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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy Late Christmas - I Won a Giveaway

Wow, I have been so blessed lately! I won that beautiful floral arrangement from Sheila, and now I've won another beauty - Heart nesting bowls. Since the site of the giveaway isn't on the blogspot platform, I couldn't click that handy little link to follow it. Sooo, I thought I'd be all organized and copy and paste the url to their blog in an open notepad that I always have on my computer. Welllll....my computer sometimes freezes up, and if I haven't saved the info, I lose everything unsaved. Yep...that's what happened. I couldn't find the blog or the giveaway post. (They have an amazing blog, by the way).

Anyhoo, I had wondered about the giveaway and their great blog, but couldn't find the link. Didn't really think I'd win it, but I wanted to keep tabs of the blog because they post about such pretty and interesting things. Well, today I was surprised by an email saying I won the nesting heart bowls! That was so sweet of them to go to the trouble of contacting me, instead of choosing another winner within a couple days of my not contacting them. They had even lost my contact info and spent time trying to find it. Wow, that is really sweet!

Anyway, here's a photo they have on their blog about the giveaway. (JD Wolfe Pottery has some amazing items for sale, by the way. I'm drooling at all the pottery. I love pottery)!

Monday, December 27, 2010

RAKs and a Giveaway

I love the idea of RAKs (Random Acts of Kindness). I was wondering how I would go about doing RAKs on this great craft blogosphere, and the very next day I saw a post on Dixie Samplar Designs regarding her RAKs. So I thought I'd just do what she's doing. If you want a little gift box of a random act of kindness from me, just send your snail mail address to me (held in the strictest of confidences) at iluvffmn at yahoo dot com. I'll put your name in rotation. Make sure you put "RAKs" in the subject line. I get so much spam, and I'd hate to delete your email by accident. I'd like to be able to send out one goodie a month. I'm sure I can swing postage for that. My sweet son said he'd pay for the postage. The silly boy - he doesn't have a job, even though he's saved up some money. I told him no, he has to save up his money for other things.

Anyway, I'll be having a giveaway soon. I'll announce it after the first of the year. Not sure what I'll be giving away, but I do know I'll have it end on February 14th. It'll be in celebration of my son's and my birthdays since they're just a couple days apart and fall around the 14th. So stay tuned...!!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Photos! I've Got Photos!

Thank goodness I posted the much prettier photo Shelia had on her giveaway post at Seasons of Thy Heart than my attempts at photography; otherwise, y'all wouldn't be able to appreciate how very beautiful it is. (Though no picture could do it justice). Anyway, here are a couple photos of some of the gorgeous goodies Sheila sent:




I think they're blurry because I had to hold my arms higher and my shoulder just hasn't been the same since my injury. I'm sure there must be something in the camera manual to help stabilize...just gotta find it.

Anyhoo, here are pictures of our snow. The first one is my chicken-less chicken coop. (Hopefully when the warm weather arrives again, I can get chickens). It's all recycled material. The bulk of the building is an old outhouse!


My back porch...what back porch...lol!



Note how I "primmed" up the side of the house with the chipping paint. Haha! Yeah, it's all on purpose - lol! Actually, we can get some major hail storms, so paint doesn't stay on the houses all that nicely. (You should see the sidewalks)!

My outhouse and an outbuilding. (Most of the houses here have a working outhouse in the backyard). I haven't used mine yet!



Another angle of my chicken-less chicken coop made out of an outhouse.



Here's one of my foot prints. I guess I should say leg print because the snow came up over my knee when walking around taking these pictures.


My dearest puppy Tessa, who is now sleeping on my lap. After all, posing for pictures and barking at mommy standing outside taking pictures makes a puppy very tired!



I guess technically she's not really a puppy anymore, since she's 13 months old. And here's our 12 year old "puppy" Sage. He was a rescue dog from the mean streets of Detroit. (We think he was used as a bait dog for the pitbull fighters). We've had him since 2001. He knows he's very loved, but sometimes he gets very skittish. I'm sure it's due to a lot of horrible things that happened to him before we got him.

Christmas Swap

Here are a couple pictures of the goodies I received from the Christmas Swap at Chickens in the Road.




There's a really cool painted fabric Santa, snowman, framed stitched Christmas tree, a notepad with a fabric holder and felted sheep, and a felted mitten ornie. All very cute!

I'll be posting more pictures soon.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A White Christmas

Whew, it's been awhile since I've written in here. Been busy sewing a couple rag quilts. Hopefully I can get some pics up soon. I don't know why, but I hate taking pictures. I guess I better get over that if I want to sell things on Etsy, huh?! I need to take time to read the manual that came with the camera, so I can take better pics and not have such an aversion to taking them.

Anyhoo, I've had an early Christmas with getting my lovely giveaway gift from Sheila at Seasons of Thy Heart. She was so sweet and put several other gifts in there and has really made a wonderful holiday for me. (We've shared several emails, and she's a wonderful person). As a single mom, I haven't had any gifts for awhile, and this year has made up for all those years. I even got a few wonderful gifts from an online Christmas swap over at Chickens in the Road. I'll take some pictures soon...I promise! Really, truly!

I was also eyeballs deep in a huge writing project that took all last week to complete. It was a client I hadn't written for in a couple months, so it was nice to get back to working for him. His work is sporadic, but when he needs some writing done, he usually sends large chunks my way. Also, the Aussie woman who owes me so much money paid another installment today, so she's slowly but surely getting current. At the rate she's going, though, it probably won't be until spring when she gets down to owing nothing - lol! But at least she's chipping away at it.

