What a weekend it’s turning out to be!

Ugh, I know it’s been forever since I posted. I’ve done surprisingly little sewing lately. The last item was a vintage button down shirt finished the night before I started a new job, and that was Valentine’s Day. 

The new job has me working remotely at home, and I’m finally getting into the swing of it enough (I hope!) that I can make some time to sew again…  but since I couldn’t decide about having a workspace in the basement or upstairs, everything is kind of piled together in the basement, where I sew. The office desk ended up upstairs, and the basement is still a jungle. 


Somehow (my husband says it’s because I am “kookamonga” – and I just might be inclined to agree!), donating the big heavy Ikea bed from the basement has turned into “I think I’ll get some vinyl floor tiles” which has turned into “now I need luan and subfloor adhesive, and hey while I’m at it I might as well paint the walls”. 8-/

What I’m starting from: 

It takes a flashlight to find any dropped pins on this!

Where that donated bed was

Can’t think in here!

Eventually, I hope to have a nice, easily cleaned, well-organized sewing space/gym/open-space-for-guest-air bed. Wish me luck!

Back to work…

Ok, so here’s the riser I created! All set up at work – I sit at an open table. There are supposed to be tiny dividers but they were back ordered and haven’t come. I do, however, have a great doohickey that lets me switch between sitting and standing whenever I’d like, which is really awesome. 

The existing riser, store bought and standard, leaves my phone pretty low when I’m standing, plus, it was a tiny bit narrow for the laptop. Not problematic, just a tiny little annoyance each day that I don’t need. 

Aside from that, now everything is white Ikea, black chairs, and semi-corporate-ness. How to make the space I spend so much time in feel more comfortable? It’s a shared table, so there’s not a lot of room for knick knacks, never mind that I’m not much of a knick knack person. I do love birds though, and had this turquoise fabric with bird silhouettes in it… So I learned to ModPodge:


riser with space for my dishes – I do my best to avoid/limit using disposables

We have a nice little kitchenette for preparing lunches, with a microwave and toaster oven in addition to the standard office fridge and coffee maker, but I prefer to keep my own little set of dishware, plus the community knife that’s constantly going through the dishwasher is hardly sharp, so more dangerous to use than keeping & using my own – which I wash myself & has a plastic cover. 

I have a Command hook on the side for my headset, space for my plate & coffee cup, and in the bin at left, my silverware, sharp knife, and cloth napkins. I try to minimize using disposables when there’s a simple non-disposable solution, and it’s hardly any effort to wash a set of silverware and a plate & cup after I eat.  

There’s also room in there for salt & pepper shakers, although, while one is pepper, the other is Penzey’s adobo, not salt. If you haven’t tried Penzey’s adobo – do; it’s really tasty! Unlike many store brands, it doesn’t have salt, but if you want saltiness too it’s easy to add the amount you like.

I spend a third of my life at work…

So why wouldn’t I want to look at something beautiful during that time? 

I’ve been working on this project off and on for a couple of weeks. Let’s just say, I’ve never used Mod Podge and it’s been interesting – and sticky! 🙂

It’s going to be a new telephone riser. My office gave me one of those black metal ones to use, but it was just slightly narrower than my laptop, which went under, that it was a small annoyance each day. (Was able to give it to someone else who wanted one, so no waste.) I also have a desk doohickey that allows me to sit or stand, so I wanted one that was a bit taller than the normal 4″ or so.

Here’s the item I started with, a very cookie-cutter white box: 

cookie-cutter white organization cube

Here it is assembled the way I’ve decided to configure it: 


I’ve trimmed the backboard so the bottom section is open (computer dock and cords will be going in there), and won’t be using the bottom shelf and one vertical divider.  To keep the backboard up, instead of following the force of gravity, I filled in the grooves below it.

I’ve also filled in some of the other grooves; those won’t be used and since the inside of the grooves is dark brown MDF color, they were a visual distraction. Here I used caulk, but it shrank and cracked in a very ugly way, so I later filled right over with drywall compound. 

I’m pretty much at figuring out where I can use an aerosol spray sealer in my house (um, it’s 19° and -1° windchill right now – not going outside).

More later!

Readying for cold weather

Hmm I really do need to get back to sewing too, but some things are just easier and more enjoyable to do when the weather is still reasonable! (Although I do still have a cut-out-ready-to-try pair of pants on the sewing table waiting for me.)

This year the hubs & I are going to try our hand at having some produce in the garden overwinter. After a bit of research, we hit the local Home Depot for a pile o’PVC. 

