sew grateful

Mary Walkley was 20 years old in 1863 when she passed away.   She was a seamstress in West London for a court dressmaker named Madame Elise.  This shop catered to the most fashionable ladies in London society.

From what I gather, she lived in deplorable conditions.  She worked/lived in a crowded house with 28 others.  In order to meet their exacting demands, the seamstresses worked from 6:30 am to 11:00 pm.  With very short dinner and tea breaks.  They slept two to very small beds.

The gowns and pieces of clothing they produced were breathtaking.  Beautiful, stunning, really pieces of art work.  Craftsmanship second to none.   The question is, would she have been an exquisite seamstress in a whimsical, light filled, large sewing room all to herself?

I raise my thimble up to Mary!  Here’s to you Mary and all that you created.  You are remembered.

20160920_145851_resized_2Yesterday, I spent a little time in my sewing room.  Adding a bit more whimsy.  I stenciled words above the window.  I made “curtains”.  I used a branch that had been a curtain rod in our old dining room & lavender that I just harvested from our garden.

I am mighty grateful to have my very own room to sew, quilt, embroider, stitch to my hearts 20160920_151104_resized_2content.  I have no deadline.  I can stop for dinner or tea whenever I choose.  Oh yes, I can and have stayed up until 11:00 pm creating something, yet I don’t have to.

As I sit in my sewing chair, I can glance out that window.  I will always see the words above. A gentle nudge to always remember to live in gratitude. 20160920_151558_resized_1

Have I mentioned lately what  lucky girl I am?

Sew Grateful.

20160920_152523-1_resized_2

in search of goodness

While coasting down a hill, I raised my arm to touch some tree branches I was sailing 20160918_152340_resized_1under.  I waved at folks in the neighborhood.

Heads up people, exercise doesn’t have to be stuffy, boring or dull.  You don’t have to wear boring, sad clothes.  You can wear cute peddle pushers and fun colorful bracelets and sassy sneakers.  Bike riding with your boyfriend can be exhilarating, fun and silly.

I ask you, how can I not be happy in a lime green & pink Medusa mom helmet?

We discovered areas we had never seen before.  We waved and said hello to oodles of people.  Getting to know our new neighborhood and neighbors makes us both very happy.

20160918_162153_resizedWe laughed hysterically over a FORK in the road.  Get it?  Fork in the road?  This is good stuff people.

This week, before we took off, I wrapped my phone in bubble wrap and put it into my basket.  Just in case.  Just in case I saw something silly or funny that I wanted to share.

I wonder?  If you go with the intention of finding something silly or funny or unique are you more likely to find it?  um?

BOY HOWDY!  We discovered something so silly, funny, happy, different, unique that my eyes almost couldn’t believe it. I had to take a picture.  I sort of still am amazed at people’s inginuity.

Golly, when they say fresh delivery they mean it!!!!!!!  In the bed of this old pick up truck, someone had planted a garden!  For real.  I am not kidding. 20160918_161306-1_resized_1

Sometimes, I love to really look for things that make me smile.  When I got on my bike and started peddling, we were in search of goodness.  We were looking for fuzzy cats hiding under bushes, forks in the road, beautiful fall leaves, well-tended gardens.

Much to our surprise, garden means different things to different people.

Celebrating bike rides, fresh air and goodness.

 

busy bags

Another one of our amazing, smart, funny, goofy, silly, adorable grands’ is having a birthday!!! 20160920_075749_resized

We try to find gifts that help the parents, not hinder their tough job.  We still aim for gifts that are fun and silly for the kiddos.  Sure, sure, we sometimes send “build your own planet” kits with paint & string and boy howdy, that was a messy job for the parents. However, on the whole, we try and think through what we give to the “littles” in our life.

While the parents gave us (much appreciated) gentle suggestions, I was left wondering, how on earth will they keep all those pieces in one place?  Yesterday, while wrapping gifts, in place of wrapping paper, I sewed a drawstring bag.  That way, once he opens the gift, the bag can be re-used as storage for all those pieces.

One of the gifts I made was a set of “Busy Bags”.  While making the set for a birthday gift, I also made two other sets to give to the other grands as well.  I ordered the zippered bags from amazon. I filled with things to occupy little minds & hands.  While waiting in the car pool lane for sister to get out of school or waiting in a restaurant for their grilled cheese sammy to be served, this might help the arduous process of waiting.

You can find oodles of ideas and suggestions as to what you can fill the Busy Bags with on Pinterest.

I hope that they leave the Busy Bags in the car.  Not a toy for in the house to loose pieces here and there.  Just a special treat to use when out and about and in need of a distraction.

 

They could sew a lace around a fish or string a necklace.  They could choose to make a bracelet out of pipe cleaners and pasta.   Or they could choose to create something cool with Popsicle sticks with Velcro circles.  (I bought the colorful craft sticks at the craft store and ordered the stick on Velcro circles from amazon)  One of the Busy Bags contains Army men for the little guy in our life.  To count or line up or whatever.

