Category Archives: Family

Big Decisions!

It is that time of year. College acceptances and declinations are being emailed out to all sorts of college seniors. Julia and her friends have been texting like mad, announcing what universities they did or didn’t get into. It is a very competitive process these days. I remember back in the day; you know, when I was walking five miles to school (up-hill) each way in the snow, it wasn’t such a huge deal to apply for college. I went to our local community college for two years and when I finished up the general education classes, I chose a four year university and picked a major. My main decision point was, in all honesty, where was my boyfriend going to attend? Sounds terrible, but it’s the truth. I also remember that in 1980 when I started college, the tuition fee each quarter was $69 ($207/year). I applied and just assumed I would get in. It wasn’t thought to be a big deal. I took the SAT’s but didn’t do anything amazing with those. My grades were reasonable but certainly not more than a 3.4 (or so?) GPA.

Oh how things have changed! The tuition at my alma mater is now up to approximately $3,200 per quarter ($9,600/year). Last year of the 55,000 applicants about 16,000 were accepted. There were 10,000 applicants with GPA’s of 4.0 or more who were turned down. The competition is fierce. College juniors and seniors take the SAT and ACT tests multiple times and when they aren’t satisfied with their scores, they work with SAT prep tutors. GPA’s of 4.0 and higher are prevalent and these kids are fighting for their spot.

Julia was fortunate in that she applied to four universities and was accepted at each one. We have done tours, walked campuses and, of course, talked and talked and talked. Julia had several decision points when choosing where to go but the most important was….. the swine unit! Once we got to this one, I knew her decision was made!


My daughter in her happy place.

The swine unit at this particular university is gigantic. There are approximately ten litters born each month. We saw the nursery area and drooled over these tiny piglets.

Look at them, one on top of the other! So funny.

We had toured the swine unit at other universities last year and while they were nice, they just didn’t compare.

Tell me the pig on the right isn’t smiling!

We went home from this particular tour and my daughter thought and thought about her choices. We called and cancelled our flights and the campus tours which were scheduled for next weekend.

Last Saturday she committed and is officially going off to college in September! This is such a milestone in her life. (Mine too! She is the last kiddo at home – the chicks will have all flown the coop!!) Here she is accepting the offer and of course, you know what the next step was. “Mom, what credit card should I use for the deposit?” Here we go!

I thought I would make a little something to surprise her – to celebrate this important decision. Looking through my stash, I remembered a piece of fabric Julia picked up last fall during a trip to Ben Franklin. It was a Riley Blake piece with piggies wallowing in mud and it made her smile.

Aren’t they cute? Snorkels and beach balls. Hahaha.

Pigs truly have a love of mud. Julia usually keeps a nice sized mud puddle in the pen for her piggies to play in and cool off with.

Anyway, my thought was to make a couple of pillow cases. They are simple and so fun to make. It had been a while since I had made these so I looked at the tutorial at the Seasoned Homemaker to refresh my memory. These are super easy to make and look so nice when complete. Using French seams creates a lovely finish on the inside.

These took very little time to whip up. I used a white on white fabric called Fool’s Gold from my shop. It is by Libs Elliot and the white is absolutely crisp. I think it dresses up the look just a bit (if that can happen with pigs playing in mud?!?) The soft pink trim was a scrap I had (always nice to use those up!)

I know the match isn’t perfect for the quilt she has on her bed but they are cute nonetheless. Julia is excited these days because there is so much going on with the last semester of high school! Next weekend she will select her piglet for this year. Photos to come!

If you haven’t tried making these ‘burrito style pillowcases’, I encourage you to give it a try. They look so pretty and are not at all difficult. Is it time to personalize your bed with some nice new pillowcases?

Loving These Handmade Gifts

My grand daughter turned two years old last week. Her parents and I wondered how this could be?? Those two years have buzzed by and here she is, a toddler who talks a blue streak, is starting to be potty trained, and has perfected the all-important sentence “I can do it myself”.

Oak and walnut step stool created by Grandpa.

My husband and I wanted to make her a gift from each of us. As one would expect, his was made of wood and mine of fabric. Ray made her a pretty step stool. My DIL actually asked him to make this. Recently they converted her crib to a toddler bed and it is a tiny bit tall for her still.