1/2 -inch PVC

We also got 1/2″ rebar in two-foot lengths. Luckily, most of them were not bent much, and didn’t have a lot rough edges sticking out – there was just enough room inside the PVC for the rebar! – although we did end up having to use a ten-pound sledge on one to smooth it out a bit.

We hammered the rebar into the ground, then used those stakes to prop the PVC.

the hunk of wood didn’t take well to the hammer


Sliding a PVC pipe over one rebar, bending it over to other side and sliding it onto the opposite rebar gave us hoops. Adding a cross piece gives structural stability as well, and that was attached with zip ties. It’s too warm yet to put any plastic or garden cloth over the hoops (that is not a complaint, Mother Nature!!), but they are ready when it’s time. 

hoops, hoops, and more hoops


The further garden (Blair Block) has kohlrabi and garlic, the closer one (Squish Square) is full of young beets. It sounds like you can’t really start plants in the cold – at least outside – but you supposedly can at least keep the existing ones happy enough. It’s a first try for us, so we’ll see how it goes.

PS You can kind of see Martina at the far right – full of kale seedlings. We’ll be trying floating row covers on that bed, and assuming that the groundhogs won’t be around to get the hog’s share like they did this summer!

For Julia

Ok, ok, I’m posting! 🙂 Warning, photo heavy.

So Joaquin has been upgraded to a hurricane and is supposed/likely to bring some pretty fierce rain this coming weekend. Seems like a good weekend to tuck in with indoor stuff. So tonight, I prepared.

No, I didn’t hit the grocery and ransack the milk, bread, and toilet paper aisles. (Hubby made a Costco run this past weekend, so we’re pretty well stocked.) 

A few things made the evening list.

  1. Postpone clothing donation pickup in case Friday is bad.
  2. Call my sister to reassure her that so far all is well with the weather.
  3. Run sprints in the backyard with Maxtla. Since I didn’t get home from work til close to sunset, these were kind of in the dark, but not too bad. I was nearly immediately ready to change my mind but he was having too much fun. We did it again a little later too.
  4. FINALLY mix up a batch of soil blocking mix. This was solidly in the dark. We have a motion sensor back porch light, and I used a headlamp. I’ve decided I cannot further convince the neighbors I am crazy: 

    Headlamp halo


Yeah, changed into grungies and started making block mix, in the dark; what can I say? It’s remarkably like mixing up dough ingredients, but with some of the ingredients measured in buckets full, instead of cups and spoons.  

the soil measure


soil, peat, & compost


next, blood meal, lime, greensand, & rock phosphate


I didn’t think it was as appetizing as Maxtla did.


Unmixed bits kept turning up (ha) as I dug and stirred and folded (er is that too “kitchen” a term? same movement though.)


Maxtla is a very patient pup, most of the time. We did sprints after I noticed him sitting so forlornly! I think he forgave me.


This is looking really homogenous.


During the sprints, we got sidetracked. I remembered some raspberries were soon to be ripe, so I picked them. 6 1/2, biggest haul yet! (Scruff planted it this summer.)


The raspberries were guarded.


Ok! 7-8 gallons of soil block mix, ready to go – hope the pickle smell doesn’t stick too long. But the bucket $$ goes to a good cause.

But in any case, the soil blocking mix is now ready. So this weekend – blocks! I’ll try them with micro greens now, up in my lovely IKEA containers, and vegetables in the spring.I also have a pair of pants that have cut out ready to sew for what feels like ages. Hopefully I’ll get to start those as well!

PS It’s my turn to bring breakfast tomorrow for our team’s weekly meeting. Better go decide what to make now!!

Pint and a halfs

Thanks to my twin sis, I now have 9 pint and half Ball canning jars… they are however not going to be (generally) for canning!

I’ve had some nice plastic containers, with happy spring green latches and seals, for some time, and recently I’ve noticed the seals are less effective than they used to be. That combined with my effort to use less plastic overall makes these new jars destined to be my new lunch containers, and they’re just the right size.

Lately I’ve been slackin’ a bit, buying lunch out too much, so this is perfect for multiple goals. I spent the afternoon grocery shopping, washing & chopping, assembling… Now I’m good to go for the week.

I made a nice tangy vinaigrette with coconut oil, cider vinegar, garlic, black pepper, and a couple of dates so it didn’t end up too tangy.

That got whizzed in the VitaMix, then a couple of tablespoons went into the bottom of each jar. Next I dropped in a pile of chopped veggies (mixed sweet peppers, zucchini, chickpeas), followed by a few drained capers – OMG, so tasty and no salt needed for the dressing – then protein. A couple jars have tuna, and the others more chickpeas. This is all topped by torn-into-pieces mixed greens. It doesn’t look like much greens, but you can push a lot in there… plus I get more greens in smoothies.

