Buzzings from a quilter who bumbles her way through life!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Happy Place!

I've been in the beautiful Portland, Oregon area for the last week. Wow! What gorgeous views! Beautiful yards! Breathtaking horizons!
 In the photo above you see Mt. Hood as it appears from Vista House at Crown Point, east of Portland. We could also see Mt. Hood from Portland because the skies were clear. In fact, they were having a freakish heat wave and it was hotter here than it was back home in Texas!

I had been sent a month's supply of HCF to try in exchange for an honest review and I finished it during this trip. I have to say that I could really tell a difference. I was warned that it might be a gradual thing, but I guess my body really needed those amino acids this supplement supplied. I have some serious food allergies and I think this supplied some things I might be missing by avoiding those foods.
 I am always a nervous wreck going through the entire airport experience, but I was calmer this time around. I also felt that it helped with the occasional depression I have always fought.  I consider myself a happy person, but that doesn't mean I don't sometimes deal with anxiety and worry.  I would certainly take it again! It is a little pricey, but you can save by enrolling in their auto-ship program. Even without the savings, it is cheaper than the gym or doctor! You can also get a free 14 day trial on their website. At least check it out. I was impressed.

I will have a lot to share in the next few weeks about progress in the hill country as well as some exciting sewing related news that is on the horizon. My year has been a whirlwind of travel and renovation work, but I still have my sewing machine humming during those quiet moments!
Speaking of sewing machines, look what I found for $37.50 at the thrift shop (they were having a 50% off sale)! It runs beautifully, too! (You can never have enough sewing machines, right?) It didn't come with any extra feet or accessories, but I know I can find those online.

I'll be back soon!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Hill Country Update, June 2015

My life has been REALLY busy this spring and it doesn't appear to be slowing down now that summer is looming near! My husband and I are spending four days a week at the Hill Country house now instead of only weekends. That means we are getting twice as much accomplished! 
Someone asked me for a photo of the exterior of the house. It is really hard to get a good photo of this house. I took this photo last week.  
I attempted a photo of the front and because I was standing on a slope, the photo makes the house look like it's slanting down into the ground! The house is on a little over 2 acres, on a hill,  and is at the very highest point of hill!

This is the front, taken a year ago in winter. You can't see the front steps in this shot. The door to the left of center is to my sewing room.

In the last couple of weeks, we have made progress in the pantry kitchen. So far we have:
  • Had granite installed
  • Installed the appliance garage
  • Installed the dishwasher 
  • Installed the faucet 
In the main kitchen, we have:
  • Fit tested the red cedar island top for installation. (After installation, it will be waxed with butcher block wax.) In this photo, it is just sitting on top of the frame. The boards you see sticking out at the ends will be trimmed and corbels added. (We still have the refrigerator to tackle. The door needs fronts to match the cabinetry and the cabinet space above needs to be finished.)

  • Painted the hardware with a brushed nickle metal paint

  • Lined most drawers with cushioned shelf liner
  • Moved the food items to a different location in preparation for moving it to the pantry when shelves are installed.
  • I've played with how we might use the breakfast area off the kitchen. (I just pulled in extra furniture to see what could be done.) 

In other rooms, we have:
  • Played with furniture arrangement. (Unfortunately, we have determined that the sectional makes the room less functional when set up as an L shaped arrangement. I would like to replace the coffee table with a lower one, also.

  • My husband installed new ceiling fans. You can see the old white one as compared to the new wooden one here:
  • I've tweaked the bedroom decor.  

  • I chalk painted a $50 thrift shop dresser to use under the television in our bedroom. 
  • We bought the hardware to hang the television on the wall, but haven't done it yet.
  • We started opening up the dark, claustrophobic stairwell!!!! 
I'm very excited about showing the after on this one! It will take a while, though. We ended up removing quite a bit of the walls you see here, both in the doorway and the side with the railing. It's going to be so much better!!! (We haven't tackled the floors in this area yet, either.)
Outside in the fenced patio area, we:
  • Cleaned out old, overgrown shrubs and weeds.
  • Planted hydrangeas and roses in the terraced beds and installed drip systems on them.

  • Cleaned up existing rose bushes and pulled up all the overgrown "stuff" around them.
  •  Everything got a very thick layer of cypress mulch.
The shrub on the left has been given a lot of TLC and should be looking better soon!

  • Transplanted irises to the beds along the fence where they can get sun. 

 I didn't have the time to do much estate or thrift sale searching this week. I did find a minute to look through a downtown antique shop. I spotted this little guy and it immediately sparked an emotional response in me. I had to have him. My sister thinks maybe our grandmother had one when we were little. 

 In the meantime, I am preparing to fly to Oregon to visit my youngest son for a week. He has just bought his first house - a 1930's bungalow.


Monday, May 25, 2015

A Treasure Hunt in a Tomato?

Update about Flooding: I have had many inquiries about my safety. Yes, we are in the middle of all this flooding, both in Pleasanton and in the Hill Country house. We are fine and have had no problems. More rain is expected, so your prayers are appreciated for those who have or who may lose homes and crops. Our hearts go out to those who have lost family members! Thank you for your concern!

 Have you ever wondered why most of us have a tomato shaped pin cushion? Why a tomato? I wanted to know the answer! Here is what I found on Wikipedia:

"One popular design—a tomato with a strawberry attached—was most likely introduced during the Victorian Era. According to folklore, placing a tomato on the mantel of a new house guaranteed prosperity and repelled evil spirits. If tomatoes were out of season, families improvised by using a round ball of red fabric filled with sand or sawdust. The good-luck symbol also served a practical purpose—a place to store pins. Typically, the tomato is filled with wool roving to prevent rust, and the strawberry is filled with an abrasive to clean and sharpen the pins."

Did you know that those old tomatoes can have years of buried treasure inside? No, I'm not referring to that old, dusty filling. I'm referring to those needles that work their way down into the filling because they're not PINS! They don't have a head to keep them above ground! If you've ever dropped one and stepped on it, you will have a painful awareness of this fact! 
 I have a very old pin cushion that had belonged to my grandmother. Over the last few days, I have been picking needles out of it because they had worked their way down into the stuffing as they tend to do. 
 You may have done this. You squeeze and manipulate the body of the pin cushion, working the needles that are trapped inside, until the points stick out enough that you can grab them and pull them out. 
 After removing about 12 needles, I decided that there were others in there that I just couldn't get to! The little emory strawberry was coming off and I could see that there is nothing very complicated about the construction of this pincushion.
I clipped the white string that was gathering the top and slipped the green string off.

After dumping the filling into a plastic bag, I could see the treasures just waiting to be found!
I used a magnet to comb through the filling and removed over 70 more needles! Yes, SEVENTY! All but about three were in great condition!
Because this had been my grandmother's pin cushion and I was sentimental about it,  I put it back together.

I used six strands of embroidery floss to gather the top again. I refilled it with the original filling and tied off the floss.
After knotting the string twice, I put the tail of the thread on a longer needle and brought it through the center of the pin cushion to the bottom. I then moved over just enough to catch the fabric and went back up through the cushion to the top. I pulled it snug and pinched the center enough to give the "tomato" shape.

I used about 24" of green embroidery floss and a long needle to make the sections of the tomato. I used my fingernail to gently make the sections.  I made each indention before pulling the thread from the top, around the side, and through the bottom.  I pulled it snug and then came back up to the top to start the next section. I replaced the top after securing the green floss.
 Here is my old pincushion emptied of it's treasures, but put back together. There is an added benefit to redoing it. It is now firm and works a lot better!  As you can see, I put all those needles in a piece of wool and will sort them out by size later. All of the needles you see here came out of the inside of that pincushion! That's a LOT of needles and they represent a LOT of years of sewing! (My grandmother died this year at age 106!) 
I wonder if some of these were used to make some of the little dresses my Grandmother made for me? 
Does your pin cushion hold any treasure? 
I made a little "needle book" to hold my needles. It's nothing special, but it does the job!
There are 8 pages made of wool so I can catagorize my needles.

I have posted several "pincushion" posts in the past that you may want to check out:

Stuffing a Pincushion (suggestions for fillings)

A Pincushion that Protects Your Pins - a Tutorial (a pincushion you can easily make that covers your pins)

Cupcake Pincushion/Box Tutorial (a cute cupcake pincushion or box made from a Cool Whip container)

My Day at the Spa (art pin cushions, no tutorial)  

I also have several patterns for pincushions on Craftsy! Check them out by scrolling through the patterns at the top right of this page!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

May 2015 at the Hill Country House

We had a really busy long weekend in the Hill Country! It was a gorgeous weekend with a few rain showers scattered throughout.  My husband spent many hours with a pressure washer, a brush, and enough Clorox to float a boat!



I planted some Cinco de Mayo rose bushes (a Mother's Day gift! I LOVED the ones I had at the other house) along with some Coreopsis, Ginger, Hydrangeas, and a Loquat tree. That also meant pulling out the overgrown plants that were in those beds. I left some lavendar that smelled so good I couldn't pull it despite the fact that it has grown toward the sidewalk and not the flower bed. 
(The lattice will be removed, but right now it is keeping the deer from eating the plants in this area! Most is fenced.)

My husband installed a drip system on the plants so we can keep them alive during the hot summer. Mulch will be next, but we ran out of time!
I cleaned up a $50 thrift shop secretary and moved it into the corner of the living room. 
We ordered ceiling fans for the living room. We ended up going to a specialty shop to find what we had in mind, namely fan blades of real wood and not "contact paper" wood look or plastic. They'll be here in about two weeks.
 We ordered granite for the pantry (cream with a gray throughout that coordinates with the gray in the kitchen). It will be installed in about three weeks. We also ordered a sink and faucets for that area.
 AND, I painted and glazed the cabinets in the pantry.
First of two coats of base paint.

This photo is from the island cabinets, but the glaze in the pantry is the same. For some reason, I failed to get an after photo!

All that work and I still managed to stop by a thrift shop for a quick look. I found these little tea cups for 99 cents each! I bought 13, which was all they had.
Things are moving along! 
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