While we wish a million bits of goodness for a very Happy Birthday to Cooper, we also want to keep in mind that helping the parents keep track of those million bits will be a gift unto itself.

20160918_205704_resized

Being a parent is tough, tricky and exasperating.  It is also fun, silly, happy and rewarding. We want to be in the category of grandparents who help the process, not create more mess.

 

garbage broth

I keep a plastic bag in the freezer.  Whenever I have 2 mushrooms left over or the stems of some cleaned bok choy, half a carrot, 1/4 onion, extra green beans and on the list goes, I toss into the bag.   Until the bag is packed full, I just keep adding to it.  You know?  One tomato left in the basket, 2 stalks of broccoli…. and so it goes.

To be honest, I am learning that not everyone cooks.  So if you don’t have a “garbage bag” full of bits and pieces, odds and ends, you can always use fresh.

I like the idea of truth telling.  I am getting brave.

I prepare dinner at least 26 or so times a month.       Mr. Right and I are worth excellent home made food.  It is my privilege to prepare and cook delicious meals that are without chemicals, additives and dyes.  Our health is vital and of value to us.

I do have other hobbies and an actual job, so I do appreciate a smart cooking short cut.   I actually mean, I don’t cook 28 days a month.  More like 12 to 15 days.  I always make two or three sides/meals worth at a time.  For example today, I made 3 cups of broth for our Risotto tonight. Then I froze two packages, 3 cups each for another time.

20160915_103520-1_resizedTo make the broth, I use a large stock pot.   I added one chopped onion (save the skin and ends for the broth) 4 cloves garlic, one stalk of celery, a splash of peanut oil and I cook until soft and it all browns a bit.  Next, I added the entire bag of “garbage” from my freezer and the ends of the onion, celery and carrot from what I am simmering.  Added 9 cups of filtered water.  I toss in 2 Bay leaves, 6 peppercorns, oodles of fresh herbs from our garden and some real salt.

Cook/simmer for 1 hour.

Strain through a sieve.  Cool.

I package into freezer bags, 3 cup portions.  Take up less space, freeze flat, then store like books in your freezer.  20160915_122720-1_resized

Hey, 3 cups is the exact amount I need to make an amazing mushroom Risotto tonight for supper!

While that is cooking, I already had the cutting board  & knives out.  So I chopped some mushrooms and tossed it with some vegetables and put it all into the slow cooker.  Creamy dreamy mushroom soup headed our way.  20160915_113414-1_resized

The dehydrator is filled with sage today.  I wish I could make this post have a scratch n sniff option.  Our home smells so earthy, savory…. just lovely. 20160912_112906-1_resized

In this together,

Here’s to our good health and wellness.

Love to hear what’s cooking in your neck of the woods.

 

 

 

winter’s coming

Years ago, our youngest was listening to a librarian read a story during children’s time.  I was wondering around, just enjoying my “alone” time.  I came across this half cut view of an ant hill.  Like a doll house only it was an ant hill?  It was amazingly detailed work and while hilarious, funny thing, I remember much about it 28 years later.

There were little ants gathering wood, packing in food, making miniature beds with micro mini pillows, the tiniest washer and dryer with stacks of clean laundry    (haha, still makes me giggle)   and the smallest jars I ever did see…..filled with all sorts of food storage for the winter.  There was a string, strung across a keeping room with all sorts of herbs drying.

The hanging sign was a warning:  Winter’s Coming!  Be prepared.  Only the foolish folks and apparently ants, would not prepare for the cold, dark months ahead.

My herb garden is overflowing and full and ripe for the pickin’.  I am mighty grateful for the bountiful harvest.  I want to capture it and savor it all winter long.  I want to feed my family and offer rich, deep flavors all through the dark months ahead.

Today, is day 3 of drying herbs. 20160913_102501-1_resized

Two days ago, I filled the dehydrator with parsley.  I mean filled to overflowing.  I ended up with one 6 inch spice jar.

20160912_112906-1_resizedYesterday, I filled to overflowing the dehydrator with Sage.  Once dry, its yield was one 6 inch spice jar. 20160912_143409_resized

I am guessing today’s Rosemary yield will be similar.

I plan on keeping this process up for another couple weeks.  Pick, wash, dehydrate, store, repeat.

Oh, the aroma in our home is out of this world amazing.  So rich, earthy, deep it makes me want to bake, cook, roast …….I think this is what kitchens are supposed to smell like.

Here’s how I go about it:

I pick the herbs in the early morning.  I wash well and remove stems.  Load up the dehydrator and turn it on.  3 -6 hours later, I remove, crush or rub onto a piece of wax paper and then scoop up and place in a jar.  I share or store.

Something tells me, on a dreary, cold, uninspired late day in January, I will be thrilled to 20160913_103602_resizedadd some of my own herbs to a warm pot of soup.  Or will be tickled to smell these wonderful herbs releasing their aroma in some of my home-made tomato sauce.

