Friday, January 26, 2007


This is my Grandma and Grandpa Oberholtzer on their wedding day. Mike thinks I should revert to my maiden name and Mennonite roots to start a quilting company. He thinks I'd sell more if I add Oberholtzer to the name. The problem here is that I'm not sure my quilts look very old world Mennonite.

I "borrowed" this digital picture from my brother Brian's web site. I figured if I link him, he won't mind.

Here's my newest creation. This is just the quilt top. I have it sandwiched and have begun quilting it. I decided to quilt a more traditional design in the squares and I am pleased with how it is turning out. This one is square and is meant as a wall hanging.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Medicine Cabinet Mayhem

I have to say I never expected to be writing about my medicine cabinet. As a homeschooling mother, I struggle to teach my children to write. They aren't fond of it and it is probably our most difficult subject. I try to tell them to make their writing interesting. I figure a subject like the medicine cabinet should peak everyone's interest.

We live in a row home that was built around 1900. It is big and has many beautiful features about it (including stained wood columns in the living room and a matching mantle in the hall). Another feature that we love about our house is that our next door neighbors on both sides are great families. The family to the right happens to be my best friend, her husband and two lovely children.

Their house is attached to ours only on the third floor, the first floor hall and the second floor bedroom and bathroom. This evening, my son Nathan was in the bathroom brushing his teeth when I heard him talking to Tommie, the next door neighbor through the medicine cabinet (the joke is that we should cut a hole in the back of both cabinets so we don't need to bother each other to borrow the Advil). As you have no doubt figured out, their medicine cabinet is directly on the other side of the wall from ours. Tommie inquired if Nathan could get Nolan as he wanted to have a chat. Nathan promptly went outside (where Nolan was playing in the 1/8 inch of snow that fell this evening). Nolan stomped inside and conversed with Tommie through the medicine cabinet.

My husband's comment: "You know we do have a phone." But why call when you can talk through the wall?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Snail's Trail

Here is what may be my most favorite quilt yet. This pattern is called Snail's Trail and I have loved it since I first laid eyes on the pattern. I was thinking about why I love the pattern so much and I determined that it is because the whole thing comes together in a spiral pattern. I'm wild about circles and spirals. You can see that the patterned fabric is also circles.

I am also somewhat wild about crazy fabric patterns. The problem with this is that after I make the quilt top, I go back to the fabric store to find a backing fabric and I have the hardest time coming up with something that is complementary. This quilt has a fantastic minty green fabric with tiny polka dots (yes, circles again). The green background matches the green in the front of the quilt.

I have this quilt listed in my shop on Etsy. I priced it fairly high for two reasons. The first reason is that it took quite a while to make. The second reason is that I like it so much I sort of want to keep it! If it doesn't sell at my exorbitant price, I'm going to hang it in the living room over the piano.

Speaking of quilts...I have been enjoying this woman's mini quilts. Check it out. I wish I was that artistic.

Father Leo, our fabulous Parish Priest, told a joke about the rooms in Heaven on Sunday. I think I'm hoping for a warm sewing room (gold sewing machine of course) since my sewing room must be the coldest room in the house. It gets hard to sew when my hands are numb. Ok, I'm exaggerating. A little.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Here is a link to daily homilies by a Retired British Benedictine Monk named Father Augustine. This link goes to a blog by someone (Nissa) I "met" on a sewing list I belong to. I have added a link on my blog page to the left titled, Father Augustine's Daily Homilies. Hit it everyday!

I don't get to go to daily Mass too often these days and so I have been enjoying hearing a little slice of wisdom for my day from Father Augustine. Of course I have to admit that I am generally sewing or quilting while I am listening.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Gang's All Here (almost)

Well, Tigger now has several pals to bounce upon. Here is Pooh Bear, Rabbit, Eeyore, Kanga and Roo. Piglet is missing as I forgot to order the pink felt. It is on order and hopefully will be shipped sometime soon. I have been trying to find a pattern for owl but have had no success. Nolan and I will be reading the original Pooh stories next week for school so I may take a look at the illustration for Owl and try to make my own pattern. Rabbit is standing in front of Tigger in the picture but I thought that was appropriate since he was always trying to get rid of Tigger or take the bounce out of him.

I think my favorites here are Kanga and Roo. I love the fact that you can put Roo in Kanga's pocket. Nolan spent a good deal of his Math
time doing just that. The pattern does not include ears for Roo (he's really small). Nolan didn't like the fact that Roo couldn't hear so I added some ears to him this evening. It really made him look much more adorable.

I plan to sell these felt friends on Etsy. They are Waldorf style animals and are made with 100% Wool felt and are stuffed with 100% wool stuffing. What does this mean? It means they will last longer than the cheap craft felt that most fabric stores carry. I love working with this type of felt. It feels so nice and doesn't pull apart or fray. My next project (after the quilt) is to make myself a new pin cushion. Check out these.

