Summer, Sewing, & Retirement

Every once in awhile I need an attitude adjustment. This retirement thing is a work in progress. Even after 2 1/2 years I can easily fall into lazy habits, get off track, cringe when I jump on the scale, and well…basically I need to refocus! Not that I am not busy but I sometimes have found myself being busy with the business of being busy.

Huh????

Last week is a perfect example. On Monday I was at the hospital all day waiting for the arrival of our newest great-granddaughter. Very exciting! I was the on call labor coach in case the young parents needed reinforcements. I have been front and center for four of my own (of course), my sister, and four grandchildren. For six others I have impatiently sat in the waiting room. I have completed 3 Lamaze classes, read countless books, and offered too many hours to count of advice by phone, visits to nervous moms, and had more than most of sleepless nights in this miracle of babies, pregnancy, and babies being born. So there was no place I would have rather been!!

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I mean, is she perfect or what????

It was also the weekend visit of one of my oldest and dearest friends, a baby shower of her second grandchild, and a visit from our oldest grandson, home from almost two years away. During the week I met a sister for lunch, had my brother staying with us (and thrilled to have him back),  met a friend for coffee and another dear friend for our usual swimming meet up. Church, household stuff, Bible study, and oh yeah…Thommmee-the most patient and understanding husband on the planet needed some attention too.

Anyway, I realized that all of this business was causing me to stress a bit and I wasn’t enjoying the moments with all of the scheduling. I was talking too much about what I still had to do (how special did that make the person I was with feel?) so….readjusting and focusing on my friends and family became priority. Fortunately, these wonderful people love me as is and were most patient with me. I have to say, I treasure each and everyone of them!

Once I realized what I was doing I reminded myself to do what I love, make Thommmee a top priority, and slow down a bit. After all, retirement does not need a checklist!

What does that have to do with sewing you might ask? One of the things I love is sewing. My newest project is making these Sprocket Pillows.

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(for a niece)

They are so fun to make and a great way to use up scraps of fabric.

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(given to a granddaughter)

I am giving them away as fast as I make them.

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(another granddaughter)

I am not offering a tutorial as I was not able to obtain permission from the website where I found them (besides her tutorial is so fantastic). You can find instructions at cluckclucksew with a template included.

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(my friends grandson-nursery colors black, white, and gray!)

They are simple, fairly quick, and come in two sizes.

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We are leaving in a few days for a trip. It will include a visit along the California coast. Our itinerary open and flexible. Brother is back to work, baby and new parents are doing fine (we saw them yesterday). The grads have graduated, no birthdays, and the diet is out the window anyway.  No sewing next week but, that is alright.

I am ready for some quiet and time with Thommmee.

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The Christmas Cactus

The Christmas cactus is such an interesting little plant. They have flat odd oval shaped leaves.  The stems grow in all directions with no apparent rhyme or reason. In the late fall they develop lovely buds which usually open during the winter holidays when they then  become an amazingly beautiful plant. There are no pricklies as you would find in a more traditional cactus.

The Christmas cactus is officially called Schlumbergera which grows wild in the jungles near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  As a houseplant, you will often find them growing on a California patio or living room just about anyplace  where they can  thrive with proper care. The key to getting a Christmas cactus to flower during the holiday season  is the correct light exposure and temperatures with limited watering. As with most succulents and cactus, too much watering can make them soggy or even kill them.  In the fall months, the Christmas cactus should receive indirect bright light during the day with total darkness at night.  They often start blooming in late November and may continue on into January. The fiery blooms may be red, white or various shades of pink. The blooms last longer at about 45 to 70 degrees.

My mother in law lives near the Mississippi River and has the most beautiful Christmas cactus you have ever seen. It is always lush and full of green foliage when we visit each year but I have never been around when it blooms.

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I had her send me a picture.

The recent warmer fall  weather in the Midwest may have caused the late blooms this year. She has given me pieces to take home to grow my own cactus but I have had no success in getting one to start. My sister also has a Christmas cactus. Hers bloom magnificently during the holiday season.

This year, however, she has no blooms at all.

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She says it is in mourning because of the loss of our sister. Can plants be intuitive this way?  I have no idea but two years ago it looked like this…

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…and last year like this.

