Almost Halfway Through

I looked up to discover that it is almost July 1st. July – the seventh month of the year. For a year that has been wrought with all sorts of issues, it doesn’t seem possible that it is almost half over.

Crafters know that June is usually when the Christmas Crafting begins. That time of year when sewing projects are begun, cards, boxes and treat bags are made. Lists are compiled.

Most folks look at that and cringe. There is time to do that later! Summer is here!

I hear them, believe me, I do. The problem is that some of those projects take time – lots of it.

Create and Craft devoted an entire two weeks to presenting holiday crafting kits and materials. I watched what I could, but really couldn’t get much enthusiasm going. The after shows are chock full of more beautiful ideas, but, again, not much grabs my attention.

Stampin Up’s new catalog went live earlier in the month and they, too, have some seriously beautiful papers and colors. I admit I’ve found a few more things that catch my eye there than anywhere else.

I’ve been semi-binge watching “Cold Case”, Jacques Pepin, Mary Berry and a few others. There is a sense of calm and comfort there. The quiet in the kitchen with some wonderful flavors is rewarding. I’m still working my way through “June’s Journey” – something that I find unexpectedly satisfying.

Otherwise, Bella and I are doing well. We are keeping busy puttering and pondering. We’d love to know what you are up to.

It’s That Time Again!

We’ve talked about it before. Reset time. That time you reset the bits and bobs in your life to clear out the old and make room for the new.

I try to clear out the cache in my Roku box along with removing channels I don’t watch to make room for those I do (or want to) at least once a month. Depending on what is (or is not) going on, this might be done more on an “as needed” basis.

Translate: when push comes to shove. πŸ™‚

I do find there are always opportunities to clear space or discover new options.

Don’t forget to clear / clean the computer, too. And, when was the last time you reset your WI-fi? Personally, I find it odd that that particular task is necessary, but <shrug> that’s me.

In what is traditionally known as “rerun season” I have found the Roku Channel’s offerings of free movies and TV to be a refreshing change from what I’d been watching.

I’m pretty sure the other streaming services have similar opportunities – worth checking into if you need something new.

I’m also digging thru my YouTube feeds to find treasures. After months (!) of no Disney visits by my regulars, I happened upon a video filmed in (I think) January of a Disneyland walk through that was wonderfully restful. The park wasn’t packed, it was a beautiful day and the person with the camera did an exceptional job. Reminded me of years past when you could actually enjoy the park without feeling like a sardine in a can. πŸ™‚

I’ve been listening to a bit of British Classic Comedy. Between the old game shows and some classic comedy shows, it has been a great alternative to the same old same old.

As you maneuver through your day, take a few minutes to do a bit of a clear out. You might find things you’ve forgotten about and you are sure to find new treasures to enjoy!

Side Effects of Looking for Inspiration

I recently signed up for a foodie type newsletter on the Washington Post. The idea is to focus on a different cookery book each week and highlight 2 recipes for readers to try.

First up: Nigella Lawson. Now, I came across Nigella during a binge watch of Mary Berry shows. You might remember Mary from the Great British Baking Show. Over in the U.K. they refer to her as the British Julia Child. Ms. Mary is an Institution. She embodies the beloved Gran, Mom, Auntie cooks we have known to bring common sense and seriously good food to the table. Nigella is from a similar frame of mind; she loves to eat and isn’t a Chef, she is a cook. Her food is luscious, simple to put together and scrumptious.

And, as if you haven’t already guessed, neither of these ladies is a calorie hawk. Yum!

This came along as I was working on the July Newsletter’s Pantry Magic attachment. Pantry Magic is a focus on a recipe or theme where I provide ideas, recipes insights into how to make some magic in your kitchen using what is stored in your pantry. July’s theme is “Summer Salads”.

Putting the piece together was a lot of fun, but it also created a lot of serious Hungry. LOL!

Over on YouTube, several of my regular crafters are working on projects with new materials. The Stampin Up folks just had a new catalog launch and they have some luscious papers, not to mention beautiful new In Colors, to try. Maymay’s focus for June has been creating stamps and projects with a more masculine feel. All of this has led me back to my craft room where I’ve been going through supplies and trying new techniques.

Mr Carrington has been continuing his around the house projects. I think I’m in love with his roof garden. I can honestly say that I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my deck and garden area now.

To add to the garden issue, Hermione Chantal has done a major clear up of her back garden and it is beautiful!

Thanks to some neighbors, my little garden/lawn area was mowed, raked and cleared up. It is such a nice change after rains, mud, leaves and what-all.

