Monday, June 30, 2008


This is a box of letters--one of many boxes of letters and cards. In fact, I have almost every piece of correspondence written to me since I was a small child.

What in the world I am supposed to do with all of them! Part of me says just keep them. I have had them this long, and they will be neat to have in the future.

The other part of me says throw them all away. Most of them are just cards--birthday, christmas, valentine's, etc. Somewhere in the middle would be sorting through them and keeping those with particular artistic or sentimental value and tossing the rest. Quite frankly, I find the prospect of that task overwhelming.

I know some people use old cards for scrapbooking, but I'm not really into that. Any ideas?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Quilting Group

I joined a quilting group and went to my first work session today. It was really good. I wanted to do something that fed my need to contribute to this world, meet some new people, and maybe pick up a few sewing tips. The group is through my church, and the blankets are distributed through Lutheran World Relief. Here are the instructions for making the quilts.

Some of the women had patched pieces together to make tops already, so I worked on knotting the layers together. Learned a new way to do that, which is different than the way shown at Happy Things. If I am feeling industrious later, maybe I will post some pics of the technique as well as a nifty way to thread a needle easily. (I had never seen it before, but it is probably old news to veteran sewers.)

Anyway, enough procrastinating--time to tackle the piles of paper--receipts and old check books this time.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I seem to have a love/hate relationship with clutter, specifically piles--piles of paper. No matter how hard I try there is always somewhere in the house with a little cluster of stuff that does not have a home/needs to be read/dealt with.

I just spent the last two hours working on the "office." We moved into our house about a year ago, and this room is the last one to get any attention. It's where everything else that we didn't know what to do with ended up. The goal is to make a wonderful sewing/craft room/office.

The hall bathroom closet and under our bed are two other places where I am determined to bring order to the disorder.....someday........

Friday, June 20, 2008

Blanket #2 and Some Cute Little Bags

I finished the second blanket today and even had time to sew two little bags.

Here is the blanket. Same design as the other one just different fabric. I have been trying different places in the house to take pictures of these blankets and have not yet found anything that works really well.

This is in the sun room (see the ugly cushion covers; they are next on the sewing list.)

The big sisters of the babies-to-be will also be at the shower, so I got a few little things for them and made these bags to stash the goods. They were super easy and took only about ten minutes to make. I had the princess/fairy fabric left over from another project. These would be great for birthday party favor bags.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sewing Success!

I am super pleased with the blanket I made today--same fabric as the earlier one, so no new pic though. I used 10" squares, and the finished project was 26" x 34".
  • While fleece is a fairly forgiving fabric with which to sew, making the squares as square as possible is key. My wonderful husband, who happens to a skilled carpenter, whipped out his oversized square and helped me get everything lined up perfectly.
  • Use a straight stitch--my machine was set a #4 for stitch length.
  • Trim the seams severely. This really helped the blanket look more finished and sew together much more smoothly.
  • If you pull gently on fleece, it will curl to the wrong side.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia

We recently visited the Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia (FCMV) outside of Staunton, and I would highly recommend it if you are in the area. Here is one of the pics I took, and there are more on my Flickr page.

I do have to say that we almost did not go though. I had picked up a brochure and checked the web site, but really could not tell what it was going to be like. Our two-year-old is quite flexible, but I had images of tromping around in the boiling sun with no access to restrooms, shade, or water. The museum had all of these things and more. I think the web site for FCMV does the place a disservice. Unless I missed it (which is possible), this is all the site said about food/lodging:

Vending snacks and drinks available on patio area and Museum Store.
Picnic tables are available.

What would have been extremely helpful would have been a map of the grounds. The farmhouses are actually located quite close to each other, and it is a nice walk around the paths to each one of them. There are costumed people in each of the houses, who were all super nice, informative, and knowledgeable. There are small red wagons available for rental as well as scooters and even larger golf-cart-type vehicles if there are people in your party unable to walk short distances.

There was a water fountain, water cooler, and two different restrooms available along the trail. (Yes, one of the "restrooms" was a Johnny Blue, so I am not sure if that counts; I think it does in this case.)

We had been to Colonial Williamsburg earlier this year and had a great time. If Williamsburg is living history on steroids though then FCMV is living history on camomile tea (in a calm, nice not boring way). There were very few people there the day we were there (Thursday), so you really got to talk and ask questions about what the people were doing and why.

The lady in the English house was cleaning wool that day, for example, and her fire had gone out. So my husband and son helped bring her some firewood and get the fire going again.

There was no crush of visitors at the museum store--just a yummy sample of homemade fudge, air conditioning, and a small, but interesting collection of books for sale.

It was the perfect outing for us on that day.


My husband's grandmother, Garnet Elizabeth Mongold, died this morning; she was 88. She is survived by 9 children, 20 grandchildren, and 31 great-grandchildren. Wow!

I can't help but reflect on life, what it means, and how we do/do not impact those around us and the world as a whole.

My deepest thanks to all those grandmothers who love their grandchildren unconditionally, with wide open arms, lots of hugs and kisses, and great food memories. [I don't recall my granny doing much cooking at all when we visited, but I do have great food memories associated with her and her house. There were the small cans of OJ with the peel back tops that were just the right size for little hands. There was the candy at the town pool that we got to buy--you know the fake cigarettes, and she always had cookies in the apple-shaped cookie jar--often they were those peanut butter cookies shaped like peanuts. I don't think the food was particularly good, but these were all things we never had at home--special treats at Granny's.]

Friday, June 13, 2008

Baby Blanket--Take 2

I made this blanket tonight in about four hours.

The fabric is from JoAnn Fabric. It is for a baby shower present, but I wanted something that wasn't too frilly and could be used by the child past infancy.

Considering I have never made anything like this nor worked with fleece before, it turned out o.k. I started out with 9" squares, and the finished project is 23" x 30". I think on the next one, I will increase the size of the squares 1/2 inch, so the overall blanket is a bit bigger.

I used the zig zag stitch thinking that would be stronger, but I don't like the way it looks in the end. For the next one, I will try a straight stitch and see how that works out. I should also make the opening in the end a bit smaller, so there is not as much hand sewing to do once the blanket is turned right side out.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Sewing 101--Baby Blanket

I am what you would call a beginning sewer. I have taken one class at the community center about five years ago, and just wing it with most of my projects. So far, I have made some basic things like pillows, curtains, and cushion covers (more about those later).

I am making two baby blankets for a joint baby shower later this month. Although baby blankets don't look too difficult, I went with the Cuddly Quilt Kit from Joann's Fabric store for the first one.

I finished cutting the blocks today and sewing them into strips. The blocks are 7.5 x 8" each and primarily flannel with two satin ones. The satin ones were a bit tricky, but I just pinned them like crazy to keep them in place, and they turned out o.k.

Hopefully tomorrow I will get the strips sewn together and then tackle the plush sides and backing.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Gardening Meets Web 2.0

I love to garden. There is something extremely satisfying about having your hands in the Earth and watching plants grow.

I have to admit though that I find our current yard a bit overwhelming. We have about 3 acres--two in the back are heavily wooded, and we can't do much with that due to HOA restrictions--which is fine. The acre in the front and side yards is also very shady with large oak trees, which leave (no pun intended) a mess of oak shoots, acorns, and leaves with which to deal. There are a few azaleas on the property, but really not much in the way of plantings or landscaping.

Tons of possibility though, and this is where MyFolia comes in. MyFolia is a relatively new web site that combines people's love and knowledge of gardening with social networking. On the site, you can organize, track, and share information about plants in your garden or ask questions about what, how, or when to grow something. The site combines blogs, wikis, online groups, mashups, and incorporates other sites like Flickr. I was particularly intrigued by the ability to search the posted gardens by location. I was anxious to see what others in my area were growing and perhaps get some inspiration/direction for our yard.

After checking out the map though as well as the wiki encyclopedia of plants, I was a bit disappointed. Sites with user generated content are only as good as the content. There was no information about the plant I looked up (Black-eyed Susan), and there were no gardens posted within my immediate geographic area.

I still think the site has tons of potential and look forward to seeing how it develops. Who knows maybe I will be even get around to settling on a design for our yard and actually plant something.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Baby Shower Recap

We did it! We kept the shower a secret despite a last minute change in my sister's plans, and everyone had a good time.

Here is the diaper cake I made. It was really easy to do, but I do have to give credit to those that helped with the inspiration. This You Tube video is good, and I liked the way this "cake" from Alpha+Mom was wrapped to cover up the designs on the diapers. Try finding plain white diapers!

I usually test recipes before I serve them, but I didn't have time to do that with everything this time. I used Martha Stewart's meringue butter cream recipe for the cupcake frosting. It was delicious. How can you go wrong with anything that has 8 sticks of butter in it!

The color of this photo isn't quite right, but I like the composition. If you want to see some truly beautiful cupcakes that are really more art than food, check out Flickr.