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Posts tagged ‘sewing’

Age and creativity

I am really in the sewing room this morning working on a shirt. There is just an illusion of me clacking away here at the keyboard. Wouldn’t it be nice to be in 2 or 3 places at once? I needed to write and couldn’t move until I did. Has this ever happened to you?

Finally finished and hanging in the hall.

Thursday is Knit Wit’s Day and all of us older women will gather at a table with our handwork and very loud chatter. Most of us are at some level of hearing impairment. The harder hearing one is, the louder the conversation gets.

Jan’s daughter and a knit witter holding it up

There is one that has excellent hearing and no voice range so I’m trying to watch for signs that this sweet woman wants to speak. She has a lot to say at 94 but a stroke a few years ago made that process very slow. It’s worth the wait, always. She received a scholarship to college in the 1950’s to become a physical education teacher and that’s what she did her whole career. She also raised four wonderful children, one of which brings her weekly to our group, teaches pottery at our community college and is an artist.

Jan learned to quilt at 79! She brings her knitting and embroidery to the group and occasionally, we do a show and tell as each of us women of mature years completes something.

The smallest, quietest one of the bunch. Always a smile.

Last week Jan brought in the quilt she made with a friend in her quilt group. I had been asked to make a label for that quilt the week before. What an honor for me.

Machine embroidered Krazi House Shuffle

To see a woman of 94, continue to be creative and not focus on what’s not working in her body keeps me inspired to push on. I hope each of us finds someone around that keeps moving us forward.

I also follow a blog that has taught me that you can’t begin too early bringing music and art into life. Jennie, at A Teachers Reflection, has taught preschoolers for 30 years.  She unleashes her students artistic abilities with great encouragement. There is none of the “you must color inside of the lines” in her classroom. She may have many artists and musicians in her Aqua Room that may one day make quilts at 94 or more. Her methods of teaching even inspire anyone that drops by her site or classroom. Several years ago, she brought in master quilter, Milly to bring the children’s art to life in a quilt. I wish I had been in her class.

Now a permanent display at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia

My knitting/quilting friend, Jan raised her children to be artists too. Her daughter that brings her to us teaches pottery at our community college. When I start to think that I’m just getting too old for this, I think of Jan,  Jennie and Milly and  continue to plod on.

Do you think creativity has an age limit or what keeps you inspired when you want to give up?

 “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” Sylvia Plath

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself


My Spring

I found this and it spoke to me.

This week, my spring got up and was snowed upon. Our weather can’t seem to make up its mind and neither can I. One minute I’m full of aspiration and the next I find myself looking with great longing at my bed. I’m blaming the weather and the straight line of the five planets. That has to be the reason. It can’t be procrastination, can it?

Made this years ago and it needed to come out in the hall to play

What do you do when your spring has sprung a leak? I did little things and waited it out.  This is a photo of what I woke up to this morning.


We get a clear, cold day followed by intense, high winds, more rain and then finally, hopefully, some real sun. Spring is by definition, confused. A foot in winter and one trying to remind us summer is on the way. I spent much of this month confused too. Wanting to move forward and realizing forward wasn’t ready for me yet.

A gift from my kids

My craft projects from the last two Tuesdays are still waiting to be finished. I’m trying not to see them.

I’m just not getting it done…yet

As I prepared the photos for this post, I realized how busy we have been in the last month! If I didn’t photograph everything, I would think myself a lazy slug. I’d rather be reading a book and have done that in bits and pieces too.

My last post showed a redo of sewing room and a promise of shelves minimally attached to walls. There are rules here. As promised, photos. Lots of teamwork involved.

The sewing room is in constant motion. I had a board made by my last husband almost 20 years ago that fit over the large ironing board to press large pieces of fabric. It was in dire need of new covering and padding. My son loaned me a tool that I wanted to adopt. It made my job so much easier! I’m so happy with the results. I think you can see the old cover in my last post. I also bought myself a new, cordless iron. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it but I do, very much.


