Thursday, October 13, 2011

Getting Back Into The Swing of Things

Wow. It's been a long time since I've posted ANYTHING. We've been through a lot since the summer. Not all of it has been good. The construction that I first posted about here is coming to an and. Look for a future post. There's just a few little things that need to be finished up. I am so grateful to have been able to take on a project of this magnitude, but boy, it was so disruptive and stressful (as well as exciting). Thankfully, it was summer, and we had a grill to cook on for our meals, and it was warm enough to eat outside. I missed having a kitchen like you wouldn't believe.

Now, onto the not so good part of the summer. Four years ago, Shannon, my only sister, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Over time, the cancer spread, especially into her bones and liver. Then, at the end of August, my sister wasn't feeling right and was admitted to the hospital. When I realized that she probably wouldn't be coming home, I spent every night I could with her at the hospital. My amazing husband gave up working his night shifts so that he could stay home with the kids while I was a the hospital with Shannon. She was there for about a month. She passed away at the age of 38. I miss her like crazy, and can't believe how short a time we had with her. She was an amazing human being; this short paragraph and one picture can't convey what she was like. A future post perhaps?

My beautiful sister Shannon.
A couple of weeks after my sister died, we lost our 11 year old foster dog, Riley. She was diagnosed with kidney disease about a year ago, and her health declined steadily since then. She has an amazing, crazy story behind her that deserves its own post. Look for it some time in the future.

So you see, between the construction and upheaval on the house, my sister's passing, then Riley following her, and many other crazy obstacles along the way, I haven't been posting like I used to. My energies were channeled elsewhere.

I'm just starting to feel like starting up with the blog again. I thought the blog needed a fresher look, so that's why you see the changes. Hopefully this will signify a fresh start all around. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Adventures At Brimfield

I went to Brimfield last week for the first time in a few years. I had a great time. I went there knowing that the majority of the prices would be out of my range, and I was ok with that. I'm used to yard sale and estate sale prices. Anyway, I went with the attitude of just enjoying the day. In past years, it was my goal to see as much as I could in one day. I'd end up sore, exhausted, and frustrated at the end of the day.

My Mother and I went together. It was fun! I had made arrangements for getting the kids off of the bus, so I didn't have to worry, or rush back home. We took our time and really enjoyed the atmosphere. Looking at all of the unique stuff and people watching. Brimfield is a great place to people watch. We packed a lunch and had a picnic in the field where we parked. The weather was just right; cooler and sunny. Here are some pictures of some of things that caught my eye. Enjoy!

This was probably my favorite find of the day. It's a small folk art basket made from the caps of bottles of Guinness. I love it! At $45 it wasn't a bad deal, but it wasn't something that I really needed, so I left it there. 

Here are some more photos from Brimfield:

Flower frogs galore

These metal spheres were all over Brimfield this year.

A wax figure
Need a traffic light??

Love this yard art made from a shovel

Here's another, but a bit bigger.
A Griswold step stool. I didn't know that they made step stools.
This falls under the category of "Why??" This was not the only booth that had these creepy doll things, either.

Another figure. Not sure what he's made of.

This would be great on a wall in a kitchen. At $185 though, you could get the same look by buying your letters at the craft store.
A really cute hutch/cupboard. $395, not bad.

Not antique, but funny.
So, overall, we had a great time. I didn't come home with anything, but that's ok. If anything, it made me want to hit the yard and estate sales with more enthusiasm. If you went to Brimfield, did you come home with anything?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Long Time, No See

I haven't done any posts in a while. Things have been crazy around here. We are starting an addition to the house, plus I've had kids home sick from school. I've hardly even been on the computer, which is a rarity for me.

Here are a couple of "before" pictures of where the addition will be going:

Our addition will be 20x30 feet with a garage and a family room above it, which will connect with the current kitchen. Our kitchen will get a major makeover, too, which is long overdue. We had to tear down our screened porch to make way for the addition, but we will be adding a new one which will be larger than the previous screened porch. We are planning to put a fireplace on the screened porch, too. I'm really excited about that. We have used our porch so much over the years. I'm missing it right now, with the May flies out in full force, but I'm looking forward to the better version of it to come. So far, the site has been excavated, and the foundation has been poured, and the area back filled. We are just waiting on delivery of the I beams, and then the framing can begin!

This is what it looks like now:

Also, this week, I'm planning to head to Brimfield (Massachusetts) for the Brimfield Fair, a huge antiques and collectibles fair in the town of Brimfield, MA. It's held three times a year; for a few days during May, July and September. If you are looking for something, chances are you'll find it at Brimfield. I've been going to Brimfield since I was a baby pushed in a stroller. I've missed the last couple of years, but this year I've coordinated with my husband to take over the kid duties for me on that day. I'll try to take lots of pictures, so look for a future post on my adventures at Brimfield.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wooden Peg People?

