Monday, September 28, 2009


This is my front porch railing. Yes, it's a fairly new house. But this paint started peeling and cracking from day one. Then it began to mildew, then turn greenish in places. Now it has this growing on it, I suppose it's some sort of lichen. I don't really mind it, I think it's kind of pretty. It looks like the rings inside a tree to me. But I guess we should do something about it, because most people think porch railings should not look this way.

This lovely fall morning, Chad and I sat on the back porch and talked while we drank our coffee. One thing we discussed is that the back yard doesn't seem as big as it did before. And I think it really isn't. As I've mentioned here before, the forest all around us seems to be looking for any opportunity to take back this place we've cleared out to build a house. Life just does that. Tree lines creep closer every day. A seed can take root and crack concrete. Animals, plants and even people adapt to live under the harshest of conditions. With faith and a good attitude, patients facing insurmountable odds can be well again, or at the least make the most of the time they have. It's just the life we've been given; it wants to survive and grow.

You know how, when you have a decision to make, sometimes you think about if it will matter one, 10, or 100 years from now? Sometimes I wonder, if we were to abandon this place today, how long it would take for this land to return to the way it was before we came. Not that we're going to do that, but I think it really would not take that long.

So, considering that in 100 years, it might be hard to tell that there was ever a house on this spot, does that mean I don't have to clean house today?

Yeah, that's what I thought.

Nice try, though, huh?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

sewing or lacing cards

Here's a fun craft that my Wednesday night preschool class enjoys. It requires a little advance preparation, but it is easy to do and fun for a class or for your own children.

You will need heavy paper or craft foam, scissors, a hole punch, yarn, glue, and something to hold a puddle of glue.
Cut a simple shape from the heavy paper or craft foam. Cookie cutters are good inspiration!
With your hole punch, make evenly spaced holes all around the shape. Be sure to make the holes far enough in from the edge so that they won't tear when lacing.
Guesstimate how much yarn will be needed to go around the shape, and always leave a little extra! If you have a symmetrical shape, you can do half of it, then double that amount. Cut the yarn.
Saturate the ends of the yarn with glue, about 1" or a little more. This will stiffen them and make them easier for little hands to manage getting through the holes. Hang the yarn to dry someplace where the ends won't touch each other or anything else. Up to this point is all you need to do to prepare.
I always let the children lace or sew their cards any way they like - running stitch, over the edge, across the shape (though that takes a lot of yarn) or any combination of stitches. For older children, you could add beads or buttons to the mix.
It's nice if the ends of the yarn come out at the top, to make a loop for hanging. But the kids are always proud, no matter how it turns out!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

revisiting the sheet

Remember the sheet I found a few days ago? Well, I believe I've reached a decision as to its new purpose.

It would make a lovely skirt, as suggested by Amy - for someone. But on me, I fear I would need to put a "WIDE LOAD" sign on the rear. It would also make a great pair of PJ pants, as suggested by Maya. It's such a great, happy print, it would be wonderful made into a number of things.

But I have this problem. If something, like this sheet, has survived intact and in such good shape all these years, I hesitate to cut it up for fear I'll ruin it. Yes, I know I have about 35 years experience sewing. But something like this is not replaceable, and I do still make mistakes and bad decisions.

Also, it occurred to me the other day that the orangey-red color in the print was my very favorite color of crayon when I was little. So that explains why I like it so much.

A couple of nights ago, I read "The Quiltmaker's Gift" to Lydia for the first time. And after that, it came to me: Wouldn't the sheet be a great backing for a quilt? A quilt to put on my bed so I could see it every single morning and night? So now I'm on a mission to find solid color fabrics in exactly the colors of the print. This is going to be fun!

Monday, September 21, 2009

it's Monday

It's been a busy, fretful, unpleasant kind of day. Chad broke his toe, so we spent part of the day at the doctor's office. We've had so much rain here that the schools were closed today, many roads are closed and some even washed away. And it looks like we have a few days of rain yet.

But broken toes, as painful as they are, do heal. Rain does stop eventually. And perhaps tomorrow will be a better day.

In the meantime, enjoy this photo of the mushrooms that sprang up in the yard over the weekend. Beautiful color.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Look what I found on a visit to the thrift store today! It's a really great old sheet! The print is so bright and happy - just the antidote for all the dreary, rainy weather we've had lately.

So now the question is, what will it be? Of course, it could just be a sheet, it's the right size. Or it could be a skirt for next summer, or hats for the etsy shop, or Easter dresses for the girls, or...

Friday, September 18, 2009

the next hat

I don't often show works in progress, but I think this is too good to keep. The hat-to-be is made of an iridescent taffeta in a chocolate color, and the leaves are embroidered in a nickel gray color. It will be lined with a mottled gray fabric. Why did I put gray and brown together? I don't know - when I looked at the fabric, that's just what it shouted to me. Which is somewhat disturbing, I know.

I'm 2/3 of the way around the hat with the embroidery, so it should be in the etsy shop within a few days.