He laminated strips of oak and walnut together to make the top. Then he framed it with walnut. Always one to think of safety, he angled the legs on the bottom so it wouldn’t tip as she stepped on and off of it. He also put little grips on the bottom of each leg making it hug the floor for safety as well as avoiding any scratches on their hardwood flooring.

She loves her little seat. Such a sweet girl.

Gram-gram chose to make a little bassinet for her dollies and stuffed animals. H is at that age where she loves to put things and people to bed. Sometimes a doll or stuffed animal, sometimes her Gram-gram or her daddy – she loves to cover you up with a little blanket and say pat-pat when she tucks you in. Oh my heart.

I used a tutorial on Sew Mama Sew for this project. It was very fun to make. Nothing too unusual in the process at all, just boxed in corners, a lining of a stiff, fusible batting and a ruffle to decorate the outside. I used a home dec fabric from Jo-Ann’s for the outside. I love the whimsical birds. The lining, ruffle and pillow are made with a purple Kona cotton.

The bed was a little bit ‘floppy’ so before adding the band above the ruffle, I lined it with a stiff, fusible interfacing. That seemed to give it more structure.

A soft little dolly quilt too!

Of course a doll bed needs a little quilt! I used this little floral and just quilted a few lines across it each way. It is just the right size to tuck in a dolly or stuffed animal.

She loved it!

My grand daughter was all smiles when I gave it to her. She immediately loaded it up with a little doll and her stuffed elephant. (I blocked out the name on her hat, that is why it looks a little strange!)

How many animals can sleep in one little bed?

I really loved making this for her and hope she will play with it for a long time to come.

Using the little cushion as her own pillow. Testing out the softness for her baby dolls?

Of course she felt the need to do a little bit of quality control and lay on the cushion from the bed. Any good mommy has to make sure her dollies will be cozy, right?

Happy birthday to this two year old. Such a fun time for her as well as Gram-gram and Grandpa. Linking up with my usuals plus two new (for me) Linkys – one is called Show Off Saturday and the other is at The Crafty Quilter. Check the others out at the top of the page, under link ups!!

Remember that this Saturday, March 16th is National Quilting Day. Check your email first thing Saturday morning for a newsletter announcing some fun deals for just that day only! If you don’t subscribe to the Needle and Foot newsletter, this might be a good time to sign up!! Click here to subscribe – and remember, I won’t use your email address for anything else, nor will I share it.

PS – If you would like to see more of my husband’s woodworking, follow him on Instagram! He is @kringelwoods and is a talented kind of guy. (I may be a bit biased, but still….)

Vermont Sewing Continues

Time has flown by and I will be heading home on Wednesday. When I was getting ready to come out here I thought three weeks sounded like such a long time but yikes, it has gone by quickly!! We quickly settled into a rhythm and it has been wonderful

H and I have spent a lot of time in the kitchen. She has a new stool to stand on so she can ‘help’ cook and she just loves it. She crawls in and out constantly and has learned to drag it from counter to counter to the sink and back. Washing dishes, stirring and mixing, so many projects. Luckily she and I enjoy baking and we have made SOOO many things. Cookies, focaccia bread, muffins – I have probably put on a couple of pounds during this trip.

Maple Pecan Scones

Yesterday we made these Maple Pecan Scones. She had so much fun and was covered in flour by the end of this round of baking. They are delicious and if you want to try them, here is a link to the recipe on the King Arthur Flour website. I cut them fairly small so she wouldn’t have a huge serving. Actually I put half of them in the freezer so they can have them again after I leave.

As for sewing, I have done quite a bit! I made a table runner for my daughter in law. When I was at Jo-Ann’s, they had the Home Decor fabrics on sale and I picked up this floral print. It is a nice weight and has a linen like texture.

I also grabbed a celery green Kona solid (I don’t know what the real name is – I didn’t check the bolt.) This project took no time at all to make. I cut a rectangle (I think it was 14″ x 50″) and stitched the front and back, right sides together. Once I turned it right side out, I ran two lines of topstitching around the perimeter and called it good. It looks great on their dining room table. However, I removed it after taking the photo so we wouldn’t spill on it before my DIL even gets home!