For those who are wondering, yes I still have a couple of Accuquilt dies sitting on my desk waiting for my attention. I see them every time I sit down. To my left is my fabric stash. Between the two I am bombarded daily with potentials and possibilities and such.

To top all of this off, June is the traditional time crafters start getting ready for [ insert drum roll ] Christmas.

Yikes!

No, I’m not ready for that, either.

I did order some stamps from the Post Office and am preparing to send out a card or two as I get them done. This is something I’ve been thinking about since Maymay brought it up a while back. Just a little “thinking of you” card in someone’s mailbox.

As you might surmise, the act of looking for inspiration often provides more than we expect. Then again, we often encounter it even when we aren’t looking for it.

Here’s hoping you find a bit of inspiration for a project you’ve been thinking about tackling.

Maymay’s Small Business Showcase

I wanted to share this with you today, rather than wait for my regular posting, because I think (a) the opportunity to see these amazing small businesses and their offering is fantastic and (b) Maymay has done a great service by offering to showcase them on her channel.

Times are difficult at the moment and when you have an opportunity to help out, and are able to do so, it is a double blessing when you can.

Check out the video, read the information provided and, if you enjoy what you’ve seen, drop a comment to Maymay. If you are interested in the various businesses, don’t hesitate to check out their sites.

I know I’ll be doing just that today!

Green Thumb Quandaries

I must confess; I’m not a ‘gardener’ per se. I put things into soil, water them, nurture them, and basically hope they stay around long enough to be pretty, smell good and keep me company.

I’m one of those people who whisper to the plant as we are on the way to the check out stand, “Say your prayers.”

Sad, but true.

I enjoy flowering plants on my deck. I’ve even attempted planting a tomato or two. My basil plant went great guns until it didn’t. I’ve had houseplants that have stuck around for years (!!!) only to decide one day that, thanks, but that’s enough…

I’ve known Gardeners. Those folks who diligently search out Just The Right Plant. Put it in Just The Right Space and give it Excellent Care.

Me? I can’t get down on the ground. My balance is not what it once was and I don’t particularly care to be outside in the Weather.

All this being said, I do enjoy plants. I strive to have a few in the house – and I’ve gone so far as to put a reminder on my computer to Water The Plants. I also have one that reminds me to Take The Trash Out…

Over the years I’ve contemplated hydroponic gardens and thought, “Maybe”. This is important when I consider the idea of fresh (!) tomatoes that actually have flavor. Salad greens that are young, crisp and handy. Herbs – Fresh Herbs! – and then I realize that if the thing actually works and the plants grow and I get a decent harvest, I could be up to my (!!!!!!!!) in produce.

Not exactly a bad thing, but

Ah, ‘but’.

I know it is way too late this year to be contemplating anything closely resembling a ‘garden’. How do I know this? I ventured over to the website of a reliable nursery and saw how many items were ‘out of stock’. But the idea is still there, the possibilities are still there, the potential is still viable.

And I have at least 6 months to contemplate, dream, ponder and pontificate, right?

Need a Refresher?

Focus on the household chores.

Yep, chores. Those things we don’t want to do but need to be done. The boring stuff.

The irony is that while you are doing the boring stuff, your brain can be working on the Next Big Project. You know, that quilt you want to make, the scrapbook pages you want to develop, the fancy dinner you want to make. Or, you could be working out the mystery of the book you are reading. Contemplating the meaning behind that plot device on that show you have been watching.

β€œThe best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.”

Agatha Christie

Clearly, one of the most accomplished writers of our time did the dishes. But more than that, she found opportunity in the task. Find opportunity in your tasks today.

One of the side benefits of household chores is that you actually burn calories (aka: exercise) while you are doing them. Another is the satisfaction and pleasure you get when they are done. So, you’ve worked on your physical as well as your mental health simply by doing the dishes, sweeping the floors and dusting.

How’s that for a Win/Win?

Tired of The View?

Many of us have spent more time in our homes during the past few months than we have since we moved in.

Homes, like clothes, are a reflection of the person occupying the space.

Some folks are instinctive about style, color, placement and all the other bits and bobs that are part and parcel to the project. They simply “know” how to put things together.

Others approach the process, be it homes or clothing, by copying the latest looks and fads and feeling not quite at home in either the homes or the clothes. Why wouldn’t they? The ‘style’ chosen isn’t really theirs, after all.

Still other people tip toe into the arena armed with ideas, but not sure about how to implement them.

