Sewing Saturday

He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.– Francis of Assisi

I saw this quote the other day on one of my "must read" blogs..Alabama Chanin Journal.  It became part of my thought processes so much in the past few days, I had to share it.  The newest book by Natalie Chanin arrived from Amazon on Tuesday.  Beautiful clothing with such a hand-made twist.  I've written about this style before and I still am captivated by it.  My cleaning and organizing distractions have taken me away from working on my cardigan, but I hope to get back to it soon.  After all, the Country Living Fair is coming up in less than two weeks and I really wanted to wear it then!
Wish I could flounce around in this type of clothing every day!


Miscellaneous Monday

I got involved in a little cooking this weekend...Chicken Cordon Bleu casserole, courtesy of KnowKitchen.com.  The recipe is here.  Easy and delicious!

I also found a recipe on a fellow-Indianan's blog, The Cottage Nest.  I'm going to bake those delicious-looking cookies this afternoon when I go home.  Gooey Butter Cookies...perfect with tea!

This cooking and baking is a bit unusual for me...seems like I've either skipped meals, or have had Market Fresh sandwiches from Arby's for the majority of meals in March.  If I don't cook, I don't make a mess.  I certainly didn't need more messes to contend with!

I'm guessing that I must be hungry...all I can think about is food right now!  Guess I should head to the breakroom for lunch!


Sunny Saturday

April seems to be continuing with the theme of March...work!  This time, it's both at home and at the actual job.  I was supposed to be off today, but one of the scheduled workers did not come in.  That means I had the "pleasure" of working today.  Saturdays tend to be very slow at our little branch library, and since I worked all week and didn't think I'd be here today, I didn't save a project to work on.  There was an entire list of things to do at home...still clearing, cleaning, and organizing.  Some days I see the light at the end of the tunnel, and some days it is obscured.  

I will say that it is nice to have a renovated bathroom!  I don't think that I mentioned in my last post that the upstairs neighbor's bathroom floor fell through my bathroom ceiling (again).  It caused fairly extensive damage to my bathroom and floor, so I now have new sub-flooring and new vinyl plank flooring...and a new commode...and a new ceiling.  So very nice!  I think that the last time this happened was in 2008 or 09, but it didn't cause nearly the mess and damage.  I think that all is well upstairs AND downstairs.

Book recommendation...
Better Than Before:  Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin

The book makes lots of sense...and since I'm looking to change some habits, it is the perfect book for this time in my life!


Oh, my...

Finished entryway

March was a long, long month filled with lots of actual physical work for me.  I've been attempting (this time for real) to simplify things around the house.  I've managed to live with so many things for so long that, as the Febreze commercial goes--along similar lines, anyway--I've become "nose-blind"...actually more of a visual blindness to my surroundings.  I can make one small corner semi-perfect, and that's what I see...I don't see the clutter, messiness, and "stuff" that has filled the remainder of the room.  So sad.  And so lazy on my part.  It seems like I've been walking a narrow little path through my house, similar to what a hoarder would do.  Shameful.

So...for the past month, I've been going through the house, throwing things away, organizing, and putting boxes of books together to donate.  I still have a ways to go, but I feel better every day in what I've accomplished.  It's been hard, I've been exhausted, and I've felt overwhelmed many, many times.  I would say that even if I didn't work 40+ hours a week outside the home, I would be further ahead, but I know that's not true.  I would just sit around and be truly overwhelmed.  Breaking things down into 20-30 minute segments (unless, of course I'm on a roll!!), and then taking a little break seems to work best for me.

Not that I'm an actual hoarder***, but I tend to keep magazines and books...yes, I had Victoria magazine from the very first issue until they stopped publication the first time...and many, many years of Country Living and Martha Stewart Living...assorted others, too.  They are now resting comfortably in the recycle bins, ready to leave the neighborhood at Monday morning's pick-up. While all of that tossing doesn't add up to lots of square feet of living space, now there's a bit of room to breathe.  So far, twelve cartons of books have been donated.  Many more, soon to come, but I need to collect a few more boxes for them.  What else got tossed?  Project information, papers from five years of "higher education", and just plain old junk.  Seriously...Tupperware and the like seem to just multiply like rabbits.  I can never find the piece that I want, and if I do, the lid is nowhere to be found.  NO MORE!

Why did I let myself end up in this mess?  Beats me.  It seems to have gotten way out of control in just the past six months or so.