In this together, friends.

Here’s to our health and wellness this winter!20160912_143139-1_resized

Chat soon.

 

 

 

sweet sunday

Deep cleansing breath ……….Sweet Sunday afternoon bike ride included fall leaves, laughing, 2 alpacas and Mr. Right treated to an iced latte.  It was relaxing and so nice.   Why yes, my bike bell matches my helmet.  Thanks for noticing.

Sunday night supper was grilled vegetables and more.

You know?  You take  zucchini, onion, mushrooms, cauliflower, red pepper, Brussels Sprouts, rough chop &  let them bathe in marinate all afternoon.  To the line up we added a couple of ears of corn, brown rice & some vegan “bratwurst”.  Casual, delicious, late summer easy peasy meal.

Normally, I use a lady like portion of dark mustard…………

Enter “CHANGED MY LIFE MUSTARD”  20160910_141647_resized

Kozlik’s Canadian Mustard

Most companies use sugar, not this one.  They use honey to sweeten it, so I can indulge.  Almost teary eyed as I type.  You probably have no idea, how many mustards are out there in mustard land that contain sugar?  It is dreadfully disappointing.

Made in Canada and they have 36 different flavors of which I am sure one will tickle your taste buds.

Whole Foods was the spot that we discovered this gem. I did look it up and sure enough, amazon.com carries this line as well.

Sweet Smokey Sunday, we  ENTHUSIASTICALLY give this product 4 thumbs up!  We both went back for seconds.

Clean plate club members.

The end.

ps. No, Kozlik’s did not pay me for this review.  However, if they want to send over the 35 other flavors, I promise, on my honor to review and write glowingly about each.

juss sayin’

 

 

 

 

 

it is well with my soul/sole

Three pair’s of sweet Mary Jane, black & scuffed church shoes were lined up.girls_shoes

Every single Saturday night, before bedtime, my sisters and I would place our shoes on a piece of newspaper directly in front of our father’s chair.

After we kissed him goodnight all three of us girls, scrubbed with slightly damp hair, dressed in our granny gowns, skipped, ran, pushed, raced, jostled our way to our bedrooms.  After which he would, I am sure, enjoy the calm & quiet and would polish our shoes. Sometimes, my mother’s high-heeled shoes were there as well.

I can still smell the polish.  I can still hear him.  I can still see him polishing shoes.  Now that I think about it, he polished a LOT of shoes.  He wore a suit to work every day which means he wore dress shoes daily.  Yes, he polished those as well.

It was what we/he did.

Sunday morning, after eating and getting dressed, we knew where our shoes were.  They were all lined up and turned around facing us.   Magically, they had no scuff marks, were spit spot clean and had been buffed to a shine.  So beautiful, I felt like I was putting on a brand new pair of shoes.well-with-my-soul

Lucky for me, military men seem to know how to shine shoes.  While it was certainly not one of the things I was looking for in a mate, it certainly is a perk.  I am equally certain, when he was 18 and polishing his Army boots for hours at a time, he was not thinking, “golly, this will sure come in handy when I have to polish my future wife’s shoes and boots”.

It works like this:  I bake some cookies or fresh bread, sew on a shirt button or iron a few of his dress shirts.  Then I  set my shoes, boots or sandals out.  Then I ask nicely & by the way, there are some molasses cookies for you on the counter20160907_145053-1_resized. …….as if by magic, scuff marks disappear, the edge is black again and it feels like I am slipping on a brand new pair of shined shoes.  It’s a beautiful dance, really.

side note:  I am pretty sure that Mr. Right’s First Sgt. didn’t offer fresh-baked cookies while the boot polishing was underway.  ha

Yesterday, I noticed my sneakers were looking a bit tired and in need of a little attention. So in honor of my ongoing, month of September, be kinder to myself, project……here is what I did.

Took out the laces & washed them. .  Next I used a damp, Mr. Clean “magic” eraser (read that as extremely crushed, ground up small bits of glass embedded in a white piece of material, shaped like a sponge ) on the rubber parts of the shoe.  Up next, I noticed the soft cushy insoles that I had put inside were looking rather, um…….unsightly.  Yes, I have a habit of going barefoot and then just slipping on my shoes and dashing off to the store.   No other way to describe it, the insoles were yucky looking.20160908_155447_resized

I took out the insoles, sprinkled baking soda inside the shoes and let them sit in the sunshine while I worked on the next step.

I chose a cute piece of scrap fabric, ironed on a piece of wonder under (makes fabric have a glue backing), traced the insole pattern, cut out and iron it on.

Tapped out the baking soda, re-laced and put my refreshed insoles back inside.

20160908_161158_resizedOh gosh, I am so dang tickled.  I love looking at my “brand new” sneakers!  No one really knows, except me, well and now you😉

…and just like that, I got another star on the calendar.

In this together, friends.

Chat soon.