Yesterday we had about a foot of snow dumped on us. It snowed all day long. It was pretty, but it was kinda dicey walking in it. I went to the post office yesterday, and the wind was blowing that snow almost horizontal. At least it wasn't below zero...that happened later. Ah, winter in North Dakota. Definitely a sure bet on there being a white Christmas. We have a couple feet on the ground now and are due for another inch or two in the next couple days.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I Won!

Oh my gosh, I won a beautiful "grungy" floral arrangement from Seasons of Thy Heart! It's sooo beautiful! Take a look:



Wowzer, it's beautiful! I'm just so over the moon over this. Yay!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Busy, Busy - That's What I've Been

I can't believe it's been a whole week since I've written in here. I wanted to write more frequently, but sometimes time flies too quickly and before I know it, a week has gone by.

I finally finished up a denim rag quilt I was working on. Need to wash and dry it one more time, and then it should be nice and fluffy - at least I hope so! It's the first rag quilt I've ever made. I can't wait to see what the "finished" product will look like. Last week, I also made some yummy candy cane scented soap. It's not just your usual peppermint, but it smells of vanilla and butter. It's divine! I also made some chubby and grungy looking candles. The grungy part came quite by accident. I'll be posting some pictures of them soon. They smell wonderful as well. Soap making and candle making is a wonderful smelling hobby! Once I finish up the grubby candles, I'll be putting them up on my Etsy shop. Same with my quilt.

I've also been taking art lessons from Roses on My Table. I love the videos thus far. Zinnia is a very capable and engaging teacher and very easy to understand. I can't wait to start my mixed media crafts!

In the meantime, I'm waiting for some fabric from Joann's as they were having an impressive sale. When I got my initial order confirmation email over a week ago, they said it'd take 7 to 10 business days to receive my order. Eight days later, they notify me that they're finally shipping it. Um...that's kinda a long time to wait to ship out my order. No wonder stuff was no longer in stock. And then they charged me twice for the order and didn't credit me for the out of stock items. I'm none too pleased about that, as you can imagine. I emailed them earlier today but still haven't heard anything. Hopefully it'll get straightened out soon. Also purchased some various yarns and ribbons through a site that was having a 75% off sale. I'm going to have my son build me a loom, and I'll be doing some weaving, which I'm keenly interested in.

Hmmmm...quilting, candle making, soap making, weaving, mixed media, jewelry making...sounds like I have A.D.D. when it comes to crafts! At least I'm trying to discipline myself enough to finish up one project before I move on to another.

Tomorrow I'll be going to the second hand store and see what goodies I can find. I purchased some lovely sheer curtains last week and then this amazing, huge pottery plate. Oh my, it's beautiful! I had to send my son to pick that one up, as it would've been too large and heavy for me to carry with my bad back and shoulder. I'll be taking pix of my second hand store loot as well and sharing with y'all.

Tomorrow I'll be doing a whole bunch of writing, since I received a ton of writing projects over the weekend. Yay! Still haven't been paid in full by the woman from Australia, though she did send a meager amount last week towards the balance. At least it's something!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Won Something!

Whoo hooo! I won a calendar from Primitive Quilts and Projects! Yay!

Maybe I can tell my son to wrap it up for me and pretend it's from him. Ha, he'd roll his eyes at me and say it isn't the same. He always feels so bad that he can't get me much, if anything, for the holidays, but he's been just a kid - until recently. And now that he's older, well...I don't have a car, so it's not as if he can go out and buy me anything. Plus, he doesn't have a job because of the no car issue. I keep reminding him that the best gifts he gives me are everyday when he helps me around the house without complaining. (And eating my experimental recipes without complaining either. And sometimes...that's a big sacrifice on his part - lol)! Plus, he's also good about helping the neighbor take care of his dogs everyday and doing odd jobs here and there for him without much in the way of remuneration.

Anyway, I'm happy about the calendar. Yay! Now I have one for next year. It's definitely inspiring me to get back to quilting. For the past couple days I've been cutting out squares from old jeans for a rag quilt (while watching TV). Still gotta finish up the table runner and get that listed on Etsy.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Adopt a Family for Christmas

Inspired by Clucklebees' post about adopting a family for Christmas, I wonder if we in the craft blogging world could do that. Do any of you know of a family who is in some tough financial times and don't know how they're even going to have a Christmas this year? Maybe some of us artisans - once we find a family - can send one (or more) item(s) to them to give them a Christmas they'll never forget.

After all, many of us have online gift exchanges, why not an exchange - though one way - online to a family who is in need of some major cheer!

If any of you know of such a family, let me know. My email addy is iluvffmn at yahoo dot com. Let's all brainstorm and see if we can do this. I'll be glad to organize everything.


EDITED TO ADD: After emailing "chatting" with Susan at Clucklebees, she mentioned that not many people would like a bunch of strangers (i.e., us crafters) on the internet knowing their address. That's totally understandable. I know I wouldn't want that. So perhaps one of us knows of a local family and wouldn't mind if we sent all the presents to that artisan, and then she could deliver the presents to the family.

