Thursday, March 24, 2011

Nervous and Jerky

Ever have one of those days when you feel like a long-tailed cat in a room filled with rocking chairs? Just sort of jittery and jumpy? I don't have them often, but yesterday was a humdinger. I don't have a clue why the wave of Nervous Nellies hit, but today I'm fine so I'm just going to chalk it up to the supersized moon or ridiculous spring snowfall. Either makes a good fall guy, don't you think?

Today I feel ambitious, ready to tackle the mile long to-do list I've got on the kitchen table. BTW, if you've emailed me in the past week or so, I apologize. I'm woefully behind on answering emails, but I plan to reply to each and every one by the weekend. Honestly, I think the whole first birthday on my own hit me harder than I even knew. I've been dragging these past two weeks. I'm hoping the worst is behind me. Like I said, I'm ready to jump on that huge list so things must be looking up.

By next week I plan to be back to writing. I know, I began but then the birthday hit and I got sidetracked. Writing without my guy is a whole new deal, and it's harder than I can say. But I do intend to force myself back into writing come Monday. I know I'll feel more like myself once I just sit down and begin. That's the hope, anyway.

So, what did I do yesterday? I sewed--no surprise there! By late afternoon I'd finished two baby quilts and a couple of little Easter bags, and was ready to do something different, something I hadn't tried before. I made something for myself, and I'm really pleased with how it came out. Want to see?

I love this fabric. It's so springy (is that a word?) and feminine, and just so pretty!

Bet you're wondering what's inside the pouch, aren't you? Well, I'll give you a hint...

My netbook gets dragged everywhere with me. It bumps along in the flimsy case that came with it. I worry I'll smash it too hard one day and that silly little case won't protect it.


My netbook has a new home! Padded and cozy, it should protect my writing friend very well indeed. Now I'll be able to drop it into my shoulder bag without worrying I'll harm it. Because come Monday, this small blue device and I are going to be getting down to serious writing business!

What about you? How's your week going? Anything you'd care to share?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday Farm News

I refuse to acknowledge the white stuff falling outside the window. I won't do it, I tell you. It can do whatever it chooses, for however long it wants to, and still, I'm not saying the word. You know the one, don't you?

But I will tell you there's one pissed off robin in the driveway.

I've become hooked on the cooking channel. When I need a little noise in the house, or some distraction, I switch it on. Last night I watched back-to-back episodes of Cupcake Wars. I think that's what it's called. Anyhow, I love seeing the bakers whip up their goods using some outrageous flavors, then decorating them in a very short span of time. I love cupcakes, as well as competition, so these wars amuse the heck out of me.

While the bakers were warring I sewed. No surprise, is it? Friends Penny and Jim have a huge craft sale in their gorgeous barn twice a year, so I'm making things for that. It's before Easter so I've got bunnies on my mind. Last night I pulled together some tiny bunny bags. Want to see?

Isn't it sweet?

Then I went back to making cosmetic bags. I've got a few largish ones, constructed with two layers of batting inside to give them shape. I love seeing these come together! I imagine them filled with lipsticks and nail polishes.

Of course, I couldn't forget the littler girls so I'm pulling together a bunch of small cosmetic bags. These are made without batting so they're roomy enough without being bulky. Again, a fun project.

I had a nice, long conversation with Vito's darling Aunt Vicki yesterday afternoon. A widow herself, her advice is to keep busy. She's right, it helps to keep my hands occupied. I really hope that if I stay busy, time will begin to work its magic on me.

Anyhow, today it's gloomy outside, with you-know-what forecast so I'll spend the day indoors by the fire. I've got two blue baby quilts cut out, so I'll piece them.

Who knows? Maybe by the time I'm done at my machine this blasted white stuff will have stopped! If I'm really lucky, the robin will have his fowl (get it?) language under control!

And I've got an Etsy shop in the works. So far I've registered, and have a name for the shop. It is--are you ready?--Sew Cherry Pie. Kind of catchy, don't you think?

I hope you have a wonderful Wednesday. And thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday Tidbits

Oh, Mother Nature... How I marvel at your warped sense of humor. Three inches of new snow today, eh? Hmmph!

