Here’s today’s view from the room where I’ve spent most of the last 8 days. The buds just started opening about the time my fever abated on Wednesday:
We’ve lived here for 13 years and I still haven’t identified this ornamental tree. Do you know it’s name?


Here’s a view from the second story window through the branches toward a bunch of tulips and bluebells:

The bluebells would take over the whole yard I think, if given a chance. However, the wild raspberries would also thrive in those conditions, so we keep most of it mowed after the bluebells and various colored violets bloom.

This huge sycamore tree gets it’s leaves in early summer. I don’t have pictures today (taking photos facing the sunlight doesn’t work very well) of the redbud and magnolia that are also in view just to the right of this tire swing.

I apologize for the photo quality. I’m still using a Sony Mavica Floppy Drive camera. It works for keeping a basic record of things and reminding me of colors and compositions, though, so I’ve decided to keep using it for now….


Hurrah! I actually left the house today for the first time in at least a week. And I’m way healthier than I was last week at this time, which is obviously a good thing. So!

I drove to Peoria to buy thread for altering my niece’s prom dress and then stopped in at the ‘sewing get-together’ at Michelle’s house. She presented me with a copy of this photo she took, maybe last February:


So I’m gritting my teeth and hiding my eyes and posting what I think is the first photo of me I’ve uploaded. I’ve decided that if I want to share my sewing projects I’ll just have to get over the camera shyness….

It’s the SW TeaGarden T that I made last spring for the Timmel SWAP.

Michelle had also taken a photo of Kellie and me looking through M’s vintage pattern album:


She brought it down to show us when it was almost time to go home and we needed to hurry, but we didn’t want to miss anything!!

Last year at this time I was considering whether or not to maintain my web site

and how (or if) this blog might relate to the family business websites I own. I’m beginning to see that one of the reasons I love online commerce is the connections I’ve made with people all over the world!

The back story: Maybe 6 years ago my sister carefully salvaged discarded choral music and sold the sets on her website, When her inventory got lower, we combined our stores into one shopping cart site under my url,

Last week I got an email request that was fairly unusual: Would I be willing to email a copy of the music to the customer if they purchased the hard copies of the music? They wanted to sing this piece for Easter, but had only a few days left to practice.

My brain came up with it’s usual list of reasons why I should say no:
–can I hold the camera still enough to take good photos?
–will the photos be too gray for them to be read easily?
–how much time will it take to photograph 9 pages and edit and color-correct the photos?
–will I lose money on the transaction?
–is the requester likely to follow through?

But then I remembered that we do have a multi-function machine that supposedly scans as one of it’s functions. I decided to try it before sending a reply.

Huh! It was so easy it was ridiculous! I even noticed I could scan the file to the shared folder on dh’s computer so that I could access it from my own office without using a flash drive.

So I could quickly attach the page 2 file of the music to my response email. Hurrah! Page one is already available on the site and I figured sending page two would give the potential buyer a chance to double-check that it really was the right song and also test whether it was realistic for the file to be sent as an attachment. (I’ve found that sometimes people can’t receive large files on their email accounts. Other people don’t know how to, or maybe refuse to, open attachments.)

Almost immediately I received a notice of sale, along with the notification that payment had been received at PayPal. All my concerns had been addressed!

You can read Kathie’s side of the transaction at her blog, Kathie’s Kabin; scroll down past the yummy-looking Easter rolls to the Three Empty Crosses sheet music photo….

I had no idea that this music had Amish roots. It’s another reminder of the many connections we have in this world! When my parent’s greatgrandfathers walked north from the port in New Orleans to central Illinois in the 1860s the church they established was Amish Mennonite; that church is now part of Mennonite Church USA, of which I am a member.

Parting note:
Tuesday afternoon I cut the rest of the skirt pieces, including cut-on pockets for Mom’s rayon skirt. We’re hosting family from CO next week, so my sewing hours will be few this week and next….

I painted it last week, hung it with kite string from a piece of conduit on Saturday, and totally forgot to take a photo on Sunday.

Today the sky is cloudy, so unfortunately the photos lack enough light. I tried the various settings on my point and shoot camera, but none added enough exposure to lighten the background.


Did you notice the ripstop ‘forsythia’ below the banner? Choral concert flowers!

A quick look at the Thai fabric under the lilies. It was there to coordinate with the children’s story from Thailand….easter09e

Here’s a glimpse of yesterday’s work:
I’ve been painting with diluted Pebeo Setacolor Transparent on 84″ wide (shrunk from 94″) dry white 10 momme Habotai silk. The photos were taken while the painted sections were still mostly wet.

