Last Week and Memorial Day Weekend

Continuing My Exciting World of Crafting

Patriotic Pillow

I made this patriotic pillow in class this week. We worked again on buttonholes and buttons. With my Singer machine, it has a 4-part buttonhole maker. It takes a little bit of work to make it work just right, but it’s still doable. I used the same pillow insert as I did with the project last week. I picked out this beautiful blue and white striped fabric covered in stars. Luckily my sewing instructor had some great red, white, and blue buttons in her basket. It’s going to take a lot of practice to get the buttonholes down, but I think I’ll eventually become proficient in it. It’s not so hard to machine sew buttons, it’s just tedious to get it lined up just right.

Both of my parents had birthdays this week. I made my mom a little bookmark with a white and yellow polka dot fabric. It had a brown button on the top. Then I made her a rice pack that she can use either warm or cold depending on the need. I made my dad a houndstooth rice pack accented with red and white thread to pay homage to his love of University of Alabama football. He’s been using it for shoulder pain.

Daddy's Rice Pack Cropped

Yesterday afternoon I decided to make a cool pack for myself with some brightly colored flannel I have. It ended up longer than I intended it to, but it’s ok. I added peppermint essential oil to the rice. After I finished stitching it up, I put it in the freezer to use on my head when I get headaches.My Rice Pack

I’m saving a lot of patterns on Pinterest that I’d like to try. I’m on the search for buttons and thread to accent my pieces.


Health

This has not been the best week for health for both family and myself. I personally suddenly started having vision problems a few weeks ago. I had also started having trouble when walking with my right foot dragging.

My right foot was dragging initially when I had a spinal cord illness called Transverse Myelitis in 2012. It’s not doing it all the time, and I thought it may be a problem with my low back. I went to the neurologist who ordered an MRI of my low back.

A little over a week and a half ago, I noticed my eyes were hurting and having some dryness. I made an appointment with my eye doctor. He seemed to think I might have some thyroid troubles and that it was what was causing the eye pain, blurred vision, and double vision. He mentioned a thyroid disease, so I contacted my primary doctor. Before I went to him, I found some information showing a condition that can occur with those who’ve had transverse myelitis, and I want to rule it out. I have an MRI of my brain this coming week, and if it doesn’t show a neurological problem, I’ll be going to an endocrinologist to see if there is a problem with my thyroid.

 

 

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Week in Review

Crafting in My Blood

I’ve always enjoyed doing crafts. I’ve bounced around doing different things over the years from cross stitch, plastic canvas, and a little scrapbooking. I must say though, now that I’m learning to sew, I’m finding it to be as enjoyable as my loom knitting. I’m still going to work on learning to crochet, but slow and steady wins the race. I’m in no hurry, and I know there will be a lot of imperfection before I get to a level that I like. I guess I’m sort of an instant gratification type person. I want to be able to do it right now, and do it flawlessly. In the real world, we all know, this doesn’t work. So I am practicing.

This week in my sewing class we learned how to make buttonholes with the machine and how to use the machine to sew buttons on. I accidentally left my power cord to my sewing machine at the house, so I had to use one of her machines. It is a Singer like mine, but it’s much more sophisticated. My machine is really meant for the beginner.

I brought a smaller square pillow to class I’d gotten at the thrift store for the day’s class. I learned how to make a cover for the pillow that can be changed seasonally. I turned out ok, but I think I’m going to add another buttonhole and button to it.

Pillow Cover

I love buttons, and I’ve loved them since childhood. My grandmother had a metal box with a lid that she kept all her old buttons in. They fascinated me endlessly. I stayed with her many summer days over my childhood and very frequently I would get that box, and dump its contents out onto the floor and look at all the cool buttons.

A few years ago I went into an antique store, and saw a jar of old buttons. I couldn’t help myself, and ended up buying it. More for sentimental reasons than anything else. I couldn’t sew at the time, but I still wanted those buttons. They’re stored in this cool old glass jar. I’d like to find a lot more vintage/antique buttons to put on things I make as I go along.

Jar of Old Buttons


Grow, Garden, Grow

Our straw bales finally have seeds that have been planted, and little seedlings are starting to come up. This thrills me to no end, because I couldn’t get to the garden last year.

StrawBalesEarlyGrowth1StrawBalesEarlyGrowth2It’s looking better every day.

I planted some herbs in my cinder block bed, but so far I haven’t seen any growth. Keeping my fingers crossed that it will turn out well.


The Generosity of Others

I never cease to be amazed at the kind generosity of others who are strangers to you. In this world, we so often hear the negativity spewing from every direction. In the past few weeks I’ve had three acts of generosity given to me. First there was the lady who gave me a large supply of nice fabric.

This week I posted on a Freecycle page on Facebook that I was looking for small jars. My intention is to sort different colored buttons in them. I got a message from a lady who said she had 14 baby food jars that she was going to use for a project, but never got around to. I had BJ go and pick it up off her porch after work.

Then I’m a member of another group on Facebook that I was an admin for for a short period of time. I decided it was a little too much responsibility to monitor a group. I’m still a member of the group. It’s a worldwide group called Buy Nothing Project. It is targeted for “hyperlocal” giving. It is encouraged to be more friendly and open than most freebie sites. The group I’m in only includes people in two zip codes of my town. I placed a request for jars there as well. I wrote a lady whom I had talked to previously about getting yarn, but we never got the details worked out. She wrote me, and said that she had a ton of jars that I was welcome to come get, and that she would give me some yarn as well. BJ drove me over to her house, where she invited me in. She gave me a box and started filling it with jars that had once contained food. In the end I wound up with two full boxes of jars and lids. Then she walked into another room and gathered some yarn up for me. It was so cool of her to not only give me the stuff, but to freely invite me into her home.


What’s Next?

I’m going to be learning yet another skill this summer, and that is canning. I have always wanted to can vegetables for my garden to enjoy year round. I have a glass top stove, and had always been told I couldn’t use a canner on it. I finally decided to contact Whirlpool to see if my particular oven was safe to can on. The emailed me back in a couple of days, and said that I could can on it. The only precautions were to make sure the stove eye I used to can on got a chance to cool down before doing anything else, only one canner on the stove at a time, and that the pan should be no more than 1/2″ over the diameter of the largest stove eye.

This means that I can now learn how to can my vegetables. I already own a water bath canner. I also have my grandmother’s older pressure canner, but I think it needs some replacement parts. Now the search will be on for finding good deals on canning jars and supplies. We’ll see how it goes.

Keeping Busy

It’s been a little while since I’ve written, but things have been a bit crazy around here. We’ve had some family and personal health issues. Things are slowly improving in that area, so fingers crossed that it will continue to get better.

New Hobby

I started sewing lessons a couple of weeks ago. I am learning from a wonderful woman named Becky. She is very patient, and makes it seem so much easier than I thought it would be. There is another student taking class at the same time as me. We’re enjoying learning.

First Sewing Project

This is my first sewing project. It is a rice filled bag that can be put in the microwave to heat it up, or put in the freezer to cool it down. I picked out the fabric, and made sections which I filled with rice that I’d added lavender essential oil to. I was so proud of this first project. I made a second pack while I was still in class. I filled it with orange essential oil.

Rice Pack

I made this smaller size rice pack at home later in the week. I gave it to my friend Rachel who just gave birth to a beautiful little girl.

Drawsting Bag 2I made this drawstring bag last week in class. I picked out the fabric and the ribbon. I’m not sure what I’ll carry in it, but I’m sure I’ll find a use for it.

Me Sewing

Becky sent me this picture of myself from my class. I’m always so excited about learning when I go to class.

I have really gone crazy trying to come up with sewing supplies. I get my mind set on a new task, and I get a little OCD. I found a few deals in thrift stores. I went to garage sales and estate sales looking for things. I’ve found some great fabric and a few different things. I posted on a Facebook group that I was looking for sewing supplies. A lady who lives a couple towns over met me one evening, and the amount of fabric was amazing. She just gave me a huge plastic tub and a garbage bag full of different kinds of fabric. Then she also gave me a bag full of accents to go on projects. I’m always in awe at the generosity of people.

Sunday afternoon I decided to try my hand at another bag, but a small one this time. I found some pretty gray fabric and decided to use some light purple ribbon for my straps. The fabric was a thrift store find, and the ribbon was from the Dollar Tree.Small Bag

At the beginning of the week I decided to use some of the fabric I received free to make a slightly larger bag. I’m having some trouble sewing in a straight line, but I know that comes with practice. Yellow Gray Bag

Yesterday our sewing class was about using the sewing machine to sew on buttons, and making buttonholes. I accidentally forgot the power cord to my machine, so I used one of Becky’s machines.

I had gotten a pillow from a thrift store. The pillow was decorative with lines of colorful thread going in straight lines across it. I took the stitches out, and it left me with a clean slate. I washed the pillow, and it was ready for class.

In class I watched in awe as the machine I was using made a button hole with hardly any effort from me. It was a little tricky learning to machine sew the buttons on fabric. It’s more of an issue of moving the button just a little to get everything lined up and then it’s super easy. I mostly finished my pillow cover, but I may still add a button.Pillow Cover


Garden

BJ and I are starting to get some growth in our straw bale garden. I’m so excited to be participating this year, because of foot surgery last year I couldn’t get downstairs to get to my garden. I had to view it from our deck.