Aside from the annoying snow covering the spring flowers emerging in some of our flower beds, life here on the farm in fairly quiet. Nothing earth-shattering going on here, thank goodness. Just calm and peaceful...

Aside from Sunday night's flooded bathroom incident. But let's not go there. The ceiling has stopped dripping, the solution is on its way and I've stopped screeching like a banshee so let's just move along.

Today I've got a foot-long to-do list so I should get cracking. After I get the chores checked off my list, I plan to do some sewing. Not having huge success with the change purses. I've got the pieces cut, the little rings for keys on hand but I'm having trouble finding zippers small enough for the project. I'll check out one more place before I begin to butcher...ah, adjust longer zippers to fit. I'll keep you posted.

On a more productive note, I've begun making cosmetic bags. Such fun and I love seeing them all lined up on the dining table! Photos will follow, I promise.

So, what's going on in your neck of the woods today? Got a to-do list? A leaky pipe? Sewing issues?

Hope you have a nice day!

Monday, March 21, 2011


Dear Mother Nature,

Not amused.

Seriously, cut the funny business...or someone just might get hurt.

Thank you.

Refusing to Shovel in New York

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Birds and Bees

Got your attention, didn't I? I hope I don't disappoint, but this is a quick post about birds and bees.

Real birds and bees.

The past couple of days have been gorgeous. Blue skies, warm breezes and melting snow. Finally! As everyone knows, spring brings yard chores. I don't mind cleaning the grounds after the harsh winter weather.

My darling husband loved birds so we've got birdhouses all over the property. I went to each of the houses, cleaned last year's nests and readied them for this season's occupants. Vito had nests in each of his houses last year. I hope we're as fortunate this season. I'll keep you posted as I see our feather friends arrive.

Vito also kept Orchard Mason bees. They are fabulous pollinators, buzzing busily among the fruit trees, vineyard and gardens. Orchard Mason bees go into hibernation during the winter but when it gets warm they wake right up. Since they live in canister hives, which get covered to overwinter, they need to be set free early in the spring. I did that, snugging the bee canisters into the bee house on one of the barns. It looks like Vito had a bazillion buzzing buddies here last season. The straws where they live are nearly all filled, so we should have lots of pollinating action going on here at Villa Leone once the bees wake up.

I love the cycle of life here at the farm.

Today it's flurrying so I'm going to catch up on household chores. Then, an afternoon of sewing. I'm trying my hand at making change purses. I hope this works out well!

What about you? Any Saturday plans?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Digging It

Today I've got a date with a pair of gardening gloves, trowel and shears. What about you?

Hope your day is a peaceful one!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesday Adventures

Just a quick note today.

It's been raining all morning but now we're having one of those between-the-downpour moments so I'd like to head outdoors for a bit. Roam the property, look for signs of spring and just listen to the singing birds. Sounds nice, doesn't it? Peaceful, just what I need.

Anyhow, last night I finished the binding on the latest baby quilt. Again, patchwork with rounded corners. Melissa asked if it's hard to round the corners. Really, it's not. I just take it slow and ease the fabric into place. I think the rounded corners soften the quilt so it's worth the little bit of extra effort.

Then, I put the finishing touches on this groovy bookbag. I love this fabric, had a blast (from the past!) assembling the bag and am tickled to be putting it in a special package for one very important girlie. I hope she likes this as much as I do!

So, headed outside before the sky opens again. What about you? Doing anything you'd care to share today?

When I come in I've got lots of triangles cut out. They should keep me busy all evening, thank goodness. I'm determined to stay busy and productive during these trying days. So far, the plan is working.

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you have a wonderful Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesday Tidbits

Finally! Blue skies and warm breezes! I am psyched. I've spent the morning outdoors, just walking around the property and enjoying the birdsong. It feels fabulous to get out on such a pretty day.

Yesterday I finished a baby quilt. Want to see?

Very simple patchwork, one of my favorite patterns. The rounded corners make me smile.

And, something else that brings happiness. It's too early to put seeds in the greenhouse (it was 9 degrees this morning, so the greenhouse must've been chilly!) but I've begun a few flats in the family room beside the fire. Apparently the conditions are right, because we've got...

