Frustration On The Creative Endeavors – When You Can’t Get Anything Finished!

Ever have one of those days? Well, I am having one of those months! I have about ten projects all going at the same time and it seems that for one reason or another, I cannot get a single one finished! Timing or materials or weather, something seems to stand in the way of completing the project.

My big project and the one I am most excited about is now 99.9% complete! I am waiting on one more simple (or I hope simple) finishing touch and a nice day of weather to get the project photographed. Argh! It is so frustrating to be so close to completion that I have nightmares about it! No joke!

I’ve stopped picking up project pieces since the weather is going to soon become the kind of weather that prevents me from driving my little sports car. When that happens, I usually drive it into the third garage stall, cover him and put him into hibernation. Well, in order to do that, I have to get that stall cleaned out, so I have been a busy little beaver trying to get things done. It is either that or get rid of them. And I am trying to do both.

I picked up this awesome antique bench thinking it would be an easy project, but it has turned out to be anything but. Sigh. I work on it a little and then get frustrated or tired of fighting with the four million staples/nails/tacks and move to something else.

I am close to finishing the four poster bed frame that I am painting in the same pink ombré style, but of course, I had to spend an inordinate amount of time to find the right connectors for the side boards, so it too has taken a place at the back of the line.

I picked up this not-so-little entertainment center for the express purpose of harvesting pieces – like the doors and drawers and shelves – as I am planning on building a gun cabinet for The Kid’s personal collection of antique fire arms. They are very nice pieces, so the cabinet needs to be of the same quality. This thing weighed like two thousand pounds when we picked it up and much of it is turning out to be real wood (as opposed to the junk compressed wood in many) so I am harvesting much more than I thought I would be. And of course, it too, was well made with about a ton of glue, staples, screws and nails so it is taking much more effort to get it apart than hoped.

The end table to dog crate too, is almost complete. It has turned out to be a bit heavy, so as an added bonus, I am planning on adding wheels (found on the entertainment center) to make it easier to move around. Of course, the wheels are on the bottom of the entertainment center, so they are close to last in coming off, but maybe – just maybe – that can be completed today.

As I said, the weather is starting to turn which is just raising havoc with the arthritis in both knees. Did I mention that I am tentatively scheduled for dual knee replacement surgery in January? Something tells me that work with come to a screeching halt in the garage for a while then. :-)

photo 4As a consequence of the weather and knees, I’ve been back to sewing some. I made a personal vow not to make any more quilts until I can get some of the tops completed quilted. My best guess is that there is between 200 and 300 waiting for someone to do this step and then I do the binding. I just cringe each time I think about the money that will be needed to do this. So, they wait.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on using up my scraps. I just put on a good movie and sew, really without much thinking. I’ve also been working on a postage stamp baby quilt (I think I might be able to do the quilting on my sewing machine) just to use up these last few hundred pieces. A few years ago, I ordered this box of charm pieces (2000!) that are 1.5″ squares and used a good deal of them in several quilts. I just can’t bring myself to toss the remaining, although they are what I call “the uglies”!! Does anyone else here have this issue?

I’ve also been working with felt pieces while I ice then heat my knees. I’ve made a bunch of Christmas decorations (although we don’t really celebrate or decorate in the house), as well as working on another needle book. I need to just need to finish the cover. Of course over in the corner next to the fireplace is that great big hulking needlepoint project… just sitting there mocking me.

I’ve resisted writing just this post – the one where I admit that I can’t seem to get anything completed! Its just so aggravating and humbling to have to admit to all this incompleteness! I really try to hold myself to a higher standard, but sometimes it is so overwhelming – and I realized that it has been quite a while since I last posted. But to have to post and say I’ve got nothing! Argh!

Best intentions aside, time to get on with the day. I really need to assess what is left and what still needs to be done and what is required to get to that point. And then just start tackling them, one by one.

Wish me luck! And to all those out there who think us bloggers just get things done out of discipline and attention? We’re just people too and infallible. So don’t worry that you’re project(s) isn’t getting done. It happens to all of us!


