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Friday, December 30, 2011

End of Year Recap

My gosh the blog is dusty!  I guess I better open some windows and let in a little fresh air.  Apologies to anyone who was actively following the blog.  The year just got away from me.

I wanted to look back at how I did on last year's resolutions, so here is a brief retrospective.  (AKA, how Jen dropped the ball and/or changed her mind so very many times!)

Jen's List 2011

  1. Knit or sew one project per week.  Well, this one lasted until about May, when I started my new job.**  I did manage to knit a dog (pictures coming), some toys, and created a pattern for an arm sling for my mother's upcoming surgery.  So the year wasn't without projects.  I just lacked the vision and time to keep motivated.  And the Etsy shop I created for my knitting has completely stagnated.  Chalk one up to wasted effort!
  2. Chickens.  This one got shunted to the side for a year.  We needed to do some other projects first, and then the well broke, and the van died and we had to buy a truck, and then the heatpump died and we had to get it fixed, and then ...  You get the picture.  But next year, baby.  Next year.  And goats.  Maybe.
  3. Wood-burning stove.  Well, Last year I stated that "the heat pump just can't hack these winters."  It turns out that the heat pump has a major leak.  It can't hack anything!  So we had it tuned up and decided to delay the wood-burning stove and see if the heat pump could actually function for a winter.  So far, so good.  The house is warm enough and the energy bills are reasonable, so far.  But it will need to be replaced in the next year or so.   And the thought of that sets my blood pressure rising.
  4. Financial end. Isn't this always a work in progress?  Fell off the wagon a bit this year, but still moving forward.  Enough said about that.
  5. Financial, part two.  Um, yeah.  See above.
  6. Garden!  The garden did pretty well this year, but suffered from some neglect, potato bugs, and clay soil that still needs some work.  Our seeds didn't wash away, but I think next year I am going to buy seedlings.  Growing the seeds myself was a lost cause for a lot of things (ahem, squash!)  We did have an amazing bumper crop of okra, which I pickled and canned.  And we had potatoes.   I had to go and buy a supplemental crop of tomatoes just to have some to can, but it is all gone, already.  Our garlic came up great (but is long gone), and I have already planted next year's crop.
  7. Rain barrels.  I don't know why this project didn't happen, but all that we have done with our barrels for now is try to keep the hornets from nesting in them!
  8. Mud.  Grr, mud.  This project was a total success!  Husband created a wonderful stone patio that has completely solved the mud problem.  Very cool.  I should post pictures.  The dogs are happy, I am happy, everything is sunshine and roses!
  9. Then I am getting the carpets cleaned!  Or not
  10. Keep trying one new dinner recipe per week.  This fell completely apart as I readjusted to working full-time.  But it is a great resolution to carry over into 2012.
**Oh, I haven't mentioned my new job?  Well, it seems that I was in desperate need of a good serving of my own words  So I ate them! 

Last October, I was offered a position at a local library.  For reasons of my own, I turned them down.  Then, in March, they contacted me and asked if I would reconsider.  It seems that the person they had hired when I declined didn't work out.  So I reconsidered.  After a lot of thought and discussion, I accepted and am so glad I did.  It is funny what a little time and perspective can do.  I now have a wonderful job in a great community, my kids are in a fun afterschool program, and it all worked out well.  It has been a hard adjustment for me, getting back into the full-time swing of things.  My craft projects were the first to suffer, but my exercise and diet focus also suffered.  Which means that while I am feeling very proud of my work, I am not very proud of myself. 

2012 will be a year for finding balance between work and home, wants and desires, fitness and relaxation, and homesteading and modern living.  Finding that balance should be interesting.  Maybe I will even find the words to blog about it.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Well I'm not asking for one!

I recently sat around with a group of women and the talk inevitably turned to birth stories.  As usually happens, the group talked about the size of their children at birth, the humorous side stories, and our husbands.  When it was my turn, I told how my first child was 9 lbs 2 oz, and I delivered naturally.  One woman laughed with derision and said, "you know they don't give out medals for having a natural delivery.   That is why they make drugs."

