Thursday, June 14, 2018

Fall Jars Wall Hanging

Happy Thursday, everyone!  I hope you're all having a wonderful week so far!  Well, I got my Fall Jars pattern finished, and I have to say I'm very pleased with it!


Fall Jars Wall Hanging pattern, $4 on Etsy

I plan on making one for every season, too!  I guess the truth is that I just love mason jars, and the hipster in me wants you to know that I loved them before they were cool!  

I don't know if I'll get into making free patterns again yet.  I might.  Most important for me is to get back into a rhythm of designing patterns for my shops because that's very important to me to be creating.  But keep your eyes peeled!  I might just surprise you :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

What's Up Wednesday

Happy Wednesday, everyone!  It's been a while since I last posted, huh?  Well, it's spring here in western NY and that means I'm busy busy busy.  I had lots of garden work to do to get things ready for the planting season, not just in my own garden but also in my mom's garden since she's unable to do most of it herself.  I also had to work on her front yard where she had a pipe replaced earlier this year.  Have you ever had that kind of work done?  Let me tell you, the ROCKS you have to deal with is unreal!  I had to rake about 5 wheelbarrows full of rocks out of her front yard!  My mom has been having a blast using those rocks to decorate and pave her back yard, and she still has a huge pile left. 

I've also been going through our pantry and freezers, getting space ready for the season.  I canned up a bunch of beef that was in our freezer from last year to make room for the new 1/4 cow we'll be buying shortly, and then I canned up all sorts of jam to get some fruit out of the freezer from last year.  I made some wine with leftover pear juice I had from an overabundance of years my MIL's pear tree produced last year.  It's been a very busy spring!

Thankfully, the hardest parts of spring/summer are over now.  The garden is going great, and now it just needs watered and fertilized once in a while.  The majority of the spring canning is done.  I have to make some more strawberry jam and a batch or two of blueberry jam (from last year's blueberries), and I'm thinking about canning another batch of chili with the six pounds of ground beef left from last year.  My mom's front yard is all raked and grass seed is starting to come up!  Phew.  Now I can finally get back to blogging and designing PC designs, which is what I really want to do!

Here's some pictures of my life lately.

I canned up some strawberry jam on Monday this week.  I've been making lots of jam to give away as Christmas presents this year.  I have an overabundance of half pint jars and wouldn't mind getting rid of some of them!






I've been getting some strawberries from my garden the last few days!  Boy, they're really producing like crazy this year.




 I have a lovely flower garden behind my garage that's just starting to bloom.  The clematis did great this year, although it has been nipped by the deer since I took that picture.  Most of the rest of those flowers are black eyed Susans.  I planted them as a remembrance of my favorite aunt when she died, and they have since taken over my garden.  I think that's very cool!


This is kind of a bad picture because the fence is in the way, but here's my small side garden.  The left side is tomatoes and carrots this year, and the right side is my strawberry bed.


This is my mini greenhouse where I grow peppers.  It's literally the only way I can get peppers to ripen in my garden.  It works great!  I've had it for three years now and I've gotten so many pepper using it, plus it's a great way to start my cucumbers and zucchinis early.


And here are my cucumbers!  I actually took these pictures last week, and they're literally twice as tall now.  They're just zooming.


Here's some zucchini and tomatoes.  They too are twice as tall as they were last week.


Here's an outside view of my garden.  I have to fence it because we have a terrible deer problem.  They will literally eat my vegetable garden to the ground if I leave something unfenced.  They actually ate one of my apple trees to a nub last weekend :(


I'm especially proud of my cabbage so far this year.  Again, this was a week ago and they're now so much bigger than they were in this picture.  I have had such trouble growing cabbage in the past, but look at how nice they are!  The rest of the box is full of rutabagas and ground cherries.


Here's a side view of the garden.  That's potatoes on both sides on the bottom of the picture.  They're blue potatoes and I'm so excited to harvest them!


I have a shade garden in the very back of my yard.  This picture doesn't do it any justice at all.  It's very lush and had a pretty wild look to it.  The fencing in the middle is so that the deer don't eat the hydrangea, although someone really tried to last night! 


I have been working on designs too!  This is my latest design, inspired by all the canning I've been doing lately.  It's very nearly done now and I should be posting on Etsy sometime this week.  Keep your eye out!