***Hoarder...do you do any of these things?
1.  When you exchange gifts with someone, do you ohhh and ahhh over the ribbon snippets they've used, then go home and put said snippet in a jar or container for future use?  Maybe that use is just to "look pretty"?
2.  Do people know to bring you their recycling items because they know you can do something with them, or can create a library program using the items?
3.  Do relatives drop things off at your house, whether you want them or not...items like outdoor tables, chairs, etc., when you already have outdoor furniture?  Do they do this saying that Aunt So and So wanted you to have this?
4.  Do you save magazines because there are really great recipes, home decor ideas, gardening tips...whatever?  Or do you rip out the pages and organize them (in never-to-be-found files)?

I was guilty of many of these things.  All I can say now is thank goodness for Pinterest, Zinio, iPads, and digital music.  I get magazines on my iPad via Zinio and my public library...no piles stacking up, and no paper clutter.  If I find an article I want to keep, I save the picture and article in my photos section of the iPad.  Easy.  No fuss, no muss.

I'll admit that I was quite amused by the Maria Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  I like the idea of clearing up one area of your life at a time, and I really do like being thankful, but thanking each and every piece of clothing, dish, or whatever is a little too much.

The photo for this post is an "after".  The "before" is way too embarrassing!  Real life, though.


Fingers crossed for a snow day (or two)

All of a sudden and out of the blue, the weather people started talking about a possible snow event for tomorrow.  Hmmm...didn't think much of it, but then the dreaded tracking changes were announced.  Yikes!! 8-10 inches, preceded by freezing rain and sleet.  It's rained all day here, so they're unable to pre-treat the roadways.  Hoping for an entire snowday tomorrow...not just a delayed opening or an early closing.  Sounds way too messy and dangerous for a little old lady to be driving around in, provided she can even get her car door open!

Glad that I don't need bread, milk, or eggs...the stores are going to be crazy this evening!


End of the month-February Review

For a short month, this one seems to be never ending...up until mid-month, we've had fairly decent winter weather...no snows since mid-November, some pleasant days (February 7 comes to mind...61 degrees, sunny...a glass of wine on the porch kind of day).  Then the dreaded cold, snowy, icy weather hit Southwest Indiana.  I'm certain no one feels my pain...those folks on the East coast have had more than enough misery to last a lifetime.  Most of the country has...and we're all ready for a beautiful Spring, right?

I'm really looking forward to the Country Living Fair in the Nashville area.  For years a friend and I have talked about going to the one in Columbus, Ohio.  We're both transplanted "Buckeyes" and would love to wander around the many (fabulous) places in Ohio.  Seems like the September dates of the Ohio CL Fair are never do-able for us.  As soon as I saw the Nashville (Lebanon) location advertised, I ordered tickets.  
 I've been in an "order it online" mood recently...so much easier than traipsing around in snow and ice.  I've received my seed order from Heirloom Seeds:
Flower Seeds from Heirloom Seeds
 I've become almost obsessed with, of all things, stringing and knotting pearls.  It's become a sort of meditation.  I've assembled many parts of of to-be-completed jewelry.  One day soon I need to put it all together!  This is my practice necklace of champagne glass pearls.
First completed strand of hand-knotted pearls
 I'm in the process now of making a mala bead strand.  The lotus charm will be incorporated.  The charm and the blue beads in the following photo are from Lima Beads in Ann Arbor, MI.  It's my new favorite place to shop!
Lotus Charm

Pacific Blue Apatite

 I'm still working on my Alabama Chanin-inspired sweater.  Never-ending stitching and beading.

The month has been fueled by caffeine, as are most months.  I finally purchased a Chemex coffee carafe and now I'm part of the "slow-brew" crowd.  If I'm in a hurry, I fall back on the Keurig...so fast, so easy.  I've always been a fan of the 60's vibe Chemex with its glass and wood beauty, and now it's part of my coffee station.

Hope you've all had a productive month!


48 Days 'til Spring!

Seed catalogs galore...I've thumbed through them even though I have no intention of really starting anything from seed.  The only item that as tugged on my heartstrings is a beautiful little pastel poppy mix from Heirloom Seeds.
Mother of Pearl Poppy, sun or partial shade

This is the year I'll finally plant all of those Sweet Pea seeds I've accumulated.  I'm ready for all of that cheery color!  I really love the look of the Mother of Pearl poppy...they look so fragile, almost like tissue paper.  Want them!


