Saturday, May 14, 2011

You Might Want to Check Your Recent Posts

Poor BlogSpot!  What a rough time with posts the last day or so. 

I usually stop back and reread my posts to check for typos and make a few changes.  Today I found my most recent post was up but without any of the post-publishing editing.  If you tend to edit after posting, you might want to check recent posts.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What I've Learned in a Year of Blogging

Here is what I've learned about blogging in the last year:
  1. Blogs take a LOT of your time.   This first one was a bit of a surprise.  I didn't think it would take up quite so much time.  
  2. All the work involved in photography for the blog is as time-consuming if not more so than the writing.  This was also a surprise.  I had no idea how long it would take to get the photos--sun, neat place in the house-- or tweak them in some editing program.  I don't know about the rest of the world, but it also takes a while for my photos to upload on Blogspot.  That's not so bad for a photo or two, but for tutorials and such, it can seem like forever.
  3. You start to feel guilty if you don't do something blog-worthy to post about. This was a total shock.  I thought this would be fun.  I figured I would post when I had something to say which would be about weekly.  Instead, I started listening to all the advice of semi-professional bloggers who insist that one should to have a specific area of interest, not write too many off-topic posts, include some but not too many near-professional quality photographs, post often, keep paragraphs short, keep posts short, and on and on.  The pressure!
  4. Approximately one-half of one percent of people who visit my blog will comment.  Okay, to be honest I'm exaggerating.  It's actually less than that.  It's one-fifth of one percent.  I did the calculations.  In addition, most of the comments turn out to be from people saying thanks for commenting on their blog or joining their link party rather than actual comments on the post. As a commenter, I just assumed others left comments as well and that blogging would be a sharing experience. When I read someone's blog post, I read the comments, too.  People often share additional ideas that expand on the content, offer alternate suggestions, provide new sources, bring up points I've missed or even misunderstood.  Comments are opportunities for the writer and readers to learn and grow. 
  5. Some people view blogging as, well, crap.  This  fifth bit of enlightenment came through a few conversations with people about blogs.  This usually begins with me saying I like reading blogs and, in fact, have one.  For some reason people who I normally consider polite seem to feel that insulting blogging is perfectly acceptable.  I have zero interest in sports.  When the topic comes up in conversation, however, I don't say sports are nonsense and a waste of time.  One anti-blogger particularly zeroed in on mommy blogs which is ironic in that she reads mommy blogs to get ideas for her online business relating to children.  Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!  
  6. If you move away from your original intent in blogging, it will become too much of a chore.  So for my second year of blogging I shall be blogging about what I want when I want!  To that end, the following photo is here because I feel like sharing it not because a post SHOULD have a photo.  It is my  lovely husband at one of the many beautiful hiking spots he finds for us.  If this task were left to me, we would be hiking up and down the aisles of a  fabric store.  He is away on business for a few days and, even after 27 years of marriage, he is dearly missed.   

(Love you tons, Mr. Easton!)

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Joyful Quilter is Now Online!

The Joyful Quilter is the quilt shop closest to my home.  I need to give them a special shout out because of something really nice one of the owners did for me recently.  Why will you care?  Because they also have an online shop now.  You deserve to hear about a quilting shop that has all kinds of great sewing and quilting things AND outstanding customer service. 

The Joyful Quilter's latest email update shows some prewound bobbins in gorgeous colors.  I love prewounds.  They last so much longer than the ones my machines make.   Instead of checking to see if these particular bobbins would fit my machine, I mindlessly sent an email asking if the bobbins would fit my PC420.  I should have looked that up myself.  After sending the email, I thought they'd probably email me back to do just that.

Instead, Jim Helm emailed back that he tried to research my question online but could not find the answer.  He even apologized for not being able to help.  How many quilting stores would have bothered doing that?

He's so right about the lack of information online. I love my Brother machines, but the company does not have this information anywhere online!  My manual lists a couple of model numbers, but they never match any of the bobbins I find in stores. 

I went to the store check out the bobbins, but I don't think they are going to work for my machine.  Too bad cuz they are so pretty and 100% extra long staple Egyptian cotton!

 I did, however, find this:
I've been wanting to make a new robe.  I'm making the center version which has a terry lining.

I also got a few sets of the center panel of this collection:
After staring at these whimsical owls for a few days, I've figured out what I want to do with it (baby boy quilt, bibs, etc.) which will require another shopping trip to The Joyful Quilter for some of the other fabric in the collection. Considering that these photos show only portions of the store,

AND it is only twenty minutes away, I'll leave the online shopping to you guys.  If you're ever in the Capital District/Saratoga area of New York, this store is well worth visiting.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Master Bath is Finished!!!

 Finally!  Finished at last.  It's been at least four years in the making--yeah, I am serious.  It was worth the wait, though.  From the doorway:
Did I fool anyone by making the valance long and placing it up high so that the window looked bigger (or at least longer)? 

Behind the door is my husband's favorite part.
And my favorite part.     
I insisted on the excessive towel bars because I always forget towels and stuff.  My husband thinks that towel holders should NOT be over the tub.  He caved, however, when I reminded him that I would be calling him when I forgot towels.  Note the remote in the picture above, right within reaching distance for...

our second favorite thing in the bathroom--the flat screen hooked up to cable.  It's important to know that the water stays nice and warm through an entire movie--really.  I tried it.

Here are the sinks, etc.  I figure granite and brushed nickle should be going out of style now that I finally have them in.  I love those medicine cabinets.  They are set into the wall and completely mirrored inside and out.  Even the BACK of the cabinet doors are mirrored ! 

