Category Archives: Family

On Raising Show Pigs

As you know by now, my daughter raises show pigs, trains them, loves them and then shows them at the fair.  After showing them at the fair, she spends time in the swine exhibit letting children ask questions and pet her pig.  On the last day of the fair, she shows her pig one more time during a huge auction and people from the community bid on her pig.  The highest bidder then works directly with a butcher and ultimately ends up with a lot of pork in his or her freezer to eat all year long. Lots of people ask why she does this?  How can she take care of this animal and love it and then ‘let it be killed’.

Julia and I talked a lot about this a few days ago.  Actually, we have talked about it many times.  But coming toward the end of her time with Olive has been hard.  There were lots of tears a few days ago as she grieved and experienced tremendous sadness that Olive would be gone.

I thought it might be good to explain, as her parents, why my husband and I are ok with this process.  First of all, I should say it is really difficult.  My husband and I got really attached to Julia’s pigs last year and after all was said and done, we thought – ‘nope, we aren’t doing this again – it was too hard on us and on Julia’.  After cleaning up the pen and putting away the supplies, we assumed that was one for the books – over and done.  But then around November (8 weeks later) Julia was talking about getting another piglet in the spring.  We asked her if she was sure she wanted to go through the whole process again.  She said yes – it had been such a good experience and she wanted to have another go at it.  Her logical mind explained – Now that I know how to do it, and the pen is built and we have all the gear, I want to do it again.  Ok – we agreed, you can buy another piglet.

Bringing Olive home.

Let’s look at some of the reasons we support this desire of  Julia’s.  First of all, our family eats meat.  As meat eaters, we have to acknowledge the source of our protein.  Animals are raised and then slaughtered on a mass scale for people to purchase and feed to their families.

As a teen, raising a show pig, Julia works very, very hard to balance the right amount of protein, carbohydrates and fats when feeding her pig.  She understands how to build muscle (the meat from the animal) and fat (where the flavor comes from – think bacon!) She knows how much to feed her pig each day (basically giving a pig three pounds of food a day equates to roughly one pound of weight gain each day).  She balances that all out and decides how much she wants her pig to weigh by the end of the summer and feeds accordingly.   She adjusts this as she sees if the pig is gaining too much or too little so that she is a good size by fair time. Toward the end of summer, she adds in oats and/or corn to “finish” her feeding of the pig. This adds a layer of fat to the meat which is needed or the pork will be too lean and dry. Julia’s goal is to provide a quality meat to whomever buys her pig. There is a lot of science involved in all of this and she really likes this process.

Even more important than the science of raising an animal, is the huge amount of responsibility it requires. Raising a show pig is much more than taking care of a family pet.  After investing a lot of her own money in a show pig,  we want Julia to be fully responsible for taking care of this animal; it is her project and her financial investment. We are supportive and we will help but she does 99% of the work.  If she is gone for a day, I am happy to feed her pig.  But on a daily basis she is up by 7am, no sleeping in for this girl. She feeds her pig twice each day and takes her out of the pen to exercise.

Daily walks with Olive to train her to remain at Julia’s side.

She trains her pig to respond to her show stick and walk in a certain fashion so she can eventually be ready to show in a ring.  If there are issues, Julia is the one to notice them and take care of them.  Pigs are really sensitive to their environment and change is stressful. For instance, when bringing a new pig home Julia is careful to feed it the same food the breeder has been giving it.  She knows that a change in water or feed will probably give the pig intestinal problems.  To avoid this she uses a lot of probiotics to help her animal’s gut flora until it adjusts to the new feed and/or water.

Showing Olive in the ring before the judge.

As time goes on, Julia needs to exercise and train her pig at length to build muscle.  She has learned to look at her animal’s structure and decide if the muscle is developing appropriately. Toward the end of summer, Julia adds additional training time to build stamina so her animal can be in a show ring for a long period without feeling stressed.

A second place ribbon for Showmanship and my very hot, sweaty, tired daughter.

It is a good feeling when all of your hard work shows up in the ring and the livestock judge sees the results of all of the time spent training.

When problems arise, and they always do, we watch Julia and let her try to find the solution.  Examples of this might be running out of feed because she didn’t keep track of how much was left.  If something like this happens, I don’t rescue her – she needs to take time and make a trip to the feed store – even if it isn’t convenient for her.  When Olive developed a huge rash early in the spring, Julia was the one to call her breeder, have him come out and take a look and then go out and spend $50 on creams and sprays to soothe the rash.  She was the one to go out multiple times daily to apply the ointments all over her itchy pig.  I didn’t do any of this for her, not because I didn’t want to but because she wanted to.  She takes care of her animal.