Another project was to make a super hero cape for my grand daughter. Again, this was a very simple project. I bought a 1/2 yard of red satin fabric at Jo-Ann’s and folded it in 1/2, right sides together. I stitched around two sides and turned it right side out. With the folded side and the two stitched sides, it was finished on three sides of the square. After pressing it (on super low heat) I folded the raw edges to the inside and stitched two seams, one at the top edge and one about 2 inches lower. This left an opening at each side to thread the cord through.

My grand daughter wasn’t thrilled with this. She doesn’t seem to care one way or another about it. However, I suspect she will enjoy it at some point. It is silky and shiny and will catch her eye when she is in the mood for playing dress up.

I have just a few more days with her so I am keeping her home from day care this week. She can go at the end of the week after I leave. Not sure what we will do with our last couple of days but I know it will be fun.

Linking up with the usual parties. Check them out at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

First Project Done

The first week in Vermont has gone well.  My grand daughter changed quite a bit since I was out here over the holidays.  She is such a happy girl.  Her vocabulary has increased and now she can tell me all sorts of things.  Her favorite line is ‘My do it myself’.  Can you tell she is nearly two years old?  As long as she is given a chance to do whatever it is herself, she is satisfied and if she can’t complete the task, she is ok with being helped.  I am thoroughly enjoying her.  However, it is surprising how she can tire me out.  I relish her two or three hour nap each afternoon.

As planned, I have been doing a bit of sewing during nap time.  (also prepping dinner, making cookies, doing a little laundry  – remember how much was accomplished during those wonderful nap times?) So far, I have been making four patch blocks for the memory quilt I am making for my friend Susie.  Stitching those only holds my attention for so long.  To keep things interesting, I switched back and forth between that  project and making a little purse for H.

I used a free pattern designed by Pat Bravo called Saddle Bag.  It is a small purse which meant I didn’t have to cut it down. The strap was too long so it was shortened quite a bit. Overall, this is a very simple bag to make.

Bright lining peeks out from inside as well as a tiny pocket for treasures.

An interior pocket was not included in the pattern but I thought it would be a fun addition to the little purse. Who knows what treasures will be stored in this pocket!

The only complaint I have about this pattern is the directions for the shoulder strap. I have made many bags, probably a dozen or more, and they were quite a bit more complex than this little one. But the way the instructions explained attaching the strap was just strange. I couldn’t make it work. Finally after fussing around, I remembered this is for a two year old. She absolutely does not care about the way the shoulder straps are attached. Actually I could have used two huge safety pins and all would have been fine! I decided to just stuff them in on each side and top stitch them down. Works fine!

Owning up to my mistake.

There is a mistake though and I may as well point it out! The velcro closure I added is way (as in WAY) off center! I saw this and remembered, yet again, it’s for a two year old and it is a toy. She doesn’t care about this sort of thing. So, even though I had a seam ripper sitting right there, I just left it be. I sewed a button on for a little decoration and there you have it! A lovely purse sporting all sorts of frogs and butterflies!

Off to the grocery store with dad and a brand new purse!

Isn’t she adorable? Actually, they both are. She loves her purse but she usually calls it her diaper bag. I wondered aloud why she said diaper bag instead of purse and my son explained that his wife hasn’t really been carrying a purse. She tends to throw her wallet into the diaper bag so she has just one bag to carry. This makes perfect sense. It is a diaper bag now!

I feel so lucky to have this long stretch of time in Vermont. When I was packing for the trip I was a bit concerned about the cold weather. Fortunately my son and DIL have tons of cold weather gear. It has been a surprise how much the right difference wearing the right gear makes. Today we took two walks. H really loves to be outside so I try to make it a point to be sure she gets to play outside every day. Today it was 16 degrees out and not a problem. She looks adorable with her snow suit on and her rosy cheeks. Of course I really miss Ray and Julia but this is a very special time for H and me. I feel like I am really getting to know her which is just a delight.

