Rainy Day Ramblings

It’s Monday.  It’s raining.  And, both are just fine with me.

The rain is nourishing the gardens. The onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and potatoes are coming along nicely and the recently planted watermelon, okra, turnips, beets and corn will all love this rain!

Also coming up much quicker than the crops are weeds.  Lots and lots of weeds!  One could hoe 24/7 and still not keep up with the weeds.  We are doing our best, though, to not get overrun with them this year.  We’ll see how that goes!

My flowers are also loving this rain…

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It’s been a nice, gentle rain which is perfect for newly planted seeds.

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It’s also good for all my potted plants.

Prior to this rainy Monday, I spent several hours over the weekend re-locating my ‘office’.  Again!  Originally, it was in my sewing and craft room but there are no windows in there and I found myself lacking any desire to get in there to do any blog writing or computer work in general.  So, I moved my ‘office’ (which consists of a laptop, printer, computer software, paper & card stuffs, and files and stuff for Young Living) into one of the guest rooms.  Ah, windows!  I suddenly found myself a bit more motivated!  But, it still wasn’t the perfect location.  When we do have guests, I am hesitant to do any blogging or computer work as I feel like I am intruding on our guests space.  And, I felt ostracized from the goings-on downstairs.  I don’t know if that makes sense or not but it was just how I felt.

So, I decided to move my ‘office’ downstairs.

The only somewhat suitable spot was in the dining room.

My overly-large roll-top desk was already in there so I decided that was where my ‘office’ would be. But first, I had to tackle the mounds of paperwork that covered the top of the desk so that I could put my laptop on it and yesterday morning was the day I felt as if I could conquer it.  Ha!  Please tell me I’m not the only one that lets paperwork get out of control!!!  I love to be organized but if anything is going to whip me in the organizing department it will be paperwork.  sigh.

Anyway, after moving the desk to anther wall so that I could look out the window while I worked I set about sorting, filing and tossing and eventually I saw the top of my desk.  Yay!  So, I started bringing stuff down from upstairs and getting it set up.

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It still needs a little bit of tweaking here and there.  I will finalize the space as I figure out what works and what doesn’t.  But, for now, I’m happy to be downstairs writing this here blog post, happy to be out of the guest room and happy to be able to see outside.  Happy, happy, happy!

I also spent a few hours over the weekend working on an old window that was left behind when we moved in…

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I knew I wanted to do something with this window but I didn’t know what so it’s been moved around from one storage shed to another waiting for me to be inspired.

As I was looking for a wooden box that I wanted to use in my new ‘office’ space (later to remember that I was already using it in another guest room to store bedding) I came across the window and a lightbulb went off!  I was going to clean it up and hang it on wall in the ‘office’/dining room.

It required lots and lots of elbow grease to get the paint off the windows…

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and while I was at it, I cleaned up the backside and ran a bead of clear silicone around each pane to help secure them…

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There was a pane missing so I tried to cut a piece of glass I had leftover from a water-damaged picture frame but I didn’t have the right tools.   So, to avoid a potential disaster I let it be.

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For the window frame itself, I simply scraped off any loose paint which exposed the original white paint and, in some spots, the wood itself.  I love the character that is left behind!

This wall, which is the only wall in there with drywall, is in need of a coat of paint.  I’m hoping that the window will be the focus and not the badly needed-paint job.

Also on this wall is a built-in shelf.  This shelf was originally a window but when, what is now the mudroom was enclosed the window was removed and, I’m assuming, this shelf was built…

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I’ve not known what to do with this built-in. At one time, I was thinking about removing it to have a solid wall and not have to try and ‘decorate’ around it.  But, since this shelf is near my ‘office’ I’ve decided to store some extra Young Living goodies on it…

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as well as a few things that remind me of the farm…

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I pulled that honey comb off the bottom of one of the medium supers I temporarily had in the large brood box.  It’s so cool and the handy work of the bees just amaze me!  It’s also a reminder of my ‘why’ for growing my Young Living business as well as my handmade/homemade farm goods business.

Speaking of handmade goods, I was asked by a friend of mine to make a quilted wall-hanging for her dining room.  She and I both like traditional quilts so I spent some time searching for just the right pattern.  After finding the pattern the next challenge was finding the perfect fabric.  I finally found some and, as you saw in my last post, I started cutting it.  I finished the quilt-top last Friday.  I love it!