Initially the close-up views of banners can be really discouraging sometimes. Setacolor has an interesting way of drying – the first sections that dry tend to pull the pigment from the still-wet sections, so they end up darker than the rest. I figure a person can choose to either hate a particular characteristic like this or just go along with it and enjoy it! Over the years I’ve learned that sometimes those ‘imperfections’ can be used to an advantage. In this particular piece, I’m just going to say it’s supposed to look like a small child painted it… 😉
The hair dryer is sitting in the top left corner. I tried drying the edges of the center world/circle before painting the yellow/orange/red ‘people’ around the outside.
A quick look at some of the other tools of the trade, including the iced tea container!
Yet to be done:
— press the silk to set the ink.
— sew the casing for the top where we’ll insert the conduit for hanging.
— find the picture hanging wire; I’ll need a very long piece.
— determine what sort of finish, if any is needed for the bottom.

Have you painted directly on silk with Setacolor? Did you use resists? There’s not enough sun in Illinois this time of year, nor enough clean space to do heliographic printing on a piece this large, so I’m just painting indoors on three 8 ft tables set side by side, covered with (hot pink!) plastic tablecloths and hoping the color intensity will be okay. I brought along a few silk scarves to use for testing, but ended up just painting along the very bottom of the banner to test colors and consistency, figuring I could cut it off later if it shows. I’ll post an update, but likely not until early next week.

Another ‘blast from the past’ to keep a record of these projects all in one place. Unfortunately I didn’t take regular photos as I painted and decorated, but I do have a few which I have posted below. This first one was taken at night.


Advent 2005, Christmas and Epiphany Sundays at Willow Springs Mennonite Church, based on the series by the Mennonite Church Advent Writing team from Saskatchewan as published in the Leader and the Mennonite Bulletin Series, Faith & Life Resources, cover designs by Grant Unrau.

Each week had a theme phrase and a flower:

God’s Unstoppable Purpose…
…Surprises! – Crocus – God meets us when we least expect it.
…Is Faithful! – Cactus – God is faithful when we cry out.
…Restores! – Clematis – God restores and transforms our world.
…Invites! – Orchid – God invites us into the story.
…Is Unimaginable! – Poinsettia – God comes to live with us.
…Breaks Forth Anew! – Sunflower – God in history, God’s future.

Each week I added one new purple flower (based on the bulletin covers) to the blank natural canvas banner. For each Sunday of Advent: crocus, cactus, clematis, then orchid.

Purple Flowers Advent 2005 Bulletin Covers

Purple Flowers Advent 2005 Bulletin Covers

Then for Christmas Sunday, a red poinsettia.

For Epiphany Sunday, a yellow sunflower.

Bulletin Covers Advent 2005

Bulletin Covers Advent 2005

I used Dharma’s pigment dye painted directly on natural canvas. I thickened some of the liquid pigment; also used an opaque white under any yellow and white parts of the flowers. About halfway through December someone asked if I could adapt the purple flowers in this banner as the basis for their wedding banner, so I painted the poinsettia and sunflower on a separate piece of canvas.

Advent wreath. We started with a plain wreath and candles. Some purple tinsel was added each week of Advent. Christmas Sunday I added the red stars; Epiphany Sunday I added gold stars.


Here’s a view of the whole thing, including the sunflower added for Epiphany Sunday. You can see the purple velour, red knit ribbed fleece, and the yellow silk charmeuse scarf on the podium and the gold stars that had been added to the Advent Wreath.

We did it! We started planning back in January! We had a delay due to health issues in late February.

But last Wednesday morning, April 1st, we took the 8:30am Illini Chief Amtrak train to Chicago, walked toward the lake to catch the CTA Brown Line train north to Fullerton and walked to the Apollo Theater to pick up our tickets for the afternoon show. When I asked, the guys at the box office suggested that we eat lunch at the Salt & Pepper Diner across the street on North Lincoln. It was a good, leisurely choice; the sweet potato fries were tasty, the sandwiches cooked just right and the wait staff was great. Just the right number of goofy April Fools Day jokes… 😉

We walked back to the theater and found our seats: 3rd row, center section, with our heads just a few inches above the musicians directly in front of us. The perfect location to view MDQ! The show was spectacular and a lot of fun!

This production made the four famous musicians seem a lot more like ‘real’ people to me; for instance, I really only remember being aware of Elvis Presley a few years before his death. I was a child during most of his years of fame; I was aware of his music, but not very aware of his personality. In Million Dollar Quartet, Elvis is portrayed as quite young and anxious and regretful about his earlier decision to leave Sun Records.

All the characters in the show did a great job; we had a lot of fun watching the drummer, Billy Bob Shaffer’s playing and facial expressions.