My mother was one to rearrange furniture every 6 months. For many years she made do with second hand and out of date furniture. Her solution was to reorganize the rooms to change the layout, update the look and change perspective. It worked.

Not sure? Give it a try. Switching things around will give you a clear(er) idea of how the room flows, where the light patterns change and if function is improved.

I have a seven foot sofa in a room that can easily accommodate it, but not side tables. It also has dual aspect – windows on east and west side of the room. Placing a television can be tricky because the light can flow over the screen making it unwatchable at two separate times during the day. Needless to say, the TV did not remain in That Spot for very long.

Speaking of light, pay attention not only to where your windows are placed, but where your lamps reside. Light can be functional or an impediment depending upon the source and location.

So, if my TV lives in a certain spot, I can move the sofa about to change the way I use it to watch television. That change can affect the way I move about the room and how I use the rest of the room.

Unsure about the reshuffle? Consider that you aren’t bolting it to the floor, so if you don’t like it, you have the opportunity to put it back where it was. πŸ™‚

Tired of the “look”? Slipcovers can be a great option, not to mention a lot less expensive than buying a replacement piece of furniture. But what if you aren’t really sure of color? Why not take a look through your linen closet and pull out a comforter, blanket, bedspread or even a flat sheet and drape it over the offending piece?

Voila! Change of color and you didn’t spent a penny!

Speaking of flat sheets, if you have a couple twin sized flat sheets you aren’t using on beds, you can use them as window dressing. I know it might sound strange, but consider that sheets can be quite colorful, not to mention easily found in second hand shops, and often less expensive than regular curtains or drapes.

These simple changes can be made whenever the mood strikes. They are not permanent and can be altered if you aren’t happy with the result. They also provide you with a way of re-energizing your home. Best of all, most of them already reside in your home.

In a pinch, worth considering.

Putting It All Together

There is something extremely satisfying about taking bits and pieces and putting them together to make something new. Something wonderful. Something unexpected.

It’s not what happens to you, but how you handle it. If Life gives you lemons, make lemonade. If the lemons are rotten, take out the seeds and plant them in order to grow new lemons.

Louise Hay

One thing I, like millions of other folks, have discovered is that while the Rest of the World may be chaotic, focus on simple things, simple steps can restore peace and order.

Quilters take big pieces of fabric, cut it unto small pieces and the sew it to other small pieces to make a big piece once again.

Cooks and bakers combine ingredients to make things that not only feed your body, but your soul.

Musicians take sounds, combine them with other sounds and magic happens.

For some, this process is a new and potentially scary endeavor. For others the process is not only a necessary way of basic survival, but a trusted ally in good and bad times.

Sending you warm thoughts and virtual hugs.

A Little of This

And A Little of That

For those of us who are staying put, sheltering at home can be a bit of an unexpected, not to mention unwelcome, opportunity to discover ways to keep ourselves busy.

Some folks will dive head first into a lot of binge watching. I know I have quite a few series I’m behind on.

Other folks will gather around the gaming table, or find ways to do their online gaming with friends.

Crafters will catch up or start projects that have been waiting in the wings.

Folks will head to the kitchen to see what miracles they can create from the cupboard and pantry.

There is a lot of Spring Cleaning going on.

My YouTubers have been working hard to provide content for their regulars.

All of these are attempts to provide a sense of “normal” in a world that is pretty much anything but.

There is no “Right Way” to find normal. Each person does certain things because it provides a way for him or her to focus away from stress and worry and relax.

I encourage all of us to take walks, check on those we love via phone or email, watch, read, do the things we do in a safe and thoughtful manner.

We all know the drill; wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Stay at least 6, if not 10, feet apart from other folks. Pay attention to the medical experts.

We will get through this. Together.

Are You A Follower or A Leader?

A few months ago I came across something unusual on YouTube. A young woman who was dressed in not so modern clothing who was reorganizing her small New York City apartment to be a sewing room.

The video quality was amazing. The background music was above par – obviously not cheap filler. The perspective and attention to detail was impressive.

I’m not a seamstress. I have no desire to make clothing – of any era. And yet, I was intrigued.

After a few months of following this woman, I was introduced to some of her costuming fellows. Turns out she is one of a cadre of people who, for a variety of reasons, makes clothing to replicate earlier eras. And they are all darn good at what they do.

Last week three of these women (including the original I talked about) made a video about their various preferred eras and why they dress the way they do. You see, each dresses within their own preferred era(s) to a degree each day of their lives. For some, the “costume” might be wearing regular 21st century dress not what they choose to wear on their own.