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This year it is simply drooping.

We were all drooping a little this Christmas.

When visiting recently, I asked if I could have a piece of the cactus to take home and try once again to grow one from a cutting. She said she could do even better!  She has a friend whose father starts Christmas cactus all the time and was certain he’d be delighted to give me one. Sure enough, a week later I had my own Christmas cactus.

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Now I would hardly call it a start. I would more call it a young plant and I am thrilled. The trick will be to see if I can keep it alive.  One of my goals this year is to increase the number of houseplants I have. Last year I started with a few small ones…

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and so far so good.

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I love African Violets and I think this one may actually bloom.

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The antique cup with the succulent was a gift.

In the past I have had some moderate success growing houseplants. We have some nosey cats now and I need to be sure the plants are either out of reach or non toxic. The Christmas cactus in non toxic.

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(Delilah, my faithful feline companion)

Houseplants is a newer hobby I am pursuing in my retirement. Not only are indoor plants pleasing to the eye, but during photosynthesis they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. They increase humidity in the air around them, help purify the air, and some think even offer other health benefits-even boost healing!

I am going to try to propagate another plant from a cutting but for the moment, I will just enjoy and embrace my beautiful Christmas cactus.

Check back in 6 months and I’ll let you know how I’m doing!

Moving Forward

Last week I was merely looking forward and now I am actually moving forward!  As with most of us, we start out the year with the best of intentions and I am no different. How long we can keep it up?  Well, that depends on the person. Based on my past experience, I know that my excitement (and energy) may fade in time so I am trying to strike while the iron is hot as they say.

While my Christmas decorations still linger all over the house…

and our sad little tree, although stripped of its ornaments, still lies in wait for hibernation.

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We  bought this pitiful little tree about 4 years ago as a door buster/pre Christmas sale. I had wanted a new tree for such a long time but hesitated to spend the money. This was such a deal I jumped on it  and gave our nice full-slightly worn tree to one of our daughters. When I put this one up I wanted to call her and ask for my old tree back (which is still looking beautiful at her house by the way) but  that didn’t seem fair so we decided to just make the best of it. We have learned to love this little Charlie Brown tree and it is actually much more practical in our small home. This is true most especially  on Christmas Eve when we cram between 25-30 family members in this little place!

Anyway, I digress. As I mentioned in my last post I was excited to start organizing and purging and decided to ignore the holiday stuff for now (besides, we do enjoy our little tree as do the cats).

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Next I decided to tackle my sewing/spare bedroom.  I tossed out 2 bags of trash and 3 large bags to be donated or set aside for our next (probably unsuccessful) yard sale. After all, Why not clutter up the storage shed and a chance to maybe change my mind about a few things?

I began pulling things out of drawers and closets and created a great deal of chaos. I had scraps, lengths of fabric and craft supplies everywhere.

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When I returned to sewing a few years ago I read some advice that you should not throw away even the smallest scrap of fabric. There would always be some use for it down the road. Well, I took this to heart and complete disorganization erupted. I had stuffed and stashed in every spare inch . This was not going to be part of my organizational plan so I decided to only save the small pieces that I could fit into one container.

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Now don’t feel too sorry for me. This does not count the larger pieces of fabric, nor heaven forbid,  my FABRIC STASH. I painfully let go of some little pieces and some crazy things I would never use.

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I am sure I could find a use for the tiger scrap on top but not in my foreseeable future so I ruthlessly tossed it  out ( I kept the basket).

Then I got down to the nitty-gritty. This vacuum sealed bag of various fabric is going to the donation bin…. or the shed for the potential yard sale.

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It is difficult to get a true picture of how much fabric is in here. Most of it was given to me anyway so I  am fairly certain I would never have a use for most of it.

Things were starting to come together…

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I arranged some almost finished spools of thread in a decorative way so not to clog up my thread organizer.

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The closet was a bit more challenging but I kept at it…

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…and managed some organization.

Finally I surveyed the room and I have to say was somewhat pleased with the result.

It’s not perfect but everything has a place and all of my fabric is in a storage bin or neatly organized. I think my  guests next week will be comfortable.

