Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Consider the Lillies of the Field

The plumber just left. Just left a really big hole in my plaster ceiling that is. I think I mentioned what a mess this house was in when we moved here. We were able to fix the appearance for the most part with primer and paint and the removal of a LOT of horrible carpeting. It took quite a while but we were happy with the fix. Now we are beginning to realize that there were some difficulties that go beyond the looks of the place. Yesterday, for instance, after I took a shower, the water didn't drain. Mike got some drain-o and the snake and the plunger and started in on what he thought was a difficult clog. When I arrived home from the pool with the kids there was water seeping out of my first floor hall ceiling and wall and water pouring out of the basement ceiling. Oh no. Today the plumber came and the only way for him to see what was wrong was to put a hole in the ceiling of our hall (see above picture). Guess what we saw? Duck Tape holding together some of the pipes. Two leaks. We have known that the bath and shower would need replacing when we bought the house. Nolan was four at the time and we had a five year plan. In five years the boys would be in school and old enough to not need me all the time and I'd have had a part time job for some time, giving us the money necessary to fix the bathroom (and the kitchen). Well, here we are five years later and life has turned out a bit different than we planned. The kids are homeschooled and Mike has his own business. This has been such a blessing and I know it is God's plan for our lives. But it also means that it is all but impossible for me to work and we have to pay out of pocket for our health insurance. Doesn't leave a lot of money for fixing up the house. I'm ok with that except when the plumbing explodes!

So, what do we do??? We realize that while there is a hole in the ceiling we may as well bite the bullet and replace the tub. Not our timing, but when has my timing been right. God's timing for sure. I don't understand it, but it will work out.

Anybody want to buy a quilt??? Here's the new one I'm working on. I may try to make this one into a single bed size. It will have a total of five colors of pinwheels: pink, yellow, blue, green and orange. I finished up the pink squares while the plumber was fixing the pipes. Amy and I will be at Eastern Market again this Saturday and hopefully will be at the New Holland Market the next week. I sure hope someone wants to buy my wares. But if not, it will be fabulous fellowship with a good friend who is having her own troubles (car, not plumbing).

Monday, July 30, 2007

Practice Contentment

I have been reading the book Living More with Less over the past week. It has been a very inspiring book. The ideas in the book are some practical and some radical (at least in North American culture). I have been thinking a lot lately about the way that our family lives and wanting to do more to be frugal. One of the things that has been pressing on me is the "throw away mentality" of our times. The idea that we need to own many things to be happy. Shopping is akin to overeating. Here are a few items that we are going to try to follow:
  • Keep our clothing to a minimum. All of my clothing (summer and winter) fit in one closet and one dresser.
  • When we need to buy clothing, take the time to look at thrift stores before buying new.
  • Use the library instead of buying books for homeschooling whenever possible
  • Lend what we have to others so they do not have to purchase.
  • Eat the food that we have in the house instead of shopping just because we are out of our favorites
  • Buy from locally owned farms and businesses whenever possible
  • Minimize trash.
This last one is difficult and I am still thinking on it. One of the things I have been doing is eliminating the need for paper products. I have been making "paper" towels out of an old flannel sheet that has worn out. It should be just as absorbent as the paper and not need to be tossed into the trash but washed and reused. I am also going to make everyday napkins out of fabric scraps. Instead of paper plates and cups we can use our camping or picnic supplies. I want to find out if we can recycle regular paper and envelopes as that is another item we throw away often.
These pictures are of my "flannel towels." I cut them 11x11 inches and zigzagged the edges to keep them from fraying. I still have quite a few to sew as the queen sized sheet gave me plenty of towels. Another thing I use flannel for is on my Swifter. I have actually been doing this for quite a while as I hated buying those boxes of throw-away rags for the Swifter. I'm convinced it's a racket. I just copied the size and cut out flannel. Works like a charm.

I welcome any of your ideas to eliminate trash or to save money and energy. I'm contemplating hanging my wash to dry as this will save lots of electricity and gas. Let me know what you do.

Friday, July 27, 2007


We took what may be my most favorite vacation of all time this week. We camped at the beach. Mike and I were trying to figure out why this most simple of all vacations is my favorite. He thinks it is because we don't feel the need to be on the go all the time to get out of the hotel room. We cooked on the camp stove or over the fire every day, played games, wandered around the park which also used to be an army base, sat on the beach and watched the kids frolic in the ocean. When I use the word frolic, I am not exaggerating. My children LOVE the ocean. Nathan also loves the sand because when he gets too cold in the water he can bury himself in the sand and warm up. It was perfect.The weather was also exquisite. Not very humid with a nice breeze. Mike had the novel idea of having Nathan take our picture since there are very few pictures of the two of us. You can see Nolan being his usual goofy self on the side. I told him I'm going to crop him out. I could go on and on about this little slice of paradise but I think you get the picture.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter Mania

We had a great time last night at Dogstar books. Nolan won a free copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. We stayed until midnight to pick up the copy. I guess we should stay awake till midnight more often because Nolan swam his personal best in backstroke and swam faster in freestyle than he has in several weeks at the swim meet this afternoon. The above picture shows Fred, George and Ginny Weasley and below is Fred and his Patronus Charm.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Pinwheel Potter Spelling Mania

I have been pondering the fact that pink pinwheels make me really happy. I mean REALLY happy. My parents would laugh if they read this (which they won't because they don't have a computer) because I have hated pink for most of my life. I'm coming around though. It could be the circular pattern of the pinwheel that does it for me (you remember how crazy I am for circles and all things in the round?) Well, whatever the reason, I wanted to make this pinwheel pattern for a while. I actually have tons of fat quarters in vibrant colors and want to make a larger pinwheel quilt using all the colors. I think that will be next although I did see this wonderful quilt and may have to make that one soon too.In other news...in case you haven't heard....tonight at midnight is the release of the newest and last Harry Potter book. We have a wonderful little used book store in our neighborhood called Dogstar Books. We will be attending a Harry Potter party there tonight in full costume. There is an art contest and so there will be a Harry Potter quilt on display. The kids will be all decked out although Mike and I may dress as Muggles (non-magical folks for those of you who aren't HP fans). We hope it will be good fun and want to support a local independent merchant.Finally, the spelling part of the post. My homeschool affidavit is due soon to the school district and so I have begun thinking less of quilts and more of school lessons. Most recently this has taken the form of spelling programs. Spelling is not everyone's gift here at our home and I'm looking for some help. I'll take any and all suggestions and am looking into the Phonetic Zoo program even though it is terribly expensive.

Monday, July 16, 2007

New Mini Quilt

Here is my newest mini quilt. It was completed in the Denyse Schmidt Drunk Love Two Tone style. I learned how to quilt because I read an article in a Martha Stewart magazine about Denyse Schmidt and her "take" on quilting. I loved that things were very random and not at all like the Amish quilts we often see here in Lancaster. I have great appreciation for all kinds of quilts but not all of them please me aesthetically. I'm pretty sure most of my mini quilts are going to go on my bedroom wall. I have them for sale on Etsy so if they sell, they sell but if not, I'll hang them behind the bed.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Family Day

Sunday at our house is family day. Well, we've just begun this little practice after we realized how little time we were spending as a family. Although we are often all home, we are not all together. Mike and I decided a few weeks ago that we needed to really carve out a day to spend together as a family. Last week we went on a long hike and today we went to Insect Weekend at our local (I mean 1/2 a block from our house local) museum. Above is an African Millipede being lovingly petted by the boys. I did not know that millipedes have four legs per body section and centipedes have only two per section. Can I count this as a day of school? Below are the boys in there bug-eye glasses. Pretty groovy, huh! We enjoyed a very entertaining flea circus by this fellow below. He had several trained fleas that jumped from a balloon into a small bucket of water, rang a little bell and jumped out of a cannon. Very vaudeville. Another of our favorites was the cockroach races. Number nine was the winner of this particular race. After our afternoon of insects we had dinner on the patio, enjoyed a few games of darts with our newly restocked set of darts (the old ones all broke) and then returned to the ever cooling outdoors for a family game of Skip Bo as the fireflies gathered to say goodnight.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Doll Quilt Challenge

I decided to join a few Flickr groups. I first joined the Doll Quilt Crazy group and then decided on the Doll Quilt Challenge. I want to make some mini quilts for my stand at Eastern Market but also have decided to make some mini quilts to hang behind our bed. I have decided that our bedroom is in desperate need of an update. When we bought our house the whole thing was in terrible shape. We ripped up all the carpeting, redid the floors (in varying ways) and painted, painted, painted. By the time I got to our bedroom I was sort of sick of the whole project and we just left the trim alone and painted the walls. I still like the wall color but want to paint the trim white and make a duvet cover for our comforter, add the mini quilts to the wall, maybe update the curtains and cover the pillows. Nothing drastic but yet enough to make a difference. I made my first mini quilt for the Doll Quilt Challenge. This was the June challenge, the disappearing nine patch. Of course you now know how I found the pattern for my large quilt. I used the chicken fabric again because I already had some squares cut out and I just cut each of the large squares in four to have two inch squares for the mini quilt.The July challenge is the confetti quilt that I also just finished (in a much larger size). I'm not sure I'm up to making that one just now. I loved making it but I'm ready for something else. I think I'm going to raid my stash and work on a mini Denyse Schmidt-esque quilt. Her quilts are the reason I initially learned to quilt but yet I still have never made one. My parents may be taking the kids mini-golfing today so I may have some extra time to whip something up.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Confetti Quilt Finished

Well, here is my newest creation. This confetti quilt was made for a friend who ordered a baby quilt. I loved the quilt tutorial from Lady Harvatine's blog. I had loads of fun piecing this together and I quilted it around each colored block. The backing fabric is fun blue and green circles (the baby this goes to IS a boy).I just confirmed that Amy and I will be at Eastern Market again on August 4th. I'm thinking mini quilts...

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Well folks, we did it! Amy and I had a great time today at Eastern Market. Although I didn't sell any quilts, I did sell a few of my other wares as did Amy. We are going to go back again in August for another go. Amy has so much style and her side of the stand looked way better than mine (which is part of the reason I asked her to go into it with me....she makes me look better!) Her daughter made her sign (I'm going to have to hire her) and her son did her business cards. Amazing. AND her husband dropped her off and picked her up. SO CUTE.Thank you to everyone that came out to support us. We love you! All of the other standholders were super duper nice and supportive and had some really fantastic wares.
I'm a bit sunburned but happy and had to share this last picture. The most amazing piano music is floating upstairs while I write this and I wish I could share the sounds with you but you'll just have to do with the picture of my hubby at the piano.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Prayerful Pondering

In all my obsessiveness about Eastern Market, I have been pondering my purpose as a seamstress (or artisan or whatever you want to call it). I have thought long and hard about what it is that I ENJOY sewing verses what I think might sell. This was the easiest of the questions to answer. I love making quilts.Now, the next question in my head has been, "what is the purpose of Simply Sewn?" Being a Christian, I must ask myself what Christ wants from my life. My husband and I have made lots of decisions based on what we believe we have been called to do. These decisions have not always been "smart" or "fiscally responsible" if one looks at it from a worldly perspective. I quit my job to homeschool our children, Mike quit his corporate job because it was slowly killing him and began teaching music to children. We pay out of pocket for our health insurance because of it. I have gone to Mass and cried to God, "but what happens if..." and "This doesn't make sense, how will we pay for _____ if ____happens?" The answer that was provided to me was "Yes, you are right, it doesn't make sense. It doesn't make sense in the world's eyes but it does make sense to Me." Powerful. I have realized that I have let my prayer and Bible study go due to this sewing business. I have dedicated myself back to my early morning "gift to God" of my time in prayer and study. Yes, it is only 7:30 am but I get up early and have already read and prayed (and drank three cups of coffee). Yesterday I read about the "ideal wife" in Proverbs to try to get a sense of how to balance my life as a wife and mother. This wife sews, she sells her wares, she gives to the poor, she works hard, she provides for her family, she watches her family's conduct to make sure it is upstanding, she is God fearing. I know I am a work in progress and I am praying that God show me what he wants me to do with all this sewing......I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Makes me happy

While waiting for my tee-pee to wash and dry I was perusing the book The Children's Year. This has so many nice little projects. I saw a pattern for a froggy bean bag and just couldn't resist. The frogs were to be sewn then turned out but because I used fleece and the pattern was so little this was not going to happen. Also the eyes were to be beads but I am always afraid that a small one is going to eat the bead so I just embroidered them.I can't exactly tell you why these little guys make me happy, but they do. I have also been singing "Froggy went a courting" all day. I will have these little frogs for sale on Saturday at Eastern Market. I hope they make you smile as much as me. Have a great day.

Ready to Quilt

My next door neighbor ordered a baby quilt for a friend who just had a boy. I have wanted to make this quilt ever since I saw it. It was really easy and lots of fun until I got to the part where I had to fit all the pieces together. That was a little harder than making the blocks. All in all it was a very fun project and I love the way it is turning out. Time to quilt.
I have been having a ball in my "studio." Translation: sewing room. Now that I am an "artisan" translation: mom who sews, I am trying to spend a few hours (translation: every spare minute) working on my craft (sewing). It is amazing to me just how productive one can be when there are fewer distractions. Don't worry, I'm still taking Nolan to swim practice, making supper, helping Nathan earn his free Hershey Park ticket and doing the dishes.

Today's project: fix up an old tee-pee for a three-year-old's birthday tomorrow. I made this project when my kids were very little. It is made out of PVC pipe and fabric and folds out into this great tee-pee but also folds up for easy storage. My kids are too big for it now and I think this particular boy and his brother (and soon to be new sibling) and cousin who lives next door will give it new life. I have the fabric in the wash and then have some patch work to do. The party's tomorrow. I'm thinking of making a bigger version for the boys since they still love to have a little space of their own in the back yard and we don't have a tree for a tree house. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Heather Bailey Meets Little House on the Prairie

This bonnet and bag are from a pattern my mom used when I was in Kindergarten. I'm excited that my friend Amy will be at Eastern Market with me on Saturday.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Disappearing Nine Patch Quilt

My darling husband and I set aside today as "family day" so I'm not going to post a whole lot. After Mass this morning our family went out for breakfast at this fantastic little restaurant called, Wish You Were Here. Nathan commented that "this restaurant makes the best pancakes." Yum.We then came home and put on our hiking gear and went on what had to be the toughest hike of our lives (remember we are rather wimpy) at Susquehannock State Park. Lots of steep hills and narrow paths and rocks.I had a few minutes between reading the newspaper with Mike and making dinner. I finished my newest quilt this morning before Mass (I get a lot of quilting done between the hours of 6:30 and 8 am.) It just came out of the dryer and I love it so much I wanted to share it with you. It will be for sale at Eastern Market on Saturday and in my Etsy shop soon. To understand how to make a disappearing nine patch check out this easy tutorial. I used 30's and 40's reproduction fabrics from Burkholder's (my favorite quilt shop to date). I just LOVE the little chicks and chickens fabric. Some of the eggs are whole and some are broken. I have some extra of this and need to make something fun out of it. I'm just not sure what yet.
After supper we are having a fire cracker extravaganza. The kids are very excited. I'm making my meal completely from food bought at Eastern Market yesterday.
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