Another idea could be contacting a shelter and helping a family out. When I lived in the women's shelter for a time with my son, our only possessions were what I could fit into my car. I didn't have any ornies, let alone a tree. So perhaps a women's shelter might know of a single mom who is just now getting out on her own and could use some cute little ornies and various other handcrafted items. (Of course, the Fergus Falls (MN) Women's Shelter is near and dear to my heart since that's where I stayed. They're the ones I wrote My Father, My Husband for).

Anyway, if y'all have any ideas, let me know. I'd love to be able to help a family out this Christmas!

Pattern CDs Giveaway

Hudson's Holidays is having a huge giveaway of CDs filled with her various patterns. This is literally several hundred dollars worth of creative craft patterns for...well...free...if you're the lucky winner!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Buh Bye, Thanksgiving

Wow, can you believe that Thanksgiving has come and gone already!?! It only seems a couple months ago it was New Year's. Time certainly flies as you get older! And now less than a month til Christmas? How did that happen!!

Anyhoo, we had a nice, low key turkey day, though no turkey. We don't really care for turkey. Friday, I watered the plants at a friends' house. They're gone until the first of the year, and I'm able to use their washer and dryer for my "troubles." Gee, I hope the plants don't die on me! I don't even have good luck with silk plants...let alone LIVE ones! I was able to keep my garden alive this year, so maybe I'm improving in regards to plants.

Set up my etsy shop yesterday: The Prairie Patch I'll be adding much more. I gotta get better at the camera. I think there's a way of making it so it's not so blurry. Gotta read the handy dandy instruction manual to check. Anyway, I have more to add. Almost finished with a quilted table runner.

One of my writing clients, who always pays me ahead of time, just sent me a tidy sum of money. She didn't owe any, so that was a great surprise! She was bowled over and absolutely tickled by the writing project I sent over today, so I guess that put her in a generous mood. Fine by me!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Father, My Husband

Something I wrote back in the mid-1990s for a newsletter run by a women's shelter my son and I stayed at.

My Father, My Husband
By N.E. Phemayle (had to write anonymously, though this name was eventually considered too "political" when I started writing regularly for the newsletter.)

I met him on my first day at a new job. My initial response to him was one of immediate and intense hatred. I had never had such a strong reaction to anyone before. In fact, I almost quit my job because of him; he made going to work very stressful. The only words out of his mouth were invectives spewed against the world and all its inhabitants, except for himself. He'd constantly yell and hurl things across the room; he never smiled. He only laughed at other people's pain - a real deep belly laugh. I hated him....Two years later, I married him.

Why? What happened to all the warnings my intuition had given me? We were as different as night and day. He was a macho, cocky punk - always in and out of trouble with his parents, peers, police, and supervisors. The most trouble I ever got into was not living up to my family's precarious expectations. I was sweet, quiet, and gentle. I wouldn't say "crap" even if I had a mouthful of it; whereas he lived and breathed four letter words. We were the epitome of the "odd couple."

Why did I squelch my intuition and start a relationship with him? I've asked myself that question many times. I have no intellectually based answers, only an emotional one. Subconsciously, I recognized my father.

I had always wondered why my father abandoned me, and I yearned to find him and ask him, "Why didn't you love me, Daddy?" But it was not safe to contact my father; he was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and had threatened to kill me. I don't remember my father; I was two years old when I last saw him. Apparently at an unconscious level, however, I knew exactly what my father was like. My subconscious made the decision to find someone just like dear ol' dad, someone who could answer the question, "Why did you leave me, Daddy?" I found my father in this belligerent co-worker; he was paranoid schizophrenic, too.

I wasn't aware of his mental illness at the time, nor how like my father he really was. I was never attracted to him; he was not my physical type. And out of more than 30 traits I desired in a potential mate, he only had one. I can't say I was drawn to him; I didn't find him the least bit fascinating. He wasn't an addiction, because even the worst addictions have some euphoric moments.

No, he was more like some sort of mission I had to complete - a mission to find out who I was. Unseen dynamics set in motion the day I met him; the little girl in me recognized "Daddy." I could now begin to unlock the mystery of who my father was, who I was as defined by my father, and what it was in me that made my father abuse me and leave me. Through this sick surrogate relationship, I could perhaps redeem my sins as a baby and become lovable. He would make it all right that my father didn't love me. He would be my panacea for all my childhood fears and failings.

My greatest fear was of abandonment. He told me he was the one who was always left in relationships; he never initiated a break-up. I knew he would never leave me; as a result, I felt safe with him - or so I thought.

The abuse started gradually. I don't think anyone knowingly enters an abusive relationship. Abusers don't show their true nature all at once; if they did, no one would want to be around them. Similarly, an animal in the wild won't step into a trap if the trap is constantly opening and closing. The animal unwittingly steps into the trap and is then enmeshed. Many times, it must chew off its limb in order to regain freedom. Often times, victims of domestic violence must amputate a part (albeit an unhealthy one) of themselves in order to break free from the emotional, psychological, and/or physical prison they're in.

My abuser slowly and insidiously took control of my life. I didn't realize how terrible things were until the very end of the relationship. Something finally clicked, and I "woke up" to the fact that my life and my baby's were in danger. Looking back, I see that my mind was actively engaged in denial; it was a daily requirement. Perhaps my mind did this in order to divert attention from the horrors surrounding me. I've read that the road to homicide is paved with denial. I'm sure that road is well traveled by many abused women.

In addition to my denial, I also didn't know what a healthy relationship looked like. All I had imprinted on my subconscious was my abusive father. Clearly he wasn't a good role. And I was always told that he loved me "in his own way." He loved me, yet he abused me; he loved me, yet he abandoned me. Because of this, I equated love with being abused. The message I internalized was that love was cruel, harsh, and punitive.

