Beginning a New Quilt

My great grandmother was an excellent hand-quilter, and I have three of her queen size creations that I count among my greatest treasures. Before I discovered knitting, I tried out several hand crafts, quilting among them, beginning with a (queen-size!) t-shirt quilt out of my college t-shirts. I loved designing and piecing it together, but it languished in a box for several years before I admitted that it wasn’t likely for me to ever hand quilt it into a usable blanket.

I found a local lady that finished it for me, machine quilting it and binding it. I made some mistakes combining fabrics of different weights, and my seaming wasn’t that desirable either, so I know it won’t wear as well over time. I love the result nonetheless and believe it is a great first effort. And now that I have her as a resource, I’d love to create more and improve my technique.

My latest creation will be a pinwheel (or windmill?) design, from a charm square bundle and white fabric. I’ve designed the layout and cut the white supporting squares. I am creating the pinwheel squares by sewing the right sides together and cutting in half to create two spokes of the wheel.


Let me know if you have any beginner tips. What are you creating right now?


Cleaning up the garden

Last weekend, we cleaned up some of the outdoor pots and raised beds.

In the raised beds, we pulled out our teepees and tomato cages, and the ropes on the vine frame. Then pulled/mowed down all the overgrown weeds. We still need to till and fertilize and cover for the winter, but it was a nice start to at least get rid of the eyesore that was the raised beds.

We emptied the outdoor pots that were fried and added some pansies around the house. Depending on the severity of the winter, we can usually keep those alive until spring. Especially in pots that I can bring close to the house when it gets below freezing.

cleaning-up-fallI repotted the eucalyptus into a larger pot and brought inside. It was parched and my hope is to nurse it back to life over the winter. I’ve put it in a sunny location so it will receive lots of sunshine, yet hopefully stay in a more temperate environment so it can regain health.

And our kale is growing stronger! I might move this to the back of the house for more sunshine as the weather gets cooler, but we are still receiving high 70’s/ very sunny days so they will stay in the front of the house, on the shady side, for the next month or two.

I Spy with My Little Eyes…

We love a good day trip and are gearing up for a hike in the mountains this weekend. Perhaps it’s because our family is spread out over East Tennessee and just about every holiday has us on the road to visit someone, we have developed a great road trip toy bag. One that allows for some quiet time for the adults, but enough activities to keep the kids busy on the road and at quick stops along the way. It fits in one small bag, and I just bet you have all of this at your house too:


  • Interesting Book- My sister gave this National Park pop-up to my daughter and it is well loved.  So much to take in on each page.
  • Silly Putty or Playdoh- I prefer Silly Putty because it won’t dry out, but Playdoh works well too.
  • Graph Paper and Colored Pencils– Great to draw pictures of each other, what they see out the window, create patterns, keep track of license plates, hangman etc. (Markers tend to not get capped & crayons melt in hot cars. Learn from my mistakes.)
  • Cards– We go pretty basic, like playing cards or UNO. (UNO is particularly great because if you lose a card or two, no one is the wiser.) Great for restaurants while we are waiting for food, or if you get stuck in traffic.
  • I-Spy book or Magazine- I flip through and make a list of 10 things in their Ladybug magazine, then let them search. Here’s another great magazine for this.
  • Book to Read Aloud (or get an audio book for the car) Magic Tree House books are long enough to pass time, but short enough to finish on a normal trip for us. The Ramona series, Laura Ingalls Wilder or books by Kate DiCamillo are great for longer trips.

If all else fails, you can play I-spy get out some electronics, but this list might have them using their brains for a couple of hours first.

Principles of Prepping

I love love love this time of year. The fall air is so welcoming, right?? I want to knit everything, cook everything, and of course be outside all at the same time. Seems right that this time of year is more scattered and less productive, especially when want to cook but not stay in the kitchen. I read this article and it has bolstered my effort to finish my own weekly menus that are heavier on nutrition than I’ve done in the past, but still picky-kid friendly. I’m working on 4 weeks that include a menu, grocery list, and prep strategy and I will add them to the site when I’ve finished. These are the principles of my prep strategy, if you want a jumping point to develop your own:

  • Has to be something that our family will eat. Seems simple, but try to go easy on the “new” ingredients, or swap them out with something more familiar, more seasonal, and more easy to find.
  • Cut up vegetables when you get home from the grocery store. The bag of green beans that needs washed and trimmed will not look as appealing as the bag you can bring out and quickly blanch and dress.
  • Use it twice. Cook twice as much meat so you can utilize leftovers. If you have the oven on baking bread, roast your vegetables at the same time. A big rotisserie chicken can also be a time saver in a pinch.
  • Soups are our friends. Like comfy Ugg slippers, it feels so good to slip into the warm comfort of soup after a long workday. Bonus that soups can be the best way to eat a rainbow of vegetables that have lost their luster.
  • Get a good slow cooker and use it. It isn’t sophisticated, and the smell of food roasting all day is usually only welcome before you eat the meal, but it will be worth it- I promise.

Stay tuned, and let’s take the stress out of feeding our families nutritiously and quickly.

Five Things

  1. Exercise or knit to this: More Than A Song podcast by Michelle Nezat. I subscribed in Itunes. Inspired by christian music, she dives into the Bible using some of the same strategies as Keith Ferrin in How to Enjoy Reading Your Bible.
  2. Working on growing my hair out and loving Young Living’s Lavender Mint Daily Shampoo and Amika Nourishing Hair Mask. My hair feels thicker and the hair mask softens the dry ends.
  3. October Goal: Be Tidy. It’s so much easier to do a 10 minute cleanup when everything is put away. We are doing great with the downstairs but the girls’ rooms are still a nightmare. Top of the to do list is also to go through winter coats also & make a donation run.
  4. A “Core Closet”. With excellent guidance from this famous blogger, I’m trying to weed out my closet. I agree with her that I will never be a minimalist or have a capsule closet, but this process definitely helps identify what you wear most often so you know where your clothing dollars should go.
  5. Eat more seasonally, especially as I try to eat more gluten-free and move away from the rice and potato starch gluten-free products. Ticking off items on this list is a great way to try new veggies this fall. She has great recipes and her photos are really lovely as well.

More Kale

I looks quite laughable, but after the disastrous results of the summer garden, we’ve decided to start a little slower for fall/winter and just grow some kale in containers. No weeding is really necessary, only watering. Hopefully I can manage that!



September Reading

These were my favorites this month-

When We Collided by Emery Lord. Gave a fascinating (and heart-wrenching) window into bi-polar/mental illness.

How To Build A Girl by Caitlin Moran. Kind of vulgar but such a rich and lovely story. I loved this exciting journey into self-discovery.

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby. I am on the wait list for several audiobooks at the library so I picked this one in a pinch. I couldn’t get into this one, and I couldn’t speed it up like I normally do audiobooks because the narrator’s accent. I gave up about 15% through.

The Land of 10,000 Madonnas by Kate Hattemer. This was so entertaining and made me hit up google to see the many mentioned Madonna art pieces. It also pulled at my heart a little because my cousins and I are like brothers and sisters. I know this scenario would send us into a tailspin also.

Where The Lilies Bloom by Vera & Bill Cleaver. This is one of my absolute favorite books of all time. I am constantly rereading favorites from when I was in elementary and middle school to figure out if it’s appropriate for my daughters, and it’s especially nice to read before bed when I’m exhausted and can’t concentrate on a completely new storyline.

Have you read anything wonderful?