Peg People with just a base coat.
I recently helped my sister Shannon paint some wooden peg people. I had never heard of them before. They are reminiscent of the old Playskool "Little People". Her friend Abby sent her about 24 plain, unpainted wooden figures to paint and decorate. They will be used in Abby's wedding on the tables and around the reception site.

Shannon did such a great job on them. I'll admit, I was spent after painting about five of them. It was taking us about forty five minutes to an hour to paint each one. You wouldn't think that they take so long - they're not that big. Shannon is such a perfectionist, that she'd repaint the ones that she wasn't happy with. They came out great, though, and she did such a good job that when Abby saw them, she gave Shannon even more to paint. Wow, what a good friend Shannon is. I would have run the other way!

Here's some peg people eye candy for you:

All decked out in their finest!
Pretty lady in purple.
Everyone looks so happy.
This guy's getting some orange hair.
Aww, so pretty!
Hey! All eyes on the camera, please!
Is it time to go to the wedding yet?

Note: I've had a few people ask about the source for peg people. They came from:

Friday, April 1, 2011

Homemade Fabric Kindle Cover

I finally made the Kindle cover for my Grandmother! I ordered the pattern from Birdiful Stitches on etsy probably well over a month ago. Didn't want to rush into anything. I was surprised at how quickly it went together. It took maybe about an hour or an hour and a half. Wonder of wonders, I didn't mess it up, or have to rip anything out! Must be a testament to the quality of the directions.

I am not a Kindle connoisseur, so I had to email Berritt, the woman behind Birdiful Stitches with a question about which pattern piece would be the correct one to use for my Grandmother's Kindle. She got back to me right away.

The fabric that I used was very pretty with roses on it, made by Moda. The coordinating fabric, also by Moda,  had polka dots on it. I got them both last summer at a yard sale. That sale had lots of pretty fabric that I snatched up. I had no idea what I was going to use it for, but I knew that I liked it, and it was coming home with me. I think that the fabric suited Mom.

No, she's not "Grandma". When I was very young, we would pack up the station wagon and spend the summer at a nearby lake. There were about six or seven cottages grouped on a peninsula of land. My parents and I (and eventually my sister) stayed in one cottage and my Grandparents, aunts and uncle would stay in another. I was told that as a toddler, I'd follow my mother around, while she was spending time with her Mother. I heard my Mother and my aunts and uncle, calling  their mother "Mom", so I guess I figured that must be her name. So, I grew up calling my Grandmother, "Mom". The name stuck, and now all of the grandchildren call her "Mom".

The button that I used was one from my stash. I have no idea where it came from; I collected it from somewhere along the way. It's most likely vintage, and I loved its design. 

If I make another one, the only thing I'd do differently would be to stitch a little closer to the edge when doing the top stitching. And, I'd probably take the time to prewash the fabrics. It was a tight fit. I had to very carefully stretch the fabric to get the Kindle into the cover. When I was making the cover, I didn't have an actual Kindle in my hands to use to see how it'd fit before I did the top stitching. On the plus side, that Kindle will not fall out of its cover, that's for sure.

Overall, I am very happy with the way the cover came out. The pattern directions were easy to understand, and I liked that when I had a question, I got an immediate response. So, if you are thinking about making an e-reader cover, head on over to Birdiful Stitches to purchase the pattern.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Gould's Sugar House

Over the weekend I went to Gould's Sugar House in Shelburne, MA on the Mohawk Trail (route 2). We were there early enough in the season to see the process of making maple syrup. We went last year, but we were too late in the season to see it. I love maple syrup, so it was great to see how it's made.

We got there at around 9:00 am, and the place was very crowded. We had to wait for about an hour and a half before we were seated for breakfast. There's enough to keep you busy while you wait, though. There's a gift shop, maple soft serve ice cream for 25 cents each, and of course you can watch the sap being boiled down into syrup. The Gould family is very nice and more than willing to answer questions. What a thrill to get a taste of freshly made syrup right out of the vat. You can't get any fresher than that!

The temperature is about 700 degrees.

It takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup.

They were bottling the syrup that day, too. The bottle of syrup that I bought before we left was still warm. Yummy!

Bottling the freshly made maple syrup

The restaurant is rustic; it's located in part of the barn. When your name is called, you go up a few steps into the restaurant to be seated. The kitchen is somewhat open to the restaurant, so you can see them making the pancakes, and other goodies. There are a couple of wood stoves to heat the place. Most of the tables are long, heavy wooden ones, with bench seats to match. They will seat about six people comfortably, maybe even eight. There are a few smaller tables, too. The restaurant isn't large. If I had to guess I'd say it seats about 50-60, but that's just a guess - I could be way off. The shades for the lights over the tables are wooden buckets turned upside down with holes drilled in the sides. I should have gotten a picture of that!

Worth the wait!
 The breakfast was delicious!! I ordered pancakes and sausage. They were out of this world. I can honestly say that it was worth the wait. You can't beat pure maple syrup. I'd rather not have pancakes than  put the fake stuff on them. We also had a small bowl of cut up pickles. The theory is that the pickles cut the sweetness of the maple syrup. Me - I love the sweetness, so that's not a problem for me, but they were good anyway.

