Thursday, July 29, 2010

Digital Scrapbooking

Recently, I ordered myself a Wacom Bamboo Craft with my Assciated Content income.  It came last night, and man, is it awesome!

It came bundled with Photoshop Essentials, and some extra scrapbooking packs.  I used one of the sets to put together this little page to try it out and explore photoshop a little, since I've never used it.

Digital scrapbooking will be a fun thing to try, but I mostly bought it for illustrating tshirts and drawing embroidery designs and designing printables for my etsy shop.  I really looking forward to getting into those more advanced kind of things!

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

School House Rock Preamble

This actually chokes me a little. It's so pretty!

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Recycled Shed Ceiling Finishing

All done!

We've been slowly moving along with our shed project.  Our friend Ken, who is quickly working his way up my list of favorite people, helped to put in all the insulation in one decisive move.  We decided to insulate, because we figured spending a little on insulation now, will probably help to keep us from spending a lot more on running heat lights and water heaters all winter.

To finish the ceiling and keep the insulation from sagging and falling, we came up with a free recycled solution.  First we opened out the tons of feed bags I've been saving in the garage.  (I was saving them to craft with, but they're actually a bear to sew, so I was glad to give them up.)  We stapled them up to the rafters over the insulation, to help contain any fiberglass dust that might fall, and to make a brighter finished look.  Then we screwed some scrap boards up cross wise to give the insulation a solid support in that direction.  We ran out of long enough screws, so we still have a couple more to put up, but I'm pretty happy with the result.

I think we'll have to buy hardboard for the wall finish.  We're hoping to get that done this weekend.  I wanted to find a free option, but nothing we thought of worked out.  Hardboard is the cheapest option if we buy the 1/8 inch kind.  That should be plenty of protection since it's only real purpose is to keep the chickens from pecking out and eating the insulation.  And to add some rigidity between the studs to support it from sagging as well, I suppose.

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Monday, July 26, 2010


I harvested about a quarter of the onions we grew in our raised bed this morning. Some of them are so much bigger than any we grew last year! Some are pretty small yet, but you pretty much have to harvest onions when they lean over, lie down and give up, which these had.

They'll cure today in the sun on the deck, and then I'll move them out to the front porch for a couple of weeks to finish curing in the shade.

I would like to wait and see if I get a few days without rain before pulling the rest of them, since they store much better if they have less moisture in them when they're picked.  I felt like I had to get these out of the ground right away though, since some of them had no tops at all and I was afraid they might start to rot from all the wet weather we've been having.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wow, bad photo... that last post. Maybe this one will be better.

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A New Embroidery Stitch

Recently I've been inspired by fellow blogger Kim at big B to branch out a bit with my embroidery stitches. She's doing a series working through the vintage book, Coats & Clark's 100 Embroidery Stitches. I happen to have a copy as well, that I inherited from my great grandmother.  The familar cover on Kim's blog made me get mine out and browse through it.
I started this project today. It's going to be a special name sampler for a baby gift. The stitch I used here for the border is called the Knotted Cable Chain Stitch.  The example in the book is spaced more closely, and has a rounder look, but in my practicing I really liked the look of the elongated oval shaped stitches, so I went with that spacing.
I think it makes a pretty effective border, since it's not too heavy, but has a pretty shape and interesting details.
I'm glad I took the time to try something new today.

Sorry about the photo quality!  It didn't look so bad on my phone before I posted.  I've posted another better one above.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sympathy for Martha

I realize that not all my readers are religious, and we all hold different beliefs, so I usually don't address religion here on my blog except to share that I feel as though I've been blessed by my faith.  My approach to faith and religion is generally a practical one.  I think God wants us to be joyful, and to work to bring about His justice and kingdom on Earth.  The Church teaches that salvation is a mystery that we can't hope to understand, and it's not closed to anyone, and we are certainly not qualified to say who isn't in Heaven or isn't going there.  So I'm perfectly happy to let everyone believe just as they would like, especially if it nourishes their own spirits.

That said, I can't resist sharing this, as it's very much to do with homemaking and chores.