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Simple nine patches around a double star.  Here’s a closer look at the gorgeous colors…

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Now to decide how I want to quilt it.  I find piecing the top is the easy part – quilting it, not so much.   I’m starting to come up with a plan.  I’m wanting to keep the quilting fairly traditional and I want it to add to, not take away, from the quilt top.

I did a second one with completely different fabrics which gave the quilt a completely different look…

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The sun was shining bright when I took this photo so it’s hard to see the colors but here’s a closeup…

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This pattern was so much fun!.  I will definitely be making more of them.

I also had some fun with the embroidery machine…

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I decided to make a pillow with this one.  I want to do another one but will use different colors.  SEW fun!

Earlier in the week, we decided it was time to let the chicks out of the grow-out cage during the day…

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CountryBoy cut two openings in the cage just large enough so that the littles could go in and out but the big girls couldn’t get in to eat all the food.  Cuz, you know, the chicks are getting better food than they get.  smirk!  We close the openings each night once they are all in safe and sound.

Occasionally, the big girls throw their weight around trying to tell the littles who’s boss but, for the most part, all is well.  Fuzzy Foot is really the boss but he just keeps thinking about the fact that he’s got even MORE girls to watch out for!  Poor Fuzzy Foot!

The rain has stopped for now so I will end my ramblings.

Thanks to all of you who faithfully read my ramblings and for the sweet comments letting me know that you actually enjoy reading my ramblings.  Y’all are too kind!

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Farm Realities & Ramblings

Hey everyone!  I trust y’all had a nice Memorial Day weekend and took some time to remember the men and women that gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

We enjoyed a quiet Memorial Day and even managed to get a few tasks done.

But, first, let me talk about some farm realities…

First up, this thing…

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sigh.

Every.time.we.mow. now SOMETHING happens to the riding mower.

One time when CountryBoy was mowing the chicken’s paddock I witnessed both front wheels turning in the OPPOSITE direction!  Another time (several actually) it was the belt.  This time it’s something with one of the blades.  I’m done nickling and diming this thing so we took advantage of a sale and 18 month zero financing at Lowe’s and bought another one (ouch!).  We bought a slightly larger Husqvarna and we plan on using our current one for parts.  At least whatever parts are salvageable, ha!

We took advantage of their free delivery offer which, it seems, so did everyone else!  Thank goodness, it is scheduled for delivery tomorrow.  Meanwhile, we’ve had LOTS of rain last week and no mower for almost two weeks so you can imagine what the grounds look like right about now.

Speaking of the grounds, CountryBoy is still not able to work the tractor due to his knee surgery so the upper and lower 40 and around the barn and garden are a bit high.  Almost waist high.

Thankfully, his brother bush-hogged all but the upper 40 when he was here mid-April otherwise it would be ridiculously high.  I’ve offered to jump on the tractor but CountryBoy is concerned about all the natural obstacles I might run into.  He’s also afraid I’ll end up, tractor and all, in the creek!  Fine.  Whatever.  I offered.  Ha!

So, needless to say, the farm is looking pretty shabby right now.  And, not the kind of shabby that’s in style these days (wink!).  What’re ya gonna do?!  This, too, shall pass and we’ll be back on top of things soon enough.

Another unfortunate reality is the closing of my recently re-opened Etsy shop.  sigh.

Do y’all remember a recent post about me FINALLY reopening the shop?  I spent a weekend taking photos, writing up descriptions, determining pricing and paying the fee to list my items for sale.  A week or so later I get an email from Etsy stating that I HAVE to sign up for Etsy Payments in order to keep my shop open and if I don’t?  Well, my shop will be suspended and I can no longer sell items.  sigh.

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most recent crib size quilt top waiting to be quilted

What’s the big deal about signing up for Etsy Payments you ask?  Well, in order to do so, I would have to link a bank account to their system and I’m just not comfortable doing that.  I briefly thought about opening another account just for the Etsy business but a) I don’t have enough business to warrant any fees that may be involved and b) adding another account goes against my efforts of simplifying our life and c) there are just too many hackers that have nothing better to do and I’m not willing, nor can I afford, to open ourselves up to the possibility of a financial wipe out.

But, what eats me up is I had no idea prior to re-opening the shop that I would be forced into doing something against my will and better judgement just to keep my shop open.  If I had known, I wouldn’t have wasted my time and money on re-opening the shop in the first place.  I may be a little extreme in my thought-process of linking a bank account but in these days… I’d rather just be safe than sorry.