Yummy pickles!

This was only our second year going to Gould's, but we loved it just as much as the first year. I can see this becoming a tradition.
To learn more about maple syrup or to find a sugarhouse in Massachusetts, Mass Maple is a good source of info.

Do you have any favorite springtime traditions?

Monday, February 28, 2011

My New Best Friend - Google Reader

Geez, I haven't put up a post in a while. I think it's because I'm addicted to reading blogs. I love them. I love to read about what real people are doing to their homes, what they're cooking, and what they're creating. It's a great way to get some inspiration and ideas to try in your own space. There are sooo many creative people out there - it's amazing.

Because of my addiction, I have a extremely long list of blogs saved in my favorites folder. Every so often, I'd open up the favorites folder and click through each one and read through the newest post on the blogs. Not very efficient. Then, I discovered Google Reader (insert singing choir here).

I think I first caught on to the purpose of Google Reader when I noticed that the blogs that I was following were listed in the reader and that the new posts showed up there (as well as on the Blogger Dashboard). Then I noticed that some blogs had "subscribe in a reader" buttons, and that when I clicked on those, it brought me to a page where you could choose your reader. I clicked on the Google button, which brought me to another page that asked me whether I wanted to subscribe via Google Reader, or iGoogle. I admit, that confused me for a while, until I learned that you could put a Google Reader gadget on your iGoogle page. So, from then on I clicked that I wanted to subscribe via Google Reader.

I realize that I'm probably a little late to this show. I'm just so happy to have found a way to keep up with the blogs that I had bookmarked as favorites. When a new post is put up on a  blog that you've subscribed to, then it shows up on the reader. No more clicking through my HUGE list of "favorites". Plus, if I'm not using my own computer, I can still access the Google Reader and stay caught up from where ever I am.

Also, if a blog doesn't have a "subscribe by a reader" button, then you can manually add it to the Google Reader page. Very handy. Apparently, you can also categorize the blogs into folders on Google Reader, but I haven't done that just yet. I may have to as the list on my reader continues to grow.

Now I just have to stay caught up with the new posts, and I'll be all set and won't miss anything wonderful from all of you creative people out there!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Making Progress

The quilt top is now finished. I was surprised at how quickly it came together. Now to fit the backing, sandwich everything together and quilt. I'm not sure what fabric I'll use for the binding. Maybe if I have enough left over, I'll use some of the backing fabric as the binding. I cut all of the rest of the fabric into squares, and I might actually have enough of those to make a small quilt. Maybe lap size. Or, maybe I'll get some more of the same fabric and make a bigger sized quilt. I'm not sure yet what I'll do.

I'm happy with the way the quilt top looks so far. I love the brown and aqua together. As an aside, everything up to this point has been sewn on the Singer 337 which you can read more about here. It's been working like a champ with no problems. It'll be interesting to see if it does as well with the quilting part of the project. Keep checking back to see my progress!

Monday, January 31, 2011

New Project - A Quilt For A Baby

I've got a new project to work on. Now that the holidays are over, the house is relatively clean, and I'm caught up on laundry, I thought it would be a good time to get started on a baby quilt that I've been wanting to make. It's for my husband's co-worker's baby. Ok, so the baby is about 7 months old now. I was just really overwhelmed before, and now I feel like I can breathe again. Anyway, it's never too late to give someone a handmade quilt.

I just picked these up today. I had a chance to go to JoAnn's Fabrics, so I took the opportunity to pick out which fabrics I wanted. That part is ALWAYS the hardest for me. I picked out five different fabrics for the quilt top. This is a change for me. In the past, I've only used about two different fabrics. I have only done 9 patch squares, or some variation of that. This time, I'm mixing things up a bit and trying something new. I have a design in my head, so we'll see how it turns out in reality.

These are the fabrics I chose for the quilt top:

For the backing I chose this fabric:

The backing fabric is a little bright, but I figured it'd be great for a baby to look at and play on. It's flannel, which I love to put on the backs of my quilts and blankets. It's so soft and snuggly, and I hope it'll be comforting.

I chose fabrics that didn't scream "baby". Those are great, but I'm sure by this time, the parents (and the baby) have tons of that stuff already. My hope is that this quilt be loved right into childhood and beyond, so I wanted fabrics that would be appropriate for any age.

The fabrics are in the wash now, and I can hardly wait to get started on this project. With all of this snow that is predicted, it'll give me something to do in between shoveling.

Friday, January 21, 2011

White 1505 Sewing Machine Price Lowered!

I've lowered the price of my White 1505 to $60. I'd like to make some room, so that's the reason for the change in price. It's well worth it! I've posted the ad on Craigslist. You can see it here. Please contact me if you are interested in it. Here is my previous post on the White 1505.
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