Linking up to my favorite places. Check them out at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

VIntage Panel Finish

Happy Friday everyone!  It has been really busy here between the shop, the usual migraine nonsense and… wait for it…. getting ready to leave for Vermont!  I am going to be watching my grand daughter for three weeks.  Her mama has to go to Washington DC for a month long training session and asked if I would come and help out while my son is with H.  He commutes a fair bit to work and back which makes H’s daycare time much longer if he is on his own with her.  Between that and snow days and the usual illnesses she is always coming down with, it will be good to have another person there.  I am looking forward to it as much as my DIL is NOT looking forward to it.  You know?  I feel terrible for her to have to leave for so long.  She is a medical resident in Radiology at the University of Burlington and has known this was coming for the last several years but now that it is actually time to go, ugh! She is such a trooper and is trying to make the best of a lousy situation.

I have been cooking meals and freezing them so Ray and Julia don’t have to cook quite as much while I am gone.  They both have long days and it will be nice to have a few things they can just pull out of the freezer and heat up. Also, my friend Sophia has been coming over and learning to run my shop for me.  She is such a good friend and I am incredibly grateful she is able to do this for me.  She will cut orders and ship them for the next few weeks.  I have known her for a long while and we are both into quilting and sewing.  She will have everything under control while I am away!

I did play a bit in the sewing room this week, though not as much as I would have liked (is there ever enough hours in the day?). I had four custom orders, two are finished and the other two are prepped to be completed today.

Inspired by watching Marie Kondo on Netflix the other day, I thought I would clear out some old fabric that just wasn’t ‘sparking joy’ for me any longer and give it away.  But as soon as I sat down and started going through things, I found this panel I had picked up at a garage sale last fall.  That was the end of the Konmari cleaning effort!

I just love this panel.  I did several reverse image searches to try and find it on-line and see what line it was from.  One person on Facebook or Instagram (?) commented that she made pillow cases with it in the 1980’s for her children.  So it is an older fabric.  I wasn’t sure what to do with it but finally decided to make a doll quilt with it for A Doll Like Me.  It is so pretty and, at 22″ x 26″, just the right size for this.

 

I found a batting scrap and some backing fabric and quickly put it all together.

I love the pig and unicorn both!

The quilting is basic since it really doesn’t show up and the animals are the star of the show here.

Lions, tigers and bears, oh my!

I free motioned around most of the animals and some of the vines to hold everything together. Around the outer border I FMQ’d flowers.  That was good practice as I am really rusty these days.

The backing and binding were also a thrift store find – I believe it was an older RJR print.  Great colors thought, right??

Don’t you love making something start to finish with bits of fabric you already have. The stack of fabric in my closet holds so much potential. I will keep this little quilt and mail it to Amy when I have a few more things to add to it.

Time to go finish up those two orders.  Also need to make meatballs for the freezer. Yesterday I had a roast in the crockpot for shredded BBQ Beef sandwiches.  I am filling our freezer!!

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.  Ours will be gray and rainy out, as it has been all week.  The wet weather inspired me to cut a few gray and white fat quarter bundles for the shop.  Aren’t these pieces wonderful?  Included are flowers, stripes and text prints by Carrie Bloomston, Alison Glass and Sarah Fielke!  Click the link if you want to add them to your stash.  🙂

Linking to my usual sites.  Check them out at the top of the page under link ups!

Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Kringel Style

Remember the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles?  Starring John Candy and Steve Martin, it was a comedy about their trials and tribulations during a trip home for the Thanksgiving Holidays.  It was quite popular in the mid-1980’s.  It turns out Julia and I had the opportunity to re-enact the movie on our last trip home from Vermont. Well, that might be an exaggeration but our day of travel certainly reminded me of the movie.

The day before we were scheduled to fly home, I was checking in for our flights from Vermont to California.  A screen popped up explaining the flight was over-booked (a very common occurrence with many airlines) and asking whether we would like to volunteer to be bumped.  United Airlines asked how much money we would bid to accept in return for taking a later flight.  The choices were $800, $1,000, or $1,200.  Hmmm…..  the bargain hunter in me thought – this could mean an ‘almost’ free trip back to Vermont to see my adorable grand daughter.  We were supposed to leave on a Friday – would it really make any difference to us if we left on Saturday???