Bath time for Olive.

As parents, my husband and I feel the responsibility for this project is invaluable for our teenager. It is truly her summer job and it provides income for her (more on that in a minute). Julia is basically an only child as her brothers are quite a bit older than her and don’t live at home.  Not having a younger sibling to help care for, this provides similar tasks of caring for another being. It is important when raising children to be sure they have the opportunity to care for something other than themselves.  Raising a pig teaches our daughter to care for and respond to the needs of this animal.

Bittersweet goodbyes.

Here is the hard part though.  Caring for and loving on this animal for five months means attachment.  It means it will be really difficult to give her up at the end of summer.  When our family talks about this we acknowledge that piglets are raised for meat.  We talk about how the majority of pigs live six to seven months at most, unless they have been raised as breeders and live on a farm to provide more piglets.  We talk about the life provided to piglets on commercial farms where they have to raise hundreds and hundreds of pigs to provide meat for a meat-eating society.

One more belly rub.

Those pigs are not loved, petted and  played with on a daily basis. No one goes out and talks to them (pigs are incredibly social and vocal with their owners). No one discovers the piglet loves fresh peaches and cuts them up and feeds bits to them for a treat. No one finds out that the piglet loves to be scratched on the belly and thus gives that pig the best belly rubs ever each day. But when Julia raises a piglet all of this happens.  The pig lives such a sweet life while on our property being cared for by a person. We feel it is a great benefit for a pig to live this sort of life as compared to life in a commercial operation.

Showing Olive to prospective buyers at the Livestock Auction

Financially a pig is expensive to raise.  It is like a small version of a commercial farm.  Julia pays $350 for the pig.  We keep track of all of the expenses so she knows what it really costs to do this.  This is one lesson many families fail to teach.  So many parents buy the pig and the feed, pay for the vet expenses and the equipment needed.  Then when auction time comes, the child receives this huge check after the animal is sold and says wow, I just earned $1200.00!  But is this real life?  Nope, not in our parental opinion.  Julia pays for her pig and we help her with the food expense.  But she knows exactly how much all of this costs and she knows when she gets that check, she will pay us for a large portion of the expense.  That way she learns what her “net income” is from her business.

Finally, and some might argue with this,  we feel the sadness Julia experiences at the loss of her pig is also valuable. There is a quote by Carl Jung (see above) that illustrates the value of Julia loving her pig so much that she experiences grief or sadness when losing the animal. Protecting our children from negative experiences does them no favors. It is by experiencing difficult emotions, such as sadness, anger, or frustration and then working through it that humans learn to deal with problems.  It is also how a person develops confidence that they can handle the difficult parts of life. Experiencing sadness and grief makes a person hugely appreciative of happiness and joy. When parents don’t allow a child to do something that might cause distress or tears because they want to protect her, they are doing a disservice.

I had mentioned that Julia had a really tough day on Friday afternoon.  She cried and was terribly sad.  We talked and I rubbed her back.  She cried a bit more.  Then we went to play with Olive.  After a while, Julia’s tears were done.  She looked at me and said, “I feel better, this is how it is supposed to be. Olive isn’t my pet.” On the last day with Olive (yesterday) Julia gave her so many belly rubs.  She gave her a huge dinner (since eating is Olive’s very favorite activity!).  We went and had a cinnamon roll out on the fairgrounds and then came back for one more good bye with Olive.

Spoon feeding Olive vanilla ice cream. She LOVED it.

Julia brought her vanilla ice cream and spoon fed it to her.  Olive went wild for this.  A few more belly rubs and then Julia told Olive thank you for being such a good buddy. (She called Olive ‘buddy’ quite a lot.). She told Olive she loved her and then we left.  It was a good summer, for Olive and Julia both.

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Busy Week

I am popping in to say hello!  It is a really busy time around here.  Julia is quite independent as far as taking care of Olive but I enjoy participating a bit with the fair process.  Over the weekend Julia and Ray had to get the pen ready at the fairgrounds.  Julia is showing “independent” this year which means she isn’t a part of a 4-H group or an FFA program.  The academically rigorous high school she goes to makes it really difficult to participate in those other programs. Since she worked with 4-H last year, we talked to her leader and she was positive Julia could handle this as an independent.