Speaking of greens, I found a new mix by Earthbound Farm at Costco today – Power Deep Green Blends, and it has baby kale, chard, and spinach.


I did make a smoothie with it when we got home from Costco and it was tasty (the greens, blueberries, coconut milk, chia seeds, and two dates since the berries weren’t very sweet). Worth a try if you haven’t purchased that mix yet!

The other lunch item, highly experimental, is cukes stuffed with a mix of cottage cheese, sunflower seeds, and a few remaining chickpeas. I mixed in a little bit of protein powder as well, going on the assumption that it would help firm up the mixture. I’ll see how it goes tomorrow. The dill is from our backyard.


Another focus…

As I’ve gone through various events in my life, some good, some less so, but hopefully all learning experiences, I find more and more that I “need” less and less.

While Project 333 isn’t quite a reality for me yet, I’m inspired by it in many ways, along with reading a few minimalism blogs (like The Other Side of Complexity, zen habits, and The Miminalists).

One place where it’s in place (now to practice maintaining!) is my home desk. At work, I’ve had a standing desk for more than 6 months now – definitely enough time to say it works for me! Recently I set a standing desk up at home, using one of those closet organizer shelving systems. So far, so good, and I definitely went minimalistic:


Another area I’m working on that is kitchen items. I love kitchen items! My twin sister does too, so maybe it’s just a thing… in any case, I’m clearing out quite a bit of stuff as my husband and I continue consolidating our “two piles”…

In that vein – a giveaway!! No, not some regular this-blog-is-sponsored-by giveaway, but just me sharing. I know many of my friends also like kitchen items. I have two sets of mini dishes, great for parties or cute presentation of desserts etc., that are still in the packaging. Way old for returning but they somehow never got used…. Watch for pics soon – if you want them, post a comment here! (You’ll need to be local, or pay for shipping, or we’ll see each other in person in the next month or two – I want these out of the house. :-))



Planning ahead

It’s easy to say “I’m going to eat well this week”… But when you’re sick, tired, sick and tired, or just out of your routine, eating out seems easier. I wish it didn’t, because in reality, it probably takes just as long to get a table, order, and have it delivered to you, as it does to make something.
But while restaurant food can taste good, statistics show the likelihood of it actually being good for you are very slim.

Last week I ate lunch out a few times last week, and while the sandwiches were tasty, I noticed I was much hungrier in the evening than after my self-prepared lunches. Probably the lack of fiber, but in case, I vowed this week to get my lunches made in advance!

So over the weekend I spent an hour and a half and made 9 salads, five full size for myself, and four smaller ones for my husband, who usually has a sandwich with it.


Mine are pretty big (like my friend Rii, I’ve taken to inviting “Hugh Jass” to meals on a regular basis): greens, zukes, cukes, peppers, black beans, steamed broccoli, carrots, roasted beets. They take me a bit of time to eat, but I stand at my desk all day anyway!


I’m way less likely to have that afternoon energy lull when I have these. I’m trying to remember that, LOL, when I just don’t feel like spending the time to make them. It’s nice during the week when I can just grab a box, too!


A radical idea for the 21st century

When Scruff and I got married, he didn’t have a dryer in the house. He isn’t necessarily opposed to dryers, but hadn’t had one in about 15 years. Partly because he couldn’t make one fit in the basement, partly because he was getting by without, so why bother?

I told him “I sew. I need to prewash and dry. I need a dryer!!”. I ordered one, a really nice one that matches the new washer he ended up having to get fairly recently. (The previous washer was old enough to still have a metal tag labeling it as made in US!)

By measurements, it fit in space we created for it next to the washer. The delivery folks had had no problem getting the washer into the house; however, the dryer wouldn’t fit through the outside door and couldn’t be brought in.

I’ve now gone 4 1/2 months without a dryer. A couple a times we’ve gone to the laundromat to dry my washing… but not very many. Hanging seems to work ok, but I will be researching better racks for sheets.


Towels and clothes are a little “crispy” hung to dry, which I’m sort of getting used to (and honestly, the crispness goes away as you wear or use the item).

I’m beginning to think I don’t need one after all. It fits more with my environmentalist tendencies, and Scruff doesn’t mind either way…. so for now, we’re not getting a dryer.

My concern – and if you sew, please proffer opinions! – is prewashing yardage. I’m thinking that they may need to go to the laundromat dryer once, to get the preshrinking in. And I’d like to sew more with wool… I’ve heard a steam dryer is great for pretreating it. What would be a good alternative?