At Mass on Sunday, the Gospel reading was the story about Martha and Mary.  In case you don't know it, it goes something like this,

Jesus visits Lazarus, Martha, and Mary, a brother and two sisters that were His close friends.  While He is there, Martha is working hard preparing a meal and serving Him.  Mary, on the other hand, is seated at His feet talking with Him, and listening to Him speak.

Martha gets fed up.  She asks Him to make Mary help her.  She says, in effect, "Why should Mary get to sit around?  There are things to be done!"

And Jesus tells her that Mary has chosen a better path.  That it won't be taken from her, since she was wise enough to choose it.  That Martha is "anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing."

So, I've always felt kinda bad for poor Martha.  First of all, it's not like those things don't need to get done!  A house has to be cleaned and guests offered refreshments.  There are needful things in life, and people who must do them, as Martha realized.

Not to mention, she must have been very embarrassed.  How often have I found it difficult to offer appropriate hospitality because instead I've been choked with resentment of extra work, or being tired?  I'm sure this is a problem for everyone,  and we all try our best to overcome it graciously.  But sometimes our tongues get the best of us.  We snap, we judge, we blurt out what is immediately regretted.  Maybe it was that time of the month, or she had just had to do a lot the day before without help as well.... but whatever the reason, I'm sure she didn't really mean to make a big deal of it, she just responded impulsively to the last straw.

So, I feel for Martha.  Does that mean that I'm "anxious and worried about many things" that don't really matter?  Yes, sometimes, most certainly.  But are the things that don't matter really the housework, the baking, the offering comfortable hospitality to a guest?  I don't believe so.  I don't think Jesus was chiding Martha for her focus on earthly duties.  It's by earthly duties that we bring about the Kingdom of God.  I think He was chiding her for her unkind spirit.  Her preoccupation with fairness.  Her resentment of her sister, her work, and the whole situation.  These are the things that cloud us and keep us from seeing that "there is need of only one thing."

The one truly important thing?  Spending time with Jesus.  Listening to Him in our hearts.  If you're not Christian, think of it simply as refreshing your soul.  God's salvation and peace will work in your life and your heart if you give Him a chance.  Listen to the humming of the universe, and the clicking of nature.  Find your balance and place in it. 
 (I do recommend studying the teachings of the Church, if you are seeking.  Reading about the saints and reading their teachings will help.  The beautiful canticles that St. Francis wrote always give me a sense of balance and place.)

So, that's the important thing.  The one thing we all need to make all our chores and duties meaningful and worshipful.  A loving spirit, a joyful heart, these are the most important tools for the homemaker.  And in the calm quiet of my living room, on a day when I've woken up with energy and a cheerful outlook, and finished my most disliked and necessary chores early, it's very easy for me to think I can do that on my own.

But Jesus knew that when the hectic pace of a busy day, the million little unexpected tasks, the fifth day in a row of weeding the garden, only to have to start again at the beginning, the fact that husbands and children don't put things back where they found them, the fact that even we have a hard time replacing our things where they belong, the broken drinking glass, or sick cat, and unexpected phone call all add up to a cluttered, difficult day, then those distracting, weary and resentful thoughts will start to break our resolve.  And we will want to throw up our hands and say, "Why should I be doing this?  Surely, someone else is shirking and should be helping!"

This is why He reminded Martha, and us, that God is there to help.  That He is speaking, and our souls need to listen.  The work we do, if it is done in kindness and joy, with the intent to heal and help, to promote contentment and peace, is the work of God.  We will find Him in the quiet and the work both, if we seek Him.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Garter Stitch Blanket from The Knitting Workshop

I like to keep a garter stitch or stockinette project around the couch so I'll always have some thing to keep my hands busy that I don't have to look at much for movie nights with Ben.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Scenery

View from my chair July 2010
Our garden is in the foreground in this photo. The beans and squash in this newly mulched section we planted about a week ago. I love piling on the grass clipping mulch, every inch means that much less weeding!

I love the way the fields look this time of year.  After the wheat is ripe all of the wheat fields are the most beautiful gold color.  The field in the background was harvested two weeks ago, and last week they came back and baled the straw, but the pretty color is still there and I really enjoy just looking out the window from the living room out at this view.  There something about the contrast with the that wheat gold color and the dark corn green that's just so restful for me.