Making My First Needle Book

Things have been a little hectic in my life, so I thought it was a good time for a little downtime from the furniture projects and do some hand sewing. In getting all of the bits and baubles that I have finally gotten around to organizing, which gave me a central collection for all my hand sewing needles. So, then I needed to figure out a way to store them properly. It was then I stumbled onto something that apparently has been around a long time, which I’ve never heard of. Which is all I needed to jump into it with great enthusiasm.

What I am a speaking of? A simple little thing called a needle book. Did a little search on Google and then again on Pinterest, and came up with some great ideas. So, I settled down with some great movies and felt and thread and set about making my own.

2015-09-22 17.50.56I had a different cover created, one that I had started embroidering, but when it came time to put the cover on, I found that I had seriously underestimated the book’s thickness! So, instead of using it, I had to make a new cover and it was left unadorned. I really had wanted to make sure that it was going to work out, rather than spending a lot of time and effort on it and not being able to use it again. And in the end, it worked out good enough.

My initial thoughts is that it would be a small book. But as I worked on it, I added a pocket for a pair of small scissors, and another pocket for a small round container of needles. I began adding pages for the different types of needles that I have: crewel, upholstery, darning, sewing, embroidery… who knew there were so many different types? Or that I had so many of them! This was just the small collection that I had downstairs with my crafting supplies. I might be afraid if I gathered together in a single spot all the needles that I have in my sewing room!

So, several pages completed, I realized that I had four packages of unopened needles and it might make more sense to leave them in the package. So the inside pages were really pockets, opened to the top. I attached the jacket and it looked great. The closure was a simple button on the front with an elastic band to close it. The real problem happened when I put all the needles ‘away’. Now it appears that the book is too small for all of the needles and especially too small for the cover. It was fun creating it, and I learned a lot of lessons doing it, so now I will start working on another, correctly sized this time. And I will be going all out on the decorating this time; cover, pages, everything.

But, I’ll share the photos of this one. I like it for my first attempt.

2015-09-22 17.49.52 2015-09-22 17.49.112015-09-22 17.48.472015-09-22 17.48.37 2015-09-22 17.50.01 2015-09-22 17.50.09 2015-09-22 17.50.302015-09-22 17.51.15If you have suggestions or comments or photos of your needle books, I’d love to hear from you!



Quick Update: Paisley, Painting and Scrap Quilting

Been a little remiss in writing regular posts. This does not mean that I haven’t been working hard and have a ton of projects ongoing all the time.

I am not sure that I revealed this before, but a fair amount of the work I do – in projects and experiments – are sold to fund more projects. That’s why you will see a lot of repainted furniture… I have found this to be the most reliable and easiest way to make money. As a second note, I have been on a professional sabbatical for the past six months, so the furniture projects also help to replace some of the earnings that I haven’t been contributing to my household budget.

Currently, all of the former pieces completed have sold, thankfully!

With all of that said, the garage is filled up! Kansas City has a wonderful CraigsList community, but like everything, it isn’t always consistent. I can go for months without being able to snag decent furniture and then (like last week) it turns around and we have been able to score a bunch of pieces. I had so many projects lined up, that I needed to make a physical list and schedule pieces to make the most sense and still be contributing to the household budget, while still working on pieces for the blog.

DSCN3604So, a shot of the garage… this is three dressers and two nightstands, in my signature pink primer. All five pieces will be done in the same ombré pink scheme and will be sold mix and match. We also have a project dresser and an entertainment center – both pieces that are scheduled for some transformation experimentation. There is also the leftover “hi-fi” that I have finally decided to turn into a “bill pay station”while keeping the ability to play music. I haven’t quite figured out exactly what I am doing with it, exactly why it isn’t on the ‘do right now’ list.

One of the fun things I have been messing around with is beading decoration. I have this weird love of paisley, but you wouldn’t find a single thing in my house decorated with it. It is a weird kind of love… but soon hope to integrate some of it into the master bedroom redesign. Lack of funds have put that plan on hold – the most expensive portion is the purchase of fabric.

photo 6Here is the paisley beading project. I took this snapshot with my phone in a fairly dark living room, so the colors aren’t as vibrant as they really look. The felt pieces have all been stitched onto a deep blue background and today I purchased all of the beads and sequin pieces I will need to complete it. Part of the delay is that much of the sequins came in a large collection of colors and styles and with my OCD I first had to sort it all to get what I needed to match colors.

photo 5Here I had started the deep green with glass tubular beads and then started on the turquoise. Lots to do and lots of shapes and colors to work with. I am really enjoying this project.

