my bed!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Why so much?

I recently made this apron and put it in the Summer Kitchen for sale.

A customer looked at it and was shocked to see the price of $45.  For an apron.

And now ..... this is my story why an apron is $45.

This apron is made of a quality quilting cotton .... there are two yards in the apron as it is reversible.  The fabric is tightly woven, silky and a joy to sew.  It is a reproduction 1930's era fabric.

Fabric cost ............. $23.00

I use Gutterman thread.  It took almost a spool.  Cost ... $2.00.

Mere material cost ...... $25.00

I bought a cute pattern .... different than what you might see from McCalls or Simplicity.  Cost of the pattern ... $8.00. 

I always use a new sewing machine needle whenever I start a new project.  It's not always necessary but it is a good habit to get into as it does make your sewing look better.

It took me 6 hours to make this apron ..... hourly wage .... $3.30.

Of course, that doesn't cover the gas that it took me to drive 40 miles to get the fabric, the electricity to run my sewing machine and iron or the distilled water to help me get a good press on this.

And you might wonder why I don't run to a big box store and buy cotton fabric for $10 and make the apron.

Because of this...................

This is the hem of my great-grandmother Brady's apron.  It was part of her trousseau and was made circa 1880.  She made it ... carefully crocheting the trim and along the sides.  Even the ties have tiny crochet at the ends.

I LOVE this apron.  It was stitched on a treadle sewing machine .... tiny straight stitches.

I cherish and  appreciate this and love the tangible connection to the great-grandmother that I never met. 

And when I sew ............ or knit .......... or embroider ............. I think of this apron.  And the 135 years that have past and how this apron has survived. 

It is why I do my very BEST when I make something.  It is why I will not skimp on quality materials.  It is why I will not rush through a project.

Because one of the days, another young woman may cherish and love an apron and say ................

"That belonged to my great-grandmother."

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Getting the creative juices flowing

So you have heard my tale about trying to design a new/replacement kitchen.

I want a kitchen that looks like it has evolved with the house. I had one thought process of buying unfinished cabinets and "fluffing" them out the way I would like them.  Add a few hand-crafted cabinets, some awesome hardware and great guts .... I would be set.

And then we looked at the "too-slick" doors ..... particle board sides .... and I knew I would be unhappy.

And we don't want me unhappy.  ;)

So back to the drawing board for the perfect kitchen. 
That does not exist in any kitchen design studio in the QCA.

(Weeeeeeeeelllllllll ..... that may not be true.  But it will never ever ever happen in my price range.!)

Something primitive ... but not. 
Something cottage-y .... but not.

Explaining this to Honey has been pretty close to impossible!!

It was time for a road trip to try to show him what I am looking for.  (Again ... with the prepositions.  I can live with grammar errors but not with a standard out-of-the-box kitchen.  Go figure!)

This is TOTAL inspiration material!!  I am in love.  This cabinet was built in 1790 .... I love it all!!!  But the mullions in the glass door HAVE to line up with the shelves.  Otherwise, it will be a really short trip to crazy street for me.

Love Love Love the doors on this.  And the color is great!  Soft ... aged ... but not dark.

This is possible for a wall cabinet ....

I'll be stacking some cabinets above the stove hood ... I want the lower cabinet to have solid doors to hide the exterior exhaust duct.   The cabinet above it would be open or glass or punched tin doors.  And this extremely simple detail molding will hid the seam of the two cabinets and give it a period look.

I've been drawing out details for a single cabinet  ..... and the paint detail on this is awesome.  The cabinet will have a drawer below the cabinet space for phone books and pens .... and I think this paint detail could do a lot for the cabinet.

So it was a very productive road trip .... I got some fabric, Honey got beer.

And he is sure going to need it as I toss all these ideas at him!!!!!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Pillow Talk ...

There are purchases in life that just bring anxiety and frustration.

Buying your first home.

Buying a swimsuit.

Buying blue jeans.

Total anxiety.  Total frustration.

Let me add another one.

Buying a pillow.

Seriously.  I can be anxious about something I spend 1/3 of my life with.

