Come On In and Set a Spell

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

Welcome! Or, Welcome Back! as the case may be. 🙂

We do enjoy a visit with friends. Relax, enjoy and, if you are inclined, mark a post “Liked” or send a comment. We do like to hear from you.

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Odds And Ends

I spent March down with Shingles which provided an opportunity to change the way I did some things and create chaos with the way I want to create things. <shrug> 🙂 April has turned out to be an opportunity to ease back into a ‘normal’ work process here at the Mulebarn. Bear with me – it hasn’t been easy.

Have You Seen?

I don’t know about you but I’ve been struggling to keep some sense of order with my viewing habits. Some shows have had short seasons, constantly interrupted by specials, repeats or whatevers. Other shows have had episode drops that allow a binge to occur – even when I’d rather not. I have a long list (!!!) of things I think I might actually want to watch, but… never quite find the interest, time, or gumption to actually sit down and do it.

Sound familiar? What do you do?

By the way, for those of you who love documentaries and the BBC, check this out: BBC Select. I will be investigating to see if I will be picking it up. Note that YouTube does have at least one episode available.

Have You Heard?

I’m still listening to Pumpkin FM, but I recently went back to TuneIn radio and dove into a few Old Time Radio stations there. Like Bygolly OTR and Radio Once More. I occasionally think I would like to try regular radio, but frankly, the local signal interference can be annoying and I really don’t want to deal with the hourly news broadcasts.

I did pick up a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories on audio read by Derek Jacobi and, to be honest, am hooked! He is an excellent reader, provides a wonderful experience with all the stories, and makes listening a pleasure. Even though I can probably recite them from memory at this point. 🙂 You can find this on Audible.com.

In the Meantime

I’ll be waiting to see when Spring actually arrives and the dreaded cold and rain moves on.

I have a product review that I’ll be posting soon. As long timers know, I don’t recommend things if I haven’t used them and feel good about them. This one is quite a find.

See you soon!

Getting Creative – Expanding Your Style

I recently spent a lovely evening bingeing DIY Danie over on YouTube. Last year she purchased her very first home and has been working on updating many of the rooms. These past couple of weeks focused on the reno of her Master Bedroom which turned out amazing. Her friend, Alexandra Gater, took on the task of designing Danie’s Guest Room and that project was the “Ah-Ha!” project for the house, IMNSHO.

Danie’s vibe is very open, bright, airy with lots of plants and splashes of color along with some inspired DIY projects. Alexandra has been very much pale pink and pom-poms with plants and some interesting DIY projects.

Color can be intimidating for many, many people. If you have been a renter for any period of time, chances are you are stuck using white or variations of the same because many landlords aren’t interested in repainting once you move on. White can be very safe, but also very boring. Adding tints of other colors might seem to be a step forward, but you still run the risk of getting stuck in the same old rut. Is it any wonder folks find themselves caught in a rut they don’t know how to get out of?

Danie did a project a while back working with the 2021 color pallet of one of the major paint companies. She stepped out of her comfort zone using one of the blues and while it was intimidating for her at first, she found she liked the end result.

Gater has also stepped out of her comfort zone a bit while working on projects but it was this latest project she worked on with Danie that really pulled her out of her comfort zone and moved her game up an entire level. Danie was hesitant at first but the end result was Awesome – and if you go over to Gater’s channel, pull up the video and read the comments, Danie said that every guest who has used the room loves it, too.

The point of all of this is to encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and experiment a bit. Not sure if you want to make an entire room a particular color? Get a small can of the paint and use it on a bookshelf.

Not sure what colors will work with the color you’ve chosen? Look for collection sample cards and see what goes with what. Don’t particularly like all the colors? Pick a few and consider using some as accents. A little goes a long way.

If you have a decor piece that you love, why not pull colors from that and put them into the room? One of my very favorite finds was a bedroom linen collection picked up at Target years ago. It was a floral with a black background – the black made the colors Pop. All of the colors on the linens worked together and when matched with paint samples, provided a blueprint for accessory pieces that I painted myself.