I have also been working on a small challenge of my own, I wrote a little about it last week. I wanted to see just how small sized scrap I could work with and still be successful. Here is some examples of pieces that I feel that I can use. You can see how small they are by the lines on my cutting mat. I can’t really work with anything less than 3/4″, you can’t get two good seams and still have much displayed in the piecing. I had two plastic boxes, about shoe boxed sized, and have used up the scraps of one.

DSCN3602I had started with a 3″ muslin square attaching the scraps. I think I’ve gotten enough to make a doll-sized quilt or the perfect center to be surrounded by larger scrap pieces. This was fun, but a bit tedious… it seemed just once you got the needle moving you had to stop! But it becomes almost cathartic along with watching old movies!

Okay, that was a quick update to the past week’s work. Lots to do in the coming weeks! Oh, and can’t forget the container gardening… one tomato plant even has flowers! I think I have to pinch back these flowers, as the plants need some upward growth before it can support fruit. I think I need to read up some more!


A Baby Gift When the Recipient is No Longer A Baby

By being such a prolific piecer, I tend to create quilts that take a long time to get finished. As some of you may remember, I had a huge box full of quilt tops that I had sent off to my long arm quilter (Hi Gloria!) some time ago. She had some issues with her machine (I swear I didn’t mean to break it!) but somehow in all of that, the baby that this first quilt was intended is by far no longer a baby.

A good friend and former colleague, I had made a quilt for his first daughter and she received it promptly. So even though we no longer worked together, we kept in touchish through Facebook. And when his second daughter was born, I whipped up a baby quilt complete with her name embroidered in the center. 2015-04-30 17.54.09If memory serves, I think Maxine is probably 3, maybe 4, now. But today, I finally got it completed.

2015-04-30 17.53.57 The center blocks are hearts embroidered in various shades of orange. Well, you can see that the whole quilt is a variety of shades of orange, this is the color they had picked for the nursery. And of course, the center heart has her name.

2015-04-30 17.54.40Now I just have to just have to get the address and get it sent.  I hope better late than never. Right?

The next one I finished today is this experiment with stars. It didn’t turn out bad, but it was an experiment for me and I really am not all that happy with the result.

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So many of the star points ended up being blunted with the next block. I really need to work on my technique. 2015-04-30 17.56.19

I love the colors in this quilt and I like the way that it shows brightly with the dark background.2015-04-30 17.56.24

It is really much too small for a bed quilt and much too dark for a baby’s quilt. I don’t really know what I will do with this one. I’ll have to think about this one.2015-04-30 17.56.34

2015-04-30 17.57.58Well, that about covers today’s projects. I’ve been working on creating the supplies for another project, it is great fun to sit and punch one inch circles out of paint chip cards. Does that spark intrigue?

And speaking of, the toy horse is still being worked on, slowly but surely. :-)


Cross Stitching Isn’t a Hobby for Wimps

An update to the giant cross stitch that I am working on. I do a little whenever I have some free time and this weekend was a gigantic laze-fest for The Kid and me.2015-01-18 20.04.59Now that I’ve gotten a foothold on a couple of areas, it makes continuing that much easier. The canvas is getting less rigid and easier to roll up, so that I can concentrate on a single area.

So, I opted to try out a “field” of varying colors at the left center area of the canvas. I went through and stitched the off-green color first. I then followed through with the gold-ish color. Finally, I took a slightly darker gold and wove a few threads through the field.

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Next up, the very almost-kelly green field in between previously completed gold fields in the upper right side of the canvas.2015-01-18 20.05.33

This section was completed pretty much without thought. But while doing this section, I wondered just how long it will take me to complete the entire canvas.

So, with the kelly green area, I counted stitches and timed how long it took. There were 313 cross stitches. It took me 95 minutes to complete.

So based on these numbers, it takes 3.3 seconds per cross-stitch. A square inch is 144 stitches, which would be 475 seconds or about 8 minutes. The entire canvas, 16″ x 20″, is 46,080 stitches,and at 3.3 seconds per stitch, about 13,963 minutes (232 hours).

So, if I were to work on it about 3 hours a day, it will take about 76 days. Now, of course, you have to factor in some time for thread color changes, end of thread secures, any mistakes or re-work and you will soon realize that as my audience, you’re going to be seeing a lot of updates on this piece!!

Today I put in more time than three hours, more like five, but the complexity of first field probably meant that I didn’t achieve the require 3.3 seconds per. But it really is only about leisure and the fact that I can’t sit and do nothing with my hands. Eventually, I will turn this into a large pillow or wall hanging.

In the meantime, I am just enjoying it.


Being A Bit Lazy So Far This Year…

Wow, I can’t believe that it has almost been a week since the last post. I knew I needed to take a breather, but when I stopped and looked around, it occurred to me that I have pretty much done nuthin’ for the last few days. I am hot on a binge watching of “The X-Files” (and loving the oh-so-young David Duchovny) and working on the “hee-you-JUH” (well huge for me) cross stitch.

I think I “started” this sometime last year after running across the photo in a magazine in my doctor’s office (don’t tell that I stole the mag!) and I think I alluded to this project once or twice in this post.

"The Road Across the Wolds" by David Hockney

“The Road Across the Wolds” by David Hockney

I did manage to get a significant part completed on one (of four) canvases before becoming overwhelmed with the process of connecting the four canvases together.

I picked it back up on New Year’s Day, just to keep my hands busy while The Kid and I (that’s for you Jennifer!!) started the marathon. I am vowing to work on it at least a little every day, and maybe, just maybe, I will be able to show you the finished work next New Year’s!!

So, here is today’s update:

01:05You will see that I actually did connect the four pieces together and finish the wheat field that spills into the left bottom canvas. I then switched to the upper right canvas and have been working on the fields. And wow, there are a LOT of fields! :-)

I did sell three pieces on Craigslist, the pink pieces I did. I met a nice gentleman who is very good at talking me down on my prices. Grrr. Not a fan of that. Especially since he mentioned on one piece he was planning to repaint. I really don’t care what people do with the pieces once the buy them, but I don’t wanna know that my hard work is soon to be erased.

Okay, that’s it for today.


Getting Ready For the New Year, Wrapping Up Loose Ends

I am this close to have a ton of projects completed. Along with everything that I got going, I am also trying to redesign the site. I want a new logo and look. The Kid is helping.

A quick couple of projects that I did complete:

First one up is a cross stitch that I had been working on during my “in between” projects time. You know, when paint is drying or waiting for something to be picked up. During those times I plunk myself down on the couch and squeeze in a little ‘me time’. I am just like my Dad, in that I can’t just sit and watch television. I have to be doing something with my hands, so I do cross stitch and embroider or making felt ornaments with a blanket stitch.

Here’s the first one. I did actually finished this a bit back, but it took a while the whole project done. You see it was intended to be a iPad case, but after adding the backing and the lining, the size got a little squeezed. So it is more of a ‘mini iPad’ case. But it was fun to do because I didn’t really have to think about it too much, color was totally random and it is a pretty simple pattern.

DSCN2985This was done using a cartoon called “Shoe”. I have always loved this series, as the writers love Macs and all things Apple. This was one of my favorites:

Screen Shot 2014-12-26 at 11.40.05 PMI tweaked it a little so that it fit into a single pane, added the logo to the bottom right corner:

iDebtI am really happy with how it turned out. In hindsight, though, I wished I had done a little more ‘fading’ in the blue panels, so that it was a little more seamless. Oh well, a lesson learned for next time. :-)DSCN2987

I have been thinking about getting it framed and sending it to the authors, just for fun. I mean, I love the work and the creative part of it, but what do you do with them once you’re done?

I have a ton more projects to finish up and then get documented. I also have to list them for sale as well. Hopefully three of the pieces are claimed by the people that they were intended for when I started them. That will really help clean up the garage and the foyer. And provide a little more cash for the next projects! Ha!

Okay, gotta hit the sheets! I am wiped out!




A Lighting Adventure: Practice Makes Perfect

There are so many things that I love about my house, but one of them ain’t the builder standard lighting. Slowly but surely I’ve been replacing those very practical and perfectly functional lighting fixtures with upgraded ones.

I’ve wanted to do something really unique ever since I stumbled onto this online company that sold electrical cording and custom colored socket covers. And a lot of other cool and awesome stuff.

(Oh, by the way, they are not sponsoring me in any way. But even if they were, I’d still say the same things!)

So, I started planning cool lighting projects. The first one I wanted to do is based on this photo:

crystal-decanters-as-pendant-lights-1This is going to take some more planning and purchasing of supplies, including a way to reach the ceiling when it is about 20 feet high.

Instead, with the latest addition of the embroidery machine, I realized that corner in my sewing room was a little too dark. It does take some additional light when you’re dealing with lots of thread color changes and lots of stitch changes. So, I opted to do my first lighting project for that corner.

DSCN2868Somewhere along my travels, I picked up two pairs of hanging lights. I didn’t know then what I was going to do with them, I just knew that I had to have them. Try as I may, I can’t remember if it was from thrifting or the ReStore or abandoned house hunting or where. Each had two wires that came from a single canopy ending in a cut glass globe. Of course, the wires were interwoven with those brass chains so popular beginning in the late 50’s.

So, this is where I started. I took everything apart and pulled out the old wiring. From ColorCord company, I ordered new sockets, wiring and cord grips. This is the best part, when you order, you have a myriad of colors and styles of wiring and different styles of sockets and socket covers and cages and all sorts of fun stuff. Check it out!

I ordered the mint twisted wiring and ceramic sockets. My plan was to take the existing canopies and the pendant holders and spray paint them white. Replace the wiring with the twisted mint cord and swag them over the areas needed. In my mind’s eye, I could see it.

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 10.32.17 PMOn a recent thrifting trip, I ran across three cut glass tulip design globes that were open ended and I thought would provided better light than a closed one. So, I went from a four bulbs on two fixtures to a single one with three shades.

DSCN2861That meant that the four existing pendant caps that I had would have to replaced with three matching. And instead of the two canopies that I had planned on using, I would be using just one now.

First, The Kid – my newly appointed electrical engineer – wired the sockets.

DSCN2864Then added the cord grips. The cord grips are new to me, but take the strain off of the wiring in the sockets, much as the chains used to in the old style.

DSCN2865Then the wires were threaded through the canopy.

DSCN2866Next The Kid climbed up into the attic and after cutting the power, he wired it to the existing light – the one that hangs over the sewing machine.

DSCN2872Here is how we left it after the first night of work. While The Kid was up in the attic handling the wiring, I installed the hooks and worked the wiring to make sure that everything was even. But I goofed pretty good.

The next morning, we removed the hooks and filled in the holes and then using a tape measure to ensure things were lined up and then rehung the lamps again. With a flip of a switch – viola! – light!

DSCN2884Its been a long day. Still much to talk about. And work on. You wouldn’t believe the garage again!


Sewing Room Update: Finally Finished!

2014-10-27 19.52.50Well, I say “finished” but is anything ever really finished?

So, way back I showed you the new cabinet added to my sewing room. Because it came with a plain front – rather than the beadboard finish that is on every other cabinet in the room – I attempted to change the doors on this new cabinet to match.

At first, we tried to use the thin sheets you can get from any hardware or big box store.

First we cut them to size for each panel:

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2014-10-12 13.15.20

Then we slathered on the glue, placed the beadboard and then weighted it down with whatever we had in the garage. You can see we used paint cans, a small anvil – even boxes of Diet Coke.

2014-10-12 13.38.25

2014-10-12 13.38.30After leaving it overnight, I came out the next morning to find that the glue hadn’t ‘stuck’ to the door panel, only the beadboard. Back to square one.

I did some investigating and ran across a wallpaper that looked like beadboard. It couldn’t hurt to try, right? I ordered one roll and waited. It finally came and attempt number two was started.

Since I wasn’t using much, I opted for premixed wallpaper paste. Using a four inch roller, I slathered it on heavy.

2014-10-22 18.39.42

Rolled the wallpaper on top and smoothed with my hands. Then using a sharp blade, I cut the piece to size using the edges of the trim.

2014-10-22 18.36.30Wiped up any excess paste…

2014-10-22 18.37.11

…did all three panels the same way…

2014-10-22 18.37.24

And here’s how it looked. Left it to dry overnight and went to sleep with my fingers crossed.

2014-10-22 18.36.12

Here is both doors (three panels):

2014-10-22 18.40.05

Came out the next morning and it looked great! Yay! However, as I kept looking at them, I felt like something wasn’t quite right. The bounding trim was very glossy but the paper had a matte finish. I thought I would just set them up and spray paint them glossy white.

Good idea, except the paper never really dried. It was just sort of sticky. In a room where dust and material fragments and threads would be everywhere, I knew this wouldn’t be good. I opted to spray it with a glossy clear sealant. Now, there was a chance here that this would only make things worse and not resolve the issue. But I figured I could just stick The Kid in the truck and point him in the direction of IKEA and get him to buy replacement doors. It was worth a try.

And it worked! Next morning the stickiness was gone and the doors were all shiny! Next step, installation.

2014-10-27 19.52.50

Doesn’t it look like we bought it that way? I love this idea and may be looking for more ways to use this!

A couple more pics of the new cabinet and some of the other changes as a result:

2014-10-27 19.52.37

Added some more “buttons” and one still not up yet:

2014-10-27 19.52.57

New shelf along the ceiling line… those boxes hold so much! I have completed quilt squares and lots and lots of cut pieces just waiting to be turned into more quilts.

2014-10-27 19.53.09

Had to turn the button board vertical to fit. Had to move some other pieces, like the tack board, to another part of the room. Added some new things as well to the mix, such as this “puzzle box” of sewing attachments made by Singer in the early part of the 20th century.

2014-10-27 19.53.41

Here is where the tack board went. The top is a photo of The Kid when we had just adopted our puppy.

2014-10-27 19.53.31

Here is an older shot of the cabinets along the back wall and turning up to the window. You can sort of make out the beadboard fronts.


Okay, now that this is done… I need to turn my attention to the third stall of the garage. It is where my sports car needs to be housed during what we expect to be a pretty snowy winter. I need to get the STUFF either done or out of there. I really just want to play in my sewing room… I just bought that new embroidery machine and can’t wait to get started. But first things first.


From a Desk Into A Tower of Drawers

Some time back I came up with a solution to the thousands of skeins of embroidery thread that I bought and collected over the years (and in anticipation of a very large cross stitch project) by using those boxes designed for storing photographs.

While this did work for a while, I found that it wasn’t pleasing to the eye and if you needed a color that was at or near the bottom, it became a bit of a pain to have to move all of the boxes to get to the one that you needed. I started looking around for something different.


During one of my routine trips to thrift stores, I found a very cute and very well made children’s desk. Of course I hadn’t taken a photo before The Kid started taking it apart, but this will give you kind of an idea of what it looked like before we started. The drawers were removed and set aside for painting.

Removing four screws and the top came right off. Then the supports between the two base sections also came right off, when you find well made furniture it doesn’t have an over abundance of glue or nails used. I suspect this is late 1930’s or maybe early 1940’s.

One half was flipper over and we removed the “feet” section. Again, four screws.


Then one piece was set on top of the other. We simply used the same holes used to originally assemble it to attach one piece to the other. Bonus!


There were some holes and a little bit of damage where the back support had been attached, so a little wood putty and some sanding and it was ready for priming.


I knew I was going to paint it my signature red, so the primer was tinted almost the same color. Less coats of paint to get a rich red.

Drawers Primed

Drawers were also prepped for painting the same way:



We built the cabinet top from paint stir sticks. You can see the whole process here. We just laid the top down and flipped the cabinet upside down and attached it, again, using the existing screw holes. Here you can see my “assistant” helping!


And more paint. We also had to fill in the gaps of where the two cabinets came together, that was a little trickier.


After several coats of paint (yes, that it what is required when you’ve chosen such a deep red color) and new drawer pulls and viola! Here is the cabinet in the front entry.

Red Thread CabinetShortly after, it was moved to next to one of two re-purposed china cabinets in my living room. And all of the embroidery thread was then transferred from the boxes to the cabinet.

Since I’ve been working so much, I haven’t had a chance to finish up any projects… so am using the time to get caught up in writing about previous projects. The blog (actually “blogS” as I have another) seem to be a third almost full time job as well. But I love it all!





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