Not Just for Show

The hot weather has arrived, just as they said it would. Yesterday was a bit much but I stayed cool by sitting in front of the fan, sitting by the lake, and working in my sewing room, which is in the basement of our house. Now that all my boys are off on their own I have the whole basement to myself. The main room, which has big windows and a sliding glass door is where I have my machines set up. The little spare room is where I am increasingly filling up with ‘extras’ such as batting, fabric, and supplies. With a wood stove in the corner it is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Just the place to go for me!

I have three machines that I use often. Two others are antiques and I love having them but I don’t really use them much. The main machine I use is a Singer Quilting Machine. My husband bought it for me after another Singer I had died. My father bought me that one over twenty years ago. It was the machine I learned to sew and quilt on. I think I still have it somewhere up in a closet. Couldn’t let it go I guess.

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More and more I find myself also using a little black Singer 221. I have been using it on my small pieced quilt blocks. My long time friend gave it to me for my birthday. I go to sew with her at her house and would use it there. Now I can bring it with me when I sew at her house. It came with a black carrying case. It is perfect for travel sewing. It is such a nice machine to use. It is quiet and very precise. It has been fun learning to sew with it.

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Another machine I use often is also a Singer. I call it my ‘Green Machine’. It is a workhorse. I use it for sewing denim and canvas. It is perfect for anything thick and bulky. It is a Singer 257.

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My two antique machines are not in my sewing room. One, another Singer, is up in my bedroom. The same friend that gave me the 221 gave this Singer 66 Treadle. She also game me the wonderful table too. It is so pretty. I have used it and need to practice more. I know I will be able to sew should the power go out!

 

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My father is a ‘Ford’ man and I am a ‘Singer’ gal. Except for one. Another friend gave me his grandmother’s antique sewing machine. When I first saw it I was so surprised, because it didn’t look like any sewing machine that I had ever seen. It is a Wilcox and Gibbs machine. My friend that gave me the Singers cleaned up the Wilcox and Gibbs and sent me lots of videos on how to sew with it. I did figure it out. It is a chain stitch machine. No bobbin. It is a beauty too. I keep it in my dining room, with the lovely cover on to protect the machine.

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So there you have it. A little tour of all my machines. I never imagined I would have so many. My friend still has me beat by a long shot. She has an ‘museum’! She also fixes and revamps antique machines for a business so naturally she will have many around. We all have our passions. We need to go with it. I love to sew. Proudly I can sew on all of my machines. They are not only for show.

A Real Spring

 

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If you live in Maine you will know what I am talking about today. We have been experiencing a real Spring. Cool temperatures with rain. Lots of rain. So much rain I have had to combat slugs for the first time ever. I have lost some broccoli plants. It is sad. But I am hoping they grow back. Now that I am fighting with slugs.

I almost caught myself complaining about this weather we are having. Almost said that I am sick of the cold and rain. I am kind of sick of it but then I remember how much I really abhor the hot, and humid weather. The sun has come out a few times in the last few weeks and it was beautiful. There was a slight breeze and it felt a little like fall, which is my absolute favorite season.

It isn’t fall though, it is Spring. I cannot remember the last time we have had such a prolonged Spring season. Many times it is muddy, with snow melt and then it seems to get hot really fast. I find myself complaining that we hardly had a Spring and now it feels like summer! Well I am enjoying this lovely weather. Yes it is rainy and cool but it has been really good for my garden. My tomatoes and peppers are nice and snug under plastic so they have not suffered. My spinach and lettuce love this weather. The broccoli that didn’t get eaten is doing well. My asparagus is a forest! The garlic is up and thriving. Shallots are up and healthy looking. I have greens galore. They love this cool weather.

The forecast is for the temps to slowly inch up in a couple of days. Then another day or two of rain and then on Monday and Tuesday we will be hot, hot! I will have to shade the greens and broccoli. Uncover the tomatoes and peppers. I will have to wear next to nothing and sit in front of a fan. I will try not to complain. We had a nice Spring. Summer is just around the corner and I have known it would come sooner or later. Another week and the girls and I will be free to escape to a lake or the ocean. We can watch the garden grow. Make sun tea and sit in the shade. Read some books on the beach and drink lemonade and eat fruit salad. Doesn’t that sound delightful?

 

 

 

 

A Quilt Finished

I am a pretty slow quilt maker. I am amazed at some of the bloggers and people on Instagram that are able to make several quilts a year maybe even several a month. I don’t know how they do it. I am jealous. I try and tell myself it is because I have kids, that I also knit. Both of those things are true of most makers. I almost made myself believe it is because I homeschool my kids but I found that many people do that also and can still pump out several quilts a year. So really it just comes down to the fact that I am slow. Or my priorities are different. I try and sew every night but I don’t make progress very quickly. It’s just the way I am!