However this means it was up to her and Ray to get water piped into Olive’s pen.

Also, she had to make her own decorations.  For this, she made a poster with a cute 8×10 picture of her and Olive. I made a bunting using pig fabric that Julia found on-line.  The pen looks cute.

Olive moved in on Monday morning.  She didn’t enjoy the eight mile ride to the fairgrounds and ended up cutting her snout on something in the trailer.  Poor girl.  Julia washed the cut and put betadine on it.  She was told to use Desitin ointment to help it heal and it looks much better even two days later.

Today was the first day of the county fair. I think this picture of this cute little guy visiting with Olive is just adorable.  So many kiddos don’t have an opportunity to see farm animals up close and personal.  Julia was hanging out with Olive for several hours this afternoon answering questions and helping children pet her.  Fortunately Olive is so social and she loves to be handled. Makes it more fun for the kids that want to touch her.

Tomorrow is a big day for Julia.  She will compete in two areas with Olive.  One is called Market Class.  This competition judges the animal’s structure and development.   Doing well  here means the animal’s owner chose well when buying the piglet and was feeding her correctly and exercising her to achieve good muscle structure.  The second competition is Showmanship.  Here is where all of those walks that Julia did with Olive will pay off.  Olive is fairly good about responding to Julia.  It is anyone’s guess though because Olive and Julia have been working together in a familiar environment without the chaos of lots of pigs being in one show ring.  Hopefully Olive will respond to Julia.  Sometimes a pig will just go bonkers and run around trying to play with the other animals.  Other times a pig will become agitated and can be snarly with other animals out of fear.  Olive won’t do this – she is so sociable.  However, running around and trying to play?  Yep, that one could happen.  🙂

On another subject, our vegetable garden is just going crazy and we are inundated with tomatoes and cucumbers.  Tonight for dinner I am making spaghetti.  I wanted to make a meat sauce with the billion tomatoes sitting on my kitchen counter.  To do this, I processed the smaller tomatoes (including quite a few cherry tomatoes) in the food processor. I also wanted some big chunky pieces of tomato in the sauce. But that would mean peeling some tomatoes or I would end up with big pieces of tomato skin floating in the sauce.

I didn’t feel like doing the whole deal where you dip tomatoes in boiling water and then ice water so the skins slip off.  Instead I cheated and it worked great!! Once I had the sauce mostly there, I put several washed, whole tomatoes right on top of the sauce and covered the pot.  I left the tomatoes to steam for a few minutes.  Using tongs, I took the tomatoes out and put them on a plate to cool a bit.  The skins slipped right off!  Hurray.

I cut them into chunks and put them in the sauce.  It smells so yummy in the kitchen right now.  Dinner is almost ready!

I am working on a cute dress for my grand daughter this week.  I will share it soon as I can.  Tomorrow I will be at the fair with Julia all day and then I am working a shift in the quilt exhibit.  I’ll let you know how Olive does.  Cross your fingers for Julia!!

 

 

 

 

 

Purple Pansies Table Runner

When I was in Vermont at the beginning of the month, I noticed the table runner on my daughter-in-law’s dining table.  It was really simple and didn’t have any batting in it.  I liked the flexible, casual look of it.  I decided to give it a try and grabbed my stack of charm squares.

I have a rather large collection of Benartex charms. Have you heard of the Fabric Club at Benartex?  (No affiliation – I just think it is kind of a fun subscription.). For $25 per year, Benartex sends the subscriber a newsletter and a set of 5″ squares from a new fabric line every three months.  It is a rather inexpensive and fun way to see what is new with Benartex. Each set has a minimum of 20 charms, some have more than that depending on how many pieces are in the line.) The newsletter usually has a suggestion or pattern for the charms.  I did this for quite a while (maybe two years?) and as a result have a number of these sets.

For this project, I decided to use a set called Pansy Noir.  It is a rich collection of shades of purple, gold, black and green. Using a set of charms like this can be satisfying because the designer has already made sure there are a variety of scales and values in the set.

In this set, I love the contrast of sweet pansies, such a simple flower, with the rich swirls of purple and black. How do these designers come up with this?

I didn’t add anything to the set and made the runner with 21 of the 22 squares in the pack.  So it measures about 14 x 30 inches. Using a silvery Sulky thread, I stitched straight lines going down the column (at the seam line) and across the rows (again at the seam) to hold it together when laundered. No binding makes this a 1/2 hour project.  The backing is a pale lavender fabric from my stash.

