a ruckus and a fracas

We have a bird house full of baby house wrens, and they are the noisiest baby birds I have ever heard. As they have gotten bigger, their noise is nearly constant and is audible from all over the yard. I Googled “noisiest baby birds,” and house wrens were often listed. So it’s a thing.

I took a video so you could hear them:  Our noisy baby house wrens

DSC_0020There was one baby who clogged up the exit hole. His is the voice most often heard.

 

DSC_0017Does he look a little grumpy to you?

 

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creativity 5 – persistance

Do you remember this?grilling-june-garden-hummingbird-009This is a photo from my post creativity 2 – make mistakes , nearly two years ago. Despite heroic efforts on my part, I was never able to overcome the effects of gravity, and the plants kept falling out of the frame. But I liked the idea and I persisted.DSC_0011I replanted the succulents into the garden so they could growDSC_0003and thriveDSC_0013and establish roots.DSC_0135And then I tried again. I found this weird little box at Goodwill for $1. I thought it needed some succulents. So, far, it’s Gravity: 1,  Jodie: 1.

a hard year on the garden

About a year ago, my biggest (75% of my annual income) client retired without notice. What ensued was what I can only call “The Year of Work.” When I wasn’t working, I was searching for other clients, jobs, etc. I gardened and created very little, and I missed it terribly.

The garden missed me, as well. DSC_0127This is my vegetable garden today. Riley is quite disappointed in the weeds and the chaos. All I can do at this point is to dig up the good stuff (asparagus & strawberries) and start over. It’s mostly weeds and I don’t have the gumption to fight them.

And then there was the winter: DSC_0006 (1)The heavy, wet snowfall in March was too much for my evergreens.

DSC_0002Branches snapped right off.

DSC_0077And a whole tree toppled over.

It was a hard year on my garden, and, I have to admit, it was a hard year on me, as well. But no more.

This year I will continue to work hard on my business. But I will make the time for those things that make me happy. That means relaxing with my family, gardening, and creating. Thus begins The Year of Jodie.

writing for magazines

My newest sewing article is out, and I thought it might be interesting to explain how the process works.

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Almost a year ago, I sent Sew News an email with the picture above. I said I’d like to write an article explaining how to make these 3 pillows I was working on. After 3 weeks or so, they got back to me and said yes, I have the assignment. At that point they sent a contract detailing what they wanted (process photos, instructions, patterns, etc). They also gave me a due date and told me what they would pay me. I got to work.

Prior to the due date, I packed up the pillows and mailed them to the Sew News office for a photo shoot. I sent the article, patterns, and photos of the process via email. Months later, I got paid. Months after that, I got the pillows back along with the latest copy of Sew News magazine with my article in it.

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It’s on sale now in bookstores, sewing stores, and craft stores.

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Cozy Place

Ever since my kids started moving out, I’ve been thinking of ways to lure them back. Not permanently, I love that they are off living their own wonderful lives, but I do like lots and lots of visits.

My latest project has been a “guest room” in the space in the attic that was my former office. I cleaned it up and used what I had to try to make it cozy. I guess it worked; my daughter’s boyfriend liked it enough to take a picture.Cozy Place

Then my daughter put it on Reddit last night and almost 30,000 people liked it. Cozy Spaces

My grandmother’s rug anchors the space. It was a real treat hauling that up from the basement. Old pillows and pieced-together fabric scraps make comfy floor pillows. The sturdy felt bin is great for blanket storage.DSC_0045

I recovered a chair the cat had ruined. Then I layered on a quilt and another pillow.  I use the old shutter and clothespins to put up pictures and notes.

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An old milk crate is the night stand.

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I didn’t want to block any light with curtains, so I made a “valence” out of embroidery hoops and fabric scraps.DSC_0034

My husband built this bookshelf years ago. It’s great for storage and keeps people from plummeting down the steps.

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Happy Holidays

One of the great things about having adult children is the people they bring into our lives. After a while the friends and boyfriends and girlfriends start walking in without knocking. The dog knows them and stays on the sofa and wags her tail. (Instead of going ballistic like she would if a stranger came into the house.)DSC_0009

I decided this year that my daughter’s boyfriend and son’s girlfriend needed their own homemade stockings. An official welcome to the family.

Enjoy your holidays, everyone.

the summer day

My husband spotted two Luna Moths the other day. They had just emerged and were drying out.

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I’ve only ever seen one before, despite that fact that we have cherry, willow, and persimmon trees (all of which are host plants), on our property.

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Note the grape-sized persimmon for scale. This is a BIG moth.

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They don’t have mouths and will live only one week.

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I’ve been given 54 years already: what riches. It makes me embarrassed to squander even a moment. I like how Mary Oliver said it: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

 

my favorite things

I’ve been thinking about my favorite vegetable to grow, harvest and cook, and to my utter surprise, it’s swiss chard. It’s super good for me; it has vitamins K, A and C, and it is anti-inflammatory & has anti-oxidants.DSC_0031As a plant, it’s easy. It always grows; I’ve never had one die on me. It forgives me if I don’t pick it at just the right moment. It keeps growing all summer, and it’s pretty. DSC_0048It’s simple to prepare. I rinse the leaves off, pile them up, slice them lengthwise 3 or 4 times, then chop it up.DSC_0056 I saute it in olive oil and water with onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes (because red pepper flakes are good with everything). It’s tasty just like that.  But I make a ton of it and keep it in the fridge to do this:

  • add to eggs and omelets
  • spread over sautéed chicken & top it with swiss/parmesan cheese
  • spread on top of pizza
  • add to any kind of pasta
  • add to soups and beans
  • toss into salads
  • spread onto toasted bread (with or without cheese – oh never mind – WITH cheese)

So I have to give an A+ to swiss chard: healthy, easy, simple, delicious.

the double bind

Riley web 002Have you met Riley? She’s 112 pounds of hairy love. And I do mean hairy.20170422_213444

I’ve made a bunch of scrap quilts to try to keep the furniture clean.  I pull them up and wash them: so much so that they are now frayed along the edges.

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I sewed a second binding to this ragged quilt and loved the result. Not only did I clean up the ragged edge, but I added a second layer of fun to the binding. Super cute. It makes me want to have a double bind on all of my quilts.

love spring

I haven’t seen a hummingbird yet,  April 29, which is late for me, but Spring is in full bloom here in South Jersey.DSC_0031Some of the Columbines are over 4 feet tall.  Sigh. I remember when Columbine was just a flower.DSC_0033Aren’t they pretty?

DSC_0037 (2)The bed by the front porch looks to have a promising year.DSC_0040 (2)The bed by the driveway looks pretty good, as well.DSC_0043The raised bed herb garden has some winter survivors as well as popsicle sticks promising good things to come.DSC_0045And here, my dears, is what my beloved party garden looks like on this very day. A sad, sad remnant of our glorious fall season together, as witnessed below.DSC_0006But, happily, my Sad Clematis has hung in there.DSC_0046Love Spring.

creativity 4 – know yourself

DSC_0009Do not adjust your screen; there IS no color in this quilt.  When my son saw how my daughter’s quilt birthday quilt looked, he let me know that he’d like a similar one some day.  So, here is my third big quilt, and the only other color I ever used was yellow. i am a quilter

All the quilts have been unplanned and random. I used what I had and only bought fabric as needed. The quilting on all three is straight (ish) line and close. I know this kind of monotony would drive some people nuts, but I like it. DSC_0016I also like silence when I’m at a difficult point. I can watch TV or listen to music when I am quilting the straight lines, but I prefer quiet when I am piecing the front of the quilt. I tend to be supply driven; what do I have and what can I make from it? I’d rather not follow patterns; I prefer to stumble along on my own. This results in lots of failures, but it’s what works for me.

What works for you?

 

 

the big reveal

After months of cleaning and painting and organizing, I am finally calling my new office/sewing room done.dsc_0008Here is my printing/cutting/mailing area.dsc_0010-1If you know what a Cricut is (my Christmas present from my family,) then you will know that I am spoiled, indeed.dsc_0013-1Here is my desk with my new computer system – a birthday gift from my family (I wasn’t kidding about the spoiled thing.) My geranium and begonia are struggling to hold out until spring.dsc_0022Here’s my sewing area – my focus was overcome by the cuteness of Brittney – a violently feral cat when she came to us pregnant – two years ago. My daughter spent a ton of time feeding her treats, one by one. Now, she’s a full-fledged people person. dsc_0018And here’s the area behind my desk – the wall I see from my sewing table. I am having a ton of fun, these days.

movin’ on down

I am so excited! I am moving my office/sewing room from the attic to the basement. I am still organizing and decorating, but it’s starting to come together.

Sewing Room Shelf

Sewing Room Storage Shelf

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This space is so much nicer: not as hot/cold as the attic – and I can actually see some of my bird feeders from my desk. I enjoy that. So does Brittney, the no-longer-feral cat. (Pictures of her in the future.)

winter lessons

lanternWinter has finally come to South Jersey. We had about 7 inches of snow over the weekend and it’s not going anywhere because it’s COLD!

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Tufted Titmouse

When I went out to feed the birds this morning, I noticed that they were much more tame than usual. Usually they scatter as soon as they see me coming. But today, they didn’t budge until I was about 3 feet away.

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White Throated Sparrow

I’m guessing the frigid temperatures and blanket of snow have made food such a priority that their usual skittishness is tempered.

nuthatch

Red Breasted Nuthatch

So, after I fed them, I grabbed my camera.  I took the above pictures in about 5 minutes, and then left them to the serious business of eating.

creativity 3 – make time

My niece made me a present years ago. It hangs in my office and makes me feel good every day.hurry

So, for her birthday, I wanted to make her something special. I was giving her money, since that’s what teenagers want, so I decided to make a little purse to put it in.

I didn’t start sewing until the morning of the party. My machine wasn’t sewing just right, but I didn’t take the time to fix it because I was in  a hurry. The stitches around the zipper were crooked, but I didn’t rip them out because I didn’t have time. Eventually, I showed up late to the party: unshowered, empty-handed, and full of apologies.

I know better. I need to make mistakes as I go and have the time to fix them. My best work happens when I can enjoy the process and not just hurry to the finish.hurry_0001

I made this sign for my sewing room as a reminder to take time for creativity, and to have patience with myself as I learn and grow and improve.

Oh, and Gillian got a little package in the mail a few days later – with two purses.

creativity 2 – make mistakes

I never know where I’m headed when I create. Whether it’s a meal, a quilt, a garden, or a blog post, I just have to jump in and see where it takes me.

Sometimes I make something great that doesn’t work.grilling-june-garden-hummingbird-009Despite heroic measures on my part, I was unable to overcome the effects of gravity; the plants kept falling out of the frame. So I gave up.

Sometimes I make something bad that works.dsc_0127I wanted to try free motion quilting, but I knew I wouldn’t be very good at it. I did it on the back side of my daughters bolsters – the side that goes against the back of the couch – so no one sees it.

And sometimes, I just have to keep trying until I get it right.grilling-june-garden-hummingbird-059BEFORE – Here’s a little seating arrangement under a cherry tree. After years of cleaning up petals, pits, and poop (the birds LOVE those cherries), I took out the seats.may-backyard-prom-003AFTER – I used the pavers to make a little wall, filled the area with soil and made a cute little garden instead. Now all of the cherry tree debris just disappears.

creativity 1 – limits

I pay attention to what helps and hinders my creativity. Surprisingly, limits seem to help me. So when my younger daughter asked for bolsters for her futon, I decided to try to use only the fabrics (in her chosen colors) that I already owned. My first problem was that none of the fabric was big enough. So I decided to piece them together to make the pillows.bolster 013

Isn’t this so cute? If I had just run out to the fabric store, I would have bought a print with blue, purple, and tan and that would have been it. But using what I had, I had to get creative. That lead to the stripes AND to the embroidery to make it seem cohesive.

Quilt close

It has happened before . . . My older daughter asked for a gray and white quilt, and instead of hating the limits of no color, I loved the result.

homemade wooden trellis

And this trellis? I didn’t have enough wood to make all the horizontal pieces go all the way across, so I got creative. Limits really bring out the best in me. Does anyone else feel like that?

too big for my britches

It started with a sad clematis.Sad

Then I noticed a lilac had taken over the party garden.

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The lilac in happier times.

I decided to dig up the lilac and put the clematis in its spot, where it will get the sun it so desperately needs.

So I dug. And I pulled. And I snipped and clipped. And I dug.

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This is after day 4. Party garden disrupted. Wall collapsed. Tools strewn about. Lilac stump not even budging.

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This is after day 9. Looks like you could just pluck it right out of there, doesn’t it? . . . Nope

Now

Finally, two weeks later, things are looking up. The clematis is still just a bitty thing on the trellis (right in front of the blue jungle gym). But we all have hopes for a better future.

i am a quilter

I made my first real quilt this spring at the request of my eldest.  birthday quiltQuilt

And I have been hooked ever since. My 1981 sewing machine did fine, but I needed more open space to shove all of that fabric through. After much soul searching and internet searching, I decided I wanted a better quilting machine.machine 006

Ta Da!! This work horse has been such a great addition to my sewing room. The yellow space above ( harp space)  is only about 1/4 inch higher  and a couple of inches wider than my old machine, but it makes a huge difference in the ease of sewing large projects. And it is  so powerful  and has such features . . .Date 017

My second quilt, for my brother’s 50th birthday, sports a fancy machine- embroidered date label.Quilt Back 021

The close stitching  that I love was way easier with the bigger harp space in my new machine.Quilt.16

And right after I finished this quilt, I started another. I am a quilter.