Another family member also taught me a twisted view of love. She would call me names and constantly put me down. Yet she claimed to "love" me, her little "good for nothing." The message I received from this was that love entailed constantly being criticized and humiliated. Love meant having no rights; love was conditional. I came to believe that it was my responsibility to stop the maltreatment; if only I could measure up and be good for something, I'd no longer be mistreated.

For so many years I carried all these elusive feelings just below my surface of understanding. It took the birth of my child to make me realize that it wasn't my fault my father went away; I am not responsible for another's actions. Daddies don't leave because their babies are bad. They leave because of something inside themselves, and no matter how "perfect" anyone is, nothing is going to make them change. My baby was exceptionally good natured, yet my ex still wasn't impelled to be kind and non-abusive.

Fittingly, my divorce was final on my birthday. Ah, rebirth! I am stronger and healthier now; I'll never take on another's dysfunctional baggage again. It's his/her problem to solve, not mine! I like the new me. I am wiser, deeper, and more compassionate; yet I'm also more fearful. Fearful of the day my ex will find us. I always carry with me the thought of my last day on earth; it will probably be my child's last day on earth as well. The last person we will see is him - raging and out of control. He will finally control us again by the ultimate abuse - homicide. This haunting fear is the prison I now must live in for the rest of my life.

[Note: I no longer live in fear. I have no reason to believe my ex is any less dangerous, but I won't let him control me and my feelings anymore].

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Blizzard Time

We're in the start of a two or three day blizzard. I kind of like blizzards, just as long as the electricity stays on! Wind chills will be getting to about 40 below.

Our water went out today, thanks to the mayor of this town firing a state certified water/sewer specialist in favor of her grandson. He doesn't take care of the water and sewer system like he should. When I walked to the post office today, I went by the water tower and saw that no one had been there to do the daily checks. There were no new footprints - in fact, none at all - in the snow, and we've had the current cover of snow for a few days now. Tsk, tsk. At least the water was thawed out within a few hours.

Been busy crafting. I've decided to open my Etsy store on Friday. I can't wait, although I'm a little nervous, of course. There are so many awesome artisans on Etsy, but at least I'm having fun making things. Did a couple experiments that didn't turn out so great today...bah!

Went to the post office today to get a couple different size boxes so I know what to charge for postage. Also sent out some gifts I made for a Christmas exchange through a forum I follow. Sent a couple bars of soap (the cranberry-orange bar and a primitive snowman soap I made yesterday. Forgot to take a picture, but I'm making more)! Also sent one of those shabby chic jeans pillows I made a few days ago. Ee gads, postage costs a lot. My exchange buddy lives in Canada, and it cost $14 more to send it to her than if she were in the U.S. When did postage get to be so high!?! The cost of gas isn't that high, is it? I guess not having a car is keeping me kinda clueless - lol!

While I was at the post office, I stopped by the second hand store and picked up a few things. There was a nice queen size sheet set in a light sage green that I bought. I can use all of it for backing for a lot of quilting projects. In fact, I'm working on one right now that I wasn't sure what I would use for the backing. Now I do!

I hope everyone has a lovely Thanksgiving! (Well, those in the U.S. Those not in the U.S. can have a lovely Thursday! *grin*)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Brrrr! It's beginning to feel a lot like....

North Dakota! It's now below zero without the wind chill. Today, when I had to head on out to the post office, it was 20 below zero with the wind chill. I've walked in colder weather before, but today was especially difficult. I think it was because no matter which direction I went, the wind decided to be a trickster and blow directly into my face. It was so cold, my face felt like one big migraine. Luckily, it's only about a half mile to the post office!

Picked up some more trays at the second hand store. Got a couple different size boxes from the post master and wrote down the price on them so I can get an idea about shipping costs when I start selling crafts online. Silly me, I left the boxes there.

Then went to friend's house. She and her husband are going to be gone until January or February, and they want me to water their plants. Stayed awhile, and we had a wonderful chat. I like her a lot. Unfortunately, she only lives here part time. Anyhoo, in lieu of payment, I can use her washer and dryer. Whoo hoo! Not that I'll be doing loads and loads of clothes - probably just one a week, which is great, especially when it comes to sheets!

Have some writing projects lined up for the weekend, so that's good. The Aussie woman is still stringing me along. Still owes me over $1,000, and not being able to work for her these past two months is a bit difficult. But we're getting by, thank goodness.

Had some creative new ideas for craft projects and started working on them last night and today. On the agenda now is making pillows, and I like how they're turning out. Since I pick up a lot of clothes dirt cheap at the second hand store, I like to implement them into my craft projects. Plus, it just feels good being able to "upcycle" something that someone has basically thrown away. So, as I was rummaging upstairs (which is my storage area), I saw a couple jeans legs that I had cut off. Light bulb went off and I thought of funky little pillows. I can make them prim or I guess what they call shabby chic. Hehe! I like how the first two turned out. I'll take pics over the weekend.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Shoulder is Back to Normal

Yay! Not that the shoulder is pain free, but at least it's back to normal! It finally started feeling better over the weekend, so I got back to making things.

Made some soap. Experimented around with adding chocolate and oatmeal to a chocolate brownie fragrance soap. I'm not entirely pleased with results, so the bars are all mine - muhahaha! Love the scent! They're now "imprisoned" in a glass jar. Just threw them in there cuz I didn't have time to wrap them.

