Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Right now I have several LARGE works-in-progress going on, and the finish line for them still looks very far off in the distance.  So I like to break it up with some smaller, more immediate gratification projects -- like crocheting dishcloths:) 

There are many, many ways of making these, but I like a little variety, so I got The Big Book of Dishcloths, which has 99 different patterns (what's amazing is that this is not nearly an exhaustive list -- you can still find plenty of others on the internet and elsewhere).

This is a very straightforward, no frills kind of book.  The photographs of the stitches are in black and white, stitch explanations are brief but sufficient even for me -- a fairly new crocheter -- to follow.  There is an element of surprise to it because stitched up in 3-D looks a little different from the 2-D photos.  Below is a page from the book:
And here is #80 all stitched up:
I enjoy the book because it gives me the chance to try lots of different stitches and techniques on a smaller scale.  There is no difficulty rating so I just pick and choose ones that I think I can do and am interested in doing.  This is one of the first ones I did:
Here are some more. The bottom two are recently done and haven't been through the wash yet.  Unfortunately it looks like I'm getting worse at keeping them square.
Part of my problem is making the foundation chain too tight.  I think I actually crochet a little loose, so I  have to exaggerate the foundation chain.  My other BIG problem is putting an edging on.  In this picture below I think I did too many stitches on the left side.  
This last one was so crooked even I didn't want to use it.  I unravelled the whole thing and redid it from scratch.  It's a lot better now although one of the corners is still stretched out.
I enjoy making them but there's still a lot of room for improvement.  Any of you crocheters out there have any tips for me?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Home Grown Leaves

 leaf project
My daughter recently had to collect twenty different tree leaves for biology class.  This was not the greatest time of year for it since a lot of trees have not yet leafed out.  But she managed, and I loved the leaves silhouetted in green against the white poster board, however temporary a beauty it may be.  I love leaves in all their great variety.  I can't help but be amazed at the creativity of God.  Truly, truly mind-boggling.

I have some different leaves to show you -- a little update from our garden.  They are not tree leaves, but they are just as beautiful and impressive in their own ways.

One of these is a cabbage and one is a brussels sprout.  I'm not quite sure which is which since my husband planted these.  Lovely, lovely leaves on both.

Here's a rather blurry picture of our potato hills coming up (it was beginning to rain and I had to hurry with my photos).  It seemed easier to plant the potatoes in two long rows rather than in a box.

And here is the box of lettuces -- again, the variety of leaves is staggering, from color to shape to size to....

 I just went around the box picking about five leaves from each plant and hade nough to make a huge bowl of salad.  Above is my individual serving which, along with some sourdough toast and a small cup of soup, made a delicious dinner:)

Even if nothing else really turns out, at least we have enjoyed our own lettuce!  That's enough encouragement to keep us gardening on.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Light after the Rain

It rained most of the day, but late this afternoon the weather broke and long shafts of evening sun shone across the greens, made more vivid because they were wet.  Texas isn't known for being green, so my eyes have to feast on it while I can. 

This neglected pot has been totally replenished by mother nature.  I will probably replant it with more traditional flowers, but these weeds have their own ornamental ways about them, I think.

The fence that we built to keep the sheep off the patio:

My one-time herb garden, which was destroyed by invasive sheep and last year's scorching hot summer.  I will soon be replanting it.

A glorious post oak tree in our backyard:

The trees here don't get that tall, but they can spread wide, and I love that.

Looking toward the edge of the yard:

Looking from my front yard down the street:

A beautiful evening!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Note Card Party

Vee at A Haven for Vee is hosting a note card party here.  To participate, just choose four pictures from your own blog that might make potential notecards.  Link up with Vee, then check everyone else's out.

For my note cards, I chose flowers, mainly because I had a hard time finding four of anything else theme-wise. 