I didn't respond, but what I wanted to yell was, "I'm not asking for a medal!"  But I do want the right to express my full birth story without judgment from the other women present.  This isn't the first time I have heard this sentiment, and I admit I don't fully understand it.  Why the hate, ladies?

I chose to have a natural delivery; I chose to deliver in a birth center, with a midwife.  I made informed choices based on my wants and beliefs.  What I didn't do was make any statement whatsoever about anyone else's choices.  Truly there is no competition or judgement here.  Every woman has a different experience: a hospital delivery, home birth, midwife delivery, epidurals, emergency C-section, inducement, natural labor, slow labor, fast labor.  Your story is your story, not a commentary on the way birth should be

My story is mine.  And I have a right to be proud.  As any woman who has ever delivered a child from her body knows, it is a life-changing experience.  Not just because you made a person, but because you chose to put your body through something difficult and stressful and came out stronger at the end of it all.  Because deep down, we all wonder if we can do it. 

Part of my story includes that I labored and delivered without drugs.  And that my children were large!  My choice; my story; my equal voice in the community of women telling birth stories.

That is all the medal I want.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Waiting for a Hero

In most fiction it is fairly easy to tell which character is the protagonist.  Some gifted authors may lead you to sympathy for a rogue character, but you still have that gut instinct that you are cheering on the right person.  Or even that there is a protagonist.

So what do you do when you read an author like George R. R. Martin?  A phenomenally gifted author, Martin is someone for whom you cannot let down your guard.  In his A Song of Ice and Fire series, which has become blazingly popular with the new HBO series, Game of Thrones, based on the first novel, you find yourself constantly looking for the hero.  Which character should you cheer for, who will prevail in the end?  It is hard to choose; there are so many intricate characters, so many interwoven plotlines. 

Well let me tell you a secret.  Don't get attached.  Martin pulls no punches, and to quote my review (egotistical, I know) which goes live today, "No character is safe, no ending assured."  That is the truth of Songs of Ice and Fire and that is the truth of his newest, wonderful installment,  A Dance With Dragons, which is on shelves today!

Go ahead and cheer for the ones you love, I do. But prepare for the heartbreak.  George R. R. Martin is a master, and the reader is but a slave to his imagination.  Winter is coming!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Three of our potato plants wilted and died today.  So I decided to pull them out.  I admit, I was half hoping I would find one little potato.  Instead, I found...

Aren't they beautiful?  These are Yukon Gold potatoes.  I am now more motivated to take care of the other, sad, ugly potato plants.  Here's hoping they are cooking up more, gorgeous tatties!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

Tonight, some pirates and I are providing a fresh Father's Day dinner of BBQ chicken and homemade cornbread.

With a salad of greens, carrots and onions directly from our garden.


Happy Father's Day, babes!

Friday, June 17, 2011

We May Have Enough

Today I taught myself to braid garlic! 

Isn't it pretty?
There are two types of garlic, as you know: hardneck and softneck.  You can't braid the hardneck variety.  (Guess why!)

But you can make bunches.

Once the garlic is braided and/or bunched, you hang it until you need it.

Here's hoping I did this right!

Oh, and I think we are going to have enough garlic to last quite a while.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Project 20 - Sea Turtle

I decided to make my own pattern for a sea turtle and I am so proud!  And I am counting it as a weekly project since I had to do math to figure out the pattern.  Math is hard!

Do you like it?  Do you want to see more pictures?  Do you want one?  (Cue shameless self-promotion...)  This one is up for sale on my etsy site!  More to follow!

Harvest and Plague

I forgot!  We harvested our garlic on Sunday.  A marginal harvest; most of the garlic grew larger, but only a few made full bulbs.  I am chalking it up to the iffy soil we still have, but that is a work in progress.

