Sewing Room Mayhem

If you spent the last two months in your sewing room (or even your workshop!) in order to get ready for Christmas I’m sure that you are currently looking around at the mess that remains. At least, that’s what I’ve been doing. Chester and I went upstairs to try to tackle it, but she didn’t make it very far before she had to rest.

chester in her box 1-18-19

Poor Chester!

While she napped I carried on…

I ironed and put away the 10 yards of fabric I had purchased (during a great sale) to be used for ruffles on dresses:

dress ruffle fabric 1-13-19

I like to wash and iron my fabric before using it. Yes, I bought this pink specifically for ruffles because I have a LOT of fabric on my shelf that will coordinate with this color.

Then I started working on my yarn corner. I had finished a Project Linus blanket and realized that I didn’t have anymore kitted up and ready to go. So, I spent a few hours sorting through yarn, coming up with different patterns, and kitting them.

blankets kitted up 1-13-19

I now have 8 afghans kitted up and ready to be placed in my project bags.

crochet bags with dividers

Maybe we should go check on Chester…


Whoops! I woke her up. All of my sorting and color coordinating must have tuckered Bob out, too. Life is rough in our house!

Now, keep in mind I have kitted up 8 afghans and taken those skeins of yarn out of my pile. This is what I had left:

yarn pile 1-13-19

It’s a sickness. It’s called Yarnitis. You always worry if you have enough and if you should get more “just in case.” I am hanging my head in shame as I admit that since this picture was taken I have added more to that pile. I blame Jay. I told him about the $10 off coupon that A.C. Moore had emailed me, which could be used on sale yarn, and he encouraged me to go get more. To show Jay that I love him and that I take his advice to heart… I went and bought more yarn. My hands were tied! I had no other option.

I had one last corner to clean up. Actually, it wasn’t a corner as it was smack-dab in the middle of my sewing area.

pile of flannel 1-13-19

Joann’s had been running some really great sales on flannel… so I stocked up. To be fair, I’ve actually used some of it already.

Bowling Alley Accessory Bags

I purchased it for the bags to hold the bowling pins and marbles for the bowling alleys that Jay made as gifts. As I was purchasing that fabric I couldn’t resist a few of the other prints that they had. Despite the fact that Chester thought I had purchased it as a very nice bed for her in my sewing room (I keep a clothes roller upstairs for this very reason), I did manage to get it cleaned up. And I made these:

pillowcases 1-18-19

Flannel pillowcases!

They were okay for my first try, but I definitely won’t give them to anybody I actually like. I’m using them for our bed, and I’ll send a set to my sister (she won’t care because she has to share her pillow with a couple of cats, too).

I got the idea when I was thumbing through one of my mom’s quilting magazines. I saw an ad for a Pillowcase charity thing and decided to check it out. There is a pillowcase challenge happening through the All People Quilt website. I couldn’t find any local drop-off sites, but I was intrigued by the instructions for the burrito roll method of making this pillowcase and I had to try it. It leaves no exposed seams and the cases are easy enough to make. If I hadn’t been working on six of them it would have been a quick and easy project. I’m very picky about the pillowcases that I use on my bed, so now I will just make my own as I need them.

My sewing room is still a mess, but at least it’s somewhat more organized. I have another project that I’ve been working on using some of Jay’s old t-shirts that are too stained to give away. It’s a very interesting project and prepping for it was one of those simple things that intrigued me way too much. Let’s just say that what I was working on was akin to popping bubbles on bubble wrap. I’ll explain when I actually post about it.

Oh, look who’s up from her nap and ready for a snack!

Chester - Mama pay attention to me

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Jay’s Basement Workshop

Christmas has come and gone, so yet again Jay has another piece of equipment that must be added to his workshop. His work area always seems to be changing, too.

For example, last February this is what it looked like:

Basement 2-21-18

By June it looked like this:

Basement 6-23-18

And now it looks like this:

work shop 1-18-19

I have to tell you, the dust collector was the best investment that I could have made in his basement workshop. It was pricey, but well worth it! When I’m upstairs and Jay has it running I can only tell because I hear a slight rumble. It has managed to keep the dust to a minimum as well. I would highly recommend this for all basement work shops!

