Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Book Recommendation...

Quote for the Day:
The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it.  
~James Bryce

Though I always have at least one book going at any time...and frequently two or three (one that I'm reading and one that I'm listening to on audiobook), I haven't been sharing with you what I have been reading.  Usually, that is just because I don't think about the books when I'm blogging, or just get wrapped up in writing about other things.  

But you know there is something very special about a book when, as you are reading it or listening to it, you say to yourself "I MUST tell people about this one!!"  

And that is exactly what has happened with the two current books.

First, let me tell you about "The Other Wes Moore:  One Name, Two Fates" by Wes Moore.
Two kids with the same name were born blocks apart in the same decaying city within a year of each other. One grew up to be a Rhodes Scholar, army officer, White House Fellow, and business leader. The other is serving a life sentence in prison. Here is the story of two boys and the journey of a generation.

In December of 2000, the Baltimore Sun ran a small piece about Wes Moore, a local student who had just received a Rhodes Scholarship. The same paper ran a huge story about four young men who had killed a police officer in a spectacularly botched armed robbery. The police were still hunting for two of the suspects who had gone on the lam, a pair of brothers. One of their names was Wes Moore.

Wes Moore, the Rhodes Scholar, became obsessed with the story of this man he'd never met but who shared much more than space in the same newspaper. Both had grown up in similar neighborhoods and had had difficult childhoods. After following the story of the robbery, the manhunt, and the trial to its conclusion, he finally he wrote a letter to the other Wes, now a convicted murderer serving a life sentence without possibility of parole. His letter tentatively asked the questions that had been haunting Wes: Who are you? Where did it go wrong for you? How did this happen?

That letter led to a correspondence and deepening relationship that has lasted for several years. Over dozens of letters and prison visits, Wes discovered that the other Wes had had a life not unlike his own: they were both fatherless, were both in and out of school; they'd hung out on similar corners with similar crews, and had run into trouble with the police. And they had both felt a desire for something better for themselves and their families--and the sense that something better was always just out of reach. At each stage of their young lives, they came across similar moments of decision that would alter their fates.

Told in alternating dramatic narratives that take readers from heartwrenching losses to moments of surprising redemption, The Other Wes Moore tells the story of a generation of boys trying to find their way in a hostile world.  
 I encourage you to watch this short clip about the book and the author: 

I downloaded this book for free from my library and listened to it on my MP3 player, mostly while in the car driving to and from work.  It was a very moving book to read.

The second book is one that I am still reading, but still want to share with you because it is powerful:  "Throw out Fifty Things:  Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life" by Gail Blanke.  This book is only about 180 pages long and I am about 2/3's of the way through it right now.  It is interesting and an extremely easy read since it is written in a very casual, conversational style. 

"Our lives are so filled with junk from the past-from dried up tubes of glue to old grudges-that it's a wonder we can get up in the morning," exclaims motivator, best-selling author, columnist, and life coach Gail Blanke.

"If you want to grow, you gotta let go," is Blanke's mantra; and that means eliminating all the clutter-physical and emotional-that holds you back, weighs you down, or just makes you feel bad about yourself.

In THROW OUT FIFTY THINGS she takes us through each room of the house-from the attic to the garage-and even to the far reaches of our minds. Through poignant and humorous stories, she inspires us to get rid of the "life plaque" we've allowed to build-up there.
  • That junk drawer (you know that drawer) in the kitchen? Empty it!
  • Those old regrets? Throw 'em out!
  • That make-up from your "old" look? Toss it!
  • That relationship that depresses you? Dump it!
Once you've hit fifty-you'll be surprised how easy it is to get there-and once you've thrown out that too-tight belt and too-small view of yourself, you'll be ready to step out into the clearing and into the next, and greatest, segment of your life.
This book is also one that I downloaded from the library, but this book is an ebook that I am reading on my Nook.  I have been reading it over the past 3 days which have been work days for me (no, I haven't been reading instead of working!)  Because these have been 12-hour work days, I haven't had time to go through the rooms like she says, but I do plan to very soon.