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Just this past weekend I did finish a quilt. I call it the Five Stars Picnic Quilt. I made it for taking to the beach and to picnics. My husband says it is too nice for that. I am happy he thinks so. I like it too and it is a nice quilt but I did make it knowing I would be taking it out and using it. I am hoping it will be used a lot.

I showed this quilt in the making in  this post, Five Stars Picnic Quilt. I decided to hand quilt it and that is what took me the longest. After I finished the quilting of lines diagonally through the quilt I felt it needed more. The squares looked a little empty. So I decided to stitch flowers inside them.

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I love how they came out. A lot of the fabric is flowery and it just made sense to put in more flowers. Then the binding needed to be put on. I sew my bindings on by machine and then hand stitch them on the back side. I have heard of a way to sew both sides by machine but I have not tried that yet.

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I use these cool little clips that a friend gave me. They are very helpful. I can sew a long way up the quilt without having to keep pulling the binding straight.

Two other reasons I don’t get a lot of quilts finished is one, I like to play. I like to try new things and experiment.

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I have been trying to use some old denim jeans up. I have been eyeing a pattern out of an old Georgia Bonesteel, Quilt as You Go book. This block is called Glow Shine. I have always wanted to try it. One night I got inspired and just had to try it.

Another reason I am slow is that I have many projects going on at one time. I am still working on some tiny blocks. These finished blocks are 6 1/2 inches. I am using the 1930’s Farmer’s Wife book. I am using reproduction fabrics (not from the 30’s) and I am being very careful when cutting, pinning and sewing them.

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So, I am sewing. A lot. I am enjoying each step too. Slow and steady. How about you? What are you working on?

 

 

Sigh of Relief. Again.

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Show me a person that is homeschooling children and is totally, without any doubt, confident that their kids are learning what they will need for the years ahead. I dare you. I don’t believe that person exists. If you do meet one then I believe they are probably not being truthful.

At this point in time I have two children still at home. Three others have flown the nest. I cannot say the three that have left knew it all. They did not. They have had times of struggle. I have had times I wished that I taught them this or that. Over all though, they are fine. They all went to high school and did very well. They all got into college. One graduated. The other two have decided that it was not worth their time. Or money. They are working, living, having fun. They are bright and relatively happy.

Recently we have come to the point in my eldest daughters life where she desires to meet new people and do something a bit different than homeschool. This also happened with my sons.  My daughter will attend 8th grade at the Jr. High School in the fall. She already knows a few of the kids from Strings class and softball. I believe socially she will be fine.

I had a meeting with the guidance counselor to see what classes she would be taking and to gauge the level of study from these classes. My daughter wanted to see how behind she was. This is also typical. I do not us a curriculum. My children do not want one. They are very happy with the way we do things here at home, that is until they are about to go off to school. Then they start to question whether they have gotten enough.

The guidance counselor was very nice and sent me a link to get into the curriculum of all the subjects for 7th grade. With the exception of a Holocaust unit and Poetry she was at grade level. Hmmmm. Not too shabby! So as I did with the first three I blew a sigh of relief. Again.

We will most likely read about the Holocaust more in depth this summer. We will also study some poetry. My daughter will finish her math for the year. She will be fine.

The other day I was walking with my youngest daughter out in the woods behind the school while her sister was in Strings class. I started thinking how this youngest daughter has not had the academic attention she needs or thrives. I started doubting my abilities. Again. But then I stopped. We were walking in the woods. We were seeing fungi, and flowers, and trees. She was telling me what certain trees were. We stumbled upon a hole in the ground and uprooted a woodchuck. She immediately tried to follow it and discovered five other holes around the knoll. She told me that tunnels were probably all underneath us. She is fine. She will be fine. I will still have my doubts every once in a while but for the most part, this homeschooling thing really is working.

 

 

Here, There, Everywhere

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The busiest time of the year is here. No other time during the year am I being pulled in so many different directions. I am appreciating each morning here at home because by 10:30 I am out of the house and sometimes don’t return until night time. Suppers are a real challenge. They must be easy, quick and healthy! We did have hot dogs last week though. Sometimes it is the only way. One day this week we may have to grab something out!

I went to visit my son last week at the Carpenter’s Boat Shop and spent the night. It was so nice to see the things he is working on. I even worked on one of the boats!  Everyone was very welcoming and I was quite comfortable.

I went on a knitting retreat in Portland. I had the best time. Who wouldn’t? Yarn, knitting, wine, chocolate. We went out to eat. We knit. I learned how to double knit. We had a party with door prizes and yarn swaps. We knit. We had cocktails together and knit. It was really fun to be around so many like minded women.

Softball season has begun. The girls are on different teams. One is playing through the school, the other through the recreation department. Pretty much every night there is softball. One in the afternoon, one in the evening.