I talked to Julia, my son and my daughter-in-law and we all decided it would be good to volunteer. The pop-up screen explained that the lowest bids would be accepted first.  Not taking any chances, I selected the $800 bid.  Thinking this would be split between Julia and me, that would basically cover another flight out to the East coast.  Rules were, we still had to show up at the airport and check in for our flight.  They would then determine whether the flight was indeed overbooked (in case people with tickets for the flight failed to show up). If it was indeed overbooked, they would start calling from the list of people who had volunteered to be bumped.  Well we had quite the early flight scheduled but my wonderful son had us to the airport by 5:30 am.

OK, The airport has grown a bit since this vintage postcard was made

We had to check our bags – they were too big to be considered carry-ons.  We got to the United area and we were shocked to see the line.  Have you ever flown out of the airport in Burlington, Vermont? It is so tiny.  Normally there are one or two people in front of us.   When we got there early that morning there were people everywhere.  Lots of skis and snowboards being checked in at United.  Vermont has excellent skiing and clearly vacations were ending and travelers were returning home.  We waited in line and checked our bags.  The security area in this airport is very small with one line walking through a small room. After going through security we checked with the attendant at the gate and asked if we would be bumped.  She said it was too early to tell.  We were asked to wait until the plane had completely boarded so she could figure it out.

All the while, my patient son waited in the hallway outside the gate.  In this airport that means he was on the other side of a window watching us.  He and Julia played ‘rock, paper, scissors’ and we all texted back and forth as we waited. Finally there were about one or two people left in line to board.  The gate attendant told us ‘it looks like you are flying out this morning’.  So we waved to Andrew, he walked off and we waited to board.  Seriously, within two minutes, she looks up with a little panic and says, ‘we are over by two.’  (Why she didn’t know that two minutes earlier, I have no idea.). I texted Andrew and said “waitttttt!!!!!”  He came right back and was laughing – we were all laughing at this point.  It was early, we hadn’t had coffee yet and this was a long process!

They try to retrieve our bags but the plane takes off with Julia’s bag and mine is waiting somewhere in an office. The gate attendants were so nice and thanked us for volunteering.  I told her it was worth it for $800.  She looks up and tells me, well I have been approved to give you $1,000′.  I was surprised and said, ‘yikes, $500 each?  That’s great.’  She looks sort of perplexed and said, ‘no, $1,000 for each of you.’  Julia and I look at each other with a big smile.

The attendant starts looking for a flight to book us on. She seems to be having trouble and keeps muttering under her breath.  It appeared that there wasn’t a route available for both of us to fly home together. She could find a single seat here or there but not two seats.  Remember now, this is a very small airport and doesn’t have a lot of traffic in and out. She looks for about 40 minutes – trying all combinations of Delta, United and American but doesn’t find anything.  By now Andrew and I are desperate for coffee and Julia is practically falling asleep in a chair.  The attendant, clearly frustrated and not knowing what to do with these two people who need to get to California, calls her supervisor for help.  The supervisor comes up and starts looking.  She is rather incredulous as she realizes there really isn’t anything for the next two days.  Julia was supposed to go back to school that Monday so we weren’t willing to stay longer than a day or so.  Finally, after about an hour of this, I asked if it made sense to get us to another airport to leave from.  I asked if there wasn’t some bus or train we could take? The women both looked up in total disbelief and said, ‘you would do that’?? Well, if it means we can go home, yes – of course we would.  The supervisor looks at me and says ‘we will bump you up to $1,500 each if you will do this’.  I looked and Julia and we just grinned.

Two Happy Travelers

They decide to send us home out of the Logan airport in Boston.  It is a three hour drive to Boston and they book a taxi.  I thought this was nuts as the cost was $500 dollars for the round trip to take us out there.  The United attendants felt awful for this hassle.  She kept offering things to us. ‘Here is a voucher for breakfast while you wait for the cab.’  Then, ‘let me refund your bag check fees’.  It was crazy.

An hour later we were off to Boston in a taxi.  By this time, we were so tired both of us slept and the ride passed quickly.  From Boston, we flew to Chicago.  Had a bit of a wait there and finally, late that afternoon, we took off for California.  The flights were great and all was relatively smooth but it was a long, 22 hour, day.  We arrived in California at 11pm which of course felt like 2 am.  We still had to go get the car and drive home which is just over an hour away.