I guess that's all for now.  I have a lot of work to catch up on, but I hope to be posting on my blog more regularly now that I have less going on in my life!  Hope you're all having a great week!

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!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Tuesday Progress

Happy Tuesday, everyone!  Are you having a good week so far?  I certainly am.  It feels really nice to get back into the swing of designing and crafting again, although I have to say it's hard for me to keep focused when I'm out of my routine.  The way I would like my day to go is to eat breakfast with my husband, do my daily meditating and writing until 9am, then work on my designing and blogging until noon, eat lunch, and then do my house cleaning and such until about 4pm when I start making dinner. 

Well of course that doesn't always happen.  We don't have children, but we do help with my elderly parents and that can sometimes feel like being a parent.  My mom called and asked me to help her go shopping this morning.  She has a bad hip and back, and has a hard time walking around the three miles of Walmart to get everything on her list.  Afterwards, she wanted to go get coffee so we could catch up.  I'm glad I went.  I'm so grateful that I'm able to help her and to spend time with her still and that we're so close.  Yes, my morning got messed up because I was out until 10am, but I can't let that stop me from doing the work that needs to be done.

So once I got home, I got back to work on my fall design!  It's coming along.  I'm just starting to get the pieces finished off and soon I'll be able to glue it all together.


I like it.  I think it's a cool rustic piece that will fit in my home pretty well.  I'm going for a kind of country rustic design in our home.  We have several barn stars in the living room, and we have one on our front porch too!  I think they're really cool. 

Tomorrow I plan on posting more about how my life's been going since I took a break, so I'll see you then!  I need to go get my lunch made and then I'm off to get the house chores done.  Have a great day!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Refreshed and Ready to Go!

Hi everyone, happy Monday!  Did you all have a good weekend?  Mine was really good, except for the fact that it was 30 degrees and snowing!  Now I live in a cold area, but that's ridiculous even for us.  Usually this time of year it's in the 50s and I'm getting my garden ready for planting.  I saw yesterday that Home Depot was having their mulch and other garden things on sale, and my first thought was that their sale was WAY too early!  But then I realized, this is when they usually have their sale!  It's just that it's so unusually cold and yucky this year :(  But the good news is that after today the weather is going to start warming up to a more normal temp!  I'm very excited.

Well, it's been several weeks that I've been on hiatus, and I realized yesterday that I'm so ready to get back to designing and blogging again.  It was very nice to have some time off to focus on myself and my home and family, I won't deny that.  I got my house back in order, I spent some time doing fun things with my husband, I did a bunch of sewing, and I'm well on my way on my diet too.  But I realized this weekend that I was starting to get bored, and although I like a peaceful slow paced life, I don't think anyone likes a boring life.  It's time to start being creative again!

I might change things up here at the blog.  I don't think I'm going to post a free pattern every week like I used to, because that's very demanding.  First of all, coming up with a new pattern every week is hard enough, but that's on top of making my paid patterns too.  I think instead, I'm going to make free patterns when an idea strikes my fancy, rather than trying to force it.  I'm always open to requests, by the way, so if you have any good ideas, just send them my way and I'll see what I can do! 

I'm going to start writing more about my life and my creative pursuits, because, well, who doesn't like talking about themselves?  I'm going to try to be open and honest about the things I do well but also the things I totally mess up.  It's so frustrating to me when I see those blogs that make it look like the author's life is perfect and all their projects are master pieces, because my life isn't like that at all.  I want to remind people that everyone messes up, and that's ok.  And I hope by doing so I can connect with other real folks who are also flawed. 

I think that's it for today.  After I finish posting this, I'm going to get back to work on a project I put down a few weeks ago, a very cool rustic fall pumpkin sign.  I think I put it down for so long because there's one thing I really hate doing with my designs, and that's designing the words on a sign.  I'm not bad at fonts, but I don't like doing them because they're really challenging :(  But I just need to push through and get it done, so I can move on to something else! 

I hope you all have a wonderful Monday, everyone!  I'm so glad to be back!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Happy Harvest Wall Hanging

Happy Monday, everyone!  I hope you had an excellent weekend :)  Mine was really good, although this week is going to be even better because it's finally starting to warm up!  The snow is even starting to melt!

