Sewing without a map

Mom taught me how to sew without a map. No pattern, no pins unless essential, inexpensive materials, with measurements and math on the fly are par for the course.  This can lead to unexpected results, such as the time that I sewed through my thumb with the machine when I was a teen.

This pillow project was simple and successful. Here’s the pillow in a flannel case sewn from an upcycled flannel sheet. The plants behind it are purple loosestrife, being raised to propagate bio-control beetles.

Photo of zippered pillow case

Zippered pillow case

The outer case was made from a fabric scrap purchased at the thrift store. Due to the shape of the scrap, three pieces were sewn together to make the case.

Photo of frog pillow case

Frog pillow case

Because I’m a geek, I love that almost all of the fabric was used. (Didn’t Jack make a nice butterfly to repair the seat of my chair?)

Photo of small fabric scraps left over


The total cost for a fully covered pillow plus all of the other scraps that are yet to be used: $6.50.

New pillow form; rummage sale; $0.50
Flannel; Mom; upcycled from sheet
Zipper; Mom or thrift store; $1.00
Frog fabric from bag of scraps; thrift store; $4.99

It is almost midsummer. Happy Summer Solstice!

Birch leaves in the late day sun

Birch leaves in the late day sun


It’s rhubarb time!

Rhubarb transplanted this spring

Rhubarb transplanted this spring

It is time for rhubarb cake made from a recipe used by George’s family. He thinks it may have been one used by Lena.

Rhubarb Cake

1 yellow cake mix
1 c water
1/3 c oil
3 eggs
4 c rhubarb, chopped
1 c sugar
1 pint whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Mix cake mix, water, oil, and eggs together to form a batter. Pour into greased 9″ x 13″ pan. Sprinkle rhubarb evenly over batter and sprinkle sugar on top. Pour whipping cream over all. It will look very lumpy. Bake 50-60 minutes at 350 F until a toothpick comes out clean.

The lumpy mess

The lumpy mess

The baked mess

The baked mess


No mess at all

There was enough extra rhubarb to freeze a four cup bagful. This is my favorite way to freeze, a little bit at a time. Our newest kitchen gadget, the baggie rack, was used for the first time. It doubles as a drying rack for the dish rag.


Summer reading has started!

Summer reading for me has started with a book hangover.* Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein was almost a one-sitting book for me. The focus of the book is a friendship between daring young women in England during World War II. Men have been shipped out to fight and women have new opportunities, including becoming pilots to move aircraft and crews into position in England. Since the book focuses on war secrets, I won’t revel any more.

Would I recommend it? Yes… for adventure loving young adults and adults, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat. No… for those who don’t want to (or can’t) read about the atrocities of war. Mom, this is not a book for you.

Book "Code Name Verity" on a shelfIn other news: I wish I had possession of an evil-eye to kill buckthorn with a glance, rather than cutting and dabbing it. June is Invasive Species Awareness Month. Go kill something invasive and unwanted.

*Book hangover: The groggy, bleary-eyed feeling the day after staying up way too late reading a book that just can’t be put down.

Warm fuzzies

Sometimes warm fuzzies cluster together. I made a scrap quilt, lap size, for Grandma Siggie. It was very satisfying to match the scraps together. Grandpa Neil liked the quilt because it is practical.



The same weekend that Grandma received the quilt, George and I were given two crocheted scrap afghans, made by his Mom. I like to think of all of the bits of yarn that were used up to make it. George can remember some of the yarns from their original projects. Warm fuzzies all around!



Pride goeth before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18 I don’t quote the bible often, however it seems fitting for my experiences with feeling smug.

This is a reminder to myself: If I feel smug, I should look around twice and figure out what is going to go wrong.

Remember: Smug can be a pleasant feeling, but it always leads to repercussions.

Remember: I have felt smug before and it never ends well.

The washing machine was moved into the house early in May. I requested and received one of those shallow plastic tubs that sits under the washing machine and catches leaks, should they occur. A day after installation, I heard a distinct drip, drip, drip sound. One of the water lines leading to the washing machine wasn’t seated firmly and water was dripping down, into the pan. I was smug. The tub saved time and trouble! Very smug. George and I tightened the fitting. Fixed. I started the first load of laundry the next day, when I could be at home to monitor for any other trouble.

I was smuggly sweeping the floor when I heard water gushing in the basement. Not dripping, but gushing. The smug plastic tub was overflowing because neither of us had thought to put the drain line back into place after tightening the fitting. Smug was flushed away and sopped up by hand, with many thanks to C.P. for her help and moral support.

Speaking of laundry, here is the recipe that I use for homemade laundry soap. I’m starting a new batch today, without any smug feelings.