Hmmm…. where should we go next??

What a long day but really, it was worth it. For one thing, neither Julia nor I are what would be described as spontaneous.  We tend to follow schedules and get rattled at times if there is a lot of change.  But we had a really fun day together.  We spent our layovers looking on line (thank goodness for wifi everywhere we went) at places we might travel with our $3,000 jackpot. We took naps on the flight and listened to music.  All in all, not a terrible experience. (This is saying a lot from someone who truly dislikes flying.)

After some family discussion, we bought three flights to Maui in July.  What a fun way to celebrate Julia’s high school graduation and have a great vacation before she leaves for college! Even with this trip, there is still about $900 on these vouchers left to spend. Well worth a 22 hour travel day home. Hmmm….  I wonder if we can get bumped from our flight home from Hawaii??

Have a great day.  I did manage to get some sewing done over the weekend.  I will get my thoughts organized and post an update this week!  Have a wonderful Monday everyone.

Just want to let you know of a sale over in the shop this week!  All Michael Miller fabrics are 25% off through Saturday, January 19th!!  Lots of gorgeous pieces to choose from – florals, feathers, stripes and bikes!! Also, there are some cozy flannels on sale too.  Come take a look!!

Happy New Year!

I saw a funny graphic on Facebook the other day.  It isn’t something I made up and I don’t know to whom I would credit this but it resonated with me.

Of course, it is even worse now.  It isn’t a couple of years out.  Next year is 2020 so, 30 years ago will be 1990.  How can that be? Thirty years ago seems such a long while back. However 1990 doesn’t seem that long ago.  Ah, I am such the philosopher.  These are the deep thoughts I have been having as we move into 2019 – 😉

I have had the pleasure of spending the New Year’s holiday with my oldest son and DIL in Vermont.  It has been a wonderful week of family time – my middle son and his wife drove here from Toronto for the holiday.  My grand daughter has been charming – I gave her a little plastic tea set for Christmas and we have had a number of tea parties with her stuffed animals..  I am surprised to see how quickly she fell into this pretend routine of pouring tea (she calls it ‘pepper tea’ as she can’t quite say peppermint tea). She adds a spoonful of sugar, stirs the tea and then blows on it to cool it off for her hedge hog and her Elmo doll.  I love it!

I also brought her a little dress that I made a couple of days before flying out.  This is the first time I have sewn anything with a Burda pattern.  The directions were clearly explained though so I didn’t have any issues. When I was making this, my DIL’s mother was visiting in Vermont so I was able to ask her to take a few measurements for me.  I made a size 2 and, for the most part, it fits nicely

The fabric is a soft and cozy fleece from Jo-Ann Fabrics. It is a deep navy with little hearts outlined in silver. H called them stars, maybe because they are sort of sparkly?

The neckline is finished with a strip of the same fabric.  I am STILL having issues with my serger so I finished the seams with a small zig zag stitch and then trimmed the seams.  It worked just fine.

Here is a cute picture of H wearing her new dress.  Is she not absolutley adorable??

Earlier that same day, she asked Grammy to put ‘pretty-pretties’ in her hair which means a pony tail.  She has so little hair, but I did the best I could!  She makes me smile.

This morning we woke to a little bit of snow.  Perfect timing – we get to have just a bit of wintry weather before heading back to California tomorrow to the real world.  School starts next week for Julia and I have orders to ship. We had such a great visit though – Vermont life is pretty wonderful!

 

 

November Wrap Up

I have been thinking of all of you and keep thinking I should sit down and write a post.  However, this week was spent entirely on making custom orders I received over the Thanksgiving weekend.  This time of year always means lots of orders for Chemex and French Press cozies.  I don’t mind making them but it certainly takes away from any time to quilt or make other fun items.  Over the holiday weekend I had eight orders for these sorts of items and I finished up the last two yesterday. That means this weekend I get to work on other projects!

The other project I am currently working on is a Christmas gift and I don’t want to post it just in case the recipient should see the post (though the person is not a regular reader of my always-exciting blog posts!) Anyway, since I don’t have sewing to share, let’s just chat!

A big group but certainly not everyone.