Why Homeschooling?

I am often asked why we chose to homeschool Nathan and Nolan instead of sending them to school. The opinions of those who ask are probably as varied as the people themselves, but I won't go into that.

Our journey to homeschooling began long ago when we discovered our son, Nathan, had a form of autism. He had just turned three. Needless to say, this rocked our world. Nolan was then one. Life took on a whole ne
w meaning. I'll save that for another post. Nathan has made incredible progress in his understanding of language and social skills. Both children went to a little neighborhood school through first grade (Nolan) and second grade (Nathan). The school, it's teachers and support staff are wonderful. The kids loved their school. The parents loved their school. The problem was that Nathan and Nolan did not learn best in a school environment.

Mike and I discussed the educational options for the children over and over during the years the boys were in school. Over the summer of 2005, I discovered a book called The Well-Trained Mind
. As I read through this book (which I immediately bought), so many things began to make sense to me. Children can often read better than they can write (or vice versa), using real books instead of readers is a real option, history is best learned in order, and that science can be incorporated into the elementary curriculum (Nolan loves science). This book outlined the HOW to do it all. I was hooked.

Although Nathan loved school, school was also very stressful for him. He is a perfectionist but it often takes him more time to learn. The constant social interactions of every day were also difficult for him. We determined that he used up all of his "people time" at school and had little left for his family. By the end of each school year, Nathan had so much anxiety that he would do t
hings like pull all the skin off his finger tips or obsessively rub his face to the point of rubbing off all of the skin.

For Nolan (who didn't love school so much), we found that if he didn't like doing something (writing for example), he would goof off until it was time to do somthing else. Thus, he could get away with doing little actual work. With 25-30 students in a classroom, this was easy for him to do. We wanted more for him. We wanted him to continue to love learning.

Probably the turning factor for us was the idea that we wanted to get to know our children. Instead of Nathan sp
ending all day talking to the teachers and coming home and isolating himself, we wanted him to talk with US! We decided to try it for a year. That first year was trying. I was working 30 hours a week at a stressful social work job and Mike was starting up a business as a private music teacher. The kids were adjusting to being taught at home. By spring time, I asked the kids if they wanted to go back to school the next year. They suprised me by saying no.

Mike's teaching schedule was filling up as was my stress level. After a lot of prayer and conversation, we decided I would quit my job and stay home to teach the kids full time. This was a huge leap of faith. God was clearly leading us on this path and we have had to trust Him completely.

A few benefits of homeschooling: We have been able to share our faith with our children on a level that was difficult when they were in school. We know what they are learning and are able to have many teachable moments throughout the day beacuse of that. The children are learning things that have been taken out of their curriculum; cursive, science, history and grammar. We are reading lots and lots of real books. And Nathan's anxiety? Gone. He now enjoys being social because he isn't immersed in it all day every day. He is out playing with the neighbors, loves going to cub scouts and homeschool group. And Nolan? He still doesn't always want to get his work done, but now he has no choice.

We were at cubscouts one day and the kids were all talking about where they go to school. One cub said he would like to see what it's like to be homeschooled. Nolan's response? "It's so great!" His reason? "You get to lay on the couch and read lots of books!" This from the child who always said he wished everyone was born knowing everything so no one had to go to school.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


I spent much of the weekend working on a new quilt. I took a picture to post but it didn't turn out well. Maybe tomorrow. I thought I'd show you my new pins. I have been frustrated by my old pins over the past few months. This may seem like a bizarre thing to be frustrated with, but if you've ever sewn, you may know what I'm talking about. My pins in the past were your average, cheap, plastic headed things. They bent like crazy, didn't always go into the fabric smoothly and the tops kept coming off. I finally bought some glass headed pins. They are long and thin and glide into the fabric like magic. I just love them!

Friday, January 12, 2007

From the Cutting Table, part 2

Here is the finished product, a doll leopard jacket. This is my next door neighbor, Tess, and her American Girl Doll, Theresa. Tess' mother is my best friend, Kedren (see her website here). It seemed that one of the things Tess loved about Teresa was dressing just like her. She received a pajama set for Teresa and herself and wanted to have some other clothes that matched. I was contemplating this when I remembered I had the leopard fabric (which Tess' mother had given me) and that Tess owned a leopard coat. After making the jacket, I asked Tess what kind of clothes she would like to have the same as Theresa. She said she was thinking of some tie-dye. Lucky for me Joanne fabric had tie-dye corduroy.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers

Well, here he is, Tigger. T-I-
double-guh-Rrrr. He's bouncy, floucy, trouncy, pouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun.

I have to admit that embroidering his stripes took a bit longer than I thought. I'm still glad I did it. I know it looks much better than if I had drawn them on with a marker as the pattern suggested.

I'm hoping my wool felt will arrive tomorrow so I can sew the r
est of the gang (Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo and Rabbit). If you have never read the original Winnie the Pooh stories you need to. They are slightly different than the Disney movies, but so endearing and wonderful. These felt creatures that I will sew are taken from the original drawings in the book by Ernest H. Shepard. I especially love the stories about Rabbit kidnapping Roo and trying to tame Tigger. Rabbit's grumpiness makes more sense to me in the books than in the movie. A must read for every adult who didn't get to read them as a child.

One more note: When Nathan (now aged 10) was a toddler, he used to ask for "More Pooh TV." Meaning, he wanted to watch Winnie the Pooh, just one more time. A classic book and a classic movie. Simplicity at its finest.

The Cuttting Table

I feel so blessed that the house we live in has enough bedrooms to include one room for all my sewing. I can leave my ironing board set up and plugged in at all times. My fabric sits (askew) on an old shelf that I think may have been a writing desk or included doors of some type. I keep meaning to refinish it, but I hate refinishing things. This room used to be a kitchen, so it includes an old porcelain sink and cabinets. The cabinets could use a spring cleaning (yes, I know it is winter...I'm sure I won't get to it until spring and school is finished). They hold a myriad of my sewing supplies and the boys' art supplies.
This is my newest project. I cut it out last night. A small wonder of a person and her mother are the inspiration. I hope to have this one finished by tomorrow. I'll post a picture of the finished project and the inspiration, if she is willing. Now to get Nolan out of bed. Our homeschool starts at 8 a.m. sharp.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Shop on Etsy

Well, I took the leap. I am now a seller on Etsy. You can see my two items for sale by clicking here. I have added a link to my shop on the sidebar of the blog as well.

Now to get pictures of my other items and see what happens. I'll keep you posted. Pun intended, I couldn't help it.

Central Market

I feel so lucky to live in a city with a market house. Central Market is one of the oldest market houses in the country and I beleive is the oldest continuously running market in the country. When I was a child, I worked at Southern Market for my Aunt Mary. We sold vegetables and pies and cookies and chow chow and slaw, among other things. Southern Market closed and was renovated into a visitor's center and offices.

One of the many perks to homeschooling the boys is the flexibility. I aim to shop at Market each week for fresh produce and local dairy products. The freshness of the fruits and vegetables (especially those in season) can't be found in the grocery store. We live about a mile from the center of town and so are able to walk to Market.

I have determined that living simply for me does not necessarily mean doing things more quickly or more cheaply. Simple means more healthy and more natural. I want to enjoy the tasks on which I am working as I am working on them. The boys and I had a great hour walking downtown and talking about their history lessons. We enjoyed the beautiful architecture of our city and a fine lunch of samosas (me) and soft pretzels (boys).

Here is a picture of my work in progress. In case you can't tell yet, this is Tigger. He has been in my sewing basket for about five years. This week I finished sewing and stuffing him. The pattern says to color his stripes with a black permanent marker but I decided to embroider his stripes because it will look better. He is made out of 100% wool felt with 100% wool stuffing. I love using this type of wool felt. It is very expensive but worth it for a project meant to last. I ordered more felt to make the rest of Tigger's pals. It should arrive in a day or two.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Square One

My fabulous hubby, Mike, agreed to play for a photography exhibition of an acquaintance. Aaron Gagne tonight. The kids and I went to Square One, a great little coffee house, to see him play. Mike played with an artist named Hiram Ring. I loved his music and watching them perform. Nathan and Nolan spent the hour playing cards and eating the free crackers, cheese and grapes.

More Derby

Here is Nathan sanding his car. He is wearing his winter jacket even though it has been unseasonably warm here in PA.

I can't figure out how to get pictures in between my text on this darn blog. My learning curve is steep.

Until I figure it out, I'm just going to make several blog entries instead of one longer one.

Pinewood Derby

The Pinewood Derby is in about three weeks. For those of you who aren't in the know, this is a Cub Scout event where the boys take a block of wood and whittle away until it becomes a car. They then race it at the Derby. Nathan and Nolan have been diligently working on sanding and now finally, beginning to paint their cars. I have been really impressed with how much work the boys have been putting into this project with no prodding from Mom or Dad.

A simple life

I never thought I'd be a blogger, but a few things have recently changed my mind. The first being a blog by Heather Bailey that I have become somewhat obsessed with in the last few weeks. The second is the fact that I have been doing a lot of thinking and a lot of sewing lately. The two actually go very well together. My thoughts have been toward simplifying my life. Anyone who knows me well knows that I have been working on this for quite some time. I find that life complicates itself and I don't always help matters. Blogging doesn't exactly lend itself to simplicity, but my hope is that I will share some of the journey here.

Finally, I also am thinking of trying to make some money with all of this sewing I have been doing. As soon as I figure out how to get my pictures uploaded where I want them in my post I'll upload some of my newest creations. I'm planning on selling some of my handmade creations on etsy. I'll keep you posted on this.
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