Pansies! I've never grown them from seed but I couldn't resist picking a packet up when I saw them at Agway a few weeks ago. I love pansies!

And these? Peppers! Yes, that's right, they're Italian frying peppers. Aren't they sweet?

So, just a peaceful day here. Nothing amazing, just a healthy dose of ordinary. What about you? What's going on in your neck of the woods today?

Monday, March 14, 2011

This 'N That

Some Monday randomness...

Have you seen that Secret Millionaire show? I'm completely out of touch with television programming, so I have no idea whether it's a new show or an oldie, but either way I'm hooked. I love seeing people helping people.

Snowing outside my window. No surprise, that. I hope it quits before I'm forced to haul out the snowblower.

Spent a good part of the weekend sewing. My mom mentioned a zipped bag inside her handbag would be handy, so...

It stands because I tucked a book inside and have it propped in the coaster caddy. I had so much fun making this butterfly bag that...well, you know what happened, don't you?

That's right. One zippered bag seemed so lonely, so I made friends for it.

Last night brought a new bout of insomnia so I got out of bed, threw another log on the fire, turned the Weather Channel on and began to sew. Keeping my hands busy, hoping this storm will ease. Anyhow, here's the result:

I thought this was my favorite bag.

Then I made this one.

Today I plan to run the vacuum, do some dusting and mop the floors. Maybe this afternoon I'll give in to my sleepy body and take a nap. Or maybe not. I don't excel at daytime sleeping, at all, so that might just be frustrating. My birthday brought a couple of new books... Yes, that seems the ticket. Lounging by the fire, watching the snow drift down, a warm chai and a good book. What better way to spend a Monday afternoon? But first, the chores.

What have you got planned for the day? And, any bits of randomness from your weekend that you'd care to share?

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Before we met, my husband was a young GI who spent a very short amount of time in Japan. I mean, it was a real quick visit. However, my darling never needed more than a minute to bring happiness or make friends. Language barrier? No obstacle for the beautiful man's twinkling brown eyes!

Vito was in Japan long enough to snap a bunch of photos. Last night I sat with his brown leather photo album, looking at the images of my handsome husband surrounded by smiling Japanese citizens. An elderly man, standing beside the uniformed soldier, grinning, obviously tickled to be included in the photograph. One photo shows a woman, young and pretty, smiling from behind a delicate hand. Another, Vito with a group of children. His hand rests gently on one little boy's shoulder.

I've seen these pictures many times. I've always loved seeing this side of my husband, this peek into his life before me. I have never, ever felt anything but joy when I've perused this photo album.

That is, until now. Now I wonder what's happened to these smiling faces. I pray for the men, women and children captured by Vito's camera lens. I pray for them, and all the others whose lives have been shaken and turned upside down--literally--these past days.

I can't imagine what life in Japan must be like today. I am heartsick over the disaster, and wish I knew how to help the people who so warmly welcomed a stranger to their land.

Yes, I know my donation will go toward easing the pain wrought by the earthquake, but I'd like to do more. Much more. But what?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Oh Baby!

I made a grisly discovery this morning.

See the spot? Can you tell what it is? And do you see where it is?

Just so you know, it's between the glass and the picture. That's right. A big, hairy spider has invaded what I definitely consider my space.


You know what I've got to do, don't you? I've got to get that...that...well, I've got to get it out of there.

Ew. That's all. Just ew.

Spiders? Not a fan.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Wake Up Call

So, yesterday was my birthday. Yep, that's right. A big one, too.

Honestly, I'd been dreading the day for weeks. Not because of the zero attached to the year, but because this is the first time I've not had my darling man beside me to share the special day since I was twenty two. We've been together a long time (though not nearly long enough!) and the birthday thing was pretty important to us. So, I wasn't keen on the day coming along.

I knew it would be tough, on many levels. One issue was the whole waking-up ordeal. You get it, don't you? Yesterday was the first birthday I had to wake up and face the day without my love beside me, smiling and cheering me on, singing Happy Birthday in a scratchy, early morning voice.