This was a fun project to whip up during a time when I am getting very little sewing done. This summer I have noticed a large uptick in the orders rate at my shop. It is really rewarding to see this happening now that I have been in business for 18 months.  Of course it takes away from my sewing time which is a trade off!

Otherwise, summer has been busy with house projects, gardening and taking pictures of Julia and Olive!!  The fair is in two weeks so Julia has been really focused on training Olive for showing her at the fair.

Julia and Olive walking in the yard.

To increase stamina and muscle mass, Julia has been taking Olive on long walks.  For much of the summer she would walk Olive around the perimeter of our property which was a nice long walk.  Well, Olive is a very smart pig and learned that route quickly.  Soon as she knew she was close to the end of the route, Olive would take off running to the pen (her source of food and mud!)

Strolling down the street!

Julia decided to mix it up and started walking her in our neighborhood, much to our neighbor’s delight.  It is hysterical to see Julia and a pig strolling up our driveway and down the road. But Olive does really well.  She is sometimes a bit startled by a horse or dog and it is nice to see Julia can redirect her when this happens.  I think they will do well together in the show ring.

Heading down the driveway for home.

This weekend I am hosting a bridal shower for my soon-to-be daughter-in-law.  Her parents are coming up here for the weekend which will be fun. I have met her mother only once and haven’t yet met her father.  We will enjoy getting to know each other.  Once again, another no-sew weekend – Such is life!  Whatever your plans are, enjoy your weekend.

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Back to Back Vacations

Just checking in before we leave for another trip!  We had the best time ever in Vermont.  The weather was horrible with record breaking heat and humidity – truly awful, but who cares?  The kids have A/C in the house and I was really there to spend time with my grand daughter so it was all good.

We had such a nice visit – lots of water play, time at the lake and hikes to the river.  I was really surprised to see how adventurous this little girl was.  She doesn’t balk at anything. From playing in the freezing cold river to swimming in the lake, she was up for it. This girl is on the go constantly.

Julia spent time reading books to her and sharing ice cream with her.  The baby was cutting some molars and it was bothersome.  Julia made popsicles for her with pureed strawberries, banana and some yogurt.  What a nice auntie! They were close buddies by the end of our week there.

I am hoping as she gets older, she will remember us from visit to visit.  We do FaceTime quite a bit which will help.  It is hard to be a grammy from 3,000 miles away.

I really enjoyed rocking her which she will only do when she is super tired.  I had the treat of rocking her to sleep just once.  She is usually far too busy for that.

Organizing for the next trip!

We got home Friday night and I spent Saturday catching up on orders that came in while I was gone.  My husband has this week off so we are going to spend the first half of it at the beach.  We are back Thursday afternoon and then life goes back to normal. Like I said in a recent post, I miss my sewing room!!  I don’t have any hand stitching to bring with us but I am going to do some free motion doodling.  I have two quilt tops I need to quilt so this will be a good time to practice drawing out some motifs.

Hope your summer has started off well!  Back soon – hopefully with a project of some sort to share!

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Weekend Fun

How was the weekend??  Mine included almost zero time in the sewing room.  But that is fine – it was a really nice weekend filled with little projects and lots of family time.  We were fortunate to have unseasonably cool weather over the weekend.  As I get older (which in and of itself is a mystery) I have become much less tolerant of the heat.  Anyway, it is going to be up into the low 90’s this week so we chose to spend the weekend outside.

I hung two baskets of flowers (which I purchased – rather than plant myself) in the trees along our front lawn.  They look really pretty and appreciate being in a mostly shaded spot.

As long as I can remember to water them, we will be in good shape!

Our property includes a portion of a large (6 acre) pond.  Technically it is called Pine Lake but it feels more like a pond to me.  😉 Ray and I had coffee out there early Saturday morning and he did a little fishing.  There are a lot of bass in the pond though he tossed them back this time.  It is so peaceful up there in the mornings and we forget to go and use that space.

olive

Now that finals are done and summer is here, Julia spent a lot of time training and working with Olive.  She discovered that walking Olive in the evenings is a frustrating experience because Olive is really ornery.  She does much better in the mornings.  These photos from Friday night are so funny. Olive wasn’t having any of it.

olive

She is a really sweet animal though.  Her personality is just precious.