(Notice how I am not one bit anxious about ending the sentence with a preposition.  Pillow purchase = anxiety.  Prepositions = not so much!)

Our pillows had become flat .... bunched .. uncomfortable.

So I decide to give them a spin in the washer to see if that would help.

Again .... not so much.

Honey and I went shopping.

I don't care about having "matching" pillows.  I want to be able to sleep comfortably.  I don't want to be flipping it over and over and over again.  I don't want to have to bunch it up several times a night.  I just want to sleep.

Like the princess and the pea ..... I swear I have gone through pillow after pillow after pillow ..... only to feel the pea.

I have tried latex foam, feather, cotton, polyester, down, memory foam and down alternative.

And again .... they all start perfect and they all fail.

Sunday, we shopped. (After imbibing in two three glasses of wine cuz that's going to make everything clearer???)

We squeezed, felt, cuddled, caressed, bunched and punched EVERY pillow in the store.

Honey selected his pillow.  I selected mine. 

And after 4 nights of sleeping, I have to say that I found The. Perfect. Pillow.


Do you think he will notice the switch???

Monday, February 17, 2014

Pressing Matters.

Maybe it is because my first job in life was ironing my Dad's work shirts for a nickle a piece.

Or maybe it was bottle with the rooster on it that was used to sprinkle laundry.

Or maybe its because I grew up in an era that it was more likely that there was damp laundry in the fridge than soda.

I iron.

Now I don't iron tee shirts or sheets or blue jeans.

But my ironing board and iron are permanent fixtures in my house.

As I prepare to teach another sewing class at Scott Community College, I have discovered something that I can't seem to convey to my students.

You need to press as much as you sew.

Before I start ... I press the fabric and I press the pattern.

I press every seam as I go and I continue to press the  garment as I go.

I use lots of steam ..... I keep a spray bottle of water besides my iron.  I use a press cloth whenever necessary.

I press the seam binding and rick-rack before I apply it.

I press the first turn of the hem.  I press the second turn of the hem and I press the hem again after I have sewn it.

So .... tell me how to convince my students that the iron is as important as the sewing machine.

In the meantime, as I am pondering my dilemma, I'll show off last week's sewing project.

Pajama pants for Honey ......

Hopefully, by the end of the week, I will have a new linen dress for myself. 

Maybe one day .... I'll have a place to wear it!!!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Creating my own reality ..

Years ago, I was acquainted with a gal that we might say ..... was "out there."

To say she lived in her own world was an understatement.  If we were working our tails off, trying to complete a project .... she would be slowly dilly-dallying along.

Once, I confronted her ... trying to explain the importance of the task we were doing and why it needed to be done now!

I was quickly informed that she had created her own reality and this task was not part of it.

I was certain she was bat-sh*t crazy. 

And to be honest .... I am still certain she is bat-sh*t crazy.  But I am joining her in creating my own reality.


I think I have cabin fever, winter blues, will-it-ever-be-warm-again thoughts.

And my cure is easy ........... I order more flowers. 

And more flowers.  And more flowers.  Largest. orders.  E-V-E-R.

Cuz I need to look at something like this!

This is a relatively new petunia called "Kermit" and the color is Baby.  I think it will be super cute in containers and flowing out some of our stump planters.

And then -- I have stuffed my orders with lots of perennials.  Most are pretty ordinary .... daisies, daisies and more daisies.  But I did order a favorite that I have not had in the garden in YEARS.

This is Verbascum  "Southern Charm".  It is such a sweet Victorian flower .... I can't believe I haven't grown more of it in the past.

I am not growing dahlias this year.  I was disappointed with last year's crop.  And they don't bloom until later in the season .... so they tie up two or three rows with plants .. but no blooms until late August.

So .......... more lisianthus!!  Over 1100 lisianthus!!

I heart lisianthus.

In many ways .... I am sticking with the basics this year.  Snapdragons, lizzies, zinnias, ageratum, celosias.

The plants that make me smile and make beautiful, long lasting bouquets like these ........

