Thursday, July 30, 2009

I think I can...I think I can....

Good day to all! I have been in an organizational frenzy for the past three days. Don't know what got into me, other than the fact that my summer vacation is quickly escaping and I want to start a new school year with my space in order! I love looking at other people's studio spaces. These give me inspiration to get my own space workable. I do tend to get a little carried away, however. So let me tell you the story...

I really like the way those cube organizers look with the fabric cube bins all neatly shoved into their little cubbies. So...I went to Lowe's in search of plastic shelving for a utility room makeover, and stumbled upon a 9-cube organizer on sale. I bought it and brought it home and forced myself to get the utility room done first... then tackle the studio re-do.

Well, let me just tell you that 4 plastic shelves with hollow plastic tubes that you stick into holes and have WAY easier than dealing with diagrams and instructions for putting together these organizers. I'm not saying it was all that HARD...but just figuring out the pieces and how Shelf A looks different than Shelf B can be quite a challenge. Now if I was in charge of these instructions and the packaging, I would just take a little ole Sharpie and mark "A" on the ends of the "A" pieces and "B" on the ends of "B" pieces and so on and so on. But NO. You have 6 exact same length pieces of shelving with holes drilled into them...and the holes are different on each set of 2 shelves. But the DIAGRAM drawing does not clearly define the differences in each set. Is there some reason that someone couldn't have said "You will see 4 holes on one side and 2 holes on the opposite side of Shelf A"? Would this be too costly to add just a few words? And do these people have FOCUS GROUPS? They really should. A nice sample of folks of each gender, various ages and who are literate in one of the three languages posted on the instructions could all give some feedback on how to make this a little less frustrating. Nevertheless, with my "I think I can, I think I can" mantra and my ability to channel my daddy's carpentry skills, I DID IT. Doesn't it make you so proud when you conquer the beast?

Ok...part 2 of this story is....Susan didn't price the fabric bins before buying the bargain cube organizer. So, after four stores and refusal to pay more for the bins than I did for the wooden (well, particle board and laminate) shelf...I came home empty handed. My sister helped put some perspective on the fact that "one can spend more time organizing to get work done, than actually getting work done"...and I trotted back up to the studio and went with Plan B. And I'm very, very happy with Plan B. I LOVE the way my felted wool looks stacked in the little cubbies. I like being able to gaze upon it as I sit at my sewing machine. Rather than hiding my wool behind a fabric bin, I can see it and find inspiration for the next creation. Cool. Now I really should get to that WORK that Jane was talking about...

P.S. While I was at Lowe's getting shelving, I spied the sheep holding corn that I am now using as a doorstop for my studio. I couldn't resist him! And isn't it weird that he is holding CORN? Did he know that I have an affinity for both sheep and corn? He makes me happy...I think he needs a name. Any ideas?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cultivate Peace

Hello all!

My daughter and I just spent several days in Alexandria, Virginia and Washington, D.C. with our cousins Kristy, Jason and Olivia. On Friday, we rode into the city and while Kristy was at work and Olivia at her childcare center, we went to the Newseum. With little time left after many hours there, we walked down Pennsylvania Avenue. We were thrilled to witness the Presidential motorcade heading back to the White House and President Obama waving to those of us on the corner of 15th and Pennsylvania Avenue! Our cousins' little girl is in childcare downtown and seeing the "sights" is a daily occurrence for her. Wow. Waiting for Kristy to pick us up, we spent time sitting on a bench in front of the Department of Commerce. On the building above our heads was the inscription "Cultivate peace and commerce with all. -Jefferson"

Finally still and quiet, I had some time to ponder on these words and to think of all that I had just seen at the Newseum. After viewing the "4D" movie, we began our journey through the museum exhibits viewing photographs from the International Committee of the Red Cross. Heartwrenching photos and stories were told from from war torn and ravaged countries such as Haiti, Lebanon, the Phillipines, Iraq, and Georgia. The pictures tell the story of great pain and suffering, but also great hope and resilience. Many hours later, we had seen exhibits about the FBI, ethics in journalism, the first amendment rights, the Presidential campaign and inauguration, an exhibit on 9/11 and a photojournalists' memorial. Some of the exhibits, such as Presidential Dogs had helped us begin to focus on lighter and happier subjects. We had decided to leave, but then saw an exhibit on Pulitzer Prize winning photographs. We knew that we should not miss this one. I cannot adequately describe this exhibit in words. The pictures, the stories of where they were shot, and the photographers' stories of the situations were incredible. Many of the pictures were familiar, but many of the most gut wrenching were thankfully NOT. These photographs brought tears and great sadness and a sick feeling in the pit of our stomachs. We agreed when leaving that it was that same feeling we had encountered upon touring the Holocaust Museum. So much pain and so much anguish comes with hatred and with war. Sitting there on that bench on a corner in Washington D.C., with stately beautiful buildings and architecture, flags everywhere, statues and inscriptions about justice and freedom all around me...I couldn't help but think about PEACE and how much we do take that for granted. In my comfortable, happy world I cannot even FATHOM the atrocities that I viewed through a photojournalists' lens earlier in the day. I am oh so grateful to be living in the United States. More importantly, however is the CULTIVATE part. If we all made it our goal to cultivate peace every day and everywhere, in all aspects of our lives and in our world...eventually there would be less hatred, less war. Cultivate peace. Every day.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Corn Corn Beautiful Corn...I love corn!

I love being home for a few weeks during the summer. Time to do "summertime" going to get vegetables and putting some in the freezer. Yesterday afternoon I went out to Quarter Creek Farm and visited with my friend Shannon and her beautiful daughter Carter. It's so inspiring to see the home that Shannon and her husband built..a happy purple house with lots of reclaimed bead board, old doors, a stained cement floor, an outdoor shower and the greatest wrap around porch you ever saw! I came home with potatoes, garlic, corn and a few tomatoes. There is NOTHING better than a tomato sandwich in the summer. I can vouch for this..had one last night for supper and another one today for lunch!

Today I shucked and blanched corn and put some in my freezer. I will be so happy later this fall or winter when I pull out that good ole summer corn! I found a great website that helped me remember all those steps, how much time to blanch, etc.

Working in the kitchen calls for some good music so I put on a Kruger Brothers CD. If you don't know about the Kruger Brothers and you love good bluegrass, check them out. I found out while looking at their concert schedule that there is a festival in September...the Carolina in the Fall Festival. What could be more fun than the beauty of the mountains in late September and the music that I love? I most recently enjoyed hearing the Krugers in April at Merlefest. (Another incredible weekend in a beautiful location.)

I'm a lucky in NC with fresh corn and fun events to put on my calendar!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Laundry and Linens

It's a lazy overcast sleepy day at my house. I am trying to be productive however, so the washing machine has been busy! Over the past six months or so I have collected a huge bagful of vintage embroidered linens - some were given to me and some were finds from my antique store ramblings. It is time to wash...then iron...and iron....and iron...

and then create. I'm working on lots of new ideas in my I might combine my felted wool and these wonderful embroidered pieces. I have enjoyed making pillows from old dresser scarves...
and using buttons from my mother's button box. These are the kinds of things that make me happy and help me to feel connected to the one who taught me everything about mother.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

24 hours of bliss

Hi all...I have just spent a relaxing, fun 24 hours in an area of our fine state that has to be my very favorite of places- the Lenoir, Blowing Rock, Boone area. Riding with a friend to retrieve his son from camp, we spent time with my sister and a little time kicking around the little tourist traps. Stopping at the "Mountain Man" on Hwy. 321, I replenished my supply of garlic jelly (don't knock it till you've tried it!) It is my quickest and easiest appetizer or snack...a little GJ on cream cheese, spread on crackers...YUM. I also bought some local honey, as I was reading my new Martha Stewart Living and saw an interesting recipe for slaw using honey. I am working on plans for a luncheon for friends later this month, and plan to do farmer's market fare and some good ole biscuits and honey butter...can't wait! On the way through Blowing Rock, we discovered that it was the weekend for their "Art in the Park". Jackpot. Saw beautiful pottery, paintings, woven garments, yard art, baskets and incredible carved wood. Later, in Boone, we messed around on King Street and of course spent a little time in the Antique Mall there. Can I EVER resist embroidered linens and tablecloths? No. I plan to use the sweet dresser cloth to make a pillow, and add the plaid tablecloth to my big fat collection. Both were great deals at 3 and 6 bucks. So why not? The weather was absolutely gorgeous today...a nice 72 with a great breeze that hinted of a little mountain crispness. Glorious. Hope you are having as nice a day...time for me to go look for some more honey recipes!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Warm Wooly Summer

Good afternoon! It's humid and muggy here (as an old local weatherman used to call it: "huggy".) So I'm inside in the cool air conditioning hugging some new woolies that are in process. They are going to be drawstring bags and they are SO much fun to make! I love searching through different piles of felted sweaters to find just the right partners for my creations. I have tried several methods to the madness of organizing all my wool and grouping by color makes sense but doesn't really work for me. A few weeks ago, I decided to take my electric scissors and go to town on the huge piles of felt. I tried to make decisions based on each sweater as to how it would best be used. Those GIGANTIC storage bags have come in so handy - now I have a bag for future mittens, future drawstring bags, future flower pins, future cupcakes, etc. etc. Large tubs with lids hold all of the sweaters that I just can't cut yet (they haven't spoken to me!) I need to put together a "travel kit" of threads, trims, scissors and wool so that I can pick up and go with work in tow. Any ideas out there for easy organization for traveling with sewing projects? I hope you're having a happy day....I know I am!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Treasures found yesterday at The Old Timey Place

Just look at the beauty hidden inside this old tin! I pounced on this collection of old buttons, a beautiful buckle, the prettiest little rusty pair of sewing scissors and a Liberty bell. There is even an old fountain pen. I can't wait to use these little brown buttons with the two tiny holes at the top ... am thinking how pretty they will be decorating the outside of a little clutch purse. Maybe these are bakelite? I need to do some research on buttons like these!

Welcome All Wooly Watchers!

Hi All! I have finally created a blog to document the happenings of Exceptional Woolies! In the summer, I get to spend lots more time in antique shops and thrift stores. I have found some very neat vintage buttons and sewing notions in the last few days. I also get to spend more time with my sister, Jane, in her mountain studio, creating Woolies while she creates her fabulous jewelry ( I am also constantly in communication with my good friend Renee ( and we are always working on new ideas for our favorite crafts and sewing projects. I will post some pictures soon... Welcome to my blog...the place for watching my woolies come to life!