Also did a cranberry and orange soap. Ohhhhh, I LOVE both scents, and they're soooo good together. I have two cranberry scents; the spiced one was a NOOOOO, but luckily my other cranberry scent went wonderfully with my orange chili scent. This is definitely a keeper, though I'm not sure I'll add the powdered organic orange peel next time. I figure it'd add a light exfoliation, but once the orange powder hit the soap, it turned slightly brownish.



Here's a picture of my "fixens" that I blogged about a few days ago. Can ya tell which ones I burnt - lol! But I actually like the burnt ones best. I sealed them twice in Oatmeal Raisin Cookie fragranced wax.


Got some clothespins in the mail yesterday. I love the bowl fillers with the rags tied around them. Yesterday I spent some time in the kitchen cooking (pet food and beets), I decided to soak some of the clothespins in the beet water after I was through boiling them. They didn't dye all the way through as I had thought, but they look interesting enough.


Speaking of rags, I love crafts implementing them, especially rag balls. I have no idea why I love rag balls so much, but I do. It might have to do with how each one turns out differently, even if you're using the exact same material and same length of strips. I did these while watching TV.


Our town has a little second hand store, and they had a bunch of metal plates and metal trays for sale. They've been there for years, but since I'm now looking at castaways in a different (i.e., crafty) light, I figured these would come in handy. Got them for literally pennies. I was inspired to purchase these after reading a tutorial Ahl Cooped Up did on Old Farmhouse Gathering on how to "rust" things. I figured I could "rust" these little gems. As you can see, though, some of them are already rusting.



I'd like to drill some holes along the top and make a wall hanging of some sort. I'll just have to see if my handy dandy drill actually drills holes, or if it's just a screwdriver type of thingie. (Yeah, can ya tell I'm handy? Haha)!

Anyhoo, there are more metal trays at the second hand store that I'll probably try to pick up tomorrow. I was pretty loaded down when I went to the post office yesterday, and since I have to walk, I couldn't carry too much. (The post office is in the same building as the second hand store). Hopefully the weather will cooperate and the roads won't be slippery to walk on tomorrow. I know we'll be getting colder weather starting tonight - down to the teens and single digits overnight.

So, I've been pretty busy crafting, working in the kitchen, and also doing writing jobs the past few days. It's been a great few days, especially since the shoulder isn't hurting as much. Yay!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Dandy of a Giveaway

Pink Dandy Chatter is having a dandy of a giveaway. Their Pink Dandy Holiday Gift Box contains bath and beauty products scented in Sleigh Ride. And what, pray tell, would a sleigh ride smell like? How about a unique and wonderful blend of orange, green apple, peppermint, and cloves! Now THAT'S a fragrance I'd love to inhale!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Experiments, experiments!

Well, the past couple days I've been experimenting with quilting and crafting. Mmmm, not sure how it's turning out - lol! Yesterday I was just so frustrated in having to pamper my shoulder and not being able to do much, so I decided to do some quilting on the sewing machine. I love those quilts that have the long strips in them (is that what they refer to as "strip quilting"?) Not having done it before and just going by the seat of my pants, I tried it. Wellllll...I learned I need to cut thicker strips - haha! I do like how it's looking so far, but now I know how to do it much better next time.

Confession: I've always had creative ideas, but I've never put them much into practice. I took a quilting class back in the 1980s and never did get around to finishing that quilt we were supposed to do for our class project. I've only done little quilting projects here and there over the years.

I have to admit to mentally beating myself up over some of the mistakes I've made lately, but then I realize I haven't been a seamstress, quilter, crafter for a long time, so I suppose I should cut myself some slack - pardon the pun!

Today I tried making "fixens," and I think they'll turn out all right. I did have a recipe to follow, but I decided to use up some ingredients around the house that were expiring - like a pancake mix and pumpkin pie filling. Whoof that pancake mix sure raises those little cookies, tiny balls, and hearts! (I forgot about the baking soda in them). I've set them upstairs -which is unheated - for them to harden up even more overnight. Then tomorrow I'll coat them in some heavily scented wax. They actually look kinda cute now. Oh, and I also used some old almond amaretto coffee I've had for years. Made a couple cups out of it...and there it sat...all these years. Blech...I'm just not a coffee drinker, although I love the smell. And I very much love coffee flavored things - just not the real thing.

Also experimented with a soap "recipe" tonight. I'll see how it turns out in a couple hours. Hopefully it'll be worthy of giving to someone else; otherwise, I'll have yet more soap for myself. I did an experiment a couple days ago - trying to make soap balls. I just don't have the knack for it, or I don't know the trick to it. I kept wanting to add flour so it would stop sticking to my hands! Anyway, I have a lot of Oatmeal Raisin Cookie scented funny looking soaps from that experiment.

Tomorrow I'm going to make an orange and cranberry soap. I recently purchased a yummy Cranberry fragrance that I can't wait to use.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Light Dusting of Snow

Yee haw! We got just a light dusting of snow instead of the five to six inches that were predicted. We are, however, supposed to get about an inch or two overnight.

The shoulder is doing better right this minute, though earlier today it was pretty bad. That's my fault because I wasn't taking it easy like I should have. I was a bad girl and made some soap and waxy, scented rag balls and used my arm too much. (At least the house smells divine!)