I've been enjoying the view quite a bit today.  I'm working on designing some embroidery designs to sell in my Etsy shop.  Yesterday I did the preliminary drawing on a sampler, and I've been stitching it up this morning to see how well it'll work as a pattern.

Doing this indoor work has been a relief from all the busy gardening.  I've been harvesting this and that, but haven't had to start the preserving in heavy earnestness yet.  It's a mid-summer slump in the outdoor work, and I'm grateful for it.  I weed and trim and such very early in the morning, after letting the chickens out of the coop around 5, and then after an hour or so of being outside in the morning, I get to come in and avoid the heat except for just a half an hour in the afternoon, when I change the chickens' water and food.

Hope you all are having as quiet and nice a day as I am!


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Monday, July 12, 2010

Free Patriotic Crafts Instructions

Well, I might be very late for the 4th of July, but I prefer to think of it as early for Labor Day.
I designed these different crafts made from felt for Associated Content last month, and really enjoyed making them.  I think they turned out very cute, and that makes the pretty effective for how simple they were to put together!

The articles have full materials lists and complete instructions.  I've linked to the articl for each project under its picture.  Enjoy!

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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Cafepress Sale - Gardening T-Shirt

I've just added some gardening themed projects to my Cafepress page

Just in time, too, since while I was there, I found out they're having a sale for the next three days. 

You can get 20% off a purchase of $40 or more using the coupon code: 20SUNFUN

You can get $3 off any tshirt thru tomorrow using the code: TMINUS3

Please excuse my make-do watermark on the picture.  I really wanted to share, but had no idea how to do a real watermark.  I'll have to look into that.  Anyway, be sure to click over to my cafepress shop to see the design on a shirt and with a better close-up.

Have a great day, everyone!

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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

A Project 2 Years in the Making

Well, it didn't actually take me two years to finish this embroidery if you only count the working time, but it did take me so long to stop procrastinating and get it done.

I started in the summer 2008 but lost interest after the fourth of July. So I put it away till last summer, when I discovered that I'd done a little more than half of the red parts in the wrong color red! I pulled out some of it, but got discouraged and put it away again.

This past weekend, I decided to try to get it finished up. I cut the wrong color stitches instead of pulling them out, which sped up the process considerably. (Don't ask me why I didn't do that in the first place!)

So, now it's done, and I can get it sewn.  The finished project is a wallhanging. One of a series of holiday/seasonal ones from kits that I bought at a Ben Franklin store that we stopped at on the drive from AZ to I'LL when we moved here. Maybe this year, I'll get them all finished...

Though I think we all know better than that. The power of my procrastination combined with my project ADD is just too much.

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Friday, July 02, 2010

Happy Independence Day!

I hope all my readers have a wonderful and safe holiday weekend.

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Thursday, July 01, 2010

Making Herbal Tinctures

I harvested quite a few herbs today in order to start various tinctures.
The herbs in the picture above are Chocolate Mint, Lemon Grass, Chamomile Blossoms, Yarrow Blossom, Lavender.  And you migh be able to guess by the crowd it's gathered that the basket is full of catnip.
To make a tincture, you put the herbal material into a jar, cover it over with high alcohol vodka, and then put it into a dark place.  Shake it once or twice a day, and it should be ready anytime between 2 and 8 weeks later.  I've read a lot of different directions, and a lot of them disagree about how long a tincture needs to steep.

I'm going to use these in a couple of different ways.  The chamomile and lavender will be combined to be a relaxing linen spray, because they both have sedative and calming properties.  The lavender, catnip, yarrow, and lemongrass will all make a bug repellent spray.

I ran out of vodka, so I didn't set up the mint to tincture yet.  I've hung it up in bunches to dry for now.  Tinctures can be made with either dried or fresh herbs.

You can take tinctures interally too, of course, not just spray them.  The mint tincture will make great flavoring, and I'm interested in trying out the lemon grass one to see if it tastes as citrus-y as it smells.  Medicinally, tinctures are useful too, of course, though I definately don't know enough about that to give any advice about it yet.

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