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Lastly, I took a moment to not only appreciate two days of hard work, but to admire the view outside my sewing room window.

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Now it’s time to put away the Christmas decorations.

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Then I can begin my new sewing project.

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Yes…

I really did go out and buy more fabric!

Happy National Button Day!

 

November 16th is

National Button Day.

I did not know this interesting tidbit of information. It was established in 1938 by

The National Button Society

to celebrate those who love to collect or craft with buttons.

Wow!

Is there seriously a day for just about anything?

Probably.

Like most sewers, I have my own stash  of buttons.

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(I never considered it a collection)

I often can’t resist when I see buttons at a yard sale or a deal at my local fabric store. I have separated them by color and even occasionally use some of them. I have tossed them all into a big jar and used them as a game for a baby shower or birthday party-you know, guess how many buttons are in the jar and win a prize…

I may have  even used some in a craft project.

Collect them, no…

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but come to think of it…it might be fun!

Anyway,

Happy National Button Day!

A work in progress…

I have officially reached the age to receive Medicare. When I was younger it seemed a place so far away that surely if I ever reached this ancient age I would be used up and simply plant myself in a comfy chair to wait out my remaining years.

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Guess what?

I don’t feel that way at all. In fact, I have now reached a crossroads where I need to decide…

What do I want to do with the rest of my life?

If a normal reasonably healthy woman in the US has a life expectancy of 89 years old, I may have another 20+ or so years left. I realize that death came come “like a thief in the night, we know not when” as it states in the Bible, but just for argument sake, let me assume I will hang in another 20 years with at least moderately decent good health and a few good brain cells working.

So now what?

If you have read my blog you know I have a fabulous husband, many grandchildren, great kids, friends, am active in my church, and between all of that I am pretty busy with events, camping, birthday parties, vacations, and various outings. I also like to sew, get some reasonable pleasure from cooking, some gardening, and have recently started reading again (after a long dry spell).

Where do I go from here?

The first year of retirement  life seemed so clear. I had a purpose-I was now free of a daily required schedule and had the gift of life that retirement allowed. I jumped out of bed every morning relishing in the newness of not having to go to work every day. I was free to pursue the joys of life within my moderate budget. I don’t jump up quite so quickly these days. I joyfully  embraced the time I now had to spend time with those I loved and cared about. That has not changed at all. I was dedicated to getting to the gym regularly. Not so much any more (to be honest less and less). I sewed almost daily. Not now unless I have a specific project. I explored  and planned new adventures, combed blogs and the internet for ideas, and created new creations in the kitchen. Now-well, we have to eat so I have to cook. I blogged regularly. You can see that is not happening these days. I am lucky if I post twice a month. I was energetic and enthusiastic about almost everything. Now, yawn, is it naptime yet?

What happened?

I know, I need to eat better and exercise more.   I tried a crash exercise plan to get back into a groove with little success. Confession time-I have been slacking. I  know I thrive better on a routine so I have been attempting to tighten the reins on my daily activities-but remain somewhat flexible for unexpected opportunities.  (Isn’t it 5:00 somewhere?)

What now?

I crave to find a passion. Should I seek a new passion or revive an old one? Or a combination of both? Should I embrace a cause, volunteer,  get out more, or focus on the projects here at home? Is it all in my head or is it this aching body that seems to have slowed me down? Or is it all connected? Am I just finding a reasonable stride or am I really considering turning into that couch potato I was so worried about becoming? My kids laugh that I am so busy they can hardly keep up with my schedule. Am I being too hard on myself?

????

Life is a journey to be continued…

th

Summertime!

I have been a bit absent and distracted from my blog for the past few weeks. I have tried to keep up with my favorite bloggers but may may have missed a few of you. It might take me some time to catch up.

What have I been up to????

Well…

I have been granddaughter and doggie sitting for a few weeks.

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 (while their parents have been in Alaska!)

A few beach trips…

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 …and poolside with grandkids or my swimming buddy.

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Giving sewing lessons…

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My recent project of sewing 150 zippered bags is complete and they are now finding new homes across the globe.

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Making more strawberry jam.

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(seems I give it away almost as fast as I make it…or eat it!)

 Hitting a few yard sales. Picked up this great rattan chair.