This is gardening season too. I have been out planting early things like greens and peas. I went to the Fedco tree sale and picked up some tomato seedlings. I wanted to get blueberry bushes to replace the ones that were damaged this year but they were all out! My asparagus is up and the garlic too. Next week strawberries are being delivered! So excited about that.

We are trying to keep up on our homeschooling too so we don’t have so much to catch up on during the summer. Both girls are on the last parts of their math. We are reading about the ancient empires right now. Just finished reading the Iliad. Now we are reading the Odyssey. We still have to finish biology. Waiting a bit for that. It is all the summer things like caterpillars and frogs. I went for a walk in the woods last week and found some owl pellets. The girls couldn’t wait to dissect those!

We have started our daily walks again. Last week we even got a bike ride in, dodging all the rain drops. Boy has it been rainy!

This weekend all my sons came home for a visit. One had just got back from a road trip out in California! I wanted to see pictures. I did and it looked like he has a wonderful time. Another son helped me put my flower garden back together. It got ripped up during some pipe work. That is how the blueberry bushes got damaged too. He helped me see that it is still pretty and all will be well.

In between all the running around I have put together a quilt block. Quilted a block or two on the picnic quilt and finished a sweater. I will show that in a future post. I have to make time for my crafts. It is for my mental health.

So things are pretty busy. I know it will settle down after softball ends. And the garden is all planted. Then I can sit outside, with a glass of wine or a cup of tea and relax.

Yea, right.

Nesting

As it is Spring, I have felt the urge to clean, organize, tidy up, and beautify. Many times this hits me in September. It may again. I guess it makes sense, every 6 months or so I need to restart.

I ‘Spring’ cleaned the house. It took me four days. I was battling some kind of virus but that wasn’t going to stop me. It was time. I don’t think I have cleaned the house this well in a few years. I still have to do the outside windows but that will wait until it is a bit nicer out. For now though, the curtains, floors, walls, cabinets, and inside windows got a good cleaning.

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When I say beautifying I mean switching things around, putting out new candles and changing where the plants go. I went outside and found some early blooming flowers and trees to bring in. Every year I fill little vases with small bits of flowers from outside. I love seeing them at the kitchen window. There isn’t that much color outside right now but when I see it at my window it tricks my mind into thinking that flowers are blooming everywhere.

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Dean brought out the table and chairs for the deck. I put out a vase of Forsythia that is just about ready to bloom. It really is quite inviting of a space now. I think we may eat our lunch out there today. Spring really has arrived here in Maine now. I have been in that nesting mood even though there are no babies on the way!

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The girls and I planted some flowers and broccoli last week and many of them are up and thriving. It is time to start the battle of the broccoli! I have a history with broccoli. I will not quit trying to grow it by seed. We eat a lot of broccoli and my dream is to grow enough to freeze it like I do green beans, tomatoes, peppers, and squash. I will succeed!

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I harvested my first batch of spinach last week. I topped pizza with it, put it in a salad, and added it to smoothies. More to come this week. Gardening season has officially started here. I may even plant some peas soon.

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This blog can’t have enough pictures of pizza! One of my favorite foods. I have a lot of favorite foods. By the looks of the pizza I also like cheese.

I feel quite energized right now. Probably because of the warmer weather, I am over my cold, and I have a very clean, beautiful house. Seize the day!

 

 

 

The Sweetness of Spring

The girls have Spring Fever like never before. One of my daughters said that if it snows again she will scream! They both have been reminiscing summer days where they can run outside without shoes and forage around in the woods. Days where they are outside all day working on their shelters and playing together. Well my dears those days are coming I promise. But we are living in Maine and always have and this is the way it is.

There are some Spring things going on. Not outside the window of course where there is still two feet of snow and the forecast says more today. Inside is where we have proof of spring. The cauldrons are full of sweet sap and it is slowly boiling away and turning into syrup. That syrup will be used all year long for baking and for pouring over our breakfast of pancakes and waffles. Yum, Yum!

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It doesn’t look very pretty in the beginning. Especially if you look really close and see the bugs that have gotten stuck in there. No worries, it all gets strained out later. It is a slow process and one that needs constant attention. When the sap really starts to turn into syrup you can turn your back for five minutes and it would have turned to candy. All over your stove. What a mess! Once, we under estimated the amount on the wood stove . We left for the day thinking that the wood stove would cool down and no boiling would take place. When we got home it smelled like burned syrup and sure enough when we checked the pot there was hard, black, burned syrup. So really you cannot ever rest unless you take the sap off the stove and put it in some snow to keep cool. It is a fun process though and the outcome, when done properly, is so worth it.

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So, Spring is here because the syrup is being made. The girls are starting softball soon. The Red Sox just played, and won their first game. My seeds should be coming this week too and then we will get busy inside, planning and planting the garden! Before we know it we will be out digging and transplanting. All in good time. In the meantime I will watch my sap, knit a sweater, and sew some blocks!

Happy April!