We have planted a few things in our 8 straw bales including zucchini, summer squash, butternut squash, lots of tomatoes, different kinds of peppers. I also planted some of the herbs in the big flower bed. I haven’t gotten any growth in the holes of the cinder blocks yet.

I won’t go photo overboard, but here is some of the early growth in the garden.

I plan on planting some more things in buckets like kale, collards, spinach, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, and garlic. Maybe a few more things. I’ll hopefully get the center of the flowerbed planted with flowers. I have so many flower seeds, it would be a shame to not use them.

I contacted the manufacturer of my stove to see if I could can some of the produce from my garden. They wrote me back and told me that I could as long as I didn’t do marathon canning, used a pot that’s too big for the stove eye, or tried to can in two pots at the same time. I’ve never canned in my life, but I have quiet a few of the supplies to get me started.


Life Skills

I hope to learn as many old school life skills as possible. I don’t want to become Amish and sew all my own clothes or anything, but there are too many skills that over time have been forgotten. I enjoy learning, so I intend to spend my time learning as many things as I can. In the end, it will lead to a simpler and hopefully more budget friendly life.

A Slice of This Week’s Activity

Improvements Day by Day

I’m happy to report that I’m basically migraine-free at this point. After trying everything under the sun to get them under control, and living with a daily migraine for a solid year, it appears that the secret to my success has been traditional Chinese medicine.

I’ve been getting acupuncture for a little while now, and at first I was desperate for anything to work. I have tried medications, massage, herbal supplements, and Botox. None of them provided lasting relief until I started acupuncture with Dr. Ly. I was trained in Western medicine, so I wasn’t sure if it would work, but I am so happy that I can now function without chronic headaches.

To assist with the acupuncture I was instructed to eat as few processed foods as possible, eliminate most of the oils from my diet, and I was given Chinese herbs to take before and after meals. I am also supposed to eat a fruit before every meal.

I’m a believer in alternative healthcare, and I have plans to learn a lot more about herbs, aromatherapy, and using nutrition to heal the body.

My New Exercise Routine

Garmin

I have started walking at least 5 days per week. I usually walk in my neighborhood, but if BJ is fishing somewhere, I usually try to walk wherever we are.

I got a new fitness tracker. It’s the Garmin Vivofit 1. I measures activity, sleep, calories burned, and works with my MyFitnessPal app to monitor how many calories I’m consuming.

I bought it off of eBay. It is a refurbished model, but it has a 1-year warranty. I wear it all the time, except in the shower, even thought it’s water resistant. I’m also getting some cute wristbands to change it up every once in a while.

I have an internet streaming device attached to my TV called a Roku. I found out that I can stream Youtube videos onto my TV, so I’ve added a ton of different exercise videos on there. Yoga and walking indoors are some of the things I’m using. This way I can keep finding new videos, and won’t get bored. I’m thinking I’ll cancel my subscription to Gaia which is what I have been using for yoga videos. I do want to watch a couple documentaries before I cancel though.

Ready to Sew

I’ve been so excited about my upcoming sewing classes that I’ve been looking everywhere for beginner patterns for me to try. I finally got my new sewing machine delivered.Sewing machine1I was like a kid on Christmas morning opening up that Amazon box. Does it mean that I’m getting old that I find something such as a sewing machine so exciting?

My Pinterest account is now filling up with patterns and tips for sewing. Wednesday I begin my one-on-one classes with a lady who lives here locally. I couldn’t contain my excitement, so I took it out of the box to look at it more.Sewing machineSlowly Getting the House in Order

I’m by nature a very messy person. Wherever I sit in the living room, or anywhere really, I develop a debris field around me. I feel like Pigpin from Peanuts. If there’s a flat surface, I will lay something on it. It actually drives me nuts, but when I start trying to clean I get a feeling of being overwhelmed by it all.

In an effort to declutter, I’m starting to sell a few things online. I have a bit of a magazine collection problem, so I’m going thru the magazines and using my flatbed scanner to scan articles that are interesting to me. I am putting them into my computer, and I’m digitally organizing them. I’m not only trying to declutter my physical space, but my digital things as well. I have an external hard drive that I put all my pictures and files on. I totally organized the files/pictures in a way that made more sense. Deep down I am an organizer, which is true to my virgo astrological sign.

It will take a long time to get the house the way I want it, but I must remember that I’ve been cluttered for a very long time. I realize it won’t happen overnight.

I will be posting updates on my decluttering progress as I go along.