I also cooked a turkey and needed to take the meat off the bones, and I had no idea how I was going to do that. Fortunately, I have a great son, and he offered to do it all. Of course, being the independent sort that I am, I still managed to do some of it - hehe! He just rolled his eyes. He knows how I am.

I did spend the evening watching old episodes of Stargate Atlantis (yep, I'm a sci-fi fan) with castor oil and a heating pad on my shoulder. I heard that helps with scar tissue, especially if you do it regularly. I haven't done it regularly in awhile, so I'm starting that regimen back up again. It does help. That, arnica gel, and/or Japanese mint oil. I prefer alternative medicine anytime.

Hopefully my shoulder will be feeling much better tomorrow and I can cut up the turkey. I might have my son do that, though, since using scissors always makes my shoulder feel bad, even when it's not hurting. Then I'll make the dogs' and cats' food. I make them homemade as much as I can. I've heard the horror stories of what's really in pet food from someone who's been in those rendering plants. Then, with the Gulf oil spill situation, I figure that the seafood from there would probably be put into the pet food, since the health standards are a lot lower for animal food. It's a time consuming commitment to have to make dog food every other day and cat food every few days, but it's worth it. One of my cats, who always had bladder and kidney stones, no longer has them now due to homemade food, so it definitely works for her! And my sweet dogs are very happy and healthy on my homemade food.

Got a couple writing assignments today and completed one. Will do the other two tomorrow. One is just a one-off, but perhaps when she needs more work in the future, she'll contact me. So today was ad writing day, and tomorrow will be as well. Fortunately, this type of work is easy for me to do, so I didn't have to spend too much time on it, and I could get back to resting the shoulder...when I wasn't in the kitchen stirring soy wax and soap (blush).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

More Snow on the Way

Looks like winter is going to finally arrive. We're due for another snow storm with perhaps five or six inches of the white stuff in the next 24 hours. Thereafter, it doesn't look like we'll be getting much above freezing. Amazingly, we were close to 80 degrees on Sunday! At least we had a nice reprieve after the blizzard.

Got to go to the "big city" (i.e., Minot) on Sunday with a friend. He thought daylight savings time started early Monday morning, so he came to pick me up about an hour early. Ugh! I'm not a morning person and having to get ready by 8 am was tough enough. Luckily I got up before the alarm clock pierced my sleep and made me even more cranky - lol. I'm sooooo not a morning person. I prefer to stay up late and sleep late. Always have.

Anyhoo, due to the blue laws here in ND, nothing was open until noon. We got to Minot at about 9:30. Luckily there was a restaurant we could eat breakfast at, but we pretty much had to twiddle our thumbs until noon. This made for an even longer day than I thought it would be. I hate going to the city cuz it's guaranteed at least 3.5 hours total travel time. Blech.

Another friend took me grocery shopping today since he had to go as well. I wasn't able to get my "refrigeratables" in Minot cuz I wasn't sure how much more shopping my friend had to do, and he decided to go to the grocery store before his other errands. So, yay! I got to get all my cold stuff today. I don't think I can fit another thing in my frig or freezer if I tried. At least I'll be stocked up for another couple weeks.

Haven't been able to do much crafting as I hurt my shoulder on Sunday going to the big city. (Lifting too much always hurts my shoulder). I lost the use of my right arm in the summer of 2007 due to adhesive capsulitis/frozen shoulder following a muscle or tendon tear. The doctor I went to literally ripped them off by forcing my shoulder to move. Apparently, breaking up the adhesions is usually done in surgery, so you can imagine the pain. I thought I was going to faint. Anyhoo, I think because of that, it's never healed properly. The longest this was supposed to go on was 1.5 years, and here it's over 3 years later. When I lived in NY, massage therapy helped tremendously. Reiki does as well, which I keep forgetting to do on myself. I guess I better start in again.

So I've been taking it easy on my arm, and I'm surprised I can now type, although I best stopped cuz it's starting to hurt again. Had to even sign a check today with my left hand. Don't think I could sew with my left hand though! Hopefully I can start quilting and writing more in my blog soon.

A Bodacious Blog Giveaway

Indie Spotting is hosting a Bodaciously Bigger Gobble-licious giveaway. And why is it so bodacious? These sampler goodie boxes generally contain between 45 to 60 samples from various artisans, so there's sure to be plenty of goodies you'll enjoy! It's like a mini Christmas in November.

Friday, November 5, 2010

TGIF

TGIF. Then again, when you work at home, one day pretty much rolls into the other.

It was a lovely sunny day here on the prairie. It was surprisingly warm, too. I wish I would've known how warm it was going to be because I would've done more laundry! But at least I got a few items out on the line.

The new neighbor has a big rottweiler that he lets run loose to menace the town, and I had a couple encounters with it today. I'm getting a little tired of it, but since he's from one of the "elite" families here, the leash laws (or, dare I say, any laws) don't apply. For some reason, the rottweiler stays away from me when I yell at it or tell it to go away. One day it was chasing/stalking my son, and ever since I came out ready to defend my son and staring it down, it pretty much stays away from me. Unfortunately, it loves attacking other pets in the community, so my son and I always have to be ever watchful and on the defensive when we take our dogs outside to go to the bathroom. Maybe one day I can fence in my entire yard. That would be nice! Even better is to live on a farm somewhere...anywhere from here. Ahhh...dreams.