Today ........... my reality has me digging in the rich, moist soil ...smelling mint, lavender and that wonderful earthy fragrance that only drifts on a warm spring day.

I can hear the hens, clucking in the run .... playing tug of war with an earthworm that they spied.

I can see the robins tugging at straw, dead grasses out of the compost pile to build a nest.  The heat of the mid-day sun in on my shoulder and I hum as I plant.

It's a much nicer reality than this........

You know .... that acquaintance of mine might have been crazy. 

But I think I will join her .... at least, for today.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

23 Below Zero ..

Stayin' warm at 23 below takes a lot of clothes.

It's a sweater over my pajamas in the morning.

It's two pairs of socks all day.

It's 2 pairs of gloves (and an extra) lined jeans, long underwear, a hat, an extra hat, a sweatshirt, another sweatshirt and two neck warmers to send Honey to work.

It's cuddling under two blankets to knit or watch television.

It's baking bread or cookies or even cleaning the oven ....... just to heat up the kitchen.

It takes a lot of thought to stay warm when it is this cold.

Like discovering that the water bowl is toasting warm .......................

Can I order one in X-Large???

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Iowa Shuffle ..............


More snow.

And still more snow.

Yes ... there is a garden there.  Hopefully, I will  be able to assess the viability of the perennials and shrubs and the survival of a bench before June arrives.  ;)

It seems that our 2 acre yard has 5 acres of snow in it!!!

That's like me trying to squeeze into my summer jeans!!

Ain't going to happen!


So on Saturday, Honey borrowed a tractor and moved snow.

And moved snow.


And moved snow.

He really deserved these new warm, wool socks......

And a cup of cocoa!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Plans ...........

There is one really good thing about all this cold and snow.

(We just got 5" of fresh snow, the winds are picking up to 30 miles per hour and tonight ... it is going to be around -10!  Yea .... it is an adventure.)

It gives me LOTS of time to plan and think and explore new ideas.

And the latest ... plan, thought-process and exploration .... involves our kitchen.

It is definitely time for a kitchen re-do.

But the trouble is .... I can't walk into a cabinet shop and get the look I want.

Oh -- I could drop $30,000 but that is plain silly.  And I am still not certain I could get the look I am trying to achieve.  (Besides the fact ... I don't have $30,000!)

I LOVE a primitive look ..... a kitchen that has evolved over time.  A cabinet was added here ..... a different style there.  But often ... a primitive look is "too primitive" for me.

Maybe it is too close to what I currently have in my kitchen!!  Yea .... I have that same patch in my floor!

A cottage style kitchen makes my heart sing.  But the white cabinets ....white walls ..... are too "cool" in their feel  for the "tundra of Iowa".  And maybe for the style of this house.

The furniture details ... the quality hardware .... that I can achieve easily and inexpensively.  It is helpful to have decades of design work behind me.  And lots of sources I can scour for ideas and inspiration.

Fortunately, I have plenty of time to dream .......

Looks like the snow will be with us for a while.


Monday, February 3, 2014

Coloring my world ...............

The world outside my door is a long, wide expanse of white.  The deep blue sky and the sunshine brighten my day ..... but still, all I see is white.

White ..... all shades of white are the darling colors of the decorating world.  White walls, white furniture, white floors.  Accented, of course, with "splashes of color". 

And it has been that way for a long time.  White .... white .... white.

But I can't live that way.  Maybe it is because of the long white Iowa winters.  I crave color around me.

This time of year .... it becomes harder for me.

I search for the colors of spring.  Purple crocus.  Yellow daffodils.  I order more pink impatiens and coral-colored geraniums.  I dream of lilies and lisianthus and zinnias.

On a snowy day .... I wandered into a yarn store and suddenly was surrounded by the colors of spring.

Blues, aquas, peach and pinks scream out to me ..... Touch me!!!!  Buy me!!!  I will bring you spring!!!

I fell for the screams of the spring-colored Sirens ...... luring me to unusual buying decisions. 

Yep ..................

My new socks .............. dyed at an explosion at the Peeps factory!