Late Winter to Spring

Despite the usual slogging through January and February (and it is a slog every year) March has nearly roared its way out. I catch myself questioning the same thing every year, “Where is all that wind coming from? Has it always gotten this windy?” I’ve yet to get a satisfactory answer. Probably because there isn’t one.

I also haven’t figured out the mystery of the robins. For about a week in February they visited our yard in droves. No one I talked to could remember ever seeing them in such numbers. They hungrily munched through cedar berries and all the scattered bird seed meant for the other birds that generally visit this time of year. I think some stale cereal disappeared as well. And, honestly, seeing them in such huge numbers was borderline creepy. Can you imagine thinking of robins and a Hitchcock movie in the same category? That’s just wrong.

No matter how stealthily I moved I wasn’t able to get a good picture of the phenomenon. They were simply too fast for me.

Robins in the snow

Squirrels also number among the usual visitors. What was unusual here was that there was just one. My folks go through bags and bags of peanuts feeding the little moochers. We open the back door with caution.

Squirrel in the snow

When not shoveling snow other things happened, like receiving this very nice chair for my 25-year anniversary of working for the college.

25 year chair

And hopeful harbingers of spring showed up (other than the creepy droves of robins that is).

Seed packets

So now I’m tending carefully to these wee bits.

San Marzano seedlings
San Marzano tomato seedlings.
Basil and Pink Popsicle Cosmos in the background.
Basil and Pink Popsicle Cosmos in the background.
Lemon Calendula seedlings.
Lemon Calendula seedlings.

I’ve more in the trays—some varieties just now peeping through the potting mix. I’ve got the seed trays under a mix of warm and cool fluorescent lights but the seedlings are still a bit leggier than I’d like. I’m thinking I probably need a span of four light tubes rather than the two I’ve got. I’ll know in a few weeks how well this is going to work out.

The Idea of Resolutions

No. This isn’t really yet another post on resolutions. Not exactly. The topic has already been covered. But I do want to put my two cents out there to suggest that the idea of resolutions can really be another form of planning or goal setting. And turning over the calendar pages to a new year is as good a time as any to step back and think about where we’re headed.

Some of you do make a resolution (or “firm decision” as the dictionary on my computer refers to it) aimed at a particular thing like losing weight, exercising more, being kinder, or whatever is front and center for you at this time in life. Others, and I’ll include myself here, come at it more generally—more in the goal setting arena. Some, like Martine on the iMake blog sort of combine the two by setting several goals in a particular theme. Do check out her Crafty New Year’s Resolutions. I like the comparison between last year and this year and the brief updates stating where she is on a particular goal. Doing that helps set up the goals for the next year.

Another blog post that struck a chord in the goals arena was the aptly titled 2015 Goals from the Dining Room Empire site. I like Cheryl’s introduction where she reasons through what gets whittled off the list and why. I also like that one of her goals is to attend a quilting retreat as a guest rather than a teacher. We should never stop nurturing the learner in us.

While reading these posts, I got to thinking about some things I plan to focus on through the coming year.


I did some embroidery and a little crewel work in my younger years but lost interest at some point. Lately I’ve been re-inspired by this kind of handwork, particularly embroidery. Some of that inspiration stems from my enjoyment of (ok, addiction to) Craftsy classes, most notably Hand-Stitched Collage Quilts by Laura Wasilowski and Big Techniques from Small Scraps by Sara Fielke. Both classes use embroidery techniques to embellish quilts. I’m smitten by the results.
Hand-Stitched image

Big Techniques image

I’ve also recently discovered the work of Lynette Anderson and Yoko Saito. Lynette Anderson happens to be doing the Block of the Month for The Quilt Show (parts of the site are available to anyone but membership is required for full access). You can check out Yoko Saito’s shop site or find fabric and English versions of some of her books on the Willow Lane Quilting Company’s site which is based in the U.S.


Post pictures. More than the two I’ve posted so far. In my defense I’ve only recently set up the account. I’ve no idea what took me so long. Maybe I was put off by the fact that they are owned by Facebook.

Design Labels

It’s past time to design labels for my quilts. I’m thinking Spoonflower. Did you know that they’ll send you swatch samples for just one dollar?

Organize the Sewing Room

I have a wonderful wall of shelves that could be put to better use. But I’m pretty sure I need to let go of some stuff even with all the shelves. And some of the shelf space, like the room, is shared with my mom. Fortunately, mom generally keeps her stuff neat but I’ve noticed that it seems to be spreading.


It’s got to happen in order to achieve the above.

Set up Etsy Store

This might be the best way to pass on the de-stash.


Finish the 5 projects I’ve already started and also try my hand at fair isle. (Yes, I have a couple of Craftsy classes on that, too.) Also, my daughter has asked me to teach her how to knit so I think I’ll take Elizabeth Zimmerman’s advice and start her off with a hat.

Here’s hoping your new year is off to a good start and that your resolutions and goals take you where you want to go.


The blogosphere is happily abuzz with crafty inspiration for the holidays. One place in particular I’ve been keeping an eye on is Sew Mama Sew’s Handmade Holidays series (start here if you haven’t already stumbled across it). There’s been a different theme for each day this month, all “curated” by different people.

Time constraints make it impossible to actually make even half of the projects that appeal to me, but I have enjoyed browsing through them—usually over morning tea before dashing off to work. I did get to thinking though, that surely there must be at least one small project I could do that would satisfy my yen for handmade gifts. Sachets! That was it—old fashioned, tried and true, lavender sachets. They’re a great way to use up scraps and truly don’t take much time to put together.

I decided I wanted them all to be backed with unbleached linen (ordered from Hancock’s of Paducah). Along with a plastic bin of scraps I pulled out a basket of leaders and enders I’d sewn together over the years. Many of them are quite tiny and it dawned on me that this might be a good project for some of them. The ones below are about 1 ¼-inch square, so four of them stitch up at, yeah, about three inches. I liked the these particular bits against the linen so both the front and the back of this one have linen.



By the way, if you aren’t familiar with the leaders and enders thing, do check out Bonnie K. Hunter’s blog and her books.

This next one ended up mostly linen as well, but I added a strip of novelty yarn for some rustic bling.



These two use bits leftover from a batik quilt I made a while back.




Here they are looking like little stuffed pillows. The all blue one uses scraps from a quilt I made for my grandson several years ago.






And here a few favorites that I bundled up as a small hostess gift for my daughter on Thanksgiving.



tales from the creative mind


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