Well, I tried the pumpkin chocolate brownie soap again, trying to fix the mistake from the recipe. Nope, didn't work. Found another glaring error in the recipe as well. Mind you, this is from an "epattern" recipe I purchased, so I'm none too pleased. Perhaps I should start reviewing epatterns I purchase, but I don't want to be mean. But geez...people purchase these patterns expecting accuracy. Some of the other eppaterns I purchased were disappointing as well. There's often too much vagueness like "use a small amount of wax." Um...define "small." And define "a few drops." Sigh...

At least the epattern I purchased for a makedo looks accurate and not at all vague. I need to get some supplies before I make it.

Tonight was another beautiful sunset on the prairie. Those cotton candy pinks and blues were reflected on the stream out back, so it was really nice. Spent the evening watching Farscape and cutting and rolling a couple dozen rag balls. I don't know why, but I love rag balls. They're so beautiful in their simplicity.

Amanthia Soapworks Giveaway

There's a Grand Opening Giveaway at Amanthia Soapworks. They're giving away a bar of handmade soap, sugar body polish, and shea butter lotion. Better hurry and enter because the chance to win ends today!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Shelf Sitter Snowman Giveaway

Joleen over at The Primitive Bucket is hosting a cute shelf sitter snowman giveaway on her blog. He's sooo cute and cuddly looking that you'll probably want to scoop him right up and rub noses with him!

Handmade Crafts

I found out about the Link Handmade site from Deb from Paxton Valley Folk Art. So if you have something handmade you've recently made, why not show it off!

I've got pictures!

Here's a pic of the soap. I used a recipe from an epattern that I purchased. Ummm...nope...gotta tweak it because the brown sugar "crust" did not turn out at all the way the recipe directed. In fact, it's quite crumbly. So I'll try again. I think I know how to improve it. I must say, the scents are divine! I used a pumpkin pie spice scent with a chocolate brownie scent. Yum!



Here are a couple photos of the stockings I worked on last week. The one with the buttons is the one where I used the trim of a denim shirt for the cuff. I added a bunch of buttons because I like the look of them, but wow! It sure is time consuming sewing all those buttons on. The other stocking is a big oopsie! I definitely need more trim along the side, and the bunching up is driving me crazy. I tend to back stitch, and I think that's what caused it. Not back stitching made the buttons stocking smoother, though I can still see some bunching up.



Here's a picture of a rag wreath I made, as well as the rag garland.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cotton Candy Sunsets and Yummy Smells

I never appreciated sunsets and sunrises until I moved to ND. Perhaps it was the sheer beauty of ND sunrises and sunsets that made me finally take notice. When I briefly lived in NY a couple years ago, I didn't see any sunrises or sunsets because there are so many trees that you can't see the horizon. Here, it's relatively flat, so at least there's one advantage to flatness. (I have to admit, I'd prefer to live in hilly country - like West Virginia).

This evening, as I was heading out to take down my laundry from the line, I had to stop and just behold another beautiful sunset. Cotton candy blue was on the horizon, which looked very beautiful against the pastel yellow of the wheat field. Then there was a thin band of darker blue which then gave way to cotton candy pink. Above that were thin bands of various shades of lavender. It was all topped off by an off white that filled the rest of the sky - kinda like one of those snow globe worlds. Beautiful. What makes it even more beautiful is when the sunset is reflected in the stream we have out back. Simply breathtaking at times.

I suppose if sunsets had a fragrance, it'd be a cotton candy fragrance - at least this one tonight would.

Speaking of fragrance, my house is smelling like pumpkin pie and chocolate brownie because of the soap I made. I can't wait to use it, although it does need some tweaking. I'm going to take some pictures tomorrow of various things I've made over the past week and will include the soap.

The Mother of All Craft Blog Giveaways...

...or is that the Father Christmas of all craft blog giveaways?

The Rusty Thimble is having a spectacular Christmas giveaway of 12 - yes 12 (!) ornaments. There will even be second and third place winners. Her ornaments are quite adorable and would make any Christmas tree festive and cozy.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I See Grass!!

Yes, the snow has finally pretty much melted from the blizzard of last week. There are still patches of snow here and there, but at least we're having a reprieve until we get hit with the cold, white stuff, and it sticks around for several months! For the past two days, it was surreal hanging clothes up on the line with snow still on the ground.

I finished making a couple stockings and started on a table runner. Also starting to make a rag garland, though I need to take breaks doing that. I have a bad shoulder and tying all those knots wears it out. I like the look of rag garlands, though, so I'll just take my time.

Have had some writing work the past couple days. My main source of income - someone I freelance write for in Australia - is two months' behind in paying me. She keeps saying payment is coming, but I've been hearing that for several weeks now. Because of that, I'm not working for her until she gets current with what she owes me. Unfortunately, this means my income has dropped about 70% in the past couple months. Somehow I'm keeping afloat, though the next couple weeks might get dicey if things don't start picking up. I believe they will soon.

Got some supplies in the mail today for making soaps and candles! I'm soooo excited. I used to make soaps and candles a couple years ago when I lived in NY. I had a couple shops I sold them at. I really enjoyed it, and it doesn't wear out the shoulder like quilting does. I plan on making some soap tomorrow. I can't wait!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Quilted Table Tops

Here are a couple pictures of the table tops I've quilted for friends and family. Oh boy, I sure need to learn how to take better pictures! But I'm not redoing them, so I can see how far I've come (hopefully) in the near future of picture taking! (I write half facetiously and half crossing my fingers).