Rain and gloom, but no snow

I've been "on vacation" for the past couple of days.  Not really a vacation, but I had intended to work on a few interesting projects.  Instead, I've been enjoying cocktails of Thera-Flu, occasionally switching that up with Alka Seltzer Cold & Flu.  Lovely.  On the plus side, I'm not missing any work, and the sunny skies and not so cold temperatures have lightened my spirits.  Today-Sunday...rain and gloom.  No complaints though...it's still in the mid-40's so there's no threat of ice and snow.

While restocking the cold remedy cabinet, I decided to pick up a few groceries.  Much to my surprise and delight, I found primroses...at Aldi!  At 99 cents each! A little blast of color on a gloomy, rainy Sunday.


Back half of January---where does the time go?

It's hard to believe that January is almost over.  We've had four or five days of 50+ degree temperatures and lots of sunshine here.  Such a nice respite from the usual, typical cold and gloom.  I'm ready for a few colorful primroses...I hope the local grocery floral department has them in.  Nothing like a little blast of color to make me 'think Spring"! {{60 days!!}}
Photo from Martha Stewart Living, February 2015 issue

In the meantime,  I'm on the hunt for a few small Japanese painted ferns.  They won't be at Lowe's or Home Depot for several weeks, but I absolutely love, love, love the pairing of the ferns with orchids as seen on the current Martha Stewart Living.  Gorgeous!  I'll just have to make do with my little orchid from Fresh Market!


No life-changing magic here {{yet}}

As much as I would love, love, love to have a nice tidy everything-in-its'-place abode, I'm still doing what I always do...flitting around from one thing to the next and not doing what is probably more important for my well-being.  Truly...I'm like a crow with shiny objects tempting me!

I've been working fairly regularly on a stitching project...a "my way" take on the Alabama Chanin DIY Magdalena Fitted Cardigan.  Instead of spending $298.00 on the ready to stitch cardigan, I'm doing it the hard-but-way-less-expensive way.  This is usually when I get into trouble...generally speaking, it would be more efficient to buy the ready to sew kit.  By the time I collect what I need, cut the stencils, stencil the fabric, I'm kind of "over" the whole project.  Not this time though!
Photo from Alabama Chanin Studio Style DIY

 I love the clothing on the Alabama Chanin website...I love everything about AC-style.  Hope I can pull this off!
Some of my stitching stuff...fabric paint, button & craft thread, embroidery floss.  Ready for the shirt as soon as I get that big stencil finished!

So, instead of organizing for the new year, I'm still jumping from project to project.  I don't even know why I think things will change!


Awaiting the weekend

I came across a recipe for That's Amore Soup   {click link for recipe} yesterday, and on my way home from work I stopped to pick up some Italian sausage so that I could make it.  This soup is SO good!  Perfect for this way less-than-perfect weather.

Cold, cold, cold!  I feel lucky that we don't have the snow and ice everyone else across the country has...it's nice and sunny here.  That's the thing about winter...sunshine and clear skies makes for a cold morning...with wind-chills making it feel like way below zero.  It was a few degrees warmer this morning, and for that, I'm grateful!

I'm off this entire weekend, and I'm really looking forward to it.  Puttering around, a little painting, reading, cooking and baking. That should make for a relaxing weekend.  I'll need to come up with a new soup to make on Sunday...it's back to soup and bread-making for the coming week on Sunday mornings.  Winter settles into a nice little rhythm as we begin the countdown to Spring (70 days, if you're interested!!).


Jumping in with both feet...

Into the new year, that is.  While everyone else is trying to pare down and simplify their lives, I've jumped in to many new "to-dos".  Most have to do with art journaling or just plain ole' journaling...

The Documented Life 2015.  I stuck with this through the first part of 2014, but I'm back with renewed enthusiasm for the project.  In order to make sure I stick with it, I've started a monthly Mixed Media Club at my library so that we can support and encourage each other...and probably get into more "art" trouble!

Magic Book 2015.  I love the work that Lisa Sonora does.  The Creative Entrepreneur: A DIY Visual Guidebook for Making Business Ideas Real  is one of my favorite books...great ideas for furthering your business goals, personally or professionally.

Another book and idea on my mind lately...

Talk about down-sizing and simplifying!!  So many things about this book make so much sense.  One of my friends just finished tidying up her clothing...exactly the same way as described in the book and she is overjoyed!  I'm almost ready to take the plunge.

Ready for 2015?

Baking and cheese making...

In the "learn something new" part of my life, yesterday I learned how to make mozzarella cheese.  Making and baking French bread w...