Jay has also been working in his small workshop. He is working on the actual machines, though, and not so much the layout. Let me see if I can show you what has changed.

Here is what it looked like last winter:

New Bench - Small Workshop


small workshop bench 1-18-19

It might be a bit difficult to tell because of the two different angles, but he has extended the size of his lathe. In the top one you can see that it was much shorter. Due to a new project he’s working on (more on that in a future post), he needed the extra working room. He had quite the quandary that he was mulling over; would he be better off with the $1500 or the $2100 lathe? I helped him out with that and told him neither. We compromised and he purchased this lathe extension kit.

extended lathe bed 1-18-19

He has also modified his milling machine to use a different kind of doohickey that keeps the head from dropping when it’s not secured.

milling machine 1-18-19

Oh, and he also has a 2nd 3D printer.

2nd 3d printer

This is actually the one that he built for a coworker’s son last year. He has not used it at all and she wanted her desk space back, so Jay offered to buy it back from her at a reasonable price. Yes, he has had both printers running at the same time.

Going back out into Jay’s main part of the work shop, did you notice what he received for Christmas? Because he’s spoiled…

drum sander 1-18-19

A drum sander. With a 3D printed dust port on top to better fit his dust collector’s pipe.

If you’re interested in the specs, here’s the front plate:

grizzly drum sander 1-18-19

That is a heavy-duty piece of equipment! Based on the weight when we were moving it there are not a lot of cheap plastic parts in it. We actually had to end up using the outside entrance to get it into the basement as it wouldn’t fit through our doorway in the library.

If you’re wondering, he does actually use this equipment a lot.

He made this new shelf and side table for the small work shop:

utility table 1-18-19

And he made dividers/supports for my crochet bags:

crochet bag dividers

Those keep the bag supported so that when the skeins of yarn start to get smaller the bag doesn’t collapse on them and make it more difficult to use.

crochet bags with dividers

My friend Chrissy gave me a second bag for Christmas, so Jay had to make two sets of these for me. But I did the sanding using my Christmas gift:

kerry dust mask 1-18-19

Jay calls it my Kylo Ren mask.



I guess that it looks similar, but I’m not sure how well his mask kept dust out while preventing his glasses from fogging over. That’s why I asked for this mask. I’d read a review where they said it was fantastic because it expels the air downward so you don’t fog up your glasses. I’ve only used it once, but I think that I will like it. I have to figure out how to wear it without the straps pulling it downward and plugging my nostrils, but other than that it’s good!

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Crocheted Tree Garland

I think that I teased you a while ago about a crochet project I was working on, but I don’t think I ever shared it.

I showed you a picture of this bag that I had made:

Crochet Tote Bag 8-1-18

I made this specifically to hold the following:

Crochet Tote Bag 2

Is that still not enough to explain what this is used to make?

I decided that I wanted a lacy victorian-type of garland for my Christmas tree. I did some searching online and found a pattern that I thought would work.

crocheted garland supplies

To make this garland you are supposed to use the bead garland that they sell in the Christmas stuff, but I wanted a bead that looked like pearls. I went on Amazon and found a spool of pearl-like beads that should have plenty on it for my entire tree. I then bought size 10 crochet thread and a steel hook from Hobby Lobby. This is the first project that I’ve attempted to make with crochet thread instead of yarn.

crocheted garland

I think that it’s turning out okay for my first attempt. I’m making them in 10 foot sections.

crocheted garland detail

Nice and lacy!

I think I started working on this in early summer. By Christmas I had only managed to get one 10′ section completed.

crocheted garland 2018

Obviously not enough to actually use this Christmas, but at least I can see how it looks on the tree. I probably won’t drape it this loosely, either.

crocheted garland on the tree

I think that it might look better if it was a little wider, but I’m not going to go back and add more rows to this first section. So it’s all going to be this wide.

crocheted tree garland

Maybe if I wrap enough of it around the tree it will look okay. I really like the pearls and lace, though. Very nice!



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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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