April is knocking at the door and I have a small wall hanging cut to put up. The fabric in the panel that was cut apart turned out to be twisted and the measurements aren’t holding true so the putting together process will take a bit longer. There are only nine days till Easter but hopefully, it will read more spring than a single holiday. I have so much in the pipeline and am trying hard not to add more to the list. Helps to stay off Pinterest and the fabric sites in general. I, at least finish one thing and am almost done with another.

So as our approach to April is imminent, I’m hoping to find my spring back in my step and creativity.

I had the umbrella for years and $ store flowers . Found idea on Pinterest.

How about you? Is there a spring in your step as March has come to an abrupt end or are you still trying to bury your head under the cozy blankets?

Gift shop bucket on sale in November, thrift store gnome, add flowers and spring is here

“A woman’s dreams should exceed her grasp or what’s a craft room for?” (found on the internet, somewhere)

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself



It lasted mere moments after hours and hours of work. Then pouf, in the blink of an eye, it’s not, once again. I took pictures in that moment so we could all savor it. The next second brought more upheaval. The sewing room is only slightly caught in the fallout. A few crafts in progress on the kitchen island were taken to the sewing room until they are completed and put away.

I was happily working on projects in my nicely organized sewing room, when my DIL said she had a glass top stove for sale cheap. It was coming out of the preschool because they were getting a new one. I wanted to put it in my apartment because I had a burner that wouldn’t stay flat. I asked permission from our liaison manager. I was told if I got one, everyone else would want one. I could call the property manager and discuss it with them. No one returned my calls.

My DIL is a very good administrator and deals with bureaucracy on a daily basis. All preschools have that issue along with everything else. One phone call from her, and I was given permission to swap out their stove for the glass top.  Property management sent their worker to make sure it was properly hooked up and took my 20 yr. old stove to their warehouse. It was very clean so someone could use it right away. Now I must get busy cleaning the one freshly installed. DIL donated the old fridge to our Meals on Wheels kitchen in the senior center. Everyone was happy.

My new stove loves my color

Projects have been slow coming to completion due to many little interruptions but there has been a lot of creativity all around me. My craft group got together and painted clay pots for St. Patrick’s Day. Mine and one other were completed.

I took down Emily’s Valentine quilt and wanted to put up the first one I made in a class for beginners since it had green in it. It didn’t have a sleeve to hang it and it was years later when Emily taught me to make them. I added the sleeve last week.

Can you see butterflies machine embroidered in the 4″ squares?

There is only one other neighbor decorating for St. Pat’s Day. It was a simple store-bought thing that I would love to copy somehow. Maybe by next year. I’m excellent at borrowing ideas.

A neighbors decor

Each day is a challenge to keep things tidy and I give it my all. I just don’t think it’s the norm for me. Life is so full of fun things to do and my mind spends it’s nights conjuring up more projects. If I could find someone to come and clean for me, that would free up so many hours. Clean and tidy are two different things to me.

BTW, my son is on his way over to put up shelves over my sewing table. More moving things around. Makes me happy and more organized though.

Post-it notes that speak for me.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Smaller Bite

I haven’t been able to write lately. I had a blog written about the best movie I have seen in the last four years. Thinking about it, it’s much like recommending a book. My taste in media matter is so personal that other’s might not relate.

I bought this from my friend Emily. It keeps her close to me.

When I raved about “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman, few of my acquaintances felt it was to their taste. The book was made into a Swedish movie a few years ago and Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson felt it a good bet to make an American version. Hands down, he knocked it out of the park. He played Otto perfectly with an American twist on it. I was laughing and crying at the same time and so were most of others watching with me. I wanted to devote the whole post to it. Exuberance runs amok.

Makes me laugh every day.

I get excited about music, books, fabrics and so many forms of creativity. I want to share my love of those things with everyone. It often gets me into trouble. I lose focus with my finger in too many pies.

It got deeper by morning

Finally realizing that I was deep in overwhelm once again, I gutted my sewing room. I had crafts and painting books in there too. It’s next to impossible to think, much less create with so many distractions. To top it off, I get tired much more quickly.