Well I got my rear in gear this lovely Monday morning and got my latest pattern finished, my Happy Harvest Wall Hanging!

Happy Harvest Wall Hanging Pattern, $4 on Etsy

It's a little early, of course, but this gives you plenty of time to get it finished for fall! 

That's all for today!  Have a great week!

Monday, March 12, 2018

A Time Out

Happy Monday, everyone!  I hope you have all been well, and that you had a good weekend. 

I'm writing today to say that I need a time out from blogging for a while.  My life has gotten pretty busy lately.  I've been working on some new designs that are large and complicated, and I have a deadline for them even, so they're taking top priority.  But I also have just started my indoor seed starting for my garden, I've started a weight loss journey (aka a diet) and exercising more, and I've been trying to spend more time with my husband.  That leaves me with less time to do everything else in my life, including blogging.  As much as I enjoy working on this blog, it's not a top priority right now.

I can't say when I'll be back, but I do promise I'll be back sometime.  Once life settles down a little, or I manage to find an extra hour in the day, I'll start posting again :)  See you all then!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Life is Sweet Wall Hanging

Happy Wednesday, everyone!  I don't have a What's Up Wednesday this week because, well, life is too busy for me to sit and write about it.  I will however run through some good things that have happened:

  • I FOUND MY RING!
  • My husband's job is secure!
  • My first snowdrop opened yesterday!
  • I got an email from Annie's asking for more patterns!

That last one is why I'm so busy.  I need to get some more patterns done to send to Annie's!  That's a good kind of busy though if you ask me.

Anyway, as part of that, I finally got off  my butt and finished my summery watermelon wall hanging!

https://www.etsy.com/littlesapphire/listing/597099693/pattern-life-is-sweet-wall-hanging-in?utm_source=Copy&utm_medium=ListingManager&utm_campaign=Share&utm_term=so.lmsm&share_time=1519833008505
Life Is Sweet Wall Hanging Pattern, $4 on Etsy
Hopefully you'll be seeing more patterns from me lately.  I'm so ready to get back to a normal life after all the craziness this year! 

Have a great rest of the day, everyone!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Free Friday: Simple Earring Holder

Happy Friday, everyone!  Did you have a good week?  Mine was pretty messy.  We got the water issue taken care of at my mom's house, but I still haven't found my wedding ring :(  I'm sad, but I'm trying not to let it consume me.  I have some charming (ok, not really) obsessive qualities about me, so as you can imagine, that's a very hard feat.  I made a very long and comprehensive list of places to thoroughly check, and once I'm done looking in every single place on the list, then I'll start thinking about getting a new ring. 

But enough about depressing subjects.  This week, I got a comment on my blog from someone who said they'd like to see some earring holder patterns.  In case you weren't aware, I do have a very lovely earring holder pattern up in my Etsy shop.  It's one of my best sellers!

Posy Earring Holder pattern, $4 on Etsy
However, I realize it's a fairly complicated pattern and not everyone wants to do one that fancy.  I ended up giving that earring holder to my Mother-in-law for Christmas the year before last.  She loves it!  I, on the other hand, have a very simple earring holder for myself.  This comes from a terrible disease I have called Lazy-itus.  Yes, that's right friends, I have the lazies.

Simple Earring Holder



Skill Level:

Beginner

Materials:

  • Wooden frame
  • Plastic Canvas
  • Hot glue

Instructions:

  1. If your frame came with glass and a backing, remove those.  
  2. Carefully cut plastic canvas so that it sits inside the lip on the backside of the frame, but isn't too small to fall through.
  3. Lay the plastic canvas inside the frame.  Using the hot glue gun, apply a thick layer of hot glue on top of the plastic canvas.  Use the nose of the got glue gun, or a wooden skewer, to smear the glue around, making sure it sinks into the holes in the plastic canvas and up the sides of the frame lip.  Use lots of glue.  Go over it twice if you need to.  The point is to create a thick layer that is attached to the wood that will hold the plastic canvas in.  
Here's a picture of the back side of my earring holder to give you an idea.