So, at the end of this month, my shop will be suspended  and I will be looking for another platform to sell my handmade items.  sigh.

Enough about the realities and on to some ramblings!

Last Friday we had a break in the rain and  I decided it was time to get into the hive for an inspection.

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These bees are amazing little creatures!  I get mesmerized just watching them.

But, I had a job to do so I made myself focus on the task at hand.

First up was psyching myself up to open the hive.  I had no idea what to expect once it was open and I think the unknown was what made me a little nervous.  Once I got into the mindset of ‘just do it’ and I had my mental checklist in order it really was no big deal.

CountryBoy was in charge of the smoker.  He did a fine job.  Even smoking me out a time or two, ha!

Once the bees had been smoked, I removed the two honey supers.  There were a few frames in the lower super where the comb was under construction and there was even a small spot that had some honey in it.  When I pulled the two frames apart to check them it opened up the caps and some honey dripped out.  Wow, was it tasty!

Next up was checking the brood box.  I had a time pulling the frames out due to the sticky propolis but I managed.  I pulled each frame, one at a time, and checked for eggs, larvae and pupa.  I never spotted any eggs but I saw larvae and even witnessed the ‘birth’ of several bees.  Also, several frames in the center were almost completely capped. These are all good signs of a functional queen.

Speaking of queen, we actually SAW the queen on the next to the last frame I inspected.  Yay!

We also have a LOT more bees than we came home with so the colony is growing.  We just might get to harvest a small amount of honey this year.

On the gardening front we have a few things planted and coming up nicely…

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One row of onions, two rows of potatoes and a row comprised of tomatoes, pickling cucumbers and pinto beans.

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Hopefully, this evening, we can till up some more ground and get some corn, okra, turnips, beets and maybe even some watermelon seeds planted.

During the break in the rain, we also managed to set up a grapevine trellis and get a couple of Muscadines planted.

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Hopefully you can see the muscadines amongst our unruly grass!

Yesterday was a beautiful Memorial Day here.

After spending the morning clearing the fridge of science projects (yuck) and giving it a good cleaning both inside and out I went outside and hoed and weeded the garden.  CountryBoy came out and took over while I went inside to put cooler clothes on.  We rested a few minutes on the front porch then tackled a much-dreaded project… moving rocks that were tossed IN the yard from an old flower bed in front of the old porch OUT of the yard so that we could mow when the new mower arrives.

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These are some heavy rocks!  They will reside here until we find another use or place for them but at least they are out of the way.

After all that, I decided it was time to relax and do something I enjoy like taking pictures!

I sat for a few minutes in my rocking chair on the front porch and captured these beauties…

a female hummingbird on the feeder and a male buzzing around it…

realities n ramblings 04here’s another female…

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These girls are tough and stand their ground on the feeder while the males fight each other and try to run everyone off the feeder.  You go girls!

I also snapped a shot of some pretty impatiens that I got from our Pastors wife…

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They hang from a shepherd’s hook in front of the porch.

Speaking of porch… it’s coming along.  There is still a lot to do which is why I haven’t done a ‘reveal’ but you’ll see a bit of it in this next photo…

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The arbor is up, yay!  But, that’s another post!

Back to relaxing yesterday afternoon… I decided to cut some fabric for an upcoming quilt project.

Since I’m not a big fan of cutting fabric (it’s SEW expensive one definitely has to measure twice and cut once.  Oh, and TRIPLE read the instructions!) I decided to do it outdoors where I love being on such beautiful days.

That was a good move on my part because I actually got fabric cut for two different quilt projects…

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All ready for the fun part of sewing the quilt top!

Last, but not least, I have to show you yesterday’s egg haul…

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That’s a typical daily haul except for the one egg on the bottom.  Can you see it?

Here it is next to some other eggs…

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Mercy that had to have hurt!  I bet she was glad when it finally came out!  Poor girl!

That’s about all the realities and ramblings I have for now.  Give it a day or two and I’m sure I’ll have more, haha!

I Should Be In The Kitchen

We are still harvesting tomatoes, cucumbers, jalapenos and okra.

The lima beans seem to have halted their growth at the moment.

And, still in the ground are the other half of the gold potatoes and all the sweet potatoes.

We were gifted with a BUNCH more apples and a bag full of hot and sweet banana peppers.