Both of the books are interesting and life-changing in their own, and very different, ways.  I whole-heartedly recommend both books to anyone who is looking for some great reads!  :) 



Friday, March 22, 2013

Lighting Redux...

Quote for the Day:

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
~Theodore Roosevelt


When we moved the sewing room into the former master bedroom, I immediately noticed that the lighting in there wasn't sufficient for sewing or quilting.  


In 2010, when we remodeled the master bedroom, I specifically chose the ceiling fan and light to provide beauty and a diffused light to inspire a calming atmosphere.  Unfortunately, when I am sewing or quilting, I need the room lit up like a landing strip!!!   The ceiling fan was oil-rubbed bronze and the light's globe was Italian amber scavo glass.


The ceiling fan that was in the old sewing room was...well...functional.  It was antiqued brass with just regular downward-facing, open, tulip-shaped globes.  


At first I suggested to Andy that he switch out the ceiling fans with their respective lights.


Yeah.  That went over REAL big!  


Then I thought I could buy a new light kit to fit replace the amber glass glove in the sewing room.  But that involved spending more money and then what am I to do with the beautiful amber glass globe?


Hmmm.  Could we just do a swith-a-roo with the light kits on the two ceiling fans?  But wait...the "metal" parts of the fans are is oil-rubbed bronze and the other is antique brass.


The globe from the oil-rubbed bronze fan only has a small amount of metal on it so it works pretty well with the antique brass ceiling fan.



But this is what the light kit from the antique brass fan looked like.



How do I make it look right with this oil-rubbed bronze ceiling fan???


 Enter...Krylon Oil-Rubbed Bronze spray paint!!!


Using newspaper, I covered the opening where the lightbulbs go and spray painted the rest.  

And viola...


Not bad!!! And cheap, too!  :)
It's so nice having adequate light in the new sewing room, now!  :)

  And I'm a happy girl!!!




Thursday, March 21, 2013

New Quilt in the Frame...

Quote for the Day:
"My soul is fed by needle and thread."
~author unknown

After taking the pictures for the new sewing room "tour" post, I was able to get a quilt into the handquilting frame!  

This quilt is another commission quilt and belongs to my wonderful neighbor, Kathy!  Her aunt or great-aunt...I can't remember which...made this top but never got to finish it into a quilt.  

Do any quilters out there know the name of this block?
The fabrics are vintage shirtings and some feedsacks, so it looks like it is from about 1940-1950.  Kathy picked out a beautiful, purple, reproduction print for the backing that I just LOVE LOVE LOVE!  When the quilt is finished, I'll be sure to show a picture with the backing in it!  

This is a fun quilt to work on because I am doing simple oblique lines with a nice braid in the border.  I tried marking the quilt before I put it into the frame, like I normally do, but somehow my lines got skewed.  So instead I am marking it as I quilt it, that way I'm able to keep my lines straight and equidistance apart!    (For some reason, my spell-checker doesn't like the word "equidistance", but it really is a word!  Remember it from geometry class?  I knew that advanced math would come in handy one day!  LOL)

This quilt is fairly small compared to what I normally do, so I don't think it will take too long, since I need to make a wedding quilt for Erin & Dale who are getting married in September!  :)

This quilt is a pleasure to work on.  This is the first time I've used Hobb's Tuscany 100% Cotton Batting and my needle goes through it like "buttah"!!!  I think this is my new batting of choice now!  And it is one that my favorite LQS carries, so that is an extra perk!  :)



Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Big Reveal!!!

Quote for the Day:

“May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rain fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of his hand”
~ Irish Blessing

Happy St. Patrick's Day to one and all...whether you are Irish or not.  I'm sure that somewhere back there I've got some Irish in me amidst all the German and English that is my heritage.  :)

Now, on to the big news at hand...
I've FINALLY got my sewing room put together!!!  Well...mostly, anyway.  There is still the issue of taking out the big flat-screen TV and moving it into our bedroom, and hooking up my small flat-screen TV.  But other than that, the room is ready to work in!  YAY!!!  