See the little cairn on the back of the toilet?  Is that not just so Zen, so spa-like.  Close up:

I have a thing for stones.  This cairn is from a shop in Clifton Park (NY) called Artique.  They sell small amounts of floor space to crafters which gives you  access to all kinds of interesting mini-shops in one big store.

These seem easy to make.  The middle stones are completely drilled through at the center.  The base stone is partially drilled in the center with a dowel glued upright, and the top stone is partially drilled to sit on top of the dowel.  I really want to try doing some of these.  I fear that I will spend more on drill bits than if I just went to Artique and bought a few more, though.  If you've tried this, let me know what kind of drill bit to use, please and thank you.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Making Napkins and Tablecloth

I have a really long table in the dining room.  Tablecloths that are long enough are usually hard to find and often expensive.  The fabric on these store-bought versions has never been that great either.  After making napkins using directions in Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts, I decided to take Martha's advice and make the table cloth as well.  I've posted about my Martha mitered napkins before.  I dearly love them.  They are so very easy to make.  You iron squares of cloth and sew some straight lines.  You just cannot make a mistake with these! 
I did a white-on-white embroidery design, but these look elegant without a design as well.  Here is a pic of those awesome and so easy mitered corner.  The fabric is a medium-weight linen blend from Joann Fabric.  It washes beautifully and comes out of the dryer without wrinkles--a real plus!  
A 50% off coupon for the fabric got me over being nervous about dealing with a large piece of fabric for a tablecloth. The fabric I used was wide enough to give me enough overhang on the sides even after hemming.  I squared off the fabric and used the same ironing, pinning, and straight-line sewing used to make the napkins.  It was finished while watching television in one night. 
I left a fairly large overhang on the ends in case I lose my mind and buy an even longer table someday.  I chose to go with white because it goes with everything and fits every holiday.  To bring in color for some occasions, I'm making squares or runners to put on top--or not.  I saw this colorful light-weight linen blend with poppies while shopping for the white fabric and decided to make a Springy looking square to center on the table for Easter.

This poppy fabric requires ironing, but it irons well, looks like pure linen, and is so freaking pretty. I used a wider hem on this piece.  It is 1-1/2 inches folded twice instead of the half inch and one inch Martha suggests for the napkins.

Next on my agenda, is making some sets of these napkins to put aside for gifts.  Joann's has the medium-weight linen blend in a number of colors. Quick, easy, beautiful, inexpensive, AND good for the environment.  Happy Easter Y'all!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Never-Ending Master Bath Saga

Is my master bath finished?  No, but I do FINALLY have a shower enclosure.  Yesterday I caulked everything else needing it.  Today I paint the trim and door.  I will not sleep until it is FINISHED!

So why am I posting today?  I was checking out a link party and saw what look very much like my own bathroom cabinet--right down to two green rugs in front of the cabinet.  That blogger asked for ideas on hardware for the cabinet.  I'm posting this so she can see what we did and to let you know what she did for WAY less money.

Go check out what 3krazychics did to update her old cabinet using some Rustoleum product.  It looks as nice as mine (Yes, I'm bragging about my cabinet.) for a whole lot less money (Yes, I wish I had seen her post before spending so much money on mine.).

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Tammy Vitale: Sharing Insights and Inspiration

Tammy Vitale has some wonderful blogs and an email thing going that have been giving me an emotional and spiritual lift for a while now.  These are a few of the recent email messages that have been particularly enlightening for me. 

This message is one that I heard when I was young, but never in such a direct and succinct way.  I only wish that I had truly understood it years ago. 

"The traditional female ideal of assuming responsibility for the lives of those around her is not only egotistical but doomed to failure.  The myth that women are spiritually superior—responsible for saving men and children through remaining spiritually pure and selfless—oppresses both women and those around them.  The female hero, by electing to live her own life, automatically frees those around her to live theirs."

I actually still benefit from this one because I STILL tend to feel as though I have to "save" everyone in the family.  This message has come to mind several times since receiving it when I start trying to come up with solutions to everyone's troubles.

As I read the following one, I thought, "Yes!  That is exactly what had been building in me. 

Nothing was working - not in my professional life, my private life.
As the months progressed, I could feel my panic rising
I was again at the beginning of a quest, a turning point
and I was failing it.
"What is it?" I shouted inside myself.  
"How Am I supposed to change?  What do you want?"
It's hard to not sound melodramatic
about these times of transition. 
                                                              Christina Baldwin

My AmeriCorps service has been far tougher than I thought it would be.  For every one I please at the nursing home, it seemed there were four more who are not pleased.  At home, instead of having fewer people as my last one was off to college, I have more and all the ensuing problems that come with meshing adults of varied personalities and cultures.  I tend to forget that life is like the tide continually changing and not quite as predictable as we would like to believe. I was seeing failure rather than transition.

Tammy sent this message yesterday.

"Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.  It just keeps returning with new names, forms, and manifestations until we learn whatever it was to teach us about where we are separating ourselves from reality, how we are pulling back instead of opening up, closing down instead of allowing ourselves to experience fully whatever we encounter, without hesitating or retreating into ourselves."
                                                                Pema Chodron 

Once again--so fitting for me.  Too many times this year, I have chosen to ignore things rather than deal with them.  They didn't go away.  They eventually had to be dealt with.  Dealing with them was often uncomfortable.  However, not dealing with them merely delayed the inevitable increasing the time and level of discomfort!  

If nothing else, these quotes help me to see that I am not alone in my thoughts, feelings, and foibles.  More often, though, they also give me encouragement and direction.    

If you would like to find out more about Tammy, here are some of her links.

Sixties Women
Wylde Women's Wisdom:
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