Today, my intentions were to make and put up some salsa using up some of the tomatoes, the jalapenos and some of the hot banana peppers.  That is, until I discovered that I didn’t have enough garlic on hand to make the salsa.  And, probably not quite enough lemon juice either. sigh.

Then I thought, I oughta make and put up some applesauce or apple pie filling.  But, I just wasn’t in the mood to peel apples all morning.

I went outside to hang up a load of laundry and saw the trunk project I am working on.  Of course, I meandered over there to check it out and, well, the morning was history (wink!).

So far, a lot of time has been spent gently scraping the canvas off the outside of the trunk.  I even had to pull out the paint stripper to remove the black paint that was on three sides and the top of the trunk.

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It’s coming along slowly but I can already envision what this ‘ol trunk is going to look like when I’m finished!

I stopped working on it today when the sweat started running down my legs.  Here’s where I’m at on the top of the trunk…

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I still have a long way to go on the whole thing but I’m making progress.

When my hands needed a break from all the scraping I decided to pot my two $1 plants I got the other day from the clearance rack at Lowe’s.  They were already marked down to $3 then they were marked down to $1.  Score!

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There was no tag in the containers but I believe these are trailing Verbena.  Don’t quote me on that though!

I am slowly working on some curb appeal so I put these in my plastic, half barrel-looking pot and put them in front of the ‘ol wagon wheel leaning on the front (actually side) porch rail.

Can you add curb appeal even though you don’t have a curb?  Ha!

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This is the side of the porch that is seen when you come up the drive.  It is looking a little better and more inviting.

See all the chippy paint on the porch railing and the floor?  Our porch definitely needs some TLC.  In time.

Tomorrow, I will get in the kitchen.  That is, after a quick trip to town to get more jars, lemon juice and garlic.  Then, I will be psyched and ready to spend the day putting up food for winter!

Sanding, Staining, Sealing

If you’ve been following our renovation journey then you know that we completely gutted the farmhouse kitchen shortly after moving in.

Here’s what it looked like at the beginning of demo (I forgot to get a before)…

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I am standing in a doorway and taking this shot.  In pure Joanna Gaines (Fixer Upper) style we removed this wall (and everything else!), added our version of shiplap and started building the cabinets and putting everything back.

When it came to the countertops, in order to save a ton of money we chose to use 2×6’s.  CountryBoy and his brother secured the boards from underneath then I went at them with the sander then stained and sealed them.

I chose a Summer Oak to help keep the kitchen light…

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and they turned out great!

But, as time went on and the wood began to dry out the boards started shrinking and twisting leaving large gaps between each board.  We ended up with all kinds of crumbs in the drawers below.

So, last March, while I was away at the annual quilt retreat, CountryBoy dismantled the countertop, took it outside and began the process of gluing, sanding and putting it all back together.

He did a great job and there were no more ginormous cracks!  Yay!  But… the wood was almost raw and was beginning to show wear and tear and stains.  Think pink from strawberry juice (wink!).

So, one day I got a wild hair and removed everything from the countertop and got my trusty orbital sander out and lots and lots of sandpaper.  (Making for lots and lots of dust in the house.  sigh.  oh well – had to be done eventually.)

I started with 80 grit to remove the stains and the marks from the belt sander CountryBoy used.  Next was 120 grit and lastly was 220.

While the countertop was drying after removing the dust I made the decision to use a dark stain this time.  I thought the kitchen could use a nice ‘pop’ to break up all the light colors.

I used a wood conditioner then Espresso stain.  It was looking good.  whew.

After the stain dried I applied two coats of polyurethane and here is how they turned out…

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Swoon!

I never thought I would ever want dark countertops but I really LOVE the dark stain!  I think it ties in with the hardware and faucet, brings out the color of the cabinets and it’s definitely the ‘pop’ that I was looking for.

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That, right there, is where lots of goodies are made.

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It may not be magazine-worthy and it’s definitely NOT staged but this is our fully functional and practical farmhouse kitchen for everyday use.  And I love it!

My next sanding project was the coffee table CountryBoy made.

We’ve been using it for a while now and liked its rustic look but it was never fully sanded down or sealed so it was difficult to dust and was easily susceptible to stains in its raw state.

Of course I forgot to get a before photo but here is a shot of the end tables he made and is what the coffee table looked like…

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Rough barn wood with an overall gray tone.