Warning:  This post is picture-heavy, so please bear with it.  I hope it will be worth your wait and time!  :)

As you look into the room, this is what you see...the left wall off of the door...

The first, small, white bookshelf holds some items that need mending, my quilting books/magazines, and fabric for the projects that I am currently working on.  I DO NOT put any fabric away until the project is DONE DONE DONE.  With my luck, if I did, I'd end up needing just one little piece for some reason for the the original quilt and not having it because I had cut it down and put it into a scrap quilt!   So, until the quilt is bound and labeled, I keep all the fabric on this bookshelf.  :)

Next to it is this tall bookshelf that contains my scrap storage system that I fashioned after Bonnie Hunter's system.   I do a thorough cleaning of my sewing room between projects, (in theory, anyway, LOL), and cut down the scraps of leftover fabric into strips and blocks and save them in those labeled plastic containers for use in scrap quilts.

Next to the tall bookshelf is the fireplace with a short bookshelf sitting in front of it.  On this short bookshelf are my non-quilting fabrics, and boxes of sewing and quilting stuff that needs to be sold on Ebay or when I link up to a Quilter's Yard Sale Saturday.  There wasn't much on this kind of stuff before, but after going through my sewing room, I found more stuff that I need to get rid of.  :)

These are TV's that I mentioned earlier that need to be switched out.  Andy is currently at Home Depot getting the things he needs to switch them out.  
Next to the fireplace is my cutting area...

Oh, look...there is already a "PIG" ("project in grocery sack") sitting under the table!  LOL  That is flannel I got to make baby blankets for my grandson, Alex, that is due in July!  :)  No use putting it away because I have to get them done by the end of May for the baby shower!  :)  Better get busy, huh???  

If you look on the wall to the right of the cutting table you will see my ruler storage.

This is actually a Christmas card holder that I found at Goodwill a few years ago for $1.00.  When looking for storage ideas, don't forget to "think outside the box"!   You'll be surprised at what unique and inexpensive ways you can find to store things!

As we continue around the corner from the cutting table, I have my ironing station.  It's a vintage ironing board from Goodwill...nice and heavy and sturdy...with a homemade "Big Board" on top.

To the right of the ironing board are my Ikea Billy bookcases with my stash all neatly folded on foam core boards.   The containers in the middle, open storage are my FQ's (fat-quarters) and 1/2 yard fabrics.  On top, in the picnic baskets are shirting fabrics and yarn storage. 

To the right of the stash cabinets, extending out into the middle of the room are my sewing table and hand-quilting frame, butted back to back.

As you can see, there is nothing in my quilt frame right now...and there hasn't been since Feb. 1, when I finished up the Dresden Plate quilt.   I've been going CRAZY since I haven't been able to sew or quilt for several weeks now, so I'm hoping to have a quilt in the frame by bedtime tonight!  :)

Behind the quilting frame is the same wall that the entry door is on.  On that wall, I have the bookcase that I painted and two other cabinets with doors.  

And here they are with the doors open, so you can peer inside.  :)  You know you want to!

Between these cabinets and the door is a little space that I use to hang finished quilt tops waiting to be quilted, and also where I store a couple extra sewing machines.

I store my quilting templates on 3M Command hooks on both ends of the Ikea Billy stash storage cabinets.

My threads are now stored in vintage sewing cabinets.  This sewing "basket" was a gift for Christmas a couple years ago from Erin & Dale.  It sits under my sewing table and holds my regular sewing threads.

My embroidery machine and serger are used at the opposite end of the sewing table as my regular sewing machine, so I put the specialty threads for them in this sewing cabinet and have it sitting between the stash cabinet and the sewing table.  I purchased this vintage cutie at an auction for $17.00 a couple of summers ago.

