Monday, May 21, 2018

Christmas Block Patterns!

Happy Monday, everyone!  Long time no see, eh?  I've been so busy with my spring projects that I have barely had time to do anything else lately.  But I did have some time to make a new pattern!

Christmas Quilt Decor Pattern, $7 on Etsy

Christmas Quilt Coaster Pattern, $4 on Etsy

Christmas Quilt TBC Pattern, $4 on Etsy

Actually I made a couple patterns!  I love turning quilt blocks into plastic canvas pieces, and these were so fun and easy to make.  Don't you think these would look nice on your table at Christmas time? 

Well, I'm off again.  I have some planting to do and some canning.  Maybe I'll have enough time to blog next week!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Happy Fall Wall Hanging

Happy Monday, everyone!  I have a new pattern up in my Etsy shop this morning!

https://www.etsy.com/littlesapphire/listing/609592401/pattern-happy-fall-wall-hanging-in?utm_source=Copy&utm_medium=ListingManager&utm_campaign=Share&utm_term=so.lmsm&share_time=1524489914876
Happy Fall Wall Hanging pattern, $4 on Etsy
Phew!  It took me forever to finally finish this one.  I'll be happy to start a new project!

Hope you all had a good weekend!

So am I a Housewife or a Designer?

If you've read my about page, you already know that I'm a homemaker and have been for a while.  I'm going to be honest here and say that I actually wanted to be a homemaker since I was about 16.  My mom was a single working mom and I'm her youngest child, and I would often play homemaker while she was off at work.  I would clean and cook and generally take care of the house.  I wasn't very good at it back then, of course.  I was 16 and I didn't actually have a teacher.  I was pretty much teaching myself how to do everything.  It's taken me a long time, but I'm actually starting to feel like I'm good at it.

Well, I also wanted to be an artist from a young age.  I think I started telling people I was going to grow up and be an artist when I was maybe 10, and around the age of 14 I started pursuing art pretty seriously.  I'm a fairly decent artist.  I'm not a great master or anything, but I like to believe that I'm pretty good.

One of my favorite paintings I've done.

I thought it would be a pretty cool idea to combine my two passions.  If I stayed home to be a homemaker, I figured, I would have the time and freedom to pursue my art as well!  Right?  That makes a lot of sense.  But somewhere along the way, I ended up putting the art part of me aside and focused almost exclusively on the homemaker part.  I wanted to be the best homemaker ever.  I loved it when my mom said I was just like my grandma (who was an amazing homemaker), and reading all the cool stuff about home care filled me with happiness. 

Over the years, I've stopped thinking of myself as an artist and instead think of myself as a homemaker.  When someone asks me what I do, I usually tell them I'm a housewife.  That, I have found, is an excellent way to stop a conversation dead in its tracks.  I live in NY state, and even though I'm in a more conservative agricultural part of the state, it's still a pretty liberal area in general.  Women just don't stay home to play homemaker, so no one really knows what to say to you when you tell them you're a housewife.  It's like you told them that you're from Mars or something.  I think it's especially confusing for people because I don't have children and they can't figure out why I would even want to stay home. 

Well it occurred to me recently that I'm not exclusively a homemaker anymore.  Yes, it's true, I take care of my home and my family, but I'm also a designer.  I have my own business!  I pay self-employment taxes like a grown up and everything!  Finally, I have an answer to the "what do you do?" question that won't end the conversation!

Except, in the moment, it totally slips my mind that I'm anything but a homemaker.  Isn't that funny?  Apparently, in my mind, I'm just a homemaker.  I can't figure out if that says something about me or not.  Like, am I dismissing my design work?  Or maybe my homemaking is more important to me?  Hmm. 

My husband says I don't give myself enough credit with my design work, and he's probably right.  I have a habit of being too hard on myself by expecting perfection and instant success.  He also thinks I should definitely call myself a designer.  I want to agree with him, but I just have such a hard time remembering to do it! 

So, I need to start practicing.  I'm going to start thinking about myself as a designer, and try to remember that the work I do is important in my life.  It gives my days meaning, it brings joy to my life, so I should try to take it more seriously. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Tuesday Tips: My To-Do Planner

Have you guys seen those amazing planners people are making?  Some people call them bullet journals, but they're essentially fancy planners.  They're all over Pinterest, and they really make me jealous most days.  They have stickers and cool little drawings and they use lots of colorful pens.  Go check them out!  I promise they'll make you jealous too.

