Looking for answers to life's questions

Posts tagged ‘projects’

In Search of the Texture

When you were growing up did your parents ever tell you as you walked through a store or someones home to keep your hands to yourself and don’t touch?

Mine were very strict about that and we never challenged them. I was somewhat like that with my children. It was the phrase, “it’s not yours, don’t touch it.” I was a bit more flexible than my parents and my daughter challenged me more.
Children learn from touching. I am still a very tactile person. Oddly, if I wander through a book or fabric store, I touch each piece I’m interested in to get the “feel” of it. I do it carefully and with clean hands but I love (almost need) to touch EVERYTHING!

Puyallup WA quilt show. How can you resist touching.

Puyallup WA quilt show. How can you resist touching.

We touch pictures, frames, trees and flowers. Everything in life has texture. Life itself has texture. I think the more texture it has, the more interesting it is. I wrote a comment on a blog one day not too long ago that I start and end my day with gratitude. The rest in the middle is texture.

another job finished. 2 green squares to add  to more for charity quilt. Pattern in fabric adds texture

another job finished. 2 green squares to add to more for charity quilt. Pattern in fabric adds texture

I think that’s why I like to work with my hands. Embroidery, by machine or by hand, quilting, sewing, crafting, especially nature crafts, even gardening are all tactile and full of texture. I can sometimes be heard moaning over a quilt square where the points don’t meet exactly and ask why can’t things just go smoothly? I learn more from the lack of smooth.

Reaching for more books

Reaching for more books

My son put up the last 2 shelves that had taken up residence on my living room floor. (I painted them there so they could dry quicker.) Things didn’t go as smoothly with that either so there are a couple extra holes in my wall. A little putty and paint will fix that but I would rather have the holes than the shelves still on the floor. It’s a quick easy fix. Each day we get a little further along on our respective projects. Each project adds a little texture. Sometimes even to our vocabulary.

Tech Support. It's a tough job but someone has to do it.

Tech Support. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it.

Last weekend we made a trip to Portland’s Rose Test Garden to meet with my last husband’s granddaughter and her 2 and 5 year old sons. She only brought the 2 year old this time. I brought books. I always bring books. These books had texture and I’m so glad I picked them. This little guy took after mom’s side of the family. His glasses had been chewed by the dog and he was without them. There were no roses yet in bloom but the Camellia’s were. After he was finished touching the books and hearing some of the stories, I pulled a Camellia bloom off the bush and put it on his tray. Mom was a bit stunned but I wanted him to enjoy the bloom too. He enjoyed the texture of the flower until we left. When you don’t see well, touch is even more important.

He can't see the books well but he loves them. Great grandson

He can’t see the books well but he loves them. Great grandson

Time has flown by again this month. That’s what happens when the days are full. My son has been photographing the beauty of our neighborhood and I have been busy finishing projects. My two squares are done a month early, the charity quilt top I was given to sandwich, quilt and bind is finally done and the binding is almost complete on my teacup quilt.

I didn't piece the top, just but the layers together and quilted.

I didn’t piece the top, just but the layers together and quilted.


Back of quilt pieced from scraps.

Back of quilt pieced from scraps.


Part of the binding will be tonight's handwork project.

Part of the binding will be tonight’s handwork project.

That’s the final and most enjoyable part for me. Busy hands while I watch TV. Weeds have been pulled and more stuff sorted and organized. I have a lot of old magazines with craft ideas in them I wanted to save. Tearing out the pages that would get lost and separated didn’t seem like a great option, so I decided to photograph the picture and directions, putting them into a computer file. Sure takes up less room and the box of magazines and books can now be passed on.

More craft books to get moved on intact.

More craft books to get moved on intact.

It was a stunning view for a good week down to Sleepy Hollow.

It was a stunning view for a good week down to Sleepy Hollow.

There is still going to be a lot more texture and gratitude in my life.
How about you? Are you a tactile person who likes a lot of texture?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of What I’ve Gained

Last week I lost my mind and discovered it had slipped away due to a short-term fever of unknown origin, caused by a vague and undetermined malady. After finally having the energy to get to the doctor, I gained his approval of my course of treatment. Liquids, rest and a sip of brandy every so often. Only a sip now, mind you.

I saw my mind peeking round corners blowing raspberries at me, taunting “catch me if you can.” I had to sneak up on it and it looks like I have a slightly better grip on it as of yesterday.

As I look back on the year behind, I count my blessings with deep gratitude. I gained the first home of my own. Nothing fancy, yet quite adequate in that it allows me to have space to share with those in transition. I’ve also gained the opportunity to look at my life differently.

An ornament from my ex-DIL. Still a sweety. Hers is the round one.

An ornament from my ex-DIL. Still a sweety. Hers is the round one.

The world that I thought was shrinking, became so large that even I’m astounded. So is my mail carrier, Mo. Thanks to Jackie at To Breathe is to Write and Pauline at The Contented Crafter, I’ve received cards, letters, and even gifts from all over the world. In my little area of Sleepy Hollow, Mo rarely sees these postmarks on cards and packages. We are both having fun. Thank you both, Pauline and Jackie for initiating such fun.

Yes, I live in Sleepy Hollow. Scary, isn't it?

Yes, I live in Sleepy Hollow. Scary, isn’t it?

These are the results. First, from the lovely Pauline’s own art studio several much coveted postcards and note cards that will be shared with good friends. I’m still going to get one of her original works of art for my wall soon.

Even a tiny Angel for the collector in me. The bookmark will be much used as I read several books at once

Even a tiny Angel for the collector in me. The bookmark will be much used as I read several books at once

There is a beautifully stitched bag from mommermom that had my daughter and I peering at every angle of this piece. I have never made anything as well stitched as this. I would love to take some lessons from her.

It's like a surprise package just waiting to be opened

It’s like a surprise package just waiting to be opened

The outside is like an envelope

The outside is like an envelope

A handmade card to go with the beautiful drawstring bag

A handmade card to go with the beautiful drawstring bag

A new friend I’m getting acquainted with courtesy of Pauline is Jem Arrowsmith who sent this lovely book and knit shawl. She wasn’t sure if I’d like the color. As you can see from the quilt I made behind it, it’s a color I would choose anytime and see everyday. The book was about her town. What a fascinating way to get to know someone! I looked around. There are no books on my little town but plenty on Portland. I’m finding other bloggers from this area as well.

I don't knit but wish I could when I see work like this. Stunning and lacy.

I don’t knit but wish I could when I see work like this. Stunning and lacy.

Gardening Nirvana has a new word this year. Connections. I had to point out that by first following her blog, then following her followers, I’ve made most of those connections. She has inadvertently been connecting people all along. Her talents are eclectic and here is just one small sample of it. I wish she lived closer as she is an organizer extraordinaire and that is my word for the year. Organize. It will be an ongoing project this year.

I couldn't decide what was the best part

I couldn’t decide what was the best part

hand made cards inside the card box

hand made cards inside the card box

She made this one herself as well to send the rest. A quilted card.

She made this one herself as well to send the rest. A quilted card.

The Eco-Grandma has moved this year as well. She’s been a little harder for me to follow as her moves included her blog as well as her home. I don’t get to visit as often as I’d like but hopefully with a little time, I’ll get more of her earth-wise advice. Another blogger with a huge heart who knows how to make a big statement with a little bit of thread.

The card held the perfect surprise. She couldn't have said it better.

The card held the perfect surprise. She couldn’t have said it better.

Just like most everyone this year, it’s been lose some and gain some. Pounds that is. The perpetual cycle. I’ve finally gained the understanding that I cannot diet. The deprivation sets me up for failure. So I’m trying a different tactic and I’ll let you know how it goes.

This year I’ve gained insights, books, information, and wonderful new friendships. The cards alone made my day. I’m an old school letter writer. With all the gifts and the vast amount of kindness I see in my world, there is no other choice but to pass it forward. I will share all the wonderful cards I’ve received with others and start making a few of my own creations to pass on as well.

Snail mail in addition to virtual is a great balance of old and new. These gifts though, were the kind that touched my heart. Thoughtfulness, kindness, and reasons to keep marching on. When you reach out, there is no limit to how your actions can affect others.

What have you gained that you’d like most to share?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of Better Balance

Have you noticed my posts getting farther and farther apart? I’ve been feeling quite badly about it but can’t afford to stress even a little. I mentioned a few posts back that I had taken on a bit more these days than previously. As the winter weather let go its icy grip, signs of life showed up in my apartment in a big way.

Note at mailboxes said "Can’t get myself down the stairs but the first one than can will get to take me home from #2048." It worked.

Note at mailboxes said “Can’t get myself down the stairs but the first one than can will get to take me home from #2048.” It worked.

My daughter helped me pull out several large boxes of craft materials from the far reaches of my garage. I rent a garage to store things so as not to be too cluttered up here. Riiight! One of the boxes was from a new toilet if that gives you any idea of the size. When I moved out of my home 4 years ago, we pretty much tossed stuff in boxes and hoped for the best. I wasn’t in the best of shape then. The other box was almost that large and I have found several boxes of old photos as well. Have you ever started looking at photos and been able to stop? I spent a whole week going through, sorting a bit and tossing a lot of duplicates.

No more tea cups for this cabinet. Still hunting paints and glue gun. Have glue!!!

No more tea cups for this cabinet. Still hunting paints and glue gun. Have glue!!!

With all the joining I have done to make friends in my new home, I’ve overloaded myself a bit with classes and projects. I’ll have some photos of the finished work shortly. Little by little, I’m starting to find how much I can do and what needs to be eased off from. Setting limits is something new for me.

This replaced the recliner in my bedroom. Put it together myself but took a few adjustments. Still WIP here.

This replaced the recliner in my bedroom. Put it together myself but took a few adjustments. Still WIP here.

But the kind of balance I’m talking about here has more to do with my Bells Palsy than my creative endeavors. Since acquiring health insurance this year, I have the opportunity to get some medical assistance for the balance. A new acquaintance at the quilting group let me know my HMO had vestibular integration therapy available. The first job was to get a different primary care doctor. The last one was quite dismissive. That done, I requested some therapy to get my eyes working together again which in turn, helps with my standing balance. If I’m in a dark room, I start to tip over and closing my eyes, well let’s just say that’s a dangerous move when standing.

After a trip to a neurologist, (the third one in four years) I was allowed to get physical therapy for my balance. I have exercises to do twice a day. Some are standing holding onto my kitchen counter for support. (I don’t have a chair) The rest are sitting and turning my head and looking up and to the side that is unaffected. I’ve found I must do these when I don’t have to drive anywhere. Oddly, they add to the dizziness but I’m going to do whatever I can to get well.
Even after four years, I am noticing movement in some parts of my face that was flaccid and I can almost make a complete smile. Still a bit odd-looking but hey, I’m happy with any improvement.

Flowers from my new friends garden. Made me feel better immediately.

Flowers from my new friends garden. Made me feel better immediately.

Funny how much I took for granted before Bells hit like a hammer. Unfortunately, healing of any nature still requires lots of rest. I’m not a fan. Moving and doing have been how I lived in the world, now I rest a whole darn bunch. Hang in there with me a bit longer. We shall see how effective these exercises are.

Have you ever taken your health for granted and wound up with a major wakeup call? Do you believe your health is connected to your emotions and what’s going on in life or just something that happens?

A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses.
~
Hippocrates

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of my Spring Project

It’s really here! The snow is gone but not the cold. We’ve had some lovely sunny days that had me out walking the area once it warmed a bit. Of course, walking warms everything but the nose and ears. I did four miles last Saturday looking for a mobile home community. I found it but it was filled with homes that had long since passed their expiration date and there was no yard space to make a nice garden. The more I look around at what I can afford, the better my rented apartment looks.

As the spring buds start to pop, I seem to finally be doing the same. Winter is so hard on those of us who are solar powered. Oregon is probably not the best place for me but I thought I could afford to live here. I may have to rethink that idea.

Seeing these made the 4 miles worth the walk.

Seeing these made the 4 miles worth the walk.

This bush is thinking about spring but not ready to commit.

This bush is thinking about spring but not ready to commit.

In the meantime, I’ve been inspired by the wonderful Boomdeeadda to make better use of what I have available.

These things will stay somehow. The rest will stay boxed for now.

These things will stay somehow. The rest will stay boxed for now.

These are in with the regular dishes for now. I can't put them all away!

These are in with the regular dishes for now. I can’t put them all away!

I have scrapbooking papers in my garage that I have not been able to get to in the last four years and four moves. Seeing the beautiful stuff she creates, I wanted to get my toys out to play with again. So the beautiful teacups were packed away for another time. I have been rummaging in the garage and organizing as I go. Much of what was in this old china cabinet will one day be passed on to my daughter or son. Maybe we can even make use of it once I find a real dining table. In the meantime, the cabinet will hold my crafting supplies as well as some sewing supplies as they tend to cross over their uses. In bringing out things from the garage, a great deal has made its way to the thrift store. Two trips so far this week and I still have a trip to the antique store to sell off some things I no longer have space to use.

Finally finished and up. Is it warm yet??

Finally finished and up. Is it warm yet??

I’ve done a bit of sewing to get a new spring sign made since I gave my sister-in-law the last one. This one is larger than I wanted but my attention to detail seems adrift these days. I used some different colors and fabric and put a binding on for a change. I have three more charity quilts to finish this month so there is no shortage of projects but the projects that make you clean and organize are the most productive and fulfilling. I’ll take a photo when the change is complete. My poor daughter is aware that her Sunday will be taken up helping me carry boxes up and down stairs. I bribe her with dinner out somewhere. We’ll both be too tired to cook.

I took a two mile walk this week in the mall since it was going to rain again, arriving early enough to catch something I’ve never seen before. Moms getting ready for spring too. I was walking too quickly to get a photo of moms gathered doing standing exercises by a little used entry with their little ones close by. The next trip around the mall brought enough awareness to capture this of the moms in front of Macy’s before the store opened. Later you could see them in a brisk walk with strollers and youngsters working to keep up.

I was floored! In front of Macy's no less

I was floored! In front of Macy’s no less

What a lovely, inexpensive way for young moms to get together and keep their children out of day care. I imagine there was a treat somewhere for the little ones after because they were exceptionally well behaved. They probably went home as tired as mom. I saw a few in their yoga pants passing through the book store as I sat sipping ice tea, perusing magazines and collecting yet another book. Yes, I’m embarrassed.

They were oblivious to the mall walkers. All that work before 10 a.m.

They were oblivious to the mall walkers. All that work before 10 a.m.

I know my friend at Gardening Nirvana has her spring projects all lined up. How about you? Is the hint of spring for those of you who are still suffering with the wild winter, bringing out a desire to start something to bring new bloom to your life?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of a Respite

Like a lot of the country, we went from cold and rain to a major heat wave. I have abandoned my living room and kitchen. When it’s hot, I can’t eat. I’m grateful my bedroom is not on the west-facing side. My sister brought me her portable AC unit that I had to try to find a place to vent it. I have sliding doors and the window it vents out is in the sewing room. Not ideal but I’ll take any help I can get. These are unusual temps for this area and these old buildings have no insulation. I’m not complaining though because so many places are hotter by a lot. I’m grateful my laptop can go to my bedroom where it’s cooler.

My son is coming for a very short visit over the 4th of July. It will cool down a bit by then. His aunt is visiting her daughter an hour from us and we will go down to see them and celebrate. My ex-sister-in-law was here for a couple of days before going back to her daughters. I gave her my “Welcome to Spring” embroidery that she loved so much. I can make another later. There will be no sewing of any kind for the next week. Only hugging and talking. Don’t you just love those kinds of holidays?

Even with my lack of real motivation the last couple of weeks, I did get a little something accomplished. I finished the quilt for my friends rescued dog and finally got over to give it to her. It was hard to get pictures of Chloe as the high pitch from the digital camera bothered her ears. Chloe welcomed me like I was family. You can see here how much she looks like my Schatzie did. She seemed to like her blanket. Her mom had another hospital run the week before so I was glad to get a chance to visit after my sister-in-law went back to my niece’s house.

free form pattern flannel front

free form pattern flannel front

green minke on the back for softness

green minke on the back for softness

Chloe on her blanket

Chloe on her blanket


One blind eye just like me

One blind eye just like me

Between getting the little quilt done, I was also able to help encourage my daughter with her new shirt. We both loved the fabric. I didn’t like the pattern instructions. I told her next time we would do it differently for a better finish. She is so happy to have this accomplishment under her belt. That makes taking on another easier.

She doesn't like her picture taken. Me either

She doesn’t like her picture taken. Me either

She is normally the queen of procrastination. I think it’s a family trait. I have to work hard to beat it. She is proud to wear it as it turned out so well. Now we need to figure out what we will tackle next. Once the company is all gone and the heat abates a bit, maybe I can think again. Funny how your brain melts with the rest of you. I’ll be taking some time to organize my thoughts and my workroom.

How do you go from one project to the next? Do you keep lists of things to do? Are you projects in front of you or do you have to go find them? Are you taking a little respite during this holiday? What keeps you moving forward?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of a Simple Project

This project was finished earlier in the week but I waited to blog about it because I’m hoping it gets to the intended recipient before she has a chance to read this. It was raining too hard for me to drive to the post office so it will go out in tomorrow’s mail.

Iron caddy in carrying position

Iron caddy in carrying position

Insert travel iron and off you go

Insert travel iron and off you go

I saw the pattern for this in a quilt shop here in November and hoped to have it done for my friend’s birthday in early December. Uh, I don’t think I made it. It looked so cute and so easy when I looked at the picture. My good friend could take it to the quilt classess and retreats that she so enjoys. How hard can it be to sew four layers of fabric together and bend them into this cute little caddy? I’ve been sewing for years so I should just zip right through it.

Ironing side

Ironing side

I’m going to tell you something I have had a hard time admitting. All those report cards in grade school saying “Marlene doesn’t follow directions well” may have been onto something. Personally, I think the directions were written by someone who has made this hundreds of times and doesn’t understand the idea of missing information. I missed the information in small print that said “preshrink material before cutting”. Then I cut it and read the measurements incorrectly. I cut up 4 pieces of material and finally chose a different fabric entirely. Then it went together so much easier. I finally figured out my friend would be more agreeable with the last one so it was the Universes way of letting me know.

outside cady

At the end, when it came to figuring out how to fold it into a caddy, the instructions were not there. I had to look it up on the internet. What happens if you don’t have access? A lot of my older quilting friends don’t do computer. Really!

In all my years of sewing and crafting, I have rarely done anything the easy way. My last husband asked me why I insisted on beating myself up so much? It’s in my DNA. Somehow, I see something that looks so beautiful and I just have to make it. Like this dress I made for my daughter. I was working in a fabric store and material was discounted if I made something and it was displayed to entice customers. I had never sewn plaids before so let’s just go all out and make it long and ruffled. It took six yards of fabric with plaids matching up the center front, exactly and at every other point of connection. The planning before cutting was incredibly time consuming. I was much younger and healthy at the time or maybe the directions for the dress were just better. You’d think I’d learn.

Someone offered my $100 for it while hanging in the store.

Someone offered my $100 for it while hanging in the store.

Her favorite Christmas dress.

Her favorite Christmas dress.

Just like the casserole caddy I made for my sister, this was not as easy for me as it looked. It might be easier for others who know how to read and follow directions. Will I give up on the hard projects? I have several (many) quilts to do, a big shirt where you cut the pattern all apart and put it back together patchwork style waiting. Any chance there is a simple project in that room? Probably not, so maybe I’ll just sit here for awhile reading all of your wonderful blogs; living vicariously for a bit.

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”Confucius

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself