Monday, December 22, 2014

Count Down Begins

Yesterday was another warmer day and it made for a nice drive to see our friends. They live in a location that gets a fair bit of snow in the winter and they have very little on the ground for this time of the year.

Yesterday morning I went through all the pictures on my lap top and deleted about 7200 pictures. When I take a picture of something I usually snap a dozen or more pictures, use the best one and fix it up (or not). The rest sit in a folder waiting for me to delete. The good one waits for me to move it into its proper file. I really should do this daily or weekly as it took me almost three hours to clean up the files.

Each year around Christmas time, we give these friends about 60 jars of home canning from our stock. They so enjoy getting this gift each year and faithfully give us back all the empties for a “refill”.

We had a lovely visit and talked about many things from his work putting together modular homes, to grandchildren. Yesterday’s conversation included decluttering, knitting, crocheting and sewing. They are thinking about selling to get a bit bigger house and a smaller yard in the city. She is alone up to 6 weeks at a time and does not drive and wishes to be closer to shopping while he is away.

I have been knitting on the bonnet to go with the jacket and am picking up the stitches to do the crown. Next is a pair of booties and that will be done. I bet I won’t be taking that project with me so will cram the blanket into the suitcase and take it to work on.

Today I am off to the city to shop and when I get home, I have some things to do. The count down is on to Christmas and getting ready to head out to our son’s place. There is a prime rib dinner Dec 24 which we will cook on the BBQ and turkey dinner on Dec 25 of which I will do the turkey. Both dinners are at Daughter’s.

Until tomorrow………………………..

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Two Jobs Done

It is the shortest day of the year today and our weather is warm but cooler weather is coming. There was even a rain shower last night. We probably won’t have a white Christmas but that is not unusual for us.

cardinal in snow

Typically not our scene at Christmas

I am not sure if Christmas hampers is a Canadian thing or not. In our community/area, canned and dried goods are donated along with money. A group puts food that has been donated and purchased into boxes and these boxes are donated to people in need. In some areas, Christmas dinners are given, and in other areas, food banks give extra during the holiday time.

After we finished our part of the hampers and got the money deposited, we decided to tackle books for the red bookshelf. We took a large load down to the shelf and filled it full. Books had gone out by the time we left the store where it is situated. We also went through all the books stored in the basement and got them downsized into 6 boxes. We broke down the other 6 boxes, collected other cardboard and took it all to recycling. A big job done.

red cardinal

I did walk into the sewing room yesterday to pick up the cardboard paper rolls lying on the floor after wrapping gifts. I also put away tape and scissors lying on the cutting table. I left as we were heading out to recycle.

Today I have a bit of housework to do and then we are heading out to visit with friends. They leave in the next couple of days to have Christmas with their son and family. We look forward to visiting with them and giving them their container of canned fruit.

Until tomorrow……………………….

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Whirling Thoughts

Yesterday was a lovely warm day for being so close to the winter solstice. Tomorrow is suppose to be our shortest daylight of the year but we do loose a few more minutes for a few days after that. The teacher in me discovered that years ago when I had students do a study on it.

My back is much better today and I have been stretching it a couple of times during the day. I actually lifted (very carefully) two 32 pound boxes of apples and it actually helped stretch those muscles.

I finished knitting the surprise baby jacket last night. Coming off the needles it looks like this:


And folded it looks like this:


There is more yarn left that I will knit up over the holidays. Perfect to put in my suitcase.

As I will be doing my last post on Dec. 23, I thought about what I should write for the next several days. All I could think about was Explore 2015. My mind has been whirling around and around and around on this topic.

During 2014, I allowed myself to go where ever I wanted to go. It was an exciting year but I there were a few things I didn’t get to. As I thought through that, I have decided to recap my year briefly.

Lifestyle was a huge one for us. Though I am not eating the best right now and have gained some weight back, I do know how to eat correctly and I started to run. I had a lot of energy while running and know how good it is for me to keep it up. On the downside, I did mentally beat myself up for a long time as I wasn’t running longer distances. That has been sorted out and I am in a better frame of mind.

We were both amazed at how much we decluttered and purged over 2014. A short discussion yesterday made us realize how we removed it by layers. There are more layers to be removed but we are feeling successful with how much went out of the house.

Sewing had huge leaps and bounds. I learned so much exploring and have found out I want to learn more about making patterns and less about sewing rodeo gowns. I also learned to walk out of the sewing room between 3 and 4 p.m. when I sewed. The purging of the sewing room has been stressful but rewarding as I move towards sewing for us.

Quilting and Crafts had me stressed out all year and I wouldn’t look at it for weeks on end. Though I did some quilting I know it won’t become the focus of my sewing. Craft sewing didn’t happen after January. It wasn’t until I realized how little I do in that area, that I finally realized I have to purge (and purge hard) the fabric in the craft closet in 2015.

Knitting and Crocheting is my evening activity. It helps me relax before bed and, at the same time, I do feel productive. I brought my yarn purchases to a grinding halt and decided to knit up the yarn I have. Since mid August, I have knit most every night and donated everything I finished. I also donated all the hats and headbands I made during the past year. I will continue to do this though I want to do some knitting for us.

In all, I had a great year exploring and learning not only what I want to do and where I want to go. I also learned what we want to do and where we want to go. It has been a good year for both of us.

Until tomorrow…………………….

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Crafting Plan

The weather has been perfect for doing Christmas hampers. The temperature ranges between 0 and 2C and there has been no snow. Showers today and tomorrow and snow for the 24th.

About ten days ago, my back started to hurt. It does this every so often when I forget to lift or twist correctly. This could have been from being tense while running when the roads were icy. I have persisted to get things done every day but have had to rest in the afternoons to help with the healing process.

While sitting and resting, I knit and think. For the first couple of days, it was about the quilting fabric that fills a good size closet. I have come up with a bit of a plan that means taking all the fabric out of the closet, sorting it and keeping only that fits into a master plan I am devising. The rest will have to go. That means a limited amount of fabric and patterns and I will match patterns to fabric.


My thoughts then wandered to the yarn stash. It isn’t huge but is too much for me. I am 6 rows to finishing the baby jacket and will then knit the rest of the yarn into booties and a cap. I will be officially done the cotton and baby yarns. That had me thinking about the remaining yarns in the stash. I decided that I want to divide up the yarn into two categories:

  • Yarn that is acrylic and will be knit for charities. They are easy to look after for most people. I see more hats, scarves, blankets, and other items that are useful.
  • Natural fibres (wool, silk, bamboo) for family and close friends. These yarns will be used for the knitting courses I am planning on taking in 2015. There is yarns for scarves, mitts, socks, and what ever else I have to make.
  • Learn how to continental knit. I haven’t started yet.


Next on the list will be the photo album supplies. My plan was to work on photo albums this winter but I have lost my table to puzzles. That means I have to clean off another table. I know that I will be getting rid of items as I finish up the albums. I have two to finish and maybe 4 more to do. A lot of pictures to sort through though I am pretty ruthless about what I want to keep.

Today is the last day before the Christmas hampers are delivered. My back is feeling better but I will rest in the afternoon to allow more healing to happen. Hopefully tomorrow I can be back to normal.

Until tomorrow…………………………

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Decluttering 2014

We actually had snow fall yesterday morning. It did quit and eventually the sun shone. It is cooler out but not bad; around the freezing mark.

We have spent a lot of time decluttering in 2014. Both upstairs and downstairs. Have we got it all done? No, we haven’t. But I want to get it done for several reasons that will unfold over the next year.

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I will have to say that the upstairs of our home is 95% decluttered. That last 5% is going to be the death of us but we know we have to do it. I have spent 3.5 years getting to this point and it was hard work to start with. The  upstairs I did alone as the Spousal Unit was busy renovating. I literally made every decision on what to keep and what to remove. What I was unsure of or the Spousal Unit questioned went downstairs. It was added to the piles of stuff down there.


The downstairs was our priority in 2014 though we had done some decluttering in 2012-2013. We grunted and groaned, sorted and tossed, gave away, and put away many items. In the process a huge load went to a young couple for their new home, many loads went to thrift shops, and a few loads to the dump. I would say we are 75% decluttered down there. We will continue to work on the basement in 2015. There is still a lot to be removed that we literally don’t need or won’t use.


Sewing room 2009 the day after we moved in.

I am not typical when it comes to decluttering or purging. I bring it in fast and I can get most of it out fast. I do start the process slow as I form a plan in my head and give myself permission to let it go. Then I dig in and get the job done. I make piles for keep and donate and toss what needs to be tossed immediately. When in the groove, I can stay at it for hours. My road block is emotional attachment of which I have to work through mentally and emotionally.

But, like others, I had to learn how to declutter/purge and it started years ago. I have read a lot on decluttering and here are some of the websites I have read and followed.

1. Fly Lady is where I started. Way back when we lived up north and were moving and I was working full time. Those 15 minutes a day were great and I moved from room to room cleaning up the clutter. I then broke the house into zones and followed her instructions from the launch pad when we moved into a modular home. 

In the midst of using Fly Lady, I watched a lot of Peter Walsh’s Clean Sweep shows. He was an inspiration when I was feeling discouraged or defeated. I was able to move forward with Fly Lady but what I didn’t realize was I was putting a lot into storage to move to more total square footage (aka this present house).

2. Home Storage Solutions 101 came into existence after we moved into this house and I had to deal with a hurried up move and huge renovation. Shall we say that we unloaded the moving van, I set up what the Spousal Unit needed for 11 months of living alone and headed back north to work. I did that in less than a week. Literally, the house was full except for the room that was to become the sewing room. When I came home to visit, I prepped the next room that was to be renovated. That meant moving boxes and tubs into the newly renovated sewing room. And doing it quickly as I was always short on time. 

At first, I followed what Home Solutions 101 said for the room we were renovating upstairs. As we took the room apart, I purged, decluttered, and put only what we wanted back in. I used the 52 week challenge (found at the bottom of the page) and put into an order that suited us. It worked for us. Today, it is modified as I am getting things more under control.  

I found and read several other sites on home organization. Some were overwhelming, others a repeat of the above. Here are two sites I just found and am deciding if they are keepers or tossers.

10 Decluttering Principles to Help Anyone Clear the Clutter

I have not read any more but this page as I went immediately to the guest’s own blog.

365 Less Things

So far a good read. I will give myself a month to make a decision of keeping or tossing. What I like about this blog is the writer doesn’t take you down the road to minimalism. It is where you want to go. For us, it is minimalism and I know this isn’t for everyone.


Our goal is finish the renovations and decluttering of the place. In some cases, such as the sewing room, I have literally called it purging. Where there is too much, we want less and have it under control. That will include organizing a lot of items both inside and outside of this house.


We also want to do some fix ups and repaint some of the walls. I will do a deep scrub again this spring and put a new finish on the laminate floors. Outside the fences need painting and some areas of the yard need finishing up. A new fence needs to replace an old one. We are preparing for the future.

Until tomorrow………………….

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Top Five Explores that Missed the List

Yesterday it was cloudy and cool, except for a short period of time when we saw some sunshine. These are the days that everything around us looks dull and uninteresting.

I decided to clean our bedroom and put a new finish on the laminate flooring. It turned out great so will be doing all the laminate floors in the house. It gave me a lot of time to think about the items I made and was disappointed with the end result.

The top five misses of the year of exploring were certainly learning lessons. I do enjoy learning from the “I missed the mark” projects.

1. The Printed Blouse was a learning curve in measuring, using a new pattern system and some plain old bad math on my part. Too big in the body and way to long in the sleeves is how I sum up this miss.


I did like the fabric and the pattern on it. Wanted it to wear with blue jeans. Did not happen. But I got a taste of pattern making and it whetted my appetite to learn more.

2. The Grey Dress with 3 large godets. I thought I was emotionally attached to the skirt pattern until I started to sew the dress. Not the case. First, getting all the godets lined up evenly across the back was a job unto itself. Second, the colour of the godets are somewhat darker and, though they add a element of mystery to the dress, I wasn’t thrilled. And lastly, much to my disappointment, someone called it the Nun Dress.


I ended up feeling ho-hum over this dress.

3. The Green Western Shirt was by far the biggest miss. The fabric was horrid – it showed every pull and it also had flaws in the fabric. I always felt the fabric made the shirt look cheap. I didn’t buy the fabric and would never have bought this piece.


4. The Child’s Western Shirt turned out too blah as there is no definition between the yoke and the body pieces. The lovely piping faded away into the background. I was using up what I had on hand hence the colour issue.



5. The Marabella Leather Vest started out as a win and ended up being a miss. The lace on the vest was beautiful but the fringe ended up putting it into the miss category. I was not very happy with it and should have taken the bottom seam out, tucked in the fringe and sewn it back together. A big no-no with leather though as you punch holes in the vest and weaken it every time you rip out and restitch.


I don’t hate these five items I made. Each was made and decorated with the usual care that is put into sewing clothing. But, they had an element of disappointment for me which happens to every sewer. The owners of each piece (except the first one) love them.

Today is the start of Christmas hampers. We will work in the mornings for the next 4 days. This afternoon I am at adult tutoring, the last one until January. It is hard to believe that Christmas will be here next week.

Until tomorrow……………………………

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Top 5 Explores That Made The List


Yesterday was a day of sunshine and clouds – what I got to see of it. I sat most of the day in the hospital or walking around to keep the muscles stretched. The Spousal Unit’s scope went well and he doesn’t need another one for 5 years.

As the year winds down, I love to read what others have said about their year of sewing and of life. I have basically finished sewing for the year as I am purging the sewing room in preparation to clean and paint it. My Year of Exploring was a great one. I learned quite a bit.

1. Sure Fit Designs was the first of several things I explored. I hauled out the shirt kit and made myself three shirts and got a great fit on shirt #3.


2. A Red Vest was the second item on the exploring list. The combination of the pattern and fabric drew me to sew this for myself. The fabric is a faux leather which can be reversed to a faux suede. The lining is a high end fabric and in an animal print. The only thing I will do another time is make the collar half the depth as shown in the pattern.


davann 002

3. Drawing a pattern on fabric was the third idea I explored. I watched The Great British Sewing Bee and wanted to learn this. I had a lot of fun and ended up making 5 dresses, the first which was too small for the oldest girl and too big for the youngest. The girls who received these dresses have worn them a lot.


4. Faux Suede Dress for a rodeo queen was a huge explore. I had to take this dress down several sizes for the girl to wear. It was a design created almost three years ago and was one I was happy to finish.


The dress turned out much better than expected making the hours of hand sewing the lace and cutting hides for fringe worth while.

5. The Teal Dress with the emotional attachment also made the list. I had made the pattern before but I changed the neckline. The fabric was lovely but I had sewn with it before. It was the overlay that I was emotionally attached to. Expensive and gorgeous and elegant. The combination ended up having a beautiful vintage look to it. Not what I had expected.


In the end, I enjoyed my year of exploring. I am happy to be done with rodeo queen sewing and am pleased it ended on a high note with a lovely client. It is nice to be able to enter and exit the sewing room with no looming deadlines. And, I look forward to sewing in a clean and freshly painted room next year. One that is being heavily purged and should be easy to keep clean.

Until tomorrow…………………………….