Wednesday night I fell asleep with a leaden feeling in the pit of my stomach. I knew I'd have to wake up--alone--and hated the thought.

You know, sometimes life has a sense of humor. Or, at the very least, a small measure of compassion.

Yesterday I woke to the sound of the phone ringing. Before wakefulness unfogged my brain, I leapt from the bed, dashed to the phone and answered.

A sleepy, "Hello?" was greeted by a familiar accent. Our friend Judy, calling all the way from Australia to wish me well on my special day! What a lovely surprise!

And you know the best part? I didn't begin the day alone, as I had feared. Nope, "our gal Jude"--as Vito always called her--helped me, and my day began with a wonderful conversation. Thanks, Judy!

And the rest of the day? Well, I won't lie. It had its rough moments, but then every day since I lost my husband has hard moments. But the day also had its share of pleasure. I spent it with my mom and stepdad and while we didn't paint the town red, we found a safe harbor in the sea of grief we've all been dealing with. A good lunch, trip to church and home for tea made for an enjoyable day.

So. One year older. I've got to admit, I don't feel that zero at all. Not one bit!

How has your week been?

Tuesday, March 08, 2011


I've been having a tough time sleeping. I'm told it's a common issue among those in my situation. Nights are long and I hate tossing and turning so I get out of bed and look around the house for something useful to occupy my time. Then, I get moving.

Last night? The hum of my sewing machine kept me company. My hands were busy, the hours flew by and I've got something to show for my efforts. Want to see?

I know that sooner or later I'll learn how to sleep alone. Until then, I'm determined to stay busy and productive. Maybe tonight I'll sleep. If not, the kitchen cupboards need reorganizing. Then, I've got baby quilts to tackle. And if that doesn't do it...well, I'm out of ideas. Any suggestions? What do you do when insomnia comes calling?

Monday, March 07, 2011


Dear Mother Nature,

Put down the martini. You're cut off.

Now, stop with the funny stuff or I'll take away the Twinkies, too.

Very sincerely,
Weary Shoveler

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Saturday Night Silliness

"It was a dark and stormy night..."

Sorry, I couldn't resist. But really, last night was windy, rainy and once darkness fell I wondered what I'd do to fill the long hours. Then, inspiration! Some Saturday night silliness! Yes, I knew just the thing...

Some cutting, sewing and instant fun. The chickens make me smile whenever I see them. That's why I bought the fabric--because it made me giggle in the store. Anyhow, the time flew by and before I knew it I had a half-dozen silly little bags lined up.

What did you do last night? Anything interesting?

And, was it dark and stormy outside your windows? Hmm?

Hope you have a great Sunday! Me? I'm off to work on the new book. Then, who knows? Maybe I'll spend the evening sewing again. Or maybe I'll just curl up by the fire with a good book, a cup of chai and while away the quiet hours. Peaceful, that's what I've got planned for the rest of this day. I wish you peace, as well.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Microwave Magic

My husband was an amazing cook. In fact, when we were young and just starting out, I told him a truth.

"I can't cook." I figured it'd be best if he found out before he sat down at the dinner table.

He didn't miss a beat. With a sweet grin, he shot back, "That's ok. I can."

It was no lie. The man could make magic with a few simple ingredients, a skillet and a wooden spoon. Eventually he taught me kitchen skills, as well. Since we were never apart, it just made sense that I'd learn from him. By the time we moved to this house, we took the kitchen renovation very seriously because one of our favorite activities was cooking. Yeah, we spent lots of time in the kitchen.

You know where this is going, don't you? I haven't yet gotten to the point where I can cook without him. Let's face it, cooking for one has got to be pretty lonely when you're used to doing it for two--with your favorite person.

So, what's a girl to do when she can't face the pots and pans? Fortunately, I've found a lifesaver. That's right, after the first lean weeks I found a solution to the cooking issue.

All I can say is, thank you Amy! I discovered Amy's Kitchen meals. They're tasty, quick and require no hands-on cooking. I pop them into the microwave and a couple of minutes later I've got a meal. Not a bad thing at all.

This is my first experience with frozen dinners, and I've got to say I am pleasantly surprised. I expected...well, let's not go there. I'm getting tasty, nutritionally sound meals without any added stress. All good, I think.