Getting out of the box allows you more freedom to express yourself and create a room that is comfortable, cozy, and makes you want to spend time there. Don’t be afraid to experiment a bit. It is only paint after all. 😉

Getting Creative With What You Have Part Two

Cathy Hay – How To Finish What You Start

This might seem to be a bit of a side track to being creative with what you have, but I think Cathy’s comments about getting the job(s) done make sense no matter what the job might be.

How many of us take on a new hobby or a project only to feel overwhelmed and defeated but not knowing exactly why? As Cathy stated about her embroidery project and her cookery issues, it came down to tools.

You might be surprised to learn that sometimes the apparent roadblocks to success can be overcome with some very simple solutions.

I mentioned that I am often slow to jump into some projects but once I’ve made up my mind on what I want, in I go not always certain of how it will turn out. For me, the idea of failure (it isn’t perfect) is not an issue. I can fix it to suit myself and, should I be creating a gift, as long as the issue isn’t excruciatingly obvious, I’m okay with that. That mindset provides a lot of freedom.

As Maymay says: “It’s only paper!” The point is simply to be happy with the end result or start over. There is no Quilt Police, Card Police or whatever. And, as someone has said, if recipient is going to be picky about a handmade gift, they won’t be getting one from me anytime soon.

All that being said, we often find ourselves creating our own speed bumps. Check out Cathy’s video:

Sometimes solutions are as simple as taking a moment to look at what the problem really is and then working to correct it. Sometimes the solution might be that you are so intimidated by the project that you are not ready to tackle it. As one who has taken years to resolve certain projects, I think that is fine. I will also go further and say that if you have taken on something that doesn’t work for you don’t be afraid to leave it behind.

I can not knit to save my life. However, I do enjoy crocheting, but I do it so infrequently <cough> I end up re-learning it every time. I have a particular liquid embroidery project that I started years ago but put it down because, frankly, I’d painted a portion of the design that intimidated me and I ended up not picking it up for a year or two later. In the end, it is a beautiful wall hanging but it was not a quick and easy project because of me.

There is no shame in deciding that you are no longer interested in doing something, but there is also no shame in taking the time you need to find out how to overcome completing something you do want to do.

What do you think?

From The Reading Table: Mycroft Holmes

Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I’m always on the lookout for something interesting and different and this audiobook fits the bill.

Well written, well-crafted plot and characters, and a narrator/reader who did justice to all the characters, I thoroughly enjoyed this work – so much so I’ve listened to all in the series multiple times and am hoping for more.

This is an engaging back-story to the Sherlock Holmes canon. Mycroft Holmes introduces a twenty-something Sherlock via his older brother and fills in those blank spots that Conan Doyle originally wrote.

If you are looking for work equal to the original Conan Doyle canon, this is it.



View all my reviews

Getting Creative With What You Have Part One

Rachel’s Basement Project

I’m always interested in seeing how other people make use of their space. Some do it well while others seem to struggle. And, to be clear, I get the struggle. I really do. As friends will tell you, I can take my merry time (years at times) to make up my mind and continue on a particular project.

For me, it is a matter of being certain of what I want and how I want it to be without having to redo a lot. I am basically a lazy person so the idea of putting in extra work where more thought and less actual work is necessary appeals to me. I’m also the person who, once the mind is made up, jumps in with both feet not always being certain that where I’m jumping actually has a ‘floor’ if you will.

Rachel Maksy’s Basement Makeover is an interesting experience of knowing what needs to be done, having ideas (plans) for changes, gaining the courage and the where-with-it-all to actually jump in and – Voila! – enjoying the end of project thrill of it being better than anticipated, happy with how it turned out and, more importantly, learning new skills while gaining trust that you really can do it. Check it out:

Rachel has done a great job and learned a lot about herself in the process. She also has a great workspace that will cost her a lot less than the original plan. Added bonus? Without the need to leave the house to get to a studio, she’s removed a hurdle that could keep her from creating her amazing creations. Sounds like a win/win to me!