It should be enough to last.  For a little while.

Tragedy, though, was just discovered in the garden.  We have a major infestation!  OK, that may be a bit dramatic! 

Something is eating my potato plants!  But the confusing thing is that the beetles seem to be mostly dead (or comatose from gorging on my taters!).  I was able to flick them off, and they didn't get back up.

Anyone recognize these?  Better yet, anyone know how to prevent and destroy them?  This is war - I want my taters!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Does This Make Me A Farmer?

This morning the ground was so hard-baked that we had trouble weeding.  So tonight, after we had a colossal thunderstorm, a storm so heavy that it knocked over my corn,

what did I do?

Why I ran outside and staked all my tomatoes, of course.  What can I say?  The ground was soft.

And now I cannot find my boots. 

In other news, some of our garden is loving the heat wave.

A few of the tomato plants have started to fruit!

The pumpkins are in bliss.

The green beans are thriving (forgive the odd camera angle).

And the corn was happy until the heavy rain. 

I am hopeful that they will right themselves when they dry out.  Who ever heard of staking corn?

I think I am in love with my garden.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Project 19 - Turtles!

Finally, a new project!  I have been majorly distracted by the new job, and the broken well, and packing for the beach, and a huge review book I received (more on that when the confidentiality agreement lets me talk about it.).  But I finally found time to make another project.  I am a little behind, but I have plans to help me catch up.

This week's project was a snap decision when I found a tutorial on a blog I follow.  Funny how a turtle, notoriously slow creature that it is, can be a fast project!

And it was so fun and simple that I just had to make two.

Everyone needs a buddy, right?

This is the perfect project to use up scraps.  And if you cut all the pieces at once, like I did, you can make a bunch of them in a short amount of time.  They would make great baby gifts.  In fact, I may make a few more to have on hand for quick presents.

I gave these two to my sons, of course.  They think the coolness of turtles outweighs all the pink.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Today's Harvest

Tonight I wandered in the garden just for fun, but came back with these!

Our peas are starting to ripen!

I love them fresh off the vine.  So does the 7-year-old.  (Next year I am planting many, many more rows of peas!  I am not sure how much the plants I have are going to produce.)

And here, for your viewing pleasure, is a pretty and unusual moth we saw outside our window.

This year's garden has already produced more than last fall's ever did.  Win!

Wisdom From Unlikely Sources

We watched Craig Ferguson’s new special.  There is just something special about a Scotsman who is comfortable saying “fuck.”  It is sexy and confident.  Hmmm.
Anyway, he is funny as hell; well, funnier, really.  Hell wouldn’t be that funny and I, for one, am glad that the Rapture didn’t happen.  Whew.  But you should totally watch Ferguson’s special.  We were laughing out loud.
But Craig (we are on a first name basis, dontchaknow) said that there are three things you should ask yourself before you post anything on the internet, and I just had to share.  Sometimes comedians are actually pretty wise.

Three things you must ask yourself:
  1. Does this need to be said?
  2. Does this need to be said by me?
  3. Does this need to be said by me, right now?
I know, brilliant, right?!?  I ask myself those questions all the time.  Heck, I am asking myself that now.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Stray Dogs, Ticks, and Drinking Bleach

Living in the country is a curious thing.  For the suburban born and raised, it is an eye opening experience.  I'll give you three examples.

In the country, especially on our road, stray dogs are a fact of life. The dog catcher doesn't even exist out here.  If you are able, and a softie, you adopt the ones you can.  If not, you call the sheriff and the dog will be taken to the shelter where the life expectancy is very short.  The humane animal organization only accepts puppies, and those are shipped to the Northeast, where there is a market.  It is a tough choice.  We are softies, so we now have three dogs.  Sadie is learning some manners, and we learned a country lesson.

