Saying Goodbye to November

My herbal wreaths have faded, and I’m sitting in a world of fog. I guess that means November is gone and winter is here in earnest.

We had five days without rain last month, so when the sun comes out That Golden Glow is greatly appreciated. I came down with a cold the week before Thanksgiving–just in time for Dad’s Weekend. But me and the MR still enjoyed seeing the girls and spending time together.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with my brother and his family and are learning to be gracious and share Sweet Miss with the Fella and his family. Baby Girl was home, and we binge watched Stranger Things rather than get our tree. We’re saving that for this weekend when finals are over and Baby Girl is home for a whole month.

Besides going through lots of kleenex, I did A Little Kitchen Organization and managed to redo some chairs for Sweet Miss with The Power of Fabric.

Speaking of fabric, I’ve been anxiously waiting for some Christmas PJ flannel I ordered over Thanksgiving weekend. It’s nice to get the sale price, but it’s hard to stay patient especially on a deadline.

Another bonus of not bringing out all the Christmas decorations on Thanksgiving weekend is being able to decorate in more manageable bits. Sometimes, it’s hard to stay festive when you’re surrounded by tons of boxes.

Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving with family and friends and looking forward to sharing the Christmas spirit with you.

 

 

Advertisements

A Little Kitchen Organization

With Thanksgiving over and Christmas just around the corner, I know a bit of baking is on my to-do list, and I bet it’s on yours, too. So I thought I’d share a recent, upgrade to my spice drawers.

In the last house, I had risers in the cupboard and carefully placed my spices alphabetically row upon row. It was with great care and trepidition that I’d carefully reach for a jar and hope not to knock over half-a-dozen of my carefully arranged containers. Here, in my huge kitchen, with 17–yes, count them 17– drawers, I’ve arranged my spices in drawers, on their sides, easy to find with no danger of toppling in sight.

IMG_4189

Is this bliss? Sort of, but you know there’s always room for improvement. All the jars are different sizes, and they get all wonky. Wouldn’t it be great if they were the same size instead of a hodge-podge? It would be so neat and tidy, and they wouldn’t use up the better part of two drawers.

Well, that little jar I was using for some of our dried basil gave me a great idea. A friend’s daughter had handed out little jars of coffee and tea as a wedding favor. We had been blessed with some of the leftovers, and I’d used one of these jars to hold some herbs. These would be great for my spice drawer. Even better, when I asked where my friend had bought them, she was happy to give me 20 more.

I do like organization and get a little picky about things–just ask my family–so I started with my tried and true alphabetical plan.

IMG_4190

This ended up much too hard to navigate: too many sizes, too many shapes, too chaotic. So I compromised by separating the jars by size and then alphabetically.

IMG_4194

I’m rather pleased. Cost Plus World Market offers spices in little cellophane bags at reasonable prices, so I can restock my jars economically. PCC Markets are a local grocer that allows you to bring in jars and refill them, so if I’m really organized, I may try that.

I started labeling the lids with a wine glass writer but worried they would smudge if grabbed with a wet hand, so I switched to a chalk marker. I guess I’ll wait and see which one holds up the best. As I make my way through the larger containers, I’ll continue to replace them with little hex jars that are readily available on Amazon.

Spices lose their potency over time, so the little jars are another way to up the flavor in my cooking and keep me organized.

So for zero dollars, and just a little time and energy, I was able to free up a drawer and make another one oh-so much neater.

I’ll have to keep that in mind the next time I feel the urge to organize. Just a little effort can have a big pay-off.

Any organization tips to share?

 

 

That Golden Glow

With the shorter days of fall, we are all the more appreciative of sunny days. Earlier this week, we were glorying in the sunshine and warmth.

I love how the great room is filled with that golden glow.

With two snowfalls this season, the trees have been dropping their leaves, but they’re still putting on quite a show.  The MR has been busy with the leaf blower on the driveway and the roof.

And now that it’s daylight saving time, Cocoa makes sure I’m up for the sunrise, too. We’ve had some spectacular ones lately.

Hope you’re enjoying a beautiful Fall.

The Power of Fabric

Over the summer, me and the MR visited Sweet Miss at her apartment. We were excited to see her first place on her own.

My sweet girl calls often, so I️ knew how she pictured blues and grays, a geometric rug, and intricate patterns for her living room.

Sadly, I also knew she had our old futon with the green slipcover and the two little red chairs from Papa Willy’s basement; none of which went with her vision. (You can see the futon in all it’s glory in A Magic Carpet and fancied up with a slipcover and new pillows in Pump Up the Volume.)

When you’re young and just starting out, you can’t be too picky about furniture, and Sweet Miss was making do with what she had. For her birthday, we picked up a set of navy slipcovers from World Market, but I don’t think Ikea even sells the chairs anymore.

Don’t worry; I came armed with pins, fabric, and a plan. I’d just rough fit the chairs with an old sheet and use that for a pattern for slipcovers. But there were angles and arms, and we had to buy “love” stamps for save-the-dates, and pick out a wedding dress.

We wound up just bringing one of the chairs home for fitting purposes. Somehow, we decided to leave the arms behind, since I wasn’t covering them–big mistake, but we’ll get to that later.

On the way home, we stopped at a store to look for fabric, but nothing caught my eye. I went to two more stores in our area without any luck before turning to Fabrics. com. I bought some trellis pattern fabric in blues and some gray and blue accent fabric. And since I was shopping, I bought some fabric in rust hues for our home.

img_8580

Sometimes working with home decorator fabric is overwhelming due to its size and weight. I used the pattern on the fabric as a guide for straight cuts. Work smarter–not harder.

We were on a bit of a time crunch with having to move Baby Girl back to school and the fabric arrived with just one day to spare. Now sure, I should have made a accurate pattern with the old sheet, but I didn’t. And after a bit, I realized I wouldn’t be able to leave gaps for the arms since I didn’t know exactly where they’d land.

It was a long Saturday, and the slip covers aren’t perfect, but these chairs are bright, and cheery, and no longer red. Sweet Miss used a staple gun to tack down the seat of the one on the right and give it more of a fitted look. The staple gun stopped working after that, but you get the idea.

They remind me of atriums and sun-filled days. I believe the living room is headed in the right direction. She can borrow a staple gun on her next visit.

I still have some fabric waiting to be made into pillow covers. Maybe I should get busy before I see her again. And she mentioned artwork…

It’s amazing how a little fabric can change things up.

What have you been sewing lately? Any tips for that first home?

September & October–A Fall Couplet

Looking back on the last month is always fun, so looking back on two months should be double the fun, double the pleasure. If only…

  • If only I had all my stuff together
  • If only all my projects were finished
  • If only there was unmitigated progress in all directions.

Someday all will be perfect, for now you just have to settle for me.

So let’s see what happened in September. Baby Girl was home for a minute before heading back to school. (OK, maybe it was eight days, but it only felt like a minute, because I’m her mother, and I miss her.) And then me and the MR took Papa Willy to Australia for a couple weeks of adventures.

Meanwhile back on the blog, which sometimes feels like a parallel universe, we talked about decks (1), and pillows (2a, 2b), and stormy skies (3). We bought flowers from our local farmer (4), changed plans to fit the yarn (5), bought more pillows (6), bought bulbs for more flowers (7) and baskets for organization (8). Then we wrapped it all up with a little charity knitting (9).

Now in updates, the texture is on the box, but the deck still has some issues. I like the pillows I made, but those pillows I promised Sweet Miss in the comments are still on hold. Our smoky skies have cleared, but storms and fires are constantly in the news.

The daffodil bulbs are still in the garage, I did get a lot of use out of my new brightly colored scarf while on vacation, but the sewing room is still needs a lot of organization even with pretty baskets. I finished a bunch of hats and two sleeping mats in my charity knitting. As for my fall tree pillow. I love it, but with silly Cocoa shedding constantly, I’m not going to buy anymore white pillows.

Now for October. We arrived home safe and sound and exhausted. And you may have noticed, I haven’t been posting quite on schedule. But I’ve hosted brunches, went away for the weekend with family, lunched with friends, and visited my sweet girls.

Sometimes you all just have to settle for second place. So this month around here, we’ve talked tennies (1),  cowehide coasters and Mayan stones (2), plus I shared with you an unmade bed (3), and yes it’s still unmade.

Things that Make You Smile was one my most popular posts ever, and my painting from our aboriginal art lesson (4) makes me smile. I remember our trip, and the lesson, and the kind people we traveled with, and me and the MR’s story. When fall rolls around (5), I bring out the wool blanket the MR brought me back from Iceland, and I unpack the ghost candleholder I won at bunko night ages ago. It’s memories, and good times, and love.

I was happy to help my girls start on their own collection of memories with some Halloween decorations. Sweet Miss wanted some for her classroom and I thought both of them needed Sugar Skull Garlands (a free pattern from Red Heart Sugar Skull Garland).

To be fair, Sweet Miss was ready for picture day with her class at work, and Baby Girl had just rolled out of bed. I think they’re both beautiful inside and out.

Hope fall is treating you well. 

Our Own Dot-Dot Story

Me and the MR were watching an Australian TV show the other night, and we both noticed with excitement that they had dot-dot paintings on the wall.

Dot-dot? I hear you asking yourself. Yes, dot-dot. Aboriginal art, don’t you know? On our trip to Australia, my dad said we had to go see Uluru (aka Ayres Rock) if we were going that far. Neither of us were too sure exactly what that was, but we’re game so of course we went.

Our first stop in the middle of the country was at Alice Springs where we picked up some water bottles and wandered through gift shops. That was our first introduction to interesting graphic textiles and paintings made by aboriginal artists.

That night we dined on barbecue under the Southern Cross at a sustainable, family farm.

The next day, it was a long drive through the desert, with stops at an art studio for lunch, and camel rides. Then it was on to the massive monolith in the middle of nowhere.

We did wine and nibbles at sunset, and then sunrise and our trek around Uluru. (You can check it out at A Little Off My Game.) The next day before we left, we had class with an aboriginal artist and her interpreter. The taught us about the meanings behind the symbols, and then gave us an opportunity to share our stories.

Papa ran off to the drugstore, and the MR decided to observe, but most of the group participated. And then later they shared stories of loss, and of childhood, and of good times and bad. There were tears and everything.

Dot Dot Paintings

Mine was a rather simple tale. In the bottom right corner, the red circles represent a fire or home. You can see me with my stick for digging up grubs kneeling by the fire, and look there’s the MR with his spear and clubs and other manly stuff kneeling with me. Look at all the squiggly blue lines; they signify heavy rains. The circles and lines represent travel, and the other blue lines are for water.

img_4172.jpg

Basically, me and the MR live in a rainy place, so we travel across the water to other lands. Not that deep, but accurate.

And now when I see my little painting hanging on the wall, I smile and think of our adventures. For a little more authentic fun, I also bought a pillow cover by artist Any Tjilari through Better World Arts. I’m not sure what story he is telling, but it does add some nice color to the great room.

IMG_4173

Where have your adventures taken you to?

#AATKings, #AllAboutTony #Australia.

Giving Back

Me and the MR have been traveling a bit. Earlier this month we moved Baby Girl into her townhouse down at school. We’re lucky that she’s only half a days drive from home but with 10 hours round trip, it still makes for a lot of driving.

Since the MR prefers to be behind the wheel, I try to make sure I have a project or two for our days on the road.This last trip to Oregon, I brought along purple yarn for baby hats.

Recently I’d heard about a program educating new parents about the fragile nature of infants. Click For Babies seeks to reduce shaken baby syndrome through awareness.

I love my girls, and I also know how hard it can be to deal with a crying baby when you’re sleep-deprived and haven’t had a minute to yourself in what seems like forever.

I made a hat, a sweater, and a blanket for the MR’s friend at work, and it gave me a great idea. The hat was super-simple to put together. I could take all the bits and pieces of purple yarn from home on our drive and still chit-chat with the MR over endless miles without missing a stitch.

By the time we got home (a short 606 miles back and forth), I had quite a collection going.

I do believe a few flowers are in order to spruce these up a bit. Then I need to figure out where to send them.

I’m finding ways to decrease my stash of yarn and maybe make the world a better place. Wish me luck.

What’s your favorite charity project (knitting or not)?