We were up at my mom and dad’s on Sunday morning and I brought home plants.  They have a gorgeous yard and it is like shopping at a nursery.  There are always starts of something or other and my father digs them up for me to plant.  I came home with Bells of Ireland and a large succulent of some sort.  Julia came home with small succulents to pot for her room.

house

Our lower patio project is really coming along.  The contractor and his team were here all last week working.  It is a big project and will be another couple of weeks before it is done.

shop

In need of more shelf space for my shop downstairs, I gave a desk to a friend which freed up some room.  Then I tore apart the room and rearranged things and added a long shelf.  I will show you a picture when I get it put back together. My husband was really helpful with this and gave up several hours to work on it with me.  It is going to be more spacious and perfect timing since I have quite a bit of fabric arriving this week.

Hannah

Finally, I want to share this picture of my sweet grand baby.  She spent the morning “gardening” with her mama and found a strawberry.  She couldn’t believe her good fortune!!  Julia and I are taking off for Vermont at the end of the month and we are giddy at the prospect.

This week I have lots to do!  All fat quarter bundles were on sale over the weekend so I have orders to pack and ship today.  I have a set of Chemex and French Press cozies in process and want to get those finished up and listed in the shop. I am meeting with a rep for Free Spirit on Tuesday afternoon.  I have been debating adding a new manufacturer to my list of accounts and Free Spirit would be great as it would enable me to carry some Tula Pink, Anna Maria Horner and Denyse Schmidt (to name only a few).  Also I have a twin size quilt from our guild’s Community Service group to bind as well as my Twisted quilt to layer and baste.  What are your plans?  Monday is a great day to set a plan for the week. Hope you had a great weekend and this is even a better week than the last.

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Planning the Week

Happy Monday everyone!  I hope the weekend treated you well.  Last week my husband and I had our 20th wedding anniversary.  It was a crazy day which culminated in a meal of scrambled eggs for dinner.  Not really the best way to honor twenty years of marriage! But we did get to celebrate a few days late.  We took the weekend off and went to our little house in Downieville together.

Hiking along the river in Downieville.

We had a great time on our ‘twenty-moon’ and hated to see the weekend end. Saturday was gorgeous outside, maybe 75 degrees or so?  We hiked along the river and enjoyed some gorgeous scenery.

 

DownievilleWe really love our little bungalow up on the river.  Each time we are there I we wonder why we don’t get up there more frequently but you know how that goes.  So many things competing for our weekend time!  As we drove home Sunday afternoon, Ray was saying he needed to hop on the mower and get the hillside and yard mowed.  This is a weekly chore during the spring and early summer which takes quite a chunk of time (he mows about two acres.). But surprise!  Our youngest son (who came to hang out with Julia while we were gone) had mowed for him.  An anniversary gift of the best kind and a very thoughtful gesture.

fabric shop

These shelves are packed!

This is the main project I am working on this week! My shelves are completely full (with the exception of the one in the top, left corner. I have two orders of fabric delivering this week, one from Windham Fabric and the other from Andover.  (I am so excited!!) Anyway, there is no room for more.

This is the space opposite the fabric shelves.  I need to clean it out and get the desk out of the room.  (It is a beast – solid oak which makes it huge and quite heavy). I don’t use it other than to stack junk on.  So, the junk is going, the desk is being listed on Craigslist and I am putting shelving on this wall.  I have the shelving so that part will be easy.  But getting rid of all of this might take a little time!  I am excited to have the area available though.  Decluttering the space is actually very motivating and I should be able to get most of this done today.  I am not exactly sure how we will get the desk out of there though.  It really is monstrous.  I think Ray will have to take it apart to move it. (I am lucky to have him!)

Scrap Pack of Art Gallery Fabrics

As I clean up the shop, I am putting together some scrap packs.  Here is one filled with eight ounces of Art Gallery pieces, some of which are designed by Sharon Holland, Pat Bravo and Maureen Cracknell.  There is only one of them but if it appeals to you, hop over to the shop!

Julia and olive

Olive loves her belly rubs!

Here is a picture of Julia and Olive.  This piglet loves a good belly rub.  She is so sweet-natured which becomes apparent when she sees Julia.  She flips to her back and waits for the petting.   She has a little smile on her face when they are together.  Julia is actually a bit concerned because she doesn’t want Olive to flip to her back for a scratch when Julia is competing with her in the ring for showmanship!  Clearly it may take a bit of training and practice to keep Olive up and moving when she is supposed to be.