One person in our party liked Lance Guest’s acting the best; John thought Lance most accurately portrayed Johnny Cash’s character.

Keith Harrison, who was playing Jerry Lee Lewis, definitely brought a lot of energy to the show.

My dh Dale was impressed by Brian McCaskill’s ability to show a wide range of emotions while being the cement that held the show together with his portrayal of Sam Phillips.

Pam and I were pretty sure that Gabe Bowling, understudy for Perkins and Presley, was sitting directly in front of us during the show, but we were too shy to confirm it.

At the end of the show we took a quick hike to the EL, caught the train south to the loop and managed to get to the Amtrak station before the rush hour crowds descended. lol. We were home by 9pm!

The biggest compliment I heard? My dh, who generally drags his feet about going to the theater or concerts, suggested last night that maybe we should go back and see the same show again in a few weeks.

It would be fun to have a closer look at the specific musical contributions each of the characters brought to the quartet. The show at the Apollo Theater has been extended to May 24th, with 2 shows each Sunday, including Mother’s Day! (update 4/14 – the show has been extended to June 7)

I waited to write this review, hoping the one photo of us that Pam took with her camera would be available to post. I doubt if anyone’s figured out how to get it off her phone yet, so I’ve gone ahead and posted because I wanted to be sure to let Birgitte know that we’d thoroughly enjoyed the show. We even found her name in the Biographies in the program: “She acted as the movement coordinator for Million Dollar Quartet at the Seaside Music Theater in Florida and at the Village Theatre in Washington.” She also has choreographed various shows, including Baby It’s You, the Shirelles bio in Los Angeles. I’d personally like to hear more about the “new MOBIL clothing concept” she has designed… Birgitte?

The snow started around 2am Sunday morning. By 8am, this was the view from upstairs, overlooking the porch roof:snowmarch291

The road out front was covered with at least 5 or 6 inches of heavy wet snow, unplowed. We left early and drove the truck with the snow blade to church so dh could plow the driveway and I could learn a new song I wanted to lead in the morning service.

This morning at least half of that snow has melted! That’s the amazing thing about spring snows! But the combo of near-freezing temps and lots of moisture sure make it miserable outside while it’s coming down; this storm had some added drama: lots of wind and thunder snow!

I finally learned to use the scanner that’s hooked up to my dh’s computer…and figured out how to share the files on our network to simplify getting them to my computer! I need and want to continually learn things, but somehow can’t learn them faster than a certain rate! Maybe it’s a matter of ‘you learn it when you need it’.

Today I’m sharing scans of the dishcloths my MIL sent home with her son this week. They are so cheerful and colorful!

About 8 years ago my MIL had a stroke that meant she had to relearn how to use the left side of her body. While in the hospital doing intensive physical therapy she started crocheting scrubbies. The nursing staff noticed and started buying them from her as fast as she could produce them! Once home from the hospital, however, her sales outlet was gone, so I offered to put them on my website for her.

Literally thousands of scrubbies later, she has decided to add cotton dishcloths to her offerings. She loves using the cotton yarn, as it is much easier on her hands than the nylon netting.

We’re introducing them to you at a reduced price on the website, because she’s making them faster than our family can wear them out washing dishes! Some of us have picked colors that match our bathrooms and use them for face washing cloths. Others stubbornly call them dish rags, although ‘rag’ doesn’t really seem appropriate for something so pretty!

If you have a preference in color/style, be sure to mention the names under the photos of the cotton dish cloths above when you are checking out! If you are using a blog reader you may have to click through to be able to see the captions. Or just mention the photo file name, if you prefer.

And even if you’re not in the market for some right now, we’d love feedback on colors you’d like to see, both for the dishcloths and for scrubbies. Click comment below…

The challis has a prominent design that is printed off-grain (about 3 inches across the 59″ fabric.) I decided to follow the printed pattern rather than the true grainline hoping that the natural drape of this rayon woven challis fabric will cover the sin of off-grain cutting. Clearly it would look very bad to have the design sliding at an angle off the bottom of the skirt hem! Time will tell if I made the right decision.

The next step in making this green rayon challis skirt is to cut the front panel and the pocket bags and to get my serger set up on a table and remind myself how to use it! Oh, and change out the pink thread that’s on it for a medium gray or whatever will look best; I haven’t even looked at my serger thread stash for several years.

I plan to cut the front panel 30″ wide. I may decide to add a back center seam to the back panel, which is currently cut to finish about 58″.

OR I could cut the pocket bags onto the skirt panels…but then I’d need to make the two panels a lot closer to the same size! Hmmm. Decisions. Decisions.


May 2018
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In honor of my late father-in-law