Part of what makes me jealous about seeing those planners is that they make me feel like other people are clearly more organized than I am.  I mean, look, they have the right stickers on the right days and everything!  They not only had time to think out their week, but they also had time to draw a pretty picture to illustrate what they're going to be doing, too!  I could never do that in a million years.  Sigh.

Now that's not to say I don't have a planner.  Oh yes, I have a planner.  It's very simple, it's very to the point.  When you lay it out flat, the two pages make up a week and each day has a section to write things it.  It literally cost me less than $2 at Walmart.  I decided to go as cheap as I could because I knew in my heart I could never have one of those beautiful planners.  Nope.

You see, I realized something recently; the more time I spend on my planner, the less time I have to get my tasks done and the less likely I am to reach my goals.  Now this may not be true of everyone.  I'm sure there are actually people who can make beautiful planners and also get all the tasks done.  But personally, I would rather spend my creative energy on my creative projects, my designing, my sewing, my garden.  That's what really matters most to me.

So my tip today is a simple one: don't feel bad if your planner looks like this.



I use my planner as a glorified to-do list.  When I think of something I haven't written down, or that I don't know which day I can get it done, I write it on a post-it note and stick that in the planner too.  Then I use my trusty pink felt tip pen to write everything down and cross it off as I do it.  It's extremely low tech, and definitely not worth putting up on Pinterest, but it works really well for me.  If I have a free minute in my day and don't know what I should be doing, I just go check out my list and there it is in pink and white.  Simple as can be! And because it's notebook sized, it's a lot harden to lose than a loose piece of paper, which is what I used to write my to-do lists on.

So do you keep a pretty planner?  Do you have a special place to write your to-do list?  I'd love to hear what everyone else does!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Prioritizing My Life

Happy Monday morning, everyone!  I hope you all had a good weekend.  Mine was hectic, I suppose, but I made it through.  Monday is always a good day for me, because it's a fresh start, a brand new chance to do my best.  I'm also a morning person!  So yes, I'm sure I'm very irritating to all you groggy I-hate-Monday types, but that's just the way I am.

I did however wake up this morning with a feeling of dread.  I knew that my to-do list was going to be a mile long and I really didn't know if I would have the time or energy to get it all done.  Then on top of that, my tummy is kind of achy this morning (probably from the birthday cake I ate yesterday, ugh), so knew I had to prioritize. 

As much as I love doing my design work, the truth of the matter is, my home and my family comes first in my life.  I think that should be true of everyone.  If we all put our homes and families first, imagine how much nicer this world would be.  Honestly, I wouldn't be very productive with my creative work anyway if I had that soul crushing feeling of knowing how much needed to be done weighing on me.  It really helps my creativity if I have a clean slate, a clear mind to work with. 

So for today at least, I'm working on cleaning, getting must-do home tasks done, and otherwise focusing on my home.  If I get it all done early, then I'm going to work on my design work.  I finished stitching my happy fall sign on Friday, and now I need to get the graph done and take pictures, etc.  I need to get it done soon because I seriously need to start working on Christmas designs.  Now that Annie's is coming to me and asking for patterns, I want to have some ready!  That's way more professional (and less stressful) than saying, ugh yeah, give me two weeks and I'll make you something! 

Have a great Monday everyone!  I hope it's a productive day for you!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

My own domain!

Just a little note.  I bought a domain so I can be a little more professional with this blog!  You can still find me at stringsaway.blogspot.com, but you can also now find me at strings-away.com!  Yay!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

What's Up Wednesday

Happy Wednesday, everyone!  I'm in such a great mood today!  It's only 9:30am and I already have my to-do list half done, wooo, go me!  I hope you're having as good a day as I am. 

So yesterday I promised to talk about what's been going on with me since I went on my break a few weeks ago.  The simple answer?  Lots!  Lots of really good things thankfully. 

First, if you're living in the northeastern of the USA like I am, you know how crazy the weather has been.  We had an amazing warm spell in February where it was in the 50s or 60s for weeks, whereas it's usually in the 20s or 30s.  That totally confused my poor snowdrops.


They came out and started to bloom.  And THEN we got literally a foot of very wet, very heavy, very compact snow dumped on us.  I thought these poor guys wouldn't make it.  That snow FINALLY melted in the end of March, and believe it or not, the snowdrops are just fine.  However, it's been so cold since then!  In the 20s and 30s.  This is what it looked like on Monday!