The problem is, the fabric is slightly darker than this. When I take the flash off the camera, it looks waaaaaay too dark. Hmmmm...not sure what to do. If I'm to start selling crafts, I need to have my pictures look as accurate as possible.



And I'll definitely have to iron them before taking pictures - lol! I had them folded up and ready to be sent out.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Dream and Do and Going to the Grocery Store

Chickens in the Road is a blog I've regularly followed for probably a year now. Suzanne McMinn wrote a very inspirational post entitled Dream and Do. The parts that are particularly motivational to me are:

"Believe–and make no mistake, believing means working. Dreaming AND doing.....There is no greater obstacle to your dreams than fear....Every day, no matter what, I wake up and tell myself I believe. And I do whatever it takes, all day. And I keep believing. I never stop believing. I am a believer...."

I think I'm going to have to read those words every day!

Anyhoo, today I got to the grocery store. Yee haw! I suppose most people don't consider it a big deal, but if you don't have a car and have to rely upon others, it IS a big deal. It's even more of a big deal if you live in a remote area, so it's not like you can just walk to the store. Unfortunately, our nearby grocery store is shutting its doors in a couple weeks. (Anybody wanna buy a store for $20,000?) The nearest store, after they close, will be 40 miles away. Not sure what I'll do then. Argh! Soooo, as you can see, I was very excited to go to the store today. Got stocked up as much as I could. Hopefully before the store closes, I can get another ride there.

Made some yummy pumpkin coconut bread the other day. I had always made the bread with chocolate chips, but I decided to dump in some shredded coconut instead. What a tasty idea! Even my son liked it, and he doesn't care for coconut.

I've been making a bunch of Christmas stockings the past couple days. A couple of them have turned out really nice. I think I'll sell those. Gotta set up my Etsy shop. Oh boy, do they have a lot of FAQs, rules, and terms of service to read, but I figure since so many talented artisans use Etsy, it must be a good place to "set up shop." And now we come full circle to dreaming and doing! I hope to make most, if not all, of my living doing crafts.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sunny Day

After the days' long blizzard, we now have snow today. It's quite pretty outside. We're supposed to get up into the 40s and 50s in the next few days, so the snow will melt. I'm kind of glad, cuz I'm just not ready to have the land blanketed with snow for six months!

Tried my hand at a stocking last night - never having made one before. Oopsie - made some mistakes, so I'm going to rip it out today and do it better. I know what I'm doing now...I think!

I'm fortunate that my little town has a second hand store, so I often get a lot of items of clothing that are only 25 cents. The stocking I tried making last night is from a denim shirt that had a nice trim along the bottom. I'm putting the trim along the top of the stocking, and it looks pretty good. I can't wait to get it done and see how it turns out!

Finished up one of my quilted Christmas table tops that I'll be sending to a relative for the holidays. I might make one and try to sell it on Etsy. We'll see how much time I have. I just can't believe the holiday season is almost upon us! Where did the year go???!

OOAK Snowman Makedo Giveaway

The Rusty Thimble is giving away a one of a kind snowman makedo! As I mentioned previously, I LOVE snowmen. It's so adorable, isn't it?

With all the snow outside and cold weather, I'm really getting in the mood for the holidays, aren't you?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Spooktacular Giveaway

Dixie Samplar Designs is having a spooktacular giveaway - just in time for the cold season and wanting to spend indoors stitching. It's not just Halloween stitching projects that are being given away, but a bunch of seasonal lovelies.

Blizzard Still Blowin'

It's been 48 hours since the constant winds (the kind that rattle the windows) began. The snow started falling yesterday afternoon, and now we have about six inches. It's hard to tell, though, since it's all blowing everywhere - lol!

Finished a couple quilting pieces yesterday. I need to get my digital camera ready to take pictures. I have to unload the memory stick first. It's filled with pictures and videos our puppy. She's a crazy clown! I'll probably download them all to a CD.

Last night I couldn't sleep because the ol' creative juices were flowing. I imagine that happens to a lot of creative people. Anyhoo, I have all these ideas for Christmas stockings, so those will be my next project. I at least have my gifts made for my family and friends. Hopefully I can sell some of them on Etsy.

I think I'll put some chili in the crockpot because chili sounds wonderful on a cold and blustery day.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Paxton Valley Folk Art Shop Giveaway

There's an adorable snowman candle holder giveaway on the Paxton Valley Folk Art Shop

I absolutely adore snowmen (and snowwomen and snowchildren, of course)! I wish I knew how to do pretty woodworking like she does. I'm more into the fabric kind of crafts, but perhaps one day I'll learn.

Welcome

Welcome to the Prairie Patch. I haven't had a blog on blogger before, though I had signed up a year or so ago. I finally decided to take the plunge and start blogging.

What will this blog be about? Oh, a little of this and that - much like you find other blogs. Don't know if anyone will find my slice of life interesting - lol!

As I write my first post, we're experiencing blizzard conditions here in the northwest corner of North Dakota. I'm not ready for winter just yet, though. Ugh! It'll probably mean 6 months of freezing and frigid weather, which can make you stir crazy after awhile. At least later in the week, the temps will be above freezing, so it will melt off the six inches of snow we're supposed to get. I hope so, so I can do some more washing and drying the laundry outside. I haven't had a washer or dryer for over two years now. It does get tricky washing bed linens and blankets in the winter without the outdoors to dry them!