So yesterday, while CountryBoy was out fishing with a neighbor, I took the coffee table outside and started my sanding process using the three different grits.

I didn’t want to sand off too much because there was so much character in the wood – saw marks, knots, and a beautiful grain.

After removing the dust I, again, used the wood conditioner but skipped the stain and went straight to sealing it with three coats of polyurethane.

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Pardon the light spot, I had the overhead light on but it really turned out great!  These photos really don’t do it any justice.

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We were afraid it would turn out too dark and disappear in our dark living room but, thankfully, it stayed on the lighter side.

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Now to see if I can keep from piling my books, magazines and projects on it, ha!

Still to do are the two end tables he made.

I think we make an awesome team… he makes/builds whatever project we’re working on and I do the finishing work to show off his handiwork and usually end up with all the compliments (wink!).

Till next time friends!

Too Many Craft Projects

Is there such a thing?  Ha!

Those of you who are crafty may understand.

You may even have the same problem (wink).

I enjoy working with my hands.

The feel of yarn, fabric, thread sliding through my fingers.

The movement of the crochet hook, quilting needle or the gently pushing of fabric under the needle of a sewing machine; it’s all therapeutic and enjoyable for me.

I enjoy watching the project evolve from one thing (or things) into something completely different.

I have many crafty hobbies I enjoy doing.  If asked to pick a favorite I wouldn’t be able to do it.  I work on whichever one suits my mood at the moment.

Which is why I usually have so many projects going on at the same time.

Let me show you what all is in the works…

Hand quilting the guest room quilt.

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It will take me a month of Sunday’s to finish it, ha!

This project will be put on hold temporarily over the next few weeks and during Thanksgiving.

Our plan is to use the quilt frame as a buffet table so the quilt will remain on the frame but be covered up with a sheet of plywood and a tablecloth.  I will be able to work on it again after Thanksgiving.  No worries… I have plenty of other projects to occupy my down time!

Such as this gender neutral baby blanket I started a couple of months ago.

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A little birdy told me to start working on it and I’m glad I did as it may already have a home to go to and a baby to keep warm in the upcoming months.  Yay!

Since I’m almost finished with the blanket I’ll be spending more time working on a little cross stitch table topper.

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Cute little cross stitched chickens!

I started it while we were still working in Texas.  It’s been laying in a basket that our little black kitty, Precious, found to be a good place to curl up and sleep.  Lovely!  I’m going to have to take the lint brush to it before I work on it again (wink).

Then there’s the Christmas table topper that is waiting to be quilted.

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I am trying to decide how I want to quilt it.  Do I want to hand quilt it or machine quilt it? Then there’s the decision of what design do I want to use when quilting it.  Decisions, decisions! I do have several ideas floating around my head so, until the ‘final decision light bulb’ turns on in my head regarding the quilting of this project it will remain the way it is.

Also in the works and thought process are a couple more projects.  One, finding a machine embroidery design so I can practice embroidering on my new machine.

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I found these cute, vintage looking dish towels at Hobby Lobby.  One towel was missing from the package (it appears it was stolen since the package was open) and it was the only red one left so they gave me a discount, yay!  I figured this would be a simple, first embroidery project for me.

Now to find a design AND get up the nerve to turn the new embroidery machine on!

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Why are these fancy machines so intimidating?!  Well, at least it’s out of the box, haha!  Baby steps (wink).

The second project (which is still in the thought and design process) is a boxed-bag with handles to keep all my nail stuff organized.  What can I say?  I’m a farm girl that likes having pretty nails which, is probably the only girly thing about me!

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The design is coming together; now to choose fabrics (I’m thinking denim and a coordinating cotton) and get up the nerve to start cutting it up!  I don’t know why cutting fabric is the hardest part of any sewing or quilting project for me.  Fear of cutting it wrong?  Possibly.  Fabric is not cheap anymore.  It’s the equivalent of wood which is why I use the old ‘measure twice, cut once’ rule.  I also check the measurement requirements, if using a pattern, probably five times before making the cut.  Makes for a long process which could be another reason I hesitate before making the first cut.  Maybe one day it will get easier.  Practice makes perfect, right?!

Well, there ya have it… my current craft projects.

Crocheting.  Cross Stitching.  Quilting.  Sewing.  Designing.  Can you tell  I like variety?  I guess that explains why I usually have too many craft projects going at the same time!