Head over to Vee's for a lot of other great notecard ideas!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Eleven Things

The very nice (and very smart) Elizabeth at MrsThomasinaTittlemouse tagged me for a game of eleven things.  Here are the rules:
1.  Post the rules
2.  List 11 random things about yourself
3.  Answer the 11 asked questions
4.  Ask 11 questions of the next players

I'm afraid you are going to find out how boring I am (for those of you who still don't know;), but here goes.

The 11 Random Things (about me):
1.  I'm from East Tennessee and have a strong Appalachian accent
2.  I am famous among my kids' friends for my good toast :)
3.  I have a mind for trivia, especially about people I have never met
4.  I am pretty good at Etch-a-Sketch
5.  Even though I do it, I am afraid to drive over bridges
6.  When I am alone in the car, I listen to the radio very loudly
7.  I do not like to go to bed and I do not like to get up -- a dumb way to be, I know
8.  I love trees
9.  I love some bling, especially earrings and bracelets
10.  I am happier on a sunny day than a cloudy day -- it's almost embarrassing how much my mood is affected by the weather
11.  I paint my toenails but not my fingernails

Answers to the questions from Elizabeth:
1. If you were invited to make a piece of art, what medium would you use?  Hmmm....perhaps I would use the Etch-a-Sketch (see number 4 above).
2. What clothes are you most comfortable in? Mostly I wear jeans, knit tops and sandals in the warmer months.  Although I'm thinking about getting a maxi dress for this summer -- those look really comfortable.
3. If you had an unexpected afternoon to yourself and not a care in the world, how would you spend it?  I'm normally not much of a shopper, but if I had no worries about time or money, I just might go shopping for some clothes.  Or I might go get an icy drink and drive around out in the country just to see the sights.
4. Do you have things that you 'don't do', like my wheelie bins, and if so, what are they? Wheelie bins are not an American term but I'm guessing they are the garbage cans (right?).  I don't do the car maintenance or outside house maintenance. I also do not like to deal with sales people, but my husband does, so he gets that job.  Also, I don't mow the yard.  With five males in this household, I feel I shouldn't have to;)
5. What do you panic most about losing? I don't want to lose any of my people, nor do I want any of us to lose our health, or our hope for the future.  On a more trivial note, I can lose a piece of paper in about one second flat, so I ask my husband not to give me anything like that if at all possible.
6. What is your favorite quotation? This is not my favorite, but it is the first one that comes to mind:  "Go ahead -- Make Mistakes -- Get Messy" from Mrs. Frizzle of The Magic Schoolbus.  While it is not a very elegant quote, I refer to it quite often because I am easily lost in a sea of procrastination or fear of not knowing where to start, which can lead to doing nothing.  Sometimes a bad plan can be better than no plan (or should I say an imperfect plan is better than waiting on a perfect plan that never comes).
7.  What is your ideal holiday? I think I would pick summer family reunions because there is no pressure of gift-giving or the perfect meal and you are free just to enjoy being together and reminiscing with all your relatives that (if you are like me) you don't get to see very often.
8.  If you wear lipstick, what shape is its end, once it's no longer new?  It is slightly slanted up on one side.  (Let me know when you find out what this means).
9.  Do you have a habit you would like to drop or one you would like to adopt?  I am trying to adopt better housekeeping habits (a la Flylady) and I REALLY need to adopt better paper organizing habits (see number 5).
10.  What everyday article would you most miss if it were suddenly unavailable?  I would have to say my eyeglasses or my contact lenses because I can't see very well without them.  Also, I love cellphones.  They are so handy when you are looking for your husband, your late-running teenager, when you need directions or your car broke down, or when you need to ask someone to pick something up at the store.
11. What is your favorite perfume?  I wish I could give a more sophisticated answer, but I usually use scented lotions from BathandBodyWorks.  My favorite of those is Warm Vanilla Sugar.