Our house is old and didn't have a lot of outlets in it until we had the upstairs rewired.  At that time we added a couple outlets to each room...but you know it wasn't enough!!!  :(   So, to contain extension cords, etc., and get them off the floor as much as possible, I wrapped them around furniture legs as much as possible.  

On the cross bar of my sewing table, I took velcro and cable ties and attached a surge protector to the table for my machines.   Very handy!  :)

I'm very excited to be able to sew and quilt again!  

I already know that I am going to have "issues" with having carpet in this room.  My previous sewing room had hardwood, and I would recommend that to everyone.  It is the easiest to clean when it comes to threads, etc.  I've already asked Andy what it would take for me to convince him to let us pull up the carpet and put laminate down in there.  (The carpet is only a couple years old.)  Let's just say, after all we've gone through moving into this room, etc., the look he gave me said it all.  :(  I guess I'll just have to wait till the next time we need carpet, and have the laminate put down then.  

Until then...I am going to be in my new sewing room for the rest of the day, if you should need me.  :)  

Let me leave you with this funny commercial...


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Homemade Swiffer Cloths...

Quote for the Day:
"A penny spar'd is twice got"
~George Herbert's Outlandish Proverbs, c. 1633

We have a lot of hardwood floors in our house and the Swiffer sweeper makes cleaning them so easy and fast.  However, I don't like the disposable cloths the sweeper uses.  They work great, that's not the problem.  This issue I have with them is 1)  that they are "disposable", thus filling the landfills, and  2)  I cringe at paying for something that is MADE specifically to be thrown away!  How detrimental to our earth and to our bank accounts!  :(

Several years ago, we gave up paper napkins and went to using cloth napkins for the same reason.  We bought a bunch of cloth napkins at Goodwill for a pittance (they don't all match, but they are all the same color), and use them instead of paper ones.  When they are dirty, we toss them in the wash with the rest of the towels and washcloths.  No muss, no fuss!

I am always looking at other ways to not only be frugal, but also to do what I can to "reduce, reuse, recycle" when I can.  That's why the disposable aspect of the Swiffer cloths has bothered me.  I've been looking to see what I can do about the Swiffer cloths before the current box I have runs out so I don't have to buy more.

I've seen some "pins" on about what people use on their Swiffer sweepers instead of the disposables.  A lot of people post about using either fleece or flannel.  I find that flannel "sheds" a lot, so I thought I'd check out fleece.  

A few days ago, I found a brand new fleece throw blanket at Goodwill for $3.00.  Since fleece doesn't ravel, it is very easy to use without any sewing.   Also, fleece is polyester which tends to have a lot of "static", which is one of the principles behind the whole Swiffer thing.  Both Erin & Trinity have Swiffer sweepers, too, so I figured there would be enough fabric in the throw to make some sweeper covers for all of us.

Erin & I measured the sweeper disposables and then set about "making" our own.  So who's up for another "tutorial"???

Here's the throw.  I think the argyle design is pretty!  Win-win! 

We used the rotary cutter and ruler to cut it into blocks the size of the Swiffer cloths...8.5" X 11".  

Here's Vanna, I mean, Erin...modeling the "new" cover attached to the sweeper...

Fits like a glove!  :) to see if it cleans, after all, that is the bottom line, right???  I "let" Erin run it over the hardwood floor in our bedroom.

Holy crap!!  Don't judge me, you don't know me.  I'm almost too ashamed to show you that.  :(   But I figured that you'd want to see if the fleece really worked or not.  It does!

We ended up getting a total of 24 covers from the throw...that's 8 for each of us:  Trinity, Erin, and me!  After use, just shake them out in the trash and then throw in the wash.  :)    How's that for frugal???  YAY!

Edited to add:  We did try it as a "wet" mop and it didn't work because the fleece won't wick up the water.  :(  But as a dry mop, it is superb!  :) Loretta

Friday, March 15, 2013

New Fabric Storage...A Tutorial

Quote for the Day:
"Always desire to learn something useful"

It may have been 2:00 AM this morning...but Erin & I finally finished going through all my fabric stash.  PIECE. BY. PIECE.  