Finally, on Wednesday this week I will be sharing the April Blogger Bundle.  It was curated by Cheryl Brickey of Meadow Mist Designs.  Don’t miss it, this is a lovely collection! See you Wednesday.

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit

It is the first of the month and my sister Tina was the first person to start the texting this morning. I don’t remember when we started, but it was years and years ago.  As kids, on the first of the month, “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit” had to be the first words each of us uttered in order to have good luck all month long. It was a disappointment to forget and then hear a sister utter the words.  I would think, dang it – it is the first of the month.  We are not a superstitious bunch but we did this regularly.  Now that we are grown and living far from each other, it has become tradition to text it first thing in the morning.  I love family traditions.  This morning I looked up the whole “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit” superstition and while I didn’t find a solid explanation, I did learn it dates back as far as a 1909 edition of the quarterly scholarly journal Notes and Queries and was also mentioned in A Dictionary of English Folklore.  Next I found an article on NPR stating Franklin Delano Roosevelt not only carried a rabbit’s foot for good luck but also uttered “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit” on the first of the month.  So, my family is in good company.  Do any of you keep this tradition at your house?  Or, did you when you were growing up?

We are home from our Vermont trip. It was such a wonderful week.  We enjoyed nice weather and did a few days of exploring in both Vermont and Montreal. It turns out my grand daughter is the cutest little girl.  Truly, the cutest.  I am sorry to disappoint you if you thought it was your grand child that was the cutest because, nope, mine is.  Haha.

Napping with Grammy

I loved spending time with her and could easily pack my bags and move to Vermont tomorrow. Problem is my daughter in law is doing her residency as a radiologist there and who knows where she will land once she is done.  They hope to stay in Vermont but one never knows what the situation will be when she is ready to apply for positions.  For the time being we will have to keep flying out there to have our Grammy and Grandpa time.

All washed and crinkled!

Before we left, I made a doll quilt to bring to my grand baby.  I was still in doll quilt mode from the Spread the Love event in February. This time I thought I would do something with lots of color. It is an around the world type of block that I made with two inch squares (which finished at 1.5 inches.) I love the colorful look of it and I can imagine playing with her, asking her to show Grammy a blue square or a pink square, etc.  Sort of an I-Spy color game.

The backing is a cute unicorn print whose history is unknown to me.  I kind of think I got it in a box of one yard cuts I bought on sale at Craftsy a while back. The binding is a polka dot from my stash and the batting was scraps stitched together – a quilt made completely from stash and scraps!  Win for me.  🙂

Open the gift? Why? Much more fun to climb on it.

The bigger win was watching her open it up.  She is hardly old enough to understand opening a gift and preferred sitting on the package instead.

Once we got the paper off, she immediately went into her peek-a-boo mode.

We also brought a baby doll to get her started on the inevitable collection of a billion dolls that most little girls acquire. The doll came with a tiny bottle and she clearly knew what to do with it. (I know! She is brilliant.)

A little for you and some for me?

Yes, it was an awesome week.  We are going on vacation with the family in July so that took the sting out of leaving.  I am happy to know I will get to see her in a few months. But now I am back home and it was unseasonably warm last week which means the weeds are fierce.  I am off to pull enough weeds to earn me some time at the sewing machine this afternoon.  I know March is over but I haven’t quite finished my green RSC18 projects.  I need to catch up!!   So, rabbit, rabbit, rabbit to all of you. I hope April brings you spring time, green leaves, much joy, and as much time at your sewing machine as possible.

Linking up all over the place.  Check out the tab at the top of the page, Link Ups.

Weekend Recap

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you may have seen the pictures I posted over the weekend.  Julia and I took a road trip and visited Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo.  This college is a favorite in our family – I graduated (class of ’82) and two of my sons plus one daughter-in-law also graduated from there.  Julia is planning to apply there next fall.  We thought it would be fun to do the college tours and see the campus as it has been several years since we have been there.  Plus she was pretty young when we last visited and I thought she needed to see it with a more mature viewpoint.

It was a beautiful day of tours and walking… oh, so much walking.  Julia is deciding between Biology or Animal Science as her major.  It is so hard to know what you want to do at this age but Cal Poly is a university that requires the applicants to declare their major right away.

She was thrilled to be able to visit the Swine Unit.  The manager of that unit, a senior at the university, was incredibly friendly and let Julia hang out for quite a while. It was helpful to find out Julia can volunteer at the animal units even if she chooses Biology over Animal Science as a major. Either way, she can work with the animals..