And since these questions are about me personally, I will even be brave and actually show my face so that you know who you're talking to.
Although I've gotten older on the outside, on the inside I haven't changed much since I was a first-grader and supposed to sell fund-raising tickets for my class, and I sold none except for what my parents bought.  So......I'm no good at tagging.  BUT, if you wouldn't mind answering my questions, please do so -- consider yourself tagged. Just leave a note in the comments so I know where to go to read your answers (and I would love to read them :)

Here are my 11 questions for YOU.
1.  Do you have any pets, and if so what are they?
2. What is a happy activity for you?
3.  What is the name of a good book you have read recently (I will let you define "recently")?
4.  What food do you most hope they have in heaven?
5.  Are you more people or task focused?
6.  How many places have you lived?
7.  If money were no problem, what country would you most like to visit?
8.  How do you best learn (from watching, reading, listening, doing, etc.)?
9.  How many siblings do/did you have and where do you fall in the order?
10.  Do you have a memory you could share about a grandparent or other older relative?
11.  What is a game that you enjoy playing?  Or, do you not enjoy games at all?

And do go over and visit MrsThomasinaTittlemouse.  She has a lovely blog and right now is also giving away a lovely spring apron here.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Laundry/Sewing Room

I got my sewing mojo back, largely because of these lovely cubbies that my husband put on the wall for me:

These are four mini-cubby units from Closetmaid.  They are just the right size for my smaller pieces of cotton fabrics.  I love it.  I waste a lot of time just going in there and staring at this wall :)

One of the things I love about this house is that it has a laundry ROOM.  It's the size of a small bedroom, right off the kitchen.  So nice with because my family of seven plus the occasional houseguest = lots of laundry.  I love being able to leave the ironing board up, and thanks to the tile floors I can hang wet things up to dry without any worries.  I did just declutter in here, hauling off to the thrift store a trunkload of outgrown clothes and shoes, and bags of fabric that I could not think of any potential use for.  Remembering that this is a constant work in progress, here is a mini-tour.

This wall backs up to the kitchen.  (Yes, that's another sewing machine, but that's a story for another day.)  The blue basket holds current projects.

I keep my patterns in the bottom drawer of the buffet.  The other drawers are stuffed with various sewing supplies, fabrics, etc.
This is the door, looking into the kitchen.  It is hardly ever closed because it has a pull-up bar in it.  (Again, can you tell I live with a lot of males?  This was the only doorway in the house where we figured we could put this thing up.)
These bookshelves hold my sewing books and lots of past issues of Sew Beautiful magazines (I learned a lot about sewing from those mags).  The pink toolbox was a thrift store find and makes a great sewing "basket."  The stacking boxes are also from the thrift store and hold various supplies like elastic, piping cord, stuff like that.  The feather dusters make a fluffy bouquet.

This is a view of the inside of the upper cabinet.  It holds larger pieces of fabric:  linens, home dec weight, some clothing weight stuff.
In this picture my sewing machine is tucked down inside its desk.  To its left next to the bookcase is a stack of clear boxes that hold zippers, thread, embroidery thread, hot glue guns, etc.  The bags hanging on the shelf hold various projects that need to be completed (sshh!).  I just made the valance (like right before I took this picture) out of a tablecloth I already had.  One of these days I want to redo my ironing board cover.

And I thought about trying to hide the washer and dryer, but HEY!  this is a LAUNDRY room.  It's a working room.  You can see I have lots of ironing I could do if I wanted:) I do have some ideas to make this look better, but a little at a time, eh?
Up in the corner is one of my favorite things in the whole room, a wooden cat painted by my oldest son when he was about three years old.
And here I did start working on improving the narrow shelves, hanging up an old pillowcase passed down from my great-aunt.  The laundry tin was another thrift store find.