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 (One of the cats thinks we bought it just for her)

Planning a trip to Idaho via Yellowstone and the Tetons later this month. (Did I say road trip?)

 Heading to Big Bear Lake in the local mountains for a 3 day camping trip.

(No campfires allowed due to the drought and high fire danger)

 Catching up on some housework

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 with a little help.

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 And summer has only just begun!

All is quiet on the home front

I suppose it happens to the best of writers, the novice writers, bloggers, and just about anyone else that writes. Now It has happened to me. I have nothing to write about.

I stare at the blank page and try to think of something interesting to say. Unlike  Gwendoline, excited about an actual book she is having published, I cannot even seem to complete an actual post much less an entire book! With my very generic name-mommermom-I could write about anything really. I was going to update my cheesy-zucchini-rice. Getting all excited about sharing it, I took pictures and wrote down the changes but then it hardly seemed worth mentioning in a full post. If I were a more confident seamstress I could post another sewing tutorial or offer an update on the project I am currently working on-sewing 150 of my zippered bags.

wpid-20150605_080640.jpgIf I were a true gardening blog, I would tell you marvelous stories about our little garden and how exciting it is to cook up some fresh zucchini.

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(which I may still do as the garden yields more veggies). Sarah over at Coffee to Compost helps to keep me motivated.

I could share the sad saga of our cat,

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that we had put down after 16 years of being a faithful and beloved pet. There has been no vacation this year as we stayed home and nursed our ailing Kitty Boy until the end.

If I were a great photographer like Two Trails One Road ,  I might share some amazing photos.  I could post about the weather (again) but with all the heartache, flooding, and weather related tragedies going on in so many places, it seems a little shallow to talk about the May gray that is now turned into June gloom.

I take time to read many blogs and have chuckled to wonder what happened to Marlene’s grinder  or the next gorgeous painting taking shape over at The Contented Crafter, what adorable sewing projects Scooby or Sewlovable have stitched up or delightful recipes Rosemarie’s Kitchen has shared. Masgautsen might have taken another delightful trip or an enjoyable long weekend. She always seems to have such fun.  Lani recently got back from a beautiful Hawaiian vacation and I envy how comfortable she is in far away lands! I could tout the joy of retirement (which only gets better) but that can soon become an old topic for those who have been at it awhile or those who get up early to head off to work. Colin is no longer tramping in the woods but has moved on with an exciting new blog and Stonecrop Sister is also making changes to her blog. I too would like to make changes but am at somewhat of a loss as to the more technical aspects of WordPress.

Actually, life is good. Thommmee, 12 grandchildren, 6 grown kids, our large family, wonderful friends, church activities, gardening, sewing, cooking, catching up with many more blogs, and life in general keep me plenty busy! I have even started reading again.

Right now…

I just don’t seem to have much to say…

Sewing tutorial-zippered pouches

Sewing is a passion of mine. Looking over my blog one might not know that as I don’t share many of my projects. I don’t consider myself to be a great sewer and feel a bit apprehensive sharing my stuff.  During my high school and college years, I sewed almost all of my clothes.  Later I sewed for my children until they reached an age when they did not want to be seen in ‘homemade’ clothes anymore-instead striving to be just like everyone else. In the past few years I have rekindled my love of sewing but now focus more on home décor and craft items.

One of my most popular posts, surprisingly, is my Fabric Origami Bag which is one of my favorite crafts to sew. It is easy and would be perfect for kids, simple projects, or beginning sewers.   Last year I began sewing zippered pouches.  I make cosmetic bags, coin purses, and pencil cases. These are fun (and easy) projects too!  I enjoy putting together color combinations and adding the little extras.  Selecting fabrics, cutting, and picking embellishments takes more time than the actual sewing. Since we live in an instant gratification world, these bags are perfect! You have a finished piece in a very short amount of time.  Like most sewers, I have a stash of fabric around as well as extra zippers…

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…which I order in bulk on Amazon.

(Much cheaper that way!)

I have decided to try another sewing tutorial (and you will need a sewing machine for this)

Supplies needed:

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2 small pieces of fabric  (cotton or cotton blend)

a 10 inch or longer (longer is better) nylon zipper (you will be cutting the zipper so nylon is a must)

some type of craft interfacing or stabilizer. I use a medium weight stabilizer. It can be an fusible but I prefer to just use a glue stick appropriate for fabric)

matching thread

scissors

pinking shears (not required but nice)

craft or fabric glue

First select 2 contrasting fabrics.

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For this purpose I am making a pencil type bag which will be longer and more narrow

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Approx. 8 inches wide x 10 inches wide

These measurements do not need to be exact and I seldom measure (instead just using whatever I have lying around)

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Next cut a piece of stabilizer, the same size.

Glue fabric to each side of stabilizer so you now have a two-sided piece to work with.

That means you have the stabilizer sandwiched between 2 pieces of contrasting fabric.

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 (not the same bag but to give you a different look at your glued rectangle)

Using pinking shears, cut the edges around the outside of the rectangle.

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Next lay you zipper across the widest side of your finished piece-zipper facing down.

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If you lay the zipper on the shorter side, you will end of with something more of a glasses case or (or what they used to call a cigarette case). This is ok too but for this tutorial we will stick with the pencil bag size.  You can use your glue stick to lightly glue your zipper into place or pin. I like to sew it with just the pinked edges poking out for a more decorative look even though this will be on the inside of the bag, This bag is not lined so you will get an occasional glimpse of this when opening and closing your bag.

Machine stitch and if you need to-use a zipper foot attachment to get close. Unless I am working with a very small bag, I don’t usually switch to my zipper foot.

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Using your fingers, smooth the zipper up so that it is now facing up as it should be in the finished bag.

Topstitch the to keep it in place and to avoid snagging when open and closing your bag. Keep the topstitch  1/8 inch or so from the edge and to catch the pinked edge underneath.

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Now fold the bag so that is inside out. The next step is to stitch the zipper to the other side of your piece. Again, allow the pinked edge to peak out ever so slightly. Sew into place and again top stitch. If you use to small of a zipper, it makes top stitching this side more difficult.

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You will now have an inside out bag, top stitched on both sides and believe it or not we are almost done!

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The next step is sew up the sides. If you would like to have a little handle now is the time to get that ready. You can either use a piece of ribbon, cord, or create your own using the same or contracting fabric. I usually use the same fabric as the outside of the bag. Take a piece of fabric approx. 8 inches in length. Fold in half and stitch up the side. Turn using a safety-pin (or a fancy turning gadget)  so that you now have a neat little strip. Press, Fold in half.

I always take a moment to look over my project at this point, double check to see my zipper moves smoothly and check for any mistakes. If I am going to catch a mistake now is the time to do so!  Turn you bag inside out and we will now stitch up the sides. The zipper will fall onto the front of the bag-not on the top. Depending on the size of the bag, I like to fold over about 1-2 inches.

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Anything less than an inch will allow too much of the unlined bag to show when opening and closing. If you have decided to use the strap/handle, now is the time to insert. Place strap inside the bag so it will be laying against the outside fabric with the edges matched up to the edge of the bag.

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See the ribbon on the inside?

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Or if you are using a matching fabric strap.

You can pin into place. These bags are so small that it is not difficult to hold in place but pinning is a good idea. Now stitch up that side. Don’t forget to leave the zipper open so you can turn you bag and make sure your zipper pull is within the area of the bag.

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Be certain the zipper teeth are held/pinned together when sewing. Yes, you can sew right over the zipper! I like to go over the strap and zipper several times to make sure it will hold. Don’t worry about the excess zipper hanging out at this point.

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Flip your bag around and stitch up the other side taking care that the zipper is centered evenly on both sides so you do not get a crooked bag. This is one of the few time I actually do measure!

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Taking your pinking shears, trim off the zipper on each side.

Really-go ahead!

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It is now a good time to use those shears to tidy up the sides of your bag.

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Now turn you bag right side out.

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Yes…finished!

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(with a fabric strap)

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(with a ribbon strap)

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Now I love embellishments so I usually add a zipper pull using a length of ribbon with beads attached.

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It just depends on how long you want your zipper pull.

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I like to use a variety of beads and ribbon or cord.

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This is a great way to use up small pieces of fabric and leftover ribbon. My bags are always different sizes depending on which scraps of fabric I have lying around. I keep a few bags  around for birthdays or hostess gifts.

They are also good as a gift card holder!

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Beads, ribbon, and strap are optional.

Happy sewing!

Kitchen remodel; part 2

The remodel is coming along very slowly. After clearing off the popcorn ceiling, we had to wait on the electrician to replace the lighting. This task was a bit out of Thommmee’s comfort zone.

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We went with the first guy. He and his father had their own company. I liked that. Not only could he afford to bid competitively, he was a bit of a perfectionist.

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It took him four visits to get things to his liking and he took his time to get it just right.

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Next we painted the kitchen the very pale gray we had decided upon.

(We had a little helper)

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We are pretty happy so far.

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(The antique washstand will find a new place in our home)

We then began the laborious task of scrubbing down the cabinets and switching out the hardware.

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Little did I know I would have to hold each cabinet door while Thommmee drilled holes .

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This was probably the most boring part!  The new on the left and the old above the fridge.

(very subtle but effective)

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Of course I then felt compelled to clean out each cabinet as we went along and this took some time.

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Home Depot has become our home away from home. That and many other stores as we search for just the right items!

(still searching)

Next was to replace the lighting over the kitchen sink.

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Thommmee decided to start this project while I was cleaning up breakfast dishes!

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Before you knew it the light was replaced!

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While he was busy, I worked on painting a mirror we have hanging.

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Before…

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after…

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(Now what to put in that huge space!)

There were also minor changes that needed to be made.

From this…

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We still have to decide on window coverings, what to do with the eat-in area of the kitchen, build some shelving, floor, dishwasher…

Until next time, from

2014-01-29 19.12.40 (2)

Retirement-one year later

It is hard to believe that one year ago today I walked out of work for the last time. I looked at my earlier post celebrating this big event. I wanted to find out how I felt that day. I wanted to see what my expectations were, what I was thinking, planning, and to see how this year came together.

This is what I discovered.

I commented that I was free to pursue many things.  I am pleased to find that many of those dreams are being fulfilled but… some not exactly as expected!

I come and go as I please.

I did not start a sewing business. Most of my (many) hours of sewing are for gifts or simply pleasure.

I can stay up late if I want to… but… these days I really don’t make it much past 9:00PM.

I do spend time with family and friends and have worked on strengthening those relationships.

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I spend a great deal of time in the kitchen and you will often find me experimenting with new recipes. For someone who really never liked to cook this was a huge discovery.

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I cleaned out a few closets and drawers but somehow this does not seem as important to me as it once did (go figure).

We did plant a vegetable garden last year but spent so much time vacationing that the results were somewhat less than spectacular.

Oh well.

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(photo courtesy of Pinterest)

I did make several batches of strawberry jam

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and even took a crack at making lemon marmalade.

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I have not read many books this year.  Although I love to read, I really found that I don’t like to sit quietly very much.

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I have spent countless hours talking on the phone, emailing and catching up with people. When I want to. Voice mail or text messages when I don’t.

I did manage to regularly attend the gym 2-4 times a week… faithfully… until about Thanksgiving…

I do attend a weekly Bible study, occasionally keep grandkids for the weekend and do some babysitting for our newest granddaughter.

Well, you get the idea. Some success…some not so much.

But…

I am happy and loving life!

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Not for one minute have I missed working at a “real job.” I love the freedom that retirement allows.

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(courtesy: be the change tumbler.com)

I love spending time with Thommmee. I don’t miss the extra money as I had feared. More time allows for more ways to be frugal. I find I need less-in fact-I find I want less!

I did buy a much needed coat at a local thrift store… for $8.00.

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With all the time I spend in the kitchen I splurged on a glass Pyrex pie pan, loaf, pan, square pan, and glass mixing bowl for $1.00 each at an estate sale.

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I have clipped coupons, shopped sales, and made many gifts. I try not to waste and plan meals based on what is in the kitchen. We don’t eat out often. We are a do-it-yourself couple living the good life in our little house in our own little corner of the world.

I wouldn’t trade a thing!

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I’m purring a lot these days

(No intent to borrow photos without permission or misuse intended.)