Pest control out here only goes so far.  I knew, intellectually, that there would be more bugs that in the 'burbs, and I generally have a Live and Let Live attitude where bugs are concerned.  Well, as long as they are outside.  In my house, though all bets are off.  The kids often alert me when, "there is a bug in your house, mom!"  But it isn't working so well.  There are flies everywhere!  I remember that from my grandmother's farm, but hadn't really thought about it for my home.  I hate flies.

More than flies, though, I hate ticks!  I have a thing about creatures that suck blood.  I don't like them.  And ticks are small, perfidious, and look like moles.  I have moles; so ticks look like normal parts of me and it freaks me out!  The ticks are like secret, blood-sucking, disease-carrying ninjas.  I hate them.  (I scream like a little girl when I find a tick and then flail around and it gets lost in the house.  Which guarantees another episode within the hour.  So embarrassing.)

The third example unfortunately is going on right now.  We are on a well.  I like well water.  I like knowing where are water comes from, and where it is going.  I like that connection with our environment, and the life lesson it gives the kids towards water conservation.  What I don't like is when part of our well pump suddenly cracks in half and the entire pump is left dangling from the electrical wires.  Even more, I don't like when this happens 30 minutes before old friends arrive for lunch.

That happened on Saturday.  Luckily, the husband and our dear friend were about to secure the well parts, and replace the broken piece.  Unluckily, it isn't a permanent fix.  And perhaps worst, we know that some ground water got into the well.  Couple that with the fact that whenever there is work done on a well you need to sterilize the water, and we have been left boiling our drinking water for 5 days.

We haven't been able to get in touch with the local well service company, so we are taking matters into our own hands.  Since the husband has the well functioning again, we have done our research and found that the way to sterilize a well is, like most things, with bleach.  Yup, we have to pour a lot of bleach into our well and then let it sit for about 12 hours.

So, for the next 12-24 hours we will be washing our hands with bottled water, drinking boiled water, and making certain not to water any plants.  Fun times.

I love it here.  Most of the time.

Book Review - Here Home Hope

Kelly Johnson is married to a wonderful man and has two amazing teenage sons.  Yet she feels unfulfilled.  After a breast cancer scare and the emotional uncertainty that entails, Kelly decides to change her life.  Written on Post-It notes and stuck where ever she might need the inspiration, Kelly starts her list of "Things 2 Change," and thereby begins a personal journey that takes her from depression to life affirmation, deepens her friendships, enriches her marriage, and enables Kelly to find her passion and turn it into a viable business.  Fans of Nicholas Sparks will enjoy this positive, pro-women novel about turning a mid-life crisis into a life-affirming celebration.

Fans of Nicholas Sparks and his writing/storytelling style should probably stop reading now.

Did that clear the room?  Perhaps I wasn't being fair to Nicholas Sparks.

When I agreed to provide an honest review for Here Home Hope, I did not anticipate that I would feel such guilt over it!  I wanted to like this book, I really did.  I even contemplated sugar-coating my review to save feelings.  But I cannot do that.  This is my blog, and honesty is important to me.

When I was in college, one of our writing professors gave this sage advice: to effectively share a story, you must show the action, not tell it.  Kaira Rouda does not do that.  In fact she tells the story to the point that all of the action takes place off-scene.  The protagonist just tells you about it later.

This book is emotionally distancing, which is a surprise, given plot lines that could have come straight from Desperate Houswives!  Breast cancer fears, anorexia, extra-marital affairs, catty-neighbors, mid-life crises, depression; it is all there.  And all strangely boring.

The main character, Kelly Johnson, realizes her life has to change.  Up until the start of the book, her life has focused solely on her perfect, lawyer husband, her million-dollar home, and her two, idealized, teenage sons.  But Kelly is unfulfilled. So she starts to take a good, hard look at her life, and then goes to see a psychologist.  Who immediately puts her on antidepressants.

