Jesus Nuts

About a year ago I was searching for something on the internet when I came across the Jesus Nut jewelry. This started my wheels spinning and I knew that I wanted to make my own version of this nut. Luckily we still had some sacred wood sitting around.


I went to my design guru and told him what I wanted. It took a little bit of time, but he finally got around to them.

Jesus Nuts

These were actually a lot of manual work for him. Not only did he cut them out, but he also tapped them so that they will actually screw onto the bolt pictured here.

Then I asked him to make me a mop sander that goes on his drill press.

Mop Sander

(It’s a good thing he loves me!)

Jay drilled the holes in them after I was happy with the sanding job, and then he inserted the wire and soldered the loop for the keychains that I wanted to add to them. The last step was to dunk them in Danish oil and let them dry.

jesus nut keychains

I created the cards myself using a picture I had taken of the crosses we made for Lent a few years ago. I also spent a long time trying to pick out just the right verse for it. I’m not 100% pleased, but I like how they turned out.

finished jesus nut

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Penny Goes to Work

The Nelsons

After Penny showed up it didn’t take long for her to feel completely at home. She began to open up and really let her character show. Her favorite color is purple and she LOVES cats. The problem is that the cats try to ignore her most of the time. Again, they TRY to ignore her. She makes that a bit difficult at times.

penny annoys bob

Bob wasn’t impressed when Penny tried to nap with him.

penny bothers chester

Chester tried napping under the tree, but Penny found her there, too.

“Come here, Chester, and let me snuggle you!!”

Bob can’t even look outside without being disturbed.

penny watches with bob

“Bob, do you see the red cardinal? Huh? Do you? It’s right there! Bob! Bob! Are you listening to me?! It’s on the right, not the left!”

I knew that things had gotten bad when I came home and found Penny playing Hide ‘n’ Seek with Bob.

penny finds bob

“I found him!! He’s right there!”

I don’t think that Bob wanted to be found.

bob hiding

Finally, the Friday before Christmas I decided that I would give the poor cats a break. I knew that things would be a bit slow at work so I took Penny in with me. I thought there would be enough busy work to keep her occupied. After I told her about the little trip she was so excited!

penny goes to work

I even made her a new shawl to wear. She was very excited when she saw the kittens on it playing with purple yarn. And since she’s a girly-girl I threw some lace on it, too. With her new shawl and matching bow she was ready to go to work!

I tried to explain to Penny what I do at work, but she’s still a bit young to really understand. So I decided to let her just watch for a little bit.

penny observes

I explained to her about bills of materials being a lot like a recipe, but I don’t think that her mother did a lot of baking because she thought cookies come from the store already baked. I guess that I’ll have to show her how to make cookies at some point!

She wanted to try to read the words on the screen. She managed to read a few of them, but she’s still young so a lot of the words I was using weren’t in her vocabulary.

penny proofs

Then she asked me for a piece of paper and a pencil so that she could take notes.

penny takes notes

I had to get up and speak with a coworker. When I returned to my desk Penny had decided that my job was easy enough for her to handle it.

penny data entry

Luckily her arms were too short to reach the keyboard or the mouse, so no harm was done. She sat there for quite a few minutes writing scribbles on my paper and telling me what she was doing. I have no idea what she thought she was doing, but she was happy so that was all that mattered.

I finally had to get some work done so I had her do some ‘filing’ for me.

penny files

She enjoyed herself immensely!

That night she couldn’t stop telling Gary about all the fun she’d had, about meeting my coworker Elaine and how she wants to work in an office when she grows up. To Gary’s credit he was very patient with her.

After posing for a picture to commemorate their first Christmas together, Gary had a surprise for Penny.

Gary and Penny 2018

She squealed in delight as she unwrapped the gift and found her very own kitty!

penny's kitten

She has named him George and carries him around with her all of the time. The cats are FINALLY getting some peace and quiet!

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A New Missal Cover for Karen

Years ago I had (poorly) made a missal cover for Karen:

Joy Tree Cross Stitch

I used a cross stitched piece that I had stitched years ago and that I had placed on my fridge (isn’t that where you display your art?). Karen loved that piece, so I made it into a cover for her daily missal. If you’re not Catholic, a missal is a book that contains the outlines (prayers, readings, etc) for each mass in each of the three church years (A, B, C). This way you can read along with the lector as they are proclaiming the readings.