It was a quick trip but well worth the drive (which is a bit of a pain because we live 350 miles from campus).

When I got home I had a package waiting for me!   A couple of weeks ago I entered a giveaway on Instagram.  Kim over at Leland Ave Studios was celebrating the launch of her 52 Week Creativity Project where she will be posting discussions with various artists each week in 2018.  I read the first one which was really good.  I am looking forward to this series.

Kim generously gave a fat eighth bundle of Alison Glass’ new line, Diving Board- to me! What a treat.

Oh my gosh!  I was so tickled to win this bundle.  The colors fall in line with the shades of blue, pink, greens, yellows and oranges that Alison often uses.  This is nice because her older lines work so well with the newer pieces.  Oh the colors are gorgeous !!

This bundle is a big one at 24 pieces.  I will surely let it sit for a while – until I think of the perfect use for it. I have several projects on-going at the moment so I am in no hurry to start another one.  Thank you Kim for this gorgeous addition to my stash.

Linking to Molli Sparkles Sunday Stash link up. I haven’t written a Stash post in such a long time. Receiving this bundle was such a fun surprise! Now I am going to go pack orders. The shop was busy over the weekend and I need to get caught up,

Handmade Christmas Gifts

Now that Christmas is done and gifts have been given and received, I thought I would share what I made with you. Usually I try to find a fun project to make and give during the Christmas season.  In recent years I have made purses, zip pouches, table runners and hot pads. This year I decided to make an apron for my Vermont daughter-in-law.  Also, I made hot pads for my California son and his girlfriend as well as my Toronto son and his wife.  These projects were quick and satisfying.

For the apron, I upcycled a duvet cover that I had bought a while back. I was thrilled to find this cover in a tan and cream stripe.  The neutral colors and the feel of the fabric assured me I would easily find many uses for the fabric.  I had a vintage pattern from 1975 that I have been holding on to, thinking it would make a really cute apron.

Originally the pattern was designed for a wrap around dress and let me just say, I would have totally loved wearing this dress at age 15 (not that I was necessarily 15 in 1975… oh wait, I was.)  Anyway, I had a really similar dress that I made out of a green striped seersucker fabric.  I was so cool.

Ok, back to the apron.  I had seen these Japanese work aprons and really liked them – this pattern is a bit of a compromise between a standard apron and the Japanese wrap style. This one is more fitted with darts in the bodice.

It wraps around the back with the tie coming through an opening left in the side seam.

I finished the interior seams by folding the raw edges in and top stitching them for a clean look.  This fabric would likely fray in the wash so this will prevent any issues.

I even remembered to put a little label on the inside.

Overall, this was a fun project and hopefully my daughter-in-law will get lots of use out of it.  She is a great cook so I suspect she will use it.

On to the hot pads!  I wanted to make something with the Maker Maker fabric I have in the shop.  I cannot even express how much I love this fabric!!  I made Chemex Cozies out of the Grid fabric and the gray and black Lines fabric.  They were far and above, my top sellers for the Christmas shopping season.Anyway, I thought I would make some hot pads using the Grid fabric and the cats.  The linen has such a nice texture and weight, making it perfect for kitchen accessories.  These finished at at eight inches square and are filled with two layers of Insul Bright, making them nice and thick.

The next gift I want to share was not made in the sewing room!  My husband decided he wanted to make a gift for each of the kids. The boys and their spouses received gorgeous rolling pins made with pieces of walnut and oak that he laminated together.  He turned them on his lathe to make a one piece rolling pin.  I just love them!  The kids were taken with the wonderful finish and really appreciated the work that went into these.

Each piece is different from the next with the stripes and color variations making them unique.

Since Julia isn’t really in need of a rolling pin just yet, he made her a piggy bank.  She had such a great time with Daisy and Ella last year, he thought this would be a fun way to remember that summer.

This was a challenging project but it turned out so cute!I love the shape of this little pig’s body and her curly tail.  It was so much fun to watch Ray making these projects during the months before the holidays.  I love having a few handmade gifts under the tree.  I also made some placemats for my parents but didn’t think to take pictures.  I will take some the next time I am up at their house so I can share them.  Were you able to make any of your holiday gifts this year?  If so, share in the comments.  I would love to hear about them!