Apparently she also put the book on antidepressants because from that point forward, Kelly rarely emotes.  In fact a few little pills and she just floats through the rest of her personal conflicts until the book closes.  Further, whenever Kelly has a personal need, like when she starts her business, or when she has to quickly care for her friend's anorexic teen, she already has an expert on speed dial.  It is too convenient.  It may be that life is actually like that for the oh-so-very rich and connected; I remain unconvinced.  In real life your formerly anorexic BFF who you dumped in her time of need would not take your call, let alone drop everything and provide constant, perfect, free therapy to the aforementioned anorexic teen.  All while nursing a baby.  She might even tell you to stuff it; possibly with a referral to a licensed professional.

But the real problem with this book is its lack of focus.  Is this a book about mid-life crisis?  Is it a grown-up version of those teen issues novels?  Is this a book about how hateful or supportive women can be towards each other?  Or is it a book on what steps women should take to start their own businesses?

I wish it could be all of the above, but I think it is the latter.  Why?  Because that is when the book seems easiest to read; boring, but easy.  And that is when the book provides advice you could follow.  Not surprisingly, this is where Kaira Rouda shows her expertise.  As the author of Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs, Rouda clearly has a passion for female businesses.  (I think she even sites her own book as a source that the fictional Kelly uses on her path to entrepreneurship.  Classy!)  And while that is wonderful for a non-fiction, self-help book, it doesn't fly for fiction.

Here Home Hope has a massive publicity machine behind it, with a blog tour (of which this review was supposed to be part), a Facebook page, and even a reader's guide in the back.  I will not be surprised to hear buzz about the book.  But for me, I could never discuss this book in a book club.  It lacks depth and cohesion, climax, and even good dialog.  It is a soft-touch.  Here Home Hope tells, it doesn't show.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Book Review - A Courtesan's Guide to Getting Your Man

I had a very lucky streak a few months ago and won a bunch of books in various giveaways.  I am slowly making my way through them and plan to provide reviews here.

A Courtesan's Guide to Getting Your Man was won through Free Book Fridays (thanks!).  Cowritten by Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan, this is really two novels, a modern romance and a historical romance, skillfully interwoven by two talented writers.

Piper Chase-Pierpont, a Boston museum curator, brings new meaning to the word "repressed."  With the bluest of blue Yankee blood, Piper has devoted her life so totally to her work that her sense of self, and certainly her femininity, have almost disappeared.  As she prepares for yet another stilted, conservative museum installation, Piper's life takes a sudden left turn as she literally trips over the secret diaries of one of Boston's most beloved and respected historical women.

Is it possible that Ophelia Harrington, acclaimed abolitionist and suffragette was actually The Blackbird, one of London's most notorious courtesans?  And what does that mean for Piper, repressed, lost Piper?  Should she keep her secret and preserve her job, or should she take a professional leap and tell the complete, complicated story of a woman whose secrets might be more culturally significant than her celebrity?

The novel is split between Piper's discovery of the diaries and the immediate upheaval they create in both her work and love life, and the diaries themselves, told in first person voice by Ophelia Harrington herself.  As the plots deepen and twist the novel begins to race, jumping from past to present just at the moment when the reader needs to know what is happening.  The pacing is wonderful and the resolutions deeply satisfying.

I am just going to come right out and say it, I loved this book!  I like romance novels, but they are often a bit predictable.  I get a little bored, and sometimes the perfect storylines make me a little sad and cynical.  I honestly cannot say that about this book.  I suspected one major plot mystery, but I was so engrossed in the intricacies, and let's be honest, the sex scenes, that the pages practically turned themselves.

I don't think steamy quite covers this book.  Erotic is closer to the truth!  But don't prejudge it, yet, this isn't soft pornography.  It is the plot that keeps this book going.

Face paced, layered, certainly erotic, with excellent characters - I loved it!

Bradley, Celeste and Susan Donovan. A Courtesan's Guide to Getting Your Man. St. Martin's Paperbacks. ISBN: 978-0-213-53256-7 June 2011. 384 p. Romance

Friday, May 20, 2011

Raptors or Raptures, and a Review

Some say tomorrow is the end of the world and a few of us will be left alone on the Earth with the other Heathens for a few months of not-so-fun-times.  And looting.

Others, with a greater sense of humor, claim that tomorrow will be some magnificent return to Jurassic Park.  I am OK with that; I am pretty sure I can hide in my fridge.  I just wish I owned a Jeep.

Or, perhaps, tomorrow will just be Saturday, where I have a work meeting and the start of the kids' soccer tournament.  Whatever it is, I am reminded of a wonderful book.  What?!?   You haven't read The Taking?!?  You must!

The Taking, A Review

Koontz,  Dean  The Taking.  Bantam.  2004.  $27.00 ISBN-10: 055380250X  
ISBN-13: 978-0553802504
With the sudden deluge of an ominous, luminescent rain, Molly Sloan and her husband awake to a world inexplicably altered and undeniably horrific.  Isolated by the systematic failure of all outside communication, and faced with an oppressive and relentless apprehension, the Sloans leave their mountain home to seek out the fellowship and relative safety of their neighbors in town.  But safety is no longer part their new reality.  The Sloans quickly discover that they are more isolated than ever before as their neighbors disappear and monsters begin to roam the night.

Molly and Neil, deeply in love but barren of children of their own, soon find one purpose in this long night of unrelenting flood, animated corpses, and unimaginable monsters: to save the children.  Through that mission, they find that their hope for the future and their faith that they can keep the children safe are the only things that can keep them sane.  As the story progresses into nightmare, the reader must ask herself, would we make the same choices?  Would we survive the night?  And what will the new day bring?

Dean Koontz’s apocalyptic thriller is a wild, yet thought provoking exploration of humanity and faith.  Surprisingly theological and laced throughout with enigmatic T.S. Eliot quotations, this is more than your average bestselling suspense novel.  Koontz offers beauty amid grotesquery, pity through fear, and hope throughout the bleakest of nightmares.  Always in high demand, Koontz’s books are an easy choice for a tight budget; and with writing this compelling and reflective, The Taking is an excellent investment.  Highly recommended.  

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Project 18 - Baby Hat(s)

I realize that I have made lots and lots of hats, but this project is giving me fits!  One of my absolute best friends is about to have a baby and asked me to knit a hat for the little lima bean.  I was happy to comply.  She wants a newborn hat for pictures in the style of those old sleep hats.  Think a 'Twas The Night Before Christmas stocking cap, but in miniature.  Seems easy, all I have to do is decrease, right?

(Just nod along if you are not a knitter.  Thanks.)

I tore out most of the first iteration (think of it as v1.0) after it got a strange, uneven seam.  No pictures of that, it was gone too quickly.

v1.2 is more like a standard baby hat with a tail.

That one is pretty cute.  Kind of an elf hat.  But I still wasn't satisfied, and since I have 6 skeins of yarn, I cast on v2.0.

Again, this has a very defined seam, but at least it is straight.  In fact, I think tiny little babies could ski down it, if they so desired.  However, it folds over nicely and may look great.  Hard to tell.  I don't have an infant to test it on.

I was talking to a friend today, and she may be able to get the pattern I need.  So there is a possibility that v3.0 will be coming down the line quickly.  Perhaps a newborn lima bean needs 3 hats.

Now you may be wondering at the strange pictures with the post, but I don't want to give it all away.  I haven't sent these off yet!  Completed pictures to follow once the hats finally arrive at their new home, in Illinois.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Project 17 - Arrow Quiver

This week my kids had a special request - they wanted arrow quivers to go with their new bow and arrow sets.  The bows are made of PVC and the arrows have suction cups on the end.  Since the quivers sold at the fair cost as much as the bow and arrow sets, a homemade quiver seemed perfect.  And since the 7-year-old even said it could be my weekly project, how could I refuse?  (I love the family encouragement!)

I made a basic bag design with a diagonal strap. 

Actually, I made two!

The strap is reinforced to hold up to the rigors of marauding through the wilds of Virginia.

The sizing seems perfect, but the bags tend to slide once the kids get moving.  The kiddos helped me with a redesign, and after some very interesting web searching, I added another cross strap for the other shoulder (not pictured.)  Problem solved.

The kids are excited and I am proud of my quick, home-designed arrow quivers.  Robin Hood, I will be expecting your call!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

First Harvest

Some strawberries from the plugs my aunt gave me in the fall, and 2 red onions, picked early for a salad.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dear Mother Nature

You're killing me here, Mama N!

First the weather is very, very hot and dry, so I water like crazy.  Then it levels off to normal ranges and I transplant 100 plants I have been nurturing - delicate, innocent little seedlings that just want to grow big and make food for my family.

So what do you do, dearest Momma Nature?  You send a nearly 90' day followed by torrential rains and a cold snap that sends the nights into the 40s.  My poor peppers are barely holding on and all my zucchini and squash gave up their fight.

Oh, and by the way, the sucking red clay mud?  Well it sucks.  And the crackling, hard as stone top surface of said red clay?  That double sucks.  It is amazing we can grow anything at all.

Mommy Dearest, why do you hate us?

Anyway, hope you are well.  Say hello to Father Time for me.

Love, Jen

Monday, May 2, 2011

Peace and Birdsong

Today is obviously a big day for international news, of celebration and reflection.  Though I will leave the in-depth commentary to others, I do not feel more safe or protected today than I did yesterday.  If anything, I feel more anxious at what these necessary evils will bring to our world. 

Because of my uncertainty and anxiety, I find that I am drawn outside today, where I can hear the summer bugs, and the birdsong.  And where I can watch my garden come to life.  My garden gives me hope and peace, and the knowledge that I have planted more than seeds.  I have planted my love and protection for my family.  I nurture my garden as I nurture those I love.

Here are some pictures of my garden growing.  Hopefully they will bring you peace on a day of great upheaval.

Amish Paste Tomatoes and a Marigold


A teepee my husband built out of branches trimmed from the pear trees.  Just for fun.

Hardneck Garlic

Baby Lettuce

Sweet Peas

Yukon Gold Potatoes

Pie Pumpkins

Very muddy strawberries
 Peace to you and yours.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Project 16 - Nook Keeper

My husband received a Nook for his recent birthday, but it didn't come with a case.  So I thought I would come to the rescue and sew one fore him.  Clearly, I was overconfident after the quilt.

I found a cute pattern on Moda Bake Shop, and amended it to suit his tastes.

It is a really simple design.  Basically, it is a padded pocket with a front flap.  Very simple.  Even I couldn't mess that up.  Right?

Unfortunately, I could.  And did.  Doesn't the Nook look so cute tucked in like that?  Too bad it doesn't fit in the pocket!!  So frustrating!  It is a minuscule amount too wide.  A teensy, tiny bit.  And I can't fix it!

So, lessons learned:
  • I don't know how to sew with batting.  Major issues with bunching and thread tension.
  • Next time, cut the fabric wider than needed. - clearly I cannot sew a 1/8 seam to save my life.
  • Binding is still terribly difficult! 
Guess what I am making tomorrow night!  Round two of the Nook Keeper.  Now, I am going to bed.

Update 5/4/11: I was able to fix it by pulling off the binding and sewing it on again in the right spot.  A good thing, too, since I didn't have enough fabric to do it again!  It'll do.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Quilt - Update

And here is my new quilted table centerpiece, in action:

It took me an hour to unearth my kitchen table, so this is a major accomplishment around here.  Meals in the kitchen, once again.  The kids are going to be so mad! 

(I also added one more picture to the original post.  Somehow that one didn't save the first time around.