I hope you have enjoyed my little tour.  I know I am very nosy about other people's houses myself. And also I like recording it for the sake of my own memory.  We don't always record the details of our everyday life and later on those are some of the things we want to remember.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Small Diaper Bags

I've been sewing again.  Here are my two latest projects, which are WAY overdue.  Hopefully, toddlers can use these bags, too ;)

I made this bag using a long linen dress from the '90s.  I have lots of those dresses, and I have to confess I have only recently removed them from my closet.  Their long straight shape is actually flattering on me, but it's time to update my wardrobe a little.  I got my wear out of them.  BUT.... I don't want to waste all that great fabric, so I've put the dresses in my sewing stash to be repurposed.  This little bag is my first repurposing.  The lining is left over from a quilt backing, so my only expense was paying to have the name professionally embroidered.

The dress had some fish painted on it, and since I now live in Texas and this baby lives in Florida, it's much more appropriate for him than me.
This next little bag is made out of home dec weight fabric, which is what I prefer in bags just because it holds its shape better.  
I always like to add a little something extra if I can, so I made a little big removable rosette.  I roughly followed Kay Whitt's directions here, although I didn't use a ruffler because the fabric was too heavy.
I like to make my own piping
I've got at least three more of these bags I need to make soon.  They are really not hard, but I have to be inspired -- I have to have an idea in my head -- before I can feel happy about making them.  Is anybody else out there like that?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

February Sum Up

February was a difficult month at my house.  Lots of health concerns, some mine, some others.  Lots of my time was occupied in worry, then trying to turn that worry into prayer.

I made a recommitment to being healthier, which for me -- right now, at least -- means exercising at least an hour a day.  I pulled out our trusty P90X workout DVDs (can you tell that I live in a male-dominated household?) and am now finished with the first three weeks.  So challenging (that's an understatement), but I do feel myself getting stronger and able to do more. However, it does eat into my creative time.

I'm also trying to eat lower on the glycemic scale.  I haven't gotten a cookbook on that yet but just checking things on line.  Basically trying to eat a higher protein breakfast, and finding ways to increase protein and fiber and decrease (but not totally eliminate) carbs.  It really hasn't been too bad.  And I found out I was very low on Vitamin D, so I am now taking a large supplement.  This shows me I don't  spend enough time outdoors, something else I need to work on.

I kept waiting for winter to arrive, but it never really came this year (unless it's hiding around the corner waiting to do a sneak attack in mid-March).  Instead, our winter was more like spring.  We've never had such green grass (although most likely by summer it will be turned back to brown).  The bad thing about no winter is that the bugs don't get a chance to die out, so I expect my fly-swatters will be getting a workout this spring and summer. (I have one friend who doesn't even own a fly-swatter.  Somehow flies know not to go in her house!)  But I have too many pets and too many people going in and out, in and out, all day and the insects (and sometimes geckos) wait by the doors for their opportunity!  Right now the insect of choice is the mayfly or mosquito hawk, which is harmless but somewhat annoying when they are everywhere:
Mosquito Hawk
The problem of spring (and fall, for that matter) in Texas is that it comes and goes so quickly that if you are not careful, you will miss it.  Mostly we just have 3 parts summer, 1 part winter.  Here are a few pictures of spring to remind me:
Blue skies
Underneath our live oak in the front yard
The golden rain tree is leafing out
Loropetalum blossoms
A rogue petunia that escaped from its pot
I didn't complete any projects in February, but I did work on some.

I'm still adding to my ripple blanket:
Getting closer to a finish
Working on a giant granny (surreptitiously):
Made with acrylic self-striping yarn
Got two or three more blocks done on the flower garden quilt:
Mostly completed while waiting for basketball games to start
I totally neglected my big quilt and MUST get back to it.

My daughter began a pompom blanket, which is very fun and feels SO soft and squishy!
She does not plan on sharing this :)
Even though I posted very little in February, I did read lots of your posts.  I found lots of encouragement there.  Sometimes good advice, sometimes a little mini-vacation as I visited some of you who live in such a different place than I, sometimes inspiration.  I still feel a little bit odd occupying the blogworld, but there are lots of good things about it, and number one is getting to know some kindred spirits :)