Update: The hat is finished, and listed in the Etsy shop!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

rain stick improvisation

A few weeks ago, my Wednesday night preschool class needed to make rain sticks to go along with a lesson. Most of the instructions I could find called for cardboard tubes at least 18" long. In case you hadn't noticed, those are becoming harder and harder to find, and I certainly didn't have any saved for such an occasion.

So I didn't have cardboard tubes, but what I did have was plastic water bottles. We raided our recycling bin for water bottles with straight sides and found just enough. I cut out the tops with a utility knife, and brought them to class along with some clear packing tape.

During class, the children scooped out dried beans and peas, dried rice, and dried noodles to put in one bottle. Then we turned another bottle upside down on top of the first, and taped it in place. I think this version is even better because the water bottles have those nice grooves to help the contents rattle. Also, they are clear, so you can see what's inside making all the noise.

After that, we got out the foam stickers and decorated our rain sticks. By the end, my class sounded more like a monsoon than a gentle rain, but I guess maracas are good too. ;)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

an equation

What happens when you combine:

childhood memories of Daddy's favorite kind of hat;

a lifetime's worth of saved odds and ends of fabric;

and a disturbingly large collection of 70's embroidery patterns?

How about this?

Now available in my Etsy shop!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

back from our trip

We're just back from a weekend trip with family, and had a great time.

I also had the good fortune to meet, in person, my friend. We have known each other for a year now through the internet, but live too far apart to cross paths often. Some observations:

1. I want a spinning wheel. (I don't need it; I waaant it.)

2. wool + dye + twist = magic. (Even better in person.)

3. I have a very dear friend. (Also even better in person!)

Resting up tonight; the deep breath before the plunge. The next couple of days will be busy with last-minute sewing, taking photos, and preparing for listing items in my Etsy shop on Tuesday. Can't wait!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Why, oh why, do I love mushrooms? I don't like to eat them so much, but I do love to look at them.
Is it their shapes?
That sometimes they look like little magical fairy houses?
That you might find them in families, or all alone?
That they can be huge, or tiny?
That snails come by for a nibble (which is unbearably cute, to me)
Some even look like a potato lying on the ground. But I've never seen anything nibble these.
Maybe it's that they still seem rare to me - I've spent most of my life in places where mushrooms didn't like to grow so much.
Looks like I'm in the right place now - I took every one of these photos in my yard just this morning!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Have you ever thought about the Bible story of Jonah? (Yeah, you may think the Bible is a collection of fairy tales; I happen to believe it's all true. Bear with me a minute.) Story goes that Jonah runs away from a job God told him to do, finds himself far out to sea in a storm, and jumps overboard to stop the storm so that the ship and crew would not be lost.

When Jonah jumps overboard, God sends a huge fish to swallow him, and spit him up on dry land three days later. Many people present the time in the fish's gut as punishment, which is probably what it felt like at the time. But I think of it as salvation; do you really think Jonah could have swam back to shore? If not for the fish, he surely would have drowned.

I was reminded of this story as I mused over an event that happened yesterday. Many years ago, we were discouraged and frustrated over a missed opportunity. The alternative didn't seem nearly as good. But in retrospect, I see that we were in the "fish's gut" for a year, and when he "spit us up" we were in a much better place than we would have been if we'd gotten what we wanted in the first place.

I know that doesn't make a lot of sense without all the details. I'm just feeling grateful today that God doesn't give us everything we want.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

up to something

What's all this?? Well, I guess you'll need to look in my Etsy shop in about a week to find out! Finally!

And in the meantime, it's voting time for handspun yarn on Etsy! (My friend Maya's "Charmed" is there, from her shop Springtree Road... hint hint...)

Friday, September 4, 2009

fun things to do in downtown West Blocton

Take photos of your very most favorite old building in the whole world:

Swing around a pole while you wait for your burger and fries at Tiger Hut:

Yeah, that's about it.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


(Oh, don't groan. Isn't that what everyone says when the surprise lilies bloom?)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

a birthday gift

Lydia's birthday was a little over a week ago. As you can imagine, it's hard to know what to give to daughters who have need of nothing. But usually, I try to make at least one thing for each birthday and Christmas.

I've had an idea for some time for a Gingham Dog and Calico Cat, from the poem The Duel by Eugene Field. And yes, I know it's been done. But I wanted to do my version. I had these patterns by Bit of Whimsy Dolls, Violet Kitty and Peter Puppy, and thought I'd use them. I thought they turned out nice, but more importantly, Lydia likes them!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

time to think warm!

Fall is my very favorite time of year. Even now, at the end of summer, I begin to feel the crispness in the air. It speaks of cool days and cooler nights to come, and makes me want to prepare for them.
Lucky for me, my dear friend Maya has learned to spin yarn! The yarn currently in her shop is breathtaking, and by all means you should visit and take a look. But I have the honor of owning one of her very first skeins, which makes it even more special!

I used it to make a scarflette - basically a scarf without the annoying tails that get slammed in the car door. If you want to try one, it's just a rectangle of seed stitch with yarn-overs for the buttonholes. It crosses over in sort of a 'V' shape in the front, so even though the buttonholes are on the end, the buttons will look like they are on the side.
And she even shared two of her awesome walnut buttons! Aren't they great? They are from the Etsy shop WoodenTreasures.