Beating the Blahs

Over the past 15 years of owning this shop, I’ve had several ladies visit during the summer months looking for something to inspire them. Why? Because they have what we’ve come to recognize as the Summertime Creativity Blahs (SCBs for short). Now you might be thinking that that’s kind of an odd malady to have in the summertime when there’s so much to do and so much daylight in which to do it. However, it’s a true enough ailment caused by, in my opinion, the lack of a need for curling up under a cozy quilt, unless you’ve set your AC thermostat to zero. Pair that with the (laughable) idea that the gift giving season is still quite a ways off in the future, or so we kid ourselves into believing. As a result, the ailing creative mind cannot find anything they really want to do. Worse yet, if they do find a somewhat tempting project, finding the motivation to do it is just as difficult if not nigh impossible.

“Is there a cure!?” I hear you asking. I think there is. Yes, there just may be a glimmer of hope in the event that you too find yourself affected by the SCBs. It’s a great solution because it won’t cost you a penny (at least not up front and maybe not at all depending on your stash), and you don’t even have to leave your house in order to partake of this treatment which should thereby put an end to your ailing creative spirit.

I’m sure I’ve realized the advantage of this cure in the past, but, memory being what it is, I’d forgotten all its beneficial aspects. I rediscovered it while trying, somewhat in vain I’m afraid, to organize and clean up a room that we’ve decided to turn into our upstairs den since our downstairs den is still full of fabric. To do this task I had to move a LOT of quilting books as well as a few cross-stitch books and even several books on heirloom sewing. Yes, I love it all!

Once upon a time long, long ago, I’d started making a list of the books which I’ve kept on hand, usually with the initial idea of using one of these books to start a BOM or some such monthly offering. More often then not though I’d set the book aside when the next interesting book came along and start the dreaming process all over again. I hate to admit it, but I tend to do more creating via day dreaming than through actual stitching. Because of that flaw in my character, I have accumulated a ton of books, yes, I mean that literally, over the course of my creative life, most of which preceded the shop.

While going through the books that have been stacked hither and yon in that aforementioned room, I started not only noting the titles, authors, copyright date, etc. but also the projects that were contained within. My original intent was to weed out the books that only had one or two projects/ideas that I thought I’d ever actually execute and rid myself of them. Needless to say, the only books that were weeded out were duplicate ones that I’d brought upstairs with me from the shop a second time because I’d forgotten there was already one up there in a stack. Unfortunately, there weren’t as many duplicates as there needed to be in order for me to trim down the number of books on hand upstairs. Going through the ones downstairs will have to wait for another century.

It didn’t take long for this method to work its magic. By looking through the books to determine their “keeper” status I ended up wanting to do almost everything I looked at. I can only chalk that desire up to a couple of reasons. One, it’s been quite a while since I’ve done any serious sewing/creating, and two, because of my eclectic taste I’m attracted to a wide variety of projects. I’d have to get up before the crack of dawn, start working on a project and not stop until midnight, if then, in order to complete even a fraction of the projects and ideas for projects that I’ve collected with intentions of making. Surely I’m not the only person out there with this affliction, a hope that I’m sure all the book companies and pattern makers are banking on. Oh, yes…patterns… There were a lot of those upstairs as well and I even went through quite a few of those while sorting out and cataloging my books. No, there’ll never be enough hours in the day or enough days in one life to accomplish what my foolish mind tells me I can accomplish. As usual, my intentions are much greater than my accomplishments.

After looking through a multitude of books, I was pumped to get going on projects. I was squirming in my seat! I had to force myself to finish adding the books in front of me to those already in the list. I wanted to run downstairs and start pulling out bits and pieces of fabric right then and there. Then I reminded myself that I already have at least three projects going in various states of progress. The actual number in progress is much larger of course, but those three are the only ones whose location I’m sure of at the moment. So, my common sense told me that I should focus on those projects first. But there’s something about starting something fresh and new that’s always more intriguing and invigorating than finishing something started long ago (and I won’t even mention how long ago on a couple of those three projects lest you think I’m a real dud).