And that's it!  You can prop this up on a dresser, or attach a wire to hang on a nail.  I just hang mine using the frame lip, though that's not very stable.  Again, I have the lazies.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my simple little pattern today!  Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

My Crazy Week

Hey guys.  Happy Tuesday.  I wanted to let you know that I'm not sure if I'll be around this week to post anything interesting.  It's already shaping up to be a crazy week, and will probably only get worse.  For one thing, the plumbing in my mom's house (which hubs and I own and care for) has gone all wonky and it looks like we're going to need to replace the main sewer pipe :(  Big hassle and lots of money, but it needs done.

Second, I lost my wedding ring :( :( :(  I've been tearing up the house since last night, but I just can't find it.  I fear I may have lost it at our local mall, in which case I don't think I'll ever see it again.  I'm so sad and ashamed, especially since we went to all the work to get the new sapphire put in just two months ago.  I'm going to do some seriously deep cleaning in the hope that I'll find it in some crack in the floor or a dusty corner, or maybe under the fridge.  Wish me luck.

Hopefully I'll be able to get some work done on my designs soon, but I can't promise anything this week.  I hope you're all having a good week so far, or at least a better one than me!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

What's Up Wednesday

Happy Wednesday, everyone!  Actually, happy Valentine's day!  I hope you have a wonderful love filled day :)  My hubs and I don't have anything special planned for today; we kind of didn't get around to making reservations for any fancy restaurants or anything like that, and we ended up exchanging gifts last weekend.  It was nice and quiet, which is how I like my life anyway.

Well, this week's adventure is entirely sewing related!  And I guess technically sewing machine repair related.  So hold onto your hats, it's a fun story.

Last week I was feeling kind of down and sad.  I don't want to say I was depressed exactly because it was a short lived feeling; I was very blue for about a week.  Everyone has their comfort habits when they're sad.  Some people eat junk food, some people play video games, some people shop.  Well, last week what I did was do lots of looking at vintage sewing machines for sale online.  I don't know why I did it exactly.  I have four sewing machines as it is.  I guess in the back of my mind, I have this image of a really cool life I could be living, buying old sewing machines and fixing them up and finding them new homes.  It's not a life I want to live exactly, but it's a place I like to go when real life is getting too stressful.  I also have an fantasy life in my head where I'm a farmer, lol, and one where I'm a perfect 1950s housewife.

Anyway, so I was surfing around on Craigslist and Shopgoodwill and ebay for cool old machines.  I've had my eye on a singer 500A Rocketeer for a long time, and I was really hoping I'd be able to find one for a reasonable price.  Here's what they look like:



How retro cool is that baby?  Not only is it super cool looking, but it's also one of the few all metal sewing machines that do fancy stitches.  Sometimes I fear that my new Pfaff electronic machine won't last very many years because it's got nylon gears and electronic controls.  Even though it's my most expensive machine ($800), it's also the one that's most likely to die first.  So I'm really drawn to a vintage machine that does fancy stitches mechanically, in a way that's unlikely to break down just because it's old.

Well, I didn't find a 500A for sale anywhere, but what I did find was this.




In an add on Facebook marketplace, I saw this picture and immediately recognized it as a Singer 401A!  The 500A and the 401A are basically the same machine, only with different styling.  I've heard some people online say that the 401A is a better machine because it has fewer weak points that can break.  The seller was asking $110 for the machine and cabinet, and it came with all the original attachments.  Hmm...

I had to think about that.  The asking price was decent, but I didn't need a new cabinet.  I thought about asking for just the machine, but then I had a thought.  My mom was using the world's ricketiest table for her sewing machine, so I decided I could give her the cabinet and keep the machine for myself.

It was an hour's drive out to the seller, and they live in a very rural out of the way place.  Hubby and I had a fun country drive at any rate.  I was dubious when I saw the machine in person, though.  It was frozen up completely, needle wouldn't move at all, everything was totally gunked up.  On top of that, the seller wouldn't budge on price.  Hmmm...  When the seller's husband (I think) offered $100, I decided to take it.  If nothing else, it would be a nice cabinet for my mom and a fun project for me to play with.  So we chucked it into the back of our SUV and drove home.


I got to work on the cabinet right away.  I used some Howard's Restor-A-Finish on the whole thing to cover up the numerous scratches, and then used some of Howard's Feed-n-Wax to seal it.  Here's a picture of the desk half way through working on it.  Finished side on the left, unworked side on the right.