Linking to my favorite parties, including Finished or Not Friday hosted by Busy Hands Quilts.  Check the Link Up tab at the top of the page for more info!  Have a great weekend all.  🙂

Heartwarming Holiday Project

Ok – this post has nothing to do with quilting or sewing and everything to do with service to one’s community, helping those who need it, and bragging about one of my kids. Sorry, I can’t help it – but I am so dang proud of her so I decided to write about this. Plus, it may inspire another family to do a similar project once they see how easy this came together.

Our family has always felt the importance of volunteer work. My parents instilled it in me and my sisters from a long ways back. I have tried to instill it into my children as they grew up. Because of this, Julia is already an active volunteer in our community. She has been helping at the local food ministry since she was about five years old. For the past four years she has volunteered at the thrift store benefiting the animal shelter off and on as her school schedule allows.

Julia and I were recently talking about other ways she could actively volunteer in the community. She wanted a project that was ‘all hers’. She wanted to think of it, organize it and carry it out on her own. After some discussion, she decided to hold a Toiletries Drive for the shelter. To do this she first got permission from her principal to hold the event at school. Then she approached the shelter and asked for a ‘wish list’ of what they needed in this regard. They were thrilled to give her a list of items such as toothpaste, tooth brushes, hand sanitizer, antibiotic creams, antacids, deodorant, lip balm, band aids, and many other items along these lines.

 

Julia’s next step was to create a little brochure which she posted at school and gave to the principal and school secretary. They both posted it on various avenues of communication with the students and parents. I posted her project on my personal Facebook account so my local friends and neighbors would know what she was trying to do. Oh. My. Gosh. The response to Julia’s project was just awesome.

 

 

 

She specifically suggested people donate all of those free little shampoos and lotions that one collects from hotel visits which often seem to linger on in the bathroom cabinet. She also proposed cash donations and promised to use them wisely to purchase what was needed. People from everywhere donated. Kids, moms and teachers at her school brought items in. Neighbors, friends and family members donated money. She ended up with bags and bags of items plus $245 in cash donations.

Yesterday she and I went to the local dollar store. She carefully counted and selected items from the list. It took quite a while to fill the cart but she heaped it with all sorts of supplies.

Calculating what she had spent, keeping notes on how many of each item she had selected, and figuring out what the tax would be was quite the process. She wanted to spend all of the money but not exceed the $245.00. She did great and has about $10 left over which we will take to the dollar store once more to buy a few more things. We didn’t dare go get more items on that trip. It took the cashier forever to ring up more than 200 items as I boxed them up and Julia tracked the costs. The other customers in line were so patient and kind. They could see she was doing a project and if they asked, she would explain it. One older gentleman chuckled and said ‘oh phew, I thought that was all for you.’ It was so nice to see everyone being supportive and sort of cheering her on rather than grumbling about having to wait behind her for a bit.

This picture makes me smile – she has a receipt that is about three feet long!

In addition to collecting from friends and kids at school, Julia also asked two of our family dentists for donations. One dentist donated a carton of toothpaste tubes and the other dentist gave her a box of toothbrushes. This is one generous community we live in!

There is so much value in a project like this! For one, she learned to define the steps needed to get this going. She approached adults – at school, at the homeless shelter and the local dentists – on her own – to ask for permission and support of her project. She lugged supplies home, posted signs at school, promoted the project on her social media account and will finish up by bringing the donations to the shelter next week. She also plans to write thank you notes for many of the donations. If I think about how projects are done in the professional realm, many of these steps are the same. I feel like this was a hugely valuable experience for Julia.

This is such a cute shot so I am including it, even though it is a bit blurry.

Honestly, it wasn’t all that difficult. I would strongly recommend something like this if your family is looking for a way to give back to the community. If your kiddos are younger, you might want to be more hands-on and supportive. As a teenager, Julia required only a little coaching here and there but truly she did 90% of the work herself.

 

I am really proud of this girl and she is (rightfully) proud of herself. She likes the fact that she started this, kept to a timeline that she developed, and was very successful. If you have any questions about implementing a project like this, feel free to ask. These are the times when parenting is so gratifying; when we see one of our kids giving time and energy in a selfless manner.

And now just a quick Thanksgiving recap:  We had a great holiday!  Very quiet with only three of us celebrating together but so much fun.  I also held my first big sale in the shop.  Orders kept me busy and I truly appreciate each of the orders I received, some from blog friends and others from new customers – thank you so much for supporting my business!