While going through the stash, we evaluated each piece for quality, usefulness, and likability.  If it didn't meet all of those qualities, it was repurposed.  Erin is taking some of it home with her and I am donating some of it to my friend who, along with the ladies at her church, makes quilts for local shelters and missionaries.

Still, with all I'm giving away, I still had space issues.  I was hoping to get all my fabric stored together on the Ikea Billy bookshelves.  However, I had to move the flannels, the seasonal fabric, and the fabric panels to another shelving unit.  Luckily, because we had gone through every item in the sewing room, I had been able to get rid of and consolidate other items, so there was one shelving unit that was 1/2 empty...just what I needed for the flannels, et al.  

After seeing pictures of other people's fabric storage, I decided that I wanted to utilize the foam core boards that I had seen others use.  I was able to get the 20" X 30" foam core boards from various stores.  

At Dollar General they are $1.00 each, but they had very limited quantities.  From Dollar General, I went to Walmart where I was able to get them for $1.40/board.  Again, limited quantities.  We finally ended up at Staples where they wanted $5.99/board.  YIKES!  Erin asked them if they would price match.  They said they would if we had the ad.  Since it wasn't a "sale" item in an ad, we asked if they would price match from a receipt.  They agreed, and we got all they had for $1.40 each!  Okay...let's do the math on that Staples transaction:  37 boards at $5.99 each = $221.63 + tax - $169.83 discount for price matching = $51.80 - $35.50 Staples Rewards I had = $16.22 out of pocket!!!  That's 41¢ each!!!  WOW!!  Now that's some serious savings!  :)

Anyway, if your eyes aren't glazed over at this point, Erin & I thought we'd do a tutorial for you on how to fold and store your fabric using foam core boards!  :)

These are the boards...

Using a utility knife, we cut them into into these sizes: 4- 10" X 8" and 2- 10" X 7".  (I guess we could have made them all 10" X 7.5"...but that's one of those "hit yourself upside the head and say 'doh' after you are all done" kind of things!  LOL

 You end up with 8 boards from each of the large boards.

If you have folded your fabric differently, fold it back the way it comes off the bolt...selvage to selvage with the folded edge away from you.

Now, fold the fabric in half, lengthwise, again so the folded edge and the selvage edge meet.

Place the board a few inches from the end of the fabric and fold the fabric over the board to get it started.

Now, holding the fabric and the board, flip the board and fabric over and over, wrapping the fabric around the board until you get to the end of the fabric.

We took the raw ends and tucked them inside to keep it looking neat.

Using PLASTIC COATED paperclips, we then clipped the end to the rest of the fabric roll to hold it together.

You can then store them upright on your shelf, just like a book.  I was able to easily get as much as 10 yards on one board.

This is what my fabric stash looks like now...

right side, doors closed

right side, doors opened

left side, doors closed

left side, doors opened

I will have a complete reveal of the new sewing room after we finish straightening up and move the sewing table in!  :)  I know you will be waiting with bated breath for that!  LOL

Hope you enjoyed the tutorial!


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Work in Progress...

Quote for the Day
"I laughed so hard, tears ran down my leg"
~author unknown

Erin and Sera have been visiting us this week.  For Sera, it is just a visit to Grandma & Grandpa's house.  For Erin, it has been working "vacation", since she is here to help me get my new sewing room put together.   

We've been busy working on the room, while also trying to keep a 6 year-old entertained, so we work for a while and then take breaks and put Disney princess puzzles together or play "Membry" (Memory)!  There have been long days but lots and lots of laughter, too, hence the quote at the top of the post!  :)

When the room is complete I will give a comprehensive photo tour.  But for now, here are some pictures of the "work in progress" mess!  These "during" pictures were more of an afterthought so they, by no means, represent the WORST of the mess!  :)

Sera and her dog, Daisy...

Ginger and Daisy have finally made peace with each other!  :)