Mother's Day

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It's primary voting day today in Pennsylvania and I'm heading out in a few minutes to cast my ballot. I'm really happy that my county changed their minds and went with paper ballots that are optically-scanned rather than the all-computer method they had originally decided on. The lack of a paper trail didn't sit well with the people who live here and the reversal is a direct result of the power of citizen activism. Yes we can (and that's a hint if you're wondering who I'm voting for).

It's also Earth Day today and I thought I'd share something I read yesterday. On Saturday I went to our local library's annual book sale—and what better way to recycle and to save money at the same time than to buy used books. I actually didn't buy any books but I did get a stack of twenty House & Garden and Martha Stewart Living magazines from last year—for 10 cents apiece! I don't usually buy either of these magazines but I figured I'd find 10 cents of information or photos to clip.

House & Garden is a little too upscale for my tastes but I love their monthly column called Domestic Bliss: At Home With ___ that features a famous person in the design world talking about their personal style. With cool photos, of course. The one featuring Paulette Cole, who has reinvented ABC Home (part of her family's ABC Carpet & Home store in NYC) as a socially-responsible business but who also lives "green" at home fits perfectly into today's "green" theme. The article mentioned her organic food and cleaning products buying habits, but what stood out to me were her comments about collecting antiques—"Antiques are the greenest choice you can make." How true. When we're hauling home our finds from the flea market we're probably thinking about how cool they are and how little we paid for them, not that we're recycling. But that's exactly what we're doing. Not that we really need another reason to buy antiques—but that's certainly a good one.

She admitted that many people are daunted by the idea of committing to living green but sees it as a journey—"My mantra is 'continual improvement'. Our goal should be getting a little better every year."

With that in mind, I'm going to be conscious of my carbon footprint today. I plan to hang my laundry outside on the clothesline (and sleep on wonderful-smelling sheets tonight) and plant some of the early cold-hardy things (lettuces, radishes, spinach) in the vegetable garden. Hmmm, the polling place is right down the road—maybe I'll dust off my bicycle, too!

How are you living "green" today?


Stitch School: Beads.2

Stitch School has moved to it's very own space on the web! You'll now find the Beads post here. Comments are now closed on this post; if you'd like to leave a comment please do so on the new one.


Stitch School: Beads.1

Stitch School has moved to it's very own space on the web! You'll now find the Beads post here. Comments are now closed on this post; if you'd like to leave a comment please do so on the new one.


signs of life

It's warm here today and I took a short walk around the property. The daffodils are just about ready to pop open, but not pretty enough yet for a picture. But I found this hellebore (also called Lenten rose) half-buried in leaves.


I forgot that we planted these last year so it was a nice surprise. I hope to get out later (if it doesn't rain) to do some raking and weeding - there's so much to be done out there!


a cottage of your very own

A couple of weeks ago, Susan showed some very cool embroidered pictures of cottages on her T-Cozy blog. Knowing that I sell copies of vintage patterns on my website, she emailed to ask if I knew anyone who could take her original picture and make a pattern from it. It was a challenging picture to trace (lots of tiny leaves and flowers) but I told her I'd do it. Yes, it's possible to digitally trace original embroidery but it's not magic—you still have to do all the tracing. It's just done with a mouse instead of a writing instrument and a steady hand and graphic design background doesn't hurt either.

The pattern is now for sale and you can head over to her latest blog post for ordering information. It's a really a cool pattern, and not just because I had a hand in it's creation. Everyone loves a sweet little cottage surrounded by flowers, even if they don't really live in one themselves.

A beginning embroiderer may want to practice up on their stitches—about half of the design is cross stitch (that's easy) but the rest uses a variety of other stitches—like chain, outline, French knot, and lazy daisy. If you need help with those, check out my Stitch School posts listed to the right in the sidebar. And, like my patterns, you'll need to transfer the design to your own fabric.

Someone emailed me recently asking if I'd do a tutorial on transfering patterns. I didn't think it was that complicated as I just lay the pattern on a lightbox with the fabric on top and trace over the lines with an air-soluable marker. But, that only works if your fabric can be seen through. I recently bought some flannel-backed baby burp cloths that I thought would be cute with a bit of embroidery in the corners. I set up the lightbox and (oh, no!), you can't see through the layers of fabric. There is another way to do it involving a transfer pencil, so maybe a tutorial would be a good idea after all.

I'll add it to the list. Next up for Stitch School is a post about attaching beads and sequins (or other small objects) because sometimes you just need a little extra bling! I'll try to get that posted next week if the weather cooperates for picture-taking. They weren't kidding about those April showers—it's rained every day since the beginning of the month!