What do you think?

Check back next week for Part 2 of this Getting Creative series.

If you like what you’ve read, please let me know.

Thinking About Journaling?

I know lots of folks think journals, diaries and such are formal affairs where a specific book needs to be purchased. Many would never consider actually making a journal of their own.

Why not?

Let’s be clear here. Journals can be for a wide variety of things:

  • Gratitude Journals
  • Diaries
  • Food Journals
  • Wish Lists
  • Dream books
  • Recipe books
  • Projects (sewing, quilting, home decor)

You can literally have, or make, a book for any reason you desire. Got a project you want to document? Why not journal it? Collecting recipes you are testing? Why not journal that, too?

While a formal book might be a way to go – and some are quite amazing – sometimes it is difficult to find Just The Right Book for the project you are working on. (Been there.)

So, why not create your own?

You don’t have to be an experienced crafter to create a journal. You don’t need lots of fancy tools or spend a lot of money, either. Check out Maymay’s tutorial on her Gratitude Journal to see how she does it and then see if her methods will work for you.

You have unlimited options for paper packs. The Mintay papers that Maymay used are beautiful (the entire line is delicious) but you can choose papers that are in different colors, themes and designs.

Basic Tools Needed

At the very least you will need a ruler, glue, scissors, a pencil and the paper you choose. If you already have the trimmer and different adhesives, fine, but they aren’t necessary, just useful.

Don’t be afraid to try your hand at making a journal that fits your needs. It really is only paper, right? 🙂

Celebrating Catalogs

Window Shopping At Home

I know that some folks don’t quite understand how ‘catalogs’ and ‘window shopping from home’ differ from surfing the Internet shops and that’s okay. It might be a generational thing, I’m not sure.

When the holidays rolled around the usual catalog suspects arrived in my mail. Some are still lurking around the house waiting for our next meet up.

When I was growing up, long before there was even the smallest hint of a hint of anything near like the Internet, catalogs were the way folks shopped. Folks who did not have access to malls, large box stores (they didn’t exist then) or the “I’m bored, let’s go spend money!” trope. If it sounds like ancient history, in some ways it is.

The big ‘wishbooks’ would arrive in late October in time for families to do their individual and collective deep dives in order to order for the Holiday Shopping Spree. These things were Huge; several hundred pages. If you were lucky and lived close enough to a catalog center, you could pick up your order there – after you’d shopped the adjacent store. 🙂

Anything and everything you could imagine and a lot you had never thought about would be in those books.

Perhaps that is why I am still enthralled by the catalogs that come to me in the mail. Colors and patterns of things I might like to add to my home or have difficulty finding nearby to add to my home. Items that I really don’t need, but…

It is that ‘but’ that will get you every time. 🙂

I love getting the food catalogs just to see what they have on offer that I might be inclined to buy rather than make. Until I look at the prices and realize I can do it myself for much, much less. We won’t go to that space where the discussion is how long said items would have been sitting on a shelf in storage before shipping. There are a few things, however, that I like to order. I have a particular brand of cheese that I love to have on hand and the only way to get it is to order it.

One of my particular pet peeves is the way stores choose colors and styles based on the Latest Thing – whatever that might be. For those of us who don’t look good in the Latest Thing, this is Frustration squared.

Some catalogs, however, have items stocked that are in colors and styles that are flattering to me. And they don’t require a second mortgage or a car trip to acquire.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I do enjoy shopping on the Internet. Trust me several hundred (thousand?) hours have been spent meandering through all sorts of stores looking at all kinds of things.

It is astounding how retail has changed (for good and for bad) in just a few decades. There is great convenience in being able to do the kind of shopping today that would have been impossible not that long ago.

But somehow, it just doesn’t compare with sitting down with a cup of coffee and a catalog contemplating the possibilities.

Do you love catalogs, too? Let me know!