Mind boggling, isn’t it?

Over on another channel, I found myself watching a variety of manufactured home walk throughs. These are of relatively new homes that are being marketed at various home shows. All are quite nice sized, although the one prevailing thought I had was that it would require a lot of work to keep them clean and tidy. The other prevailing reaction was to the decor used by the various manufacturers.

Disclaimer: If you prefer this style, great. It really isn’t my cup of anything.

The majority of the homes were presented in the current modern style. Predominately white, grey, charcoal with little to no actual other color. There were, however, one or two that had rooms with a focus wall with Color or a room that had Color on all the walls.

I found myself drawn to the homes that had color on the walls. The ones with architectural details. The ones that had some personality and didn’t look like a cookie cutter version of a Pinterest spread or the latest edition of some home decor magazine. In short, the homes where it looked like a real human being lived there, not just spent a weekend.

On top of all of that, one of my favorite home DIY vloggers posted this week about a project she is doing for a family member in a small apartment. Her taste is very different from that of the person whose apartment she is working on and she commented on the fact that she was looking forward to exploring that difference. One of the commenters remarked on how that would be great because while the rooms on Pinterest and in home decor magazines looked beautiful, most people don’t live like that.

It got me to thinking.

Human Beings tend to not only be tribal but followers. The majority are more inclined to follow the latest trends, be it in home decor, clothing, food, music, media or pretty much anything else, rather than step away from the tribe and decide for themselves what they prefer.

Granted there is a percentage of people who follow their own paths. We see it in pretty much any category, but even within those categories we can find leaders and followers.

When the three women were talking about their clothing choices, the comment that prevailed was one of comfort. One remarked that while it seemed a bit unusual to use natural fibers, it turns out that those fibers were more efficient at heat control, were easier to clean and maintain and were more sustainable. Above all, however, it was the way she felt wearing the garments. She felt comfortable in the them. More so than in any modern off the rack garment.

Self comfort is something that I think we don’t always consider when we choose what we wear or how we decorate our homes or even, to some degree, what we follow. The rest of the pack might not agree with those choices.

The irony of this idea is the lack of realization that the “rest of the pack” does not wear the clothes, live in the homes, or occupy the same space as the one making the choices.

I’ve been around long enough to remember when there was no cable TV let alone streaming. Some folks are shocked at the thought of that. They can’t imagine not having that monthly bill, let alone all those channels they don’t watch.

Some people can not consider not having a monthly loan payment on a vehicle. The idea of not having a brand new vehicle each year or so is so alien they can’t contemplate it.

Some folks come home to a house that may be Pinterest friendly but isn’t comfortable, let alone “homey” and don’t know what they can do to resolve that problem.

I think one of the reasons we have so many leaders in social media is that so many more people are looking for ways to resolve problems they feel unempowered to deal with on their own.

The problem is, making changes takes courage. Stepping away from the pack and going a different route can be frightening. It can also be strengthening.

There is a natural phase when you evolve from the way you were raised into the way you choose to live. That being said, there seems to always be carry over; family traditions, family recipes, for example.

When you choose not to make changes that you know (or at least ‘think’) will make your life more comfortable, you deprive yourself of self comfort. You deprive yourself of self expression. You deprive yourself of you.

When fear of the unknown stops you, you lose.

Now I’m not saying you need to jump out of an airplane or go cliff diving or swimming with sharks – unless, of course, that is what you really want to do. What I’m saying is that you can do little things to see if you really like something. If you do, keep going. If you don’t, stop. Re-evaluate. Reconsider. Try a different thing.

You do You.

The only way to know what “you” is, is to try. Experiment.

A sample sized can of paint is inexpensive. If you don’t like it, paint over it. And, by the way, painting as an activity can be very therapeutic. This can be applied either to a canvas, as in “Art” or on a wall, which, ironically, can also be “Art”.

Trying different clothing can mean a trip to a charity shop or a visit with a consignment shop. Or, if you are up to the challenge, a trip to a fabric store.

Exploring different music, books, and various media is a simple visit to the local library – which is usually free.

Speaking of free, check out the local museums in your area. You might be surprised at the treasures they hold.

Curious about craft projects? Visit your local hobby shop and see if they hold classes.

Ditto regarding home do it yourself projects. Many local hardware stores either hold classes or will know where to direct you.

The point is simply to take baby steps. Dip your toe in the water to see if it is something you want to explore or not. It doesn’t have to be expensive or drastic.

What it does have to be is something that allows you to be come more comfortable living your life.

One step at a time.