According to the date on the picture I made this in 2013. So for the past five and a half years Karen has handled this book cover almost every single week day. She has a different missal for Sunday mass. This past fall I had attended an event that was held in the little chapel where daily mass is celebrated and I happened to see Karen’s missal. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! She had handled it so much that all of the beads were long gone, but most of the stitching was as well! I was embarrassed that she had to use it in that condition. I determined that I needed to make her a new one for Christmas.

I found a cross stitch pattern that I liked, but the words were wrong. It read, “The Lord is my shepherd…” Not that there’s anything wrong with that psalm, but I know that Karen’s favorite contains the words, “O Lord I know you are near.” I used the pattern I found, but figured out the graphing needed to use Karen’s phrase instead. This is how it turned out:

stitched missal cover 2018

See how tiny that is! I did that on 32 ct linen, one over one. Very tiny!

I’m not sure that this picture is better, but here’s a close-up:

karen's missal cover stitched

Once that was done I then had to work on the pattern for the actual missal cover. I knew that I would only be able to cut this piece once in order to get it in the right position. I had to be confident in the design before I could make any cuts.

I made three different covers before I felt that I could make the actual cover to be gifted. I threw in a little monkey wrench when doing the actual cover. I decided that in order to protect the stitching on this one I needed to cover it with a piece of clear vinyl. Sometimes the best ideas end up being very bad executions. At least, in my case they do. After I had finished this project I told Jay that the next time I come up with a brilliant idea he needs to tell me not to bother. Somehow I don’t think that will happen.

I wasn’t completely happy with the end product (I rarely am), but here it goes:

missal cover 2018

I have a Sunday missal of my own, so I used it to make sure the cover would fit properly. After I decided to do this I had wandered into the little chapel before choir practice and measured Karen’s missal to make sure it was the same size as mine. I wasn’t sure if they come in standard sizes or what.

missal 2018

In this picture you can somewhat see the reflection off of the vinyl protective cover. I only put it over the cross stitched piece as I thought it might prevent the rest of the cover from stretching properly over the book. Also, I knew it would add a little bit of bulk to the seams and I wanted to avoid a lot of that problem. Jay thought that it looked nice. If I were to do it again I might add a piece of white behind the cross stitched piece just to brighten it up a bit. Oh well.

missal back 2018

Karen’s favorite color is purple, so I used some of the pretty purple fabric that I had on hand for the rest of the cover. She loved it when she opened it, and has placed it on her missal. So I guess it was a success!


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A Shelf for Piano Music

For the last few years I’ve had two pianos. One in the family room:

Piano Settled

And one in the front living room (my original piano):

New Piano

I have been piano-sitting the baby grand for my best friend while she made a temporary move to D.C. Recently, however, it has turned out that her move to D.C. might not be so temporary. With that in mind, it was decided that we will just consider the baby grand to be mine. If she ever moves to a place where she has the room and wants it back, though, I’ve told her she can take it. So, I guess that I now own a baby grand piano!

As you might imagine, I have neglected the upright and play only the baby grand. However, all of my music was stored in the living room (near the upright).

Livingroom Shelf Mess

What a mess! My rocking chair is usually placed in front of this area so I typically always have my back to this, otherwise it would have been dealt with long ago. Not only do I have my sheet music stored over here, but this is also where I started keeping my books on faith and religion. Thus the two stacks of books growing almost as tall as the lamp!

I had another mess going on in the family room around the baby grand:

Piano Music Mess

The little stand next to the piano held some books, while others were just tossed up onto the top of the piano. And during this Advent season when I didn’t have time to deal with it, all of my extra choir music got dumped on top, too. It was really getting bad.

Piano Mess

After Thanksgiving, when I found out that the baby grand is going to be here for a long time, I decided that I needed to get all of my music around the piano that I actually play. And it had to be organized. Since Christmas was coming up I asked Jay to build me a bookshelf for Christmas. I gave him the dimensions that would fit there, plus the spacing for the shelves, and he went to work.

My Bookshelves 2018

Jay did the construction and rough sanding, while I did the finishing work. Yes, I finished my own gift, but he was working on a dozen other things that I had asked him for so it wasn’t a big deal. He even fancied-up the sides:

Side of My Bookshelf

He was going to put the trim on top, but I stopped him. I know myself too well and that top would become another surface on which I could lay things. I didn’t want the trim getting in my way or bending books out of shape. I can be a bit picky!

Before I give you the big reveal, scroll back up to the ‘Before’ pictures.

Are you ready? Are you excited?

First, we installed the shelf in the family room so that I could move all of the music into their new spots:

Organized Piano Music

See! I told you I would end up putting something on top. Those are the plastic protectors that I use to put my choir music in my binders (which also take up the top shelf). If you’re wondering, the ‘Math 3’ binder actually holds my Lent/Easter Choir music. My sister is a teacher and had an extra binder that she didn’t need. So I scooped it and have put it to good use.

Piano Bookshelf

I was a bit surprised when I put everything away. I thought that I had more music. It doesn’t look like I have very much at all! Well, as you can see, there’s more room for me to add to the collection.

Once the music was out of the living room I dusted off those shelves (which seriously needed it!) and put my books on them correctly.

(again, scroll up to see the ‘Before’ picture first)

Organized Livingroom Shelf

What a difference! Even Bob thinks that it looks much better. I still have to organize the books since I just threw them on the shelf to get them put away, but that’s okay. I can handle this kind of disorganization! It’s amazing what one piece of furniture can do for your peace of mind.



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Christmas Bowling Allies

In some earlier posts I had mentioned that we had some Christmas gifts under way in Jay’s workshop that I couldn’t yet share with you. The gifts have all been given, so now I can reveal them to you, too.

Completed Bowling Alley

Little bowling allies!

Jay 3D printed the bowling pins.

3D Printed Pins on Alley

And he made the little shooter that you use to roll your marble down the alley.

Bowling Alley Shooter

He also used his laser cutter to cut out all of the markings that go on the allies. The pattern called for these to be inlays, but that wasn’t happening.

I made bags to hold the bins, shooter and marbles when the alley isn’t in use.

Bowling Alley Accessory Bags

Of course I used cat fabric!

(Interesting aside… as I am writing this post I looked outside and saw our neighbors walking down the sidewalk with bowling ball bags. If we’d only made them one of these they could have stayed home and bowled!)

It nicely fits all 10 pins

3D Printed Pins

Plus the marbles and shooter

Bowling Balls and Shooter

Jay is so proud of how he painted the lines on the pins so nice and straight. I was upstairs working on something when he came bounding into the room telling me that I needed to grab my camera and come downstairs.

Bowling Pin Painting

He had a pin on the lathe (he’d left little holes in the bottom of the pins when printing them). Then he used his brush to paint the lines as the lathe spun them around.

Pin Stripe Painting

That’s using your noggin!

He was able to paint all of the lines on the pins in a relatively short amount of time.

3D Printed Bowling Pins

He made three bowling allies, so he had 30 pins to paint.

Chester and I decided to see how it would work.

Bowling with Chester

She thought that the object was to get the marble. She didn’t care what happened with the pins.

Chester Bowling

“We are supposed to knock down the pins? You don’t care about the ball? Well, that’s just dumb!”

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Gary and Penny 2018

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Spring Cross – Framed

I’m sad to see this series at an end. This is what it looked like before I framed it:

Spring Cross 11-1-18

I told you that I went with mats that were much different than what I typically would pick. However, I think that they really set this piece off very well. Are you ready?

Spring Cross Framed 12-8-18

Sorry about the reflection. I couldn’t find a place where I wasn’t getting something reflected in the glass. If I wasn’t so cheap I would get the non-reflective glass (which is REALLY neat, but it adds about $60 to the cost of the glass). The inside mat is a soft yellow and the outside is a coral color. You can’t tell in this picture, but the frame is a brownish gray, which really goes great with all of the gray in the cross.

Since this ends my Cross series, I’ll repost all of them.

Christmas/Winter Cross:

Winter Cross Framed 4-18-15

Summer Cross:

Summer Cross Framed 8-16-16

Autumn Cross:

Autumn Cross Framed 2-3-18

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