The moral of this story is this. If you find yourself sparkless where creating goes, grab yourself a stack of books or patterns that you have on hand, make yourself a nice cup of tea, or coffee if you prefer, prop your feet up and start looking through said inspirational triggers. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself saying, “I like that a lot, but I think I’d do this to it instead.” Or, “I think I’d rather do it in these fabrics instead of those.” Or my personal bent is to say, “I think I’ll make that in a smaller size.” Before long you’ll have half a dozen, or more, new projects on your to-do list. Mag-BHG Christmas Qlts n More 2018 Flags Personally, I don’t make a list, but I do flag projects that catch my eye with colored sticky flags. I buy these at Dollar Tree, 500 flags for $1, in eight different colours. The flags tell me that a particular book or magazine (something else I have too many of) has something inside that I’m interested in doing. When I see those flags sticking out the side of a book or magazine, they also remind me that I need to get on the stick if I’m going to make even the slightest ripple in this sea of creativity with which we are so generously surrounded.

Holiday Spice Tea from Tea of Life

The Christmas tea that I’d like to share with you this month is from Tea of Life. This is their Holiday Spice Tea which I purchased from TJMaxx in 2017. Try as we might, neither I nor my girls could find this tea again for Christmas 2018, and we looked every chance we got. We looked at not only TJMaxx but also Marshall’s, Home Goods, and even Tuesdays as they tend to carry a lot of Tea of Life tea varieties.3ACE3D3A-2AD7-4E8C-829A-E4ADD52066E2

When I originally purchased this tea I wasn’t really sure I’d like it, but knew if I didn’t there would be a good chance that either Victoria or Julia would. Why did I think I wouldn’t like it? Because it contains vanilla flavour, of which I’m not really a fan, but even more questionable in my mind was the spice star anise, which to me smells and tastes like licorice, and I hate licorice. That being said, I’ve read that this spice has many benefits which include the killing off of bacteria and fungus, providing a concentrated dose of antioxidants which may aid with heart health, and it keeps blood sugar levels steady. It is also a natural way to fight off the flu. In fact, the active ingredient in flu medications like Tamiflu is shikimic acid which is extracted from star anise. (Source)

I decided that for $3.99 I would take a chance since I liked the other spices in this pure Ceylon black tea which are cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, all of which have their own list of health benefits. Suffice it to say, I’m glad I bought this tea, and although I’ve shared it with my girls, who love it, I didn’t give either of them all of it. Since we were unable to find more this past Christmas, I drink it sparingly, which isn’t hard given all the various varieties of tea I have on hand.

There were two sealed foil bags inside the tin each of which contained twenty teabags. The minute I opened the first foil bag I could smell licorice. While there’s a hint of the other spices as well, the overwhelming scent of licorice hit my nose first. That made me even more skeptical. However, I’m glad to say that once it had steeped I really liked the overall taste of this tea. The combination of spices and vanilla flavour was perfect and the aroma was lovely. Just the thing to have in hand when you’re curled up in front of a fireplace with a roaring fire, a comfy quilt, and a good book. And yes, I like it well enough that I do drink it on even not so cold winter days. It’s such a treat!

Just as a reminder, three months in this new year have come and gone. The gift giving season is only nine months away. If you’ve not started on at least a list of things to make, and people for whom to make them, you’d best grab a cup of tea, a pad of paper, and get on it. Time’s a wastin’!

Magazine Monday – The Farmhouse Movement

At the end of March, Rick and I went to Gatlinburg for a long weekend. We used to do this for “spring break” when the kids were given a week off from their dance and gymnastics classes. They’d go visit their grandparents while Rick and I would spend three or four days alone in a chalet. This go around our trip had nothing to do with anyone’s schedule but was made more out of habit. It seems we’d gotten used to being in Gatlinburg in March and something didn’t seem quite right without our annual trip there. While we’re pretty much couch potatoes once we get settled in, we do make at least one, and this trip two, visits to Books a Million (BAM) while there. BAM used to be one of our places to visit daily when the kids were in classes, so it’s just a natural place for us to go. Of course, I always have to have an Oreo Candy Blast and love the double chocolate chip cookies that they now offer even though they’re definitely not per diet. But I digress…
Mag-Farmhouse-Vol 1 Issue 2
At our first visit to the bookstore during this trip, I ran across a new-to-me magazine. It may be new to you as well since the March/April 2018 issue is only the second one. It’s The Farmhouse Movement magazine, and I hate that I missed the premiere issue. I was actually looking for the latest issue of The Magnolia Journal, which I found and bought, when one of the articles listed on the cover of this new-to-me magazine caught my eye. It’s been recommended that I change my eating habits and follow a ketogenic diet. To do this I have to change the type of flour that I use to bake with from our standard variety to coconut, and/or almond flour. Not an easy concept for someone my age to grasp (and we won’t even discuss the implementation thereof). So, when I saw a review of six different flours inside this issue, I knew I needed to check out that information as well as whatever else was hiding between the front and back covers.

I took a moment to look at the table of contents and saw that it included an article on starting a garden, basic sewing, and making some simple products to use in the home. Of course, there were a few other articles that caught my eye, but the ones that hit me first were enough to intrigue me into giving this new publication a whirl. Once we were back at our sweet little cabin, I sat down and started at the beginning since I needed to get a feel for the mind behind the magazine. That mind appears to belong to Jordan Schrandt. You may have heard of her, but as a quilty person, who tends to have blinders on where new names and faces outside the quilt world are concerned, I had not. You can learn more about her on her website though, as have I. She seems like a lovely young woman with a vision who has taken on the challenge to enable others to live a better quality of life.

Now, for my thoughts on the magazine… The magazine is very well done in terms of photos and layout. It has a nice matte finish and contains 99 pages. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that there wasn’t a single advertisement included in the page count. That means you’re truly getting your $8 worth out of this publication. I know advertisements are what help to keep the cost of publication down, but I have stopped subscribing to some magazines for this very reason.

The review of the six different types of flour was very helpful. I’m still a bit confused but figure if I read the page 100 times, like the TA in one of my computer classes recommended we do with new information (this was in 1992 by the way), I might be able to retain the nuances of the different flours and how to use them long enough to actually bake with them. Still, I’ll probably take a picture of the page with my phone (Victoria taught me this trick) so that I can use it as my “cheat sheet” when the time comes to start experimenting. Actually, we did bake a loaf of keto bread using both almond and coconut flour a few weeks ago. Can’t say as I was impressed with the result, but it was better than having no bread at all for making sandwiches. Hopefully, with this new information, on these new-to-me flour types, we’ll have a better outcome in future baking adventures.

The information shared on basic sewing was indeed very basic. It is definitely meant for a beginner who has very little to no experience using a needle and thread. Instructions on equipping a sewing box, threading a needle, hemming, sewing on buttons, and mending holes were given. It should get newbies started but some good tips were left out. For example, when hemming, be sure to take a back stitch every two to three inches so that the whole hem does not come out. That way you’ll only have to repair a few inches instead of re-hemming the whole section. Plus, tie off your thread when you’ve finished a seam before you cut the thread. I do a backstitch and run the needle through the resulting loop before pulling the thread tight to secure. Only then do I clip my threads. I wouldn’t recommend having stitches that were 1/2″ apart either. We’d call those toe-catchers. The mentioned 1/4″ apart would be better and even a bit smaller distance between stitches better still. I can hear my grandmother now telling me to always take small stitches.

While I enjoyed reading the information on gardening, making natural cleaning items, kitchen economics, and making a house look more farmhouse-like, I didn’t read the article on chickens, though I may go ahead and do that, eventually. No offense to anyone, but I greatly dislike chickens. I grew up having to tend to them and they’re just not my favorite critters. I learned at a very young age never to turn my back on roosters. Needless to say, I got very good at walking backwards.

There was a good article on forgiveness as well as articles on intentional parenting. It was nice to read about another family that homeschooled their children and to be reminded that no one is a perfect parent (something I guess I struggle with accepting if I were to be honest). I could totally relate to the article on foster parenting and adoption as Rick and I have done both. The articles were well written and brought back a lot of memories.

Overall, I have to say that I enjoyed the magazine and could relate to it well, even though much of it seemed to be geared to a younger audience than myself. The next issue is said to be coming out in May, so I will definitely keep an eye out for it. At the beginning of the magazine there is a page that explains the farmhouse movement. You can read that for yourself here. Given the direction our country seems to have been taken in, and its people have allowed themselves to go over the past several decades, I hope that the movement takes hold of young parents and enables them to nurture and train up the children who will become our future leaders. Our pastor in Albuquerque gave a sermon many years ago entitled “Give Me the Old Paths.” I couldn’t help but be reminded of that sermon, possibly from Jeremiah 6:16, and the need for families, for our country, to return to the values and morals that were once so common and expected. Under the name of the magazine are the words, “Timeless Truths of Healthy Homes.” Never before have we needed more truth and healthier homes than is needed now. Good work Miss Jordan! I look forward to enjoying your next issue.

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