I have two weekly groups for different crafts and a monthly group that volunteers to help a woman who is creating little paper gifts to go on the lunch trays for Meals on Wheels, Veterans and several other organizations. We work assembly line style to get the several hundred little things made in an hour or so.

My own personal crafts get started but not always finished on time. I cleaned off the island in the kitchen only to pile my crafts on there and try to get them done.

I got these done in plenty of time

I pulled out 2/3 of my painting books, more fabrics and unused journals that I have written only a few pages in for removal from my space. I made gifts of some small, still new journals that I know will never be used by me. How does a person write when the mind is so cluttered.

I’ve made enough progress in there that I should be done tomorrow with a full, uninterrupted day to get the last bit done.

No TV for my neighbor

I’ve come to realize I’m a person who takes on too big of a bite of life and then has trouble swallowing it all. While cleaning the sewing room, this card kept falling down off the wall. Three times I taped it back to the wall. I finally opened it up to read inside it.

I kept this in the sewing room.

Synchronicity smacked me right between the eyes. My stories for my kids have been on hold for far too long. That little card told me out loud that my priorities are out of order. It’s not staying in the sewing room anymore. I’m taping it up over my bed so I’ll see it morning and night. Thank you, my friend for the card and the constant reminder. I don’t know how long I’ve had the card since there is no date in it but the timing for the reminder is perfect.

The note inside was a wake up call.

I won’t be here as often so I can focus on the things that need to be done ASAP. I’m a major procrastinator so I want to curb that immediately. You can laugh now.

Do you take life in big bites or small bites?

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” ~  Charles W. Eliot


From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Ten Days

Over two weeks gone in a flash. When you realize it’s time you will never get back, it makes you want to pay close attention to how you spend it. As far as I can tell, not one minute was wasted.


I can tell you right now that my brain hasn’t fully returned from this trip but some days, I think it’s been on permanent hiatus so, nothing new there. We ran at full speed after landing in Portland, catching my first meal of the day around 2:00 pm. That set the tone for the rest of my visit.

Willamette River from my daughter’s balcony

My friend Patti hosted me as my daughter’s second bedroom is a painting room. I got the sofa on the nights I stayed there. This allowed another good look at Patti’s sewing studio. It occupies her entire basement with eye candy at every turn. I’m green with envy in some ways but know I’m not as fast or good at the game to accomplish what she does. She found a couple pieces of fabric that will work for a couple of my projects. It’s like shopping without money in Patti’s Playland.

Perfect stitches, every one.

Midweek, I went with her to see a couple other members of Arlene’s sewing group I had attended until moving away. One of my projects was a gift Arlene had brought to me here in my little town. They were only here a few hours but I made Matzo Ball soup for her and hubby so they didn’t have to drive anymore. A Christmas wall hanging has moved onto the list.

Beautiful quilts everywhere in Patti’s Playland

My friend Emily’s new quilt. She always inspires me too.

My first couple of days in Portland were about completing my list of things to get done. Shoe shopping happened with two new pair. My daughter drove us to Craft Warehouse; a favorite of all craft stores for me after we had a grand breakfast at Elmer’s. I got 10,000 steps that day so I could indulge. Craft Warehouse is a place to be inspired, then followed by some grocery shopping and on to my old neighborhood to see my place looking as lovely as ever.

We had two days at the beach and a good long walk on it along with long walks in the shopping districts. I found some unusual items that ended up in my bag. Please remember, I haven’t been shopping since last February except for staples. It was going to be my last hurrah.

I had lots of lunches with my sister, niece and friends and we had meals in places we had never been before. Good finds, all of them. There was lunch and cake at Papa Haydn’s. They dressed the Bocconi Dolce up just for me. A month late but better than never. Leftovers came from every meal.

By the time I headed home, I was staggering from fatigue and stopped eating. I came home five pounds less than when I left. I’d overdone it but there was more on the list. My dad’s cousin Virgie is 89, lives in Phoenix, smart and spry and had a lot of genealogy information for me. We exchanged quite a bit with a promise to return soon.