If you liked this article, I’d be thrilled if you would let me know by clicking the “like” button below. And don’t forget to share with your friends. The more the merrier, right?

Sundays With The Guys

I have to admit to a wonderful evolution to my weekend.

For quite a few months now, Sunday mornings have been spent with two great guys who take time to tell me what’s going on with them, show me projects they have been working on or are in the process of developing, share ideas and inspiration and show me around an area of the world I have been loving for longer than I care to contemplate.

Who are these amazing people? Luke Catleugh and Mr. Carrington, of course!

I’m not sure how I managed to discover Mr. C but he managed to introduce me to Luke and between the two I’ve discovered a new way of cooking, looked at upping my home decor game, and rediscovered the fun of, well, doing stuff.

Both upload YouTube videos at least once a week on Sundays, but often during the week as well. Their latest works include decor upgrades and shopping hauls in addition to a DIY project or two. Luke loves to cook which means I get a chance to see something other than the same old same old while Mr. C is pretty straight forward and laid back about what is basically a dump and go methodology in his slow cooker. Both give me food for thought.

And I am in love with the roof top garden at Mr. C’s house!

While this might seem a bit silly to some, for me it is a mini-vacation in a part of the world that I know very little about but find fascinating. And it comes every week!

If you have yet to discover these guys, are looking at a change, want to experience life from a different location, or are just curious, head on over to YouTube and check them out.

You can join me on Sunday mornings with my coffee. 🙂

Note: Upon further thought, I’m thinking it was Hermione Chantal who introduced me to Mr. C. Hermione is in the UK, but over on the Isle of Wight. Check her out, too!

Reconnecting with The Muppets

When I heard that “The Muppet Show” from the 1970s would be added to the Disney+ lineup I was thrilled. Any opportunity to visit with Kermit and Company is never wasted. Way back before I actually owned a working television set, I owned a TV Radio that played the audio from television channels. I would listen to the syndicated show every night and imagine what was going on. You could say I’m a fan. 🙂

I still watch Sesame Street to see the other part of the Muppet Family. Also, time well spent. (Like I said, I’m a fan.)

There is something timeless and classic about all the Muppet characters. Each is its own individual personality and together they are unique.

Check out this great article in the Los Angeles Times: HERE.

One thing I continue to comment on is the breadth and depth of material available on Disney+. Pretty much any and everything you can imagine is there. And if it isn’t… it wasn’t for lack of trying.

Bits and Pieces

Or, A few things I want to share while I’m thinking about it.

I looked up today and realized that it is almost March, 2021. Totally blew my mind. It seems like we were just dealing with the holidays and then Winter decided to come and visit for a while.

Speaking of Winter: When I caught the weather report this afternoon, we were given a “wow” moment. One week ago today the temperature in my little corner of the world was -20 and today the temperature made it to 71 degrees. That’s an entire 90+ degree swing in seven days. Yikes!

Needless to say, all the white stuff accumulated during the past week is gone and while we may be looking forward to some rain in the coming days, it is nothing like what we have experienced.

Around here we spend Summer complaining about the heat and wishing for Winter’s cooler temperatures only to get to Winter and the snow with the attendant upheaval when we get too much of what we asked for.

I’ve been spending some time working on the newsletter, collecting recipes and ideas for future Pantry Magic collections. Dragging out cookbooks has been more fun than some might think. I found a few reminders of why I bought particular books in the first place. Hopefully, I’ll be able to actually make those recipes soon.

My latest grocery haul included a lovely pork roast. Yum! I can’t wait to season it, tuck it into my oven and add potatoes and carrots for a wonderful series of meals! Sometimes it is the simple foods that are the best.

Speaking of food, over on PlutoTV, the BBC Food Channel has added The Hairy Bikers to the lineup. The guys are investigating the Best of British Food. It has been quite an amazing journey.

I want to take a moment to thank you for taking the time to read the blog, send comments or “Likes” and share with friends. It means a lot.