I know I'll eventually find my way back to our kitchen. For now, though, I'll let Amy feed me. What about you? Have you had good results with frozen meals? Or are you the way we were, cook-from-scratch folks? And, have you any recommendations, microwave meal-wise? My favorite Amy's is the Black Bean Enchilada Whole Meal. If you're looking for a break from cooking, I heartily recommend you give it a go.

Now that I've got the cooking issue solved, I'm free to spend a relaxing weekend watching raindrops bounce off the porch! Hope you have a peaceful day!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Slow Down!

You know, the universe is a funny place sometimes. Just when you think you're up to getting up and running, something or someone puts the brakes on your mad dash. At least, that's what's happening to me.

Ahh! Color me frustrated.

Apparently I've been "doing too much." Me? I just figured I was trying to find our old life. According to two doctors in two weeks, I should be finding things a bit more slowly. I'm not going to get discouraged (much) and since both women are very wise I'm going to take their advice. They have my best interests at heart, so I should be smart enough to listen, right?

This weekend I plan to sit back, relax by the fireplace and pamper myself a bit. I may do my nails. I'll dust off a crossword puzzle book, sharpen my pencil and get to it. I'll read. And, since hefting my netbook can hardly be considered over-exertion, I'll open the new book file and lose myself in the new story.

You know, this slowing down doesn't sound all bad, does it? I might just get used to this lifestyle change...for a day or so! I'm not sure I was made for the slower lifestyle, but I'm going to give it a go for the weekend. We'll see what happens.

So, what about you? Do you have any weekend plans?

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Smart Women

Just a short post this morning, since my new book is actually calling me. Oh, what a good feeling! And how fabulous to feel good, even for a little while.

A few days ago a very smart woman told me something that's stuck in my head. I know it may seem obvious to all of you, but please remember you're not mourning your best friend. Anyhow, Cousin Joann asked if I have plans for my upcoming birthday. The truth? No, I don't. For many reasons. I just can't get past the idea that this will be the first birthday since I was 22 that my darling man won't be making my birthday cake, singing to me or sharing my special day. It's going to be difficult, so no, I haven't made plans.

Cousin Joann understood my feelings, as I knew she would. She always understands everything. Then, she gave me the morsel of advice I've had running through my mind since we spoke. What did she say?

"It's all right if you choose to be alone on your birthday, just as long as you know you don't have to suffer."

She cut right to the heart of what I'm feeling. I miss him so much, and it seems so wrong to celebrate without him. So, I'm not going to celebrate. But, thanks to Joann, I'm not going to suffer, either. At least I'm going to try not to intentionally suffer. He would hate that. He wanted me to live, but I am sure he, too, understands that I'm just not ready to celebrate anything--not even my birthday.

The takeaway? Surround yourself with smart women. The smart women in my life are pulling me through this, and I couldn't be more grateful. I don't believe I'd be able to do any of this without them.

Thanks, Joann.

Now, to the new book. The heroine is named Lola, and I'm trying to make her as smart as she can be!

Have you had any bits of advice that have helped you lately?

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The Best-Laid Plans...

Last February we ordered a box of seeds from Burpee. We perused the catalog, bought vegetables and flowers. We wrote a large check, telling ourselves that the flowers would bring us joy and the veggies would feed us all year.

Life throws twists at us, as we all know. The gardens didn't get planted last year, but we told ourselves that we'd be all set for this year's gardens. Seeds don't go bad; we figured we'd plant everything this year and be filled with joy as well as being well fed.

A few days ago I opened the expensive Burpee box. Evindently the box had a visitor while we were in the hospital in Boston. The mouse must have been very, very hungry because the little rat, er... mousie, ate every last seed.

Not exactly bringing me joy or feeding me, this box. Can you see where the packets are chewed open? Ahh!

I did pick up some pepper seeds about a month ago, purely because I couldn't resist the pretty photo on the packet. Good thing I did!

I'll be perusing the shelves at the local Agway for seeds to replace the ones eaten by our univited guest. What about you? Planning to do any gardening this year?