Once that was done, I got to work on the sewing machine.  Ugh!  What a disgusting  mess!



The original owner was clearly a smoker.  The whole thing was covered in nicotine.









I tipped it over and the feet started disintegrating right away.






It has no drip pan to cover the bottom, which might explain why I found several buttons in the motor compartment.




It also looked like she would frequently douse the whole thing in oil, even the gears, which would explain why there was a severely tacky varnish on everything. (Pro tip, don't use oil on gears, only use grease.)





That last picture, that's the problem.  Those gears are supposed to be silver!  This was where the machine was stuck, and after several hours of lubing it up and working it back and forth and not getting anywhere, I gave up and got my heat gun.  It took about five minutes of high heat on these gears to loosen that gunk, and then I had to turn the hand wheel with as much force as I could to get it to start to loosen.  My hand literally hurt the next day.  But I got it loose and it ran smoothly!  This is why I like metal gears, you can beat the crap out of them and you don't have to worry about them breaking.

So after that, I plugged it in to see if it would run.  Well, it did, but it was very slow.  And after about 30 seconds, it began to smoke :(  Not good.  I figured it probably had some oil in the motor.  I tried to get the motor loose, but would you believe that it was stuck too?  Ugh!

By now it was about 5 PM and I needed to get dinner made for when hubby came home, so I decided to put the project aside for the night.  I shot off some questions to the Vintage Singer Yahoo group (a  great group of people, by the way) and put it away.

The next day I got my heat gun again, took off the hand wheel (because the gear on that is not metal), and heated the worm gear of the motor to see if that would loosen it enough to get it to drop down.  I didn't want to heat it too much because there are wires fairly close by and I certainly didn't want to melt anything.  Luckily, it only needed a little heat before it started to move.  Yay!  I took the motor out and started opening it up, and saw this.


It's a little hard to see, and if you've never seen a small motor it might not mean much to you.  But what's happened is, someone poured oil into the motor and it's gunked up the carbon brushes a lot.  It looked like tar in there, yuck!  My fingers are still black from cleaning all of the gunk out :(  I got it all cleaned up though and put it all back together, and she just purrs now!  What a beautiful machine.

I also spent some time yesterday cleaning her up.  I use Mr. Metal cleaner, which is an ammonia cleaner with some kind of polish in it.  I wouldn't use this on the old black sewing machines because they have a shellac coating, but this machine is enamel and I knew from experience that it would be just fine.


Look at that lovely girl now!  I still have some work to do, mostly cleaning and tweaking the tension assembly, and I also need to get her some new feet and a bobbin winding tire, but otherwise she's good to go!  I don't know if I'll keep her exactly.  I still want a 500A because the styling is just so cool.  I'll probably keep my 401A until I can find a 500A, then compare them side by side, and sell the one I like less.

My hubby was concerned about me buying a new machine.  I mean, with four in the house already, why did I need another.  But last night I bought him up to look at it and show him how all the mechanical parts work.  He's an engineer, so he was just totally captivated.  The fact that you can open it up and visually see what makes the patterns is cool beyond words for people like us.  Now he understands why I wanted it, and thinks it's a cool find too.  Maybe someday I'll get him into the action :)

In other news, I've also been sewing!  I finished the strip tube quilt last week.  I don't have a picture of it finished, but here it as while I'm basting it.


It's very pretty!  I love the rustic colors.  It matches my decor super well, because I'm trying to go for kind of rustic country type thing.  Not exactly shabby chic, but similar.

I used up the last of my garden carrots in a delicious butternut squash soup.  Garden carrots are so different from store bought carrots.  You know how a garden tomato has so much more flavor than anything you can buy in a store?  Well, the same is true for garden carrots too.  They have a robustness, a depth to their flavor that's missing from store carrots.  Le sigh.  I guess I'll just have to do without until next season's crop.


The good new is that I still have lots of rutabagas, though.  They're my secret ingredient in stews because they add such a lovely sweetness.  It's amazing to me that Americans don't cook with them more often, considering how delicious they are and how easy they are to grow.



Well, I guess that's all for this week, everyone.  I hope your Valentine's day is a good one!  I'll finish this post with one more picture that I hope makes you smile today.