A new big shirt waiting to be made now

Finally on my way to see the friend that got me hooked on machine embroidery. Her work is always stunning and prolific. She gifted my DIL and I with what she called little things. Also, some scraps. I was in heaven. I am also once more home filled with inspiration. Now that I have had a week to recover, I’ll start putting some of that inspiration from all my friends into action.

Do you need vacations after your vacations?

We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” ~Unknown


From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

ISO an Island

It’s been longer than even I expected since my last post. Squeezing forty pounds of stuff into this two-pound bag has taken determined effort. It seems as though we bring in things that work better for my apartment and the kids carry out things that will go to a thrift store or yard sale.

First they finished my sewing table. He wanted to make sure it wouldn’t cave in from the weight of the machine. I couldn’t find filing cabinets to hold it up so he improvised.



Once the newly built by my son bookcases were complete and installed, I realized how many books I actually gave away. There is room for more on the new shelves! How did that happen? The last one is 4’ wide by 10” deep, built to fit the area in the hall. The bathroom door is so wide, it takes all the hall width to close it. Everything is strategic. My son decided after seeing the books on the shelves, the 4’ would need bracing in the middle.

In the search of more drawer space, (I have 2) we looked at all possibilities. Again, I wanted only things that could serve multiple purposes when I no longer need them. I looked at prefab cabinets of drawers out of wood and they were inadequate. Walking through the big box home improvement store, found us looking at a tool roll-away in black (On Sale). It had several colors listed but after much research, found the colors other than black were hard to come by. This apartment is just too dark for black so my son foolishly suggested spray painting it any color I wanted. Little did he know what can of worms he had just dumped on himself.


It’s the same color as my blog background this month.

It took longer than expected since they had a 10-day trip in the middle of it all but the end result of his ingenuity and fortitude was priceless! I was in love with my new island. Both he and his wife worked on this masterpiece. I want to have a showing with people lined up in the hall to see this thing of beauty and practicality. I’m still trying to decide what goes where and that still goes for much of the rest of the apartment. Things keep shifting until it feels just right.



My DIL trolls Craigslist and the thrift stores which can make some people roll their eyes but my goodness, she has found some really handy and beautiful things. I now have a sweet little bistro set for my porch at less than a fraction of what the original owner paid for it.


They brought a second little white wicker end table for my Mother’s Day gift found at a thrift store in perfect condition and it has a ‘drawer’! I love white wicker as it lightens up dark, heavy spaces.

I love white wicker

I also found a sweet little quilt rack on Craigslist that was here locally but we were all so busy that I couldn’t get over to see it and I was undecided if it was practical. I sent a note to the owner and he brought it to me. We couldn’t make one for the price I paid for this little sweetheart. I can put my napping quilts on it and not have to dig one out of the chest each day. I’ve met some very nice people through Craigslist. Maybe I’m just lucky that way but I guess right now I’m living on an island of delight.


Have you ever used things in an unconventional way?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

That Time…Again

Everyone I know can hardly wait for the warm weather of summer. The only part of it I really like is more daylight hours and seeing the pretty flowers. For me, summer is that time where. even with extra daylight, I am always behind. I have this same conversation every year. I want so much to embrace the summer and enjoy all it brings. It just doubles my work in the same amount of time. I have outside work to do as well as inside.

Sonar in his basket. He’s a permanent resident for my son and DIL

To start my summer off, my son and his wife came out early to avoid fire season. We enjoyed a cool drive to the beach for one night before coming back home to move every bit of furniture so they could replace the original molding in the common rooms of the house. Did you know they use pressed paper for window sills and molding in manufactured homes?

paper door frame, new plastic floor molding

When I had laminate flooring put in seven years ago, the molding was never put back properly. The dynamic duo made short work of a very hard project. It looks wonderful and fresh with the plastic that will hold up to cleaning so much better.