How was Thanksgiving (for my US readers anyway)?  Ours was pretty nice.  Each year we alternate between what our family calls “Big Thanksgiving” and “Little Thanksgiving”.  On the big years, my sisters and their children and grandchildren all come up here to have Thanksgiving at my parent’s house.  The alternating years are quiet and each family celebrates at their own house with a smaller group.  This year there were 38 people at mom and dad’s house.  For us, that is a relatively ‘small’ crowd for Big Thanksgiving. The picture above was taken Friday morning with the people who came for breakfast.  My parents are in the front row.  Isn’t this a great picture – four generations amongst the people in the picture! I wasn’t there but it looks like it was a fun morning.

Me and my favorite guy.

As luck would have it, I was dealing with lots of migraine activity that weekend so I didn’t participate nearly as much as I would have liked.  Ray and I made a second turkey at our house because my mother was nervous one turkey wouldn’t be enough. So we had a quiet afternoon and then met everyone up at Mom’s house for dinner, bringing the second turkey, stuffing and gravy.  It was sort of an eat and run thing for us.  When all those kids are there, it gets loud and I wasn’t really up for a lot of noise.  Food was great and Mom needn’t have worried because there was enough for everyone and tons of leftovers!

Playing Sequence with Ian, Shar and Julia. Do you play that game??

My son and his new wife were at our house for the whole weekend which was so nice.

This guy can bake!

There were lazy mornings, lots of coffee and cinnamon rolls courtesy of my husband! They were so good and it was no time before they were all gone. I love this recipe from Lovely Little Kitchen because you make the rolls, refrigerate overnight and take them out for an hour in the morning before baking.  Easy and so yummy.

His happy place.

My husband spent much of the weekend in his shop.  He was on a tear, making rolling pins.  Last year he made them for our kids and his mom for Christmas gifts. This year he made them because I asked him to!  I had a lot of really nice comments on them last year when I posted about them. I thought it would be fun if he made a few pretty ones and we made them available for purchase as holiday gifts!  So, he made four and they are stunning.

He collects wood like I stash fabric.

Ray has enough wood to make nine billion rolling pins but who am I to say anything?  I could probably make as many quilts with what I have in my sewing room. So let’s just not go there, ok?

Rectangles of oak and walnut laminated and ready for the lathe.

Sort of like strip piecing, Ray glues strips of wood together in various widths and clamps it tight. Once it is dry, he puts it on the lathe and starts carving it.  Chips fly and it is noisy but when all that is going on, my husband is one happy guy.

The very beginning, it is just starting to round.

It takes quite a bit of time to shape it, sand it and finish it. But the results are lovely.  Take a look.

So smooth and glossy.

They look similar to each other but the subtle differences are there. Each one is solid, no bearings in the handles (meaning the handles don’t turn or swivel).

One of my favorites because of the light and dark contrast.

This one has some maple in it which gives great contrast with the walnut.  Each one has a ‘work space’ of about ten inches.

Love the ovals of color on the handles.

Pretty stripes!

So pretty!  What do you think?

This morning I am posting these on Instagram for sale.  If you are interested, hop over there and grab one.  There are just the four.  I think they make a lovely and unique homemade gift.  Pricing is $75 plus shipping.  Feel free to leave any questions in the comments.

Hopefully next week I will have a sewing project or two to share.  Well, actually I am to entirely sure – it depends on if I am working on secret gift sewing or other projects.  Hope you all have a fantastic weekend.  We plan to get our tree and hope to get the lights up outside.  This is such a fun time of year.

 

Upcycling a Vintage Caftan

This post is picture heavy and contains just a bit of sewing related info so if you aren’t in the mood, I totally understand!  As you might already know, my son and his fiancé were married on Saturday.  As the parents of the groom, we hosted a rehearsal dinner on the Friday night before the wedding. The couple wanted a Mexican dinner which we had catered by a local Mexican restaurant.  I don’t usually do this but it worked out well for us.  I had so much going on and not cooking the meal myself was so helpful.

When my husband and I thought about the dinner, we really wanted to have it outdoors.  Our front yard is so pretty and very private because we live on rural property and don’t have neighbors close by.  Again, I went the simpler route and rented tables, chairs, dishes, flatware and wine glasses.  This really made for an easy party because we didn’t have to wash dishes afterward.  All that was required was to stack the dishes, glassware and flatware in restaurant style racks and they picked it up in the morning.  With the wedding the next day, it was great not to have to deal with lots of clean up that night.

The fun part was thinking about decorations.  My first thought was I needed two brightly colored table cloths and table runners for the center of each table.

1970’s Caftan

My frugal self sent me over to the thrift stores in town to hunt.  I didn’t find any table cloths but did find a fun vintage caftan.  I decided to use a harvest gold table cloth I already had and a red one belonging to my mom.

My thought was to utilize the stitching somehow by taking it apart and reassembling it.  I cut the bottom off, leaving a border of the green.  I hemmed it all the way around and that created one runner.  For the second runner, I cut a large swath of the solid fabric from the center of the dress.  Then I cut the sleeves off so I could use the decorated portion of the sleeves. The width of the second runner was determined by how wide the stitching was on the deconstructed sleeves. I attached one section of the decorative stitching to each end of the solid color fabric so it ran vertically on each end.  I did have to block the runners and starch them to get them to lay (mostly) flat.  These had been laundered and worn quite a bit so the fabric was not at all square.

The runners are different but coordinated.  (I didn’t take pictures of just the runners but this  sort of gives you an idea.

Here is the other one.

To finish things off, I potted little succulents in small clay pots gleaned from my garage and. my mother’s.  I added votive candles and small vases with Alstroemeria and dwarf Sunflowers. The vases are actually small pitchers I bought during a family vacation in Mexico a long time ago.  We also tucked in some lemon halves that had a large number of whole cloves inserted across the cut side because we read that it might repel the Yellowjackets.  (At this time of year, we often have yellow jackets and they are so annoying when we eat outdoors.  My husband put about 1/2 dozen open cans of cat food and tuna in strategic locations around the perimeter of the lawn and this proved to be a good distraction for the bees.  They were not a problem during the dinner). The lemons looked nice but I highly doubt their scent did much to help us.

Of course, way too much food!

The dinner was wonderful.

Toasting my son and his fiancé

We celebrated the bride and groom with toasts, laughter and great food.

Decorating the arbor on Saturday morning.

Saturday morning we all headed over to the venue (maybe ten miles from home) and got everything ready.  My husband built an arbor for the kids to stand in front of for the ceremony.  Now they will have it to put in their yard as a remembrance of their day.  The bride wanted it draped with soft, flowing tulle.  I found two colors at JoAnn’s and bought 15 yards of each the Eggnog and the light Peach colors.  My husband patiently draped and re-draped it as we all stood on the ground giving direction. (You can imagine, right??)

It was a breezy day which was nice and it made the tulle float a bit.

My daughter-in-law’s Jackie O look. She is so funny.

Saturday morning was really a fun family time.  Everyone was so excited about the wedding and just enjoying each other’s company.

The guys set up the chairs while we decorated the arbor.

This guy loves being a father!

My grand daughter had so much fun running around but we had to keep close track of her because there is a creek running through the property and a large pond as well.

Time for coffee and scones.

Once the arbor was set up and the chairs in place, all we had to do was place the tables where we wanted them.  Then the wedding coordinator and the caterers came and set the tables.  I wish I had a picture of this before the ceremony started.  I am sure the photographer got some though.  I will share them when we get to see them (likely a several weeks from now.) Spending the morning of the wedding day together getting things ready was so much fun.

I will share some wedding pictures in a separate post.  Everyone has gone back to their real lives.  The bride and groom are taking their honeymoon in May so they are back to work now.  My plan for this morning is to tackle some housecleaning.  It is a complete disaster!  Then I need to get back to work.  I received a box of fabric yesterday and there is another scheduled to arrive this afternoon so I have lots to do.  If you have been waiting for Carrie Bloomston’s new line, Wonder, it should be listed by tomorrow, maybe late this afternoon if I can get to it!  It is just fantastic.

Linking to my favorites!  Including a new link up called Brag About Your Beauties, hosted by Michelle of From Bolt to Beauty. Come take a look – there will surely be something to inspire you!

 

 

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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