There's still a little snow left on the ground today, but thank goodness it's going to start warming up today.  It's going to be 45 today, then in the 60s tomorrow, and then nearly 70 on Friday!  Awesome!  I'm so looking forward to it.  So are my spring bulbs!  They've literally been up for almost two months and haven't had a chance to bloom.  I can't wait to see how pretty they are this year :) 

I've also been pretty crafty lately.  I made a decision early this year to stop buying more fabric and try to use up what I already have.  It's a very practical resolution because I'm literally out of space to put new fabric.  This is it.  I HAVE to use it.

This is most of my fabric:

Those are my fat quarters...

That's my filing cabinet where I hang my yardage...

And there's two more filing boxes full of hanging yardage!  And these pictures don't even include my steamer trunk full of batting or my huge plastic tote full of backing fabric, not to mention the wooden chest full of clothing fabric!  Oh my...

Thankfully, I have lots of ideas of things I want to make.  I even got a couple of projects done while I was gone, too!  I made some pillows for our couch that match the quilt that I leave on the back of it.



They go nicely with the country colors I have going on in my front room.  I really like them!  As a bonus, I stuffed them with shredded foam I had left over from another project.  I hate it when pillows filled with fiber filling get all smooshed and there's nothing you can do to fluff them back up.  The cool thing about shredded foam is that you can always refluff them.  It's very practical! 

I also made a wall hanging to put in my hubby's bedroom (yep, we sleep in separate rooms -- essentially our house is really old and it's too small to take a large bed up the stairs, let alone find a place for it in the bedrooms).  It was fun to make.  It was actually the first time I tried freezer paper piecing, and it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I'll be sure to take another picture once it's hung up in his room.


As for plastic canvas, if you read yesterday's post, I'm sure you'll remember seeing my progress on my latest pattern.


My Aerogarden is doing surprisingly well.  Usually after about two months, I get kind of tired of taking care of it and generally dump it before it's done.  I've really stuck with it this year though!  It's given me so much lettuce, it's probably paid for itself.  The little display says it's been running for109 days!  That's nearly four months!


I'm guessing the reason I've been taking care of it and kept it going for so long is because, yes, I've been on a diet since the end of February.  This is kind of a sensitive subject for me.  I've been on diets before... ok, not very many diets, bet some.  I'm 33 and I can count on one hand the number of serious diets I've done in my life.  I'm really good at dieting, too.  Every time I diet, I lose about 30 pounds.  However, as I'm sure you can guess, I'm really good at putting the weight back on. 

I decided to make a serious change this time though.  I'm trying to teach myself that I have to be careful for my whole life, clearly, if I want the weight to stay off.  But I want to be honest here too.  I'm less concerned about the weight than I am with how I feel.  I was so severely depressed this winter that I literally thought it was too difficult to continue living (I wasn't suicidal, I just thought it would be so much easier to be dead.  Trust me, there's a difference).  I knew I needed to change my diet, because experience has proved to me that your eating habits affect so much of your life. 

I went back onto my low carb paleo diet, and within two weeks, my mood has improved by so much!  I have so much energy, and my mood is so great!  I'm almost a totally new person.  I have lost about 10 pounds since the end of February, which is'n much but I'm ok with that.  I have 40 pounds to go to be where I want to be, and my goal is to be there by Christmas of this year, but I know I can get there before then.  This diet is so easy to follow because I'm never hungry, and after a few weeks, the cravings for junk food pretty much go away.  I'm exercising every day in ways that I love (walking, biking, and hopefully soon I can do gardening).  And generally, I'm just feeling awesome.  I have been on this diet before, but I frequently forget how great I feel when I'm sticking with it.  Some food-centered holiday comes up and there I go, right back to the junk food.  Well not this year!

I even managed to stick to my guns on Easter, which I'm sure you all know is chocolate fest.  I made some low carb foods to take to my mom's house so I could eat dinner with everyone else, and passed up on all the carby foods at the table.  Then when hubby's mom gave us a huge container full of chocolate, I had a small indulgence and then gave the rest to my nephews.  I can do this.

I'm probably going to report my diet progress on this blog too, just to keep myself accountable.  I'll try not to go into a lot of detail because this isn't a diet blog (I have one of those that I don't use anymore), but I'd like to at least say, hey, I did good today! 

Well, I guess that's all for today.  I still have a fairly long to-do list today and I'd like to get it all done early today so I have time for a long leisurely walk in the sunshine!  Have a great week, everyone!