They cut new top boards for the fence as they were starting to disintegrate. Now I need to get them painted when the heat wave gives us a break. I do all my work very early in the morning before the rest of the world gets up. Heat is not my friend. They also cleaned my gutters and moss off the roof. How is that for a vacation?

After giving a great deal of thought to my age and vision, I decided to have my son take my beast home and have it looked at by his mechanic whom we both trust and decide if they want to keep it or sell it. Either way, I will probably not be doing much or any more driving. It’s not worth the risk to others on the road unless something changes at the eye doctor visit next month. This was a very hard decision with a lot of waffling back and forth. It’s like my house, I can no longer maintain it on my own. I also gave them my dresser which has always been too big for the space.

It was packed but not quite full this time. Dresser fit.

Moving that dresser was quite the feat. I suggested backing the car up to the bottom of the steps so they didn’t have to lift it so high. The dresser is oak with cedar lined drawers. Even taking the drawers out and the mirrors off, left it a challenge for the two of them. But it worked! My DIL held her breath, expecting the car to slam into the porch rails knowing they would have to help fix them. It went without a hitch. I picked up a smaller dresser at a thrift store while we were at the beach. Now I’m sanding and painting it and another old one that has needed a lift for YEARS!

It went straight across and slid right in.
A final goodbye to a trusted vehicle

One thing leads to another, doesn’t it? It’s that time of year…again.

Is summer a favorite time for you or just twice the work load?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

A New Normal

Spring is officially here for a few weeks at least. One day we get a taste of summer temperatures, then go back to the cold and rain which I always welcome. Someone down the road a few miles decided to camp out in the back yard and set the tent, house and 40 acres on fire. Again we got warnings of possible evacuation. Thankfully, our fire department got it out before our area had to leave. Spring is so full of hope.

Even this cut down tree is still trying to bloom

I’ve had a full plate the last few weeks with spring cleaning inside and out and getting ready for my daughter’s birthday.

Found a home for the bumper stickers and some cards.

Spring on my dresser

She announced a need for the beach and so we made plans for two nights so we could be leisurely about the trip. I found a route that would avoid a great deal of interstate so we could enjoy more scenery. It took us an hour longer and we stopped at the Tillamook Creamery and Blue Heron Cheese company for lunch and dessert. Everyone on their best behavior and masking as well as being socially distant to anyone that didn’t come with them.

My daughter loves yellow for it’s cheerfulness

Back of the heart.

Happy colored bowl cozy for my daughter

We’ve never been to the beach in the spring months. It was colder, clearer and much windier. Everything this trip was done with new eyes. Nothing is taken for granted.

Clear skies and hope flying high

I’ve come to the beach with new equipment as well. After going for my annual lung function test, I got the results that I expected. The hills have been steeper and the roads have become longer. So, I’m in need of assistance when I’m out walking for exercise. They sent me so much equipment that I am not quite ready for and some I’m very much welcoming.


I had my annual appointment with the pulmonologist yesterday. The news, in spite of everything was good and hopeful. The exercise is doing its job and keeping the progression of decline very slow. I could have much more time than I expected.  Maybe even two or three years! I can read a lot of books and sew a lot of fabric in that time. Maybe I’ll even get around to writing my life story for my children.

Mask, oxygen, walking stick, hat, check, check, check.

It’s been a wild ride through this life and I’m obviously not done yet. Yay!! The oxygen is only on two liters when I exercise and I don’t need it to do daily life…yet. This is my new normal. He also agreed that working in the garden was not harmful so I’m back at playing in the dirt. I told him that’s what keeps me so healthy. Breathing in all those microbes builds immunity to stuff in the world. Color me happy today and out for another walk up that big hill.

Heading for the hills

Are you facing a new normal? What color are you today?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself


There seems to be some confusion as to what season we are in at this moment in time. I was walking my neighborhood like I do at least 5 days a week. I can do more of that in spring and summer. I love looking at the changes in a neighborhood I see everyday. Looking with fresh eyes is best if you can’t change location during these Covid controlled days.

Brilliant red and some green. But it’s really Autumn

I put up amber colored lights on my front porch this year for a touch of fall to be used through Thanksgiving. Then of course I will put up my colored Christmas lights but still not sure whether we will do any further decorating. Some of my neighbors seem to be in a hurry for winter or at least for Christmas.

Wait! What! There is no snow here nor has Thanksgiving arrived yet.

This plant thinks it’s spring and quite cheery.

I’m not far behind but still have too many things to accomplish to rush things. I’m truly enjoying the autumn right now. We’ve had some massive rain, which we love but the drier moments are stunning.

Further up the street is this delicious golden orb of a tree

There was enough dry time to trim my rosebushes and the rosemary along with trees and shrubs in front. I’ve received mail after sending out hearts so I know they have reached their destination.

I keep a list in my phone and in a notebook my blogging friend Alys gave me for my creative projects. Even though I keep getting things done, the list keeps getting longer.

Is someone adding to it in those few hours when I’m sleeping? I’ve been so busy with the making, so now it’s time to do what Alys taught me and clean up before the next project gets underway. She was a lifesaver in the organizational department. Now I know where everything is and waste less time.

One of 10 so far

Two done, 8 to go which includes Santa. Then it will become a quilt if I’m determined enough.

There was even time to read a short book that has been on my headboard waiting way too long. Everything has it’s right time and I had a night where sleep just eluded me. The book fell on my head wanting to be read and I couldn’t put it down. I’ll get back to the sewing tomorrow. Maybe.

Autumn or winter? Which is it now? Do you have a distinct marker of change or do they blend?


From my heart to yours,


Marlene Herself

Walking Backward

We ended  another month! How does that happen and why am I  always surprised? We are all sheltering from something we can’t see so our activities are limited.

Deep purple Lily on my walk

My walks were getting a bit routine. I usually start up the hill, go around the first left corner and text my quilting friend that I’m on her street. Since she is being extra cautious, she comes out on her front porch to wave and say good morning. We have a little conversation the whole neighborhood can hear from six feet apart and she sometimes shares what she’s been quilting. It’s more fun when you can show your work to someone that appreciates it. I get there early in the mornings. (For her)

Then I walk up another steep hill and finally start down again. I decided yesterday to go the other way since I’d left even earlier and stop at Emily’s last. Maybe she’d be awake when I got there. Changing my routine had me noticing things I had not seen going the other way. I think that applies to life in general. If we keep doing things the way we have always done them, nothing changes. Going backward changed my perspective on the neighborhood. Now I am carrying that idea into other areas of life to see what I can shake loose.

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Today I finally finished the leftover quilt and the binding is attached to the front. I’ll hand stitch it to the back while I watch TV or listen to Ted talks or YouTube. I already have a project halfway done that I can’t show yet until all of our group are ready to share. I’ve also turned over the two charity quilt tops I finished first. Emily gave them to me already cut out. I did make some changes in the fabric since some went missing. It happens.

I’ve learned how to use Zoom to connect with our PF support group and wave at my sister at her house. We have learned to zoom together since we can’t get together. So many are using all kinds of media to connect. It feels a little backwards too. They kept telling us before to stay off the social media and spend more time in personal contact.

Metal sculpture puppy

While I Zoom, I do what I always do when listening a long time without speaking, I work on my embroidery. I did a lot of this at PF group so I don’t fidget. Embroidery keeps me focused on what I’m hearing rather than what’s playing in my head.

slow work in progress

#6 Hoping to start #7 soon.

The weather dried up enough to get a lot of weed pulling done. I filled the green waste can up and my daughter took it off the hill for me. It gets composted by the city and I’ve worked until everything hurts and yard looks almost nice again. As the rain comes to an end here, my list of outside chores goes up.

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I’ll be posting less in the summer due to other demands. You really don’t want to see the list. Bored is not in my vocabulary. In a given day I go from one thing to the other until sleep claims me. I spend my sleep hours thinking up more things that need to be done.

I am…enjoying the moments

Do you like to change up your routine to gain new perspective on old habits?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself